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This essay solves the paradox of desire, in a definitive way, that to my knowledge has not been done before.
Using a thoroughgoing application of Buddhist logic and its technique of negation, implicit in Buddhist apoha linguistics, a logical solution is achieved, avoiding both the unnecessary and strained mystifications of prior academic treatments, as well as the prevailing and dominant, positivist and substantialist metaphysical habits, that continue to afflict contemporary culture and thought in detrimental ways.
The essay proves the inadequacy of such detrimental positivity.
“I now feel it might be worth expressing those possibilities that are other than ‘received understandings’; perhaps other than the language of conventional ‘positions’ which have thus far constituted the manifest contentions of sociopolitical scenography. If only to register the fulfilment of any ‘social responsibility’ that subscribers of the partisan are wont to demand.
(“Towards A Critique of NewColonial Manifestation – Introduction” by Artxell Knaphni – Sunday, December 09, 2012 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?page_id=238)
“”Necessity”, they say, “is the mother of invention”, but is it the mother of fresh understandings beyond the novel technical object, and its secret demands on thought? Or does only an empty and contextless rush of expediency prevail, its animating logics forgotten, in a ‘stampediency’ driven by dreams of unlimited convenience?
The easy and unquestioned transactions of ‘Necessity’ have often been the pretext for countless structures of social and political coercion, all of which have their alibi in various images of ‘Necessity’. ‘Vested interests’ use the opportunistic proximities of power to enable disingenuous constructions of administrative necessity favouring only themselves. The desire to secure such convenient forms of distribution, as it were, exercises considerable ideological constraint on the general culture, on its interpretations, practices and world-views. Management of reaction to these constraints is easily achieved through tactical delimitation, around intuitive, issue-based polarities.”
(“Aeolian Inquiry: Quest(ion)s of the Whirlwind” by Artxell Knaphni – Thursday, July 16, 2015 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=844)
“The ideology of war, what I seem to be calling the ‘philosophy of coercion’, is not merely limited to the battlefield, but is quite possibly constitutive of the ‘human’ imaginary, the ‘human’ self-image. This constitution is constructed and maintained. And it is a cultural administration that so perpetually constructs and engages in such incessant maintenance.”
(“Culture and Coercion 1” by Artxell Knaphni – Saturday, December 29, 2012 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=555)
“If it is a development of the sovereign state, then it has to be considered as the product of warfare. Whether its constituents were commandeered through explicit conquests, or rallied to the banner of a prevailing force that could provide protection, the underlying impetus would’ve been the threat of war, and perhaps internal disorder.
And it is this culture, of destructive contentions, that I am calling ‘coercion’.
And, arguably, this ‘coercion’ permeates all modern cultures, nationalistic or otherwise, all the time.”
(“Culture and Coercion 3” by Artxell Knaphni – Thursday, January 03, 2013 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=566)
“This statement reflects a certain type of individual. An individual with cultural kapital sufficient to exceed having to fall back on mere national privilege. And, wherever national privilege exists, it is often as a result of geopolitical coercion.”
(“Culture and Coercion 3” by Artxell Knaphni – Thursday, January 03, 2013 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=566)
“For me, the notion of ‘Reality’ has always been an ‘idealisation’, & it has never only been singular, except as the consensual mirage of unity that various thinkings celebrate, through various monistic apprehensions. But notice, a ‘mirage’ is nevertheless an event, a constrained ‘effect’, a necessary structural moment. One can reduce it to various forms of supervenience, using empirical, theoretical, aesthetic vocabularies; but these differential positionings, too, are supervenient ‘metaphysical’ operations, always issuing from some cave of conceptual enclosure, as it were; the slums of imagined ‘sureness’ constituting ‘Knowledge’ with a big ‘K’; which invariably turn out to be yet another consensual coercion, another do-be-us invitation to inhabit the same set of theoretical limitations; limitations constituting yet another mechanism, another production line, of dogma production; of fetishised conceptual circulations forever in search of (an) ultimate expediency.”
(“Phil Zero So Fee: The Real, I Deal, is So Free!” by Artxell Knaphni – Saturday, April 25, 2015 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=804)
“All its existential references have turned into calculable, Cartesian points, any self it might produce would only be an empty, gratuitous, combinatorial gesture. The tools through which it continues to manipulate others have ironised its very essence. The astringent demands with which it castigates others, the corollary of its mentality of ‘dogmatic expression’, exclude it from the holistic and unquantifiable mysteries that could lead to creative regeneration. Circulating within its economics of banal certitude, it has become a global network of infernal necessities, a generalised coercion, a colonisation of ever increasing intensity.”
(“Responses 2” by Artxell Knaphni – Tuesday, December 11, 2012 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=269)
“Philosophers are coerced into producing vast amounts of rubbish, & then fall into infighting over its dubious merits. (innocuous noises concerning clarity & obscurity are a big favourite). The coercion is towards quantity, not quality. It isn’t possible to do anything worthwhile under the duress of such a ‘professional’ demand. So most fall into the silent agreement of pretending that the copious trivia of their output is ‘philosophical work’.
Unable to let go of a ‘career’ already invested in, grumbling sets in. In danger of disappearing in the deluge of their own output, desperate overtures are made to other disciplines, or public life, seeking a spurious relevance. But secretly, they are looking for shelter from the self-imposed, Tantalean tasks of turgidity they erroneously imagine are necessary in attaining the brilliance they covet as a corollary of career advancement.”
