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1 THE EMERGENCE OF UNDERGROUNDS: CONSPIRACY, TERROR, AND PUNK AT THE CLOSE OF THE CENTURY By STEPHEN ROYCE GIDDENS A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE R EQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2009
2 2009 Stephen Royce Giddens
3 To those who fail
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS With enormous patience and understanding, Phillip Wegner helped me see this project through to completion. The work, the thoughts, and the kind words he has shared with me were and will remain great inspiration. 2002 was my introduction to graduate work at the University of Florida. The seminar discussions from that fall have certainly impacted my thinking, and some of the more productive turns in this project are indebted to that experience. I am thankful she agreed to read this work. reading and writing. This project has benefited from what that course made available to and for my thinking. I am thankful he agreed to read this work. Nora Alter agreed to participate on my committee after reading just a short introduction, and I would like to thank her for her graciousness. This project benefited from the financial support of an Alumni Fellowship; I am grateful to the University of Florida Found ation for making this possible. I need to thank my grandfather, Harold Davis, who offered much financial support. My mother and father, as well, helped when I needed them. My wife never rolled her eyes when I applied to graduate school as my birthday pre sent to myself, when I left a teaching position to attend graduate school, when I believed I could attend to an infant and still find time to write, when I believed I could return to high school teaching and still find time to write, or when my definition meaning. Someday I will forgive her for her politeness. Now, I will simply thank her for her faith.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 9 2 (RE)READING THE CLOSE OF THE CENTURY ................................ ............................. 3 6 3 WHEN UNDERGROUNDS EMERGE: CATASTROPHE AND CRISIS IN WAR ON TERROR TELEVISION ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 5 0 Local News ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 5 4 The Impossibility of a Crisis Mode ................................ ................................ ........................ 5 6 Boston Public and Very Special Episodes ................................ ................................ .............. 6 0 Threat Matrix and Televisual Celeb ration ................................ ................................ .............. 6 3 24 : Melodrama and Cameras ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 6 7 Capturing ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 7 0 4 PARANOIA AND/VERSUS PRECARIOUSNESS: THE CRYING OF LOT 49 AND THE EMERGENCE OF ................................ ............... 7 3 Undergrounds and the Uncommon ................................ ................................ ......................... 79 Paranoia I: Much Ado About Mucho Maas ................................ ................................ ............ 8 3 Paranoia II: A Very Special Episode ................................ ................................ ...................... 9 3 Undergrounding as Foreg rounding ................................ ................................ ....................... 10 6 ................................ ................................ ....................... 1 1 2 5 THE LABOR OF UNDERGROUND THREATS IN THE CONVERSATION ................... 1 1 6 Conspiracy and So Many Bodies ................................ ................................ .......................... 1 2 5 Going Underground ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 13 0 The Quotidian Gothic ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 1 3 7 Being Screwed and Becoming (An) Underground ................................ ............................... 1 4 2 Confessing ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 1 4 7 At the Scream ing Point and Where It Leads ................................ ................................ ........ 1 5 2 The Dialectic of (Bringing on) Disaster ................................ ................................ ............... 1 5 6 Caul Like Bartleby ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 1 6 0 6 THE EMERGENCE OF PUNK AND THE PROSPECTS FOR OUR (NO) FUTURE ..... 1 6 3 Punk City ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 1 7 4 A Real Trash Pile and the Trash Pile of the Real ................................ ................................ 185
6 Sacrificial Content ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 19 0 The Force in Bearing No Future ................................ ................................ ........................... 199 AP PENDIX LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 2 1 5 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 2 2 6
7 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy THE EMERGENCE OF UNDERGROUND S : CONSPIRACY, TERROR, AND PUNK AT THE CLOSE OF THE CENTURY By Stephen Royce Giddens December 2009 Chair: Phillip E. Wegner Major: English Thi s project explores the cultural and political landscape produced by the metaphor of the underground. The metaphor is used both to describe real and imagined populations and the real and imagined spaces those populations occupy. The work here is not an at tempt to examine any particular configuration of the metaphor but rather a labor to describe and to intervene into the ways the metaphor participates in, if not produces, political alienation. The project examines the way the metaphor indexes productive s ocial bonds but also the way the metaphor indexes the outside of any social configuration and, in many ways, participates in the discourses that work to map that outside terrain as threatening. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the produc tion of threat and the capitalization on the insecurity market has in many ways disabled a growing and productive unease with global capital as the century closed. This project uses the metaphor of the underground particularly as inflected in figures of c onspiracy, terror, and punk to reread cultural labor at the emergence of globalization and the postmodern cultural logic. In doing so, the project seeks to articulate a politics of attention that can coordinate much of the countercultural and subversive g estures performed at the close of the century and made available by and through th is figurative language. Of course, such work must be prepared to contend with the paranoid styles and recourses too brought into relief in the simple proposition
8 of an underg round networking or of an underground history. This semantic tangling is explored through readings of War on Terror themed television drama s The Crying of Lot 49 The Conversation and the emerg ence of punk subculture, particularly through the punk slogans articulated by Johnny Rotten and The Sex Pistols.
9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION multiple destructions. Our ignorance only has this incontestable effect: It causes us to undergo what we could bring about Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share, Volume I Popular and academic discourses alike tell us there i s an underground. 1 This dissertation does not ask the formidable question: what all is going on down there? This work is by no means every point of articulation an d signification. Rather, I use the very premise that there is an underground the ideological division of bodies in our apprehension of space to analyze how that spatial division exerts pressures on daily life and on interpretation. To some extent, this f that which exists outside its legal parameters, establishing the veil of the normal, and outlining that which does not pass for propriety. 2 Since the language points in multiple directions pointing toward the secret, toward the buried, toward the shadowy, toward the fugitive, toward 1 At my local book retailer, the magazine Punk Planet subtitles itself Notes from Underground Limited Inc slippery and shifting, mined and undermined. And that ground is, by essen (34). 2 Everyday Life and Cultural Theory : An Introduction (2002) is a useful survey of the critical work that has explored the discursive labors of defining the everyday. T he work of Judith Butler, and particularly Bod ies That Matter (1993), is useful here for its theorization of the e persistence of dis itself as underground, even if at all indices the same kind of injurious abjection as the one Butler theorizes is not at stake.
10 the networked, toward the minor, toward the alternative, toward the resistant, toward the subversive in directions both terrifying and hopeful (and sometimes to indices simultaneously both), this dissertation uses the figure of and the production of an underground space to corral divergent practices for reading. 3 Part of what we must recognize in this figure is how it works as a rea ding practice. To figure an underground space is to economize the social in particular ways. To produce an underground space is to have read the social or a social moment or a social product in some particular way that articulates the dissatisfaction or the unease produced in that reading. Thus, to figure or produce an underground is to have imagined the ground, too, The figure of and production of underground space, this work argues, does nothing short of indexing for us the distribution of survival. It reminds that survival is, in fact, distributed. 4 It describes and participates in the operational work of capital in identifying who and what lives in 3 pu modification, and industrial music subcultures represented by Re/Search L aboratories and the conspiratorial, paranoiac, and anti work micro publishing of Loompanics Unlimited. For him, the most important work of these undergrounds is how they render a criticism desperate for its own marketable niche in which to rehearse a ref lexive criticism ultimately stupid. Thus, while those inflections broaden the purview of objects of study beyond subcultures. See also Stephen Duncombe, Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture (1997). 4 instrument of security control, social segregation, and unequal access to the means of exi stence, representational topography of undergrounds is both a way to secure and attack the concept of
11 characterizes the social 5 Certainly the claim to an underground art practice acknowledges that market survival or cultural intelligibility is a competitive task. The metaphor names both those who resist the normalizing appeals of the contemporary form a nd those whose appreciation is cultist, keeping the work m ore explicitly at stake. When the metaphor is applied to the covert planning of militants or militias, progressive and reactionary alike, we may recognize some desperate attempt, whether by violent action or hostile withdrawal, to communicate even if paran oid some recognition of precariousness in the social field. If undergrounds exist as a mode of survival, then they 5 Here, I take my lead from, of course, Bataill e, but also the more recent work of Giorgio Homo Sacer (2002) and Slavoj Tarrying with the Negative (1993), all of which are attempts to articulate the costs (psychic costs, yes, but that modern state power, the power of the sovereign, is defined by its power to render human situated at the intersection of a capacity to be killed and yet not sacrificed, theorization has been used in several reflections on those events and the resultant Precarious Life (2004), Welcome to the Desert of the Real An Empire of Indifference 9/11: The Culture of Commemoration volumes the hijackers, the detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, the casualties of war The Infanticidal Logic of Evolution and Culture societies and m embers within a society must shift their energy costs onto others. While Kimball is not particularly interested in pursuing this (perhaps, because it is obvious), capitalism has been the solution to economizing costs, economizing sacrifices. Of course, t his unspoken call it underground knowledge has been part of the work of religion and even Science Fiction in codifying and managing the psychic pressures of such sacrifices. What Kimball argues, in part, is that the language of thought as generative, as co nception, has, in part, obscured Throwaways isolated groups of the population wh social landscape and require the moral attention of cleanup crews, the containing apparatus of of the sta
12 recognize some precariousness in social arrangement. This project seeks to extrapolate from these lessons in precariousness in the hopes of articulating a shared precariousness. Whether the signifier emerges from above or below ground, the indexing of others or of self as threatening or threatened does some cultural and political work that when attended can do work for how and why we read. And, thus, it also provides the opportunity to revisit the conspir dissertation reads those emergences in the four chapters that comprise its close readings. I believe through them we are able to re read our own historical moment, desc ribed to us in the theoretical pairing of postmodernism and globalization, which characterizes, borrowing from Alain Badiou (2007), the close of the century. The figurative language that describes and sometimes produces an underground allows us to attend epigraph here. After all, globalization can be understood as the preparing of the ground for unbridled capitalism 6 and postmodernism becomes the cultural logic that facilitates and covers 6 capitalism the only viable option for economizing the costs of existence. To this end, David destruction, devaluation and bankruptcy at different scales and in diff erent locations. It renders whole populations selectively vulnerable to the violence of down sizing, unemployment, collapse of services, degradation in living
13 up those operations, thos e, at some points, destructions. 7 I, then, hope to offer what a description of the subject as underground can do for a way to imagine a ground beyond destruction. I do want to attempt to parse the multiple significations of the term to show how the term b ends toward that which is anxious and toward that which is hopeful. I will then use that tension to open some texts and cultural works beyond the inevitable diagnosis of a cultural paranoia 8 perception, a play on what literality would do to the object: obstruct it from view, bury it. This secrecy can be willed or can simply exist as actions are done outside the purview of any 7 I take postmodernism to in Postmodernism (1991). s of The Political Unconscious (1981). I might offer, in that volume, Jameson writes: H desire and sets inexorable limits to the individual as well as collective praxis, which its ut this History can be apprehended only through its effects, and never directly as some reified force. This is indeed the ultimate sense in which History as ground and untranscendable horizon need no particular theoretical justification: we may be sure th at its alienating necessities will not forget us, however much we might prefer to ignore them. 8 Signatures of the Visibl e are two faces of the same collective consciousness, so that the works of mass culture, even if their function lies in the legitimation of the existing order or some worse one cannot do their job without deflecting in t The Godfather computerized, always carry with it this sort of double inflection. A snapshot vision of disorder when ne eded: the terrorist plot, the scandalous youth subculture, the crime family. A snapshot vision of a hopeful new world order no matter how you envision it: counter cultural revolution or perfectly invisible and, thus, hygienic police state counter terror ism.
14 mediation. Trafficking is done undergrou nd and, while its connections and routes are kept secret from the law, trafficking itself is no secret 9 Thus, an underground is a shared secrecy or veiled underground as the Weather Underground did was both to avoid prosecution and to co ordinate actions in secrecy. 10 selling, and trading goods outside the purviews of those authorities that may police it o r tax it. 11 Of course, this inflection of the term is not without its partiality. The terror plot 9 The Stephen Frears 2002 film Dirty Pretty Things a film in which the protagonists stumble upon an organ trafficking network in the film was the illegal homeland and the other working in a n illegal sweatshop. The crime the protagonists commit ultimately secures them new identities and with an illegal passport one immigrates to the US. 10 A member of The Weather Underground, Bill Ayers entitled his 2001 memoir Fugitive Days 11 In his journalistic account of the United States black market Reefer Madness (2003), Eric Schlosser des c activities remain off the books, where they are unrecorded, unreported, and in violation of the (an electrician demanding payment in cash and failing to d eclare the payment as income) to the underground at various points of contact. It has vectors that cross with an everyday good standing. To be underground is much like Agam homo sacer. Where one finds oneself in a given moment can be precarious.
15 value. 12 In a sense, it is a bringing into view that which would otherwise be kept hidden: the politics of the network to which the cell is only one point of contact. The networking is underground, while the network itself communicates openly. 13 Thus, we are reminded that the networked. Paul Mann (1999) reminds that subways, fiberoptics, sewers k, it appears, has emerged as a dominant form describing the nature of and construct networks, but always in a highly distributed and unequal fashion. Human subjects thrive on network interaction (kin groups, clans, the social), yet the moments when the network logic takes over in the mob or the swarm, in contagion or infection are the moments that are the most disorienting, the most threatening to the integri 12 On the value of terrorism, see Inside Terrorism by Bruce Hoffman, who reminds, in separating y an altruist plotted underground, but it may not have any desire to be an underground Of course, Jean The Spirit of Terrorism (2002) may importantly extrapolate what plotted may mean t that restores an irreducible singularity to the heart of a system of generalized exchange. All the singularities (species, individuals and cultures) that have paid with their deaths for the installation of a global circulation governed by a single power are taking their revenge today through this terroristic situational transfer Ghost Wars (2005), an account of the build up to September 11, the Hamburg cell, which eventually arrives in the US, mad Hamburg, the Al Quds crew saw themselv es as members of a global Islamist underground. They used cell phones, the Internet, and prepaid calling cards to communicate with other mosques, 13 Here, it may be interest The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Union Invasion to September 10, 2001 and the title of a collection of communiqus by bin Laden: Messages to the World (2005).
16 production of underground networking can either tap into its potential as resistance or its potential as threat, but the figure of an underground network, I will suggest, plays a part in re orienting attention toward and sometimes dis orienting attention from the hegemonic networking of capital. widen the purview of the media, to expose the otherwise ignored. This press was counterpoised to a 14 have in part earned its name by using basements as alternat ive screening spaces, but it soon became a description for artists interested in alternative contents and forms. 15 The Subterraneans silence, bohemian mystery, drugs, from the characteristic routine and security of an everyday life figured as such. 16 14 See Abe Peck, Uncovering the Sixties: The Life and Times of the Underground Press (1991). Also, Nancy Armstrong and Steve Almond, Notes from Underground: The Most Outrageous Stories from the Alternative Press (2005) 15 See Parker Tyler, Underground Film (199 5). 16 See Ann Charters, Beat Down to Your Soul (2001). Also, Larry Keenan, Postcards from the Underground: Portraits of the Beat Era (2001).
17 a space for rock music, and Mad Magazine ) culture. The post coming into cultural intelligibility. 17 The language of the underground adheres to the rise of and, with cultural studies, almost certainly the rise of attention paid to subcultures. As Dick Hebdige says in his famous account Subculture: The Meaning of Style oaded down with it is a protest. As a spatial assemblage of network s and affiliations, an underground is populated by any number of punks, garage bands, cyberpunks, zinesters, scenesters, cartoonists, graffiti 17 on the pop charts bu t not before shedding its Afro centric and black consciousness raising tendencies in the early 1990s for, on the one hand, a more designer friendly, marketable lifestyle th of which ultimately gave way to hyperbolic narratives of mass consumption. And, thus, the a thus emerges. Underground hip hop maintained and carried into other politicized roots. It too championed the hip hop collective, as well as network and scene building, which had been lost in the aggrandizement of the celebrity. It continued to imagine the an a group of hangers on, as it had become in the evolving imagery of gangsta. Underground hip hop, too, became a space for the hip hop voice of marks a certain roman ticism, a point of return for cultural work, the labor of raising the dead or of keeping certain strains of thought alive. It is this romanticism cling ing at so many points to the metaphor and its figurations th at I believe is important to the history I will advance in the following chapters. See Jeff Chang, (2005).
18 artists, culture jammers, pranksters, cultists, avant garde artists, anarchists, fetishists, hackers, activists, conspiracy theorists, exhibitionists, zealots, fight clubs, freaks, geeks, and other outsiders. In a footnote in Subculture Hebdige, citing Stuart Hall, marks the difference between the counter culture and a subculture. The counter culture can be marked preceding the terms ( the counter culture and a subculture) may just as easily speak to the difference and may even more pointedly speak to the historical realities of the postmodern. 18 Furthermore, as it is quite possible to consider, for example, punk as a rather overt elaboration of alternativ e institutions the alternative nation (as Hebdige believe s punk attempts to create), the alternative recording industry, the alternative touring circuit it might be necessary to wonder if the subcultural is not in fact the inherited postmodern form of the counter cultural. As the micropolitics produced in and by postmodernism gives us, to use a phrase from Thomas The Crying of Lot 49 culture becomes both the site and target of their i nterventions. vanguards, the insistence to work against a cultural dominant, a faith that resists the hygienic image of cultural domination, that embraces those valu es of baseness, of grit, of, what Alain th cultural or aesthetic work that exists as an un derground: an attention committed to some other purview of 18 Jameson speaks to these realities in Postmodernism p, 318 ere are more sympathetic readings, for example, in Hardt and Empire (2000), which I will discuss in my second chapter.
19 attention, a passion attached to that which either feels authentic or is otherwise unsanctioned. As such, the underground ca n show us how dispersed and uncoordinated these passions can be in the postmodern and simultaneously how precarious and threatened reality itself can be if so many figure (or so much figures, as the case may be) otherwise. And so this bifurcation of the so cial is interesting because it registers and obscures the multiplicity of cultural vantage points. And yet it, in its description of multiplicity, obscures the singular force of this shared passion that the real is illusive and elusive. The passion for t he real as a determined and, thus, sacrificial cultural vantage point reminds that the competition for attention is intense. This sacrificial focus is important, for it resists what I will ultimately argue is an ignorance to the sacrificial economy in and of capital. Badiou says that the passion for the real is a refusal of the passion for ignorance. Part of what this dissertation will lay out is how the underground can ultimately become emblematic of the excess of space that an increasingly mediatized addition to that cadre of expressive subcultures listed above, global space is, too, populated by revolutionaries, counter revolutionaries, terrorists, racists, militias, arms dealers, spies, counter spies, agents, counter agents and an array of conspirators, who too have a passion for the real, but for whom that passion is expressed less upon their own body than on a purge of other bodies. These figures are both real and imagined, and the objects of many of the narratives ficti onal and cultural that attempt to imagine for us the spaces that exceed the purview of our own attention. 19 This global space must be economized into some vision. The figure of the 19 Fugitives and vigilantes, paramilitary groups and radical insurgencies, populate many of our narrative genres. Science fictio n has often figured a secret cabal or shadowy presence that torments daily life. The work of Phillip K. Dick is replete with images of shady corporations, conspiratorial governments, political factions, stealth police operations, and drug underworlds. Th e espionage thriller depicts a world where, beyond the view of the average citizen, a network
20 underground can in ways lead to an understanding of how that global vision has been economized, over coded as menace and threat. This is a mediated space available for the politics of fear, if not a space opened up and created in the politics of demonology that have characterized Cold War politics for a long time. 20 In fact, pa rt of the operations of global financial capital have been to overcode much of the so called Third World as an underground space, making that space, I would suggest, available for sacrifice, if the case need be. 21 So, this project does something quite dif The Production of Space (1991) The discourse of the underground is used to describe the way some operate in space, how some of spies wrangle over trade secrets and plot subterfuges, and, inevitably, stumble upon renegade bureaucrats or financial power brokers, who, as James Bond learns in Dr. No and other novels, keep the real operations of power literally underground. The work of Philip K. Dick and Ian Fleming may imagine and figure very different political relationships to power and its corralling but both pull from the same spatial imagination that suggests power circulates elsewhere in ways that can or could (were it not for police power, so says Fleming) contagion an otherwise oblivious everyday. For more on Dick, see Carl Freedman, The Incomplete Projects (2002). For more on Fle ming, see Michael Denning, Cover Stories (1987). 20 Cool War, Cool Medium Ronald Reagan The Movie and Other Episodes in Political Demonology Most importantly for my purposes and an argument I will use to read seve ral texts, Evan Watkins argues in Everyday Exchanges (1998) that the rhetorical ability to project embittered others and poaching others secures the exploitation of human capital. 21 An Empire of Indifference M now population is assembled into areas or concentrations of risk, not geographical regions. These areas have frayed the domesticity of the Uni ted States, so that the foreign in our midst, The Age of the World Target (2006), which too, is about the economization of global space, economized into a target.
21 produce spaces of their own, and how some avoid and circumvent the way space has been ap propriated for them. The discourse of the underground, too, is put to use to describe these actions in a labor to control the knowledge of them. And certainly, part of the production of underground space is to obstruct and refuse the very pedagogical wor k of codifying space, of is telling, as these two quotes are to illustrate: d location. As for representations of the relations of production, which subsume power relations, these too occur in space: space contains them in the form of buildings, monuments, and works of art. Such frontal (and hence brutal) expressions of these r elations do not completely crowd out their more clandestine or underground aspects; all power must have its accomplice and its police. (33) underground, sometimes in the li ght of day. (23) concrete spaces and the invisible ideological struggle over how space is to be abstracted. In his own spatial vocabulary, the underground figures as both the space of police work and of revolutionary promise, of fear and of hope, of the grip of stasis and of the prospect for change. From Lefebvre, I take the metaphor of underground as a production of space to provide, ultimately, a way to read usi ng a concept certainly semantically tangled with the topography of undergrounds the alienated subject of late capitalism. Underground names a space for hiding out, for perhaps plotting an emergence or for perhaps just waiting it out, whatever it may be Underground names a conspired space for plotting, for counter plotting or un plotting, exiting this or that narrative of social responsibility. I am interested in the underground as the demarcation of the space in which subjects conspire (work together work against) and the imagined space in which others conspire (work against, do
22 the dirty work). The signifier, too, points to the complicated, undocumented spaces in which subjects have conspired Frederic Jameson himself will note in Postmodernism th be. So one very important concept that the language of the u nderground too conjures is the possibility for return; underground, too, refers to all those social (and labor) pacts that are undocumented and so their import awaits us Here, I believe the work of Walter Benjamin will be of great significance, as outlin ed in the next chapter, for we need not take the fact that so much cultural work is mindful of an underground presence of one sort or another as a reason to subscribe to the easy cultural analysis of paranoia 22 ; we may, rather, recognize that texts contend with the burden as Benjamin would suggest, the barbarism of history by figuring and insisting upon the presence of cultural and political nooks and crannies, of underground spaces. mes particularly useful to me, for it offers the postmodern as a spatial dilemma. Recognizing that our abilities to register local, national, and international realities are complicated by the postmodernist or multinational moment, Jameson (1991) argues, sense comes to require the coordination of existential data (the empirical position of the subject) 1960s, such as The Matrix discussed below, attempt to perform this drama is challenged by the discovery of some underground (that is to say, by some other position, the and attempt to offer a representati on of coordination 22 American Literary History 18:2 (2006), 365 389.
23 (or, perhaps, more appropriately, the process of coordinating ). 23 This problem posed to spatial undergrounds as a particular production of social space like to propose, are demands made on space. Thus, such attempts to represent undergrounds or to confront the symbolic works o f undergrounds themselves require attending to their demands: even at the risk of their wavering in face of underground produced table bodies intent on their own itinerary or a representation of encountering those very possibilities in a narrative is a demand made on our conceptions of space, a demand for a new conceptualizing of spatial possibilities. What are we to learn from the se demands? How do we hear and listen that is, respond to these demands? And thus what demands as political subjects are we to make upon listening into the underground, a politics of attention. will argue, the aftermath of the 1960s has demanded its own new politics of attention. In a 23 As example, I would offer a whole host of 1980s films, in which a bored suburbanite or an uptight professional discovers in underground nightlife and, inevitably, criminal underworlds, Something Wild ( s Into the Night After Hours (1985), Susan Seidelman Desperately Seeking Susan (1985).
