Notes to an Article

I have had an article in the works for a while now where I have tried to address how to write articles for enthusiast magazines with the example of enthusiast magazines that service modified-car culture. The problem I was having was with how to position it. I have some great material derived from my PhD and the many dozen articles I have written (I have written 55 freelance articles this year, about 30 in the years previous, and easily over 100 as a staff writer). Now I have figured out that the best way for me to pitch this in the opening paragraph is to compare it to the introductory scholarship on writing for the news media.

These are the core analytical points I wanted to convey in this opening first section:

1. Writing for enthusiast media is not the same as writing for news media.
2. The enthusiast media is designed to tap into an enthusiasm and use it as a resource; it is primarily an affective discourse. News media is primarily meant to be free of affect and tends towards an ideal of ‘objectivity’.
3. If the point of news media journalism is to convey the Who, What, Why, Where, When and How (5 Ws and 1 H method) in the lead sentence, then enthusiast media attempts to hook the reader by inciting a particular affective response.
4. The news media attempts to represent the world so the reader can implicate it in their own respective lives; there is some truth to the ‘hyperdermic model’ of media transmission. However, the enthusiast media attempts to implicate the reader in the event of enthusiasm being reported on.

The second section then goes on to demonstrate what is required to be able to write in the affective mode.

1. An understanding and appreciation of the enthusiasm is required.
2. To understand enthusiasm means understanding the challenges faced by an enthusiast. Here I am unsure if I should offer a brief account of the post-Kantian conception of enthusiasm developed in my phd? It is by engaging with challenges that enthusiast bodies are mobilised. Within modified-car culture, a co-enthusiast will ‘read’ a given car in terms of the challenges it inculcates. This demonstrates the capacity and skill of the car’s owner to ‘rise to the challenge’.
3. Understanding the enthusiasm does not simply mean knowing about the objects of enthusiasm or even only the practices of enthusiasm. Within modified-car culture a car is not merely an object to be incorporated into the ego to facilitate gendered production of identity (hegemonic masculinity model), it is a topology of challenges that enthusiasts ‘read’ and confer respect accordingly. The aquisition of know-how is a product of practices that engage with challenges. There is a correlation between know-how and respect within the scene.
4. The job of the enthusiast media journalist is to represent how the enthusiast engaged with a given challenge. The affects of enthusiasm are expressed through this process of rising to the challenge, such as frustration, confusion, trickiness (like ‘smartness’), satisfaction, patience and determination.

The third section discusses the relation between an enthusiast magazine and the given enthusiast scene.
1. A given magazine covers a certain niche market which more often than not encapsulates a subculture within a scene.
2. The magazine is in a relation with enthusiasts and commercial interests. Within modified-car culture the commercial interests are mostly workshops and performance parts suppliers, but also includes event promoters.
3. Coverage of the scene is a media event that seeks to translate the affects of a given event through enthusiast discourse in such a way as to implicate the reader in the broader affective mobilisations of the scene.
4. The content of the scene selected for coverage in a magazine is explicitly valorised, through publication, as being worthy of appearing in the magazine.
5. The political economy dimension to enthusiast magazine coverage of the scene is that coverage is shaped by commercial imperatives of ‘keeping the advertisers happy’.
6. Unlike normal media this is not that much a problem in that those elements selected from commercial interests are also worthy of being valorised. The function of the enthusiast media is not to change the enthusiast-determined heirarchies of value within the scene, but to segment and select portions of it according to the commercial imperatives.

The conclusion points out that niche-market media that services a given enthusiasm is the way of the future for media companies that are coming to terms with shifting from being print publishers to being online publishers. In Australia, just as many other national contexts with a developed media ecology, there are many different enthusiast media publications that target and service many different enthusiasms.

Blokes Bonding: Homosociality, Enthusiasm and Modified-Car Culture

I have finished a first draft of a journal article derived from my PhD; it is primarily focused on the concept of homosociality that I use and expand in the context of actual experience.

More work needs to go into the introduction section. I’d be keen to hear from others who have not read my PhD as there is a danger of not explaining points/examples/arguments enough or too much with the whole dissertation in the back of my mind.

I have decided to ramp up my quasi-scholarly work of producing articles. Expect anywhere between a few to several articles to appear over the next several weeks.

It is available here.

I have retained the Endnote fields as it is a work in progress.

