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Re: <nettime> IDF reading Deleuze and Guattari (and Debord)
Daniel Perlin on Thu, 24 Aug 2006 17:16:52 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> IDF reading Deleuze and Guattari (and Debord)


Hi,
When reading Eyal Weizman's article, I find so many critical  
questions, I have to ask:

is there a way to map without (re)producing the dominant forms of  
power? Is it inevitable that Debord and the affective strengths of D 
+G be subsumed by teh war machines that they opposed? Is Heiko  
Recktenwald correct in saying
> Reading Debord etc does not make Israels wars better

I would claim that in fact, Debord and french theory does make it  
better if we consider that better might mean "more efficient" or more  
"effective". What we have here is a clear example of the abuses of  
theory by the hegemony. But we must also ask, how can texts designed  
for radical freedom, micro and macropolitical subversion, be  
harnessed so effectively by a killing machine? Are the language(s) of  
war those of our subversive impetus? Is the war machine the same as  
the peace machine, to again use Heiko Recktenwald's claims?

if we are to look to models for effective critical discourse, we must  
look away from the war machine method


> The IDF's strategy of
> 'walking through walls' involves a conception of the city as not just
> the site but also the very medium of warfare ? a flexible, almost
> liquid medium that is forever contingent and in flux.

Sound familiar? It is almost a perfect derive. Are we being edged out  
of our edge? Mark Shepard, on a separate list (iDC) has stated that  
Detournement has no more place in our contemporary culture, since it  
was time specific as an interventionist method.
>
>  It is critical to remember that the drive emerged in a
> specific historical context, one that I would argue no longer holds.

But perhaps we need to reexamine this claim to radical temporal  
specificity if we see that in fact, it is the most "bleeding edge"  
technology, the war-machine, that is in fact effectively applied the  
theories of the Situationists.

As the article itself points out:
> (Deleuze and Guattari were aware that the state can willingly  
> transform itself into
> a war machine. Similarly, in their discussion of 'smooth space' it is
> implied that this conception may lead to domination.)

A critical perspective of radical negation would not allow for the  
stablity of a theoretical regime such as that of D+G. Now, in  
architectural schools all over the world, the builders and planners  
are using the rhetoric of social bodies to (over)determine spaces.  
Maya, the new 3d design program of choice (created by Alias, for  
hollywood film effects) only serves to reify these theories, as a  
superficial language (mel) designed for skinning and planar  
possibilities. If radical negation of the stable aesthetic is the  
modus operandi of Adorno, what is the radical hope for Swarming and  
the "Postmodern" grid? Perhaps Late Capitalism is not "ready" for  
such a radical enframing. Surely, this was what the left has known  
for some time, or the realities of the .com bubble would have never  
come crashing down.

There is a need to build a new "old" language of critique, not simply  
rely upon the recycled reactions of a strain of the left from '68.   
To use Debord might be an oversimplification of his work, just as it  
is to use D+G. But we must ask, what is in these works that makes  
them so open to this use?

Unfortunately, these theories of the French radical mafia have now  
become synonymous with "critical theory" in general, as the IDF has  
pointed out:

> Critical theory has become crucial for Nave's teaching and training.
> He explained: 'we employ critical theory primarily in order to
> critique the military institution itself ? its fixed and heavy
> conceptual foundations. Theory is important for us in order to
> articulate the gap between the existing paradigm and where we want to
> go. Without theory we could not make sense of the different events
> that happen around us and that would otherwise seem disconnected.

but how can we blame Nave. If read as an act of war, Debord might as  
well be describing Gaza

> If détournement were extended to urbanistic realizations, not many  
> people would remain unaffected by an exact reconstruction in one  
> city of an entire neighborhood of another. Life can never be too  
> disorienting: détournement on this level would really make it  
> beautiful.---Guy Debord, Gil J Wolman, A User?s Guide to  
> Détournement Belgian surrealist journal Les Lèvres Nues #8 (May 1956).

> (Translator?s Note: The French word détournement means deflection,  
> diversion, rerouting, distortion, misuse, misappropriation,  
> hijacking, or otherwise turning aside from the normal course or  
> purpose.)

We can't blame Nave for being either ignorant or wrong. Nor Debord.  
Perhaps this is why Shepard was uncomfortable with the use of  
Situationist terms to describe the current city. But we cannot deny  
that it is being used, and that the uses have very real effects.

