Archive for the ‘Brian Massumi’ Category

Brian Massumi “Requiem for Our Prospective Dead”

March 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Massumi, Brian 1998. Requiem for Our Prospective Dead (Toward a Participatory Critique of Capitalism). – Kaufman, Eleanor; Heller, Kevin Jon (eds). Deleuze and Guattari: New Mappings in Politics, Philosophy, and Culture. Minneapolis; London: University of Minnesota Press: 40-64

The object of capitalist power does not preexist the exercise of that power. Productive power is exercised on points of indeterminacy: on molecules of genericness fusing singular atoms of sociality in an unstable primal soup of power. (54)

Every socially recognized class is a potential market. Productive capitalist power is directly a market-expansion tool; and conversely, every market-expansion tool is directly a form of capitalist power. The creation of a niche market through advertising is the creation of niche power-object that is also a potential political constituency. Social emergence, the irruption of new forces of existence, are precapitalized. In other words, the power to exist has been transformed into an internal variable of the capitalist supersystem. (55)

Life and death are fused in the generic figure of „humanity“ in crisis, then are reparticularized, reimplanted, proceduralized, and valorized in a variety of ways. (55)

It is as artificial to separate command from control as it is to separate death from life. Command (power over life, power of death) and control (power to enliven), though really distinct, cofunction. They are intervowen into the fabric of everyday life, and their uneasy ground-level mixes can be seen to lie along the same continuum of power. On that continuum, the quality of their respective effects converge. On the one hand, the command subtraction of a potential provokes a reflexive evasion or adaptive alteration: command is also productive of life; control is its by-product. On the other hand, the field of noncoercive, incitative, power-of-control channelings is punctuated and porously delimited by command attacks, to which it regularly appeals in self-defense. Command and control are reciprocal by-products, as are life and death. (56)

Foucault’s disciplinary institutions can be seen as normative command centers radiating control, productive less of sovereignty than of eddies of social order. (56)

„Control“ is best taken in a sense close to its cybernetic sense: systems’ control of input, output, and the transformative operations effected in the autonomous machine – applied to bodies (defined as broadly as possible, to include images) rather than to information. (57)

Control involves the assimilation of powers of existence, at the moment of their emergence (their phased passing), into a classificatory schema determining normative orbits around which procedural parameters for negotiation and advocacy are set. It has to do with the production of socially valorized normative entities. (57)

The meaning of normative has changed. Normativity becomes synonymous with collective visibility and social operativity – with living itself (and with illness and death „with dignity“, in other words actively transformed int an affirmation of life). (57)

The principle of modulation states that the capitalist supersystem must be characterized, globally, as a modulatory social control system conditioned by and conditioning command (the „political“ defined narrowly as autocratic decision backed by effective force). (58)

Deviance, decoding, and structural escape are also, in effect, determined (as channeled transformative passage, captive social fluidity productive of new norms, codes, symbolic structures). (59)

In the deregulatroy environment of contemporary capitalism, every apparatus of government power is under intense pressure to reinvent itself as a self-reflective, self-producing system subordinated less to the will of a „people“ than to measurable output criteria defined in directly capitalist terms („productivity“ and „profitability“). (59)

Resistance, if it is possible (and again, I think it is), needs to be reinscribed in the generic. As it is usually conceived, resistance starts from a particularity and either defends or deepens that particularity. But particularity is an effect of the very system of determination that resistance is meant to resist. It is a reductive embodiment of the singular-generic in a serially determinate, normatively specifiable entity. Resistance must be reconceptualized as an operation on the generic: its direct embodiment as multply singular. The tactical embodiment of the groundless ground of capitalist power would short-circuit its channelings. It would dephase controlled emergence: in other words, envelop locally the globality of its phasings (this is the technical definition of „singularity“ in chaos theory). Resistance would be the condensation of vital powers of emergence – and multiple deaths. In other words, it would define itself less as an oppositional pracitce than as a pragmatics of intensified ontogenesis: at life’s ledge. This is the countercapitalist principle of vitalist metaconstructivism. This principle can only be fully theorized through its own pragmatic application. In other words, experimentation. (60)