Juggling economies and unknotting threads, Victor Vitanza pulls back to drop the curtain, theoretically, on The Politics of Information.
Two Gestures, While Waiting for a Third
Two Gestures, While Waiting for a Third
“The suggestion has been made - and this is certainly possible - that once humanity has returned to itself, it may no longer have a human form and thus appear as the fulfilled animality of homo sapiens. The suggestion has also been made - and this is equally possible - that with the supremacy of the Absolute’s orientation toward the past, the fulfilled figure of the human may instead have the form of a book that forever gathers and recapitulates in its pages all the historical figures of humanity, such a book being a volume published by Goebhard of Bamberg in April 1807 under the title Die Phänomenologie des Geiste (The Phenomenology of Spirit). This - but not only this - is certainly possible.”
-Giorgio Agamben, Potentialities, 125-26
This opening dis/orientation points to what I attend to in this essay. But I am not a Hegelian, right or left. But perhaps a post-Hegelian far left of what is Humanistically possible. And therein lies a third, if not a becoming-fourth, silent Gesture.
About “Gesture I,” the reader might think that I am not writing at all on the topic of this volume - un/namely, How technological e.utopianism (The Wild, Wild HyperWest, the “Reign of freedom”) has turned into a technological dystopia (A HyperDisney Property, “the Reign of necessity”). It is hoped, however, that the reader will come to see that “Gesture I” is about the end of the conditions for the possibilities of the binary e.utopia/dystopia. The end of any restricted economy of idealism/materialism, necessity/freedom, or any dyadic or binary system. The ends of the conditions for control. Beings will - whatever beings would - prefer not to control. So as to begin to live fully without ressentiment.
My hope is that “Gesture II” will be read as an evocation to see (theorize) that the coming community of humanity will have, yet “no longer have[,] a human form.” By which I mean, “humanity” will have overcome the conditions of human/nonhuman but also overcome a technological posthuman(ism). I am not necessarily writing about cyborgs. I write, instead, about an involutionary becoming (cf. Deleuze and Guattari, Thousand Plateaus 238-39) without qualities and content (cf. Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities, wherein wo/man is “in between” subject/object). I write about what Giorgio Agamben refers to as “whatever beings” (cf. Agamben’s The Man Without Content, wherein wo/man is aesthetically - and yes, politically - not indifferent, but in-different). “Gesture II” is about humanity (human beings) having the form of a book that possibly becomes in “Gesture III” the Net, the Web. Perhaps the stupid Web, definitely the enchained or (k)noted Web. Or, what Hélène Cixous refers to as a third body.
Gesture I. Some reWorkings of (the Event of) History
My assemblages of theory-fictions are un/namely
* that Capitalism, as a so-called economic system, is on the verge of Being not what we ever thought it was;
* that whatever Capitalism is - as ingenious and as virulent as it has been - it is undergoing a catastrophic metamorphosis;
* that Capitalism is losing any sense of centrality, hence, authority and control in the old or the new.est economies (or even the Net or Web);
(A parenthetical explanation: This change in Capitalism is being brought about by shifts not only in political economies but also in discursive, libidinal, and all economies, which in turn are being brought about by a diminishing of the power of the negative [negation, negativity]. A diminishing, yet augmentation, as in values revalued, as in imminently reversible I am purposely avoiding the use of “immanence” or “immanent,” as in “immanent reversibility,” and instead am calling on “imminent” to avoid the problem of the myth of presence and infinity. binaries becoming ternaries +. With Capital, no longer being capable of maintaining the form of a body. I am assuming, therefore - in a telegraphic style here, for time is running short - full discussion of the shifts in economies from
1. a Nation-State Economy [a restricted economy] through
2. a Global (New) Economy [a limnal one] to
3. a General Economy [a “general economy”].
