McKenzie Wark on Sun, 17 May 1998 22:37:35 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Antipodean Vectors

Antipodean Vectors
McKenzie Wark

Globalisation is a term that's bandied about these days as if it were something
new. One hears a lot about capitalism entering a 'new phase' of postnational
interpenetration. But capital has always been a global and a globalising
phenomena. The current phase could only appear as something new to people who
have not been brought up on its globalising histories, or who have forgotten
those histories, even forgotten their own history.

Capital, globalisation and history itself have always been one and the same
process in the experience of the peoples of the periphery. The imperial centres
around which these periphieries have oscillated have changed from time to time,
but most of the peripheries have remained peripheral.

What one sees, from the periphery is that capital now treats its old imperial
centres as a new periphery. The populations of the centre are now getting a
taste of what it has always been like for everybody else. Either you have
something to contribute to the global process of capital accumulation or you
don't. And if you don't, tough luck. The protectionist trade policies of the EC
and the United States protected those populations from the stresses of global
capital accumulation for most of the post war period. But now it is clear to
all concerned that the privileges enjoyed by the industrial populations there
are to be not only curtailed, but withdrawn. 

But again, all this is not a new phenomena. The irony is that those parts of
European culture that preserve a memory of how this process has worked for the
last three hundred years have been scattered by it all over the globe. Europe
forgets us, its peripheral others, scattered all over the globe by the forces
it unleashed upon the globe. 

There was a time when the third world liberation movements provided a romantic
version of the peripheral vision that was heard in the old imperial centres.
But it flourished less on the strength of any great wisdom about the possible
range of responses to the ongoing globalisation of capital, than on another
kind of globalisation altogether. Mao and Che were pop stars, borne from east
to west, south to north, along the global vectors of communication that are one
of the conditions of existence of capital's global liquidity.

Once again, this was always obvious from the periphery, which is where the
profits were made with which the emerging industrial media industries of the
imperial countries competed with each other. And with the military victory of
American power came not only a global network of trade routes, but also of
media vectors that were only the most recent in a long history via which
capital, arms and communication flow together around the globe. 

And so, in short, the critique of globalisation is not complete without the
critique of the imperial assumptions that underlie the production of the
critique itself. The discourses of 'globalisation', 'postcolonialism' and so on
seem, from the periphery, to be yet another form of colonialism, a colonisation
by critique itself, moving along the same vectors as that which it purports to

Its hard to make this critique of the spatial inequalities of critique itself
in the language of critique, for it is quite striking the degree to which
critical language is still imperial language. It speaks from a radiating
centre. The differences of experience, history, perception, memory, disappear
in the enunciation of a perspective no less grand than that of empire itself.
And of course, none of this is obvious to the critique carried out in the old
imperial centres. While these centres may no longer command the gunboats, they
still command key media vectors in publishing and broadcasting. Critique
occupies a comfortable niche in this virtual empire and is careful not to bite
the hand that feeds it. 

Two problems emerge then: finding a form in which to write in which peripheries
can meet. Now that the populations of the centre experience peripheral
conditions of life, this seems urgent, but it can't be on the basis of the
imperial language of critique. It requires the production of new ways of
writing and reading that might create a genuine dialogue. But the other problem
is one of producing the vectors along which such a discourse might flow, not on
the imperial pattern of a radiating centre, but as a distributed network. The
requires looking at actual networks rather than merely appropriating the
concept of 'network' for a new imperial jargon, a cover story for the
accumulation of vectoral power in the old way.

The rest of this essay is an attempt, as all essays are, in this case an
attempt to think through a particular peripheral experience of globalisation,
both in memory and in everyday life. Its drawn from my book, The Virtual
Republic.1 Its about the subjective experience of globalisation as
'antipodality' -- being neither here nor there.

I didn't much care for the Australian Bicentennial celebrations of 1988.
It's not just that I sympathise with Aboriginal people who think of Australia
Day as Invasion Day, although it is partly that. I grew up reading books on the
highland clearances in Scotland, like John Prebble's popular histories; stories
of how southern 'improvers', in league with debt-ridden chiefs, turfed the
clansfolk off their hereditary lands to make way for sheep and the new
commercial economy. 

