Saturday, September 30, 2006

Cannonball Press

(From Ross Compton and The Lexington Project--opening night is over but you can still visit the exhibit--Barnhart Gallery--2nd floor of UK’s Reynolds Bldg – on S. Broadway, across from Black Horse Motors)

Cannonball Press

Paul Rogers: Al-Qaida's New Terrain

Al-Qaida’s new terrain
Paul Rogers
Open Democracy

The successes of a new generation of jihadi militants in Iraq and Afghanistan suggest that the United States is losing the first phase of its long war.

On the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, President Bush once again conflated the war in Iraq into the global war on terror, declaring that victory in Iraq was essential to the safety of America: "Today we are safer but we are not yet safe".

On the same day, Osama bin Laden's deputy and strategist, Ayman al-Zawahiri, declared that al-Qaida would open up new fronts in the Gulf and against Israel, warning the United States not to waste its time in Iraq and Afghanistan where it was facing defeat.

When the rhetoric from both speeches is stripped away, it was evident that President Bush was determined to highlight the dangers of al-Qaida in the run-up to the midterm elections to Congress in November 2006, and al-Zawahiri was equally determined not to allow al-Qaida to be sidelined by Hizbollah's war with Israel in southern Lebanon. His claim of imminent American defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan might be greatly exaggerated, yet many recent developments suggest that it contains elements of reality.

Afghanistan in turmoil

Earlier columns in this series have pointed to the renewed campaign by Taliban and other militias in Afghanistan, predicting a further upsurge in violence during the course of the year (see "Afghanistan's endemic war", 25 May 2006, and "Afghanistan's war season", 22 June 2006). What appeared to be a pessimistic analysis then has since proved, if anything, to be an underestimate of the power of the revitalised Taliban, leading Tony Blair and others to make urgent appeals for 2,500 additional Nato troops as reinforcements for the hard-pressed forces now in the country.

It is worth remembering that there are already 36,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan. 19,000 Americans are supported by special forces from Britain, France and several other countries in their long-lasting counter-insurgency campaign in the east of the country, and 17,000 NATO troops of the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) are elsewhere in the country, including large contingents in the south.

The problems for the British troops working as part of Isaf in Helmand province have been particularly severe as an intended "hearts and minds" reconstruction mission has turned into a violent counterinsurgency operation. This has now moved on to the point where isolated British garrisons face near-constant attacks and may well have to be withdrawn to secure bases.

Far from providing an environment for reconstruction and development, the British, Canadian, Dutch and other forces are forced repeatedly to call in air power to counter the determined and repeated assaults, not from small groups of paramilitaries but frequently from formations more than a hundred strong. As a graphic account from one British soldier puts it

To Read the Rest of the Hyperlinked Essay

Women Rising VII: International Changemakers in Politics

(Teachers should definitely listen to Barbara Lee describing how one class changed her life... now this is someone I would support for president. All three of these influential women describe critical people in their lives that inspired them to work for the greater good.)

Women Rising VII: International Changemakers in Politics

Women are gaining influence as leaders throughout the world, fighting for peace, justice, the environment and civil society. In this program we profile three courageous politicians, women who have chosen to create progressive change through government.


United States Congresswoman Barbara Lee, 9th Congressional District of California. Wu Qing, People's Deputy at the Beijing and District levels in China. Malalai Joya, among the first women elected to both the Loya Jirga and the WR7-2 new Parliament of Afghanistan.

Producer/Writer: Lynn Finnerman
Host: Sandina Robbins

To Listen to the Program

University of Kentucky Safety Advisory

This Safety Advisory is issued from the University of Kentucky Office of Emergency Management in the best interest of safety for University students and employees.
Within the past week, two female University of Kentucky students have reported to Lexington Police that they had been sexually assaulted or abused while at the Sigma Pi fraternity house, located at 364 Aylesford Place.

The sexual abuse case involved a known suspect, while the sexual assault suspect is unknown.

The unknown suspect is described as a white male, 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 7 inches tall, thin build, with shaggy, dirty blonde-brown hair.

Anyone with information is urged to call UK Police at 859-257-1616 or Lexington Police at 859-258-3600. Students are encouraged to use caution when attending
parties or events.

Following these safety precautions can help keep you safe while still having fun:

-- Do not accept food or drinks from persons unknown to you and never leave your food or drink unattended. Someone could "spike" these items without your knowledge.

-- Always be aware of your surroundings and what other people around you are doing.

-- If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, be responsible! Alcohol clouds a person's decision-making process and increases confidence, a combination that can
lead to risky situations.

-- Carry a cell phone or other personal safety device.

If you have been a victim of violence, please contact UK Women's Place for confidential services, support and referrals. The UK Women's Place telephone number is 859-257-3564.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sinthome: In Praise of Irritation

In Praise of Irritation
Larval Subjects

For a long time I've thought that what I truly desire is a great interlocutor or someone with whom I can really discuss things and develop ideas. I often find myself bored at parties, dinners with friends, and other sundry outings as I find "small talk" exhausting and a waste of time. My eyes glaze over with peoples' reports of their day and what is going on in their life. Wouldn't an engaged theoretical discussion be far more preferable and interesting? And why is it that people engage in small talk at all? It's a bit like birds warbling on a telephone line, simply signalling that they're there. If only I had a truly engaged interlocutor! I think to myself. I despair that the discussions I do have seem fraught with miscommunication.

However, as I look over my friendships, the discussions I gravitate towards, and some of my own theoretical presuppositions I advocate, and my own way of relating to others I engage deeply with, it appears that I desire something very different-- I desire irritation! Everywhere I go I seem to look for conflict, controversy, and disagreement (perhaps making me a rather unsavory character). My sense of humor is designed to shock and cause suprise, saying what shouldn't be said, and is riddled with irony so as to provoke. When reading the newspaper or news magazines, the first thing I do is turn to the editorials and letters to the editor. I enjoy going to far right conservative blogs as I have such difficulty fathoming this sort of reasoning. The friendships I've had have tended to be with people that irritate me to no end, constantly frustrating me with their claims. And my most intense romantic relationships have also tended to be the stormiest.

To Read the Rest of the Post

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Ruminate

ruminate \ROO-muh-nayt\ verb

*1 : meditate, muse
2 : to chew repeatedly for an extended perio

Example sentence:
After meeting with her counselor, Meg passed the afternoon ruminating on the question of what to do with her life.

Did you know?
When you ruminate you chew something over, either literally or figuratively. Literal rumination may seem a little gross to humans, but to cows, chewing your cud (that's partially digested food brought up from the stomach for another chew) is just a natural part of life. Figurative ruminating is much more palatable to humans; that kind of deep, meditative thought is often deemed quite a worthy activity. The verb "ruminate" has described metaphorical chewing over since the 1500s and actual chewing since the early 1600s. Our English word derives from and shares the meanings of the Latin "ruminari," which in turn derives from "rumen," the Latin name for the first stomach compartment of ruminant animals (that is, creatures like cows that chew their cud).

Philosophy of Culture

(Background information for my students reading about the philosophy of culture--as always, suggestions are welcomed)

What is Culture?

Bruce Janz's Philosophy of Culture Website

Technology and Culture

Wikipedia: Postmodernism

Wikipedia: Postmodern Philosophy

Mary Klage on Postmodernism

Postmodern Thought

Raymond Williams: Culture

Wikipedia: Raymond Williams

Raymond Williams: Moving from Ordinary Culture to High Culture

Wikipedia: Matthew Arnold

Wikipedia: Oswald Spengler

Christopher Lasch Online Resources

Wikipedia: Christopher Lasch

James Seaton's on Christopher Lasch

A Dialogue with Christopher Lasch

Wikipedia: Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor: Online Resources

Charles Taylor's Social Imaginaries

Wikipedia: Theodore Kaczynski/The Unabomber

The Unabomber Manifesto

Wikipedia: Luddite

Neo-Luddites and Dystopian Views of Technology

Thomas R. Pynchon: Is It O.K. to be a Luddite?

F.T. Marinetti

F.T. Marinetti's Musical Experiments


Italian Futurism

Futurism: manifestos and other writings

Karl Marx's Theory of Alienation

Jan Lundberg on Cultural Alienation

Richard Louv: Nature Deficit

The Official Site of Marshall McLuhan

Wikipedia: Marshall McLuhan

The Marshall McLuhan Global Research Network

Media Theory

Media Studies

Media Criticism

Marxist Media Theory

Media and Communications Studies

Media and Democracy

Media Culture News

Media Ownership Monitor



William Gibson's Official Website

Wikipedia: William Gibson

Wikipedia: Mark Kingwell

Historical Judicial Processes That "Led to the Development of the Death Camps and Mass Extermination"

(A reminder in the face of new anti-terrosism legislation...)

