In sickness and in health

I’ve stopped smoking and my body is in revolt. I googled “can i do exercise when I have the flu” this morning. Because it is my lungs, apparently I am not meant to exercise. I still did 20 minutes on the bike, however. I’ll probably go for a walk later.

Instead, I’ve been looking for new gym music. I really like having a certain kind of music as a soundtrack when at the gym, mostly it involves positive affects.

Here is my current gym playlist. The song titles all link to youtube clips, except for the Peaches remix at the end, which links to soundcloud:


Artist Album
Say Nothing (Radio Edit) Example Say Nothing – Single
Down With the Trumpets Rizzle Kicks Stereo Typical
Promises The Presets Pacifica
Photofinnish 3OH!3 Want
Doomsday Nero Welcome Reality
Into the Galaxy Midnight Juggernauts Dystopia
When I Was a Youngster Rizzle Kicks Stereo Typical
212 (feat. Lazy Jay) Azealia Banks 212 (feat. Lazy Jay)
One Day LMFAO Sorry for Party Rocking
Tell ‘Em Sleigh Bells Treats
Emerge Fischerspooner #1
Burst! (Child in Disguise Remix) Peaches Burst! (Remixes)

Finding a Rhythm

I’ve spent the last few months getting some rhythm back into my everyday life. I am enjoying life more. I am enjoying the rhythm and the work rhythm does to enable me to dissociate (more in chemistry sense, than psychoanalytic) some elements of my life. These elements are being raised through a kind of active forgetting into habit (or perhaps compulsion). Getting a rhythm going for me is to assemble a means of selecting those things I need to think about and what can remain unthought. I use to think about this in terms of going to the gym and doing exercise, which is super important, but now I think it was the rhythm of the gym workouts and how they enabled my to structure other rhythms around them.

Habit is often talked about in a negative way. The way someone cultivates ‘bad habits’ or the way consumers are encouraged through repeated prompting to exist in certain ways in response to commercial exchange (“Do you have a Fly Buys card?”). These negative forms of habit are premised on negative affects (‘Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘black hole’, addiction, etc.) or passive affections, where the consumer body ‘suffers’ the affects put in circulation by assemblages of consumption.

Rhythm, for me, now, is a selection and a sorting; that is, of enveloping active affects in a rhythm that produces a milieu, which can then be used as a resource. My own life and its active affects serves as the associated milieu from which I am implicated in passive affections. I am describing a different kind of habit. I have participated in enough elite sport (12 training sessions per week! two sports at once!) to recognise that many elite sportspeople operate at a high level in the same way.

To use a physics example, it is the difference between acceleration, which requires a massive amount of energy because of the relation to mass (and therefore inertia), and velocity. This is pertinent because my old ‘catch phrase’ during the completion of my PhD was ACCELERATE! I never stopped accelerating. Now I would describe my behaviour in terms of assembling a greater number of consonant rhythms so that I was transducing my active affects into the passive affections of my rhythm in increasingly intensive and complex ways. I have worked to assemble the rhythm, but now it runs on its own accord. Following the rhythm, ‘suffering’ the passive affections of my body’s own active affects, requires a great deal less energy than the initial work of dismantling old habits and assembling new ones (deterritorialising and reterritorialising).

The curious thing about all this is the materiality of rhythm. Sure, the drum beats, but rhythm is in the differential repetition of the drum beating. There is a count; perhaps without number, or the number is less important as an extensive delineation of spacetime than as an intensive relation to a future event. This intensive relation is a felt tendency that serves as the duration of experience between one moment and the next. It is a virtual architecture that superposes one moment upon the next mapped according to the concatenations of my rhythm. The architecture of the rhythm serves as a kind of enabling passage; a differential relation of expectations and anticipation. Here is the crux of the issue for me at least: The passage between one state of being — depressed, unhealthy, minimally productive, feeling unattractive — to another state of being where I actually enjoy life is an impasse that is overcome through this transductive process.

Media Events and Senses of Occasion

Below is my abstract submitted for the CSAA 2012 conference. I am speaking at the Pre-Fix event, too. It will be good to catch up with everyone! This is a bit of a fun paper for me as I want to have a breather from thinking about ‘enthusiasm’ and so on. It builds on some work that has been simmering away in the background, originally based on the paper I wrote in Sweden in 2004.