24 inheritance of the generations after the sixties: so product of this inheritance but ones that agonize with that position. Thus, I will argue that listening to the underground affords one route resist the commands of, formulate its own demands to the postmodern and globalization. Thus, this project becomes I believe s wrestling with a utopian moment of possibility, the ted Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001, an event that has seemingly made the greatest demand upon American political subjectivity since the 1960s. C ertainly the language of undergrounds, particularly as it clings to the work of subcultures, is important to cultural studies, but what I want to avoid and this is certainly why I insist on the multiple inflections of the term is focusing on any one partic ular manifestation and no t resist ultimately in forecasting its co opting. Such an approach has become the trapdoor of cultural studies Meaghan Morris (1990) has outlined. 24 Con temporary cultural studies would have us investigate 24 article outlines a certain gridlock in contemporary cultural studies, polarized between Baudrillardian fatalis m and pop theory utopianism, which, as Morris reveals, becomes, ultimately, a rehearsal of identifying a cultural dopism. As such, cultural studies becomes a s The Practice of Everyday Life
25 the particularity of each underground or each social organization. How does it resist? Here, however, I seek to resist the hegemonic insistence of particularity. I am interested rather in the generali zed function of this discursive bifurcation. Rather than ask what each social organization communicates, I will ask, what does social organization itself suggest? Meaghan t advertisements, films, comic books, theory, architecture, stunts provides a useful product ivity of its own. cautionary tale or perhaps, telling nough (as Evan Watkins, too, argues) to locate victim and agent; rather, the task is to resist such logics and dead ends. essay, ultimately, is interesting as a mapping in its own right, as a series of movements that resists a reading of any one object (the circulating discourses in which the social significance of my objects of study, and thus the stakes (125). Thus, the gesture to locate underground/ground and the rather mundane observation of the difference would seem to produce, well, nothing. When Morris reads the documentary A Spire The basic assumption of a polemological space is summed up by a quotation from a Maghrebian syndicalist at Billancourt that seems inadmissible in contemporary cultural studies: it defines a space of struggle, Part of what I hope to do here is reaffirm this space that seems barred by a cultural studies that insists on subversive productivity. In a sense, I do not want to disown these spaces. Hence, in my chapter on Pynchon, I argue for paranoia (as it describes a reading practice), and, in my chapter, on p unk, I believe, I show how the punk intervention is produced by insisting on having been
26 le resist, now what? The demand, rather, should A Spire imagine, one gesture that may need to be made is the translation of the objects of this dissertation into the undergrounding mean? What do various undergroundings produce? What does the fact of so many undergroundings produce? In the chapters that follow, I will ask, as well, what does conspiring do? What does so much conspiring do? What does punking do? What can punking do? Part of what such a cultural studies provides, I do believe, in its very recognition is the need to resist the command to attend locally, and part of what I hope to do in what follows is to restore to some texts TV drama, Pynchon, the conspiracy narrative, punk the way in which they engage with the global. Part of wh at I believe occurs in the conflicted figurative language of underground s is the simultaneous insistence on the small as the register of attention and the demand for attention to be widened, globalized. The fundamental problem of postmodernity, of global ization, is the very difficult task of making sense of anything since we cannot possibly homogenized or totalized vision of the global need take into account. Of course, the resistance to such an apprehe nsion of the global produces the strong localizing gestures that inform both collective actions as subcultures, as grass roots efforts, as racist militias, as ethnic tribes and the reception of collective actions, from multiculturalism to populist cultural studies. The metaphor of the underground, I will argue, in part serves to maintain the register of the small as the dominant mode of attention as we move into the age of globalization. The micro politics of undergrounds and the micro criticisms
27 of cultu ral studies have reinforced precisely the ground needed to secure the hegemony of the knowable as the immediate and the visible. Of course, the important part of this hegemony is 25 Thus, the small forces, finance capital, the media, and geopolitics. I will not make an argument that such things are not complex, but the rhetorical gestures that secure that they be perceived as such I will ultimately argue, are ideological. The larger and larger the depth of out there becomes figured as an excessive and threatening underground space the more comforting to act and think locally, which as Ha Empire some sense outside The prepositional positioning of alternatives to Empire is central to their argument and project. In their analysis, the flow of global capital in the post modern has proven the impossibility of locating struggle outside capital. Yet, a post localization of struggles, or politics, in which the boundaries of place (conceived either as identity or as territory) are posed against the undifferentiated and homogenous space of the globalization of struggles. n be the production of a locale, I do believe it necessary to understand that locale as within Empire (even 25 For Rey Chow, the virtualizing of the world begins with the dropping of the atomic bomb and Japan, we enter a new episteme in which war organizes the attention paid to others, particularly as the US sees the rest of the world. In The Age of the World Target Chow argues area studies see the world with the same
28 the production of counter space not as some fou nd or formed outside space but as, in fact, some alternative space produced within any given lived space. Those practices that become themselves as some herme tically sealed outside untouched by the ground they are under. The production of an underground may very well be the production of some perceived sanctuary, the production of a space for private communications, but it is not recourse to or retreat into so me ultimately silent place. The underground becomes misunderstood if only understood in a discourse of outsiders and as a discourse amongst outsiders. The emergence of an underground on 9/11certainly provided a global moment, the recognition that a held a t bay outside is purely imagined. assign particular motivations to such an underground, but it should instead understand the emergence of this underground as making some demand upon my ability to attend now to both ground and underground, that is, my ability to attend globally. Of course, one such demand is to begin to reconsider the complicated fault lines of the local/global conception of space. Here again is wher e I believe a reading of undergrounds is useful, for the practices corralled under that term necessarily force this sort of theorizing. They seem to be produced at that fault line as one attempts to negotiate the constantly folding conceptual nature of th ese undergrounds; their practices engage with their own perceived outside in ways that would seem to challenge the integrity of the perceived divide between inside and outside. Most importantly, the demand seems to be to resist the permanence of any conce
29 concrete forces a wills, and desires that refuse the hegemonic order, propose lines of flight, and forge alternative omes overcoded as the very discourse that subjects such cannot be confused with anti globalization (206 cannot be confused with just some other space. While our conceptions of globalization and space may be the products of a unilatera l command, the production of undergrounds must be read as demands to rethink those conceptions. Globalization must become rather the production of the possibility to will to be against reappropriates space and constitutes itself as an active sub becomes what to do with the demands of these new active subjects, the punk and the terrorist alike. It is here, where 9) described it, will move us toward having to negotiate how this 26 26 In his book No Future s death drive I would argue the potential terrorist is so too called forth Edelman argues for structural position unk, too, attempted to insist upon. I
30 I would like to conclude this introduction by illustrating how the ambivalence of the term under ground can open up a text to its most radical questions. The 1999 science fiction film The Matrix illustrates how the signifier points to that which is to be feared the conspiring other, the embittered other and, even simultaneously, points to the dream w hereby the victim (of this or that conspiracy, for instance) can become the agent of change. The Matrix has been one of the most talked about films of the last decades, particularly for what many critics would call its descriptive powers, its effort to fig ure postmodernity. 27 Anderson (Keanu Reeves) comes to recognize his position as victim, slave to the matrix, a computer simulated world that is regenerated by feeding off the human life plugged into its system. At this poi nt, a previously underground conspiracy is revealed: a hidden, secret operation securing the imperial hegemony of a global order by virtue of its very invisibility. In ty. Yet, this very figuration can all too easily serve a critical function that would read any conspiracy as a representational symptom. agency is depleted in the growth of more and more unwieldy systemic operations of capital and geopolitics, which t he matrix seems to represent. 28 27 The film itself quotes Jean Baudrillard. The collection The Matrix in Theory (2006), Myriam Diocaretz and Stefan Herbrechter, ed., offers a survey of such approaches. 28 Here, I reference in particular two texts published in 2000 as representative of many critical Latent Destinies description of our psychic wherewithal after World War II is elaborated by Timothy Melley in Empire of Conspiracy My third chapter contends with these texts.
31 descriptive power is never enough. What it confirms about what we fear is less significant than, I would suggest, discovering what it truly offers to frighten us. As Anderson i s unplugged from the matrix, he joins an underground resistance, a band of outsiders (literally outside of the matrix) holed up literally underground, underneath the charred remains of a destroyed earth. This drama somewhat redoubles yet amplifies the dra ma of plugged from the matrix. The matrix itself knows in simulating reality tha t the allure of anonymity and escape an precarious ignorance in which undergrounds secret police agents and freedom fighters contend for discursive rights to social reality. As protagonist, Neo is figured as the freedom fighter, less the conspiracy victim that may have populated the genre in the 1970s and into the 1980 s and more so the empowered operative. The conspiracy is thoroughly apprehended as conspiracy; its revelation is not the issue. Rather, Neo seeks its un doing (but this is, ultimately, future work, charting the course for sequels, which did emerge in 200 3). As the film concludes Neo places a phone call to the matrix and 1989 emergence of globalization movements, a struggle for the collective rather than the struggle is staged, the presumed agents of change may too be seen as reactionary. As A. Samuel
32 much as it connotes a militancy, an opening of the world to possibility, it between a parent human generation and its the restoration of the regenerative violence that would restore a properly human (read: paternal) hegemony emerges from the underground conspiracy too figures the coming into being of some unknown power, the undoing of the conspiracy expresses a desire to disavow the very death drive that is in part the structural necessity of making anything possible, particularly if this way of being is precisely the blocking of possibility. Such moments of apocalyptic promise in nar ratives become conflicted moments because they are attempting to figure both the desire for radical change and the impossibility in our present of acting the radical way s necessary In this film, this structural ambivalence may very well be in part due to how the film itself participates as entertainment That is, the filmmakers need political subjects who will want to play but not those that, ultimately, want to destroy. (No niche markets, there is certainly an extent to which the inflection of the term can and has been purged of the sting to which I believe it is being put to representational work in the film, but certainly from a marketing standpoint the former connotations cannot hurt.) As Wegner (2009) will note, the a vision of the post human as dedicated videogame player ( 42 ). This, one can argue, has too been the drift of cultural studies: the critical labors of giving play its sting and, in turn, draining
33 Weather Underground to a marketing term. But what the film makes avai lable in its figured spatial topography is precisely how the all, is the (almost) dead the life supported returning to make their claim on a present that di d not deliver for what they now perceive as their sacrifice, even if what they had been given was, in fact, the slightly unsatisfying but leisured everyday existence they had seemingly let proceed Conceptually, sacrifice is compromised if one imagines the expense of their giving being only some sustaining fantastical the world the matrix has simulated The Matrix is that the working week and the workstation, the economy, the corporate sphere matrix s imulated cubicle in the film and the cubicle itself in the contemporary world serves as infrastructural emblem of the everyday ground that feels alien The feeding vestibule in which human subjects are plugged into the matrix becomes their real cubicle. T hus, I would argue, in The Matrix structural contradiction may, in fact, simultaneously reveal and contain a dream of access: the ability to perceive cubicle work as a pro duction of multiple destructions. This is, in part, what presents the humdrum work week cubicle as the bearable if not satisfactory ground of First World existen ce, but the underground is where the action for better or worse is. The very
34 proposition of this bifurcated space proposes a sphere that foregrounds what the cubicle space obscures: a competitive sphere, a sense that the stakes are raised, perhaps, that there are stakes What the staging of The Matrix offers is a figure of how that competition produces the ground sacrificially. If all evacuate their cubicles, something dies. If all remain in their cubicles, something dies. This is a much different and more frightening problematic from the one which turns on questions of whether there is or is not an outside to the matrix, an outside to the postmodern. The matrix is but one way to organize who or what dies; the underground represents the burdens of tha t organization. And so I do believe the language and figuring of and maybe especially when The Matrix is the unpluggi ng threaten it); yet, terminating the matrix cannot promise the rise of something better, and may even deliver something worse, figured in precisely how th e underground resistance runs the risk of participating in the same sorts of regenerative violence that inform a history of colonial domination, particularly in the United States. 29 And so, in The Matrix the proposition of an underground space both marks a very anxieties part and parcel with such enthusiasm. And, thus, what I want to suggest in what follows is how the metaphor of the underground can be used to bring to the fore this tensio n between and, here, the work of Fredric Jameson is so important anxiety and hope. Furthermore, as this reading of The Matrix is to suggest, by providing for tropes of escape and of threat, the language can obscure the cost of any and all configurations o f ground and 29 For a discussion of this history, see Richard Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation ( 1992).
35 underground, which in the film, and elsewhere I will argue, is the obscuring of the costs in any and all configurations of the social.
36 CHAPTER 2 (RE)READING THE CLOS E OF THE CENTURY As the reading of The Matrix was to illustrate, this pro ject is, ultimately, about economic violence: the costs and the expense of any configuration of the social, the costs and expense of any form of attention. To understand the economic violence of our present, I study figures of terrorism, punk, and conspir acy at what I will call following Alain Badiou the close of the century. In his volume on the 20 th century entitled The Century (2007) Badiou describes the emer gent stranglehold of liberal globalization (the victory of capitalist solutions over revolutionary possibility) and the postmodern cultural logic (the victory of semblance and spectacle over any passion for the real) (26 29). Yet, the particular chapter i n which Badiou come to a close but this does not mean its work is finally resolved. In this sense, as I will offer vision of history as redemptive is instructive. If any appraisals of the 20 th century or of our present are to be made, they can only be done so by taking into account what the century itself, so to speak, learns. The century does not so much close as di sappear, as many of its creative energies are closed off from the field of available political options. 30 30 Specters of Marx (1994) and a collection of reaction pieces to Ghostly Demarcati ons (1999). Those volumes My project works to discover a future for conspiring, for the possibility in conspiratorial thinking.
37 For Badiou, the 20 th violent in its course on making the 19 th adiou, again, calls this drive and force e century is the parsing of the lessons learned from the courses unfortunate or instructive such passions can take. However, any lesson learned from the 20 th condemns them. On the one hand, such histories record only the atrocities and violent failures of those endeavors. With the other, they accept the liquidation of this passion in the concessions must be pried loose from a history that seems to have ended, seems to have properly foreclosed any alternatives. In a sense, the possibility for destruction must be salvaged. As Badiou easily accounts, we have not eclipsed at rocity in our time and thus a vocation remains for destruction. th of that is, belief in an end to any need for the new must be destroyed by subtracting from such comforts, particularly the comforts made available in certain frames of attention that ignor e the sacrifices made in focusing. We remain locked in the close of the century even as a new century begins until the (66). Exploring this possibility is the trajectory of the following chapters of this project that attempt to re read cultural work from this Second Restoration with an awareness of competing frames of attention.
38 While the close of the century may be read as the settling of the passion for the real into reassuring pacts with the inevitability of capitalism (Jameson, 1991, 318 331 ), I do believe what is otherwise read as the closing of the century offers glimpses into alternatives. Here, I am more judicious than Badiou in rendering a verdict on t he closing of the century. I am not sure any September 11, 2001 and the institution of the military and cultural logics of a subsequent War on Terror seem to pow erfully control the discourse of destruction, censoring any passion that may question the dream of mass security envisioned in global capital. 31 Any sense of closure violently contains the presence of competing passions. The emergent counter globalization movement, various anti systemic movements, and numerous political and cultural protest movements since the 1960s have debated and, thus, in their very presence and necessity, debunked any assurance of a neo liberally wrought security for all. 32 September 1 1, 2001, however, seems to signal an end to some of the political and cultural energies after the 1960s (and, again, after reaction piece to the attack of Septem antagonism to the 31 Afflicted Powers address many of these concerns. 32 A Movement of Movements (2004) edited by Tom Mertes, provides history of post
39 The politics of attention that proceed after September 11 introduce or, in keeping with our metaphoric, foreground the problematic that initiates, if not necessitates, the need for revisiting with a n which a War on Terror proceeds certainly demands reflection on any and all diagnoses of some inevitable and reassuring neoliberal rise of global capital. This project then turns to that Second Restoration The Crying of Lot 49 ) and the decades that follow in an effort to describe a passion for the real obscured in what may appear as concessions to or retre ats from the demands of an increasingly global capital. The metaphor of the underground is important here because it can point us toward often in the imagining of underground threats that suture a national grounding the production of social bonds (that is the production of social comforts), often at the expense of others, that leave their violent trace. 33 And yet it can point too toward social bonding produced precisely in some shared unease with the hegemonic social comforts offered in, say, nationalism or, as Paul Smith (1997) describes, capitalist fundamentalism; punk subculture seems to be formed in precisely such discomfor ts 34 In fact, the close of the century offers the Seattle protests 33 See Slavoj Tarry ing with the Negative (1993). 34 The Dead Kennedys available in archived footage at youtube.com (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVrTW7AUkoM) illustrates as much. For him, the assassinations of the Kennedys [ s ] serves as the post 1960 rhetoric here Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables repeats much of the volatile conspiratorial critique against capitalist imperial hegemony initiate d by, say, The Weather Underground. Yet here is Biafra, talking with his mouth full, in the clear light of day. This migration for better or worse I will discuss throughout this work.
40 against the World Trade Organization, which illustrated rather s tarkly the fissures in the otherwise overbearing traction neoliberal globalization held in the collective imagination. 35 Yet, as this project describes, it is the very new energies of a counter globalization movement, the terrorized. The force of the counter globalization movement is most saliently described in Hardt and Empire a work that figures prominently in my project particularly as it attempts to de scribe and to coordinate precisely the possibilities for coordinating They offer in Empire, epths of the modern This project is an investigation of such superficiality. Yet, the very ubiquitous and evocative w compromised this superficiality may be. To 35 The Art of Protest (2005) offers a useful history of s ocial protest movements protest certainly arrives in Seattle. Punk as protest emerges most forcefully in London but quickly migrates to the militant strands of ha rdcore California punk. The Dead Kennedys were a Power Misses (1996) for thoughts on California har dcore, LA in particular. Punk goes further underground throughout the later 80s but reappears prominently in both the Riot Grrrl movement and, more publicly, in grunge. Both Riot Grrrl and grunge are Pacific Northwest responses to, on the one hand, the h ardlining of punk, its narrowness and, on the other, its perceived ineffectual cultural hanging on its domesticity Riot Grrrl with networked points in Washington, DC and London was much more cosmopolitan than grunge. Riot Grrrl is certainly a politici zed punk; grunge may be an Double Troub le (2001) may be instructive. On Riot Grrrl, see Riot Grrrl: Revolution Girl Style Now Both articulations fostered the more progressive leanings of the punk aesthetic. In the Don Letts documentary Punk: Attitude (2005), Jel of militant anti
41 in times of class conflict y to and hence they are biopolitical ic spaces and new forms of all the more powerful. However, these s truggles do not communicate. There is, Hardt and Negri common, global subterranean. There is a competition, I will argue throughout this volume, for apprehe nding or conceding the generality of imperial constitution, yet no doubt one of the more significant features of our post 1960s history has been the disappearance and re emergence of a 303). It is, as well, in this situatio n, that the very language of undergrounds, of the underground, of the simultaneous but contradictory movement of those who insist on a reappropriation of the global commons and of those who insist on forging the l such points of revolt. The superficiality remains not at all self evident.
42 the concrete alternatives continually pushed forward by the res gestae the subjective forces horizon of activities, resistances, wills, and desires that refuse the hegemonic order, propose lines to the subjects of these itineraries the multitude design the new uncontainable rhizomes by geographical mythologies th (399). So while they find hope in the superficiality available to us in globalization, their itineraries that find new underground enc laves as much as it must propose an available realm of underground movement: residences and itineraries, holding patterns and lines of flight. from apprehending the complicated and tangled stops and starts of what Hardt and Negri call the will to be against as Seattle in 1999 but the makings of which, we know, are in immeasurable and unacco untable struggles prior. Thus, the particular line of flight this project takes is to confront the messiness handed over to me by a metaphor that can be used in keeping with the thought of Deleuze and Guattari, from whom Hardt and Negri borrow to reinforc e territory, to build borders, to striate
43 space, and, thus, ultimately, to contain movement, of both thought and political action. 36 In the chapters to follow, the naming and narrating of underground space produces an ideological distribution of bodies. I t is an attempt to economize the excesses of attention that can, too, be useful if not, in its own ways, obscuring indices for the messiness of the social that resists the hegemonic hold of the social imperatives in larger narratives of, for example, national identity. an alternative itinerary. That the reactionary and progress ive force of movement can both be described through the ambivalent inflections of the term makes available the very dynamic of the incommunicability of struggles, for, as much it may describe the various movements of the multitude, it too conjures the very spectral, virtual presence of threat, of risk, of catastrophe, that politically alienates. The semantic tangling of undergrounds has its most real effects in the way the Seattle Protests of 1999, in which a counter globalization underground emerged in the United States, and the attacks of September 11, 2001, in which a very different sort of underground emerged, of conspiracies here, there, and everywhere as a historically availabl e reservoir of demonization tapped into follow up volume to Empire entitled Multitude (2004), the authors note how the media was acks to equate the monstrosity of the globalization protest the 36 A Thousand Plateaus of sm ooth space and striated space, pp. 474 500.
44 privile ging of Seattle as an index to the counter tion with the Elsewhere, however, Hardt and Negri, in an appreciation of the cultural circulation of the image 193). How are we to understand the term if it must be qualified in such a way? In the very rhetorical ease with which counter globalization protestors and al Qaeda can be conjoined, we may too arrive at the very, very problematic core of the incommunicab ility of struggle. Such incomprehensibility, such flights from easy translation and conscription, however, will become a virtue in the post 9/11 volume Multitude (2004) that must make sense of and space for the emergence of such a different course for cou nter globalization. I believe my own project takes part of the project to speculate on the very proposition of different and shared monstrosities. The centrality of Seattle to Hardt and Negri and for a vision of counter globalization is important. Sea which despite its own semantic problems can offer some coherence to our inherited mess. In signifier marking a true movement of movements in the actualization of a unifying force in Seattle, giants and new monsters to put together nature and history, lab or and politics, art and invention in order to demonstrate the new power that is being born in the multitude. We need a new many movements that had arisen forcibly but always with limits to their force in the two
45 preceding decades 82). The micropolitics and the presumably competing agendas of micro groups had come together as a new mutation. Therefore, as I advance readings of texts that mostly what it comes to figure is in the textual bac kground of each and every text. Even the texts I read that follow Seattle, particularly those that attempt to make sense of September 11, have Seattle the monstrosity of the new as a looming presence. in the ways texts proposition both threatening and hopeful populations the possibility for a Seattle and, as I would suggest, a repeating of Seattle, as well is there. Jameson (1995) argues that the ideologeme which I use to read the texts I ha ve chosen operates to account for the excessive demographies of an increasingly globalized economic system. Often these demographic pressures will manifest in panic and fear, but it is important to recognize that, as those anxieties manifest in these text reading. au milieu in between and w ithout Empire, 27). In Empire this exodus is first figured as a flight into a alter Benjamin, they add, the new of volatility that informs all historical moments, so as to add a sense of volatility to the present, to provide an open ende d future. The citation is important because it begins to open up another
46 gestures that fundamentally understand impermanence and forge alternative itinerarie s. deconstructed yet continue to have a significant material presence in the continued expansion of both neoliberalism and coercive democratization, the reassurance of su ch volatility is needed. 37 the evolution of punk into a commodified fashion a fabricated safety pin earring rather than a safety pin as piercing device then argue, however, the initial punk self fashioning may have offered precisely t he sort of monstrosity Hardt and Negri go on to describe in Multitude There, Hardt and Negri, in helps others to recognize that we are all monsters high schoo l outcasts, sexual deviants, freaks, detour back through punk and certainly the ways it communicates with the discourse of the can help us to understand the volatility immanent to the flesh of the multitude. 37
47 is his understanding of history as the contested subject in a politics of attention. For Benjamin, history is told from the perspective of the victors. Traditional historians see history as the closed (1989) expl consideration what failed the ignored (and I choose ignored here to invoke, once again, the epigraph to this project but also because Badiou will offer that a passion for ignorance competes with any and all passions for the ies with it a to amplify what came to be with what could hav e been and, thus, what can come to be. Michel return to the past, but a detour through the past on the way to a utopian fu about bemoaning missed opportunities; it is about giving new force to what had otherwise been historicized thus, increasing the burden of responsibility to attend globally. revolutionary gestures, and a way to track alternative itineraries. It offers, I believe, access t o a access to our ignored and our ignoring; in fact, the discourse exists precisely in the knowledge
48 our attention is always compromised, always sacrifici al. Here, let me borrow (and perhaps wreckage and hurls it in front of h to texts that comprise my four readings will each offer their image of rubble and trash from and the texts contend with and, thus, superficialize how we contend or fail to contend with the clearing ground of history. reading history. From this secret index, Benj certain force in reading. Thus, part of what will follow requires, for example, forcing connections, of pr acticing a particular kind of paranoia, that is to say, of practicing a particular way through, detours in the imagery made available in the omnibus application s of the descriptor 38 Furthermore, I think it is important when we read to be less concerned with 38 Meaghan Morris. In reading a short TV documentary h Sydney Tour, Morris takes her own detour through multiple popular culture texts and representations to understand the figure of resistance offered by her climber. Morris confesses a certain paranoia may color her readi ng reading), perhaps nothing as serious as a rethinking ideologies of home and voyage can really be at stake in a short video about an eccentric and inconsequential episode in the history of the inner she has attended making sense of them through connections to other images and gestures
49 perpetually compromised and more with what they make avai lable, what they make volatile I work through my triad terrorism, punk, and conspiracy so as to introduce blast out, as the case may be a bit of the monstrous into the possibility of understanding the history that brings us Seattle and then Seattle pun ked. I take each of those terms to offer an enveloping rubric for corralling practices and products that offer ways of attending to an emergent world system. In fact, the approach of the following chapters is to suggest how the reading practices and cult ural productions that participate in the fluid discursive parameters of those terms offer us a way of recognizing a counter By returning to the indices available in attending to these terms, there remains, I will argue, the possibility for apprehending a certain force in those politics not otherwise available if we attend to them as failed images at the close of the century. B frozen not in its failure to figure adequately its revolutionary promise but in our inability to attend p roperly to what I want to describe as its global import. Every image of history, every political figuration or labor, is impoverished if it cannot be amply revisited as participating in a larger field of contest. This work is a work of amplification. attempt to pry certain interpretative practices loose from pathological connotations that can contaminate those practices. This is the subject of my fourth chapter.