Some highlanders fought back against the bailiffs and troopers, but in the end
the land belonged to the sheep. The highlanders found their way into the
cities, where they languished in pools of dispossessed labour until set in
motion again by the wheels of factory work. Others emigrated to the colonies,
including Australia. 

Some of my mother's people were from the highlands. Or so they say. My father's
ancestors were Glaswegian. Here there are documents, and from documents come
facts, and from facts, a story. John Newlands Wark, born 1817, educated in
Glasgow, where he becomes an engineer. Working for the City and Suburban Gas
Co. he acquires a thorough knowledge of the process of gas manufacture, both
practical and theoretical. But his wife Margaret suffers from asthma, and her
doctor advises moving to a more temperate climate. And so John and Margaret
take a chance. They sail aboard the City of Manchester to Auckland, New Zealand
in 1863. Within two years, the first gas flows to the city of Auckland.

The climate was not much of an improvement on Glasgow, or on Margaret's health.
So John applies for a position in Sydney, as engineer to AGL, the Australian
Gas Light Co. He becomes the company's engineer in 1868. AGL sack him five
years later. They catch him using AGL tools and workmen to remove pipes, which
he had bought from the city council, from the streets of Sydney. The pipes are
on their way to Bathurst, for what will become the first of an extended family
business building and managing gas works for country towns. According to AGL,
'Mr Wark was a very good engineer, but a very difficult gentleman'.

The AGL, as such, is long gone, but not its very fine circular showroom,
opposite Central Railway Station, a short walk from where I live. My father,
who is an architect, took me to see it, to show me our ancestor's name carved
on the foundation stone as the engineer of the gas storage reservoirs that are
still under the building. It's now part of a huge commercial complex. 

Invasion Day 1988 just left me cold. On the one hand I feel like the accidental
issue of another dispossessed people, and that I was dispossessed, in turn, of
their stories. I grew up modern. So in place of a lost tradition I found
another, in my mother's books, taken down from those functional built-in
shelves my father designed for them. 

Here's John Prebble, from her old orange-jacketed Penguin paperback: 'At
Culloden, and during the military occupation of the glens, the British
government first defeated a tribal uprising and then destroyed the society that
had made it possible. The exploitation of the country during the next hundred
years was within the same pattern of colonial development Q new economies
introduced for the greater wealth of the few, and the unproductive obstacle of
a native population removed or reduced'.2 English colonialism did not take
place in the antipodes alone. And in the antipodes, many of its foot soldiers
were ragged armies of the dispossessed, dispossessing. Irony is the wet-nurse
of history.

A little part of that greater wealth from the new economies accrued to the
Warks. John Newlands Wark, at the time he was sacked by AGL, was on 700 pounds
per year. I can't help admiring knowledge applied to organising the production
of something useful, be it gas for streetlights or an architect's plan. Even if
those productions become, in turn, the raw material for new designs Q the old
gas showroom swallowed whole by an office block. The reason why this patrimony
might make me look askance at Invasion Day is a little more obscure. If the
legacy of those stories about my mother's distant kin instils a certain
'postcolonial' resentment of the English and their empire, then maybe the gas
works story is about being neither for it nor against it, but making something
out of the space it created, to create something else in turn: gas, light,
heat, wealth Q and a story.

So while on Australia Day, 1988, thousands of people crowded into Darling
Harbour to look at the tall ships, celebrate the invasion of the continent and
the birth of a free-range prison, I passed on the walk down to the shore and
watched the whole thing on television. 

It was a re-enactment of the white invasion of the Australian continent,
performed 200 years later for the cameras. As with the first arrival of the
First Fleet, on this second coming the invaders parked their boats and thanked
their sponsors. Where the English came and colonised, corporate captains came
and coca-colonised.

There is quite a particular view of things and the world that comes from
being by the sea, here in the antipodes. I grew up by the sea, not far from
here. Sometimes, bored with television, I would take the Atlas down from its
special shelf and trace the outlines of strange countries onto tracing paper.
Then I would colour in the maps with coloured pencils. First, I would draw all
the contours of nature. In green and blue and brown I projected an image of the
ocean, the land and the mountains. This was a jaggy mass of impassable
terrains, each line uniquely tortuous and torturous. The geography of place.
All craggy and squiggly and never the same twice.