Media Events and Senses of Occasion

Is Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz’s concept of the ‘media event’ still relevant in the post-broadcast era? Dayan and Katz demonstrated the ways in which specific kinds of media events enabled the audience to participate in ‘history’. The proliferation of ‘new media’ platforms and emergence of a ‘post-broadcast’ media ecology presents a challenge to this concept of the ‘media event’.
How to research post-broadcast media events? Dayan and Katz used a certain conception of the social premised on a ‘neo-Durkheimian spirit’ of ‘mechanical solidarity’ to explain the ‘yearning for unity’ they documented in participatory audiences. Post-broadcast media events lend themselves to a different ‘Tardean’ conception of sociality, assembled through post-broadcast relations of online and offline behaviour, and characterised by what Brian Massumi describes as ‘becoming-together’.
Dayan and Katz emphasise that televisual broadcast media event have a certain ‘sense of occasion’ as ‘high holidays of television’. Katz in part derived the notion of ‘occasion’ and ‘non-occasion’ from anthropologist James Faris who studied the lexicon of social events of a small fishing community. Faris investigated the way these social events were occasions of “sanctioned license, a legitimization of behaviour and action normally considered ‘sin’”.
What counts as an ‘occasion’ for media events in the contemporary post-broadcast era? This paper shall speculate that rather than sanctioned deviance, complex temporal relations between expectation and anticipation affectively prime participants for the ‘happening’ of an event. The ‘felt tendency’ towards the future (or past) implicates participants in the incorporeal and topological materialism of the ‘sense’ event of the ‘media’ event.

Sexual Desire, Associated Milieus and Appetition

In my previous post I outlined the paper I had just submitted on gender and garages. My final point in the paper is thinking Whitehead’s concept of ‘appetition’ with Simondon’s concept of ‘associated milieus’. Thinking about it some more (while on my exercise bike doing my daily morning ride) I remembered this post Powered by Daydreams from just under six years ago. I was engaging with something Levi had written (prior to his turn to OOO) about the relation between fantasy and the immediate visceral responses of the body:

[Levi] posits the event of an emotional outburst at an immediate visceral level, but then the retroactive coding of this event by the sense making apparatus of our minds places this event within the orbit of certain narrativised causal chains (‘immigrants’, ‘D&G’, ‘homosexuals’, etc). Why overcode the outburst as causally linked to a transcendentally displaced social antagonism? Why can’t the event of the outburst be an immanent acceleration within the body of a sensation that has more in common with evolutionary psychology (ie an instinctual response to one’s hunger) than the aporias at the heart of social antagonisms? Brian Massumi has explored some of the dynamics between affect and the retroactive coding of affect (as a potential movement between two intensities). That is, at that precise moment, one’s hunger seeks out the ‘social antagonism’ to express itself and prepare the body for acquiring food. Would a fully satiated body seek out social antagonism? Just look at the Australian middle-class…

I go on in the post to provide an autoethnographical example of thinking about a pretty girl (‘girl’ yes, I was in my late 20s) that used to go to the same gym:

A friend of mine dubbed her “checkout chick” after she discovered that she works at a supermarket as a checkout operator (and as a subtle dig against me because of my romantic predilictions for bourgies). I would never approach or even talk to someone with romantic intentions in mind when at the gym as it is not an ethically appropriate act for the space. However, I also quickly realised that by not even speaking to her and being able to daydream about a particular fantasy — even if it involves merely focusing on say, for example, her extremely beautiful eyes — then my body is flooded with adrenaline or whatever other chemicals the body has to make itself feel good, and I feel good, and I can go full tilt on the cardio machines for another five minutes and then again and again for different fantasies for over an hour.

I don’t think I’d read Whitehead properly at this stage, which is surprising considering I invoke something very close to his concept of appetition to describe fantasy-like structure of thinking that encourages the ‘activation contour’ of affect (Stern) accelerating in the body as something akin to “an instinctual response to one’s hunger”.