50 CHAPTER 3 WHEN UNDERGROUNDS EM ERGE: CATASTROPHE A ND CRISIS IN WAR ON TERROR TELEVISION When undergrounds emerge the contours of our everyday lives become reshaped. We have to make space for, open ourselves up to, contend with, the new demands of some po pulation at work of whose work we had neither been familiar with nor knowingly threatened by. A new vigilance, for example, is demanded, widening and sharpening the gaze of the everyday surveying of our surroundings as anti terrorism hotlines are created. post one day exceed the code yellow and orange alerts and go all the way to red. Only then will we rhaps, I should feel somewhat compelled to change of our panic, have, as Willis notes, become one strategy to contain and capitalize on these moments when undergrounds do, in fact, attack. The attack of September 11, 2001 made visible to a significantly larger population the previously underground terrorist operations of Al Qaeda. In a sense, it made an underground updates and threat levels became as integral a part of the daily news ticker as stock quotes, sports scores, an d celebrity gossip. The pervasiveness of the news ticker itself became a part of the reshaping of the frame of our view after September 11. What too emerges with this underground is our awareness of the fracturing of knowledge, the outsourcing, as it wer e, of our attention, for certainly terrorist bombings and daily terror threats were not new to other parts of the world. The 9 11 Commission Report (2004) shows that that this particular underground cell was not even
51 ring in the scope of demands for more information, may then uncannily suggest some public awareness of the need to know more and, ultimately, of a new will to know more. When an underground emerges, when some conspiracy is uncovered, the inevitable fallout is a fact finding mission: who knew what and when. September 11 certainly inspired a frantic one. The same line of thought produces, too, conspiracy theories: who really knew what and when. And certainly September 11, too, has inspired such theorizing as no other event since the Kennedy assassination, each event traumatic, each complicated by the global politics of the time, with each theory variant imagining black op government factions colluding with other equally shadowy parties. Also, each trauma h as its video capture and, as well, its unsatisfying lack of more video. The Zapruder film is notorious for what it shows and, more importantly, for what it suggests without corroboration. The WTC impact was captured on video from multiple angles and vant age points, but the missing video of the Pentagon attack (which contributes to the plotted attack theory) introduced a whole set of questions about what one was seeing or not seeing in the footage of the Towers. The questi accurate record of the moment some underground emerges from a previous obscurity. Such conspiracy theorizing would seem to be a manifestation of what (2002) televised spectacle something (some thing) lacking. Whether by official fact finding committee the catastrophic
52 moment and recognizes that our first experience of it its first moment of impact is already really w ith these methods of knowing dominating defines the more? with the twentieth that it was a fake passion whose ruthless pursuit of the Real behind appearances was the ultimate stratagem to avoid confronting th e Real the man who knew more becomes a personal scapegoat to avoid confronting the real question: why did this happen? In fact, the oft happened that this was ever a possibility and what it rather somewhat paradoxically yet starkly confesses: how the questions tion needs to address and interrogate the context that produces this the production of these undergrounds in the first place. It is, of course, from this questioning desire for more and the unsatisfying experience of the moment (or the moment that the raw material of, the potential for drama is produced. As September 11 inaugurated the War on Terror a market is produced for and knowledge. As I beli themed dramas will illustrate, the fictionalized access to, a fictionalized knowledge of, underground terror cells becomes a way to hold at bay the persistence of that latter question tha t demands a context for, a history of the production of these undergrounds. I turn to television
53 here because for television that question must ultimately be avoided, for it threatens the very capitalizes on its production of the signifying necessity of the here and now I am interested here in pursuing how, given the content and context of a post 9/11 War on Terror, cultural producers used this new source material a s a survival mechanism, even as the source material, I will argue, threatens the very foundation of the televisual. The persistence of that latter question I want to argue is a crisis for American television, and yet there is something to learn, to behold from the panicked excesses of the new dramatic forms that manage this crisis by anticipating the next time It is ultimately the access to an advanced knowledge of the future, the promise of intervention before the next cat astrophe, work important to understand. What these representations foreground and what they repress of this new content to ensure the survival of an ideology can, ultimately, be useful in articulating the work of undergrounds that threatens that survival ; thus, a reading diagram for other representations is produced. Here the crisis produced by the emergence of an underground is averted in forcing the drive of any desire for knowledge to be bracketed at one end by a rehearsal of the catastrophe of 9 11 ( rather than attending to the crises preceding and producing that moment ) and bracketed at the other end by the diverting panic that anticipates the future catastroph e ( impossible the thinking of a future outside the threat ) The War on Terror themed dramas produced in the wake of 9 11 are televised panic attacks, hyper productions of the historical moment that manage the long stretch of crisis by sustaining what
54 s always here and now of terrifyi ng possibility. Local News terrorism drama 24 promises in its promotional segments during mult is almost transparent, almost nakedly mechanical in its effort to hold us over. Th e program 24 ends and an all new 24 generated graphics Dennis Haysbert (or is it his character on 24 President David Palmer?) pitches us A ll State insurance T being used in the W ar on T error W 24 and, then, the local news broadcast begins. and other transitional elements, the fragments here are discernable; the program 24, advertisement, in, the news broadcast itself these are identifiable units, and we may imagine, as well, that their functions to entertain, to sell, to inform are easily identifiable and are singular to the fragments themselves but any such easy appointments fragment form to function
55 the questions thes e fragments may propose for and to each other in its flow, the viewer arrives at the news program without consideration of what the confluence of these fragments may openly suggest, for example, about the appropriation of terrorism for entertainment or abo ut the blurred boundaries of the news media and entertainment. For contradictions in and of flow and its alleged access to the immediate. In fact, whatever u neasiness this particular example of televisual flow may raise in regard to the appropriation of terrorism for commercial gain and to be easily assuaged if the ne urgent the anchor c ertainly used his most commanding voice in the lead in when stating, up urgency as it merely shows the ceremonial ope ning of an anti terrorism training facility the space of the retired jet in Florida. It is the kind of story that denies this anchor an opportunity to say his favorite transitional intros: rhetorical operation does show how the spatial the closeness of this anti terror tool can recuperate the missing temporal urgency whe n there is apparently no new news to report from
56 In the early morning hours of D ecember 9, 2003, a local man, resisting arrest, died after died someti me during his transport from the scene to the hospital. After the standard news report of the event account, relevant file footage (this time, something appearing to be a police de training video simulating a Taser blast) WAWS FOX 30 decides to further educate its audience verifiable evidence that the death was caused by any Only the highly serious context keeps the twisting and convulsing bodies (and, in the case of the cameraman, the uncon trollable profanity) from becoming anything other than sensational. Although such exhibition is not uncommon (officers themselves are submitted to such field tests be understood as blithely stupid or profoundly arrogant. That an evening without much decisive terrorist activity to report, with no terrorist crime scene to take us to their standard slogan), that such an eve ning resorts to so morbid a television when undergrounds attack The Impossibility of a Crisis Mode is not equipped or, more precisely, as I will argue, is unable and unwilling to manage crisis,
57 to conceptualize crisis. The crisis of international terrorism is the context and cause of of the instantaneou it organizes itself around nding the event there an event of some duration which is startling and mom entous precisely because it demands crisis for its timing is th suggests television practice is a conjuncture of the informational and catastrophic modes of apprehension. For Doane, television is an information trophe
58 television. to a more complicated conclusion as to why television has adopted a catastrophic mode catastrophe but is constantly overshadowed by it is the potential of another type of catastrophe altogether that of e Catastrophe makes concrete and immediate, and therefore deflects attention from, the more abstract horror of potential econo mic crisis. For the catastrophe, insofar as it is perceived as the accidental failure of technology (and one which can be rectified with little tinkering O rings can be fixed, engines redesigned), is singular, asystematic it does not touch the system of c ommodity capitalism. (237). believe, is the necessary containment of its very foundational crisis, the very crisis in the material base that allows commercial television to exist and media conglomerates to thrive. While the catastrophic mode certainly manages crises of and in capitalism, the catastrophic mod e more importantly always short circuits the ability to comprehend crisis, to comprehend capitalism itself as an economic crisis. Terrorism presents a challenge to capitalism. Susan Buck (2003) suggests that terrorism (in our present context after September 11, 2001 and through the war in Iraq) becomes an ideological over called Third Wor
59 discourse of opposition and debate, dealing with issues of social justice, legitimate power, and ethical life in a way that challenges the hegemony of Western political and c Silencing is always necessitated by a message heard somewhere. If the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 brought from the underground to the consciousness of the United State the existence of such counter discourses to capitalist hege mony (popularized by such short hands as attack, becomes a crisis situation, the temporal persistence of that counter discourse. The anticipatory constant such a war initiates and the lingering psychological effects of terror (a necessary precondition if some act in fact was terroristic) creates a temporality that cannot easily The discourse lingers; a crisis seeks resolution. As a result, a televisual panic is put in play. While television makes a desperate effort to represent terrorism as catastrophe, The War on Terror itself necessitates an anxious insistence by t elevision on its own institutional importance. War on Terror proceeds, and, so TV drama ha ve this crisis and the site for something like a television PR campaign. They become, as well, something like the televising, as it were, of the processes of cultural reception and, in turn, cultural production that proceeds from the emergence of an underground: this is to say it response, these dramas become interesting for what they must disavow of the message heard, how they must disavow the crisis from which the message was produc ed. Quite simply, ultimately, there are no undergrounds in these representations but everything of the panic they produce.
60 Boston Public and Very Special Episodes September 11 was almost immediately memorialized by television. The postponement of the fa to build September 11 into the Fall season. The West Wing responded first by presenting on October 3 rd group of students caught in the 9 11 lockdown of the White House and offered a history lesson Third Watch nd season premiere was entitled th ode, broadcast October 29 th takes place on September 21 and reflects on the previous 10 days. NYPD Blue is set in the immediate aftermath of September 11, as well. As these shows are set in the very sites of the terrorist at tacks New York and the Washington, D.C. area and as they aspire to a certain realism, to not acknowledge the terrorist attacks would be an act of bad faith. But, as well, these acts of remembering become post catastrophe coverage assemblages of catastroph stops, a moment of danger that might portend change, which paradoxically is both thrill and traumatic narratives collecting, and further attempting to master, the anxious remainder that eludes the catastrophe coverage proper. Very special episodes in 2003 suggest the trau ma of 9 11 has eluded mastery, but the on
61 Boston Public want to address this War on Terror and lengthy discourses on the curtailing of civil liberties, on racial profil recourse to the trauma of 9 11 becomes the only way to both symbolize terrorism and to authorize a dialogue about terrorism. As the show begins with vice p 11 television footage ies of TV in an referentiality here conditions a certain context (a foregrounding of effect, never of cause) for attending to terrorism in the show. When the FBI is called in response to the rupture in the ethical questioning of post 9/11 governmental policing is the subject of office banter; when their arm away from the discussion and a silenced f aculty. The current crisis c an not be framed as a televisually constructed catastrophic memory, an extension of that catastrophe, a repetition and re remembering of it. limactic moment when the Arab American student investigated as a terrorist is confronted by a throng of hostile students Holocaust, offers an empathetic embrace. From a character known for his bigoted and
62 reactionary prejudices developed and played for laughs in numerous episodes, this g estures transfers the catastrophic trauma of the Holocaust onto the discursive field of the War on Terror. There is probably a richer political critique mandated by this symbolic move, but, for the purposes here, the scene operates to figure the War on Te rror in a catastrophic frame rather than concluding speech in front of an assembled student body reinforces this move. The students investigated were not terrorists, he calling, the suspicious glances, and the silent condoning of such behaviors all become implicated as evidence catastrophes of conscience. The inferential command for soul searching as a mechanism to comprehend and confront terrorism, while certainly preferable to the behaviors framed by this conceptual formation, works to short circuit the radical discourses to capitalism that may have been the untranslated and uninterrogated content of the catalytic website that puts this drama into attention in crisis. Television has no time for that. subplot rehearses an oft covered television plot; that a television show centering on a school and teenagers would eventually broach this subject may be obvious, but the question specific to Boston Public having avoided this hackneyed plot and topic for two seasons, might be, Why now? Has the show in season three reached the point of narrative exhaustion? But, as the
63 the Rodney King beating created for television was managed away by the L.A. riots. Likewise, this Boston Public subplot works as a recuperative metanarrative of faculty lounge. At stake in the bureaucrat ic and reactionary impediments to the formation of her club is the free and timely flow of information. Vice have is our voice. I have found that public access television can be a wonderful tool for changing pe students by keeping information from them. Keep them informed, keep them exhausted talk show debate of sex education in the schools becomes the locus for figuring information itself into the text because finally the content of the information does not matter, is television forecloses yet another time and space to new discourses, the very such threat that has necessitat ed this rather banal insistence on its own importance within the context of its other terrorist plot. Threat Matrix and Televisual Celebration While terrorism themed shows Alias and 24 were already in production prior to September 11, Threat Matrix, debuti ng September 18, 2003 on ABC, as it is the representation
64 of the homeland security team, itself a reaction formation to September 11, became the first terrorism themed show developed and produced specifically in response to the War on Terror Unlike Alias and 24 Threat Matrix does not present the serialized uncovering and containing of a terror plot over the course of its season. Rather, the conventional shape of a Threat Matrix episode begins with some punctuated event, some minor catastrophe a car bomb explodes, a hostage is taken, an informant is murdered and this event is always discovered to portend some greater threat, to reveal some larger plot. The denouement of each episode is the coming together of the various trails of intelligence gathering t he initial event has set into motion. The intelligence failures before and up to the terrorist attacks of September 11 have been widely reported. To a certain extent, each episode of Threat Matrix stages an impossible fantasy of recuperation of those err ors. Less impossible, though, is the staging of a fantasy of intelligence totalization, the fantasy of information gathering technologies always necessarily working, capturing any and all threats within their scope. Television manages to include itself i n the celebration of technology these fantasies stage. The signal event of the September 25 th episode of Threat Matrix is the detonation of a car bomb killing a federal agent. Forensic reports, the collection of intelligence chatter, and footage from a surveillance camera allow the homeland security team to xt, team leader, John Kilmer, quickly but assuredly, asks for information from each of his agents. Following Kilmer, seemingly over his shoulder, the camera goes from agent to agent, recording the many computer terminals, surveillance monitors, microscope s, precision lights, and other anonymous technological apparatuses in this work place. While not a single running shot, the edited effect
65 t their information. A computer tech reports his finding from various computer databases and surveillance technologies; a criminal profiler provides data based on psychological histories and draws conclusions from the vocal pitches registered in a surveil where it came on the essential visual markers coinciding with the rapid high tech speech, compensating for the loss of information that exceeds our comprehensio n with its visual signals, stitches the information together; when Kilmer arrives at his conclusions, it is television for the viewer that is there for us, that was there first. To conceive of terrorism as crisis is to jeopardize such allegorical cl Threat Matrix is a compensatory fantasy. But, in another regard, Threat Matrix by figuring the War on Terror as a technological and informational arms race, becomes the coup de grace of its own ideological formation, canceling the very question of underground Arizona meth lab, where a military veteran has become the unwitting sponsor of an underground Islamic terrori st group. The vet agrees to assist the Feds in apprehending the terrorists, whose cellphone and the directory of numbers inside needs to be acquired to eliminate the threat of the terrorist act. The intercept of the cellphone is compromised first by a lo
66 ured alive). These intervening subplots have as their subtexts the incrimination of personal and moral failings, not technological or economic failings, as the failures with truly catastrophic consequences. As the underground drug trade terror trade con nection is certainly the target of the the capture of the terrorist cell, and, more importantly, expressing his own indignation: "We are, ironically, our own worst enemies. Terrorizing ourselves ... Fighting a war of dependency ... that, unfortunately, makes veterans of us all." However, the framing of the scene, of this speech, does not seem to demarcate the severity of the admonishment. The mis en scene is all t oo familiar: the familiar podium and microphone, the familiar blue curtained backdrop, the familiar Federal magic of an earlier sequence as the Federal agents int critical measure is the sending and tracing of a signal from that cell phone. The show switches to a computer enhanced sequence that represents the rapid fire trajectory of the digital signal as it is routed through an animated network of pathways. This is a sequence borrowed from the highly rated program CSI whose animated sequences of bullets travelling through bone and tissue, for example, have become not only a signature element of that show but an indexical t ascendancy to the stature of film, adopting its aesthetic look and feel (the widescreen format of ER another example). In this scene, when stockpiled technology a telephone tracing device here inge nuity own celebratory moment. The victory in the technological arms race represented in the episode carries television in its scope. While the moral pontificating may occupy a prime spot at the l aggrandizement focuses attention to the more pressing matters of
67 intelligence failures are performed on TV, TV, as the obvious site of that performance, asserts it s own immunity to the charge of failure. 24 : Melodrama and Cameras An infected body and the threat to unleash the very virus that has eaten through this body signal the beginning of the latest terror plot in which counter terrorist agent Jack Bauer finds h 24 then proceeds with its own enumeration of the technological Here, as in Threat Matrix is a similar confusion of information ultimately intended to console us, for it will all mean some thing will all amount to something for Jack Bauer when he inevitably foils this terror plot. But, as this confounding display of empowering technological pile esolution, the serialization of 24 demands some other televisual construction to manipulate 24 practices. I want to suggest that a particular melodramatic mode in what I hav e described as the current panic in television during the War on Terror importance for 24 24 placed upon a screen, a bright red light scans the hand, a Technicolor hand imprint is generated, and an image o f our hero is retrieved from a database and displayed on a monitor, accompanied
68 recognition system has signified the sensitivity of the place, the sensitivity of th e operation, but, reach The conventional flash of a badge is certainly inadequate, and even a fingerprint match is insufficient, for the work ahead for Jack Bauer, for the work of counte r terrorism. 24 far reaching surveillance system to confront the crisis terrorism suggests. As Joyrich further defines it, melodrama certainly does seem like an operativ e mode for melodrama, conflicts are brought to the surface and expressed through contrasts that rehearse and 24 premiere is operating this way as it introduces its new villain, Ramon Salazar: Jack reports, including his own desire is precipitated by the postmodern break in capitalism: Paradoxically, while capitalism was the fi r st system to destroy the referential by establishing a law of equivalence in which all is exchangeable through the medium of money, it must now protect itself from the subversion of order inherent in the simulacrum. America has therefore hardened itself against its own hyperreality. As overtakes the drive toward material production. We exhibit an obsession with signs of reality, tradition, and lived experience as nostalgia engulfs us in a hysterical attempt to find stakes of meaning. (53 54) Joyrich, then, in keeping with Baudrillard stakes of meaning in melodramatic
69 television during the War on Terror, I believe, are found not in the stockpiling of the past, but, as both Congressional fact finding and popular conspiracy theorizing suggest, in the stockpiling of information 24 surveillance cameras, news cameras, radar, and tracking devices are the visual registers of that 24 is alway s 24 Threat Matrix and Alias as well in their desire to find sure stakes of meaning, become where the truth is out ther e in the bits and blips of data processed through sophisticated soft and hard wares. want to suggest that in the paranoid melodramas during the War on Terror the most salient excessi ve 24 is marked by its framing of a scene through multiple shots, taken from multiple and difficult angles: In a prison scene, the camera seems to be located above, a view from, perhaps, a surveillance camera. Also, these camera angles are never clean. 24 is obsessed with shots that include barriers to a clean shot: shots taken through windows, through screens, over computer monitors, through blinds, through clear cubicle w This hysteria of shots reveals a desire for the camera to penetrate and to consume completely its objects, any conc In The Emergence of Cinematic Time (2002) Mary Ann Doane describes an analogous
70 Oklahoma City, which was significant for its inclusion of footage from a camera inside the building as it was demolished. Doane writes: to be there at the instant of the catastrophic event, to witne ss death as the ultimate referent or as the collision with the real in all its intractability. The liveness and presence of the camera at the instant of the implosion act as forms of compensation for the absence of a camera at the original bombing/explosi on on April 19, 1995. The mourning of this loss that of an image of the Ur event accompanies and fortifies the mourning for the loss of lives in the explosion. (207) As 24 is a drama always anticipating some rupture whether it be the imagined Ur even t that premiere 24 be there at the moment of im/ex plosion. s desire for its c ameras is to occupy the space of, to posit television itself as, the all consuming, penetrating surveillance camera. This reaction formation is not a compensatory fantasy for any absence of the camera on September 11 the cameras were there but rather this is a compensatory fantasy mourning all the records the repression of the crisis of terrorism (terrorism as crisis) had made impossible, for we know not for what we are looking, we know only for what we are awaiting. Capturing In fact, this impossible fanta 24 NavyCIS November 25 th episode investigate an Is from maximum to minimum security aims to execute a fellow prisoner, who Naval officers have in law, the ultimate surveillance fantasy be comes the best way to accurately identify the prized intelligence source. Unbeknownst to the assassin, before he
71 is transferred to minimum security, a miniature spy camera is embedded in his Muslim prayer cap, rendering the very thing that terrorizes into an instrument of its own suppression. The Here, what television fantasizes about quickly obscures th e very thing that mandates this episode. Guatanomo Bay becomes the stuff of which drama is made because it occupied several months of air time as television news; however, it occupied that air time in such a way the camera was rendered inadequate, where r epeated establishment shots could not show us in, could show us only recycled views of prison wire and men in orange jump suits. In NavyCIS the fantasy of seeing all, for example, suspends the questions of torture, which is never a question with such tec hnological virtuosity, even as torture at Gitmo is the very reality upon which this drama finds resonance. Is not then the suppression of the question of violence as method one of the very questions avoided in our post ho did this had to be 24 it should be noted, addresses torture, it is less as question and more as editorial: Jack Bauer tortures and it works.) T elevision in these moments when the establishment of moral high grounds and the urgency and proficiency of information management are represented as imperatives, when anxieties over counter discourse, causality, vulnerability, ethical ambiguity, and violen ce are repressed or done asunder becomes a metaphor for our own sense making of the new spaces of globalization and global struggle ( new in that we now recognize these other spaces are populated, are antagonistic, and their populations, like Cold War spies and homegrown militias, plot, too, and now threaten the homeland ). These panicked productions seem to suggest that
72 sense making, ultimately, takes the guise of figuring how to secure our own viability as subject as undergrounds plot our demise. Panic re mains a palpable, thus, in some sense, comforting, affect of survival; it is real. But, panic, too, is un real, supported by a sense of the future, marked by an oppressive potentiality of threat, constructed in the very narratives we use to mediate betwee n our everyday experience and the unknown scenes of where undergrounds plot and a and in some moments underground representations to read the panic figured and the panic pro duced, to hear what these representations have to say about questions of survival: who survives and survival posed by one whose own survival feels threatened be r eceived? How can threat be undone? What makes living possible in these times? Desperation and panic may be enemies of a certain critical distance but they may be our educational allies here, as panic registers an awareness of, an anxiety over, an unsat isfying answer to the very crisis that commands such responses.
73 CHAPTER 4 PARANOIA AND/VERSUS PRECARIOUSNESS: THE CRYING OF LOT 49 AND THE Television in the texts read in the previous chapter serves as its own in commensurable figure in the representation of the emergence of undergrounds, needing to represent more so The Crying of Lot 49 the novel as Oedipa Maas turns the television on as d istracting devise. She hopes to shake the thought of her pending as missed opportunities, failed follow ups, non sequiturs, and wandering diversions plague what Oedipa desires to be a fact finding mission and distraction is certainly a useful term for understanding what happens, as My introduction connotations as diversionary, to its playful use in politics as a way to suggest that those who distract (politicians, the media) and those who are distracted (the media, the audience) are a lready fully aware of that from which their attention is being diverted. That is to say, there never really are any real distractions except those in which I choose to participate. But we also live with an equally prevalent sense distraction is modus oper andi of power, that power functions with an endless dexterity of machination, even if it s true aim can be reduced to shorthand: They are distracted. They are distracting. We are not distracted. We
74 attention; of course, as (2006) argues community, too, needs to impugn the way the Other o rganizes the enjoyment of their own economy. about the very prob lem television dramas wrestle with ideologically that overdetermines how those representations finally unfold formally: survival in the face of the emergence of an underground. While those television dramas may (have to) be distracting ill argue is more importantly about distractions. etymologically more intense connotation. As the OED disturbance of mind or feelings, s attempt to distract herself in The Crying of Lot 49 distraction as the plot of the no world reorganized at the emergence of new populations with new demands, Oedipa, in disbelief tha t so many people may have formed a community in secret, will speculate if her madness is insists on its own explication in pathology ssibly be living within the nation with their own organizing structures of community, their own mythologies, their own networks of communication, that to believe this to be true must be insanity speaks to an overarching insistence upon some other explanati on some other story to hold true: the same old story, the everyday plodding along (plotting along) of her life, which has effectively excluded these others in that plotting. Here, perhaps the self diagnosis is a desire for paranoia,
75 the wish for all that Paranoia here provides for a certain relationship to others that allows different and, in fact, more distracting relati onships in its representations of paranoid attention, the turning away is from a distribution of violence that were it not for this paranoid attention would connect all bodies in a structural log ic. Thus, must be : A re the paranoid performances of the characters a way to argue for a real plot against them, a way to argue for a certain need to be really paranoid? Paranoia here, of course, quickly elides its cli nical applications. Is Pynchon speculating about the possibilities of wrenching a positive valence for the various hermeneutic practices that can be labeled and, then, instantly degraded as paranoid? The common parlance of Pynchon criticism is to note j 1991), but my particular aim is to wonder what is then to be made of this Pynchonian insistence of those practices of spatial collapse that are vulnerable to the claims of reductionism the charge of paranoia. The Pynchonian insistence may best be summed up by environment of particularity and localism resist the indict ment of paranoia. Cultural paranoia, after all, is most often understood to be the reactionary response to the cultural work of the sixties that sought to make impossible totalizing operations and to the emergence of the postmodern. Contemporary observers of cultural paranoia exemplary of its hermeneutic practices identify a presumed paranoid consistency in Pynchon at discourse of the underground already a figure that distributes and acknowledges different
76 economies of attention throughout the social field allows on the figural level for a rhetoric on paranoid hermeneutics: plural, precisely, because from this accounting the figures perform differently, and in such an accounting a rhetoric for a particular economy of attention emerges which must contend with as much as it must relate to the discursive force of the language of paranoia. Pass age Through Hell (1997) believes one of the more significant where Hell (the underworld) has been replaced by the underground the speculation is that a descent such as Pike describes is itsel f now outmoded. Jameson writes in Postmodernism (16). Thus, any attempt to comprehend the complexit impossible as a study against another time but must rather take shape as, may only be perceived as, a working out, a thinking through, of space and spatial concepts produced in the emergence of the postmodern. The C rying of Lot 49 is a descent into the underground, into confrontations with secret histories, spaces, and populations. Distraction is the look away. The narrative of descent rather forces a necessary looking at, a narrative of observation where the looki ng at is name the dis tracted parties, the divided, scattered populations no longer visible in, either violently drawn out of or withdrawn from, the frame of, Oedi s
77 words (1984) of the 60s. The emergence of the postmodern (and attendant concerns of anti imperialism, globalization, civi l rights, identity politics) creates new demands on the subject to which one must attend. The Crying of Lot 49 enacts the drama of its historical moment: the repositioning of the subject in relation to the new global demands for political subjectivity and mation (anti imperial struggles, new forms of nationalism) emerge as part of what Jameson will describe as the 60s beings, and this internally as well as externally: those inner colonized of the first world fully as much as its external subjects and official in the United States begins to churn more radically: the transformation of the urban ghetto in a The Crying of Lot 49 with both its conc erns about the colonizing agent of paranoia and its figures of community space seems be a working through anxieties about the spatial reorganization generated in the 1960s. Cultural paranoia, as suggested, will often be described as the work to maintain di stance; its naming territorializes space so as to distribute bodies to the narrative process by means of which an individual constructs a histor into a singular story that manifest the real of self or nation as organized around a central paranoid
78 producing machinery paranoia as postmodern reaction formation which produces, it seems, a concomitant panic over of fear of description, as well as the need to name a collective as such, has much to do with globalization, has much to do with the dilemma of shared space and the ideological distribution of bodies. It, too, becomes a way to locate, to register, to mark As capital creates new social interdependencies across great distances, and, as Virilio our sense of the gap between time an d those great distances, claustrophobia is the affective living among others takes on a global reach; yet, this can be perceived as a pressure cooker, when living a mong seems a mere politic for competing with when the number of those others explodes, when the freeing and loosening of the barriers to capital lubricates the actual borders for the flow of bodies ever so forebodingly (from the perspective of globalizati While the initiation of globalization in the late 50s might have unleashed the possibility for more and more subjects to make their claim for subjectivity it too unleashes a heightened sense of the claustrophobia which Frances Ferguson ( parallel movement of the de centering of the subject in postmodernity threatens the self, paranoid forms of attention claustrophiliac having vital interest in the security and c omfort that can be
79 how to share space (how to think shared s pace) in postmodernity. My reading agenda here is to show first how Pynchon figures the paranoid attention in many of these terms as the lockdown of the liberal subject, as the conserving of functional mythologies of agency, in this shift in space. But, I will then turn to speculating if the language recognize as undergroun ds are in fact formed by conspiracies around us everyday. In fact, much of what I find interesting in the text occurs before Oedipa takes her night journey into the underground; it occurs in (or as) the everyday experiences of Mucho Maas and Oedipa Maas, in the everyday paranoia in which they articulate their subjectivity. The everyday way they relate to the world and its shifting dynamics reveals much about why and how a culture produces both undergrounds and a discourse to explain them. One important q uestion is whether the paranoia that conserves the liberal subject and informs undergrounds does n o t in fact aid and abet those of paranoia as the perceptive frame the default setting for attending to interconnectedness. Thus, I wonder if the possibility of saying anything useful about interconnectedness does not always occur in a field of skepticism, of disbelief. Undergrounds and the Uncommon Oedipa Maa everyday existence a life bored, vapid, figured as cast in the plasticity of Tupperware and Muzak (1 2) tlessness,
80 reserving their lies, recitations of routine, arid betray als of spiritual poverty, for the official symbol of the now dormant Tristero and named itself in deference to its promise, what it promised in its existing form structure is the exiting of the everyday and the entering of the not everyday of this underground, then, thinking through what is exactly contained in that concept the everyday provides a certa in ground from which the fiction finds its resonance for its construction of the not everyday of the underground. of steady rhythms: the boredom of the housewife, the business of tupperware sales, the tedium within the cubicle. In his Everyday Life and Cultural Theory (2002), Ben Highmore suggests the assembly line and the clock became the defining machines of our modernity and produced the everydayness of each and ev experience: the everyday as the experience of boredom. Wondering if anything unusual in her life coincided to transcend boredom will seemingly be the narrative agent of the descent Boredom is the of the various privileged conceptions of life use d to describe the everyday. Boredom as a
81 the same interpellations that support geopolitical borders, and class, gender, and race lines, as well. It is in this regard that the reorganization of the everyday by the emergence of undergrounds in the narrative becomes an allegory for the reorganization of the commonplace by The 60s could be viewed as the foregrounding of other everydays different experiences of each day, of how of every day in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901) (commonplace exchange with the police, with the State, with the im perial magistrate). The thinking space shows (1991), space our orientation in relation to other bodies is very much so conditioned by the Symbolic. If as Jameson ar gues the 60s do in fact contain a transitional phase for capital (1984, 206 209), then space, too, according to Lefebvre, is being altered, and that alteration will very much take place in the way we relate to other bodies. Thus, the language of relating interior/exterior (discussed in part one of this chapter) and global/local (part two) should be subject to alteration itself in the shifting of spatial practice, but paranoia, in part, will be a panicked holding on to its former uses. The reading tact, I believe, should be to think through the everyday structures that necessitate the filling of voids (the everyday as boring, lacking) which the descent provides. ip, to think how one is connected, to others in this world, then, the construction of the everyday provides a sense of not only the positioning and the connection already imagined (and now menaced) but also the stakes one has in the way things have always otherwise proceeded. The
82 everyday in The Crying of Lot 49 [ of production ] Bataille tells us, must be spent. revo rod racing as a catalyst for some white youths to emerge as political agents at the turn of the 1960s (207 226). Boredom is insufferable, and the close of community space brings it closer. freedom to act but not knowing where and at what moment to intervene. It would seem a perfect emotional ground tone for the imposition of the paranoid form. T of larger corporate systems, the possibility for i ndividual agency is questioned and transferred onto those larger power human agency, in other words, are all parts of the paradox in which a supposedly individualist culture conserves its in Agency panic is the conservative response to the challenges informational technologies and postwar landscape indicates a broad cultural refusal to modify a concept of self that is no longer wholly accurate or useful, but that still underpins a long standing national fantasy of The Crying of Lot 49 s story, i
83 which is told first and serves as a template for understanding the everyday experience not only of boredom, but, I believe, of agency panic from which relief is sought. Paranoia I: Much Ado About Mucho Maas working. How can the everyday as defeat serve as a sustaining fiction of order? Wark will theorize that distracting, but, here, in the text, the irruption, it woul d seem, is short circuited by belief: working at the car lot and in which not to believe disc jockeying at a radio station. The locating of the believable any defeats. It is the condition of those defeats. In the cars, not taken or denied. Here, it would seem the belief is in the materiality of the litter, that this residue provides some subs with these people, that it truly indexes that something otherwise denied. Mucho seems to acknowledge some failure of attention, some poverty in the client their w hole lives must be like, out there for anybody, a stranger like himself, to look at, frame
84 superficial residue of his interpersonal experience with other people (other people he has noted y marked as his Others. Mucho believes the lot the collection of waste it contains gives back the actual. as if there is an actual. In the belief the lot will provide some trace evidence of the actual, the actual is only the a e in which communication and intersubjectivity are compromised by the deal, by difference leaves him desperate, but agency will be conserved in an investment in the actual, in the paranoid t the actual residue, and there truly refused is counterpoint to simple loss, then, both as signs for Mucho point to the desire to read i nto this residue signs of refusal. The residue of refusal points dislodging from the conditions of necessity, demarcates a space for agency in apathy, in was tefulness. The signs then work, not so magically, but paranoically. Signs of refusal are the very stuff of the national fantasy of subjectivity.