The difference (cum différance then differend) between the first and third economies, as G. W. Leibniz, Georges Bataille, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, Hélène Cixous, et al., explain, is the difference between lack [scarcity based on the binary] and excess [exuberance unbased by the re/introduction of the radical, oscillating modal shifts that allow for the return of the excluded third + body]. A diminishing of the negative also brings about a general libidinal economy:
1. not one sex [male],
2. nor two sexes [M/F or F/M],
3. but an exuberance of sexes [M, F, Hermaphrodites, Merms, Ferms, etc.]
When the negative loses its control over possibilities and potentialites, the negative topoi of species (proper)-genus (common)-differentiae [diaeresis] no longer restrict or sort out in order to hold things in their so-called proper places. Things just flow and mix in general, non-categorically. Remember Lyotard’s Marx in Libidinal Economy, bisexualized - becoming hermaphrodite - into old man and young woman, with Marx coming to understand his “work cannot form a body, just as capital cannot form a body” [102; Lyotard’s emphasis]. Marx is caught in a libidinal flow, writing, not necessarily without end, the book.less of libidinal flows, from notes through papers to articles becoming chapters to Capital I, then II, then III and some ever more [96-97].
When a general economy causes all things to flow and mix in perverse ways - i.e., contrary to culture [ nomos ], causes all things to flow but in a new dis/concert, then, as Hegel says, a “pure culture” or culture as perversion forms, wherein good and bad [or evil] implode and make for no difference, or rather make [for] in-difference [ Phenomenology 314-17]. But this flow and mix, these indifferentiae do not lead to a radical nihilism, or to the notion that human beings can be whatever they wish; rather, as Agamben makes clear in terms of ethics/éthos, “there is in effect something that humans are and have to be, but this something is not an essence nor properly a thing: It is the simple fact of one’s own existence as possibility or potentiality ” (Community 43; Agamben’s emphasis). In parallel fashion, each is “hir” own sex and each is the sum of the potential of “one’s own existence” or éthos in one’s own éthea (or the name that is no name of the place adjacent to common place). In this general flow-scape, human beings step out of Virgil’s Aeneid and into the threshold of Ovid’s book of changes, becoming the form of a sublime book that is not less a book than the world. Baudrillard has written:
Once the orgy was over liberation was seen to have left everyone looking for their generic and sexual identity - and with fewer and fewer answers available, in view of the traffic in signs and the multiplicity of pleasures on offer. That is how we became transsexuals - just as we became transpoliticals: in other words, politically indifferent and undifferentiated beings, androgynous and hermaphroditic…transvestites of the political realm. [ Transparency, 24-25; cf. Agamben, Community 48-50]).
To recapitulate, before this long parenthesis, I claimed that Capitalism is losing any sense of centrality, hence, authority and control in the old or the new.est economies. To continue where I left off: I wrote:
* that human beings have been living (more so dying, yet undergoing metamorphosis, returning to themselves) within the grandest of abstractions, un/namely, that they create the world, create value;
And now (contrary-wise), I write:
* that human beings do make value, but they make it as human beings cannot not do: they make it as creatures rotten with perfection! (see Burke Language, Ch. 1) That is, they establish congregation by way of segregation, or by way of a private, privileged finitude;
* that human beings, though rotten with perfection, are nonetheless led by the imp of the perverse to the third degree…that is, they would be the personification of absolute infinity (infinitude);
There is another way to get to this point.less concerning Who or What makes value and How all things move toward valuelessness: Unnamely,
* that use-value has become supplementary to exchange value, contributing to the commodification of our lives, our history;
(Marx writes: “Their [the exchanger’s] movement within society has for them the form of a movement made by things, and these things, far from being under their control, in fact control them” [Capital 1 167-68].) And yet the times, not necessarily restricted by commodification, are a-changing! We relate to each other - will have communicated with each other - as value itself metamorphosizes from
1. use-value through
2. exchange-value to
3. sign-value and now to what Baudrillard calls
+. fractal-[assemblage]-value [viral, radiant] [ Transparency of Evil 5].