(“The Anxious Superpositions of Wisdom, When Philosophy Is Quantified” by Artxell Knaphni – Monday, June 29, 2015 http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=835)
Around 6 years ago, I coined the word, ‘Coercivics’, as a guiding concept of civilisational analysis critiquing forms of sociopolitical implementation and practice. Wishing to avoid any developments according to stereotypical routes of programmatic manifesto, as it were, I didn’t bother introducing the neologism, though it has informed everything I’ve written, that might in any way be considered to bear some kind of sociopolitical relevance. The avoidance of use was not only due to the somewhat tactical refusal to engage in traditional obligations of position, whether political or otherwise, but more largely was informed by the logic of an emergence in which theoretical patience has value, in itself.
Coercivics is not just politics or political theory.
Coercivics, then, is not just “an arc of political speculation”, even though it might trace such arcs. Given that I’ve written, elsewhere on this blog, that ‘politics is over’, in the sense of traditional political systems and institutions having become obsolescent, to varying degrees; Coercivics is not to be determined by the perspectives of such obsolescence, but it occurs precisely at the borders of this transition, accounting for that conditioned movement, using resources that do not necessarily belong to that movement or its ostensible conditions.
Coercivics seeks to understand all socio-ideological movements that might be in play, producing assessments as to whether or not those movements produce coercion; to what degrees they produce unnecessary or unjustifiable coercion; from whose perspectives they produce coercion; and why they produce coercion?
The question asking, ‘why the production of coercion’, is of course eminently susceptible to ideological production of genealogical explanation. Coercivics is the radical investigation of those ideological presuppositions, of their genealogical constitutions and productions, but not necessarily from the usual, habitual perspectives, used in such considerations.
Nostalgias are not neglected; mnemonics, after all, are constitutive of civilisational form; but ‘reactions’ are critiqued and rejected, given their often contemporary emergences as stereotypical exemplifications of the coercivical.
Any political system can work, if it’s implementations are competent; no political system can work, if it’s implementations are incompetent or sabotaged.
The key issue is not the system, political systems are only systems of distribution, decisional frameworks concerning how distribution is to occur. Alongside systems of political or governmental distribution, marketing systems of distribution have developed in so-called, private and commercial sectors. These marketing systems cater for libidinal economy, for movements of consumer desire. It’s not at all a contentious thing to say that the ethos of consumer desire has become the hegemonic rationale of all political systems, of political systematicity, itself.
Back in 2000, at Cafe Italia, opposite Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club, I had a conversation with a Latin (Spanish or Italian?), young man, probably a university student, possibly working in computing. He spoke about how marketing was now central in philosophy, politics, and world affairs. The initial context had probably been philosophy or theory, not politics or marketing. So the sudden preoccupation with politics and marketing was a bit unexpected.
Given the events of the last 19 years, it looks as though the young student’s prognosis was valid. More valid than I suspected, at the time. Not that I necessarily disagreed with whatever was said, but the mechanisms he described, were only supervenient mechanisms of more arcane, historic-philosophical and cultural shifts, which those mechanisms might well be a reaction against.
Consumerism and its market articulations have been the dominant figure in transitioning between different models of selfhood.
Though there are considerable, contemporary reactionary nostalgias, for earlier modes of social configuration that sustained earlier models of selfhood, the New Conditions, in play, provision superconductive, communicatory surfaces, permitting only the velocities of sociopsychological, hysteria and stasis, not so much, anything else. Network nodalisation seems to preclude the development of any other socialisation.
Given that the dominant figure of social organisation is consumerism; given the oneiric and libidinal casts of such consumerism; given the ongoing collapse of institutional and social structures, their sensory and spatiotemporal characteristics, into a generalised, informational flow; the scenario of possibility is now so open to reconfiguration that it quite possibly exceeds any notion of reconfiguration, altogether.
No doubt the mnemonic militancy of simplistic, nostalgias of reconfiguration, are going to continue to echo through the New Conditions, as Doppler effects of stellar iniquity, from this or that history attempting its own achievement. But those constellations of resource concentration have transitioned into a different kind of cosmos, one in which even the expectation of historical entropy, no longer holds sway.
No cyclical comforts of pessimism-laden, Spenglerian prophecy; no ‘patchwork quilt’ as themepark and global safety net, of geopolitical amusement and its epistemology.
The New Conditions are such that even nostalgic attributions of ‘fragmentation’ are irrelevant.
Everyone knows this, of course, without knowing it. That is why they are so frenetically busy trying to sustain the worlds with which they were programmed, by arguing, disputing, and mutually destroying the features of those imagined worlds, as if such extreme contentions somehow confer ontological stability.
It doesn’t, it’s a symptom of precisely the ontological instability, feared.
Pandora’s box has been opened, some time ago.
If ‘metaphysical structuring’ consists of ‘metaphysical hypostases as assumptions of cultural injunction and coding of social instruction’, whether or not, those assumptions are explicitly known or implicit, this is merely the observation of possibilities of fresh, theoretical application. Testing out different grids of theoretical extrapolation that are extensions of sets of principles, whether conventional ones driven into new territory, or fresh ones as yet unconventionalised, to see what they say.
The situating and privileging of a Trumpian figure of response that is untutored by teleprompting, is a figure staging the productions of an alleged, psychic interiority, as a type of authenticity. That type of authenticity of psychic interiority would be one which contrasts a structure of psychic immanence, as an allegedly unmediated, metaphysical hypostasis, with the structure of remote, cybernetic instructions, suggested by ‘teleprompting’ – ‘tele-‘, being distance, remoteness.
So, the figure of teleprompting, suggests the remoteness of network distribution exceeding structures of conventional, psychic reception, the teleprompter user thus represents as a node of such remoteness. The average voter without socially significant, powers of distribution, for whom such networks are experienced passively, and not personally, in ways that are sufficiently, individually satisfying, would tend to have increased alienation from such networks of remoteness, distrusting their excessive remoteness from the concerns of personal relevance.