85 war phenomenon, proceeding from accounts by Vance Packard ( The H idden Persuaders) and J. Edgar Hoover ( Masters of Deceit) whereby the conjuncture of a structural agency argued on the one hand and an intention driven program of mass control argued for on the other displays the messy, anxious sorting out of agency in th at Bodies and Machines (1992) locates a similar operation in the late nineteenth century, at which point transition in information technologies and machinic reproduction begin to stir fantasies of mass production begetting mass man. The production of a production of an underclass (as the by product of the shift in production) will create. While y tied to the reorganization of production, the necessary supplement to that is the creation of newly constituted subjects and the reorganization of space in, for example, the anti migration to and rec bodies (in both an agency panic and a proliferating underclass) necessitates the reorganization of bodies in the simultaneous production of surveillance technologies (policing and sociology) and of fantasies of surveillance, in which fiction plays no small part. In a self reflexive interpretive Maggie imitate the privileged inte have filled as it
86 e actual as traceable in the interior of cars seems to be a performance of realist desire, if not more appropriately, realist faith. exclusion is the obverse of the he gemonic operation of exclusion. It is now the hegemonically down as recourse to a repositioning in the Symbolic: here, in the 60s deconstruction of the common place, back the actualization of agency, in, week torical moment, figured here as the intersubjectivities denied to him, he believes, in the hardening of micro communities (which his need to name those communities here in their difference suggests), those communities formed by the failure of actually exis ting community at the national level. That is, sympathy with the to have an interior, each allows one to operate as if possessive individualism is an actuali ty, even as does not incorporate Mucho into any movement or into any revolution. A paranoiac investment, no matter how or to what extent
87 traces of true refusal and waste (as a certain refusal in its own right) signs of freedom wrestled from necessity whose demands for participation in the sphere of such freedoms come to bear on the historical moment to be attached to the national mythologies of choice, of self determinacy, of equal opportunity failure. This works to defuse the anxieties over social mobilization by securing the liberal subject by suggesting the Other in their refusal and waste enjoys an exce ss of agency, the surplus which real of agency. The waste here becomes the location of the actual the subjectively dis located outside which feed backs (is feedback) to support the vacuous (bored) interior of the self. In muc h the same way, W.A.S.T.E. performs this for Oedipa. Thus, his everyday life but because the external locating of agency to verify agency reverberates in the di extrapolation of the politics of authenticity that informs much of the energies of the 1960s. The positing of an authentic realm within or beyond culture the politi cs of authenticity becomes a defining characteristic of much of the thought that characterizes the 60s (Rossinow, 1998). The Existentialism and the Situationi sts) was an engine catalyzing the energies of the 60s and even becomes one of the questions for which the lack of answer becomes a defusing of those energies. competition fo r control of the New Left, which seemed highly invested in efforts to locate the authentic site of struggle.
88 It is here where the discourse of the everyday and the discourse of the underground become mutually reflective. For example, I believe quite a bit is captured in the transposition of The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (1993) important cultural trends of t as adopted by the Weatherman, whose re christening as the Weather Underground at the end of Early in the history, the underground is a life (15). ure, the creation of figures for iconography, a Mad cultural practice. The Sixties brings to light the underground and recast the everyday in a new colo America versus totalitarianism, respectability versus crime, obedience versus delinquency, affluence versus barbarism, suburbia versus degradation and filth subaltern or minoritarian living that at the other end of the Sixties will no longer be necessarily underground. This inflection of the metaphor the underground as the site of lives lived otherwise is where the metaphor is imbued with democratic possibility.
89 t is in the context of the Weathermen, who course, is the longer genealogy of the term. The Weather Underground marks a point where an underground is a localiz ed cell but where localization is marked as fanatical, even interestingly, I be lieve, is how Gitlin, even as he attempts to argue that a certain death knell of the 60s positive energies is reached when the radical politics of the 60s decide to go (rather than are forced to go as might be the counter reading of the participants) unde rground he cannot look like fun metaphor, when revelry gives way to mili tancy, the metaphor can not eclipse its association with a certain romance of more authentic living. Bill Ayers, a member of the Weather Underground, going to put Militancy was the standard by which we measured our aliveness which in every inflection defines the underground is equated here once aga in (2002), following Alain Badiou, describes this as this passion for the real, which certainly conceptually captures the politics of authenticity, the quest for depth that informs the 60s history described above, i In the trenches of World War I, Ernst Junger was already celebrating face to face combat as the authentic intersubjective encounter: authenticity resides in the act of violent transgression, from the Lacanian R eal the Thing Antigone confronts when she violates the order of the City to the Bataillean excess. (6)
90 undergrounds) that informs and proceeds from the 60s. The underground of any cultural form done to culture, whether it be in terms of co optation or control, the underground describes the spaces where people try to evade or undo the cultural norm, or the cultural momentum, and rather insist on its disruption, a new point of departure, and to defend its authenticity take an offensive. This is to say, they plot otherwise. arms. Rather it finds its balm in paranoid forms of attention as a certain short circuit to, a the 5 6). If Mucho ha s a passion for the real it can not move eco refusal of hegemonic violence always keeps at bay the violence which is seemingly the constitutive feature of the Real that gives back sustenance to an othe rwise impoverished everyday reality. We could call this the construction of the acceptable terms of defeat: I know there is violence out there which makes all this seem all the more real but I prefer being defeated in my efforts to experience it.
91 Thus, it is unsurprising to learn Mucho is haunted by the violence he cannot experience at propriety of substance 05, 28). The violence a ins, week after week, never got as far as violence or blood owner, each shadow, filed in only to exchange a dented, malfunctioning version of himself for another, just a violence necessitating the trade in, Mucho witnesses only the rituals of exchange; the habitual leaves little room for true refusals. No refusal is here, only puny conspicuo us consumption. Whatever power may have been given to another is impugned in the extrapolation of impotence imply ing some fundamental nature of refusal he actually replace on While Mucho believes himself too far from the violence, it is rather right under his nose that upperlip every morning three times with, three times against the grain to remove any remotest breath of a moustache
92 paranoid overidentification with the not used car salesman is conscripted by his passion for the real. The self a party one night because somebody used the word infliction as a performance of gender as much as a refusal to be attached to shyster economics. Refusal is coordinated within and already conditioned by a limiting symbolic economy; having been bled by its demands, Mucho discovers himself as the trade in victim the self from this identification with the Other by violently insisting on masculine self identity. As the believe) in order to maintain his belief in what the l ot should provide. the signs of a willful subject, acting beyond necessity but too it gives back the irrefutab ility of defeat, the inescapability of a construction of the everyday as defeat takes hold. As Mucho resigns himself to the radio station a distraction producing machin e in its own right his everyday as defeat is, he believes, a resignation: a resigning both made bearable and supported (as an act of refusal) by the vital outside still projected as the lot. out of subject positions (subject positioning) requires a certain exteriorizing of the vital, the discourse that informs undergrounds does something quite
93 similar in its demarcation of that which is underground as being the aut hentic, vital terrain of know they know, in ian parlance) the underground whether it be cultural or conspiratorial keeps things really moving along. Paranoia, then, supports the liberal subject. But, it also supports the belief that one is not the subject of violence, as violence happens elsew here not in the logics that inform the everyday positioning of subjects. Paranoia II: A Very Special Episode In the work of Jacques Attali (1985) and Dick Hebdige (1979), for example, noise serves as a metaphor for thinking about social organization. It comes to mean a friction, a disruption of 200, and even the news cop y that came jabbering out of the machine all the fraudulent dreams of teenage appetites providing accompaniment to the position of defeat, is another fraud, but as the business of the r adio rather than the lot, the fraud buffers rather than agitates. For Mucho the lot painfully brings an economic logic to bear; Mucho wants automobiles and their damage to be metaphors for lives in ways they can no t quite deliver, but as signs they still c arry freight, still come to initiate horror, still seem believable and real. The radio simply jabbers endlessly, endlessly distracts. The noise of the everyday helps to constitute the ground from which Oedipa descends. The emerging domination of what Ja signature feature of an emerging postmodernism, is a central concern of The Crying of Lot 49 As industrialization advanced, the attendant concern (the consequential panic) was over automation and th e vision of the automaton. The subject loses the ability to act in the world. s withdrawal falls short of that; conceivably, he can still act in the world; the machine of
94 reproduction merely buffers, reproduces the here and now, and perpetually rep roduces the moment in which no action seems necessarily required. The radio merely creates the space in which Mucho can relent, can be insulated in his defeat. The advancement of informational technologies though creates a situation where the opportunity to act in the world seems to be increasingly liquidated by the machinery of reproduction and its reproduction of the world in its own image. Oedipa wonders if a palpable ring, insulation, she had noticed the absence of intensity, as if watching a movie, just perceptibly out reflection, the text maintains a space for Oedipa to be ot a fatal simulation as she is able to note an absence Wark argues that enter tainment does not only distract but also dilutes boredom, so it does not become dis for the war on boredom, which, like the war on drugs or the war on terror, is never to be won, tuning conspiracy: the insulation provided by machines is the reproduction of that which captures your attention but makes no demands on your immediate attention. from Metzg er spent in front of the TV and, curiously, the proportion of time spent with the TV is
95 sic and folk music engage contest identity and power norms (Tyler, 1995); the TV though is able to increasingly command a larger audience, while at the same time, beca use of its weighty and consolidated institutional engagement with the countercultural movements as the 60s proceeded tended to be topical rather than tactical (Sp seemingly impossible to position anything within the media as subversively uncommon e is immeasurably greater [than other forms of mass communication] because they are not simply the claustrophiliac paranoid react ion. narratively mobilized by labyrinthine conspiracies of autonomous but de adly interlocking and competing information agencies in a complexity often beyond the capacity of the normal reading even more difficult dilemma of agency to ma nage power and control even more difficult for our minds and imaginations to grasp: the whole new
96 the 60s (1984) sug e freeing or unbinding of social energies, a prodigious release of untheorized new forces: the complicated relationship between the global and the local comes to the forefront as situational crisis. Processing the global decent ering of capital is contained by the centering, localizing hermeneutics of paranoia. The discourse of global struggle is complicated by the production of th eir divergent locating promised to be the institutional power of the medium hegemonic center, as disseminating center of televisual flow, wi thin that field of possibility finds its dynamic in these terms. Either the Tristero is an actual large scale interpellation of dissidents or a contingent assortment of various undergrounds, a global counterplotting or a coincidental coordination of localized alternative plottings. If no Tristero, in fact, exists, the global scale of attention has been centered on Oedipa, as the target of conspiracy, or localized within Oedipa, as paranoid investment. What happens in this assemblage is a rather powerful interpretive problem: paranoid subjects are produced by conspirac ies which are immune from sounds
97 pedagogical function of thinking capital and space as such and ignores what is indicted in the novel but simultaneously i nsisted upon: the possibilities for thinking connection. It is the insistence on doing so that seems to me to be the pedagogical imperative of the novel. The television in the novel is a placeholder for the embedding of these thematic and historical conce ect seduced into s story is the seduction into non acting. Framing information technologies as distraction/fine tuning devices is the positing of a seduction plot. Plots themselves in the emergency of postmodernism as competing metanarrat ives are seductions (Lyotard, 1984). Agency panic as described by Melley and its paranoid recourse is a recognition of the s location of agency most seductive. S trategically deployed, the concepts of the global and the local contend for the attention of the subject; their hold on the discourse in which the subject int erconnectedness to others and to space (Hardt and Negri, 2000, 44 46). Either relationship holds seductive possibilities for agency, whether the subject imagines their connectedness to the world in its enormity (as vastly possible or as incomprehensibly v ast) or in its limited contingencies (as malleable to desire or as impregnably random). Each relationship carries a different seduction of attention; the concepts perform exclusions, demarcate not only how
98 attention will be seduced but also how it will be distracted; that is to say, they each produce in their signification unmanageable and uncomfortable excess. The paranoid form works to resolve this crisis of attention by negating the problem. Paranoia is attention that forecloses the Real 17). By incorporating everything into a singular, effectively connected narrative, the paranoid form of attention leaves no possibility for exclusion. The problem, though, as Oedipa discovers, then, is in trusting the seductiveness of your own connection s. Oedipa will real have to speculate ary critics of cultural paranoia to argue against plottedness would seem to avoid the Real of the very seductiveness of plots. How does one, then, attend to inform the very way we think the global. I believe, allows for thinking about underground critique that is, I believe, its imperviousness to having to accommodate different plottings and, thus, the possibility for better plottings paranoia Oedipa exhibits here leaves something to be desired. In the TV transmission of a WWII film, shown out of sequence, interrupted by commercials, the television seductively positions its sh with low
99 of malignancy to the can accords the can its own age ncy, its own performance of motivated order high tech paranoia in line with so many vision s of the humankind conquering computer: oing, she sensed, or something fast enough, God or a digital in mapping so many occurrences and coincidences onto a conspiracy against her as she ventures forth i s an almost understandable formation; however, the paranoia here seems to speak to some other order of paranoia, much more fundamental to her being in the world. The recourse to a larger conspiracy in which to frame the seemingly instinctive interpretatio (its malignancy) suggests the immediate paranoid recovery of some more problematic and that y against her. A similar conflation of the object with subjectivity populates the novels of Philip K. ngs, between human beings the apparent humanization of inanimate matter as the Dick, Freedman observes, applies the oia become the privileged language to interrogate commodity
100 fetishism? As paranoia is the securing, the hardening, of the Imaginary relationships the individual has between self and its own constitutive division, Lacan shows how such a foreclosure is a co alism that what are subjects under capitalism compelled to interpret? Freedman answers, they are ell of capitalism and a mystifying capitalists and workers who must buy and sell human labor that is commodified into labor power, then we are psychically constit uted as paranoid subjects who must seek to interpret the signification of objects commodities which define us and which, in a quasi living manner, in the entrenchme creates, in an overwhelming demand for interpretations of value, I believe, a panicked assertion of value in the In a cluster of ways, she arrives at a moment bearing witness to her own worthlessness as n, San Narciso as monumental testimony to the weight of his existence, surviving even after his death, Pierce having menace it plotting her death, she positioning is an imagining of
101 textualized, made exchangeable, made filmic: subjectivity, its own machine of reproduction. Her paranoia gives consi comfortable than bearing witness to its utter contingency and the terrible possibility of a death like that ht; when later she nearly not only because nearly because the paranoid interpretation has allowed for the misrecognition of consistency and permanence the mirror typically provides (Lacan, 1982). The paranoid attention as much as it gives strength and support to the tenuous relationship the subject has with the worth and integrity of the self also supports a mystifying relationship to the object. The ruthlessness of the interpretation (Oedipa at the center of some divinely engineered conspiracy) contains the ruthlessness inherent in the object as commodity: the domination of exchange value to the recourse to paranoia imagining the malignancy of the can contain the thought she could be the victim of the malignant engineering of this can? Would it not be unbearable for Oedipa to loc ate herself in the subject position of the economic variable? To imagine in the demand for profit, factored in risk and reward scenarios, factored somewhere else she and Metzger are "X A motif of distraction throughout the text informs these paranoid moments of everyday bombardment, machine gun howitzer and small arms fire, screams and chopped off prayers of
102 mi 241). Oedipa the postmodern hyper interpreter is busy plotting the violence before her, distracted from the real violence closes the narration to interpretation: with either God or computer (and Oedipa gives no indication it matters which, either will do) coordinating the violence, both acting beyond intervention, Oedipa is the hapless victim. In the collapse of TV movie and real life horror, which is perceived as real life cartoon, investment in the construction of the everyday as buffered, insulated, as like a film? And the total capture of her life in an impossibly impenetrable cosmic conspiracy that proceeds with only her at its center? Real life violence seems so unreal; this confrontation with the Real negated in the attention paid it. Here, the paranoia reprod uces that which captures your attention but makes no demands on your immediate attention and resolves the anxiety of global and local seductions as the location of the plot is in an absolute no place, that virtual stomping ground of Communists, terrorists, God like digital machines. Oedipa is distracted from the violence on the screen but her interpretation of the violence in her real life is distracted, dislocated from its possible realities (of which I provided one above) and grafted onto a singular fan tasy, foreclosing any need to be moved by the violence, any possibility to be as Benjamin would say of a work of art, and I would say of an interpretation -distortions
103 Someone must plot this violence, bring some sense to it, accommodate it for the big Other, translate the on of war ( 1989). But whereas the representation of violence requires a distortion to be satisfying (and in that very distortion the imaginary resolution is rendered ultimately satisfies in its ultra global explanatory power, which need not trouble itself with the improbability of utter contingency or the uncomfortable satisfaction of probability. Thus, the motif of distraction, I believe, licenses my own insistence on another in scenes of reading which I read as emblematic of a way of living the everyday a paranoid form of attention distracts from some violence being performed for which these subjects to constitute themselves as subjects, as agents, as subjects of value must pay no mind. This does the scenes suggests some anxiety over the space s of violence they can not perceive; but, for as much as highly constructed, culturally engineered paradigms of attention inform their readings, produce the subject of late capitalism, the production seems mutually befitting: securing the subject of late ca pitalism in the very sense of security it provides. The paranoid subject is secure in the maintenance of the liberal subject, yes, but the paranoid subject is secure, too, in the paranoid construction of the global that is not porous, that maintains the l ived space of insides and outsides, the sorts of imaginary relations to space that maintains borders as an operative working category. But, this violent assertion of worth, the paranoid lockdown, is performed from a position already invested as worthwhile to hold (even if something never feels just right). There remain those who find themselves instead in the position of the variable: those
104 uncommon ground is precisely what allows me to imagine a di different conditions of being threatened and percieving threat. Certainly the moment as Freedman argues demands interpretation, paranoid investment, constructions of value (it is, af invested in a paradigm of worth, of what constitutes value, of how to translate the precarious situation, the precarious cultural state of value, into worth. My reading (corporate conspiracy) probably sounds paranoid, as well, but it tells a different story that acknowledges the precariousness of the moment, if not of all moments, and proceeds from a different paradigm of worth. Is this to say there are competing paranoias? And if so, are there better paranoias? of conspiracies everywhere in the social field, asks the question this way: Are some conspiracies better than other conspiracies? For Watkins, conspiracy is the form du jour of an information commodity economy that exploits human reading, the most repressive effect of the continual circulation and rene wal of information as somewhere else is mapped onto a conspiracy of which you are a different sort of victim, a victim to unfair cultural practice or to unfair political by the very commodity form and its hermeneutics of value is short circuited by the way
105 that endanger the nation, the family, the race) puts conspiracy to work by performing in its interpretive practices aim for such; both ultimately imagine themselves in the victim position most accommodating for them, the victim position impossible to overcome, the one made possible by its very information processing. Thus, for Watkins, conspi racy seemingly produces an interpretative challenge: to resist (97) one re place Watkins o make belong alongside other critical practices (de Certeau) efebvre (1992) theorizes it; revolutionary political agency must be developed. They recognize the continually shifting web of knowledges tuned to the mechanis ms of replacement that would obliterate subject positions web of knowledge and begins to locate the sites of its own replacement, of its own obsolescence, the p oints at which you as subject become replaced as demographic, as information, as logical
106 consequence, as variable in economic calculation. Thus, I imagined the conspiracy theorizing g victimization: either one consoles oneself in the culturally self as disposable (this being, I will show, the constitutive ground of undergrounds for Pynchon). The latter is precisely what Oedipa the can to have struck her dead, her death becomes exchanged for information: from the more conscientious outcome, the information required to retool the can, to lesser conscientious outcomes, th e information necessary to weigh the cost of retooling the can versus the cost of gize the way the Other marks interconnectedness. If the paranoid subject is the subject of late capitalism, something must be happening when the charge of paranoia forecloses interpretation. But, as Watkins suggests, there is something productive to be sa id about distinguishing between the conspiracy by which you think the world and actively imagining the conspiracy by which the world thinks you, between being paranoid and practicing paranoia. Undergrounding as Foregrounding capital) have been put to use, then, in contrast, conspiracy theorizing produces the pedagogical field that makes poss ible an understanding of agency as the work 25). Were Oedipa to have imagined another conspiracy, the insight is not radical in itself, although it does contain the necessary foothold: recogn izing the replaceability of the subject in the exchange of information, following from an interpretive paradigm that recognizes in the violence of the everyday the simply unremarked upon
107 s agency panic may have ul timately resolved itself by proves that such form may suggest that vitality is a function of survival, not of actively pursuing ut rather hoping interrogates her own structure of threat. Unlike the paranoid explanatory power with which she attends her near death experience, the interconnectedness of these lives Can we call them near death experienced lives? provokes some other form of attention, paranoid, perhaps, as she does remain menaced by the virtual, yet the critical questioning dislodges her from the certainty and closure an everyday paranoia provides. If one way of conceiving an underground is as a community for a shared passion for the later. First, Mike Fallopian, the right wing paranoid himself, posits that Stanley Koteks, the like, Oedipa, being all alone in a nightmare like that? Of course they stick together, they keep in formation of the Anonymous Inamorato, an anonymous
108 certainly suc h uses conform to our understanding of the metaphor; here, undergrounds are secret organizations, faithful to some fundamental identification, and, yet, for Pynchon, undergrounds share some relationship to failure and to anonymity, not an anonymity of acti on and motive existence were it not for belonging to an underground, anonymity as a lived relationship to the world, the sense that one would not matter outside the communications void of anonymity. The pr ovocative conjuncture produced by the text is the possibility of thinking the underground as the real space of the vital and of thinking the underground as a real space formed ttention as that paranoia, that paranoia which precludes thinking about bodies in jeopardy, of the violence that constitutes the ground of those subject positions. One of the capsule histories of an underground Oedipa hears on her descent is the story of how a Yoyodyne executive became founder of Inamorati Anonymous. This executive specialized memoranda he could not begin to understand and to take blame for running amok of Before Fordist paranoia,
109 anoid to limit case of the unfit to proceed, the absolute ideolo gical subject position produced in strategic 92). The comic relief here (and this I believe to be th betrays the anxiety that motivates the text but on the other creates the necessary distance to keep the critique itself one very much invested in the interconnectedness of systems and econo mies, an argument for, I believe, a better paranoid performance from being contaminated by the functioning discourse of paranoia, whereby the paranoid is always serious and always wrong. in these moments when the text presses the issue of violence, work, as Samuel Kimball (2001) argues of hyperbolic representations of violence, as a compensatory catharsis of the fear of annihilation. Hyperbole is then a performative materialization of the structural violence. When the muted post horn appears to capture the attention of the executive, he responds, ry appearance of a signifier: the very gasoline in which he had planned to douse himself reveals the muted post horn to be the call to go on living. Presumably, the sign is found because the sign was desired, another paranoid performance securing the subj since its teller (someone
110 s experience with the sign before its revelation here, his history with it. Every paranoid joke gathers its cache in the excess to which the paranoid (or the reader alness of the from prior experience with the muted post horn? Its presence, after all, is everywhere. What do paranoid everything is said; nothing is left unsaid. In malignancy of social power in late capitalist America, or for any implied redemption of agency, is precisely the precarious figurations of refusal, the novel more so enacts an insistence on meaning, of being available for meaning. In fact, the argument here is the novel requires a choice bet ween systems of meaning, between paranoias, either the paranoia that believes it has refused, believes in refusals, believes it can evade the interpellation into the structures of disposable bodies (that is, being paranoid) or the paranoia that connects in all those moments, in all the labor of believing as such, the connective tissue of a determining violence (that is, practicing paranoia). If by practicing paranoia, by conspiracy theorizing, the world takes on a total vision, this is not to leave the wor ld spoken for, rather this means the ground for communication has been located. The redemption of agency is in the insistence on meaning, on common ground, in thinking interconnectedness. Reading the sign is to be in on the secret. tion suggests that the everyday carries on with what Michael Taussig in tact (6). For Taussig, knowledge is not necessarily power, but rather that consuming
111 banality of the fact that [the] negativity of knowing what not to know lies at the heart of a vast everyday moves along noisily with everyone sensing fully (though not knowing fully) the structural violence within the capitalist relation but proceed ing as if they are fully vested, safely positioned agents. s the tortures can be made sensible rather than shocking, rather than exceptional when they are located within the 68). For that Pynchon, is in fact the materialization of this obscene underside of American culture, abjection the price one pays for knowledge, for insisting on knowing what should otherwise not be known. But, this is precisely what allows an underground to form: freedom to share in the secret since you are or perceive to be already hurt by it. The very organization of Inamorati Anonymous becomes an obscene version of the very ground under which it forms. In the swe where bodies proceed as if they were not in a society of isolates (as isolated variables). I. A. has ated subject positions that can not be automated as they are the very work of intimat ion. Yet, I.A. in its very project is as is a working out of the condition of irreplaceability but one that remains bound to the logic of the
112 system. The passion for the real may overidentify with the system (and may begin to understand why such forms take violence as an operating practice). Thus, the IA underground may not be necessarily effective if the effect is to reshape the ground but the undergroun d form is the of the everyday. Unless of course, to be positioned in the underground is to be positioned in wait, in safe wait, waiting for the intervention precisely and literally to not reproduce as social reproduction is very much contingent upon the reproduction not only of disposable subject positions but of disposable bodies. be learned from these shared performances of paranoia, these communities insisting on their own punk subculture in these terms. But politics must intervene at some point, particularly at points market economic practices that enables the formation of agency necessary to challenge the political dominance of transnational capital" (127). The Tristero stands in for the unimagined though perhaps only unavailable and unrepresented cultural work of doing ness the condition to which each body can be reduced. The Tristero matters as the gravitational
113 which to act. requires the language that can not be spoken seriously. As much as paranoia is a lockdown of the liberal subject, paranoia at least as descriptive of ways of attending to the world also describe s a vigorous pursuit of interconnectedness. One important concern that must be parsed from the language of paranoia to describe characters and text and critical approaches, too is how paranoia the charge of paranoia pathologizes and condemns pursuits of in terconnectedness that seem too vigorous (Fenster, 1999, 20 21). A certain insistence on interconnectedness can be seen as unseemly: on the cost of such an equation; the correlation should be impossible if only by recognizing totalizing as an exercise in thinking and paranoia as condition for thinking (unless of course it would be possible to inflect paranoia as something we do rather than something we are ). Paul paranoia but the charge against remains: holistic inquiry, argues Smi that it be guided by a vision of totality intervention on postmodernism illustrates how late capitalism makes problematic claims to perceiving concrete relations and, in that very problem, complicates any claim to full su knowing insistence on thinking interconnectedness against the distractions that attempt to short
114 circuit thinking about connections as an effective economizing of attention. Insisting on interconnectedness does not conclude the world. Practicing paranoia, again, is about collecting knowledge(s), and proceed ing from there. Locating undergrounds, I believe, can be an index to thinking starting points. The work (2004) proceeds from such an economizing of attention, which could be indicted as paranoid, if allowed for the transformation of the institutional viole nce under capital, liberating some subjects vulnerable to the hardened, segregated borders of internally unsettled nation states and to the unequal material distribution flowing transnationally. Current politics, itself an am bivalent and ineffective product of the 60s insistence on no common place and the conservative (paranoid) reactions to it, Balibar argues, are not a true politics for the moment. Politics must find its place in recognizing and undoing the possibilities for production for elimination connected processes
115 (2 27). This is to say, we find ourse lves in a new crisis in shared space, which seems more and more to be resolving itself in violence, from which no one is immune, especially if we believe the paranoias that support a War on Terror. The paranoid form proceeding from a previous crisis in sha red space may actually lubricate the flow of Politics, Balibar would argue, must proceed from recognizing these interconnected processes, structural violences, and a reducible processes, but Balibar is inserted here because he identifies a functioning and threate ning conspiracy in a language I believe can be argued for as a competing discourse of paranoia, one that adopts insists upon its forbidden practices.