Let me emphasize, this most radical change is continuing on to sign-value and then fractal-[assemblage]-value. And event.ually [as in a poetics of Ereignis ] to what I will call whatever-value. As Baudrillard claims, “we are no longer a part of the drama of alienation; we live in the ecstasy of communication” [“Ecstasy,” 130].)
But Why? Is this Happening? In this theory-fiction? I really do not know Why! Perhaps, un/namely,
* that the nonpositive-affirmative essence of matter is to change [virally, radiantly];
* that therefore “human beings” become event.ually, by way of whatever-value, posthuman [assemblage] matter;
* that the end of man and woman (their dyadic finitude) of meta/physics is upon us, just as the end of philosophy (its finitude) has been upon us;
Perhaps, a better answer to the question Why? is un/namely
* that human beings will event.ually become - when humanity returns to itself - posthuman not because of “technology.” Or specifically because of “cybernetics,” but by way of radically negated (i.e., denegated) possibilities and potentialities;
(Most writing on technology still lingers in a Victorian, Industrial Revolutionary notion of technology. And most, if not all, “critiques” of virtuality, new economy, and vivisystems [as, e.g., put forth against (contra to) such thinkers as Kevin Kelly] recapitulate the same misreadings by way of a Victorian terministic and a Wienerian cybernetics screen. With the end of technologized cybernetics comes now the new task of reThinking - not cybernetics - but Leibnizean modalities of possibilities and potentialities.)
In tiny sums: Negation is withdrawing (see Vitanza, Negation). The conditions for centralized authority, therefore, incrementally will have passed away. Binarisms are imploding and then dispersing. To be regathered in trans-radical-multiplicities. (Into Third figures, other than genus and species.) Without recycling (ricorso), though oscillating modally back to One and two. After the orgy, after use-value has made the long metamorphosis to whatever-value, there will be no return to “use” or “exchange.” Only “Ecstasy.” In a General economy. The “new man” that Marx had expected - and would still expect - will be, but not as, heretofore, expected. It is not the content or qualities of freedom over necessity (necessity/freedom) in human beings that must be recovered in their so-called authenticity, but it is the discovery of the removal of such (all) things as they are or would be. The “Would-BEs” (the bourgeoisie) are passing. The “Workers” (the proletariat), passing. Into a General economy (Bataille). A genus-less (class-less) and, more so, species-less socious (a nonhuman coming community), a whatever-singularities community, will have form(less)ed. Whether or not this community will be
1. a private, privileged finitude or
2. a nightmarish, absolute infinitude or
3. a third possibility of an infinite finitude, “a community of finitude” (Nancy, Inoperative 27; cf. Sense 29-33)
…remains to be seen…
Gesture II. Some rePlayings of (the Event/s of) the Body
“…the hand’s gestures [ Gebärden ] run everywhere through language, in their most perfect purity precisely when man speaks by being silent”
-Martin Heidegger, Thinking, 16
Recently, I’ve become interested in the thought of Giorgio Agamben. In particular, his book The Coming Community. My interests lie in specifically how to transform sub-jectivity into its third terms while not denegating it beyond its being an effectual political agent. I am interested in what Agamben calls “whatever beings” (quodlibet) or “whatever singularities.” Whatever beings are paraproductions of radically denegated possibilities and potentialities. Specifically, in triadic terms of
1. Subjects (active) 2. Objects (passive) 3. “whatever beings” or “whatever singularities” (radical passivity [cf. Wall]).
As I have said, whatever beings are not particular (species) nor general (genus); instead, they are a set that is not a set, setless of radical singularities that are not in the realm of being but in the relation of being or presencing. But for now, we must ask, How did the advent of whatever beings come about? In dis/order to intuit this question, we need first to understand what attempts to hold subject-object, species-genus, together. We need to understand the schematic-productive process itself, which determines potentiality and, and therefore, what is possible. We must understand negation itself.