What is at stake is not the quality of Trumpian, psychic interiority, but rather the psychic interiority of USA American selfhood, itself. That psychic interiority, what Christopher Lasch called, ‘The Culture of Narcissism’, in the 1970s, has been configured for over a century by remote forces of market or marketing culture, to the extent, that US American selfhood is difficult to distinguish from the market forces sustaining it. When everything has been commodified, it is difficult to find authenticity beyond commodity. The commodity gaze is always in operation, it seems.
Thus, the last site where alleged authenticity of psychic interiority can take a stand, is in the caprice of the consumer, the consumer being the highest aspiration of marketing activity. Marketing always attempts to coincide with the identity of the consumer.
The fact that Trump doesn’t need a teleprompter, to represent the psychic figure of consumption or the consumer, is a key, marketing achievement. Because the consumer doesn’t need a teleprompter; the consumer isn’t trying to sell anything. The consumer is a buyer.
By representing himself as the ultimate consumer; by incessantly reminding the public of his alleged wealth, giving him full access to the range of consumption; Trump represents himself as a ‘winner’ in the consumption game, with no personal stake in political change, beyond the alleged authenticity of a psychic interiority of self, that could choose political disinterest, if it so desired.
By repeating populist grumblings with no consideration for other kinds of cultural or political etiquettes, Trump can represent the grumbling and dissatisfied, populist consumer, thus taking away the pressure of tacit, social injunction, such removal of social pressure being representable as a kind of liberation, as well. It’s populist, political psychotherapy.
The fragmented opinionation of Trump’s incessant tweeting, is another strategy of reaffirming populist identity. That Trump repeats what his share of the US electorate say, reaffirms their identity, as well as confirming his representation of them. He is teleprompted by them, not by any other form of remoteness that doesn’t coincide with their own vacillations. It doesn’t matter to them, that Trump changes his output, according to their own changes. It doesn’t matter that the mechanics of repetition is a background construction or staging. None of that matters, as long as the circuit of repetition is constant. Because that circuit is a cybernetic circuit, the echoing of the Trump electorate, for which Trump chooses to play the mimetic puppet.
That Trump might be personally profiting from the various events, merely confirms his authenticity for his supporters, because the figure of personal profit is an accepted link to concerns of individuation, that are foundational in circuits of alleged authenticity belonging to the figure of psychic interiority, as it occurs in the base model of US American selfhood, as imported from the inculcations of Calvinist and Protestant, northern European, socio-economic systems.
It’s a development in line with US production of its own dream. It’s a movement in general, oneiric economy.
It’s a nostalgic movement in new conditions, new conditions showing the old conditions of baseline brutality of exploitation for what they were and are. The nostalgia of old conditions is engaged in multiple vectors, of denial; of revision; of affirmation and justification; of the production of a chaotic confusion in order to justify brutality of exploitation. All of those vectors are the result of contained, social contradictions, emerging out of their prior structures of arrangement, into the dreamspace of uncontained, electronic communication. If newspapers, radio, film and television, constituted prior networks of social containment, obviously those networks and their containments are no longer going to be able to function in the same way, given new conditions where all of those technological mediations have been rolled into one, through the Internet, and broadcast ability attainable by all, in possession of a network device.
All of this is just standard, techno-theory, even media theory.
More interesting, then these kinds of standard, ‘techno-sociology’, as it were, are the longer lines of development, in play. Those which are not so much the concern of standard models of self-interest, at least they are not discussed within the circuits of concern belonging to such models. Or if they are, they are discussed only according to habitual, metaphysical inflections, often constituting serious distortion of what is at play. That’s understandable, given that such developments seem to be even more remote from those circuits of self-concern, than those they currently seem to be rejecting, which ironically enough, they are simultaneously producing, as well.
This mutual rejection and production, though, occurs within their own dramatis personae, within the highly conditioned, theatrics of psychic interiority, within Christopher Lasch’s narcissistic economy. All of these constitute the hypostatic, staging principles, of the collective, US dream; it’s a ‘socialism of the unconscious’ which they are continuously projecting as a reverse gesture of an ostensible, ‘individualism’, whose ideal conditions, as set in their own minds, they are unable to fulfil.
This sets up the oscillating contradictions between images of ‘self-reliance’; ‘duty’, ‘obligation’, ‘responsibility’; and ‘care’ or ‘carelessness’. In an increasingly interconnected scenario, the clarity of such images is increasingly difficult to achieve, according to prior structures of social arrangement and containment. Given market conditions, of commodity environment and the sensorium of commercial transaction that it constitutes; and given current events reporting based on fragmentary fluctuations of those market conditions; individualised, informational relevance, becomes increasingly difficult to achieve, at least in a way that might present unproblematically, in socio-economic and cultural terms.
For those inculcated with the figure of psychic interiority, as occurring in the base model of US American selfhood, the new conditions of interconnection threaten the old images of self-individualism, in multiple ways and along multiple vectors. That those new conditions of interconnection have been driven by their own desires is an irony which they seem unable to acknowledge. Consumer expectation and demand is not usually associated with any kind of ironic appraisal concerning itself.
The consumer wants what it wants and doesn’t really want to think about the consequences of that desire. If it doesn’t get what it wants, then resentment comes into play.
What the US consumer really wants, is an environment totally in accord with its own desire, attentive to its every need. This is an attitude that has been deliberately inculcated by decades and decades of market conditioning. The desire is not only for commodities, but for cultural attention, as well. In fact, the desire is for absolute, self-cultural celebration, to increasingly hysterical levels, in order to satisfy or satiate the market-implemented, structure of narcissistic expectation, that is at work.