Associated milieus for those living beings with the capacity to create imaginary conceptual prehensions would have to include ‘fantasy’ or something close to ‘fantasy’. Channeling Tomkins it explains how the coassemblies of affect and sexual desire (and other ‘drives’) can operate in the domain of what Foucault described in Deleuze’s work as ‘incorporeal materialism’, which is Foucault’s interpretation of the ‘virtual’. I think I need to read The Logic of Sense again. I was approaching the conceptual fabrication work of thinking ‘associated milieus’ and appetition’ together from a non-normative functionalist and ultra realist position. A point I don’t get to make in the paper is that these ‘appetitive mileus’ are a useful way to resolve the problem of scale in Deleuze theory of events. How to think scale of events when there is a baroque nested structure, what is the relation between the ‘wound’ and the ‘battle’? The excess of one event in another event of a different scale, when the first event is individuated as an element in the larger enveloping event, is the ‘associated mileu’ of the first event. There is an infinite number of such milieus from the perspective of the fourth person singular (or individuation of entire chaosmos). Delineating ‘appetitive milieus’ serving as ‘that’ event (of a larger scale, enveloping, or transversally linked, displaced in the past or future) for ‘this’ event will depend on the capacity of the living being.

Also, it was about the eyes, the relation between the eyes and eyebrows, as a gestural signature of her grace, a way of being in the world.

Gender and the garage-assemblage

Yesterday, I sent off my final version of a paper I’ve been working on for some time. The question of gender in the context of my existing work is somewhat problematic. Except for a few notable exceptions, I was not entirely happy with the way masculinities have been critically discussed. Clifton Evers work on surfing and masculinity is the primary (published) exception. Clif develops what I’d call an intensive masculinity by mapping the transversal circulation of affect across and through surfing bodies, boards, waves, beaches and a broader ecophilosophical context of beaches in Australian culture. I am aware of forthcoming work from at least one other person who thinks the development of gendered subjects in similar ways. Feminist philosophers (Grosz, Probyn, Driscoll) have been discussing the relationship between affect and becoming-gendered subjects for about two decades.

The paper I just sent off was a thorough engagement with the garage as an assemblage. My focus was developing an account of the passage of masculine action, primarily in the context of men working on cars. The ‘highlights reel’ of the substantive points made in my argument include:

1. The garage is a territory, but the garage-assemblage is a territorialising machine. Classic example is of the roadside repair.

2. Men territorialise technical discourses in intensive or ‘minoritarian’ ways by mappng the intensities of socio-technical objects through a process of anthropomorphisation. Technical discourses become heteronormatively gendered not so much to exclude women, but to enable a sensuous engagement with technology.

3. This produces produces statements, visibilities and ‘tactilities’ congruent with the affects in circulation. (Minor point here about Foucault’s epistemic conception of discourse, I am looking at discourses of techne.)

4. Draw on Simondon’s notion of techno-aesthetics to argue that the vernacular epistemologies of the garage-assemblage operate according to an immanent sense of ‘(mal)functionality’. ‘This’ technology functions in ‘this’ manner ‘here’.

5. Masculine techno-aesthetic competence is valorised through this intensive discourse by articulating a relation between this ‘functionality’ and the subcultural tests of effectiveness by which technological performance is measured.

6. ‘Know how’ is the outcome of ‘figuring out’ the immanent functionality of a given socio-technical object.

7. The homosociality assembled through the garage-assemblage is premised on an economy of respect determined by a subject’s techno-aesthetic competence.

8. Production of ‘know how’ is one passage of masculine action afforded by the garage-assemblage. It draws on the affordances of an intensive technical discourse and the other affects of the garage assemblage.

9. There is another complex passage of action developed through a correspondence between related assemblages (garage and street, or garage and motorsport track, etc.). Masculine ‘appetition’ (Whitehead) belonging to the garage-assemblage is organised around the ‘associated milieus’ (Simondon) of these related assemblages. A mechanical failure on the track, for example, serves to structure the challenge in the garage; it is this challenge that mobilises masculine enthusiast bodies into action.

Overall, my argument is largely a critique of Connell’s structural concept of masculinity, as it is focused primarily on the movements between different assemblages of contingent patterns of affect and bodies ‘in relation’. I’ve tried to expunge as much ‘normativity’ as possible and focus on the processes of (collective) individuation.

Like Clif I have spent some time in the spaces that I am writing about. To give you an example of what I mean by the correspondence between assemblages, below are some images of the last time I worked on my Falcon (that I still own, in storage). I took this shot while working on my Falcon so as to replace a snapped pushrod.

Here is the offending pushrod.
offending pushrod
This is the above car just beforehand. I filmed it idling on the driveway.