116 CHAPTER 5 THE LABOR OF UNDERGR OUND THREATS IN THE CONVERSATION As Chapter One argues, the disc ourse of catastrophe has a hegemonic hold on attention. the de mand for the mind to refuse both the hegemony of attention and any discursive attempts cal and this is the burden of a revolutionary politics the very threat in (and, thus, to) organization. As Oedipa own cognitive mapping becomes more organized, she is, after all, caught in the crosshairs of b ullets, even if we can never know if she is figure, impossible to target in both its radical commitment to refusing to reproduce the body conducive to this p not to organize and not to make any particular demand be d emanding and impossible to refuse In this regard, the necessarily fluid composition of I.A. is precisely what allows them to persist properly underground and as underground The Conversation (1974) becomes a s eemingly odd centerpiece to this work, but I believe it to be informed by the very discourse of catastrophe, of potential threat, that narrates (and, as such, disarms) the labor of refusal. I believe it also to be available as a figuration of refusal dire ctly aimed at that discourse. This is to say, Harry Caul strikes me as a possible figure for the un A., a way to continue to think about that work without the Trystero anywhere in sight, something
117 of ou r post celebrated vision of post 60s malaise, with its isolated and anti soci al anti hero, and make it available as a figure for refusal in the postmodern, I hope the first reading of this project may license such an attention to the text by suggesting the critical attention given to the film in failing to attend to the text a s a powerful figure for the crisis of postmodern labor has performed its own violence. The Conversation quite nimbly orients the viewer to the spatial consternation explored in the narrative. That dexterity th ough begins in Orientation and information processing and in no small part the means to those ends are very much at the heart of the thematic constellation that emerges in The Conversation but only after individual subjects into a multidimensional set of radically discontinuous realities, whose frames range from the still surviving spaces of bourgeois private life all the way to the unimaginable dec into this public space. A mime antagonizes, getting too close for the comfort of, the first mark of Here, the filmmaker performs in part the drama of the film, as it will soon be Harry who is the expert surveillance operative, but for now the camera moves to various other targets before settling on its mark. The unwieldy soundtrack begins to compose it self. As sight and sound begin to cohere around a particular
118 collude with a surveillance operation underway, the trope of surveillance appropriate to this p rocess of fixing attention to its necessary target in this new chaotic space. The production of the discontinuous realities of postmodern space as both private conversation and public space become invaded allows for the panicked imagining of being targete ge of targeting processing) has returned in a post September 11 world, as imagined potential invasions here justify invasions there and, as such, the conspiracy text it seems serves as a defense of (if not already a mourning for) the public private distinction beginning to be lost to a here there spatial apparatus, which, for even as much as it supports security measures, becomes itself malleable to here mandates compliance to what forever and enough for you to toil in it in exchange for something like cred it in advance of potential catastrophes (so long as that threat there does not come to pass here ). This sort of bartered continuity makes the radical discontinuities of globalization manageable and bearable, even if es their organizing principle. Spatial consternation is settled in an organizing of space as a particular spatial consternation Space is ordered in a
119 Massu mi (1993), becomes the constitutive ground for consumption as a solution, the market mandate for more productivity satisfied in spending power as accident proofing, a purchase in In Postmodernism, time perception and simultane ously repressed (as though it were the most natural thing in the subject to change without notice and include you writes in its strongest sense, which has lately been revealed as that of a spatial system changes and modifications in daily life must henceforth be deduced after the fact rather than ex apprehended in the making in which the threat itself is not accessible but is given over to narratives that overwrite threat making; conspiracy theories ar e available for redressing wounds, in daily life that are them persistence of the present intervenes to assuage any doubt it could be otherwise, if there were such a thing as an otherwise for attention has been directed to the possibilities of damage from elsewhere and to a properly terrorized elsewhen how this is always better than that
120 The synchronic nature of the blackmail is, in fact, sealed in by a spatial consternation, racter(s): better to play this game than be vulnerable to those other violences out there, better to believe this damage to me has been plotted in calculated ways to which and by unethical persons to whom I never had access than by brute data and systemic spatio temporal dimension whereby the demographic distribution includes their threat, how it is only a matter of time before the now only and always just a mere hiccup, never registered as precisely an indifferent belch for the viability where exploitation now seals the system in, since you have a personal stake in its smooth and unobstructed One of the targets of the no longer private conversations something of a stand in for the more political drama of an alienation inherent to postmodernization; in an information market of which surveillance is perhaps the most insidious and accurate trope the drama of retooling, argues Watkins, becomes which one has limited access; the site of exchange where conceptual izations of how data is to be used as information are produced in a division of labor separated from providing or collecting its material occurs somewhere else The establishing shots of The Conversation are the slow revelation of a somewhere else They thus recreate precisely a dilemma in perception, recreate an excess of data in which the fine tuning of attention is performed for you, the film work and
121 surveillance work directing attention based on an agenda to which you have no access: Why this place? These people? This time? While the text will seemingly insist on the thematics of privacy, its central trope for its danger surveillance forecloses its conceptualization and inculcates some irony at every opening scene stages the commodification potentially and this is the drive of late capitalism of all points subjective or otherwise of any unaware of his pre sence behind tinted glass, the whole scene is coded as an assault, an intrusion, an invasion. If the invasion of privacy is the point of the scene and yet privacy remains a conceptual problem, I would argue the scene provides rather and more to the point the collapsing of the topography of the everyday and the underground. Harry and his surveillance apparatus serve as the figuration of a public Imaginary that maps its imperceptible excess as imminent danger and conspiracy. There are two scenes here: outs ide two young girls have their privacy invaded by a hidden and secret (underground) surveillance operation, but inside this surveillance sire to transcend the surveillance logic of discipline by obscuring its presence with detachment. What we might find labor, to, yes, its buried ethics and leg alities, but more so to its virtual complicities to invasion, to the conspiracies and undergrounds off must be exchanged at some other site for some (preferably) unknown use inverts the scene here,
122 placing Harry on the other side of that two way mirror. That Harry himself is antagonized by the emergence of an underground reminds us that part of the conception of underground space the space for underground populations is its unaccountability and its contagion; there is always more of it. Underground space is in excess ; some other, more underground underground is lurking somewhere else Even as these surveillance operatives invade this scene, they are bankrolled from afar, that somewhere else which hau nts the scene. Surveillance remains incomplete, and yet its production is incumbent upon its failure; there will always be more, and more threatening, somewhere else s. The object of this study is precisely the ways the film begins to economize this undergr tival centrifugal force around the politics of information, The Conversation offers a drama of a conspiratorial imagination that begins to economize its attention around an isolated victim (a female in peril, which already begins to assert frames of attent ion policing the procedures for theorizing the conspiracy) rather than being able to hold reflectively the victimizing forces and, we might say, multiple conspiracies endemic to the situation we as viewers have just been inserted. In part, on the conspiracy narrative restores to those texts the sense by which they information networks and among growing demographies which exert new and unimagined pres sures on all who labor in this now world system. But conspiracy particularly as propped up here by surveillance too becomes a figurative vessel for all that which must be feared in that
123 new global immersion and for the recognition of all that which must b e feared as a leveragable good. In addition to its conventions that provide the allegorical possibilities Jameson assigns it, The Conversations to which we might add all the dramas of this sort of voyeurism providing a figure for the accounting of those other bodies that occupy new global dimension requires precisely an accounting of other bodies who materialize in the very la boring of surveillance as evasive and invasive. Congealing then around the trope of surveillance is a fantasmatic background that supports the geopolitical incursion of the new n over there, somewhere else As Slavoj (2006) has argued, the twentieth century has been defined by al threat, (and for that very reason all powerful and omnipresent) threat of the Enemy that legitimizes the The virtual overlay of threat an underground of threat existing at each point in geopolitical space outside the nation state, each population harboring both its terrorists and its resentments provides for not only the reification of those laboring concrete bodies of the global proletariat as a host of abstract potentialities but too allows for description of global an uneven
124 unsupported by the symbolic and institutional edifices that can secure its viability. It is, then, expend framing its deployment preemptively to scenes imagined to require it rationalizes and rations the uneven distribution of survival. A political operation underwritten by threat conceals its econo mic logic ( 374). This virtualization of the enemy beyond geopolitical indices provides for a general condition of threat. The legitimizing of a threat is work done in different registers and through various discourses. Yet, as virtual, threat is in our prese nce beyond any legitimating process; threat has takes The Conversation as a privileged conspiracy text, which by virtue of its central trope foregrounds the u nderground space that girds each and every scene (and text) of globalization; this underground to the text an accounting of both the presence and disavowal of competing bodies available both in its figures and by intervening acts of interpretation allows t his text to characters and the un 2002). And so the metaphor of the underground is teas ed throughout this reading to suggest the ways its presence as virtualized economy for accounting for Other bodies and as a mode for managing disparities economically conspiracy) to foreground th e politics of survival inherent in globalization. obscured in the language of threat exists now as accompanying feature to each step taken in the postmodern. The beginning of th e narrative seems very much a figuration for postmodern labor, a certain productivity enforced by virtue of the virtual presence of other bodies who we never see
125 becaus Caul proceeds to uncover the conspiracy, however, the angle of his investigation from at least a certain vantage point and against the narrative norms of the thriller s movement seems very much in keeping with the withdrawal and fugitivity another inflection of underground suggests. That is to say, I think it is possible to read in the text the movement of Caul from positioned against, in response to, undergrounds to p ositioned as underground as a threat himself to that which needs to organize threats. I believe at a certain juncture Caul is in position to recognize the blackmail to which he is subjected, at which point emerges the necessity to disrupt that smooth flo w of spatial consternation by being spatially disconcerting in a way that refuses to reproduce the social body required for such blackmail. Conspiracy and So Many Bodies If, as Chapter One argued, in a War on Terror o ur fantasies of totalizing visual surveillance (the of the postmodern panoptic) become intelligence becomes rather the agonizing and perpetuating material for an unproductive elsewhere the emergence of the conspiratorial underground is the figurative exercise of embodying the chatter that haunts the postmodern sc toward sense making, toward putting the pieces of a threat together. At two points in The Geopolitical Aesthetic, Fredric Jameson remarks on a motif in the conspiracy films o f the 70s and 80s that points to some recognition of the status of sound in the emerging postmodern. Blow Up
126 Blow Out (some thing of another postmodern defeat). Jameson speculates toward the end of his volume: Perhaps we need to drive a wedge more dramatically between the senses after the great synaesthesias of the modern period, and to restore some of the liberating freshnes s and horror of the auditory image in a society that has become one immense collection of visual spectacles. Is this then finally perhaps the deeper meaning the sequence whereby Blow up Blow Out The Conv ersation (1974) transfer the visible clue to the realm of sound: the unconscious, Utopian longing to be awakened from the spell of images, and to be awakened by sounds as piercing as shots or whispers? (141 142) the need for noise to produce at least an accountable whisper. By their attention in ne w and demanding ways, less they not be heard. In one of The Conversation crucial scenes the one, in fact, that suggests some violence is being plotted elsewhere being plotted underground is performed by piecing the conversation together from multiple sources and eliminating the distortion, which precisely is the sheer volume (in both senses) of other voices from the recording scene. This bracketing of what we might now call the global see ms at first to allow Caul to organize his own ultimately this work from noise to signal extradites from comprehension the very competition in fact, the logic of compe tition we might recognize in voices competing to be heard in a crowd that underwrites the conspiracy as actually orchestrated (a corporate takeover) rather than the one Caul imagines (an extramarital conspiracy). When the film arrives then at a piercing s cream as sheer noise in its climactic moment, I believe it is important to recognize in part the delivery of that scream a delivery provided by what I believe can be read as a militant indecisiveness a desire to hear that scream (or to be in the place wher e that scream is
127 definitively not heard, a piercing silence) rather than be beholden always to its threatening to be heard The critical blindspot inherent to The Conversation interestingly enough then hinges on rux of its narrative; the textual tensions between the ocular and the aural necessitate conversation. Criticism of the film, then, always turns on the film recorded voice. Critics such as Dennis Turner (1985), with typical post structural attention, and use the text as p edagogical example of the postmodern turn toward discursivity and the consequential de centering of the subject, and, true to the narrative of postmodern subjectivity, the paranoid recourse to regain a sense of remarkable convergence of reveries of childhood, dreams of mother, memories of immobility, granted, is at every turn the representation of that impossibility figured in the hermeneutic problems encountered in interpreting one recorded line a recorded line devoid of a context that cannot be assembled by instruments of surveillance, for, no matter how much the film may proffer the loss of the private and the public alike in the explosion of surveillance technology (and that is, in the market of and for paranoia) as a dominant trope, that which eludes capture by surveillance no matter how frighteningly refined the film may frame such technologies continues to be the stain that subverts subjective wholeness and self sufficiency in this spatial organization.