Then, with a fat black marker, I drew big black dots where the rivers meet the
sea. And then, with a ruler, I drew nice straight lines, joining the dots Q
cities and highways. The geography of space. The geography of second nature.
Everything flattened and straightened and smoothed, like the road and the
railway and the flat, plain, pure white walls of our house.

Next, I took out a red marker and fetched some glasses from the kitchen.
Placing the glasses over the cities, I traced red circles of varying sizes. I
tried to remember how far out of town the radio faded out on those endless car
trips, and which cities seemed to have different television when we went there
on holidays. 

This is the geography of telesthesia, of percpetion at a distance, a new map
traced on top of nature and second nature. This is the geography of a third
nature connecting and coordinating the movements of people, the making of
goods, the extraction of raw material from nature Q and transmitting, all the
while, images of life, from Bugs Bunny to James Dibble reading the ABC news.3

Now, growing up by the sea, on the east coast of Australia, makes possible  a
certain way of seeing things. I mention all this in order to explain the odd
way I read Michel Foucault's famous book Discipline and Punish. Its a a book
about the way power organises bodies in space. Foucault's most famous example
of the organisation of bodies is contained in his reading of Jeremy Bentham's
plans for the Panopticon Q the perfect prison, but also the perfect design for
a hospital or school.4 All of which are what Foucault considers 'disciplinary
technologies' for making orderly bodies. 

Now, from the perspective of the antipodes, one can contrast Foucault's notion
of disciplinary technologies with what one might call vectoral technologies. It
is not the Panopticon but the British navy that in the antipodean perspective
emerges as a key technological regime for putting into practice the rational
ambitions of the eighteenth-century enlightenment. 

As Robert Hughes recalls, Bentham titled one of his pamphlets The Panopticon or
New South Wales?5 While Foucault's writings have, I think quite rightly,
influenced a lot of Australian writers, his most famous genealogy of the
machinery of power is, to our world, a route not taken. As everyone who goes to
school in New South Wales is taught, we are here because the British sent their
prisoners, off and away, across the seas, bound for Botany Bay.

Bentham's Panopticon and transportation to Botany Bay have some things in
common. They are both techniques for dealing with bodies that get in the way.
In the case of both panoptic and vectoral technologies, it's about making space
visible by seeing it with an overlaid grid. A city might set aside certain
sites and build enclosed, panoptic spaces on them, within which a grid and a
timetable organise the movements and activities of the recalcitrant bodies. Or
a city might build ships and pack those bodies off across the sea, making the
vectors to and from the antipodes a way of ridding itself of bodies, but maybe
also making bodies productive, setting up flows of useful goods back from the
other side. 

The world becomes the object of the vector, of the potentiality of movement.
Bodies, cargoes, weapons, information: this principally naval technology
produced, almost as an afterthought, Botany Bay, Sydney, New South Wales,
Australia Q one of the many antipodes of empire.

This word 'vector' has travelled a bit, from language to language,
discourse to discourse, meaning to meaning. I'm very fond of it.6 Its roots
mingle with those of the word 'way' Q the way: the road, the course of
movement, the path of life. Also tangled up in there is the sense of 'to
carry'. The vectors traced by these old English, Dutch and German senses cross
with the Latin 'via', and with the sense of 'to weigh'. From there it's a short
path to specialised technical meanings. In geometry a vector is a line of fixed
length but no fixed position; in physics, a quantity having direction as well
as magnitude; in biology, the means of transmission of an infection. I am
unaware of a sense of the term in the engineering of gas works, but no doubt an
enterprising engineer could think of one.

The sense I give to the term traces a line through all of those senses. To me,
a vector is a technology that moves something from somewhere to somewhere else,
at a given speed and cost and under certain specified conditions. They come in
two kinds: those that move mostly physical objects about the place, and those
that move only information. Transport and communication were once one and the
same thing. Now communication moves at a faster rate, and is able to model and
coordinate movements of ever more intricate design over great distances.