Genus-species analytics, or the realm of being: The scheme of production, not unfamiliar to school children, takes this traditional manner.ism: The defining (limiting) process, according to Aristotelian logic, is formalized as species (to be) genus (that) differentiae. Example: Aristotle tells us in Generation of Animals, “The female is…a mutilated male” (737a.27-28). Female is the species; a mutilated male is the genus. And you can guess what is implied in the differentiae! For Aristotle, there is only one sex! Therefore, what we can see in this definition is that what is possible is grossly limited, according to the logic of exaggerated exclusion, to a species in a genus that differs from all other species–but there is no other in that genus. Some thing “is” always something by virtue of what it is not (cf. Burke’s paradox of substance). What such thinking rules out as a possibility is one’s own sex.
For Agamben, this realm of being, defining, limiting, is what concomitantly determines what is possible. Hence, Agamben looks outside of the genus (common), looks at the excess, leftovers, remainders, for the excluded possibilities, potentialities. He looks, in other words, at the wider, more inclusive, beings of possible relations. And in finding what he finds in the excess, he attempts to represent the heretofore unrepresentable by way of a “third figure” that he calls indifferentiae (or “in-difference” towards, an undifferentiation between, species-genuses analytics) or by another he identifies historically as maneries, manare (which translates as “a manner of rising forth,” “originally engendered from its own manner”) that are multiple singularities (Community 27-28). This third figure of indifferentiae (i.e., in-difference against the differentiae) parallels Derrida’s notion of différance and Lyotard’s differend as well as Nancy’s (k)noting (Sense 103-17).
For Agamben “difference” must be set aside (the realm of being) in dis/order to realize What is potentially possible outside of what goes for the possible (the relation of being). Agamben sees all that does not count or qualify as content, nonetheless, as a paracontent or parameaning, which is against (not contra to, but alongside) meaning. Again, it is “one’s own” in one’s own éthea, the place that is alongside (Community 43). Agamben writes about “the Greek term, for example: para-deigma, that which is shown alongside”:
[T]he proper place of the example is always beside itself, in the empty space in which its undefinable and unforgettable life unfolds…It is the Most Common that cuts off any real community. Hence the impotent omnivalence of whatever being. It is neither apathy nor promiscuity nor resignation. These pure singularities communicate only in the empty space of the example, without being tied by any common property, by an identity. They…are the exemplars of the coming community.” (Community 10-11)
This paracontent and parameaning, though outside, is refolded or untied and re[k]noted inside. The refolding is perpetually refolded, a perpetual re-placing-into-relation. The question now in terms of resistance is:
How can these third figures be politically effective?
Towards a new rebeginning, or the relation of beings: I want to focus on Agamben’s exemplary “whatever beings” at Tiananmen Square and ask the question of politics in relation to an Informatics of Resistance. I will discuss Ereignis (the event of Appropriation) and its communicative model as it is growing out of “whatever value” into a “whatever politics.” The paramodel is one-cum-a-radical multiPLIcity of gesturing. The model is the WEB enchained, perpetually refolded, re-tied or -[k]noted. (And yet, what I am attending to is not only the Web!) Hence I will be talking about what Agamben refers to as “the new body [or realm] of humanity” (Community 50).
@TiananmenSquare: Agamben asks: “What could be the politics of whatever singularity, that is, of a being whose community is mediated not by any condition of belonging (being red, being Italian, being Communist [i.e., as a species belongs to a genus])…but by belonging itself? ” (Community 85). But for “us” this belonging - or any thing called a politics based/less on this belonging - is so difficult to understand since it is a belonging without a predisposition or State, a politics without taking a stand; after all, the very word “understand” itself is a stasis, status, State word. (See Burke 21, 23.) Whatever singularities have no understandings. They do not ask or demand or fight for recognition (Hegel, Kojeve). Among themselves. Or with “us.” Agamben reflects more:
What was most striking about the demonstrations of the Chinese May [Tiananmen] was the relative absence of determinate contents in their demands (democracy and freedom are notions too generic and broadly defined to constitute the real object of a conflict…).