Rubenstein, Richard L. The Cunning of History: The Holocaust and the American Future. NY: Harper Colophon, 1978.

{MB—pages 12-21 examine the judicial process that led to the development of the death camps and mass extermination. Important in this legalistic development was the designation of “apatrides or stateless persons” (12) at the end of WW1. These were people who had been denied any official standing in the nation and thus could be prosecuted or jailed at any time for no reason at all. Also the process of denaturalization or denationalization was increasingly used during and after the 1920s to deal with unwanted minority groups within the European states. This was an effective stripping of any rights whatsoever. Concentration camps first appeared across Europe to deal with apatrides (or refugees).}

The concentration camps for the apatrides served much the same purpose as did the original Nazi camps in 1933 and 1934. In the popular mind, the first Nazi camps conjure up images of wild sadism by brutal brown-shirted storm troopers. The images are, of course, well deserved, but they tend to hinder precise understanding of the development of the camps as a legal and political institution. (Rubenstein, 15)

Initially, the concentration camps were established to accommodate detainees who had been placed under “protective custody” (Schützhaft) by the Nazi regime. Those arrested were whom the regime wished to detain although there were no clear legal justification for so doing. Almost all of the original detainees were German communists, not Jews. Had the Nazis’ political prisoners been brought before a German court in the first year or two of Hitler’ regime, the judiciary would have been compelled to dismiss the case. This was not because the German judiciary was anti-Nazi, but because it was bureaucratic in structure. In the early stages of the Nazi regime, there was no formula in law to cover all the political prisoners the Nazis wanted to arrest. This problem was solved by holding them under “protective custody” and setting up camps outside of the regular prison system to receive them. Incidentally, the American government did something very similar when it interned Japanese-American citizens during World War II. They had committed no crime. No court would have convicted them. Prison was not the place to detain them. Happily, as bad as were the American concentration camps, they were infinitely better than the German counterparts. (15-16)

One of the least helpful ways of understanding the Holocaust is to regard the destruction process as the work of a small group of irresponsible criminals who were atypical of normal statesmen and who somehow gained control of the German people, forcing them by terror and the deliberate stimulation of religious and ethnic hatred to pursue a barbaric and retrograde policy that was thoroughly at odds with the great traditions of Western civilization.
On the contrary, we are more likely to understand the Holocaust if we regard it as the expression of some of the most profound tendencies of Western civilization in the twentieth century. (Rubenstein, 21)

In order to understand more fully the connection between bureaucracy and mass death, it will be necessary to return to the apatrides. They were the first modern Europeans who had become politically and legally superfluous and for whom the most “rational” way of dealing with them was ultimately murder. A majority of the apatrides had lost their political status by a process of bureaucratic definition, denationalization. (Rubenstein, 31)

Men without political acts are superfluous men. They have lost all right to life and human dignity. Political rights are neither God-given, autonomous nor self-validating. The Germans understood that no person has any rights unless they are guaranteed by an organized community with the power to defend such rights. They were perfectly consistent in demanding that the deportees be made stateless before being transported to the camps. They also understood that by exterminating stateless men and women, they violated no law because such people were covered by no law. Even those who were committed by religious faith to belief in natural law, such as the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church, did not see fit to challenge the Nazi actions publicly at the time. (Rubenstein, 33)

Finch, H.L. Wittgenstein. Rockport, MA: Element, 1995.

The notion that the power that has been discovered and released by modern science and technology is our power, as if it were at our disposal, is itself an example of philosophical naivete since, socially or “civilizationally” speaking, we have no independent life or identity apart from the whole complex which now contains both the powers and us. We are, as it were, inextricably at one with the scientific and technological powers and do not, as we imagine, merely “make use” of them. Socially speaking, apart from them, we have no reality, and this is why, as individuals, far from being in control of these powers, we feel ourselves to be completely at their mercy. The situation, in other words, moves as a whole, and we have no footing either within it or outside it from which to change it. That the whole moves of itself in a benign direction is the illusion of progress. That we are in control of where it is going is an even more pervasive and deadly illusion. (Finch, 17)

To speak of an epochal change is to suggest that the whole reality (ourselves and the world in which we live) is undergoing, or beginning to undergo, a transformation similar to what brought it into being in the first place from a previous epoch. (Finch, 17) {MB—a good historical look at an epochal change from a political/social standpoint is Hannah Arendt’s The Origins ofTotalitarianism. She examines the roots of the “Jewish Question” in Europe, the historical origins of anti-semitism, the Nazi “final solution,” the epochal changes from feudal monarchy to homogenous nation-state identity to expansionist imperialist empires, and the structures of fascist and totalitarian regimes.}

Barbara Ehrenreich's Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passion of War (1998)
Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism (1973)
Erich Fromm's The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1992)
Carolyn Marvin's and David Ingle's Blood Sacrifice and the Nation: Totem Rituals and the American Flag (1999)
Alexander Laban Hinton's edited collection Annhilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide (2002)
Chris Hedges and the Mythology of War

Agamben, Giorgio. Means Without Ends: Notes on Politics. Trans. Vincenzo Binetti and Cesare Casarino. Minneaplois: U of Minnesota P, 2000.

Here I will deliberately set out in the opposite direction. Rather than deducing the definition of camp from the events that took place there, I will ask instead: What is a camp? What is its political-juridical structure? How could such events have taken place there? This will lead us to look at the camp not as a historical fact and an anomaly that—though admittedly still with us—belongs nonetheless to the past, but rather in some sense as the hidden matrix and nomos of the political space in which we still live. (Agamben, “What is a Camp?”: 39)

The camps, in other words, were not born out of ordinary law, and even less were they the product—as one might have believed—of a transformation and a development of prison law; rather, they were born out of the state of exception and martial law. This is even more evident in the case of the Nazi Lager, whose origin and juridical regime is well documented. It is well known that the juridical foundation of internment was not ordinary law but rather the Schutzhaft (literally, protective custody), which was a juridical institution of Prussian derivation that Nazi jurists sometimes considered a measure of preventive policing inasmuch as it enabled the “taking into custody” of individuals regardless of any relevant criminal behavior and exclusively in order to avoid threats to the security of the state. (Agamben, “What is a Camp?”: 38)

Thus, what is being captured under the rule of law is first of all the very state of exception. In other words, if sovereign power is founded on the ability to decide on the state of exception, the camp is the structure in which the state of exception is permanently realized. (Agamben, “What is a Camp?”: 40)

If one does not understand this particular political-juridical structure of the camps, whose vocation is precisely to realize permanently the exception, the incredible events that took place in them remain entirely unintelligible. The people who entered the camp moved about in a zone of indistinction between the outside and the inside, the exception and the rule, the licit and the illicit, in which every juridical protection had disappeared; moreover, if they were Jews, they had already been deprived of citizenship rights by the Nuremberg Laws and were later completely denationalized at the moment of the “final solution.” Inasmuch as its inhabitants have been stripped of every political status and reduced completely to naked life, the camp is also the most absolutely biopolitical space that has ever been realized—a space in which power confronts nothing other than pure biological life without any mediation. The camp is the paradigm itself of political space at the point in which politics becomes biopolitics and the homo sacer becomes indistinguishable from the citizen. The correct question regarding the horrors committed in the camps, therefore, is not the question that asks hypocritically how it could have been possible to commit such atrocious horrors against other human beings; it would be more honest, and above all more useful, to investigate carefully how—that is, thanks to what juridical procedures and political devices—human beings could have been so completely deprived of their rights and prerogatives to the point that committing any act toward them would no longer appear as a crime (at this point, in fact, truly anything had become possible). (Agamben, “What is a Camp?”: 40-41)

If this is the case, if the essence of the camp consists in the materialization of the state of exception and in the consequent creation of a space for naked life as such, we will then have to admit to be facing a camp virtually every time that such a structure is created, regardless of the nature of the crimes committed in it and regardless of the denomination and specific topography it might have. (Agamben, “What is a Camp?”: 41-42)

In all these case, an apparently anodyne place ... delimits instead a space in which, for all intents and purposes, the normal rule of law is suspended and in which the fact that atrocities may or may not be committed does not depend on the law but rather on the civility and ethical sense of the police that act temporarily as sovereign. (Agamben, “What is a Camp?”: 42)