This desire for absolute, cultural attention, is at odds with global interconnection, hence, all the culture wars and the resentment against any academia not giving such attention.
By creating domestic discord and division, cultural attention is being sought, which is being received, thus satisfying to some degree the logic of narcissistic expectation that seems to be at work. Socio-economic problems and poverty exacerbate this need for cultural attention.
Really, it’s a desire for cultural recognition by a culture that has grown bored with itself and wishes to reinhabit the nostalgia, the horrors, challenges, and imaged successes, of its own development, by which it entertains itself and continues to give itself meaning. It’s a desire that wishes to continue looking into a mirror that it has distorted, in advance, and wishes everyone else to look into, as well. But it’s a desire doesn’t really seem to be interested in understanding, either itself, or anyone else. That is because it’s a desire that no longer knows how to understand, it has lost itself along the linearity of its own trajectory.
A short note. I’ve written this comment somewhat more consciously in line with my considerations and work of the period, 1989-1996. It’s not that those considerations and that work aren’t in the background of everything that I’ve written in the allegedly new century, since I began writing, again. But I haven’t always been as explicit as I would like; it seems, though, that those writings and ideas, like those of Sol Yurick’s, are proving to be a more effective instrument for dealing with past, present or contemporary, and future, problematics.
The prevailing forms of cultural understanding, including the reactions to them, are pretty much antiquated fragments of habitual, cultural obsession, that were obsolescent long before I was born. But it is this atavistic, cultural content, which is being incessantly reproduced, by a fundamentally uninventive and backward cultural motivation, inspired only by its characteristic insularity.
It’s an unhealthy, self-destructive context, that has received enough attention, to no avail. Accounting for its insatiable needs and broken understandings is not the most interesting activity, probably requiring some form of sociopsychological counselling.
This text is a response to a Facebook post concerning the quantitative decline of US students taking up history, with only a few, so-called ‘Ivy League’ colleges, experiencing greater demand for courses in history. The first paragraph is in reference to that topic. The rest of the text explores what might be called a theory of conditions of historical conceptions and discourse.
The same point, about disciplinary control by a well-advantaged, social group, was made in an academic paper over 25 years ago, on the art world. How high-level degrees in fine art were only available to those who could afford to spend over a decade accruing them; how they were extremely specific in terms of their possible career utility, that is to say, of not much general use in employment scenarios.
That this specificity, affordable only to the few and privileged, served to channel that group onto editorial boards of influential art publications; art museums and institutions; the art world, generally. This allowed a specific, socio-economic group, to control all discourses on art and to be the arbiters of cultural taste in art.
The western notion of history is finished, has finished, according to John Baudrillard.
That’s not because of student disinterest; it is due to deeper problems with the way that history is done, and how the past is configured and viewed. I’ve written recently, a comment about the ‘fascism of the present’. If fascist orders play with inclusions and exclusions, in terms of what they consider permissible to present, admissible to their version of ‘the present’; then, the mechanism of modernist rupture can be seen as the inaugurating ideology enabling not only neo-rationalist polity, but fascist rationalisations, too.
Even if neo-rationalist polity, or modernist society, portrays itself as all-inclusive and progressive; this necessarily implies an exclusion of regression. Like nations, the culture of the present is susceptible to producing self-celebratory propaganda, skewing, distorting, or otherwise misrepresenting, the past, always in its own favour. This is ideological chronology; it’s an epistemological mechanism by which various social phenomena, can be ordered or regimented.
Because of the genealogy of military hostility accompanying so much of historical discourse over the last 4000 years, all history, including modernist history, has become deeply problematic. Those problems aren’t going to go away merely through hasty retreats into imagined, factual realms, of alleged scientific objectivity. Because the nature of scientific objectivity is itself at stake as a historical or chronological production.
There is of course the global conflict of geo-historical interpretations; the various centrisms that have arisen, such as Eurocentrism, Afrocentrism, et cetera. This is species-specific, internal to the public relations propaganda of internal orders of anthrosocial power, primarily emergent from the humanist ideology of anthropic supremacy, whose conceptual roots go all the way back to Aristotle and Protagoras.
Although this global conflict is a symptom of chronological disruption, it is not an explanation for it. History is a certain form of chronological culture; a certain experiential ordering and distribution. But the experiential root of that ordering and distribution is no longer quite so central, as it once was, or seemed to be. Common forms of anthropic experience have been brought to the limits of their traditional epistemological configurations. Those habitual configurations are no longer sufficient to account for newly emerging chronological conditions, conditions that were always there, but which could be safely ignored. Such ignorance is no longer possible. But the understanding which ought to be replacing that ignorance, doesn’t seem to be emerging, at least not in ‘human’ form. This indicates the nature of common, anthropic experience, as an effect. An effect of conditions of a chronology it is unable to understand.
A tribute to M John Harrison’s short story, “Settling the World” (collected in “The Ice Monkey, and other stories” | Victor Gollancz: 1975).
Estrades requested the meeting, speaking of matters of utmost importance, in his usual, hyperbolic style. Curious, I made my way to the mutually agreed location in Cafe Italia, Frith Street, opposite Ronnie Scott’s, the famous jazz club. He was upstairs, accompanied as always by Eisenburg. After the usual jocular preliminaries, Estrades got straight to the point.
“What is to be done, Oxlade, with this mad American? This pretend-Wagner, this vassal or hopeful vessel of Nietzschean anxieties?” Estrades raised his hands in a show of questioning invocation.
“Why need anything be ‘done’, at all, Estrades? Why not leave the spider of ‘New World’ insanity to its own cocoon of desperate weavings?” Oxlade answered, mimicking Estrades penchant for metaphoric expression.