Perceptions enable powers: to perceive something is to make it a possible
object of one's will. To order perceptions is to create the possibility of
ordering the things perceived. The success of vectoral power depended on the
ability to perceive the space of the world, and make the space of the world one
in which movements can be ordered. This, quite simply, makes it a new world. A
world in which a plan can be drawn on a map, and that possibility can be
engineered in actuality, in the world the map perceives.

What hampered mapping and moving over the oceans until the eighteenth century
was the lack of an accurate way to fix the position of a ship in longitude. An
Englishman called John Harrison engineered a solution, an accurate chronometer
that would whirr and tick time in a straight line on a ship tossed every which
way by the sea.7 It binds time to its beat. This exact vector through time
would allow navigators like James Cook to know their exact location in space,
and map that space accordingly. Harrison's chronometer, put together with the
other tools of navigation, was already a potential map of the ocean world. Cook
made much of it actual, filling in the wavy lines of coast on the grid. A new
time and space is produced Q a world of possible movements, connections,
creations, and conflicts.8

One of the things that made the English such relentlessly effective
imperialists was the ability to assemble the various elements of a vectoral
technology. It's not just a matter of good ships and chronometers. These things
have to be brought together with the idea of there being something out there in
the first place, and the desire to go find it. Power is always about assembling
such odd combinations of things. Vectoral power requires something else as well
Q a way of linking the passion to discover, the evidence of what is discovered,
and the consequent exploitation of that knowledge.

In his remarkable book European Vision and the South Pacific, Bernard Smith
shows how the rise of British naval imperialism precipitates the fall of this
neoclassical representation in the eighteenth century.9 The neoclassical style
pictured landscapes in terms of the Platonic ideal, and this aesthetic was
institutionally enshrined in the Royal Academy. What the explorer's pictorial
artists were enjoined to perceive were the signs of the pure form underneath
the craggy outcrops of rock and imperfect specimens of plants and people. The
difficulty was that as explorers discovered and depicted more and more things,
the less they seemed to fit into the classical order of forms. So began a
revolution in the ordering of perception of the world that would lead first to
Joseph Banks and eventually to Charles Darwin. If we think of an order of
classification as a map of the potential order of things, then in science as in
navigation, maps preceded territories. In science as in navigati!  on, one uses
a wrong map in order to find out how to draw a more useful one.

The Royal Academy favoured representations of the ideal form of things; the
Royal Society preferred an aesthetic based on the representation of the
typical. This would emerge as a more useful kind of map for the natural order
science perceived. Through its connection with scientific naval expeditions to
the Pacific, the Royal Society saw to it that these more productive
representations of the typical became the technique of recording what explorers
like Cook and Banks found. This involves a break with the notion that what one
is looking for are the pure forms underneath the rubble. Rather, the evidence
is gathered in and used to create the appropriate categories. The eighteenth
century had no explanation for why things, particularly plants and animals,
seemed to occur in these categories Q that would have to wait for Charles

One might classify this eighteenth-century style of representation as a species
of empiricism. The same method developed by David Hume for exploring the
archives for evidence about matters past is here applied to exploring the seas
for evidence about matters present. These two kinds of knowledge come together
in what historian Thomas Richards calls the 'imperial archive'.10 The officers
of empire record the typical features and resources of space as they map and
explore, and dutifully dispatch them back in orderly series of documents. The
abstract grid of the map fills not only with lines of coast but with lines of
textual annotation and pictorial representation.

I still live by the sea, in Ultimo, Sydney. It's a lively place. When I
first came here in the mid-1980s it was a mix of low income housing crouching
beneath giant warehouses and wool stores. Historian Geoffrey Bolton writes that
'wool, more than any other single industry throughout the 1950s and 1960s, was
the great mainstay of Australia's export trade'.11 By the 1980s, the wool
stores stood empty. Walking around Ultimo in the 1980s was like walking around
an empty movie set after the action stops. No more ships, no more trade, no
more machine shops. Film director George Miller had a lot of pigs here once,
while shooting Mad Max III. And the old abandoned powerhouse was also a movie
set, before becoming a museum. Buildings lead such contingent lives these days.
Not the lives for which they were designed at all.