There is something that no longer functions in the traditional mechanisms that used to regulate this inscription, and the camp is the new hidden regulator of the inscription of life in the order—or, rather, it is the sign of the system’s inability to function without transforming itself into a lethal machine. It is important to note that the camps appeared at the same time that the new laws on citizenship and on the denationalization of citizens were issued (not only the Nuremberg Laws on citizenship in the Reich but also the laws on the denationalization of citizens that were issued by almost all the European states, including France, between 1915 and 1933). The state of exception, which used to be essentially a temporary suspension of the order, becomes now a new and stable spatial arrangement inhabited by that naked life that increasingly cannot be inscribed into the order. (Agamben, “What is a Camp?”: 43)

We do not have, in fact, the slightest idea of what either a people or a language is. (It is well known that linguists can construct a grammar—that is, a unitary system with describable characteristics that could be called language—only by taking the factum loquendi for granted, that is, only by taking for granted the simple fact that human beings speak and understand each other, a fact that is still inaccessible to science.) Nevertheless, all of our political culture is based on the relation between these two notions. Romantic ideology—which consciously created this connection, thereby influencing extensively modern linguistic theory as well as the political theory that is still dominant nowadays—tried to clarify something that was already obscure (the concept of people) with the help of something even more obscure (the concept of language). Thanks to the symbiotic correspondence thus instituted, two contingent and indefinite cultural entities transform themselves into almost natural organisms endowed with their own necessary laws and characteristics. Political theory, in fact, must presuppose, without the ability to explain it, the factum pluralitatis—a term etymologically related to populus, with which I would like to indicate the simple fact that human beings form a community—whereas linguistics must presuppose, without questioning it, the factum loquendi. The simple correspondence between these two facts defines modern political discourse. (Agamben, “Languages and Peoples”: 65-66)

The relation between Gypsies and argot puts this correspondence radically into question in the very instant in which it parodically reenacts it. Gypsies are to a people what argot is to language. And although this analogy can last but for a brief moment, it nonetheless sheds light on that truth which the correspondence between languages and people was secretly intended to conceal: all peoples are gangs and coquilles, all languages are jargons and argot. (Agamben, “Languages and Peoples”: 66-67)

What is at stake here is not to evaluate the scientific accuracy of this thesis but rather not to let its liberating power slip out of our hands. Once our gaze is focused on this matter, the perverse and tenacious machines that govern our political imaginary suddenly lose their power. It should be evident to everybody, after all, that we are talking about an imaginary, especially nowadays when the idea of a people has long lost any substantial reality. Even if we admit that this idea never had any real content other than the insipid catalog of characteristics listed by the old philosophical anthropologies, it was already made meaningless, in any case, by the same modern that presented itself as its keeper and its expression. All well-meaning chatter notwithstanding, the idea of a people today is nothing other than the empty support of state identity and is recognized only as such. For those who might still nurture some doubt on the matter, it would be instructive to take a look at what is happening around us from this point of view: on the one hand, the world powers take up arms to defend a state without a people (Kuwait) and, on the other hand, the peoples without a state (Kurds, Armenians, Palestinians, Basques, Jews of the Diaspora) can be oppressed and exterminated with impunity, so as to make clear that the destiny of a people can only be a state identity and that the concept of a people makes sense only if recodified within the concept of citizenship. In this regard, it is also important to not the peculiar status of those languages that have no state dignity (Catalan, Basque, Gaelic, etc.), which linguists treat naturally as languages, but which practically operate rather as jargons or dialects and almost always assume an immediately political significance. (Agamben, “Languages and Peoples”: 67-68)

The thesis according to which all peoples are Gypsies and all languages are jargons untangles this knot and enables us to look in a new way at those linguistic experiences that have periodically emerged within our culture only to be misunderstood and led back to dominant conceptions. What else can Dante mean, in fact, when he says—while narrating the myth of Babel in De vulgari eloquentia—that every kind of tower-builder received its own language, which was incomprehensible to the others, and that the languages spoken in his time derived from these Babelic languages? He is presenting all the languages of the Earth as jargons (the language of a trade, in fact, is the figure of jargon par excellence). And against this intimate aptitude for jargon that every language possesses, he does not suggest the remedy of a national language and grammar (as a long-standing falsification of his thought would have it); he suggests, rather, a transformation of the very way of experiencing words, which he called volgare illustre. Such a transformation was to be something like a deliverance of the jargons themselves that would direct them toward the factum loquendi-—nd hence not a grammatical deliverance, but a poetical and a political one. (Agamben, “Languages and Peoples”: 68-69)

Languages are the jargons that hide the pure experience of language just as peoples are the more or less successful masks of the factum pluralitatis. This is why our task cannot possibly be either the construction of these jargons into grammars or the recodification of peoples into state identities. On the contrary, it is only by breaking at any point the nexus between the existence of language, grammar, people, and state that thought and praxis will be equal to the tasks at hand. The forms of this interruption—during which the factum of language and the factum of community come to light for an instant—are manifold and change according to times and circumstances: reactivation of a jargon, trobar clus, pure language, minoritarian practice of a grammatical language, and so on. In any case, it is clear that what is at stake here is not something simply linguistic or literary but, above all, political and philosophical. (Agamben, “Languages and Peoples”: 70)

Only those who will be able to carry it to completion—without allowing that which reveals to be veiled in the nothingness it reveals, but bringing language itself to language—will become the first citizens of a community with neither presuppositions nor a state. In this community, the nullifying and determining power of what is common will be pacified ... (Agamben, “Marginal Notes on Commentaries on the Society of the Spectacle”: 85)

Exposition is the location of politics. If there is no animal politics, that is perhaps because animals are always already in the open and do not try to take possession of their own exposition; they simply live in it without caring about it. That is why they are not interested in mirrors, in the image as image. Human beings, on the other hand, separate images from things and give them a name precisely because they want to recognize themselves, that is, they want to take possession of their very own appearance. Human beings thus transform the open into a world, that is, into the battlefield of a political struggle without quarter. This struggle, whose object is truth, goes by the name of History. (Agamben, “The Face”: 93)

It is happening more and more often that in pornographic photographs the portrayed subjects, by a calculated stratagem, look into the camera, thereby exhibiting the awareness of being exposed to the gaze. This unexpected gesture violently belies the fiction that is implicit in the consumption of such images, according to which the one who looks surprises the actors while remaining unseen by them: the latter, rather, knowingly challenge the voyeur’s gaze and force him to look them in the eyes. In that precise moment, the insubstantial nature of the human face suddenly comes to light. The fact that the actors look into the camera means that they show that they are simulating; nevertheless, they paradoxically appear more real precisely to the extent to which they exhibit this falsification. The same procedure is used today in advertising: the image appears more convincing if it shows openly its own artifice. In both cases, the one who looks is confronted with something that concerns unequivocally the essence of the face, the very structure of truth. (Agamben, “The Face”: 93-94)

The face, truth, and exposition are today the objects of a global civil war, whose battlefield is social life in its entirety, whose storm troopers are the media, whose victims are all the peoples of the Earth. Politicians, the media establishment, and the advertising industry have understood the insubstantial character of the face and of the community it opens up, and thus they transform it into a miserable secret that they must make sure to control at all costs. State power today is no longer founded on the monopoly of the legitimate use of violence—a monopoly that states share increasingly willingly with other nonsoveriegn organizations; rather, it is founded above all on the control of appearance (of doxa). The fact that politics constitutes itself as an autonomous sphere goes hand in hand with the separation of the face in the world of spectacle—a world in which human communication is being separated from itself. Exposition thus transforms itself into a value that is accumulated in images and in the media, while a new class of bureaucrats jealously watches over its management. (Agamben, “The Face”: 94)

There are two words in Latin that derive from the Indo-European root meaning “one”: similis, which expresses resemblance, and simul, which means, “at the same time.” Thus, next to similitudo (resemblance) there is simultas, that is the fact of being together (which implies also rivalry, enmity); and next to similare (to be like) there is simulare (to copy, to imitate, which implies also to feign, to simulate). (Agamben, “The Face”: 99)

The face is not a simulacrum, in the sense that it is something dissimulating or hiding the truth: the face is the simultas, the being-together of the manifold visages constituting it, in which none of the visages is truer than any of the others. To grasp the face’s truth means to grasp not the resemblance but rather the simultaneity of the visages, that is, the restless power that keeps them together and constitutes their being-in-common. The face of God, thus, is the simultas of human faces: it is “our effigy” that Dante saw in the “living light” of paradise. (Agamben, “The Face”: 99)

In the same way in which the great transformation of the first industrial revolution destroyed the social and political structures as well as the legal categories of the ancien regime, terms such as sovereignty, right, nation, people, democracy, and general will by now refer to a reality that no longer has anything to do with what these concepts used to designate—and those who continue to use these concepts uncritically literally do not know what they are talking about. Consensus and public opinion have no more to do with the general will than the “international police” that today fight wars have to do with the sovereignty of the jus publicum Europaeum. Contemporary politics is the devastating experiment that disarticulates and empties institutions and beliefs, ideologies and religions, identities and communities all throughout the planet, so as then to rehash and reinstate their definitively nullified form. (Agamben, “Notes on Politics”: 109-110)