“Oxlade, Oxlade,” he repeated, shaking his head in disagreement, and sighing. “Your caution exceeds itself! A reserve without effective expenditure!” Estrades continued shaking his head. “To speak of the Wagner puppet, this play-Nietzsche occupying himself with old toys, is to speak of the entire puppet show, Oxlade! Surely, Oxlade, you cannot be so naive as to imagine that his ridiculous self-communion is not serving a larger purpose?”
“I thought you’d retired from such intrigues, Estrades? Are you sure you aren’t simply a victim of your own, professional imagination, nostalgically spinning in its New Conditions of indolence?” Oxlade countered.
Estrades impatiently waved the words away. “Doubt as much as you like, Oxlade! Mistrust was always your forte.” He spoke directly, pre-emptively ploughing through any further objections. “Unwitting pawn, though this New World, Wagnerian Nietzsche, might be; nevertheless, this feckless foot soldier serves a greater esprit.
You think this theatre of contemporary confusions, this vehicle of multiple forms of unease, is merely driven by literary ambitions of bad taste, and hopes of registering itself in some dark beverage, annal of record achievements?” Estrades gave an imploring look. “Yes, yes, there is no need to disagree on this. It is not what the puppet thinks that is of interest. Look beyond its banal journalese, Oxlade, what function does the puppet serve?”
Estrades continued, “What purpose does any confusion serve, Oxlade? What did it serve, when either you or I were the instigators and professional architects of it? It served our mission objectives! ” Estrades said, answering his own question. “The question, is, what mission objective is being served by this puppet show of bad ideas?”
“Not everything proceeds according to your so-called, ‘mission objectives’, Estrades. That’s your professionalism talking again. People just live and do what they do, exciting themselves with exotic roles as harmless entertainment,” Oxlade offered.
“Again, Oxlade, you misunderstand. Such exotic pursuits are neither harmless nor entertaining. In the New Conditions that you are so fond of, Oxlade, the inexecrable utopia you defend so ardently, do you not observe the dissolution of the contours of our profession?”
There, Estrades had a point, even from his North African retirement and the pleasures of Byzantine military history, he assiduously observed the increasing encroachment of domestic and civil concerns in the previously sequestered realms of international espionage. Greater reliance on the private sector by traditionally aloof institutions of secrecy, rooted in an earlier era of simpler demarcations, had resulted in the collapse of the civilian and the classified, one into the other, to the point where neither could be easily distinguished. The New Conditions of communication served further to promote this suspect integration. Perhaps Estrades could discern these factors more clearly from his standpoint of self-incurred, North African isolation?
“I don’t deny that there have been changes, Estrades–”
“Understatement is no defence, Oxlade!” Estrades interrupted. “In our New Conditions, it merely becomes Antipodean exaggeration. Half of our work at Alexandria involves playing in online computer games and virtual worlds! Your department knows of this, anyway. How can it not, when it does the same? Eisenburg seems to have a talent for these things, he’s built up quite a reputation in that world.”
Eisenburg drew his cupped hands together, waggled his thumbs, and grinned, moving his shoulders up and down with a theatrics of enthusiasm.
“He has my old position, now, as Head of Section Intelligence, but I occasionally visit–”
“He visits at least two times a week,” Eisenburg interjected.
“Yes, and when I do, he’s either playing these online games, or hosting public relations events; school trips; even regular meetings of his fan club!”
Eisenburg’s face beamed.
“It’s gone too far, Oxlade! ‘He’, is mocking us!” Estrades gestured towards the vast entomological memory of God’s Road, the three of them shared.
“Here he goes again!” said Eisenburg, raising his eyes heavenward.
“You know, Oxlade, why God’s Motorway can no longer be found?”
Estrades was referring to the seeming disappearance of the Road of God. God’s Motorway, vanished some twenty years ago, as mysteriously as its arrival.
“It hasn’t disappeared, Oxlade, it has grown so large we can no longer perceive its horizon,” he gestured at the iPhone on a neighbouring table. “We are living in it, Oxlade, and there is no other choice, certainly not any that could truly be called one’s own.”
“If its horizon is no longer perceivable, why should the oppressive character you attribute to it be any clearer?” asked Oxlade. “Perhaps you are living in the belly of an imaginary beast, Estrades? Perhaps it is just your nature to,” Oxlade hesitated, “to chafe?”
Consumer desire? Commodity desire? The alleged ‘subject’ and ‘object’?
Through the exclusivist practice and understandings, the metaphysical configuration of cultural actuality, of ‘positivist object talk’; of ‘Lego-logos’ and ‘system-speak’; consumer and commodity become one, in affiliate ecstasy. Every market relation is converted into the communing of ecstatic information, flowing through circuits of android affiliation, in mechanisms of production whose teleology is objective hallucination.
If “some of the world’s wealthiest people” are to be considered as members of the so-called, ‘global elite’, that President Trump so often rails against, then the Trump message of ‘taking back control’ from those global elites, seems to have hilariously reached those ‘global elites’ and their advisers, themselves! lol
It’s a game that two can play, in a narcissistic festival of politicised insularity, while ignoring the worlds beyond.
Dreams of cybernetic leadership; the imagined nations of sovereignty; the imaginary of sovereign nations? Figurations of responsibility; the gaming of thrones; the elevation of comfortably seated, numbness of decision, imagining domination of Pandora-inflected determination.
“Welcome to The Wealth Report
In last year’s “Welcome”, I commented that the world appeared to be at a crossroads. Fast forward 12 months, and we are still waiting for strong global leadership to determine the direction of travel.
The range of events creating political turmoil is more diverse than ever: high-stakes verbal sparring between North Korea and the US; the EU’s need to help Spain navigate the Catalonian crisis and balance the growing East-West schism over migration; food security concerns; and ongoing unrest in the Middle East, to mention but a few.