Lastly, please do not cite without permission. More than likely in the atemporal database of the internet someone will find this blog post in the future and download the article. If it is published I shall make a note of the publication location here so you can find the final version of the article.

enthuse

The enthuse issue of MC Journal is finally up. It wasn’t easy juggling a fulltime (plus!) job and getting the issue sorted. In the future I shall leave myself much more time to organise what needs to be organised. I thank all the contributors for their patience and excellent work. I also thank Axel Bruns for coming in at the end to basically save my skin and tie up all the loose ends. At just under a month overdue, it really is better late than never.

enthuse

EDITORIAL: The Challenges of Enthusiasm – Glen Fuller
FEATURE: Enthusiasm as Affective Labour: On the Productivity of Enthusiasm in the Media Industry – Goetz Bachmann, Andreas Wittel
“If you can walk down the street and recognise the difference between cast iron and wrought iron, the world is altogether a better place”: Being Enthusiastic about Industrial Archaeology – Hilary Geoghegan
Never Coming to a Theatre near You: Recut Film Trailers – Kathleen Williams
Enthusiasm, the Creative Industry and the ‘Creative Tropical City: Mapping Darwin’s Creative Industries’ Project – Clementine Ruth Hill
Promises of Peace and Passion: Enthusing the Readers of Self-Help – Rebecca Hazleden
“Gently Caress Me, I Love Chris Jericho”: Pro Wrestling Fans “Marking Out” – Wilson Koh
The Blonde Goddess – Meera Atkinson

My writing has changed considerably since I have become a cog in the cultural industry. I was speaking with an old friend over the weekend. It is the first time we have really spoken in a long time. He asked me if I miss all the theory stuff. At first I was going to say, Yes. But then it occurred to me that I don’t miss it, because it hasn’t gone anywhere. Almost every article I write nowadays, and I write many, is in some way written in relation to what I worked so hard to express in my dissertation. There is something to be said for testing one’s ideas in a radically different cultural and social milieu. It is far from the case that I need to ‘dumb’ my ideas down, rather I am challenged to express the force of the ideas in ways that are actually forceful. The alleged elegance of a well argued scholarly piece leaves much to be desired if it isn’t actually read by anyone. Where is the efficacy then? To write in another discourse and yet address and grapple with the same intellectual problems that drove me to finish my dissertation in different ways is the current challenge I face. To participate in the practices of subcultural valorisation that belong to this scene I am part of, so my words actually mean something is my task.

on the event mechanics of agency

I have been idly contemplating the role, function and incorporation of creativity into capitalism. The contemplation has been instigated because I now work in a commercial enterprise. For the first time in my life I am being forced to think like a capitalist. There is something liberating and joyful about this. For so long I have basically been at war with a part of myself — my habitus — that was individuated/grown in the capitalist ecology of late-20th century neoliberalism. Many people opt out of this war much earlier in life and dismiss it as teenage fantasy, and some continue the war fueled by teenage fantasy, but I am doing neither. I am learning. This learning is progessing along two main axes. One of which I describe below in an anexact yet rigorous fashion 😉

From my PhD research I already have an account of how human endeavour — no matter how seemingly trivial and banal — is commercialised. I have been haunted by Manuel DeLanda’s comments regarding the uselessness of the term ‘commodification’ in that it is far too simplisitic a term. Indeed, I agree it is far too simple. I have been thinking about the concept of the spectacle and how to invert it to stand it right side up on its material base. The spectacle has been described a number of ways since Debord. I think the closest to my way of thinking come from Jonathan Crary’s remarks on ‘relations of attention’:

Spectacle is not primarily concerned with looking at images, but rather with the construction of conditions that individuate, immobilize, and separate subjects, even within a world in which mobility and circulation are ubiquitous. In this way attention becomes key to the operation of noncoercive forms of power. This is why it is not inappropriate to conflate seemingly different optical or technological objects [in a discussion of Foucault’s and Debord’s respective works]: they are similarly about arrangements of bodies in space, techniques of isolation, cellularization, and above all separation. Spectacle is not an optics of power but an architecture. (Crary 1999: 74-75)

In my dissertation I describe this as an imperceptible ‘structurating expectation’ that is felt in the bodies of enthusiasts. Alongside what Deleuze isolates as two of Foucault’s conceptual innovations — ‘statements’ and ‘visibilities’ — is this third [something]. I am not sure what to call it. It has a far more dynamic relationality than both the ‘statement’ and ‘visible’. Sanford Kwinter isolates something similar in his book Achitectures of Time. I will try to outline precisely what I am trying to talk about.
The first part seems similar to what Deleuze and Guattari call the ‘refrain’ in that it has a catalysing function. A ‘new’ iteration of organisation precipitates across the heterogeneous elements grouped by a given consistency. There is a seemingly silly dimension to this: the elements are grouped because they are grouped. But that ignores the dynamic dimension of how different basins of consistency (I prefer this to basins of attraction, as ‘attraction’ implies a relation between similar elements, when they are purely heterogeneous) are formed and unformed.