However, the problem that the new politics is facing is precisely this: is it possible to have a political community that is ordered exclusively for the full enjoyment of worldly life? ... Once again Walter Benjamin, in the “Theologico-Political Fragment,” leaves no doubt regarding the fact that “The order of the profane should be erected on the idea of happiness.” The definition of the concept of “happy life” remains one of the essential tasks of the coming thought (and this should be achieved in such a way that this concept is not kept separate from ontology, because: “being: we have no experience of it other than living itself”). (Agamben, “Notes on Politics”: 114)

The second consequence of the experimentum linguae is that, above and beyond the concepts of appropriation and expropriation, we need to think, rather, the possibility and the modalities of a free use. Praxis and political reflection are operating today exclusively within the dialectic of proper and improper—a dialectic in which either the improper extends its own rule everywhere, thanks to an unrestrainable will to falsification and consumption (as it happens in industrialized democracies), or the proper demands the exclusion of and impropriety (as it happens in integralist and totalitarian states). If instead we define the common (or, as others suggest, the same) as a point of indifference between the proper and the improper—that is, as something that can never be grasped in terms of either expropriation or appropriation but that can be grasped, rather, only as use—the essential political problem then becomes: “How does one use a common?” (Agamben, “Notes on Politics”: 117)

The new categories of political thought—inoperative community, compearance, equality, loyalty, mass intellectuality, the coming people, whatever singularity, or however else they might be called—will be able to express the political matter that is facing us only if they are able to articulate the location, the manners, and the meaning of this experience of the event of language intended as free use of the common and as sphere of pure means. (Agamben, “Notes on Politics”: 117-118)

New York Times Editorial on the Anti-Terrorism Bill

Rushing Off a Cliff
New York Times editorial


Last week, the White House and three Republican senators announced a terrible deal on this legislation that gave Mr. Bush most of what he wanted, including a blanket waiver for crimes Americans may have committed in the service of his antiterrorism policies. Then Vice President Dick Cheney and his willing lawmakers rewrote the rest of the measure so that it would give Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error.

These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

•There is not enough time to fix these bills, especially since the few Republicans who call themselves moderates have been whipped into line, and the Democratic leadership in the Senate seems to have misplaced its spine. If there was ever a moment for a filibuster, this was it.

We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts

To Read the Rest of the Article


House Passes Torture Bill

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bluegrass Community and Technical College: Cultures of Ecuador

Brown Bag Cultural Presentation, Tuesday, September 26th

Cultures of Ecuador by Karla Ruiz in Oswald Building 210 at 12:00 pm (NOON): Bring a bag lunch (or not) and learn about Ecuadorian Culture!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Clinton Sets The Record Straight On Terrorism

(Damn ... I miss BC)

Courtesy of Think Progress, the video of Bill Clinton on FOX News defending his record on terrorism


FOX's Attempt to Spin the Interview

Social Theory: Badiou and Deleuze

Links to Badiou's Briefings on Existence: a short treatise on transitory ontology Pages 21–62 & Chapter on Deleuze's 'vitalist ontology'

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: Will The Next Election Be Hacked?

Will The Next Election Be Hacked?
(Courtesy of Thoughts on the Eve of the Apocalypse)

Will The Next Election Be Hacked?: Fresh disasters at the polls -- and new evidence from an industry insider -- prove that electronic voting machines can't be trusted
Rolling Stone

The debacle of the 2000 presidential election made it all too apparent to most Americans that our electoral system is broken. And private-sector entrepreneurs were quick to offer a fix: Touch-screen voting machines, promised the industry and its lobbyists, would make voting as easy and reliable as withdrawing cash from an ATM. Congress, always ready with funds for needy industries, swiftly authorized $3.9 billion to upgrade the nation's election systems - with much of the money devoted to installing electronic voting machines in each of America's 180,000 precincts. But as midterm elections approach this November, electronic voting machines are making things worse instead of better. Studies have demonstrated that hackers can easily rig the technology to fix an election - and across the country this year, faulty equipment and lax security have repeatedly undermined election primaries. In Tarrant County, Texas, electronic machines counted some ballots as many as six times, recording 100,000 more votes than were actually cast. In San Diego, poll workers took machines home for unsupervised "sleepovers" before the vote, leaving the equipment vulnerable to tampering. And in Ohio - where, as I recently reported in "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" [RS 1002], dirty tricks may have cost John Kerry the presidency - a government report uncovered large and unexplained discrepancies in vote totals recorded by machines in Cuyahoga County.

Even worse, many electronic machines don't produce a paper record that can be recounted when equipment malfunctions - an omission that practically invites malicious tampering. "Every board of election has staff members with the technological ability to fix an election," Ion Sancho, an election supervisor in Leon County, Florida, told me. "Even one corrupt staffer can throw an election. Without paper records, it could happen under my nose and there is no way I'd ever find out about it. With a few key people in the right places, it would be possible to throw a presidential election."

Chris Hood remembers the day in August 2002 that he began to question what was really going on in Georgia. An African-American whose parents fought for voting rights in the South during the 1960s, Hood was proud to be working as a consultant for Diebold Election Systems, helping the company promote its new electronic voting machines. During the presidential election two years earlier, more than 94,000 paper ballots had gone uncounted in Georgia - almost double the national average - and Secretary of State Cathy Cox was under pressure to make sure every vote was recorded properly.

Hood had been present in May 2002, when officials with Cox's office signed a contract with Diebold - paying the company a record $54 million to install 19,000 electronic voting machines across the state. At a restaurant inside Atlanta's Marriott Hotel, he noticed the firm's CEO, Walden O'Dell, checking Diebold's stock price on a laptop computer every five minutes, waiting for a bounce from the announcement.

Hood wondered why Diebold, the world's third-largest seller of ATMs, had been awarded the contract. The company had barely completed its acquisition of Global Election Systems, a voting-machine firm that owned the technology Diebold was promising to sell Georgia. And its bid was the highest among nine competing vendors. Whispers within the company hinted that a fix was in.

"The Diebold executives had a news conference planned on the day of the award," Hood recalls, "and we were instructed to stay in our hotel rooms until just hours before the announcement. They didn't want the competitors to know and possibly file a protest" about the lack of a fair bidding process. It certainly didn't hurt that Diebold had political clout: Cox's predecessor as secretary of state, Lewis Massey, was now a lobbyist for the company.

The problem was, Diebold had only five months to install the new machines - a "very narrow window of time to do such a big deployment," Hood notes. The old systems stored in warehouses had to be replaced with new equipment; dozens of state officials and poll workers had to be trained in how to use the touch-screen machines. "It was pretty much an impossible task," Hood recalls. There was only one way, he adds, that the job could be done in time - if "the vendor had control over the entire environment." That is precisely what happened. In late July, to speed deployment of the new machines, Cox quietly signed an agreement with Diebold that effectively privatized Georgia's entire electoral system. The company was authorized to put together ballots, program machines and train poll workers across the state - all without any official supervision. "We ran the election," says Hood. "We had 356 people that Diebold brought into the state. Diebold opened and closed the polls and tabulated the votes. Diebold convinced Cox that it would be best if the company ran everything due to the time constraints, and in the interest of a trouble-free election, she let us do it."