Set against this backdrop, the health of the global economy surprised many in 2017 – and is likely to continue to provide more good news this year. Yet despite positive economic fundamentals underpinning many of our markets, reading through this edition of The Wealth Report, many articles – in particular our interview with eminent historian Niall Ferguson – confirm that it is the political risks that have the potential to cause upset, making the future ever harder to predict.
As an adviser to some of the world’s wealthiest people, life at Knight Frank is fast-paced and exceptionally interesting. Providing the best advice during constantly changing times is challenging. But by employing the best people, continuously enhancing our research capabilities and extending our global network, we aim to react quickly to events, ensuring our advice enables our clients to constantly recalibrate their investment strategies.
The desire to “take back control” is an increasingly important part of these strategies. Many of you are taking a more hands-on role when it comes to your investments, employing in part your own expertise, forming syndicates and building relationships with carefully selected trusted advisers who can offer bespoke advice on specific sectors. The growing influence of family offices as real-estate investors, described on page 53, is a clear example of this.
As ever, Knight Frank is listening and evolving to meet the needs of our clients. Our Family Office Forum brings like-minded private investors together, while a dedicated 26-strong high-net-worth focused team provides our most global clients with a single point of contact for all their property needs in the key markets worldwide.
I am confident that this year’s edition of The Wealth Report will both guide and reassure you. In addition to exploring the movement of wealth around the world and the f luctuations of the world’s luxury residential property markets, this year’s report offers some fascinating insights into luxury spending trends, be it investing in a record-breaking piece of art or, as in the case of one particular client, your own sports team.
It is likely that many of the articles will prompt further questions. Please do get in touch if you would like further information from our research team or guidance on your property portfolio. We are here to help you, and look forward to working with you in 2018.” [LORD ANDREW HAY, GLOBAL HEAD OF RESIDENTIAL]
A couple of days ago, on Disqus, I had an exchange with the author of an article on China-USA relations, and a subsequent, disingenuous moderation of one of my comments, by that author. The article, is here –
My first comment, was the following:
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Eric Li, the Chinese entrepreneur, was distinguishing between the forces of capitalism, exemplified by the billionaire class, and the forces of state, exemplified as political authority.
Your presumption that for government to be above capital only leaves the role of directing markets, assumes market totalitarianism, that there is nothing else but the market! In which case, governments and states are entirely unnecessary, let the market do whatever it likes. The state form is redundant. Let people and corporations go wherever they want, according to market needs. Your assumption is based on such market mysticism.
The state form of any alleged democracy, is supposed to represent all interests, not just market interests. This is something you seem not to understand, somewhat understandably given the extent of market penetration into all areas of US social life, but not so excusable in an author writing in what is presumably offering itself as a knowledgeable journal of foreign affairs.
Your objections to earlier commenters are shallow, showing little understanding of the theoretical issues at play.
Given that, on every issue, American senators vote in accord with the billionaire class, US polity effectively functions as an exclusive representative of that billionaire class. Therefore, the US economy is a centrally planned economy, designed according to the interests of the billionaire class. Therefore, what you are citing as crony capitalism, is centrally planned economy, by crony billionaires.
The point that neither US nor Chinese economies are actually free-market economies is a trivial observation, everyone knows that, hence the earlier comments. However, whereas the Chinese government is straightforwardly honest about its market policies, it’s only the USA which makes such irrelevant noises about free-market economy, just as you’re doing, in your article and comment responses.
To which the authors response, was this –
JR Hammond Response
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My response, was the following:
“The point that neither US nor Chinese economies are actually free-market economies is a trivial observation, everyone knows that, hence the earlier comments. However, whereas the Chinese government is straightforwardly honest about its market policies, it’s only the USA which makes such irrelevant noises about free-market economy, just as you’re doing, in your article and comment responses.”
This passage does not make any reference to logical or factual error, but it does cite the contextual attributes of ‘trivial observation’ and ‘irrelevant noises’, with regard to the post’s references to free-market economy. Therefore, your request for specific identification of factual or logical errors, is a misplaced ‘red herring’, not pertinent to the text of my comment. Whether or not it has any relevance to you, regarding a personal preoccupation with particular conceptions of the factual or the logical, seems to be a hypothetical factor strongly suggested in your comment responses, where those themes have arisen more than once.
Another way of presenting the point about ‘market mysticism’, would be to ask, what role, if any, do you suggest, the government or state forms, should actually have? Should governments or states, exist at all? Because whatever configuration might be suggested, it would necessarily lead to conditions of mechanical consequence, potentially considered as iniquitous from the perspectives of rationales external to such configuration. Conceptions such as ‘minimal government’, for instance, are contingent on a particular criterion or conception of administrative magnitude. Given the nature of systematic consequence, any administrative gesture, at all, could be seen as an unwarranted and iniquitous intervention, of the greatest consequence. That is to say, conceptions of ‘minimal’ and ‘maximal’, are themselves contingent on conception, necessarily leading to constraints on ‘freedom’.
Even the suggestion of anarchy, as a governing or state principle, would be susceptible to the same critique, notwithstanding the potential play of contradiction, between anarchy and principle.
Given these considerations, any comparison between governmental or state forms, requires far more nuanced development than constant reiteration of a poorly assumed, free-market concept. That would be the unthinking evangelisation of an ideological fixation, not genuine or competent consideration of that free-market concept.
An important omission of your article, is John Pilger’s claim that the USA financed its industrial development through profits derived from militarily enforced, opium dealing. By all reports, the USA didn’t just deliver that opium to the coasts, like the British, they went into China, proactively promoting or pushing it, as is their characteristic style. They were doing all this right into the 20th century; that’s why JG Ballard talked about there being more millionaires in Shanghai, in the 1930s, than in the rest of the world.