The issue here is the state of "Misuse", "misappropriation" and  
subversion.  These are, in Kantian terms, questions of Judgement.  If  
we look to the traditional format of WAR, such as the examples sited  
by Eric Johnston, we are given the moral need for justice as an act  
of Truth value.

>  In these times some sucessful military people study the
>  original 'Art of War' (Sun Tzu).  Nguyen Giap described
>  as his bible T.E. Lawrence's 'Revolt in the Desert'.  It
>  seems that aged theory is not necessarily a hindrance to
>  successful application decades or even millenia later.
>
>  Morality -- who or what is right or wrong -- is a
>  related issue, but should not prevent a study of what is
>  being done and the thinking behind it.

But what we see here, on the plane of rhetoric,  is the almost  
absolute evacuation of tradition in terms of war. RULES of war, as  
the tradition would have it, traditionally align war with games.  
However, Swarming, wandering, etc. are new forms of PLAY. a new type  
of game. Yet these games adhere to much of the traditional notions of  
judgement: 'beauty', pleasure, better, worse. Should we not address  
these new forms of play with the language of traditional rules and  
morality, as a kind of rhetorical strategy of subverting the subverted?

What was once misuse has now been self-authorized as proper use. What  
was once subversion has now become oppression. A radical negation of  
this is necessary, and the language of morality may be a strategy. It  
is currently being harnessed by Amnesty International, as they have  
claimed Israel's attack on Lebanon as a Crime of War. However, are  
these gestures futile in light of the new language of the PLAY of WAR?

But for Nave and others in the IDF, what we have is the language of  
the "Farce" of  technologies' clarities.  The architecture of war as  
a shifting zone was brought to us by Tschumi.

>  Tschumi had another approach to epistemology; he wanted to
> break with single-perspective knowledge and centralized thinking. He
> saw the world through a variety of different social practices, from a
> constantly shifting point of view. [Tschumi] created a new grammar; he
> formed the ideas that compose our thinking

This technological reading of theory produces disastrous results. But  
is Nave just speaking truth?
  Perhaps this can be refocused by Adorno.

> The question concerning technology is the question concerning the  
> constellation in which revealing and concealing, in which the  
> coming to presence of truth, comes to pass.

When "truth" value is reduced to the plane of exchange and dominance,  
than the subversive character of "truth" has become a tool of the  
dominant. Is this what happened in Weimar in the '20's? Have we given  
up hope in favor of the language of fear as truth...? Is the  
solution, as D+G would have it, to assume a new language to subvert  
the dialectic of enlightenment?

I would say, and have said, no. Because this is what the IDF does.
Instead, it seems to me that what is needed are more effective means  
of mapping the systemic character of global capital and military  
industrial complexes, as perhaps can be interpreted from Jameson.

> An aesthetic of cognitive mapping ? a pedagogical political culture  
> which seeks to endow the individual subject with some new  
> heightened sense of its place in the global system ? will  
> necessarily have to respect this now enormously complex  
> representational dialectic and invent radically new forms in order  
> to do it justice. ?Frederic Jameson, Postmodernism or the Cultural  
> logic of Late Capitalism Verso 1991

Though cognitive mapping is but one strategy, what we can learn from  
its call to acknowledge not just machines, but global systems of  
technological dominance. The IDF machine is not alone. It is a  
critical part of a larger machine that can only be called an abuse  
system. It should come as little surprise that Olmert met with  
Rumsfeld, Bush and Rice shortly before the invasion of Lebanon. What  
we are privy to is the shadow of French critical theory obfuscating  
what is truly modern systemic abuse. It is not enough to relinquish  
truth to the plane of the modern past,  when what we are seeing is  
the regression to the state of war as play.

--daniel perlin


On Aug 20, 2006, at 12:34 PM, Heiko Recktenwald wrote:

> Reading Debord etc does not make Israels wars better. Debord and smart bombs,
> the political reality is something else. The "terror" label,  the
> "defense" label etc, what they are fighting for,  are very simple
> questions, much more important.
 <...>

daniel perlin
sound/art
tel:(+1)347 351 5493
fax:(+1)212.334.4201
daniel {AT} danielperlin.net


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