To Read the Rest of the Article

Peter Kolchin: Whiteness Studies

(Courtesy of Bill)

Whiteness Studies: The New History of Race in America
Peter Kolchin
The Journal of American History Vol. 89, Issue 1 (posted by History Cooperative and Gregory S. Jay)

Suddenly whiteness studies are everywhere. The rapid proliferation of a genre that appears to have come out of nowhere is little short of astonishing: a recent keyword search on my university library's electronic catalog yielded fifty-one books containing the word "whiteness" in their titles, almost all published in the past decade and most published in the past five years.1 All around us, American historians and scholars in related disciplines from sociology and law to cultural studies and education are writing books with titles such as The White Scourge, How the Irish Became White, Making Whiteness, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness, and Critical White Studies.2 Although the term "whiteness studies" might at first glance suggest works that promote white identity or constitute part of a racist backlash against multiculturalism and "political correctness," virtually all the whiteness studies authors seek to confront white privilege—that is, racism—and virtually all identify at some level with the political Left. Most of them see a close link between their scholarly efforts and the goal of creating a more humane social order. 1
Whiteness studies authors manifest a wide variety of approaches. In many of the disciplines outside history, prescriptive policy goals assume a central position; writing on whiteness in education, for example, Nelson M. Rodriguez calls for the creation of "'pedagogies of whiteness' as a counterhegemonic act" predicated on the need to "refigure whiteness in antiracist, antihomophobic, and antisexist ways."3 Although such didacticism is far from absent in the work of whiteness studies historians, their focus has been on the construction of whiteness—how diverse groups in the United States came to identify, and be identified by others, as white—and what that has meant for the social order. Starting from the now widely shared premise that race is an ideological or social construct rather than a biological fact, they have at least partially shifted attention from how Americans have looked at blacks to how they have looked at whites, and to whiteness as a central component of Americans' racial ideology. In doing so, they have already had a substantial impact on historians whose work does not fall fully within the rubric of whiteness studies but who have borrowed some of the field's insights, concerns, and language.4 2
This essay represents an effort by a sympathetic but critical outsider to come to grips with this burgeoning field. I will deal primarily with historical literature, although I will refer to works in other disciplines, and I will pay particular attention to two books that are among the best and most influential of the whiteness studies works: David R. Roediger's The Wages of Whiteness and Matthew Frye Jacobson's Whiteness of a Different Color.5 Because the two books differ from each other in important respects, they reveal both the diversity within and the common assumptions behind whiteness studies, and they suggest some of the insights and potential pitfalls of the genre. My aim is to produce not so much a final evaluation of a finished project as a tentative progress report on a literature still very much in evolution

To Read the Rest of the Essay

Also check out:

Whiteness Studies: Deconstructing (the) Race

Happy Birthday Kentuckians for the Commonwealth

Happy Birthday, all!

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is 25 years old, and we're celebrating today with good food, fun, music, and birthday cake at Woodland Park at 3pm!

Things to bring if you can -
- A battery-operated CD player (I can't seem to find one)
- chairs or blankets
- a food item if available
- a camera
- anything you think would be fun to bring
- and mostly - Yourself!

KFTC Birthday Party! – Sunday, September 24th at 3pm at the Woodland Park gazebo. The Central KY Chapter will celebrate KFTC’s 25th Birthday with cake, stories, music and fun. We want members who’ve been involved for years and years to come as well as
members who joined just last week.

- Dave

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC) is a grassroots citizens organization that believes in the power of citizens, working together, to challenge injustices, right wrongs and improve the a quality of life for all Kentuckians.

We meet locally on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 7pm at the Episcopal Diocese Mission House on the corner of 4th St. and Martin Luther King Blvd. Come join us!

To join our Central KY email listserv, send a blank email to

Also, please visit our new website

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Surviving a Mid-Life Crisis

Good luck, I sure need it:

The only answer, wrote Jung, is to turn directly toward the approaching darkness and "find out what it wants from you."

I usually find these MSN advice columns kind of ridiculous, but this one has some good suggestions:

How To Have a Mid-Life Crisis

Here's to staring into the abyss ;)

Until the End of the World/Fretless/Humans From Earth (Film by Wim Wenders/Song by R.E.M./T Bone Burnett/U2)

You know there are those crazy films that don't always make sense, but they stick with you... been listening to the soundtrack of this one, going to have to watch it again soon.

"Fretless" by R.E.M.

He's got his work and she comes easy
They each come around when the other is gone
Me, I think I got stuck somewhere in between
I wouldn't confide in the Prodigal Son
The die has been cast, the battle is won
The bullets were blanks, a double aught gun
I couldn't admit to a minute of fun

They come and they come and they come and they come
I accepted with a gentle tongue
No words spoken, no need to speak

Take it, stomp twice, ring the bell
Tether that ring and phrase
Enough with the rifle and talk already
We all know what it means
Take this conversation to your great divide
I can only swallow what I ate
And I don't hate him
And I don't hate her

They come and they come and they come and they come
I accepted with a gentle tongue
No heart broken, no need to speak

(Don't talk to me)
Don't talk to me about being alone
(Don't talk to me)
Don't talk to me about being alone
(Don't talk to me)
Don't talk to me about being alone

Reach for each other before you leave
Reach peace with an E-A-C
Don't threaten me with a gentle tease
Don't threaten me with angry
Please, please, please
Don't try to tell me what I am

They come and they come and they come and they come
I accepted with a gentle tongue
No words broken, no need to speak

(Talk to me)
Don't talk to me
(Talk to me)
Don't talk to me


Humans From Earth
T Bone Burnett

We come from a blue planet light-years away
Where everything multiplies at an amazing rate
We're out here in the universe buying real estate
Hope we haven't gotten here too late

We're humans from earth
We're humans from earth
You have nothing at all to fear
I think we're gonna like it here

We're looking for a planet with atmosphere
Where the air is fresh and the water clear
With lots of sun like you have here
Three or four hundred days a year


Bought Manhatten for a string of beads
Brought along some gadgets for you to see
Heres a crazy little thing we call TV
Do you have electricity?


I know we may seem pretty strange to you
But we got know-how and a golden rule
We're here to see manifest destiny through
Ain't nothing we can't get used to

We're humans from earth
We're humans from earth

Until the End of the World

Haven't seen you FOR quite a while
I was down the HOLE just passing time
Last time we met was a low-lit room
We were as close together as a bride and groom
We ate the food, we drank the wine
Everybody having a good time
Except you
You were talking about the end of the world

I took the money
I spiked your drink
You miss too much these days if you stop to think
You lead me on with those innocent eyes
You know I love the element of surprise
In the garden I was playing the tart
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
You were acting like it was the end of the world

In my dream I was drowning sorrows
But my sorrows, they learned to swim
Surrounding me, going down on me
Spilling over the brim
Waves of regret, waves of joy
I reached out for the one I tried to destroy
You, you said you'd wait till the end of the world.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Camraderie

camaraderie \kahm-RAH-duh-ree\ noun

: a spirit of friendly good-fellowship

Example sentence:
The sense of camaraderie among colleagues in the sales department is the main reason Julie enjoys coming to work each day.

Did you know?
"Camaraderie" comes from "camarade," the French word whose Middle French ancestor was also the source for our word "comrade." "Camaraderie" made its first appearance in English in the middle of the 19th century. In Middle French, "camarade" was used to mean "roommate," "companion," or "a group sleeping in one room." It derived by way of Old Spanish from the Late Latin "camera," meaning "chamber." We also have the word "comradery," which means the same thing as "camaraderie" but did not take the same etymological route as its synonym. That word, formed by attaching the "-ry" suffix (as found in "wizardry" and "citizenry") to "comrade," didn't appear in English until almost 40 years after "camaraderie."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Deleuze and Guattari: Anti-Oedipus


An introduction to the importance of May 1968 (as well as the aftermath) is essential to an understanding of this book and the development of contemporary French theory.

Guattari’s background as a radical psychiatrist is also very important.

Deleuze on their working relationship:

We are only two, but what was important for us was less our working together than this strange fact of working between the two of us. We stopped being “author.” And these “between the twos” referred back to other people, who were different on one side from on the other. ... In these conditions, as soon as there is this type of multiplicty, there is politics, micro-politics. (Deleuze and Parnet, 17)

Form/Style of the Book:

In D & G’s writings before and after Anti-Oedipus they develop an understanding of how theoretical perspectives can actually construct/create subjectivity. This is the critique of psychoanalysis in A-O.

Creating a theoretical model of subjectivity implies an ethical and aesthetic choice on the part of the theorist, in fact Guattari emphasizes this when he subtitles his later book Chaosmosis, “An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm”. Keeping this in mind how is the form/style of this book an attempt to create or construct a model of subjectivity? Is it successful in its attempt? Is Michel Foucault correct in calling this a ‘book of ethics’?

Mark Seem in his introduction following Henry Miller states that “No pain, no trouble—this is the neurotic’s dream of a tranquilized and conflict-free existence” and in reference to A-O that “What it attempts to cure us of is the cure itself” (xvi-xvii). Is the construction of this book centered around the authors’ resistance of the easy cure or strict (dogmatic) program? How are they attacking the “neurotic’s dream” ... keeping in mind that the psychoanalyst is the super-neurotic?

Claire Colbrook states that:

Rather than using reason and reasoned arguments, the book sought to explain and historicise the emergence of an essentially repressive image of reason. Rather than argument and proposition it worked by questions and interrogation: why should we accept conventions, norms, and values? What stops us from creating new values, new desires, or new images of what it is to be and think? This book was not a move within an already established debate; it shifted the entire criteria of the debate. Against justification and legitimation, it put forward the power of creation and transformation. It did not adopt the single voice of universal reason but, like a novel, ‘played’ with the voices of those traditionally deemed to be at the margins of reason ... (5)

Anti-Psychoanalytic Institution?:

It is often thought that Oedipus is an easy subject to deal with, something perfectly obvious, a “given” that is there from the very beginning. But that is not so at all: Oedipus presupposes a fantastic repression of desiring-machines. (A-O, 3)

One of the main questions raised in this quote and the accompanying footnote is: How did Freud appropriate the author(ity) of Greek tragedy to legitimize his psychoanalytic concepts? How does this relate to the second chapters critique of the institution of psychoanalysis as a new secular religion set up by the followers of Freud and institutionalized by the industrial-military complex?