Basically, the modern world of the USA was financed quite considerably by drug money; hence the narcotic aspect of its addictive, consumer culture?
But as can be seen in the Disqus comment section following the article, as of this date, it doesn’t appear there, though it did so when I first posted it.
This was the original URL of the comment – https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2017/09/27/the-coming-war-on-china-a-review-of-john-pilgers-latest-documentary/#comment-4158165161
Jeremy R. Hammond
The author and moderator is Jeremy R. Hammond.
As far as can be gleaned from an Internet search, he is allegedly a left-wing, independent writer, who is anti-USA, anti-Israel, and 9/11 cconspiracist. More information can be found at the following links –
One noticeable feature of his comment responses, both on the John Pilger documentary review and on the third link above, is the emphasis on the factual and logical integrity of his claims, even when such integrity has not been questioned.
If his responses are to be taken into account, as well as the considerable omissions of his work, at least as far as the review of John Pilger’s documentary is concerned, he does not seem so much, ‘anti-American’, or even ‘left-wing’, but rather, a libertarian ideologist unable to conceive of anything beyond the play of market conditions. Insofar as this seems to be the case, his political orientation is largely irrelevant, as he falls into the typical US American fad of hating government. Unfortunately, this hatred of the US state, does not seem to result in either effective critique of the government he so seems to detest, or theorisation of the conditions in which it has coalesced. Very much unlike John Pilger’s documentary, which outlines and alludes to multiple issues, not merely the insularity of focusing on the contrast between the contemporary systems of economy of China and the USA. A noticeable feature of JR Hammond’s review, one characterising many so-called independent writers in the USA, is the way that he attributes positions to Pilger which do not actually appear anywhere in the documentary. Hammond hallucinates oppositions concerning his economic obsessions into John Pilger’s documentary. He then berates Pilger on the basis of these hallucinated oppositions, even going on to state various neglects, on the same basis.
This kind of reframing, from the evangelising perspective of ideological narrowness, is common in the USA, characterising people like Alex Jones, and many others. It seems to be a business out there, and like Alex Jones, Hammond does not seem to have neglected the monetisation of his discourse.
His review is so innocuous, it could have been drafted by the Pentagon itself, but to be honest, they would have done a far better job, and it would have been far more critical of the US state.
Concluding this post, are some more comments, which I haven’t posted yet, on the review of John Pilger’s excellent documentary.
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I didn’t suggest any logical or factual error in your post or article. But it purports to be a review of John Pilger’s documentary. It is a review, but a highly selective one, ignoring much of what the documentary claims and suggests, to the extent some might say of being disingenuous, or at best narrow and superficial.
John Pilger does not suggest or imply that the free market is inherently evil or to blame, for anything. His message seems to be that the USA’s practices of allegedly free-market economy, are iniquitous, hypocritical, and self-serving. That China had to defend itself from blatant US exploitation, not from free-market economy. An exploitation that the USA itself would consider criminal hostility, if positions were reversed. That the means of defence China resorted to in the face of such exploitation, was another state form and ideology from the West, Communism, inflected by Chairman Mao, into Maoism.
The state form, if contrasted with market economy, is supposed to address that which is not addressed by market economy, it is government supplementation of what market economy might be said to neglect.
Unless the concept of market economy is viewed as a total expansion, with no remainder, market economy is only concerned with economic transactions of a state, not the totality of national transactions and decisions. In so far as this concern is not total, government or state forms could be said to be required in order to provision institutional address of the remainder escaping the operations of market economy.
If the concept of market economy is viewed as a total expansion, with no remainder, such market economy would have no internal borders, due to the fact that market economy is necessarily international. In which case, any analysis of market economy necessarily has to consider the fullest extent of that market economy, which is necessarily global. It would have to cover the historical development of that market economy, in order to adequately contextualise its forces in a relevant way.
The notion of ‘post-truth’, as a general specification, is still informed by assumptions of truth determination. Whether or not, these assumptions have become problematic due to the difficulty of establishing stable truth conditions constituting such veridical determination, does not alter the governing assumption of such determination. Pluralism would bring together various types of truth determination, together with their respective contexts or truth conditions. Pluralism is an acknowledgement that there are indeed different kinds of truth determination and different kinds of felicity. That the generality of the truth idea is susceptible to the differentiations of localised and situational expressions. But notice, criteria of ‘localisation’ and ‘situation’, are themselves constructed determinations. The same cautions apply to determinations of ‘immanence’; ‘plurality’; ‘temporality’; structures of evaluation; negative indication, or indication through negation; ‘reality’; structures of testability and experimentation. It’s understandable that explicit consciousness of the possibility of such determinations, under the sign of constructive action, could prove somewhat overwhelming in its complexity, especially given the fact that so many of those determinations are simply historical and cultural givens constituting the taken for granted, backgrounds, supporting life-worlds in which people dwell.
That the onset of modernist conditions has transformed the nature of localised interaction between life-worlds into something far more striated by what would be considered before as non-local forces, is simply the result of the forces of that ongoing modernity spreading itself according to its own logics, producing new forms of itself according to the conditions it finds itself in.
The notion of a ‘thought image’ is simply that of an idea; a position; a philosopheme; an order; etc.. In practice, a philosophical convention, perhaps even a philosophy meme? Yes, it’s possible to differentiate and distinguish all of these terms with a view to their respective uniqueness and incommensurability, but in practice there is considerable semantic overlap of use.