By the mid-1990s, the Sydney Morning Herald took to describing Ultimo and
adjoining Pyrmont as 'Sydney's fastest growing suburb'. More than 6500
apartments went up in the first half of the decade. The Foxtel cable TV
headquarters, Channel 10 and the Sydney Casino inked themselves onto the map,
joining the Census Bureau, the ABC, and the state betting agency, the TAB. The
Sydney Morning Herald itself fitted out new offices just a short walk away,
across Darling Harbour. Where once this part of town was about shipping and
manufacturing, in the 1990s it is about tourism and information.

Talking heads for the City West Corporation, responsible for the redevelopment
of the peninsula, casually talked of private investment in new building of over
a billion dollars. Real estate agents enthused about the trend away from the
suburbs, where the real estate market went 'ratshit', and towards cosmopolitan
living. Or they went into raptures about 'Asian investors', buying Sydney
apartments as holiday homes or for their kids to live in while at university.
In Ultimo, 62 per cent of the population were born overseas, compared with a
Sydney average of 33 per cent.12

I read all this in the Saturday Herald, sitting in the French coffee shop. It's
cool here, in the shade of a high-rise block, if not quiet. But I don't mind
the sounds of kids playing basketball and shouting in Cantonese that waft from
the roof of the community centre. There was no coffee shop until quite
recently. And certainly no community centre. I lift my gaze from the newspaper.
A basketball parabolas into the basket.

'The city is increasingly divided between an international core of Australians
and foreigners who look across the globe for their cues, and the outlying
suburbs, where the people may have more in common with Adelaide residents than
the CBD dwellers', writes Sydney Morning Herald journalist Deidre Macken.
Through the 1980s, Sydney increased its share of both the poorest and the
richest Australians, compared to other cities. The wealthy cluster here in the
east and in the north, while the poor head west. Draw a line from Castle Hill
to the airport, and east of that you have high concentrations of income and
education; to the west, high scores for unemployment and obesity. 'The great
suburban sprawl is now the size of Perth and, for all the attention it
receives, might as well be in Western Australia.'

Like many people living on the eastern side of that divide, I've heard rumours
about the west, and about the 'Westies' who live there, but I've hardly ever
been. I'm more likely to catch a plane to Melbourne or Manila than to visit
Penrith or Parramatta. And I'm more likely to be getting phone calls or email
from people in New York than from Emu Plains. On top of the differences in
income and education and health between eastern and western Sydney, there is
also a difference in mobility. Some people are getting their information from a
widely dispersed range of places, and extracting opportunities from that Q and
some people aren't.

A new regime of power has taken hold of the byways of the planet. A regime not
of sea lanes and ship lore, but of comsats and data flows. We live now, as
Manuel Castells says, not in a space of places but a space of flows: flows of
information, flows of money, flows of jobs and livelihoods.13 Third nature: new
patterns of proximity, prosperity... and poverty. Here I am, here we all are,
living on those maps I drew as a kid. Here we are with new problems, not
necessarily anticipated by the designers and engineers of third nature, and not
necessarily solved just by drawing up a community centre. Cities are now
conjunctures where the diasporas of space meet the diasporas of time.

'Cyberspace', people call it, this emergent terrain of information vectors. The
novelist William Gibson popularised the term, and it caught on, spreading over
the vector, naming the world the vector makes.14 Cyber means to steer, from the
Greek for the rudder of a ship and the one who steers it. Cyberspace is the
emergent abstract terrain of movement, abstract just like the sea. Third nature
began with the telegraph, but speeds up and proliferates in the late twentieth

Immersed in cyberspace, in third nature, we now experience, in a new way, the
three kinds of relation that people once felt about the sea.

Firstly, there are imaginary relations to the other. The vector connects one to
an elsewhere, but rather than think about this as relating formerly separate
things together and making of them a third and different thing, people become
preoccupied by the difference of the other place, and forget about what relates
them. In other words, rather than seeing the relations passing between places,
one sees only the borders that separate them. Rather than seeing the way
different qualities mix and combine into a whole new type of space, one sees
only what is strange, what is other.

I wonder if there wasn't a little bit of this in the story about Margaret
Wark's asthma. Glasgow is dank and damp; but the antipodes are the other of
dank and damp, they must be dry and warm. So she follows her passion for the
other, for the dry and warm climate, which has what she lacks, suitable air for
her troubled respiration. Like all passions based on filling a lack in oneself
by fleeing along a vector towards the other, it is not quite what she imagined.