It is as if Freud had drawn back from this world of wild production and explosive desire, wanting at all costs to restore a little order there, an order made classical owing to the ancient Greek theater. ... It is only little by little that he makes the familial romance, on the contrary, into a mere dependence on Oedipus, and that he neuroticizes everything in the unconscious at the same time as he oedipalizes, and closes the familial triangle over the entire unconscious. ... The unconscious ceases to be what it is—a factory, a workshop—to become a theater, a scene and its staging. And not even an avant-garde theater, such as existed in Freud’s day ..., but the classical theater, the classical order of representation. The psychoanalyst becomes a director for a private theater, rather than the engineer or mechanic who sets up units of production, and grapples with collective agents of production and antiproduction. (54-55)

Has psychoanalysis shut down the (expanding on D & G) continuously evolving production of an unconscious in order to provide an all-encompassing, static analytic backdrop? What about their referencing of mechanics/engineers who facilitate the flows of production and recognize the collective processes?

For we must not delude ourselves: Freud doesn’t like schizophrenics. He doesn’t like their resistance to being oedipalized, and tends to treat them more or less as animals. They mistake words for things, he says. They are apathetic, narcissisitic, cut off from reality, incapable of achieving transference; they resemble philosophers—‘an undesirable resemblance.’ (A-O, 23)

This position of D & G seems unfair until we read the notes on the bottom of pages 56 and 59. How does the analyst construct a position free from doubt/criticism (leaving aside that they are supposed to submit to even super-super neurotics for analysis) in order to construct the patient’s world? (is this an unfair view of the analyst?—what does the two notes supply us as evidence of the analyst’s position—or how about the writings of Lacan)

It is not a question of denying the vital importance of parents or the love attachment of children to their mothers and fathers. It is a question of knowing what the place and the function of parents are within desiring-production, rather than doing the opposite and forcing the entire interplay of desiring-machines to fit within the restricted code of Oedipus. (47)

Is it possible that, by taking the path that it has, psychoanalysis is reviving an age-old tendency to humble us, to demean us, and to make us feel guilty? ... [is it] completing the task begun by nineteenth-century psychology, namely, to develop a moralized, familial discourse of mental pathology ... keeping European humanity harnessed to the yoke of daddy-mommy and making no effort to do away with this problem once and for all.... Hence, instead of participating in an undertaking that will bring about genuine liberation, psychoanalysis is taking part in the work of bourgeois repression at its most far-reaching level. (50)

D & G set out to develop schizoanalysis as their answer to this problem.


First important distinction is to remember that they are proposing an active schizophrenia that differs from the incapacitating medical designation of schizophrenia. D & G’s schizoanalysis grows out of their resistance to institutionalized psychoanalysis that has infiltrated all parts of society with a totalizing theory that masks humanity’s true relationship to the world:

From the moment we are measured in terms of Oedipus—the cards are stacked against us, and the only real relationship, that of production, has been done away with. (A-O, 24)

We cannot say that psychoanalysis is very innovative in this respect: it continues to ask its questions and develop its interpretations from the depths of the Oedipal triangle as its basic perspective, even though today it is acutely aware that this frame of reference is not at all adequate to explain so-called psychotic phenomena. (14)

A schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic laying on the analyst’s couch. A breath of fresh air, a relationship with the outside world (A-O, 2)

We no longer believe in the dull gray outlines of a dreary, colorless dialectic of evolution, aimed at forming a harmonious whole out of heterogeneous bits by rounding off their rough edges. We believe only in totalities that are peripheral. And if we discover such a totality alongside various separate parts, it is a whole of these particular parts but does not totalize them; it is a unity of all of these particular parts but does not unify them; rather, it is added to them as a new part fabricated separately. (42)

To withdraw a part from the whole, to detach, to ‘have something left over,’ is to produce, and to carry out real operations of desire in the world ... The whole not only coexists with all the parts; it is contiguous to them, it exists as a product that is produced apart from them and yet at the same time is related to them. (41, 43-44)

An important part of schizoanalysis is the development of a “schizoanalytic cartography” (A-O, 273-382). Guattari in another work states:

From my own perspective, which is guided by a shift of human and social sciences from “scientistic” paradigms to ethico-aesthetic ones, the question is no longer one of knowing if the Freudian unconscious or the Lacanian unconscious offers scientific solutions to the problem of the psyche. The models will only be considered as one among others for the production of subjectivity, inseparable from the technical and institutional mechanisms that support them, and from their impact on psychiatry, on university teaching, the mass media. ... In a more general way, one will have to admit that each individual, each social group, conveys its own system of modelling unconscious subjectivity, that is, a certain cartography made up of reference points that are cognitive, but also mythic, ritualistic, and symptomatological, and on the basis of which it positions itself in relation to its affects, its anxieties, and attempts to manage its various inhibitions and drives. Moreover, today, our question is not only of a speculative order, but has practical implications: do the models of the unconscious that are offered us on the “market” of psychoanalysis meet current conditions for the production of subjectivity? Is it necessary to transform them, or to invent new ones? What processes are set in motion in the awareness of an inhabitual shock? How do modifications to a mode of thinking, to an aptitude for the apprehension of a changing external world, take effect? How do representations of the external world change as it changes? The Freudian unconscious is inseparable from a society that is attached to its past, to its phallocratic traditions, and its subjective variants. Contemporary upheavals undoubtably call for a modelization turned more toward the future and to the emergence of new social and aesthetic practices in all areas. On the one hand, the devaluation of the meaning of life provokes the fragmentation of self-image: representations of self become confused and contradictory while, on the other hand, the conservative forces of resistance oppose themselves to all change, which is experienced by a secure, ossified, and dogmatic consciousness as an attempt at destabilization. (Guattari, “Subjectivities”: 197)

Deleuze adds:

... the diagram is no longer an auditory or visual archive but a map, a cartography that is coextensive with the whole social field. (Deleuze, Foucault: 34)

After setting up the problem as they see it in A-O they will later attempt to propose a mutable method for approaching this problem. Of course this will not be a solution that must be seized and made one’s own in order for it to have any effect:

The rhizome is altogether different, a map and not a tracing. Make a map, not a tracing. The orchid does not reproduce the tracing of the wasp; it forms a map with the wasp, in a rhizome. What distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real. The map does not reproduce an unconscious closed in upon itself; it constructs the unconscious. It fosters connections between the field, the removal of blockages on bodies without organs, the maximum opening of bodies without organs onto a plane of consistency. It is itself a part of the rhizome. The map is open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification. It can be torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation. It can be drawn on a wall, conceived of as a work of art, constructed as a political action or as a mediation. (A Thousand Plateaus, 12)

On Capitalism:

Capitalism is schizophrenic because it is interested in profit and it must subvert/deterritorialize all territorial groupings such as familial, religious, or other social bonds. At the same time it relies on the continuous appearance/mythification of social groupings in order to continue functioning smoothly and to re-enforce social ordering needs. Thus, capitalism attempts to re-constitute the need for traditional/nostalgic, or, even, newer forms of social groupings or religious/state institutions. This deterritorialization/reterritorialization and decoding/recoding is happening at the same time—thus the schizophrenic nature of capitalism.

Does this schizophrenia of

1) consume, be an individual, be unique, may the best man win, the cream rises to the top, the romantic creative individual

2) religious revivalism, family values, community first, moral majority, neighborhood watch (and snitch), etc...

cause some of us to break under the strain of an absurd society?


... desire is revolutionary in its essence ... and no society can tolerate a position of real desire without its structures of exploitation, servitude, and hierarchy being compromised. (A-O 116)


Primitive territorial machine:
Everything is coded and ritualized. Territory is clearly marked out and understood. Everything is social.

Barbaric territorial machine (despot):
The social group is somewhat deterritorialized by the despot who continues to maintain order through a re-inscription of a highly coded production centered around the ruler (what he says goes). Part of the coding (ordering) process is carried out through ritualized dramas of bodily punishment that (re)territorialize (re/produce) the despot’s authority (for a good description of this read the first section of Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. NY: Pantheon Books, 1977.)