128 Michael Ryan and Douglas Kellner (1988) include The Conversation in with a host o f d post Vietnam thematics of guilt compensatory, overcoded private repres common practice separation from the of lone mal f this film: Caul under surveillance example, here), the call for some violently regenerat ed masculinity that may, as Richard Slotkin consternation undermines it, for the nation as surveillance object is a patently insecure place. As nist and nationalist availability need to be read as figures in the text rather than as the work of the text. a word chosen by Turner but to fra involvement is part of his own persistence, the critical maneuver is always to assert his
129 that responsibility, and then judge him (and the text) accordingly: the staging of impotence. The reading of the scene of impotence becomes, it seems, the negative side of the generic expectation of heroic virility and, as such, the film if too easily con ceding to the generic availability of the conspiracy narrative as a figure for a lost agency can only be available as a figure of paranoia and the text itself can only be deemed paranoid: a negative figuration desiring calling upon the public myth of regen erative violence as a nostalgic national enterprise and, most importantly, as an order producing engine that disavows a much more chaotic real. Foreclosed to a reading otherwise, the film appears to perform its own closure of thinking an alternative to the chaos managed by nationalist and sexist orders. Yet, as has argued, the very defense of a chaotic real can work ideologically itself in the contemporar organized and coordinated interpretation of a recorde d line (that a philandering wife is in danger from her husband, who, by pt to intervene in the conspiracy. I do not believe the stammering and hedging stem from any occurs by virtue of a spatialization difficult to register and only managed in the shorthand of threat. The command to anticipate, to labor preemptively, will be shown to be the scandal of information labor, and its egregiously felt effects on Caul burden a reading of his lack of intervention, which at some figurative lev el must be addressed as a subterfuge, a subverting, a
130 turning away from the command to accept the terms of generic expectations, not only those ordering representations but those ordering daily life. The conspiracy film appears then as a critique of a cer tain symbolic efficacy in the canceling of a synchronic blackmail, and in that very critique the text, as Jameson suggests, yearns for the (inter)connections that would make the self sufficient to comprehend the speed and scope of the global constellation of the world system. assignment may have potentially murderous ramificati ons suggests a repetition of the former trauma, provoking the uneasy thought such complicity materializes with labor as some untoward logic, but such thought is only available if Caul is able to follow the conspiracy. That Caul makes it his labor to grasp attempting to dramatize for the self the very alienation involved in information com modification, to insist on its contingency, this would be the his insistence on anticipating some peril in th e potential use of the recording creates the chain unwittingly with other motivations and other acts, in ways, were he place bound, he would not be able to access. Going U nderground As with The Crying of Lot 49 the expository figuration of the everyday is of as much interest as the emergence of the underground which is to be counterpoised against it. In The Conversation what is of particular interest is how threat both the menace of other bodies (much
131 organizes labor has made for a supposedly sustainable existence, of which the emergence of a conspiracy and the shaping materializatio n of underground space (which otherwise works as virtual) begins to effect the presumed sustainability. The everyday existence of Harry Caul is one mindful of an irruption of an underground, a pre see, which makes him more and more productive, that is, available for exploitation. attempt to ward off the contagion of the threatening outside. Four deadbolts anticipate th e invasion of an apartment containing the sparsest of furnishings and admittedly nothing how the production of threat undergrounds space. These protective measu res are not the film makes clear has delivered a birthday gift inside the apartment and read his birthday cards. When the landlady escapes having acquired only his birth date, th not be reduced to what appears the paucity of the score, for data in the emergence of the postmodern has the possibility for new life in demographic targeting, data returning in the tremendous pile of junk mail Caul has in e exclusion whereby 1). But the subject as subject of information actually informs subjectivity in the postmodern. As
132 untraceability and excess of specific points of cont proto subject inherently related to and hassled by an elusive piece of database in which, beyond my viability in this antagonism, the subject surviving as the subject of theft, of harassment. The subject of threat restores the evaporation of subjectivity that otherwise or we might say elsewhere occurs, and, thus, the subject of threat short circuits the possibility for imagining the subject in a precarious position in the actual production of information, which, as Watkins suggests, occurs both as the commodification of your information actually bars you in its capitalization and as you victimized, for your victimization has been abstracted when, in fact, that victimization is actualized in your very disappearan in The Crying of Lot 49 everyday life that the descent underground (by looking like paranoia) offers at a distance. But, I would suggest too the subject of threat begins to displace imagining the subject as threat. In part the ambiguities illate between reading them as defenses against his own sense of being threatened and as attempts to shield himself from complicity in the carrying out of the threats his work occasions. The ambivalence of
133 his labor (they disappear as victims of his work and he disappears as victimizer), and second, in out private space and the dark lair of his workshop and the secluded apartment he rents for his lover, work, rest, and play never touch. This self organization suggests the protection from threat as two fold: actual self preservation (from a reprisal for past transgressions) and the shielding of responsibility (how the guilty conscience itself threatens). But, of course, as the production of threat makes visible and to this end the plot of the film moves self preservation has become the shielding of responsibility made possible only in such radical self sufficiency. The severity nsgression of the abstraction now inscribed into social relations. economy (and certainly this becomes exacerbated in an affective labor market) abstraction is supplanted/concealed by the phantom of a rich private emotional life which serves as a fantasy (206). And certainly we can s ense this in the affront taken when the warm greeting exchanged between Caul and his landlady as paths cross coming and going is denied its ideological
134 function, betrayed in his detection of her access to his sterile home. What is more of interest, I belie this hermetical seal from responsibility, his life is alread y contaminated by having taken upon himself the responsibility of committing to the abstraction of lives not only symbolically but operatively. whose relationship wit h Harry we are led to believe never leaves this space. She will ask on the content of conversation to breach its borders, is to imagine this relationship to have no unaccountable life. But in the confining of the affair to its lone site, in the compartmentalizing of his life into these hidden and secret bunkers, a cellular existence is forged. Having gone underground, in a sense, Harry aggravates the targeting for whatever reprisal Harry may imagine e that advertises his appearance at a surveillance trade show), and so total anonymity is not the motivating force behind his undergrounding. And, thus, it appears the fear here is ultimately less of the violence of a specific retribution and more of the reprisal of In the flight of his labor to uncertain futures (this temporal rub a function again of the spatial consternation in which his laboring acts find themselves) a nd in this micromanaging of his personal life (what I might suggest is the forging of local spaces in response to the former) Harry Caul attempts to control or master here when it is elsewhere that in its dominating excess
135 truly organizes daily life. Davi might be useful here in showing how the text represents a scalar shift in the postmodern, which appears as the prefiguring of what becomes known as globalization. Spatial scales exist as an or ganizational and conceptual apparatus for attending to the world; these scales global, national, local, household/personal even wholly natural, rather than systemic products of changing technologies, modes of human makes a concerted effort to police what might exist as the scales of immediate apprehension, perceptual apparatus, and, thus, the home paramour exist) there is an attempt at mastery at one scale, which not only forecloses the global but too concedes ever appr sufficiency as the displacement of self destruction not only in this multiplicity of identities he performs but of self destruction itself as an economic outcome. If this cellular existence can evoke a certain self destruction, the preventive, anticipatory function fails to register ho w his production was not only commodified elsewhere but also capitalized on in a way that has dispossessed him of what around a specific trauma and its poss ible repetition and thus, the desire to be redeemed. From another angle, however, the film can be said to be organized around the trauma of the economic necessity to be self destructive and, thus reborn of necessity. The production of threat which
136 thus, the subject ultimately malleable to job market demand. in the error that makes the narrative drive this correction is in the reification and immutability of scale that can not register how even this desperation begins to take on the character of those pressures exerted from the un policed excess of this particular spatial organization. In the necessary abstraction of a v irtualized enemy and in antagonizing others but rather, as Harvey suggests in the failure to attend to multiple scales, the systemic qualities of the damage being wrought across very systemic pattern at stake (and in no small part at stake to facilitate neoliberalism) is the sp atial consternation underwriting an information economy. As suggests, postmodernization more and more begins to be written as a scene of harassment displacing the basic social antagonisms of that economy. That each scale seems defined by and threate ned by foreign, alien, and antagonistic pressures (though they may take on different character and names), the general economy of harassment begins to obscure the fact that scales need be lives into information has materialized elsewhere in violence and in this case, the big Other has failed him and now, in his commitment to the abstraction of social lives as a starting point, he has merely lubricated the functional dynamic of his labor, t he dynamic that has produced him as threat and positioned him as threatened. As his own life has become a series of highly sterile compartmentalized the interpellat
137 his social life has amounted to assuring he can kee p his job. The Quotidian Gothic hostage, as their interpersonal exchange reaches for her the moment they should now reveal themselves to each other and to a public audien ce Harry severs the relationship. Harry leaves a payment for either the sexual enterprise or the shelter fund. The scene, I would suggest, hints on the individualized level a sheltered woman of some k evil of his relationship is composed of a sort of protective coldness, a mistreatment that one imagines certain desire for the gothic and we too should recognize a certain appeal to a quotidian gothic that underwrites social organization, in the mobilizing appeals to nation, in the general fraying of privacy as lost to the virtuality of invasion. The gothi dialectic of privilege and shelter is exercised: your privileges seal you off from other people, but by the same token they constitute a protective wall through which you cannot see, and behind which therefore all kinds of envious forces may be imagined in the process of assembling, ntagonized character of the gothic can political version of the
138 gothic under the threats o of and subject to desire for the gothic is a desire to hold in place the status of victim and victimizer, to resolve its reminds, human capital itself requires victimization as a res ource for the retooling it exploits. Thus, narrating victimization becomes an attempt both to control that resource to disperse the production of real victi ms lost in the rhetorical contest. The way vulnerability functions as a narrative and a commodifiable resource is to salve the way it functions systemically. Jameson suggests that on a national level this sort of narrated victimization shelters its consti available for exploitation). Certainly too as Watkins shows the competition to nar rate victimization within the nation (while for most still sheltering from Third World horror) must victimization by imagining its cause in those whose power and privilege make them untouchable. as of value and can be narrated from any point in the social field obscures the uneven distribution of capitalizing on that victimization. Though the formation of undergrounds from both progressive protest movements to fundamentalist, reactionary, or radical organizations for violence ma y point to these inequities, it too highlights by their different narrations of their
139 own precariousness how the economy of victimization gets appropriated in a discourse of threat that disperses a systemic victimization to the fate of information capitali zation. Thus, here for Watkins is where the labor of conspiracy theorizing must emerge. Too often rhetorical and tendency for thinking through what appears as a conspiracy must begin to work pedagogically, 3). And yet in The Conversation theorize it are then pedagogical ly available Harry Caul has chosen in the recognition of his disappear to avoid victimization. In his retooling of daily life to accommodate his marketability, his disappearance as victimized (for what choice d id he have?) is secured. If the last conspiracy in which he participated (not unwittingly to its conspiratorial organization but unwittingly in his role in aiding and abetting its murderous outcome) has occasioned this disappearance, then the reversal of threat which locates him as the target, which mandates these social reorganizations to thwart further implications in such plots, these efforts to foreclose further responsibility, has only made him more and more subject to the systemic demands of the mark etplace of threat production. This may in part be acknowledged in and certainly when Harry identifies himself as a works to preserve a semblance of control postmodernization, always at the hinge of employment and unemployment, begins to capture the
140 lancing its materialization only reproduces and reproduces severely what argues is the fantasy antagonism of harassment, victimization ( of petty thefts, the victim of anticipated reprisals, provides some consistency both to the subject as subject of threat and to the excess of space, to underground space, as belong ing to threatening populations narrated in such a way as to make the violence for which I feel responsible not my work. Violence, then, is either an irrational outburst or the product of plotting agents, but never perceived as conditioned by the very prod uction of threat that narrates victimization. And here underground. is not the motivating force behind his compartmentalizing, his cellular existence, his secrecy. To tion is one under threat and one as threat attempts to draw from the mystique in that abstraction. To be underground as a performance re writes the terms of threat: threat because I am threatened and dri ven here. His lover cannot see him in the light of day because that would place her in the crosshairs of his being threatened In a sense, this affords his coldness to seem a pre emptive strike, the accepting of responsibility performed in the
141 anticipati on of the actualization of violence that may or may not occur and, if it did, may or may not be accountable to him. No longer is responsibility in labor located at the juncture of a causal devices, require travel through entirely different fields of production, and are given multiple futures. As such, in the feedback loop figured here in the convergence of production and social reproduction, causality is Thus, the taking of responsibility is precisely what is denied Caul in the alienation of the work; he can only ever suspect it having had belonged to him, the agitation of may being responsible m ore so aggravating than being responsible for in the latter is the possession of that which is Responsibility, it seems, must be re tooled to the mandates of the particular spatio temporal organization of the market; i t can only be speculative and, then, one can only be responsible to the market (responsibility geared to risk). Capitalism, Brian Massumi argues, accident as recurrence (anywhere). In this uncertain ground, says Massumi, the subject avails itself to the mandates of consumption, the commodity filling in that temporal gap with a purchase in (as) the impulse is not only secured but more i its elf secured. That things can only end badly that ends have already been written seems to be
142 undergrounding is the expression rather than ever being able to express a responsibility for of a re sponsibility to of being responsible to, of being response enabled only toward organized in our spatial consternation. Respon sibility names an economical packaging of ethical demands without any real burdens or fixed sites of encounter. Yet, the text after this expository figuration will have Caul perform unethically; he will appear radically irresponsible. The argument made b Being Screwed and Becoming (An) Underground In the film, this undergrounding (this pre emptive posture) to avoid the antagonisms of the virtual threat, the underground that supplements his strategic relationships to other bodies, gives way to the emergence of yet another underground, a conspiratorial agency that threatens to undo his labor. With this threat of a new emergence, a new emergence materializing in what can then o nly be registered as a failure in retooling, as a disconcertion of the gothic that he had hoped to have settle into place, Caul, I will argue, will not retool his undergrounding as much as rededicate it. With the burden of a failed undergrounding, threate ned anew and positioned as threat himself, Caul can only emerge as when Caul appears unable to intervene in the v iolence he assumed would happen and appears to be happening in an adjoining hotel room. My argument will be that what unfolds in the text when the possibility of this violence emerges is dedication to not reproducing the body (and the body of logics) whic logics of threat secure his compliance to his own victimization within the field of production ather his
143 refusal to decide, a militant indecision, which is irresponsive to a command to prevent underground, developed in the previous chapter, this text can be seen to do a different sort of work and makes available the economic content as a not necessary fatal and foreclosed As isolated as Caul has been by his own manufac he who is isolated but he who has decided to refuse the mandates of social reproduction. The radical charact er. Ford) attempts to conduct the transaction. When Caul refuses anything less than a direct personal hand off to the client the attempt to mitigate the possible fugit ive futures of his labor both a threat and an invocation of the very disavowed nature of the good (its threatening future) a virtual underground emerges beneath the transaction; an anonymous plotting body hit men and surveillance operatives is conjured to seal the deal of the exchange. This undergrounding to the scene of transaction only exists by virtue of the anticipated vi threatening other itself but as the power to conjure, to invoke, threatening populations rhetorically to obscure its own work, which as the conspiracy narrative teaches in mapping the conspiracy i s the very collapse of the scene of production with the scene of commodification. The underside of any threat is precisely the closing in of an imaginary population the vocalization of threat brings to bear, conjures not into existence but conjures into i maginary
144 space, undergrounding the space the subject to the threat now moves. A synchronic blackmail is brought into relief, for the future both now the site of use value and too the site of fearful violence is terrorized. Invoking his past (the indexica potential of return (the threat itself) affords the very supporting logic of his stated fidelity, an opportunity to recede back into it, and yet the threat contains in content the very failure of anaesthetizing the scenes of these transactions. He is involved; this is irrevocable. After wrestling the tapes away from the assistant and refusing payment for them, Caul returns to his lab and proceeds to continue to labor over the recording. Harry then discover s the possibly violent future. It is, of course, a strange imbalance whereby at once the labor here approaches being un alienated (the labor exerted to prov ide useful information for Caul himself) but becomes even more exploited: he has to make a qualitatively improved recording which remains exchanged for the same price (He is paid only after the tapes are, in fact, stolen from him). Tarrying the Negative (1993) works toward an explication for the authoritarian nationalism that follows 1989, but it may well be possible to recognize these processes within the national scale of the US at the in cursion of capital in advance of globalization proper. inherent structural imbalance its innermost antagonistic characte intensively, the commodification of that which had been called privacy, for example. This is dramatically figured in the film in the fine tuning of his own desire to better
145 refined product. Production does not only satisfy need but produces more needs to be satisfied. desire, whose apparent satisfaction only widens the gap of its dissatisfaction, is what defines then makes a parallel betw paradox of the superego also concerns a certain structural imbalance: the more we obey its command, the more we feel guilty, so that renunciation entails only a demand for more renunciation, repentance more guil t as in capitalism, where an increase in production to fill out motoring of Necessity is locked in by the inability to perceive change as anything other than as a c organization, but as it has made him a more refined producer of threats he is even guiltier. first names that excess (in much the way capitalist relations) and then makes of it a workable resource for managing that excess, a con fessional is precisely because the confessional knows what to do with guilt. In sliding this experience into a narrative frame of redemption, the past violence as rupture (as rupture whose effects have occasioned and have attempted to be corralled in a fa iled retooling) is contained in this concession to the future pre determined as the necessary violence that will both happen and redeem the past transgression. The invocation of future violence promises that this fear matters.
146 The invocation of religion this drive to symbolic efficacy in this scene to stop gap overwhelming production, is unsurprising. offers that the discourse of the Master emerges of late capitalism as performed in the capitalist nations need not produce its necessarily national enemy (always with an eye to globalization) as much as the capitalist enemy, something (some ones) more generic than the nati onal enemy, who may too be conjured but never in any exclusive form. Thus, the generic conspiratorial agent, unsatisfied with this way of being, is conjured; the this r to counter this have been thoroughly narrated as disastrous to us who only persist as and in this have been thoroughly narrated as an or else, as your replacement, either in some disaster or in your firing. In danger, Harry returns to his lab to refine the surveillance equipment that will protect him and make him a more valuable mark et commodity. Market fundamentalism and a now insist on rather t han continue to perform as if the threat is real seeing if this threat is real. When the discourse of the master figured in the text is recognized in the voicing of threat as the material exercise of the otherwise unspoken contract of labor in the postmode rn, when the discourses of the master and the hysteric coincide in the issuing of an actual threat, as the
147 disciplining virtuality of threat is uncloaked, when threat is literalized, Caul is in the unique t poignancy once again, not only that he is but also how he is fucked. He is effectively held hostage by threat. It is what commands his manic production. The only available tactical maneuver in this hostage taking is to see if the threat is real, to see if the threat actualizes in violence at whatever the cost. So while from one direction the film does appear to suggest a nostalgic desire for self sufficiency, wholeness, certainty, security, in another the drive is very much toward undermining th e current spatio temporal logic that secures such things in postmodernization, for as much as what appears a proverbial wal from the bartered terms of involvement in the conspiratorial suturing of participants to their own economic self destruction. In his attempts to secure his own resourceful retooling of his victimization under the guise of securing himself from the gui lt of the production of more victims, he has failed. The discourse of the master that righted him previously has failed, and the self correction here is the act of seeing this through, disrupting the conspiratorial logic of these discourses to his screwin g. If threat making coordinates every situation, there is no real of the situation unless one elides the anxiety of threat making. How else is one to no longer be terrorized by the somewhere else that in its menace has become the constitutive ground for Confessing When Caul is faced with his complicity in an anticipated violence, he attends confessional, an occasion which seemingly encodes the narrative as a tale of redemption and, too, for some, encodes its ending as the staging of i mpotence, for, in terms of redemption, Caul confession moves toward its anticipated revelation, after a series of hesitant and hedged
148 confessions of sins, them; his mouth seems to be moving but is no longer synced with the soundtrack. The voice itself so much around the sound signifier, here the sound signifier itself makes its greatest demand; such moments of collective network without knowing it, that peo (66). If the very mechanisms for distance have failed, then this moment, I want to argue, further of the c ausal agent (the proof of guilt or innocence) and more to do with registering and in a divesting from very economies reproduce as Caul has learned a vulnerability on a personal scale. The drive here is to the threatened scene of the crime the terrorized scene of the future; it is toward the very site of exposure where either nothing or the worst may happen but in anticipation of such a moment one must refuse the temptation to act generically By disengaging the voice from the scene, we know we do not get a true confession. In the as background; the tendency is to expect from this dislodging the voice to register as disingenuous, that its wit hdrawal from the sacred ground of reception is a performance of guilt
149 There is no way to tell if responsibility here is organizing itself in an indexical mode whereby causality has been established but Caul disavows responsibility for the hurt he has caused but does so with such naked disavowal so as to provide in actuality a confession. Or if responsibility is available as a commitment to as a responsibility to some generalized economy (of redemption, of decision making, of social organization), by which regard Caul is claiming his failure to bear that burden, that is, this is a confession What we are left with is only the force of this voice removed from th e confessional, in many ways dissolving responsibility in its ambiguity. The economy of redemption offered, it seems, has been refused. The force of the voice is that which seems to want to own its guilt or the burden of its guilt, its irresolvable composi tion. Might we then discover something of the Kafkaesque in the composition of the postmodern? Given to the fugitive futures of the laboring act and the networked necessity of information, the guilt of postmodern labor accrues its burde n in a constitutive evasion of any true content or index, guilt without the proper charges. notes in the gap between knowledge and decision as the scand al of the postmodern (336). As shows, risk society organizes decision emptive, speculative if ever suggest then the thriller as genre offers something of the curtailing of the Kafkaesque character of decisi on, for the thriller itself begins to look as training for risk management, the
150 informational anxiety of threat focused in a sanctioned myopia that calculates risk and forces decision. Randy Martin argues that the hegemonic ideal subject of capital as it moves into thriller offer the ideal figure of the investor in the protagonist who from the accumulation of data is able to assess risk, accept risk, and p re empt the crime, instilling as virtue the properly speculative mode of being? And in a sense one might then see from the thriller the subject in behind the conspiracy who has already invested in some preventive transactions and who will continue to invest to secure self survival; do not many of these thrillers often finally arrive at revealing the financier behind the dirty work of operatives? Wha t we then tend to see is an overarching irrefutable narrative of risk taking which reduces the critical work of reading the text to assigning (what appears as) the fundamental competitive stakes, i.e. the d emerge. But of course the grain of this film is a bit different in that its protagonist never, in fact, settles into such a decision, for his dedication here does not agonize over any cost reward financing in advance. He becomes rather than a figure fo the confusion of spatial relationships otherwise captured in the conceptual apparatus that makes them competitively narrated (respon sibility, privilege, guilt, victimization), that is, a dedication to that confusion that refuses to resolve itself of being threatened (Watkins, 121) that is, the impossibility of decision when one
151 trajectory as a figure of conspiracy pedagogy that grates against its generic uses as a possible figure f or investment pedagogy. As efforts to increase productivity; the film, I would suggest rather than staging a nostalgic return to in figurative convergence of prod uctivity with threat, an agitation perhaps available in all conspiracy thrillers, would be contained were the general function of threat to be reduced to making based on risk calculation, threat becomes a measure of something else and obscured as a social process unto itself; this or that risk has a tendency to push underground the generalizable victimization in the process. Holding onto the Kafkaesque kernal of guilt resists the passage of threat into risk, the refusal of the economy of attention that may represent back to him, formalize, concretize threat in this actualization yet would offer no help with threat management in sum; this is a divestment from the command to make decisions and to intervene in ways that support the general economy of threat production which secures taking and retooling both require a terrorized futu re. And this, I hope, begins to inform how the generic transgression of the film foregrounds how the generic satisfaction at the anticipated scene of the crime is performed at if not as the sacrifice of the Real of threat. Divestment here proceeds as an o peration not to see this threat through, which moves into the terrain of risk calculation, but to see a threat through for which the desire is to de terrorize the future. If violence were to pervade
152 the scene, divestment produces the scene of the crime as a mutant, composite, bloody, and properly messy crime scene where many hands are dirty and for which no predetermined accounting is available. Divestment from the sacred scene in particular allows as well to cling to this tactical operation something of, Videodrome religious longing for social transubstantiation into another flesh and becom At the Screaming Point and Where it L eads What this film lets unfold here is the anticipated scene in every thriller that otherwise dissolves and evaporates in the action, for preemption of such deadly violence or disaster is in part the generic narrative function. Here, the scene that had e xisted in probability, as menacing possibility, materializes. When Caul extracts details of a location from his recordings, he goes to the site. His attempt to stay in Room 773 may appear an effort to disrupt the proceedings, to dis locate them so as to h ave no longer any complicit knowledge of their possibility, but when the ? his adjacent room Caul begins to survey the room for its best surveillance vantage point s. Ad threat) and too his desire to be completely undistracted from the action itself (his passion for the real beyond that threat) yet purely dis tracted from t he fantasy that otherwise conditions decision here. The best vantage point becomes a spot underneath the bathroom sink and beside the toilet, which Caul flushes twice to make his operational maneuvering undetectable. He recoils in horror as the confrontat ion between husband and wife begins to intensify as his tapes are played.
153 For as much as Caul is something of the immoral accomplice to this violence, he is disrupting the accompanying surplus extraction from his production his own capitalizable fear whic h is otherwise achieved in the labor of maintaining an imaginary life for that violence; this fearful withdrawal promises something other than a regenerated productivity by virtue of fear. Yet, Caul retreats to the balcony as the threat is actualized, jus t as the collapsing of his work and its violence performs as expected. At this point, he hears a scream and sees a bloody handprint against the frosted glass that separates his balcony from theirs. The scream is pointedly displaced in the soundtrack. I ts intensity and its reverberation (counter pointed by a spike in the film score) suggest it is less than particular and more, as moment, at the crossroads of conver punctuates an impossible delivery of the space otherwise somewhere else available in this insi stence upon being here, the radical gesture of watching and w aiting without an eye to avert. the one even acts of self immolation were to forestall, the f uture now accessible precisely in its difference from its terrorized virtuality, accessible precisely from not regenerating but aborting the logic that would otherwise abort this future. Yet, any figured narrative payoff cannot equal its desire, for closu specific crime and the conspiracy (which in conspiracy theorizing had begun to take shape as the conspiratorial ) begin to merge back in ways the very act of conspiracy theorizi ng was to sever. As this scream is figured as a
154 confer a certain revelatory power in this holding off of the discourse of threat, a new access to stakes, a demystified presence of motives and agendas. Thus, the narrative offers something of a a crystallized picture of this mastering attention, targeting its spectators, and fixing attention to its proper target. Quickly the radicality of the gesture of this possible remove from terror is liquidate d. And as readings hold, the virtual hold of the terrorized scene to which you would not commit and its imagined content now a sacrificial price for not being beholden to its terror now cleaves more tightly to Caul then what any revelation beyond terror c an offer. Even as this insight is narrated, part of the narrative, it seems, can never move beyond what returns as a moral stain. With a scream the compunction becomes a cut in the otherwise radical gesture. The narrative then feels compelled to relieve this burden with an exchange of revelation. The conspiracy is a business arrangement organized around greed, the uncloaking of a conspiracy not equal to the one to which Caul has been subjected, for discovering the constituency of the conspiracy has the possibility to obfuscate the much more systemic recognizing how those imperati ves make him vulnerable regardless of the shape of this conspiracy. Now we discover Caul as the little guy caught up in these corporate machinations, a conspiracy ordered by greed for controlling interest, conspiracy now as crime with its ethical hue embo Godfather films, these
155 American business, but, in the substitution of crime for business, displacing the purely economic fic business figure, there, the mafia, here, the femme fatale, whose Evil is constituted in part in the unfolding betrayal of the psychic investment (though suspended) Caul had placed in her as the redeemable figure for past violence (32). Of course, when we discover the director is our murder victim, we must wonder if in fact p ostmodernism was beyond this insight content what it may be attempting to enunciate is most certainly lost in the dereliction in ual, a recoil from the horror recognized as securing the very constitutive fugitivity within attention that makes surveillance marketable; the cold objective singular attention of the individual unequal to the horror to which it has been directed. This re iteration of the founding problem for which surveillance has offered a solution could now be seen rededicated to a need for collective supplementary counter surveillances (as much as counters to surveillance logic as coordinated surveillance operations the mselves) in a spirit that may keep conspiracy theorizing alive. Even exists by virtue of not intervening: militant indecisiveness as the incendiary charge which shatters the sheltering from such a dizzyingly demanding field of attention. How many other terrorized imaginary scenes have we narrated wrongly? In fact, before having the crime unveiled to him, Caul flees the crime scene and crosses city space to the board room, although at this point it is hard to know where the board room
156 actually exists, for the first conversation to note of its new regime was, in fact, the initial conversation of this drama, a conversation which has now spilled onto and effected a ll sorts of other scenes. And, as Caul traverses the city landscape he poignantly is filmed running toward restored to some of its literality. As conspiracy theo rizing threatens to be dissolved in a moral shellacking and as a singular embodiment of the destructive processes that have at every turn facilitated just such a conspiracy, this blindness to those shambles seems ominous (for his steadfast tunnel vision he re seems perfectly blind) but at the same time its reversal as the very site he will see upon putting the two plus two of this crime together offers the very objective corollary to the subjective experience of conspiracy theorizing, for even this demolitio n or decay marks not some passage into uncertain fate or some indeterminate zone of possibility but holds the in between space of revitalization, the same play of demolition and viability that operates upon laboring subjects. The Dialectic of (Bringing O n) Disaster on to the conspiracy becomes the object of their surveillance and, demeaned as a surveillance operative, impotently destroys his now invaded apartment in s earch of the surveillance device; he is left to play the saxophone part he has throughout the film simulated atop a recorded version. But, by reading his situation in relation to the information commodity and how his labor has which Caul has emerged from the corporate standpoint, the corporate ground, as underground, as conspiracy, possessed with some secret knowledge, the more important representation is in how
157 uncovering of the crime, his assassination like it was for the family that was s laughtered to silence at some earlier juncture in his career is not what is threatened, rather simply his silence is commanded. Now even the drain on corporate resources for surveillance their own investment rtue of the information commodity, much as we may get a vision of the omnipotence of the corporation as some paranoid exclamation mark on the film, Caul is not put in the crosshairs of some assassin but rather in the as info rmation even more so, as the problem he has presented formally makes the informational yield of his body all the more valuable as information capitalism is the business of solving informational problems and capitalizing upon informational invention. The t rouble of saying no, of militant indecisiveness, of the option of irresponsibility, feeds right back into the machinery. Thus, the film ends with an ambivalent vision of what it might mean to be the object of attention, to be positioned as threat. The ver y gesture of wanting out brings Caul back in the scope of what had already emerged as a bio powered imperial order in the regime of immaterial labor, not only in the issuing of commands that would discipline and control but now too in the much more aggrava ting purview of surveillance that not only disciplines but accumulates to unknown ends. What the film offers is a hyperbolic hiring and firing in the postmodern, such private surveillance swooping in so quickly to contain Caul, such a virtuoso performance of pool of always replaceable and thus always available laboring subjects that have been off screen and are always necessarily off screen retooling or plotting. W
158 an image of a particular split in the population between the retooled laborer who fills in the gap have? Randy Martin conten indifferently their demand loses its specificity, for the dominant cut in the population aligns investors/risk take rs that even aligns imperiled peoples with resistant populations and, thus, maintaining that any peril is simply a resistance to invest. But as much as fin prevention becomes an ideology which requires its indexical germinations in real bodies and real communities as targets, always despite any difference in situation narrated as a resistance and, thus, making the case for not only the language of but the practice of war to intercede. (2005) reminds that such refusal to reproduce the appropriate social body becomes in some What the film illustrates though is a figure of the dialectic of resistance that will proceed into bedience so as to reach a certain tentative equilibrium underneath these crises that forecloses the one space that renders the system impossible: the introduction of the thought of otherwise, which, as I will discuss in the next chapter, Samual Kimball (20 Rather, the postmodern insists on a regenerative violence operating now as a self immolation to compliment whatever other imperial exercises are conducted geopolitically. When isolation presents its elf as a solution to the command to constantly and violently
159 (The current cultural work of sim the entration for market purposes.) he is even more his indiscretion valuable, opens a new market. This is the problem with insurrection; it is big ems not from the severity of surveillance technology but from the severity of informational politics that informs it. Language, Jameson notes, does as much work as Big Brother. How to form any society, how to communicate without performing the labor of r isk read the tangled labor of the Weather Underground deciding to commit violence despite its potential dialectical reversal and punk subculture deciding to submi t protest to the constraints of the commodity not under the light of failure but as precise cuts into their (our) situation: to make available some productivity in their own contraceptions. What is to be understood in the drama whereby contraception must b highlight the force of the underground intervention? What does playing the drama of the dialectic of contraception out as spectacle (acknowledging the swift purview of special attention) offer us as we begin to think about the possibilities for refusal?