Secondly, there is the world of potential relations, lurking within the vector.
A world like that of the sea. A world Hegel described as one of honest gain and
piratical plunder. A vector can connect anywhere to anywhere, within the limits
of what is technically feasible at a given time. So it has the potential to
make connections of a certain kind, which in turn can form the basis for
producing something out of what is related. Along the vector to the antipodes
flows tools, skills, machines Q and out of them John Wark makes gas plants for
lighting and heating. Other engineers build roads and bridges, mines and ports,
and eventually what flows back along the same vector are wool and wheat and
gold. Nowadays, the engineers tapping the potential of the new terrain of third
nature are more likely to be working for News Corporation or Microsoft. 

But thirdly, there is the virtual dimension to the vector. An imaginary
relation projects a fantasy of how different the other place is, and forgets
about what passes to and fro. It is about hanging on to an old identity, by
distinguishing it from that with which it mingles. A potential relation makes a
fetish out of what passes to and fro, and deals with differences only in
quantities Q expenses, wages, quantities of goods and their prices; pounds,
shillings and pence. It is about making things, but always making more of the
same. A virtual relation is about the differences between places and about what
passes between them. It is about how places differ without forgetting they are
connected, and about how they are connected without forgetting that they
differ. The virtual side of a vector is all the things that might happen across
the terrain it creates that are singular, unique, unrepeatable events Q
experiences that exceed all categories.

Now that we find ourselves enmeshed in a new net of vectors, those of global
communication, all the old anxieties about this vulnerable island continent
with its fragile soils and fragile culture come back in one form or another,
like the chant of the dead. There's the feeling of being caught up in new
potentials. There's the feeling of dread, of loss that goes with this, and the
tendency to reach for the comfort of identity, to draw a hard line between what
is 'us' and what is foreign. But the coming of global media, of cyberspace, is
also the virtual come calling. A challenge to let cultures propagate and
proliferate along new lines.

When antipodes appear, it is because a space exists within which both poles
are produced. For me, that space, my history, is the sea. Or rather, that space
is what vectoral technologies, when applied to the sea, made possible. What
possibilities can be made actual if the resources of the world could be brought
into proximity with each other? Many possibilities, only some of which were
realised, like the British Empire. One could think of better things to realise
out of the virtual world of vector, just as one could think of better things to
do for Margaret Wark's asthma than the climate of New Zealand.

Experiencing antipodality is unsettling. There is nothing uniquely Australian
about it, although it is a common enough structure of feeling in Australian
life.15 This is a place which is always in a relation to an elsewhere, which is
always defined by its relation to a powerful other. Sometimes it's our
imaginary friends: the British or the Americans. Sometimes it's spectral
threats: the reds, the blacks, the yellow peril. There's the endless temptation
to want to identify completely, for or against the powerful other: Washington
or Moscow, the British crown or Confucian 'values'.

I think that these days the experience of antipodality is growing ever more
common. The globalisation of trade flows and cultural flows made possible by
information technology re-opens the old wounds of identity, breaking the skin
at unexpected places. The volume and velocity of information in circulation
keeps rising. Popular music, cinema and television, the raw materials of
popular culture, are increasingly sold into global markets in accordance with
transnational financing and marketing plans. Suddenly cultural identity looks
like it is in flux. The relations and the flows are more clearly in view than
the sources or destinations. Images don't seem to be representations any more,
of the ideal or the typical. They seem to just proliferate and differentiate
from each other.

Cultural differences are no longer so tied to the experience of the
particularities of place. These 'vertical' differences, of locality, ethnicity,
nation are doubled by 'horizontal' differences, determined not by being rooted
in a particular place but by being plugged into a particular circuit. Both free
market liberalism and the feminist movement are instances of contemporary
'horizontal' movements of difference, both now caught up in a crossflow with
'vertical' ones of the nation and ethnicity. We vainly try to hold a shaking
umbrella over forms of difference that are rapidly blowing away with the
vectoral winds.16 And then we find that the umbrella of identity has blown away
as well.

