Thursday, July 20, 2006

Well, that's like hypnotizing chickens. . .

When I mentioned, the day before last, to a fellow student, that I had read an article describing how the Israeli Defense Force [today's spin term: defense]uses Debord's Society of the Spectacle, D&G's chapter on "The War Machine, and the Situationist International's "Theory of the Derive" to better describe, exploit and reconceptualize the space of urban warfare in the modern age, she first said that "she didn't believe it" and then, when I explained further, "that she wasn't sure she was interested in it." I'm interested in this (if interest can come anywhere near the churning in my stomach), interested even if I do not or do not want to believe it. But I also understand her cool non-chalance, her assumption (which I will not, liking this person, chalk up to the disease of chilly, cynical all-knowingness which often infects graduate students and academics alike). It's history, right? The IDF uses '68-ism to register changes in which they have already participated, been the promulgators of, and already understood otherwise. But can we really think of this as an epiphonemon, a off-gassing of proto-super-capitalism, without real consequences? I think not. The excerpt in last month's Harper's of a recently published book, Fail Better!, on the insights of Samuel Beckett for contemporary business and marketing strategy (ambiguity, perseverance. . .), only confirms my sense that the power of Nabisco or IDF to capture and exploit the most intelligent kinds of negativity and criticality that "theory" has to offer must be examined, all the more if you believe that, eventually, Gertrude Stein becomes a billboard on I-95. [Note, here, the sale of Iggy Pop's fantastic song "Lust for Life" to Carnival Cruises (or was it Princess), a sale which sets Johnny Yen and his striptease and lotion in a floating mall where he has little chance of harming anyone.]

Of course, I'm not saying anything not predicted or considered by these writers themselves, especially Debord and the SI, who talk explicitly of a need to negate the negation, to follow criticality with an imaginative positivity--the dérive is a way of describing and breaking up urban space that would, ideally, then be followed by a restructuring of the city so as to better serve desire, needs, and better stymie enervation and immiseration. I'm rereading D&G, now, and everywhere finding their admonitions against exactly this kind of despotic application or manifestation of the BwO: "Even if we consider given social formations, or a given stratic apparatus within a formation we must say that every one of them has a BwO ready to gnaw, proliferate, cover and invade the entire social field, entering into realtions of violence and rivalry as well as alliance and complicity. A BwO of money (inflation), but also a BwO of the the State, army, factory, Party, etc. If the strata are an affair of coagulation and sedimentation, all a stratum needs is a high sedimentation rate for it to lose its configuration and articulations and to form its own specific kind of tumor, within itself or in a given formation or apparatus. The stata form their own BwO's, totalitarian and fascist BwO's, terrifying caricatures of the plane of consistency" (1000 Pl., 163). Or again, worryingly: "That is why the material problem confronting schizoanalysis is knowing whether we have it within our means to make the selection, to distinguish the BwO from its doubles: empty, vitreous bodies, cancerous bodies, totalitarian and fascist. The test of desire: not denouncing false desires, but distinguishing within desire between that which pertains to stratic proliferation, or else too-violent destratification, and that which pertains to the construction of the plane of consitency (keep an eye out for all that is fascist, even inside us, also for the suicidal and demented)" (165). From this and other passages, departs the kidnapping of D&G by the IDF, as well as the many formidable critiques that writers have directed his way over the last twenty-five years. Such a passage can help describe, too, what strike me--here on the blog-plane, and elsewhere--as misreadings of D or D&G (perhaps undenounceable), alternately too hot or too cool.

What, then, for those who would resist? What, then, when the IDF and U.S. military and Hallibruton as well as Al-Qaeda, can be described and empowered by such terminology? Is this view too blurry? Is there a way to dechunk and reassemble at the same time? to make by breaking? It seems that I can get either: 1) a slippery tone, a worrisome ambiguity 2)or a careful, patient and intelligent analysis that defers any answering.

Property damage, propaganda.


jane said...

BLAST "resistance"; BLESS "refusal"

or: not the spectacle of negation; negation of the spectacle

Clifford Duffy said...

Hello _posting from Canada here _ I recently came across a frightening essay illustrating precisely the use by the IDf of Deleuze and guattari's ideas; I'd be very surprised were the characters on the "other" side ie. al Queda, of the camp reading d and g,or for that matter Paul Virilio who has , also , I am sure you know, written a half dozen books about war, as well as a bevy of essays. Robert Fisk has written alot about Al Queda, in his newest book, the war for civilization,and while describing his visit with O.B.laden nowhere do we getthe impression that he reads this sort of work. which does not preclude of course, their awareness of the tactics of guerrila warfare as well as being perfectly capable of changing their techniques and strategies ie. as Hezbollah has been demonstrating with the IdF in the last two weeks. In an essay published in the Independent Fisk refers to UN workers in the South of Lebanon who a re casting doubt on the IDF's claims to making these ground raids against Hezbollah.It would seem IDF has gotten themselves in a guerrila army who may have more on the ball they do, whether they're well versed in deleuze and guattari and others or not. the reference for the essay re war and dg is

I just found yer blog and hope to be back. Cheers,
of course,
pray for peace.