The radical potential of ‘dead wood’?

A number of the issues raised in various papers that I heard at the 2004 CSAA conference hit home in a very real way; that is, at my familial home. I am writing this the night I am back in Sydney. I am exhausted, but not tired, and have this I want to write before I forget.

My mum is nearing the end of her 31 year career as a teacher. For 21 of those years she has worked at one public high school. Now she is being forced to face up up to the neo-liberalist workplace policies of ‘perform – or else’ (See Jon Mckenzie’s work).

Without going into the specifics of her plight my mum has been stiffed at work for the last time. For longer than I have been alive she has been a Liberal voter. Come next election, I hope very much this will no longer be the case.

Like the worker in the Living End’s song “Roll On” my mum found out the hard way about the biopolitical production of living labour in the meld of the performatively docile worker in this hyper-conformative era (where you conform even when you don’t):

You see you’re all expendable,
And when all is said and done,
You’ll go back to work tomorrow,
Or meet your new replacement son.
Roll on!
Roll on!
We’ll roll on with our heads held high…

The typical 60+ year old baby boomer my fellow members of generation-? (? for ‘whatever’, but generation-W sounds kind of second-wave-feminism-ish) and I dismissively refer to as ‘dead wood’ (or maybe it is just me?). With future security tied up in fat retirement funds and the collective conscience of their once-was-radicality perhaps we will see a return to political engagment mobilised by a shared sense of resentiment triggered from social underappreciation.

Or perhaps the dead wood will remain so and end up being the motor-cause of the grey-dollar consumer society. Then it is a question of the biopolitical potential of whatever enthusiasms the Rich Dead Wood desires. Rather like generation-?, who think raves offer some sort of radical potential by offering alternate images of economic exchange or some bullshit like that. Which leads me to one of my childhood faves – Ren and Stimpy.

The biopolitical potential of dead wood as consumer and of the rave is a bit like Ren and Stimpy’s ficticious child’s toy (and maybe ‘adult’ toy for the kinky folks) “Log”:

What rolls down stairs,
Alone or in pairs…
Rolls over your neighbor’s dog?
What’s great for a snack,
And fits on your back?

It’s Log! Log! Log!

It’s Lo-og, it’s Lo-og
It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood!

It’s Lo-og, Lo-og.
It’s better than bad, it’s good!!!

Either way what is left but an ethical commitment? The collective resentiment of boomers is a moment that will flash and then never reappear with the same force again. There is only one boomer generation and, likewise, there is a singular period of becoming-‘dead wood’. Hopefully such a wave can be tapped in a more ethical manner than the collective resentiment ‘captured’ by, for example, Pauline Hanson.

Such dead-wood resentiment will happen and it must be mobilised in ethical ways. Negative affects must be filtered and fed into each other so they become positive affects.

This is the opposite of what happens at Sydney International Airport. As Melissa Gregg and I mention in the hopefully to-be-published paper on the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, there is an announcement broadcast continually over the PA at Sydney Airport that begins with: “Due to increased security measures…” This message has been played over the PA for a long time, I noticed it about 7 months ago. It captures the affective of the ‘to-be’ journey in pretension with itself. That is, the futurity of the present is in an affective tension with the eventuality of the future. The word ‘increased’ increases the polarity of the tension across scales of temporality – of coming and going bodies with various anticipations of the future. The anticipating body is in tension.

The future-event is reconciled with the incredibly strong affects (sometimes) of, for example, ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. The momentum of the present is given a certain weight – the heaviness and slowness of goodbye or the incredible lightness and speed of hello. However, the mobilisation of the lightness or heaviness of the present is always in a particular direction. The direction is bound to be congruent with the announcement about ‘increased security’. The continual repetition of this phrase in the space of the airport is a complex event that has a number of intersecting possibilities. I argue that one such event is the production of particular kinds of departing and arriving travellers.

Anyway, long blog entry, and it has done its job – now I am ready for bed. Last point. I wonder if there is a radical potential in this Blog form of communication? Or is this just another form of ‘log’?

Dyno day

Yeah, so the dyno day…

Started off well. I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm went off, which is a very eery habit I have when excited. Perhaps as a carry over from early morning sport training, I must have the most awesome body clock on the freakin planet as I seem to wake up just before my alarm goes off whenever I am excited. SO I was excited and very guilty because I had so much other work to do, but I had to go to the dyno for fieldwork and for some much needed fun.

Had dramas on the way there, throwing a bloody fan belt, which suX0rs… So I walked what seemed like 500 miles up the bloody road to some joint after a quick call to the dyno day event organiser (pierre) to get the correct belt number. Changed it in the servo I hastily pulled into when the engine warning lights came on. The job took about 20 minutes after 40 minutes of walking!! I had to clean my hands in some dirty servo dunny that was painted vomit yellow and smelt like a 1000 flushes… I didn’t feel like I was cleaning my hands… It felt like I was actually being used to scratch a fat cabbies sweaty arse crack three quarters into a 12 hour shift. Repress. Repress! REPRESS!

After driving around the maze that is the Liverpool shopping district for about half an hour I finally found a nearby car park and said hello to everybody. I was wearing my secret weapon for the CSAA conference as a test deployment. Everyone loved it, which is cool.

Anyway, I got 116 rwkw ED XR6 mostly stock with zaust and extractors. I am happy, I think? It is more than my Silvia got (144hp) with slightly larger FMIC and 3″ zaust (about same cost money wise in terms of modifications).

So now I am free of the shackles of a relationship, I can do my fieldwork properly and do up my car. Bring on the BBM!! But first is the “correctly coloured door” mod.


Canberra was good

Canberra was good. I met up with Katie and Ursula and we had a thorough discussion over lunch. I am getting so excited about our panel at the CSAA conference!
I also had a quick coffee and chat with an old friend from Perth, Cat Harris, who is now working for the Fed Gov in the Berra.
The Melbourne/movie thing is motoring along. Ticket is organised. I have a big secret with who is interested in being involved in the project… CRAZY!!!! There is a lot of work to do yet, that is for bloody sure! Stay tuned…

More travelling…

I am seriously considering driving down to ANU tomorrow to see Katie Hayne screen some of her footage of car enthusiasts in and around Canberra. Three hour drive each way… fun! Taking the cake for some crazy fun… Cameron Male rang me up yesterday and he wants me to consult for the next car enthusiast movie project he is organising, so I am being flown down to Melbourne for a very long lunch, haha! He is also looking for a writer who is also a car enthusiast to do a rewrite on the script. So if the two people who read this know of anyone who is into cars (and has some writing experience!!!) and is willing to do a script rewrite purely for the love of it and a writing credit next to their name for a movie that WILL be made get them to send me an email.