160 Caul Like Bartleby iew of the camerawork, one must still recognize how the panoptical work of surveillance is not a final statement, for surveillance in this text emphasizes the value of informational accumulation. And so in this final image of the film a scanning surveilla nce like shot recording Caul reproducing exactly a saxophone solo without any apparent signature, no virtuoso flourish, precisely the solo he has mimed throughout the film certain hostage taking, it is important to note how yet again Caul refuses to provide any surplus extraction of his movements; to refuse whatever excessive informational yield his body may possess, Caul offers up only a simulation. As conspiracy theorizing is a wrestling with the f ugitivity of value in the postmodern, Caul in his final gesture emerges as a fugitive from value. He gives only pantomime. He offers absolutely nothing of value. It is, of course, in the exhaustion of the currency of surprise that blackmail loses its curr ency. The insistent stance of impotence here, then, is quite different from its fatalism. The elevation of the figure of Bartleby in recent theoretical work, including prominently Hardt and Negri (2001) and then of sense under these circumstances. The narrating machinery of the regime of immaterial labor requires concentrate themselves as r
161 necessit precedes his divestment from the crime); their death drive (as it were) emerges f rom the suicidal in the fabric of getting by and hyperbolizes and foregrounds that sacrificial economy. The IA underground is a commitment to subtraction to non reproducibility that finds some less cidal in its strictly adjectival relationship as a flirtation with the disaster, as the disastrous itself, the worst as edifying. Punk will return us to a discussion of the death drive and, as well, this moment of aesthetic simulation, of cold engineering. For there is no need to reight. Frantic movements and the frantic anticipation of movement is precisely the postmodernized game of capital, and, as globalization has made resistance amendable to productiv ity as a reproductive participation. Here, in this film, the subject hailed to do something discovers an ambivalent irresponsibility that is not an ignorance of, a blind eye to, or distraction from the surcharge of such a hailing, but discovers in the ref usal of such a hailing that such refusal accommodates the logic that secures manic self immolation or, in doing something else, opens a market or indexes a problem for finance, reinforcing the very narrative of threat. For and this I read does not offer the negation which can be
16 2 underground, only by virtue of its insistence on being a part of nothing, a part of the nothing, the comma nd. eventual site to which such persistent refusal might lead is the impossible to postmodern resistance has been commandeered by the Super Ego injunction to do someth ing, to work of constructing a new order, requires some commitment to the negativity Bartleby offers, or it runs the risk of losing sight of the necessity of the gesture. Of course, for the sake of cultural studies, for pedagogy, what is to be said, to be taught? In part, I argue the force of ambivalence that runs through the underground (to be exemplified here by punk subculture) must frame a discussion of what cultural studies in part has done to the signification of resistance, and to wonder how it may be possible to ask, How is one to negotiate the desire to do something with the death drive, of being purely and perhaps impossibly underground to this way of doing, of the radical requirement for doing nothing 60s revolutionaries and punk subculture ask how to destroy and yet make new?
163 CHAPTER 6 THE EMERGENCE OF PUN K AND THE PROSPECTS FOR OUR (NO) FUTURE The The Conversation to punk subculture is not arbitrary; I would circuitry looking for the collective gestures that can communicate it outside the trashed apartment, that can direct the trashing elsewhere, looking for its underground, its safe harbor, its hope for communicability. Our context shifts nationally, yes, but in the anxiety in and of labor does for a living, is later the subject of a homophobic joke) reinforce the language whereby Harry is a punk, punked, fucked over, in the discursive tangle whereby productivity and masculinity and heteronormativity a re reinforcing discourses. Of course, punk subculture is the On the one hand, it is translated into a hyper productivity, or as Jameson (1991) describes, e of production (316) Yet, as Jameson notes, this it feeds into nd, ultimately, emerges as an economic impotence other, punk is translated into an insistence on victimization made spectacular in style, fashion, noise, and what we might call the staged street scene of punk. The former translation allows for the cultural studies and pop opting and re configuring ; as such, that punk endlessly re inscrib es the endless his endlessness I suppose is the point of rethinking punk here The lat t er serves as the more neglected and the more complicated knot of punk labor. As for the former, The Philosophy of Punk (1999) outlines the do it yourself aesthetic and cultural (lifestyle) politics of punk where the question of is central. The answer: a
164 fidelity to doing it for yourself that arrives in self expression, self satisfaction, self discipline, and finally, community can ? values which, ultimately, seem more they do to the punk event. In a telling line in The Century, call it, amounts to being a good little dad, a good little mum, a good little son, to becoming an concedes to the command to enrich one s self by taking responsibility for own terms of enrichment. Yet, the cost is having first to expel the demand for o future, which must poignan that characterizes the close of the century analysis of punk (1999), he ss the (126). Th e punk event, which I want to suggest in what follows, is much more a bout the prospects for being a significantly more monstrous offspring, is much more a thinking through and about victimization and precariousness than the hyper productive dismissal of such that proceeds as punk allows. formations as it we subject committed to the practice of interested rationality, one convinced of the principle of private property, and one for whom the ideologies of equality and freedom depend upon and feed the exemplary figure, for its labor to produce authenticity and autonomy as if contrary to the presumed dominant subjectivity it imagines itself not to be may show us how this subject of
165 punk) then, the only visib le and strangely viable screwing that occurs is within the discursive What counted as punk is no longer, so how do I become punk again? ), obscuring again what is happening at the very interstices of human capital, which, as Watkins demonstrates, requires a constant abjection and re tooling a do it yourself screwing impossibility of thinking an otherwise Punk ethics, therefore, is a dis traction. That is, no matter what politics are played out in a re tooled and re tooling punk discourse, no matter what variables for punk identity are made intelligible and resistant, you are, over at your job, to lary getting fucked,. Thus, punk today exists missing its traumatic core, which is the being punked or the becoming punk that recognizes a social situation much better at producing punks than a language an ethics or philosophy could be at policing them. Language in the postmodern, Jameson reminds, has seized a purview larger than any transform the individual into the labeled group, and to constrict and ex pel the last spaces better a better to wa y to live, to make do it is certainly not worse ted in Savage, 1992, 231). This is to say, punk subculture no longer
166 and sho uld be erasure or neglect of them not only in punk subculture but more imp ortantly in the very proposition that there is a punk subculture ( since a critique of such sociality and naming seems to be a part of its Event) and that somehow if there is a punk subculture or punk underground there is a subculture without punks ( and wit h, rather, those who have eclipsed the victimizing forces of globalized capital, a punkless punk, I suppose). As punk has resolved itself, resigned itself, into a self affirming, bunkered underground, it has lost its motivating energy and performative for ce: its ambivalence. Defined now as a crude fidelity to the indexical its undergrounding as a severe infidelity to the language of value and o as a foregrounding of the damage done by an epistemology One approach I want to advance here concerns the topography created in the discourse of space concerns an ideological distribution of bodies. The contradiction of the discourse of the underground and a contradiction when attended makes the term useful as an index to critical projects is that it is the site of both like Jameson says of the cu ltural product anxiety and hope. At some points, the underground is a site where secret plotting bureaucratic conspiracy or terror plotting occurs, and, as such, appeals to security are made and, thus, distributions of survival are fortified (and fetishiz ed). Our fear: t here are outlaws about. At some points, it is the presumed site of
167 invention and intensity, of the vanguard and cultural outlaws. Our hope: t here are outlaws about! g for better or for worse secure here No matter what future you may dream conservation or progress your here is a secure here : an in law, sutured by outlaws and the discipl ining discursive supplement that assures the membrane is leaky, which offers an entry point for the work of Giorgio Agamben all punks; as so, this is precisely w hy this underground needs to be grounded, needs to be our (all too) obscene ground. Punk as underground is not placed here merely because it fills that void as part of a long list of subcultures, criminals, militants, and boogeymen who populate undergrou nd space in its own particular way, but rather, as I will suggest, because it offers a particular engagement with the very materials of the crisis in and of postmodern capital and labor not available, for example, to Harry Caul in The Conversation or Oedip a Maas in The Crying of Lot 49 If the previous two chapters elaborate how laboring subjectivity necessitates expense, a vulnerability to being expendable, and self immolation even in its most privileged sites, then punk would seem to announce itself as a stubborn resistance to victimization, an attempt at self adjudication. But this is precisely how I do not want to read it, not exclusively, anyways. I am more interested in the fact that th e warfare the hyper productivity of symbolic activity that resists the victim status emerges from a status as economic victim, as worthless, as expendable, as trash. And while certainly the production of a subculture, of a reappropriation and resignificat the meaningfulness and, thus, value of the
168 productive life, the recognition or the concession that makes the rejuvenation of the subject possible here is the taboo material of the po stmodern, where everything (everyone) matters, where everything is valuable (exchangeable), where the very manic disavowal of that victim position is as Watkins says your human capital. How can punk be something other and certainly in the ways it insists on the than a mere re are the prospects not for re valuing but for un valuing in sum? For cultural studie s too often one underground inflection (a screen no matter how distorted for the Real of costs) is cast off to emphasize the other (life force, creation). The scandal of postmodernism and commodification of self expressions : the mediation of the testimony of the victim suspends the victimization. Capital has given what it expends voice, new life. This is certainly the scandal of punk. Does the language with which we think production as creation, as rejuvenating rise here t o snuff out the ambivalence and I would argue the force of the punk intervention? Ambivalence is contaminated by the deathliness (the abject, the cost, the Real) that valence (meaning, interpellation) entails and otherwise disavows. What is the punk lab or of the ambivalent? provocateur, Malcolm McLaren, the Situationist studied marketer (Savage, 32). The subject of value is subject to value, and a punk that proceeds only in its valorization of hyper productivity is antithetical to practical purposes, the one it sought to answer, asked, how boredom itself was political, what charge could be found in it? Th eir boredom castigation. Unemployment and squatting were economic realities, but they were too used as
169 e roded empire (Gilroy, 1991, 152 222). But the transcendence of boredom the liberalization of production as the lasting effect of the punk subculture eschews the burden of such boredom, the force in boredom in evading the social command to do something wi th yourself, the social being able to answer and the relief in not being compelled by the social imperative to reanimate, to rejuvenate, to For Wark this boredom emerges from a paucity of necessity, a tangible bankruptcy in the As Mark Sinker offers ot need be a political horizon? thought that concludes For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign (1981). As that volume concludes, Baudrillard recounts an America n countercultural protest theater demonstration in which a supermarket was raided, and shoppers were invited liberated to exasperation reveals as is the argu ment reiterated throughout the text how in the erasure of exchange value use value and, thus, need itself emerge as ideologically constructed; value brought to the fore and
170 deconstruct ed is the command to need for him, at that point, they become much more interesting political subjects. More interesting than either the unfulfilled promise of liberated shoplifters or the presumed impotence of the that exposes the exclusionary realm the underg round conclusion of The Conv ersation again, is an attempt at un valuing the offering of nothing (of value) but his thoroughly trashed apartment. The communicability of such a moment may very The Filth and the Fury (200 0) eye knew that the economic crisis of the moment was produ with no future. Letting the trash piles pile up, he asserted, was the dogmatic political option at the time: the stilted politics of Labour and more incredulously, consensual blindness. It was then the perfect me taphor for both the failed delivery of the rhetoric of Empire and the failed delivery doll, piles of trash, and the industrial urban decay of the British city n ot unlike the urban decay punk rather than reinvest in the counter cultural or leftist demands (they too having run their narrative lines) insisted on doing nothing. The hyper productivity of forms of cu ltural protest were underwritten by a decidedly non participatory politic and an ironized affirmation; Rotten chose to wear the trash to bring attention
171 to the trash, to trash making, but he, too, in part, concedes in spectacular fashion the interpellation l imperative. Can punk be evaluated through such slogans? Before judgment, can it even be interpreted through its slogans? Certainly, one runs the risk of reductionism, of betraying the collective complexity that produced punk. But, of course, even production both contains and expends a multiplicity of labors to give it its signifying force. In although this smacks of a desperate insistence that there is st ill punk, since, to the best of my understanding now, punk is doing what makes you happy (Nichols, 2008) I find it interesting to see how its signifying force works for those who would assume its signifying force were now obsolete. When punk is used witho ut air quotes, no longer suspended in its re signifying air, it has I will show later through an interesting life. Punk itself, it is worth noting, is a s work on the Paris Commune is instructive here. She reminds that antagonistic. The slogan was to rally but also to provoke. Recalling the Commune of 1793, it was to embody a to do more work, work that reinforces not only the labor organized under it but also the force of
172 that labor. It is at all points a testament to the social purchase, the incompleteness of that a knotted tangle of meanings before it was used to identify this underground. Adopted (willfully or not, but nonetheless), the term was to signify victimization or social castigation: the fucked. Of course, the term is not that off wh en you answer to the social imperative to need), a dis identification as it were, it responds to the hail of capitalist interpellation all too truthfully. The response to the hail of capital, punk would argue (and certainly, although without the signifie r, Watkins is making this point) interpellates one as a punk. Punk, by casting off the that which we prefer not to know we know of the work queue, the waiting in line to get fucked, by this ; what jouissance is to be becomes the base line, the place where the buck stops. To wear a mohican or to have your face tattooed is to burn most of your bridges. In the current economic climate, when employers can afford to pick and choose, such gestures are a public disavowal of the will to queue for work, a new erotics
173 capitalist hailing. The defaced and defacing punk opens up the possibility to answering ambivalently. Th e punk slogan, then, carries with it and fortifies as it carries with it the punk project, and, perhaps, more so gave continues to give the loose conglomeration of acts and reactions a presence as project. No future: this is the most ambivalent of punk slo gans. It is both the future is this ). How is the future to be understood ambivalently? Fuck this. In this concluding chapter on punk, perhaps it is best to put nicety aside. Perhaps, this is the unspoken articulation as Harry Caul relaxes into his situati on. Johnny Rotten this aided and abetted by each emergence of an underground perceived as menace the cleaving to th is the erosion of any otherwise to this is carried out. I begin with this explicative, for as Watkins suggested (and as I think The Conversation illustrated) conspiracy theorizing is, in part, getting at the place where you know t circuiting the interpellation that compels one to determine how to be fucked all over again. A shifting of the vernacular register is important here and certainly punk argued this and I do think at least if ultimately this exercise is to make its argume nt, an argument for something like an urgent cognitive mapping a tone more dire, even more temperamental, is necessary. As we exit this exercise, one is compelled and this compelling is subject to a punk critique I might suggest ultimately to move beyond the descriptive that has
174 insistence to the interpretative labor i television drama, literary novels, and postmodern film they are wrestling with and revealing the precarious pos ition of the subject in globalization. The catastrophic imagination obscures the crisis of such precariousness, but too catastrophe is Real ( 2000; Davis, 2001), and so it should come as no surprise that those texts that figure the underground terrorist, the underground menace, the underground conspiracy, too, (as ways to figure that Real) figure how work viewing, reading, listening becom e implicated in this waiting, this waiting that reproduces the very conditions of the global crisis which makes this waiting precarious. And, thus, one is compelled to move beyond this description of this to imagine what possibility there may be for putti ng an end to this As The Conversation closes, realizing he is fucked, Harry Caul can do nothing other than to say fuck this and yet can we imagine his gesture his coda to his screwing ve the surveillance operatives this nothing exegesis on punk (as restless signifier) suggests, this is the po int when the law and its disciplining forces obscure any conspiracy theorizing and force the safety of relative approximations ( better than is better than worse ), when one is privileged to be in capital yet outside the prison: one screwing is preferred to (the threat of) another screwing. Punk City between street and straight, black and white, at
175 because it points although certainly not in any way not conflicted to this totalized scene. works to re orient queer theory following a critique by bullda is a rhetorical gesture in its many inflections from which punk subculture borrows a name was a street hustler, and the punks performed a symbo atic intersectionality thinks about subject position in such a way we may be able, u ltimately, to extrapolate Lee theorize both the collective and the contingent possibility of assuming intersectional positions. Thus, we may be able to locate
176 h it is important to to signify the black queer can perhaps be more so useful if one reads, as well, coincidence) punk subculture. concepts both l acking in fixed identitarian referent, but which are nonetheless periodically for a an punk marks a discursive space in which the possibility of desiring sodomy, desiring to be sodomi zed, is unthinkable but, analysis of punk avoids this queer affect. As my use of Edelman below may suggest, the answer may have to be framed in terms of why the prospect of the death driven, which Edelman argues the queer comes to figure for the symbolic order of political futurism, may need to be avoided?
177 culture to signify the hapless victim but in such a way to accrue the currency of the hipness of prank show, which poaches the mainstream currency of the racialized term by tangentially invoking hip h op culture far from assuming that Cohen is able to do two decades later Hebdige using the word to reference a victimized ethnicity of blacks into a white context, then such a dialectic ultim ately, argues Nyon cannot in the Hebdige framing of punk, it is punk cannot refuse a victimizing phallic
178 advance of a sinister presence an analysis devoted to explaining away the capacity of queer objects to revolt through mainstream, into keeping intact our language here non difference is something that demands more attention. Of cours e, as I am suggesting, in building the rather fixed gaze of distraction, the pure un distracted view of distraction and punk becomes th e labor of dis tracting of queering that view. This is, of course, the punk labor beyond the forming, beyond the coming into form, Hebdige describes for wer e, is to expand the field, to make visible the field, to dis tract the view of another. So, my and in part the trappings of cultural studies to suggest there is a way to imagine punk as someth ing other than a particular re organization or retooling of an opportunity to vivify an impotent population. note that it is difficult to discern the extent to which t here is a duplicity or disconnect between seems to betray the forming of punk as what one does when one discovers themselves to be fucked, futureless. Rather, we get the history of punk proceeding in prodigousness without, course, we may have here a moment where we are reminded that language makes figuring thinking ab out an end to this West a vast cultural heritage that determines thinking not only as the paradigmatic act of
179 conceiving, but as a masculine or paternal power transcendental in its presumptive self to conceive of no future difficult to imagine a labor and productivity two words, as well, trap ped in the semantics of begetting that wants nothing politically wants nothing other than the trash on the streets to be seen. Crudely said, cultural studies itself is a re tooling formed in the very interstitial gap bly be read as serious. The very distance punk sought to collapse between life and death, between those who live and those who are sacrificed, becomes as history and narrative advances a workable space to theorize a new productivity since the demand for an otherwise must be impossible. In a sense, the semiotics of punk exists in part because the symbolic cannot imagine that someone would really believe themselves trash. Meaningful productiv ity is needed because waste can not be thought. As Ba taille teaches, squandering acknowledged squandering gets too close to revealing the sacrificial that underwrites the economy and gets too close to revealing the artifice of necessity. the difficulty in reading punk as a thinking through of a newly emergent globalized victimization (its counter intuitive response to the interpellation of capitalism) and the impossibility of registering without recognizing supplementary acts of subtractio n the work of bringing into relief cancelled to the bric a brac o impregnated, we might say all objects with meaning, condemned to be separated forever in reading. What is lost in the labor of resignification, in the potential given to bricolage, is the desire for things in th e
180 resignification to not mean Uncanny, then, that his abandonment (as it were) in this endlessly meaningful threaten to kill with kindness the forms which we seek to e no t quite seem to be literalized. It is when examining another one of his indices Scared Straight documentary series what he calls them within the prison. projected in invoking Giorgio Agamben the street, its theorizing, not as some autonomous space that the law must at all costs come to the trash wearing the trash as a dramatization of previously argued, this is secured in the elaborations that make it better than that and that any futures other than this must be avoided at all cost s (as well as, the strange asymmetry whereby too we are promised that this will and can only get better), then the street drama that begins to cancel the distracted separations required to reproduce this seem
181 to no longer buy into the bifurcations die that organize the relative approximations provisional but real; it is our ground. Punk no longer believes in the exceptional. In his reading of Scared Straight Nyong contradiction of logic: what to do with the victims of a crime in prison, the very crime needed to supplement its far place or blind spot spot, which, he suggests, the vernacular use of punk p oaching, as it does, from the interplay of each does, ultimately, as well, even as it pointedly indexes the transformed by law that nevertheless exists nowhere within it, the figure of absolute abjection intersections, against the forces of car culture, must often fend for their own mobility; to remain more y to preserve their way
182 e social order it does participate in this economy of symbolic violence but, in doing so, it too allays itself to the violence of economy that queer and too reiterati ng the term whose trappings have produced his conclusion and insisting upon its use as I believe the street scene of doing something with the tra sh illustrates is the production of an intersection otherwise unattended. Punk identity (and policing punk identity) is quite different than punk production; punk production creates a space in which to demonstrate, not intransitively as an inherited polit ical theater, but transitively, to demonstrat e identification. performs this inter sectional transcript ion of others into threats. This, after all, was the unfortunate epistemological work of conspiracy theories Watkins outlined. The symbolic law that sutures subjects to human capital exploitation does the work of translation. Laborers become paranoids o bscuring how laborers in the informational economy become obsolete (trash) and, unable to attend to the operations of the economic necessity of this obsolescence, wanting rather to overcome their perceived antagonists, endlessly retool. Punk is the produc tion of an exposure to this trash and, as such, the collapse of the space that allows distraction to gain visible inscription into the field of social repr but perhaps worth repeating volume Libidinal Economy and
183 e to conceive of that which or the cognitive map that can adequately dissolve so many paranoias into what Badiou calls an Event. Yet, the tension in language whereby pregnancy precedes conception I do believe is first cry, become effectively stillborn since the novel cannot figure conceive of the interpellation th at will allow that pregnancy the recognition of an alternative, the emergence of an underground history in the precondition of the sp eed of obsolescence to the very dynamic of human course, as Jameson argues, with this spatio the postm change a liquidated term in the postmodern continual reproduction (after reproduction) of subjects locked in the very interstice s of an information economy that requires their re tooling and as such reproduces itself as the only horizon for new beings, foreclosed to what Deleuze and Guattari (1987) would call new a lock step dynamic that reproduces the system. Identity politics is the work of assuring within the symbolic order of capital that is flexible enough to cede it (Yudice, 2004); the fact that we exi st with an underground this or that cultural practice as a
184 very underground economies drugs, prostitution, piracy that service goods even suggest that the presu med shadow logic the outside of capital is merely another terrain of a profiteering intelligible to capital. As Hardt and Negri (2001) argue, the rise of communi cation networks and immaterial labor production is pregnant with possibility, but how can it be delivered? As such we get the abortive cannot figure something new if their very thematic suggests that damage is inscribed in the very way sense is made in and of the postmodern. To become intelligible merely secures a screwing in another context in the very way an economy of survival of victimization, of obsolescence, of retooling reproduces the ground of possibility: to step or to be positioned (commodity) that secures this But in the fact that this pregnancy awaits conc eption itself tells us something. And the answer requires a tour through the punk underground, the punk underground as precisely an elaboration of the problem of conceiving of a future when the sacrificial is inscribed in (the) economy. And, it must be s aid, the co incidental (and far from being coincidental, as Lakoff and Johnson can help us understand) languages of economics (i.e. how reproduction, which, of course, polices so much of sex, i.e. fucking) are used in so many descriptive and rhetorical registers it would be impossible to chase them all. So, to a certain extent, I have let them loose, to highlight a certain domination that must be undone, for the very a labor, I believe, that wants
185 truthfully to think about social justice carries with it then a language founded in exclusionary zation, and with queerness, and with, finally one must admit, ambivalence, and, so, appropriation is part of the strategy, but it is also one will learn of appropriation and rearticulation finally unmerciful in believing in a point of articulation in which for lack of a better word for now and later crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in th is this but what else is to be born? A Real Trash Pile and the Trash Pile of the Real The most morbid symptom for Rotten, the one that conferred futurelessness as a reality, and as such the one needing treatment if the persistent reanimation of precariousness were to be interrupted, was those trash piles that lined the street. For punk, trash demarcated the real. For Badiou (2007), the 20 th is that in its most fundamental signification attention. I too believe it indexes some damage, some cost in the politics of attention, a mindfulness to co st no matter how partial or conflicted, a politics, I have argued, that refracts the capitalist attention span, its needs, its values (what it values). The passion for the real no matter how conflicted or partial, reactionary or regressive is a working be tween what is itself only ever perceived as ignorance and what is perceived or felt as Real, or perceived or felt as distance from the Real. The Real, of course, resists any symbolization, is never totalizable. Thus, ignorance itself must be, as well. I t never knows what it ignores completely. For Rotten,
186 this ignorance can be figured only in the piles of trash, of waste, lining British streets and, yet, somehow ignored. Something must done, he imagined, not as much about this trash as about this ignora nce. What other ignominies could be just as effectively avoided? The trash, after all, for Rotten was index to the failed countercultural movement which had left a return to old forms of political machination; what good was a garbage strike if the pu blic that was to bear its burden ignored its overwhelming stamp? Punk decided to wear the trash, to make this waste an emblem for all that could not be ignored. There was no politics and no need for politics beyond the eye opening spectacle. And so the Sex Pistols first single can by holds a subject position; it is not irreducible to an identity. The passer by is a relationship to the trash pile itself as emblematic of the whole of structural violence (whose designs for the passerby is precisely this imperative) as the canceling of the void of perception, is part of the necessary ambiguity here. documentary Joy Division opens with a narration from the band that recounts how th eir hometown of Liverpool was slowly turned into post industrial rubble and slowly rebuilt into a the older landscape, the coming and going of demolition struck t he real chord with the band, The demolition covers up the destruction to the dying industrial zone. Capital is ahead of itself, since the newer buildings betraye d the industrial decline of the city. The film presents the standard Joy Division music, its steely sound, its spaciousness and remove (most notably heard
187 in the famed reverberating drum sounds) and its claustrophobia (the pounding rhythms, the all too pr esent voice), as an attempt to index the destruction (the deathliness) covered over in the one of the earliest songs was nd Joy Division figure is what Badiou describes as the subtractive gesture: go on without us. In an early archival work Punk: The Early Years (1977) National Front can march down the stree What does their eyesore their subtraction from the narrative of a social health constantly rejuvenated bring into view? nizes that the movement of the century has coincided, as well, with the increased collapse between experience resents as art what used to be nothing but loses the century, for not only does it enframe that waste matter but enframes that waste as the very waste material of late capita who labors since waste or victim status is the inescapable material of even the most privileged exploitations. The production of the body as waste material has been a centr al concern of theory in globalization. As globalization may best be understood as David Harvey (2000) postmodern culture includes the increasingly exponential knowledge that with globalization comes uneven distributions of violence, yes, within postmodern culture but also most certainly outside it. The