The novelty of the coming politics is that it will no longer be a struggle for the conquest or control of the State, but a struggle between the State and the non-State (humanity), an insurmountable disjunction between whatever singularity and the State organization. This has nothing to do with the simple affirmation of the social in opposition to the State that has often found expression in the protest movements of recent years. Whatever singularities cannot form a societas because they do not possess any identity to vindicate nor any bond of belonging for which to seek recognition. (85-86)
The key words are “determinate contents,” “demands,” “identity” and “recognition.” The presence of these words and the absence of what they conceptualize in the students signal that the Hegelean and Kojevean principles of subject/object in a struggle unto death for recognition are no longer present - the principles are without quality and content - since the determinate negation has been set aside for the absolute, or abstract, negation (see Hegel, Phenomenology 51; Vitanza, Negation 82-86), in other words, since subjectivity/objectivity has been set aside for a Third as “humanity” or what Agamben calls whatever singularity or sovereignty. (It can also be said that this being set aside for the absolute, or abstract, negative is parallel to, if slightly different from, the Heideggerian Ereignis [the event of Appropriation], to which I will return.) Agamben continues:
What the State cannot tolerate in any way…is that the singularities form a community without affirming an identity, that humans co-belong without any representable condition of belonging (even in the form of a simple presupposition)…
A being radically devoid of any representable identity [without references] would be absolutely irrelevant to the State…Whatever singularity…is the principal enemy of the State. Wherever these singularities peacefully demonstrate their being in common there will be a Tiananmen, and, sooner or later, the tanks will appear. (86-87)
Ereignis (event): In a gesture, Agamben writes: “Whatever…is the event of the outside” (Community 67; Agamben’s emphasis). This event as it is im/properly named (Ereignis) is the Heideggerian event of the withdrawal of Being (assurance, foundations, of meaning and communication), or what I call the withdrawal of the negative (see Heidegger On Time; Vitanza “Hermeneutics”). Agamben explains: “what takes place is simply a movement of concealment without anything being hidden or anything hiding, without anything being veiled or anything veiling - pure self-destining without destiny, simple abandonment of the self to itself” (Potentialities 131; Agamben’s emphasis).
But this event is, rather than simply the withdrawal of Being, the event of Appropriation. (Expropriation of self to itself.) What Heidegger sees is the entry of Thinking into the event of the end of withdrawal’s history. Appropriation - as for Heidegger, so for Agamben - is not the realm of Being (of the early Being and Time 1926), but the relation of Being (of the later On Time and Being 1969). Heidegger writes: “Being [now] means: presencing, letting-be-present: presence” (On Time 10). Being - set loose from metaphysics (assurance, foundations), yet ever near it - is as in beings appropriated to each other, or as in beings abiding alongside each other (10-13, 19-24). Or as Nancy keeps insisting, as in beings re(k)noting in relation to each other (Sense 103-17).
The event of Appropriation is the moment of possibilities, potentialities. Whatever singularity, Agamben says, is without identity, is neither determinate nor indeterminate (no simple binary); “rather it is [a third alternative] determined only through its relation…to the totality of its possibilities [ presencing ]” (Potentialities 67). We might say that the event is the moment of the possibility of whatever singularities. This possibility, without the negative of the realm of being, hence is a potentiality comparable to a post-Leibnizean compossibility with various incompossibilities and their vicedictions (Theodicy). The term “vicediction” is substituted for the term and concept “contradiction.” For Leibniz there are not contradictions, only vicedictions, across incompossible worlds. This “totality” as such can only reside on the outside. The Task is to “Think” of it this way: All of meaning, made by negation, has by way of its various forms in the History of Being/s, finally been emptied outside.