This new experience of difference is an experience of an active trajectory
between places, identities, formations, rather than a drawing of borders, be
they of the self or place. This is antipodality. Antipodality is the cultural
difference created by the vector. The acceleration of the vectors of
transnational communication makes this antipodality more common. With satellite
TV beaming into every part of the globe that can afford it, with the internet
spreading from west to east, many people are experiencing it. In the
overdeveloped world, both the culture of everyday life and the culture of
scholarly thinking about the present seem to me to betray traces of unease if
not downright paranoia about antipodality. Yet it is the emergent axis of
technocultural conflict.

What would things be like if the vector was perfected? What if there were no
blinds to keep out the light? Imagine; but imagine carefully. Don't think
utopia, the best of all possible worlds. Don't think dystopia, which is just a
utopian dream turned upsidedown. Think all the consequences and possibilities
at once. Think of the future as a heterotopia, a mix of different kinds of
space. 'Perhaps we have not become abstract enough.'17 What would it mean to
become more abstract, ever more abstracted from the boundedness of territory
and subjectivity? One can imagine a delirious future, beyond cyberspace. Not
the future of Marx's communism: from each according to their abilities, to each
according to their needs. Rather the future of the abstract, virtual space of
the vector made actual: where third nature is not just a space of resentful
imaginings of the other, nor of feverish gambling on potentials that promise
only more of the same, but a zone of indifference for free creatio!  n. Better
living by design. The question to ask is why this is not coming to pass, as

1 McKenzie Wark, The Virtual Republic, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1997

2 John Prebble, The Highland Clearances, Penguin Books, Harmonds,worth, 1969,
p. 304. Other books in his series of narrative 'histories from below' of key
events in modern Scottish history are:  Culloden, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth,
1967; The Darien Disaster, Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, 1968; Glencoe:
Story of the Massacre, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1968. His autobiography is
Landscapes and Memories, HarperCollins, London, 1994.

3 See McKenzie Wark, 'Third nature', Cultural Studies vol. 8, no. 1, Jan. 1994,
pp. 115-132.

4 See Jeremy Bentham, The Panopticon Writings, Verso, London, 1988.

5 Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore, Collins Harvill, London, 1987, p. 123.

6 See McKenzie Wark, Virtual Geography: Living With Global Media Events,
Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Ind., 1994, pp. 11-14.

7 The most readable account of Harrison's work is Dava Sobel's delightful
little book Longitude, Fourth Estate, London, 1996.

8 McKenzie Wark, 'The logistics of perception', Meanjin vol. 49, no. 1, Autumn

9 Bernard Smith, European Vision and the South Pacific, Oxford University
Press, Oxford, 1989. See also Peter Beilharz, Imagining the Antipodes: Culture,
Theory and the Visual in the Work of Bernard Smith, Cambridge University Press,
Cambridge, 1997.

10 Thomas Richards, The Imperial Archive: Knowledge and the Fantasy of Empire,
Verso, London, 1993.

11 Geoffrey Bolton, The Oxford History of Australia Volume 5: The Middle Way
1942-1995, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1996, p. 91.

12 On Ultimo: Deidre Macken, 'Asia's southern suburb' Sydney Morning Herald, 6
Sept. 1996; Leonie Lamont, 'Life in a fish bowl can sure beat suburbia' Sydney
Morning Herald, 13 July 1996; Peter Lalor, 'There goes the neighbourhood' Daily
Telegraph, 21 Sept. 1996; and on the east versus the west of Sydney: Deidre
Macken, 'A city divided' Sydney Morning Herald, 5 October, 1996.

13 Manuel Castells, The Informational City, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1989.

14 William Gibson, Neuromancer, Ace Books, New York, 1984; Count Zero,
Gollancz, London, 1988; Mona Lisa Overdrive, Bantam, New York, 1988. See also
Scott Bukatman, Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science
Fiction, Duke Univesity Press, Durham, NC, 1993; Mark Dery, Escape Velocity
Cyberculture at the End of the Century, Grove Books, New York, 1996.

15 See Ross Gibson's essays, especially his reading of Mad Max in South of the
West, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Ind., 1992.

16 Roland Robertson, Globalisation: Social Theory and Global Culture, Sage
Books, London, 1992.

17 Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and
Schizophrenia, vol. 1, Athlone Press, London, 1984, p. 321.
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