Civilized capitalist machine (disciplinary society):
Radically deterritorializes and reterritorializes social life. This radical deterritorialization is played out in conjunction with a continuous reterritorialization (re-coding) of traditional/ancient/nostalgic forms of authority. The nation (state), the family (father), God (religion or ideology), education (schools), media (societal super-ego?), etc ... re-appear in modified forms to shore up a shaky social grid and continue the smooth process of production/consumption. (A-O, 33-35) This society creates order through disciplinary institutions that house both the young initiates in order to train them to operate according to custom and the failed individuals that opt to pursue non-legitimized occupations/identities (for the moment let me use this designation—I’m fully aware that there are those who present a serious danger to others and thus must be dealt with, but the disciplinary society represents and treats them as morally weak individuals rather than as products of this society). The development and celebration of the myth of the private individual comes into play in this territorial situation.

Although some excitable critics (both from the left and right—e.g Baudrillard/Fukuyama) see this stage as the ‘end of history’, Deleuze, expanding on Foucault, sees us moving into a new socius stage (plateau?):

It is true that we are entering a society that can be called a society of control. A thinker such as Michel Foucault has analyzed two types of societies that are rather close to us. He calls the former sovereign societies and the latter disciplinary societies. He locates the typical passage of a sovereign society to a disciplinary society with Napolean. Disciplinary society is defined—by the accumulation of structures of confinement: prisons, schools, workshops, hospitals. Disciplinary societies require this. This analysis engendered ambiguities in certain of Foucault’s readers because it was believed that this was his last thought. This was certainly not the case. Foucault never believed and indeed said very precisely that disciplinary societies were not eternal. Moreover, he clearly thought that we were entering a new type of society. To be sure, there are all kinds of things left over from disciplinary societies, and this for years on end, but we know already that we are in societies of another sort that should be called, to use the term put forth by William Burroughs—whom Foucault admired greatly—societies of control. We are entering into societies of control that are defined very differently from disciplinary societies. Those who look after our interests do not need or will no longer need structures of confinement. These structures—prisons, schools, hospitals—are already sites of permanent discussion. Wouldn’t it be better to spread out the treatment? Yes, this is unquestionably the future. The workshops, the factories—they are falling apart everywhere. Wouldn’t systems of subcontracting and work at home be better? Aren’t there means of punishing people other than prison? Even the school. The themes that are surfacing, which will develop in the next forty or fifty years and which indicates that the most shocking thing would be to undertake school and a profession at once—these themes must be watched closely. It will be interesting to know what the identity of the school and the profession will be in the course of permanent training, which is our future and which will no longer necessarily imply the regrouping of school children in a structure of confinement. A control is not discipline. In making highways , for example, you don’t enclose people but instead multiply the means of control. I am not saying that this is the highway’s exclusive purpose, but that people can drive infinitely and “freely” without being at all confined yet while still being perfectly controlled. This is our future. (Deleuze, “Having An Idea of Cinema”: 17-18)

For more on this also check out Deleuze’s essay in October #59 (1992): 3-8 and excerpts of D & G’s writings in Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory. ed. Neil Leach (NY: Routledge, 1997: 309-18.)


D & G resist a molar politics that frames its operations in a “already” determined future, thus they keep to the idea of a molecular politics that is open to change:

Schizoanalysis, as such, has no political program to propose. If it did have one it would be grotesque and disquieting at the same time. It does not take itself for a party, and does not claim to speak for the masses. No political program will be elaborated within the framework of schizoanalysis. (380)

D & G see a central paradox in our fascisms:

As Reich remarks, the astonishing thing is not that some people steal or that others occasionally go out on strike, but rather that all those who are starving do not steal as a regular practice, and all those who are exploited are not continually out on strike: after centuries of exploitation, why do people still tolerate being humiliated and enslaved, to such a point, indeed, that they actually want humiliation and slavery not only for others but for themeselves? (A-O, 29)

This makes all authoritarian and dogmatic movements suspect in that they dictate and predict:

... no, the masses were not innocent dupes; at a certain point, under a certain set of conditions, they wanted fascism, and it is this perversion of the desire of the masses that needs to be accounted for.” (A-O, 29)

Traditionally many writers have posited that subjects of bloody states are ignorant of the true processes behind-the-scenes that produce orderly societies ... D & G are contradicting this belief ... why do they see fascism as answering a perverted desire of the masses? What causes this perverted desire? Can we see any signs of fascism in the contemporary American culture/societies? Can we recognize the fascist impulse in totalizing revolutionary theories? Is this another problematic of the “totalizing” impulse as manifested in liberatory/resistive movements? Is this a legitimate complaint from marginalized groups?

D & G are calling for a resistance that is molecular, not molar (machinic, not mechanistic). Universal mass movements are not the goal, but they are not denying their potential, rather that mass movements would be forged through alliances/bridges, that are temporary, mutable, and situational.


Pgs. 36-41 introduces the “three breaks” or interruptions of machines. When thinking of the bodies in these operations we must learn to alter our emphasis on the individual ‘body’ and recognize social, economic, political, juridical, etc ... bodies in these descriptions.

Claire Colebrook on “machines” in A-O and Deleuze’s theory in general:

In Anti-Oedipus they insist that the machine is not a metaphor and that life is literally a machine. This is crucial to Deleuze’s ethics. An organism is a bounded whole with an identity and end. A mechanism is a closed machine with a specific function. A machine, however, is nothing more than its connections; it is not made by anything, is not for anything and has no closed identity. So they are using ‘machine’ here in a specific and unconventional sense. Think of a bicycle, which obviously has no ‘end’ or intention. It only works when it is connected with another ‘machine’ such as the human body; and the production of these two machines can only be achieved through connection. The human body becomes a cyclist in connecting with the machine; the cycle becomes a vehicle. But we could imagine different connections producing different machines. The cycle becomes an art object when placed in a gallery; the human body becomes an ‘artist’ when connected with a paintbrush. The images we have of closed machines, such as the self-contained organism of the human body, or the efficiently autonomous functioning of the clock mechanism, are effects and illusions of the machine. There is no aspect of life that is not machinic; all life only works and is insofar as it connects with some other machine.
We have already seen the importance Deleuze gives to the camera; it is important as a machine because it shows how human thought and life can become and transform through what is inhuman. By insisting that the machine is not a metaphor Deleuze and Guattari move away from a representational model of language. If the concept of machine were a metaphor, then we could say that we have life as it is, and then the figure of machine to imagine, represent of picture life. But for Deleuze and Guattari there is no present life outside its connections. We only have representations, images or thoughts because there have been ‘machinic’ connections: the eye connects with light, the brain connects with a concept, the mouth connects with a language. Life is not about one privileged point—the self-contained mind of ‘man’—representing some inert outside world. Life is a proliferation of machinic connnections, with the mind or brain being one (sophisticated) machine among others.
Neither philosophy, nor art, nor cinema represent the world, they are events through which the movement of life becomes. What makes philosophy and art active is their capacity to become not just mechanistically, being caused by outside events, but machinically. A mechanism is a self-enclosed movement that merely ticks over, never transforming or producing itself. A machinic becoming makes a connection with what is not itself in order to transform and maximize itself. (56-57)


D & G denounce the human/nature division and insist that humans cannot be thought separate from nature. Or as they later paraphrase Marx “he who denies God does only a ‘secondary thing,’ for he denies God in order to posit the existence of man, to put man in God’s place” (A-O, 58). Guattari later re-emphasizes the importance of this attempt to recognize the falsity of the division of human/nature:

Our survival on this planet is not only threatened by environmental damage but by a degeneration in the fabric of social solidarity and in the modes of psychical life, which must literally be re-invented. The refoundation of politics will have to pass through the aesthetic and analytical dimensions implied in the three ecologies—the environment, the socius and the psyche. We cannot conceive of solutions to the poisoning of the atmosphere and to global warming due to the greenhouse effect, or to the problem of population control, without a mutation of mentality, without promoting a new art of living in society. (Chaosmosis, 20)

Where are the friends that ask questions of the dominant and seek the impossible?

(Part of a longer essay titled "Monsters, Spectres, and Differences: A Transperspective Waiting." In my mind, friendship is a radical engagement... )

I suffer from a Deleuzian stutter, or a Derrida-da-da, in which my language is stifled by my own personal ghosts. “We have lost the friend . . . the friend of the perhaps . . . of respectfully experiencing that friendship." So many dead, some institutionalized, and some just disappeared back into the void. “I will continue to begin again … and I’ll have to wander all alone in this long conversation that we were supposed to have together.”

These spectral visitors stay my hand reminding me that the only answers are in questions that produce more questions: “I know why you hardly sleep. Why you live alone and why night after night you sit at your computer. … I know because I was once looking for the same thing. … It’s the question that drives us."