The notion of quantum, performance, and structural, images, are three different positions that seem to have developed contemporary relevance. That relevance situates itself according to certain kinds of need or desire. The quantum image is a particular site of speculative hypostasis; the scientifically arrived at limit of classical objectivity; producing effects that are radically susceptible to interpretation. Thus the site is vulnerable to all kinds of objective hysteria; every order of the object, of any object, seeks reconstruction according to the probabilistic granularity, or granular probability, of quantum possibility. The assumptions, and preoccupations, of atomistic constitution, provision the tangibility of collapse and initial, objective closure, a zoology of particularised and detectable actuality. But this actuality is structured, therefore a necessary complicity with the so-called, ‘structural image’.
The ‘structural image’; as an artefact of holistic perspective, both in ancient, modern, and multicultural, forms; is perhaps the contemporary replay of that perspective. There has of course been gestalt theory, in 19th and 20th century Germany, a perhaps corollary movement. But contemporary structuralism, at least its continental forms, has a well-known development, initially associated with linguistics. If it’s typological procedures are a little too modernist, too general and abstract, not immanent enough, that seems to have been sufficient provocation to produce the responses of libidinal materialism characterising Deleuze’s and Lyotard’s mid-period and early works, respectively. As well as perhaps Foucault, often called a structuralist, but distinguishing his epistemological, ‘epic schemes’, and highly immanent stagings of localised, historical analysis, from the linguistic emphases of structuralist typology. And then of course there is Derrida, who radicalises structuralism into post-structuralism, using structuralist resources. Foucault, of course, did the same, using epistemological reflexivity of consideration in his analysis of Velázquez’s Las Meninas.
If Michel Foucault’s subsequent treatments of power and knowledge, within the contexts of his ‘hidden histories’ concerning representation, madness, sexuality, etc., constitute the deconstructed, shifted and analysed, basis for both theoretical and practical action, as seems to be the case with his continued relevance to contemporary debates, then it is easy to see that the factor of contemporary appeal has very much to do with the stagings of immanence his work provides or enables.
The question of the performance image is central to such contemporary appeal. People like to do things; they like what they do, to be relevant. Perhaps it’s just cybernetics? A message requires both a sender and a receiver, the structure of transmission and reception is expected to do something, to have some kind of agreeable effect on whatever ‘world’ the interlocutors of the message form believe or consider that they inhabit. But those so-called, ‘worlds’, in the context of modernist permeation of global communications, are brought together through processes of mutual and vertiginous reflection, much like the mirror play within Las Meninas, effectively blurring the difference between the different kinds of truth determination belonging to those ‘worlds’. Much as the order of the object seeks reconstruction within quantum possibility; the ‘order of worlds’, of locales and life-worlds, seeks reconstruction within the arena of representations constituting global communication. Each of those ‘worlds’ aspires to the status of being an indispensable ‘model of representation’, hence the hysteria of repetitions by some of those ‘worlds’, as a quantity strategy of ‘full-spectrum domination’. Such a strategy necessarily operates according to full-spectrum appropriation, as well, attempting to reduce what it clones to the terms of its own, imagined model. These activities constitute the conditions of the so-called, ‘performance image’, the cultural war of imaginary models. Each imagining an order of its own substantial extension, as the absolute economy of its imagined model, which it’s every expression, it’s every message, simultaneously tries to establish and yet undermines. Obviously this is inclusive of any ‘model’, of ‘plurality’, as well.
If such models are principles of hypothetical socio-economic and cultural organisation, they constitute universalising aspirations towards a generality and security of conditions. But those universalising aspirations often read notions of generality and security, in profoundly different ways. Those ways have radically different aetiologies and rationales. Their resolution on a social level, requires social understanding. The development of such understandings is often contradicted by differing mechanisms of cultural utilisation and operation, susceptible to variable characterisations of acceptability and non-acceptability; of what constitute legitimate and non-legitimate, forms of exploitation. The clash of positivist observations leads to clashes of contextual justification, to an extent where all contexts are brought into question, resulting in a complexity exceeding the terms of conventional public debate and understanding.
If it’s the case, that Alain Badiou seeks to compartmentalise this complexity according to the truth rubrics of his own general categorisation, reflecting the ostensible expressions at play in the social field; and if François Laruelle is seeking to recover some kind of neo-positivist purity of the everyday, with a vocabulary of axiomatic givenness immunised against philosophical difference, enabling the neo-nativism of an idiomatic incommensurability; what could such gestures mean?
It might seem that Alain Badiou gives space to the messiness of social action; to the power of event and trauma; to the monumental motivations of dramatised rupture in a kind of Hegelian historical narrative of truth-disclosing, traumatic events; promoting the witnesses to such staged events, as might be accepted as such, to the privileged status of ‘subjects’, the eventual, publicity agents, jointly authoring Alain Badiou’s Hegelian narrative monument of truth disclosure.
It might seem that François Laruelle simply wants to begin again, shearing off the unpleasant messiness of history, as so many bad decisions for which there is no obligation to really learn anything or take any responsibility. All is forgiven, and nothing need be understood, under the aegis of ‘the One’, it’s all back to positivist business, as usual, or so at least Laruelle hopes.
Both thinkers are promoters of the performance image; both are caught up in its default assumptions; both are apologists for the ideology of production, at any and all costs.
But the performance image is contingent on the notion of performance. That notion, whether classically or in any other way, is susceptible to radical interpretation, to the extent of the extremity of there having never been any performance, at all. That extremity does not receive enough consideration or contemplation; there are insights to be had there.
Instead, both Alain Badiou and François Laruelle trot out their programmatic, metaphysical schemas as ideological insulation for the cabled conduction of the powers of axiomatic truth and incommensurable position. Those cables serve the engine of performance mysticism and its spell of production.