Archive for the Reactions Category

A Dialectic Of Normality

Posted in Reactions, Speculation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2014/04/13 by las Pétroleuses

Today, I just finished reading the very interesting Nihilist Communism. In what I see as the major text of the book, which comes at its end (it begins, after a 2009 introduction by Frere Dupont–the one of the book’s two authors who did not completely abandon politics in the wake of their project–with an edited set of letters between the two authors, and follows with a collection of various articles and interventions the pair produced), “Cruelty, or, the Inclusion of the Distributive Sphere,” the author(s) engage in a very pointed analysis of the movements of the Seventies. (This period of time has been the subject of a remarkable amount of analysis in the decades since; it’s hard not to conclude that, despite the mutually-exclusive nature of many of these analyses, they all refer to something real. In Lacanese, they are so many Imaginary narratives trying to make sense of the injunction of a Real trauma into the Symbolic order of everyday life. Consider: postmodernity, de-industrialization/post-industrial society, Autonomia’s (in)famous notion of “immaterial labor” or what Hardt & Negri will later re-name “biopolitical production”, the communisateurs’ narrative of the “death of programmatism”, etc…) On a certain level, the thrust of Monsieur Dupont’s analysis touches on recurring theme of capitalist civil society: the relation between the individual and society in terms of “normality” or “normalcy.” Here, I will simply lay out some rough thoughts in my preferred form of a dialectical quartet.

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Fate, or, Machine of Death

Posted in Reactions with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2013/09/11 by las Pétroleuses

If you’re familiar with the webcomics scene, a few years ago you might have heard of a book called Machine of Death. It was edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki !, being an anthology of about two-and-a-half dozen short stories all involving some form of machine which can unerringly predict one’s death. Needless to say the machine’s predictions (printed in as few words as possible on a business card) are “ironically vague;” my personal favorite illustration of this is from the last story in the book (“Cassandra”): a guy’s card reads “ASTEROID”, and so for months is followed around by scientists waiting to pick up the rock as it’s still hot from space; he dies during the filming, in a museum, of a documentary about him, when a display falls over and an old asteroid hits him in the head.

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“America’s not a country, it’s a business. Now fuckin’ pay me.”

Posted in Reactions with tags , , , , , on 2013/04/13 by las Pétroleuses

Killing Them Softly is an adaptation of the crime novel Cogan’s Trade, about a contract killer (the eponymous Jackie Cogan, played by Brad Pitt) hired to kill “three morons” after they rob a mafioso card game. In a world of crime movies increasingly relying on complex plots, late-game reveals and twists, Killing Them Softly is refreshingly straightforward, which also allows it to make a strong political commentary that may or may not be in the original novel–I have no way of knowing. Bluntly: KTS is the best fictional account of the 2007-08 financial crisis and the political response to it yet made. It ain’t directly revolutionary, but it’s a start. (Spoilers!)

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The Bat & The Cat, or, Gotham City & Arkham City

Posted in Reactions with tags , , , , , , on 2013/02/11 by las Pétroleuses

One of my long-term pet projects is an analysis of Batman as a fundamental myth or legend of US culture. This piece can be seen as a sort of aside in the course of that project.

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“Where do you wanna go?”

Posted in Reactions with tags , , , , on 2013/01/21 by las Pétroleuses

Those are the last words of Zero Dark Thirty, which, thankfully, is not as patriotic as you might fear. (Spoilers.) Don’t get me wrong: it perpetuates the post-9/11 version of the (Cold War) US myth of the CIA (or torture) as a necessary evil. (From a radical perspective, this is, still, a symptom of the film otherwise erasing the existence of US imperialism.) But at the same time, its position on the 9/11 era is a question: “well, Usama’s dead, [did you know that that’s how the US government spells his name now? I didn’t] it’s over. What now? Was it worth it?” I don’t know what the movie’s answer to those questions are, and I also don’t care.

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