They point out those that have escaped into the amnesia of recycled consumer pleasures, who can blame them for choosing the steak over the gruel? “Your soul is like an appendix! I don’t even use it!”

Still I am listening for the emergence of a being, another who escapes my comprehension, this listening requires a transition to a new dimension of understanding. I am listening to you: although I do not understand what you are saying, I am attentive to your silence amongst history’s mentions, I am attempting to understand and hear your intention. Which does not mean: I comprehend you, or that I know you … No, I am listening to you as someone that I do not truly know … with you but not as you … I reside in a realm of absolute silence in order to hear what you have to say or what is left unsaid or what reverberates from the unknown. I quest for new words, for new meanings, for new modes of understandings that will bridge this river of silence … for an alliance of possibilities that will not reduce the Other to an item of property or a subject to be mastered. This unspeakable silence is a rift that shatters the boundaries of my life in order to produce a conflagration of nothingness that sears the forest of my consciousness clearing the way for new growths. Perhaps, as the borders of my psyche that restrain my various selves breaks-up there will be the productive explosion of new life spreading across my interior landscape. Chaos enters my realm and produces … impossibilities. “Perhaps the impossible is the only chance of something new, of some new philosophy of the new … Perhaps friendship, if there is such a thing, must honor [faire droit] what appears impossible here." Where are the friends that ask questions of the dominant and seek the impossible?


Jacques Derrida’s eulogy for Gilles Deleuze: “I’ll Have to Wander Alone.”
The character Trinity speaking to Neo in the movie The Matrix
Michael Kelso on That 70s Show
Jacques Derrida's Politics of Friendship

Sprinkled throughout:

Personal Pain Suffered By Thivai at Various Times

Additional inspiration:

Rebecca Saunders course "Mourning of Modernity"

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari: The Big Question

The big question is--why!???:

... the fundamental problem of political philosophy is still precisely the one that Spinoza saw so clearly ... : 'Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were their salvation?' How can people possibly reach the point of shouting: 'More taxes! Less bread!'? ... after centuries of exploitation, why do people still tolerate being humiliated and enslaved, to such a point, indeed, that they actually want humiliation and slavery not only for others but for themselves? (29)

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1984)

Film and the Meaning of Life

I'm always revising my film courses and would like to hear about any suggestions about films that explore the "meaning of life" or good essays that analyze films along these lines.

By "meaning of life" I'm thinking on many levels:

1) Following Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari I believe that the ultimate philosophical question is "how might we live?" and I am particularly interested in any attempt to think about this as an open-ended question. A key in their philosophy--and mine--is the idea of possibilities, so I am also fascinated, and worried about, those that seek to erase all difference through instituting their response as "the answer" that erases all other possibilities. These are movies that move us on a deep level causing us to ask questions that go to the root of what it means to be alive and "conscious" in this world... (for a great summary of this check out Todd May's intro to his book Gilles Deleuze: An Introduction)

2) What is needed in order to better our lives on a collective struggle level... I'm thinking of Matewan or Iron Jawed Angels that remind us of how many people put their lives on the line in order to ensure their lives would finally have meaning (especially in the sense of creating real social change)... what was their inspiration and what was their sense of the meaning of life? How did they forever change the meaning of our lives?

3) On a much more individual level I would even think of the simple struggles we face each day in which we are faced with what the "meaning of life" is for each of us on a personal level. Perhaps a movie like Whale Rider or Schizopolis?

4) Deep spiritual questions of course are a part this as well... Contact, with its combination of science and spirtuality through a character that doubts, is a good example of this type of movie, or more philosophically driven searches, like I Heart Huckabees and Waking Life. I think it is important that we not be afraid to ask those big religious questions and face our existential dilemmas--whether we are believers or doubters.

5) Following Doug Mann I'm also thinking about the potential of cinematic visions of alternate realities that cause us to question what is the "meaning of life."


(Humor from my mom--a Californian)


So as not to be outdone by all the redneck, hillbilly, and Texan jokes, you know you're from California if:

1. Your coworker has 8 body piercings and none are visible.

2. You make over $300,000 and still can't afford a house.

3. You take a bus and are shocked at two people carrying on a conversation in English.

4. Your child's 3rd-grade teacher has purple hair, a nose ring, and is named Flower.

5. You can't remember . . . . is pot illegal?

6. You've been to a baby shower that has two mothers and a sperm donor.

7. You have a very strong opinion about where your coffee beans are grown, and you can taste the difference between Sumatran and Ethiopian.

8. You can't remember . . . is pot illegal?

9. A really great parking space can totally move you to tears.

10. Gas costs $1.00 per gallon more than anywhere else in the U.S.

11. Unlike back home, the guy at 8:30 am at Starbucks wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses who looks like George Clooney really IS George Clooney.

12. Your car insurance costs as much as your house payment.

13. You can't remember . . . .is pot illegal?

14. It's barely sprinkling rain and there's a report on every news station: "STORM WATCH."

15. You pass an elementary school playground and the children are all busy with their cells or pagers.

16. It's barely sprinkling rain outside, so you leave for work an hour early to avoid all the weather-related accidents.

17. HEY!!!! Is pot illegal????

18. Both you AND your dog have therapists.

19. The Terminator is your governor.

20. If you drive legally & do something wrong, they take your driver's license. If you're here illegally, they want to give you one.

Professor and Students Hack Into Diebold Accuvote-TS Machine

Princeton prof hacks e-vote machine: Students uploaded viruses able to spread to other machines
Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. - A Princeton University computer science professor added new fuel Wednesday to claims that electronic voting machines used across much of the country are vulnerable to hacking that could alter vote totals or disable machines.

In a paper posted on the university's Web site, Edward Felten and two graduate students described how they had tested a Diebold AccuVote-TS machine they obtained, found ways to quickly upload malicious programs and even developed a computer virus able to spread such programs between machines.

The marketing director for the machine's maker — Diebold Inc.'s Diebold Election Systems of Allen, Texas — blasted the report, saying Felten ignored newer software and security measures that prevent such hacking.

"I'm concerned by the fact we weren't contacted to educate these people on where our current technology stands," Mark Radke said.

Radke also question why Felten hadn't submitted his paper for peer review, as is commonly done before publishing scientific research.

Felten said he and his colleagues felt it necessary to publish the paper as quickly as possible because of the possible implications for the November midterm elections.

About 80 percent of American voters are expected to use some form of electronic voting in the upcoming election, in which the makeup of the U.S. House will be decided, as well as 33 Senate seats and 36 governorships.

The AccuVote-TS is commonly used across the country, along with a newer model, the AccuVote-TSx. While Felten wasn't able to test the new machine, he said he thought much of what he found would still apply.

The machine Felten tested, obtained in May from an undisclosed source, was the same type used across Maryland in its primary election Tuesday, according to Ross Goldstein, a deputy administrator with the state's Board of Elections. Goldstein said he couldn't comment on the report until he read it.

Diebold and other machine manufacturers, including California-based Sequoia Voting Systems Inc. and Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software Inc., have been the subject of lawsuits, claiming the machines are vulnerable to hacking and breakdowns that can assign votes to the wrong candidate.

To Read the rest of the article

FCC Ordered Media Ownership Study to Be Destroyed

Media ownership study ordered destroyed: FCC draft suggested fewer owners would hurt local TV coverage
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study that suggested greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local TV news coverage, a former lawyer at the agency says.

The report, written in 2004, came to light during the Senate confirmation hearing for FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. received a copy of the report "indirectly from someone within the FCC who believed the information should be made public," according to Boxer spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz.

'Every last piece' destroyed
Adam Candeub, now a law professor at Michigan State University, said senior managers at the agency ordered that "every last piece" of the report be destroyed. "The whole project was just stopped - end of discussion," he said. Candeub was a lawyer in the FCC's Media Bureau at the time the report was written and communicated frequently with its authors, he said.

In a letter sent to Martin Wednesday, Boxer said she was "dismayed that this report, which was done at taxpayer expense more than two years ago, and which concluded that localism is beneficial to the public, was shoved in a drawer."

Martin said he was not aware of the existence of the report, nor was his staff. His office indicated it had not received Boxer's letter as of midafternoon Thursday.

Local ownership benefits
In the letter, Boxer asked whether any other commissioners "past or present" knew of the report's existence and why it was never made public. She also asked whether it was "shelved because the outcome was not to the liking of some of the commissioners and/or any outside powerful interests?"

The report, written by two economists in the FCC's Media Bureau, analyzed a database of 4,078 individual news stories broadcast in 1998. The broadcasts were obtained from Danilo Yanich, a professor and researcher at the University of Delaware, and were originally gathered by the Pew Foundation's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

To read the rest of the article