Note I have used the Derridean term ‘iteration’ to describe the relation between different consistencies of organisation. This is a problemtic term. The event, in Derrida’s philosophy, is that irreducible element that cannot be actualised and is continually deferred. What in Deleuzian philosophy would be called the ‘pure event’. Without a doubt there is a pure event, that of pure existence, of everything, the cosmos, for all eternity. This is perfectly useless for mundane human affairs. Introduce any degree of spatialisation and temporalisation — so that the pure happening of the cosmos becomes the happening of any discrete composition of elements — and there is a near infinite complexity of temporality, spatiality and causality. The best concept I have come across that attempts to tackle this complexity is that of ‘transversality’.
‘Transversality’ is a term that describes the non-spatial and non-temporal contiguity of elements in a complex system. The character of transversal relationality is what Deleuze and Guattari rather enigmatically, and with a hint of irony (at least for this reader), describe as ‘problematic’. The seriality of the differential repetition of events into iterative organisational consistencies is not linear; it has a ‘problematic’ character. The seriality is transversal. The second dimension of this [something] I am trying to describe is its transversality. The transversal (iterative) seriality is contained within the [something].

A problem that took me a long time to be able to even grasp was with seemed to be the conflict inherent between different interests within a given consistency of elements. In my dissertation this consistency of elements most often appeared as the ‘scene’ of an enthusiasm. How to reconcile the commercial intersts of capital and the subjective interests of enthusiasts born of a complex psychology of identity and so on. Perhaps the simplest way to imagine this is in terms of the conflict of ideology. There is a clash of beliefs at the level of what is perceptible and expressible as signifying elements in terms of what is visible and statements (what can be said at any given juncture). Yet, in a war for example, the conflict has a dimension of participation in that, as the cliche goes, it takes two to tango.

Whitehead’s concept of ‘congruence’ is a way to grasp the asignifying relationality between elements that are otherwise antagonistic. Perhaps this is an echo of human will or any will for that matter, one that does not yet take on the consistency of agency, yet overdetermines the trajectory of elements that have a consistency and the character of this consistency. At stake is the integration of the perceptible — the object world of a subject — and the vast imperceptible transversal relationality of the happening of iteration and the pure event of the cosmos. The transversal contiguity of iterative consistencies has a congruent relationality that is felt, ie as affect, but is otherwise imperceptible to participants. To frame it in the terms of another conceptual paradigm, it is the content of what Kant described as intuition. Congruence then is the third and, at this stage of conceptual development, final dimension of this [something] I am trying to describe.

There is a fourth dimension that with purposeful irony is related to time. I haven’t quite figured out how to formulate this as yet. The specific problem is super complex and relates to different orders of causality (feedback and feedforward loops, for example) within the transversal seriality of different iterations of consistency. At the moment I am leaning towards another concept from Whitehead to describe the processual dimension of this complex causality, what he called ‘appetition’. For Whitehead, this was the integration of prehensions prehending each other into an ‘actual occurence’, basically what Deleuze would call ‘actualisation’. The troubling part of this is the function of human imagination in the form of memory and probabilistic calculation, of how the ‘past’ or felt relationality of crystalised impercibility commonally referred to as ‘memory’, affects the relations of futurity by opening or closing perceptible relations and thus effecting the present directionality of action. It is a feedback loop with a feedforward loop ratified on the level of affect and directly consecrating action into the appropriate and inappropriate. This is what I would call the appetition of the spectacle and pushes Crary’s description of the spectacle as an ‘architecture’ into a fourth dimension.

To return to my opening remarks, what I am learning is how to map the effect of capital within this dynamic through the distribution of effort into the appropriateness or not of action. How to render this process of the distribution of appropriate action perceptible and guide it seems to me to be the location of agency and the purpose of what Deleuze described as counter-actualisation. One positive effect of all this thinking is that the distribution of effort within this transversal iterations of consistency as I understand clearly renders the utter conceptual poverty of the phrase ‘self interest’. ‘Self interest’ is a refrain that consecrates the distribution of effort into actions for the ‘self’ as appropriate and thus ratifying the affects of capitalist apprehension and, in a word, judgement.