Earlier I said “outside” was owing to defining (making meaning by exclusion). Outside was, still is, the place of waste. Non-meaning. Now, I can say, however, outside is the experience ” ‘at the door’…’at the threshold’ ” (Community 68). “The outside is not another space that resides beyond a determinate space, but rather, it is the passage, the exteriority that gives it access…The threshold is not…another thing with respect to the limit; it is, so to [gesture], the experience of the limit itself [i.e., of infinite finitude], the experience of being- within [Appropriation] an outside [Expropriation]. The ek-stasis is the gift that singularity gathers from the empty hands of humanity” (68; my emphasis). The ek-stasis is “multiple common place,” “the proper name of this unrepresentable space…the space adjacent [alongside, as an aside]” (25; cf. ” chora,” 14).
This communication of the event of Appropriation by way of gesturing with language, or asides, is part of the message-event to be experienced. (I have been, after all, gesturing with asides.) There is no analytic or synthetic language of the event of the outside, the Third! Hence, the body must drift with gesturings. If we keep Agamben as guideless a guide that is not a guide, then we might see the event as a moment of finitude (end, limit, Proper, death, a retreat to éthos in its own éthea, where one goes to die [yet be reborn?]).
Agamben is rereading Heidegger: “The finite [is] the end of the history of Being ” (Potentialities 128-29); it’s the withdrawal of negativity. The tradition of philosophy - with its universe of discourses, its discursive, restricted economies - has reached its end. What remains - as a remainder from which to gesture - is “an untransmissible transmission that transmits nothing but itself” (133). A general.discursive.economy @Outside.BodyWithoutOrgans (in a threshold, the e-passage), of gesturing alongside the former restricted discursive economy in the inside of meaning that is, once again, facing its radical finitude. Agamben writes: “Gesture is always the gesture of being at a loss in language; it is always a ‘gag’ in the literal sense of the word, which indicates first of all something put in someone’s mouth to keep him from speaking and, then, the actor’s improvisation to make up for an impossibility of speaking” (78). Hence: either to communicate (clearly, analytically) or to not communicate yields a third alternative of to gesture (the gag, asides).
But Agamben tells us that we have even lost our gestures (83), though they reappeared at Tiananmen. The students’ gestures were of a third type, which Agamben refers to as means without ends. The students made no demands. But gestured. With a gesture that belongs to ethics and politics, to the relation of beings (recall Heidegger’s Time and Being). Agamben explains that this third type requires setting aside the Aristotelian gesture of acting (agere) and making (facere), and taking up with the (Marcus) Varro.nian gesture of “something being endured and supported” (Means 56-57; cf. Nancy Sense, 103-17). Hence: either ends (justifying means) or means (justifying ends) yields to a third alternative of means without ends, enduring and supporting.
” The new body of humanity “:
The new body is made up of, as Paul Mann might say “stupid undergrounds”: “Everything is a matter of coding and decoding, a semiocratic delirium, what Bataille calls, in deadly earnestness, parody as copula as the illicit copulation of facts: this = this = this. The chain of evidence is endless, and at every point it adds up to the missing-One” (162; cf., however, Ronell, who warns us of the dangers behind a stupidity of infinity).
the Net and Web follow the paralogic of…WHATEVER! The Web is the easement. The site of in-difference to exclusion.
WHATEVERs prefer the coming community. In Be tween! In the “interworld” (Community 97). In Limbo (5-7). Living there, abandoned by God and Satan, Media Generals and State Pedagogues, abandoned beyond good and evil, and with “guilt and justice behind them…the life that begins on earth after the last day is simply human [yet whatever ] life” (6-7).
“The world is now and forever [either] necessarily contingent or contingently necessary. Between the not being able to not-be that sanctions the decree of necessity and the being able to not-be that defines fluctuating contingency, the finite world [finitude] suggests a contingency to the second [yet third alternative] power that does not found any freedom: It is capable of not not-being, it is capable of the irreparable” (Community 40; Agamben’s emphasis. Cf. Nancy’s discussion “we are born free ” in Experience 92).
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