188 critical attention paid to abjection in the formatio n (and deformation) of subjectivity, in the works of Kristeva (1982) and Butler (1993), for example, is a powerful rejoinder to remember how to emphasize the figurative in the nomenclature from which Judith Butler derives so much power in its literalness t here are some bodies that matter more than others. Yet, this is not particularly news in a lived sense to those bodies but not even to those whom prosper in the configurations of normativity that work by exclusion. The recent work of Balibar on citizensh ip (2003) or Agamben (1998) whose theorizations illustrate how sovereignty requires precisely the authority to suspend the subjectivity of some of the population are the critical articulation s of the urgent cognitive mapping punk made visible. These are the accounts that in the political unconscious belong to an underground space populated by threats rather than a shared precariousness. Thus, the punk labor here is the collapse of this spac e, the erasure of a blank narrative availability for threat production, the production rather of an index to damage. (2000) suggests that the elevation of excrement is in part a function of corruption in the process of sublimation in commercial c (25 garde, now produce precisely the itself. Similarly, one could look to the security market, whereby the market feeds on the production of more and more fears without the production of more and more fears ever revea ling the failure of the interventions, without ever revealing the absurdity of a state of security that needs to reproduce itself through insecurities is a desperate attempt to save the possibilities for creative sub
189 postmodern must contend with the leveling of everything, what Jameson in Postmodernism calls something more than this Sublimation in this Lacanian rendering gets closer to the real. Trash elevated as art might teach us one thing about the sacred place, but trash safety pinned to the cheek another. Such ge stures certainly want to know more about the Real than the reality that makes them seem impossible. Reality as utility makes no sense here. But the utility of trash making is the question never broached. Again why should such self effacement kindle, mor e than moral panic, such their insistent neighboring in the Freudian valence, dis tracting was famously met with a more physical reciprocal violence, as Rotten more than once found himself hospitalized by street attacks (as he discusses in The Filth and The Fury effacement truly disrupts the libidinal economy of ignorance, the libidinal economy as ignorance. Sublimation of this sort comfort, in comfort creates the space of another sort of becoming. exemplary (55 lexive ness of art and the soci al, it lacks, I would argue, a social contract until punk, which, I am arguing, exceeds style at this point, and this excess, I believe, is inimical to the very excess of capital that postmodernism covers up in its drive to capitalize upon the everyday. F White on White foreground and background, but Badiou is adamant that this is not simply destruction; this is,
190 Only this White on White writes Badiou, trash on trash counter to any politics that believes it can wake the slumber to violence through violence insists on orchestrating the minimal difference between the trash and trash making, filling the dis s own making into trash. The punk has not annihilated himself this, again, is about making possible the subtraction that undoes distraction but has defacements, def elaborate this sacrificial content. Sacrificial Content her State enacted abortion (Savage, 415). The song begins by narrating those proceedings before devolving into a dialogical free for all where Rotten gives voice to the State and to the fetus. The victim here the female, the punk as it would be is not given voice. Though, of cour se, in Rotten the punk speaks, the admittedly complicated politic and this in part the point of punk
191 with the aforement condemnation of the labor of absolution that bound the lyrical voices together in a pact of humanity. I think we hear less charges of inhumanity than we do contempt for the d iscursive indices of the humane and inhumane that emerge from elsewhere, from some off screen big Other under which humanity is interrogated, humanity as an ethical contest. The only one absolved is the punk, whose animality is conferred upon her by the S tate, the narrator, and the utterance now tainted with the force of disavowal, but, as such, now articulates ambivalently, signifying with both its tainted disavo abortio available in thinking about the non humane beyond a discursive humanity? What futures the burden of these questions. The Conversation the murder ed infant is a ghostly figure that should compel compliance, should image of the dead child as dead figured as a fuck this, economies of meaning that circulate to narrate and disow n the state violence, that question
192 future/Your gestures drive toward revealing the virtuality in the future that otherwise presents itself as a future as mediated, as socially reproduced is the future that proceeds in the unacknowledged cancelling of futures. The punks, again, emerging in the economic conditions of rampant stimony. The myth of state health the migrant populations, whose exodus from worse speaks to the disavowed cost of the (former) health of the empire (Gilroy, 1991 ). There is a reason, argues A. Samuel Kimball (2007), the anxiety over the future returns in these images of the unborn. Kimball argues that the image of the infanticide an image throughout Western literature and culture, yet critically ignored is the image through which Western culture articulates the cum advance of this fundamental, evolutionary kn owledge has been the securing of distributions of survival. Kimball (2002) shows how the paternal order, for example, is secured in the Western of thought no
193 of the infanticide itself that can return to us what is otherwise barred from thinking. Thus, this apprehension however it manifested itself of the future moving at the pun framed in the further apprehension of punks as an aborted future generation; they become nation, certainly forms complicit in the distributions of survival that must disavow their infanticidal logic. That disavowal, of course, needs to be less conflicted these days; the current (and the Other natio as it does not disrupt the uneven geographical development, which we recognize, too, as the uneven distribution of survival (Harvey, 2000; Balibar, 2002). With globalization a nd this returns us to the punk emergence in a burgeoning globalization comes, I would suggest, a more even distribution with the dissemination of the media and, thus, the dissemination of the discontinuous realities of globalization in images of the knowle costs of this economy of survival. Capitalism is quite literally an operation of securing how the infanticidal operates geopolitically; healthy babies are more important in some indices than others. In some spaces, some need to live well and, in other spaces, some not; not all can live. the production of trash populations, surplus surpluses of labor, the prod uction of slums the unambiguous production of no future (25). And where labor markets as consumption markets need to live, they need to live in ways that do not demand too much: the bribe the synchronic blackmail of no (better) future And certainly the
194 dissatisfaction e merges from its own cost making The register in which one fra mes existence against the riches of the past must recognize how the past was sanctified in its own costliness. To demand the future promised by the past i s to damn others to the sacrificial burdens that provided this future imaginary. There is at this point both a need to and in humane about the human and certainly an in humaneness to the futu re. This is the punk ambivalence. ambivalence of the future as a horizon, so as to expose its burdening literalness in expense, but, in the postmodern of its reception, no the antinomy of change, the loss of history in such a way this infanticidal suturing is performed (and disowned) in what Lee Edelman (2004) has described as the sanctification of the image of th were ( 1998, 131 145) both participates in and intercedes into this politic that enshrines the image of the child while reducing so many of them to their status 1998). Edelman although making no explicit reference to punk, although certainly sharing its polemical fervor entitled his book No Future the reproduction of the same that constitutes the limits o f imagining the future realization by endlessly and as a description o calculus in which the figure of the queer emerges as the necessary threat re quired to secure the
195 reproduction of a symbolic order. In the elevation of the image of the Child, queerness in its tabilizing force of what insists outside or beyond, infanticidal, the expense of existence, the evolutionary horizon of extinction. The paternal heteronormat Kimball, this grounding metaphorics and a history of Western literature and philosop hy that follows inconceivable to think of the future as costly and social institutions as manifestly sacrificial. Such thou ght would be contraceptive, or, as I have suggested, abortive. The queer, then, according to Edelman, bears the social burden of this disavowing operation and, as such, is the only index to the Real of extant costs. Edelman, I imagine, would resist my own for it may reinforce the very sacraliza tion that he resists, but it i s important to note that rhetorically the petition to acknowledge the infanticidal as a political provocation has failed throughout Weste (28). Sacrifice here is pointedly devoid of its sacred function; it runs closer to Giorgio Agamben threshold in which life and law, outside and i
196 at dismantling same Child that it will (29). Here, the cultural logic emerges in brute economic detail. (symbolic) polit ics of reproductive futurism how the queer subject figures in that discourse and how from within that position it may be most advantageous to move strategically, for it is in that position that the queer becomes, in fact, irreplaceable the two previous chapters, is the position Watkins argues short circuits human capital partially emblematic of the very conspiratorial operatio n I believe Edelman describes finds narrative In the cohesion of subject to figure is a certain viability, for resisting the figure is either to be vulnerable to the policing of the fugitive (vulnerable to legislation, state persistence of the power of the figure, for it needs no actual bodies; bodies are replaceable since accept embodies the death drive. For Watkins, bodies are replaceable within the subject positions ting within a subject position the force of the irreplac e ability of that subject position, the force of accepting the force of its narrative, thus, ironizing it. The figural burden, it should be noted, is taken somewhat ambivalently; for queers to deny t structural position and the need to fill it would still remain. Yet, Edelman says in peti tioning his queer
197 audience oppositional political stance exempt from the imperative to reproduce the politics of ath drive, then the queer need become this death drive (the possibility for non identity) and must refuse any identity and signification. In his text, the strongest sense, for me, of how this may take shape politically (that is, how to occupy what it is yo u are told to occupy) occurs performatively in a rhetorical shift in his text as it tends toward the polemical near its conclusion. How is one not beholden to the future imaginary? How does one resist the command to plan for, prepare for, save for, place hope in, work toward improving Symbolic relations and the future th missives aim, too, oppositional, affording the dominant order a reassuringly symmetrical, if inverted, depiction of its ow im impolitic (a word I offer and a word, I might offer, too shaped by the rei fication of politics as and in propriety and, thus, a word, I would suggest, able to wield some new force as a semantic index to all that polite politics needs bar for its survival) is a social affront, one mindful, I would suggest, if even Edelman may ins ist otherwise, of the destruction otherwise done socially postponemen
198 only denies healthcare to some but also requires as described by Watkins and Jameson in the previous chapter postmodern unemployment for many, requires precariousness as a reality to foreclose the very burden of the social for all. Here, I think we can insert (violently, perhaps) the possibility for an outreach of the Bartlebian gesture, the impolitic petitions for in The Parallax View (2006). It is the call for dis missives, as the passage to a im new space outside the hegemonic position and its n f your true self, find inner pea discussion of the subtrac T century may very well close f what otherwise. Edelman suggests and I do think this too is what d the postponement. The embrace of futurity embodied
199 by accepting the status as trash sought to pressurize this Real, sought to occupy the space available for distraction. The Force in Bearing No Future In conclusion, I want to pass through the use of punk i n a couple of the canonical figures that inform my thinking: and Jameson. I wish to conclude by suggesting that the labor of punk, and, therefore, the labor of figuring a subtractive, abortive, irreplaceable subject I pping other products. The past tense in the preceding sentence is crucial here. I am interested in the use of punk as an un elaborated signification that would seem from the rhetoric of the moments I highlight to be effectively referential. The Philosophy of Punk makes clear, is the labor of and for a what punk did and what punk does ende dness say, transmits a great deal of force for and Jameson, even as they suggest it was not could not have been a transforming force. In their rhetoric, punks, those whose culture work in productive ways without producing any new contaminated products, with only those original contaminated products still and t his is the point contaminating. It is as if those products of social protest condemned from the start as commodities spit out forces which antagonize the serene superficiality of globalization that, of course, Jameson and know covers up
200 buries its destruction as mere ugliness. It is, as well, as if those products of social protest antagonize Jameson and as super ficiality. The presence of punk in the ir texts suggest there i s still the possibility for defacements. The punk intervention seems to provide a certain fraying in a postmodern that otherwise presents itself (and is presented) as complete. Of course, it is this very stain to which I want to give weight, enough weigh t to break the imaginary membrane between survival and destruction I have been elaborating. Again, nuanced, punk, and, in this fine focus (or lack of focus, as the case may be), punk accrues a certain ghostly presence in the social and in their characterizations of that social. Someth ing about punk signification feature: the erasure of (subjects of) history. Both arise, ultimately, in a consideration of the possibility for or impossibility of phrase constellation of new social movements. To move from the solipsistic desperation captured in may seem, of course, a curious precursor to the rise of the new social movements, the rise of an active counter globalization movement, but the problematic at the heart of these texts bears a certa in witness to an inefficacy at the heart of these movements, at the heart of collectivization as such in the postmodern. (2002) observes that this new global movement is, in fact, more global than the global capitalism it protests since it accounts and for its
201 victimized populations and mindful of making a point to keep in mind making, the occlude d content of an un cognitively mapped ease. Yet, the New Social Movements given a proper name by to suggest the impossibly global character of its are their prope r political sting (300). The system is by definition ecumenical, open, tolerant, ready even if you insist on your demands, they are deprived of their universal verty in the state of demand, demand as a declarative exercise dispelled of its performative force. The formulation of demands in some way cuts through the force of collectivization itself as the making of a demand. Demands much like threats in the prece ding chapter are welcomed by the regime of production that wants to give and that ultimately wants to placate the superego injunction to inherent violence of demand a violence as both Pynchon and Coppola show in mining the underground that tends toward the destructive, if not the suicidal. For the poverty of making demands reveals the deadlocked possibilities of a reproducing precisely the deadlock, the sediment of a liberal democratic consensus with glob al Right, fearful of the fascist possibility always bound to the possible disruption of the system then concludes we should return to the Situationist slogan whereby when reality is constructed as a bartered conciliation to ward off catastrophe
202 ears repeating in whose figure exists the passion to demand the disruption of such deadlocks, the opening up of reminds us that, as the demands which conclude The Communist Manifesto failed to deliver completely, the emancipation projects at the turn of the century remain an unfinished project. This is in keeping with Hardt and Negri (2000), who argue much of the communicative possibility making the new social movements possible (the immaterial labor regime that offe rs both the possibility for hope and exploitation) results from the proletarian struggle to re imagine labor (290 294). In short, in the very composition of the new social movements we find the very labor of demand that must push through the current pover ty in demand. did but what he failed to do strategy of repeating as a fidelity to the force of dema nd Lenin embodies is characterized in Situationist discourse, which must then model a particular form of repeating. What I am interested in accessing, then, is punk subculture as a particular intervention into demand making. The punk Event captured in th e late 1970s which, as Greil Marcus (1989) has outlined, offers its own variant of repeating the Situationist demand serves as an intervention running a similar course (as presented in the previous chapter) with or the demand of subtraction, of impassive refusal, the protest that makes no specific demand, but rather insists on being heard, insists on demanding
203 Punk has a curious life in Tarrying with the Negative one of scene from post fall Eastern Europe to illustrate how the transition from socialism to capitalism (and democratization) ultimat ely engenders nationalism. In part, nationalism is a form of C proper) and punk. This guises, but the difference between any particular new social movement and punk would seem to have to be drawn specifically at the line of demand. Each social movement has its particular demand. However, punk, which has no list of specific demands, no particular grievance amidst all its grievance, persists only as demand, characterized most prominently by its ambiguous description of or demand for ontol is not compelled to draw any distinction. These impulses, ins, committees for human rights, e became invisible the moment the new system established
204 quasi to take invisibility here, but the suggested purge of the punk from the scene of closure, from the settled regime of the social pact, says much about the punk figure, the punk figured visibly in the moment of rupture but eradicated driven underground, perhaps in the need to obliterate the traces of trauma, detonation, and indeterminacy. Once the future is settled so to speak in the punk is no lo nger needed. The specificity of the punk emergence and eradication is unexplored by and, thus, a thought I want to advance further. The Ticklish Subject reaffirms a certain cynicism about new social movements presumably in the geopolitical spaces where nationalism need not cover up the labor and pr oduct of their demands and suggests that such bristling, particular micro politics is precisely the subjective content needed for a de centered, de stabilized, self generating capital, where demands can be quickly commodified and, thus, seemingly met. Not hing, something what really matters will not be disturbed, that it wi repeats his reading of the passage from communist statism to democracy qua capitalism to reiterate such a point, as Communists cum ex Communists that is, the same class ultimately retained power, and, reminds, dis sidents not named here as punks or as new social movements economic partner. Nationalism is th e answer when the de politicization of the economy delivers
205 then suggests that the de of postmodern politics and the labor of intelligibility is an enterprise of inscribing subjectivity into the competing terrain of that ec onomy (354). But, is careful version of so called economic essen a de politicized economy generates not only progressive communities but New Rights, Moral Majorities, and Nationalist Parties, the very obstacles to the realization of the very demands of postmod to the detriment of the issues raised by postmodern forms of politicization, but precisely in order to create the conditions for the more effective realization of fem inist, ecological, and so on, reinforce the intertwined dynamic of excessive demands and a continuously re motivated and re animated capitalism, the structural co incidence of demand (or more so demand making) and the very signification of the future, upon which so much of what Paul Smith (1997) describes as capitalist fundamentalism is currently inscribed: a promissory egalitarianism (neoliberal globalization) and an end of history sedimentation of the hegemonic economies of survival (uneven geographical development as globalization). Before further reflecting on this point, note that of re thinking, recommitting to, that is, repeating a project for the re politization of the a de politicized economy including a reference to punk, a reference encrusted in the obvious contradiction of punk:
206 Paradoxically and not without irony the first musical trend which was in a way e musical and Rolling Stones, was none other than punk which simultaneously marked the strongest intrusion of violent working class protest into mainstream pop cul ture in a kind of mocking version of the Hegelian infinite judgment, in which opposites directly coincide, the raw energy of social protest coincided with the new level of commercial prefabric a tion which, as it were, creates the object it sells out of itse lf, with no need for describes is not perfect, for it intersects first with not only the passing away of a former level or stage centered (so to speak) in England. Thus, the coin cidence of social protest and commercialization is not as self engendering as may suggest. While uses this theoretical space to advocate a re politicization of the economy, might it also be possible to see the punk intervention as having somet hing of the same desire? Of course, their politicization of the economy, as himself notes, is driven toward the very implosion proper re politization curtails; when of capital to the vampire, requirin punk can be read as a parody of this vampirism, but in advoc offered as a new social movement of properly impossible demands ? What might be useful to read into punk which, presumably at that conceptual point in the text was supposed to catch the reader off guard as if hims elf suspends fabrication in quotes suggests some trepidation on his p ar t to suggest that punk was, in fact, a fabrication.
207 There then emerges a rift in the ability to know how sincerely his text. Raw energy, it seems, sh ould be suspended in quotes, as, according to is a commercial by product, a by product of commercialism, a repackaged excretion, far from raw material. But, again, this seems to have been precisely not o f political gesture but of a reflexive capitalism. But as an emblem of a capitalism veering capitalism in its postmodern extreme turning its colonization, as Jameson has describ ed, toward the subconscious, punk subculture is then figured precisely as punk subculture desired to be figured: as the very expedient detonation of this when and where the reflexive pronoun needs no exact referent beyond its totalization The Weirdos san seem to me the economy then has been re politicized, certainly not in any egalitarian or pragmatic way, but in a way precisely unlike the post political demands characterized as impotent (a word I strategica lly use for its connections throughout my elaborations) and in a way that casts in a much more pragmatic way. Perhaps, and here could stand in for any number of cultural commentators on punk or postmodernism for that matter, there is some mourn protest of some other order), as if and this is the point the following outlines the very project of this form of protest was not in fact a n insinuation into commodification, was not in fact the labor of providing the sacrificial content that secures the death drive of capital (as precisely reads its potential).
208 What then becomes particularly curious in a n one would want to imagine (Consider how both and Jameson, discuss ed in the previous chapter, advocate not without reservation a language of conspiracy in describing capitalism). knows well punk is not forgotten, hence its presence in the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe a decade and more later. What I think further than the negative appraisal to which its intervention seems the arch testimony. Also, one must engage punk further than the affirmative appraisals of punk subculture found in a cultural studies that too often enshrines punk as that authentic mode of being. Take, for example, David Willis (1993) and freedom ubcultures are manifestations of self expression, individual autonomy and cultural diversity, and that these brings into relief with it both punk as some inconse quential fashion choice that asserts the supplementary space where punk is a reiteration of a history of withdrawal s is purely subterranean, another identity politic, lo cked into the symbolic structure of what one really needs to survive. What of wanting not to need? Of f uck this ? What of the imperative to destroy?
209 What of the desire for no future? There appears to be the aggrandizement of punk subculture to assuage the failure of punk subculture if we are or were to take its initial demands to heart. Postmodernism Early he writes, The Cla sh are all somehow secretly disarmed and reabsorbed by a system of which they themselves might well be tled first album as his example. Does something happen is there something different to say in the sentence? The Clash exists as something else of which that lone text is only a fraction. band (in all its Deleuzian richness) all figure in something else, in an underground, a series of networks and proliferations that potentially escape the system, if not only because they are forgotten. Most importantly lost in the choice is the decision making, the in doing so : its potential cancellation, the expense of the other choice, another future (a cost choice both fails to account for and repeats). But do they ever threaten to destroy the system as may have insinuated such a postmodern feeding may be able to do? If the dilemma, again, of pos present, to map the great global multinational and decentered communicational networks in signifier in all its generality), can be a privileged site of investigation for, it seems to me, it is already produced in some shared response to some seemingly inadequate mapping made (perhaps, forced by) the prevalent communicational networks. As counter space, the
210 underground while even if susceptible at all turns to being reabsorbed exists as the recognition of some failure already in the system, to some weighing of the costs of going on as if nothing can change I imagine a text produced by an underground could r emain condemned to meta commentary damaged goods if it were n o t that the song demands attention to its own moment of recognition: Punk refuses to be, as Jameson famously reads Andy Wa particular punk collective emerges as just that kind of force in a line of flight by which the punk Event is now an aesthetic assemblage, one to be contained in postmodernism, by the postmodern cultural logic. In his readings of the then new nostalgia films of the eighties Something Wild and Blue Velvet the labor of nostalgia is a dialectical play of the elegance of the inherited nostalgia film films figure arrive at, even in their attempt to identify the present the failure of a history reduced to stereotypes. In both films, Jameson seems to suggest, in the drive toward some new complex of meanings that bears the name punk meson refers to punk as the something one did to the body the trash aesthetic of the body, the trashed body thinking of how Balibar recognizes a production of a true trash class in globalization
211 cultural memory desires. But punk, too, is fashion, and its reference here marks, is supposed to mark, as well, that dis : through the punk signifier as some cosmeti c rebellion against normativity the 50s and the 60s can be dis remembered as the introduction of lifestyle politics (that historical continuum of the subterranean, the bohemian), opposition to real political menace. But this signification of punk is precisely one subject to the operations Jameson describes whereby image culture puts a sheen on the antagonism that generated the fashioning of a new body, of a new life. what is the constellation produced by the cultural labors of punks seems to exist in all the perverse machinations a film must go through to absolve the past of its antagonistic becoming. What these films want is a cleansed punk too, a purged punk, where punk seems to stand in for precisely that which must be purged to offer the ahistorical dreamland they desire. Part of the dynamic of these films is to expose and then purge an underclass criminal, deviant, punk see thing with violence; how can a marriage of respectability (normativity) and unpredictability (the space where normativity offers fashion) be had when the everyday teems with this menace. Of course, the answer has much to do with fashion, with imagining som e non historical historical past, some nostalgic utopia purged of the punk, purged of revolt and ressentiment, purged of all that which reminds that the present is the l anticipates antagonism. Of course, these, too, are the films where Jameson expounds on the contemporary gothic, and it is the punk signifier which too holds the place of menace. Jameson remarks on how the new figures of evil are not particularly frighte ning and that their playing at evil is not only a
212 and neighborhoods part of gentrificatio n efforts, making cultural zones of decaying urban areas, giving old from a marketing standpoint rejuvenates the area. The punk today is lost in any real revolutionary project and emblematic of the way capital regenerates. And I wonder if it is, then, not the cultural aesthetic evocation of menace (the ambivalent figure of demand what do you really of a proletariat have no potency and offer investment opportunities in their own right. Here, then it is important to recognize something in the punk body both really beaten, trashed, punctured, bruised, and that rubs ever so closely to being the figuration that as lived returns to the contemporary and contemporaneous scene of its execution a contestatory spectacle that disrupts the scene of distracting spectacles. Susan Willis, critiquing the American expropriation of both Hebdige and de Certeau by way of the American punk variant hardcore, reminds that punk for whatever else it meant (or means) was, in fact, an economic marker, a positioning in relation to consumer society even for American suburban youth. Of course, this drift to the demarcation of that which is not a redneck (as Willis describes it for her subject) from that which is trash is precisely the gap which sely the image that should haunt it if gical construct that itself can not be purged ; what are purged rather are those signifiers that no matter how refracted or conflicted signify punk. The gestures, t he tactics, the re articulatory practices of punk of punk subjects manifest in such a way that aesthetic signifiers must labor to purge them.
213 Late capitalism, Jameson notes in his contribution to Ghostly Demarcations (1999), in whose becoming the punk too all of its ghosts and believes itself to be without a past and without a spectrality, late capitalism itself as ontology, the pure presence of the world market system freed from all the er rors of that still reproduces itself again and again. Punk, at least for as long as trash could be stylized in the context of actual trash piles, forced the collapse of the semantic space needed to underwrite the gothic fantasies that exorcize the ghosts that is, the victims of the world market. Now the citizens had to learn to hate their own children. A poignant difference here must be made between violenc es. Unlike a generation moved toward political violence, although inspired by such violence, punk now produced a more inscrutable violence. It must be noted that repeatedly but never critically references in punk are made to the turn to terroristic viole nce. The Sex Pistols space (the sense of an end to solutions) punk poaches. The Stiff Little Fingers packaged their demo tape as a suspect device. Punk flyers and others sorts of punk art often took the communiqus and ransom letters of underground militants as a template. Thus, this m ore inscrutable violence is self mutilating, thuggish, ambivalently political, and, most evocatively, semiotic, that is, knowingly spectacular. Thus, the point at pot entialities of the decade that is, when politics turns to dramatizing state power, turning thus to violence, and, then, ultimately, inscribed into the spectacle punk takes this fate as a starting point for intervention. Its violence mostly operating on th e terrain of the symbolic, although
214 not without its wounds and beatings was not the material for an easily conscripted gothic fantasy simply because the desire in such violence could not be written into a paranoid political fantasy since the violence deman ded nothing nothing in particular, demanded the im particular no future In fact, it produced or perhaps, more properly, revealed a detest that was nakedly brutal; in The Filth and The Fury archival footage shows British politician Bernard Brook Partri are] the antithesis of humankind; the whole world would be vastly improved by their total and utter non between trash an unemployed population as economic crisis shifts dynamics and trash the street piles of refuse as labor power plays an old gambit ultimately reveals a rather candid summation of an economic violence that believes it can wish away its ghosts a way to index both these destructions and the way its production in part produces this ignorance. I, of course, believe by teasing out the metaphor of underground we can sharpen our attention. The underground the emergence of an underground can be a serv iceable index to this field of destructions, not because it points to a destruction (or even necessarily a hope for undoing these destructions) but because the very production of the language of ideologically distributing bodies, of the active labor of the passion for real (closed to language and perception), points to a political unconscious wrestling with this knowledge.
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226 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Stephen Royce Giddens lives and teaches in Jacksonville, Florida He is father to one son, Miles Royce, and is excited this project was completed before the arrival of his second child.