// working on reproducing illustrations also pls excuse any formatting issues! had trouble converting to html xx //


// Awarded Honour of Excellence in the Field of Critical Theory, 2019 by the board of selectors from the Fine Art and Critical Studies department of the Glasgow School of Art //


Recapturing Difference

The Assimilating Desire of Late Liberalism and the Errantry of Joy

Colm Guo-Lin Peare

Word Count: 8797

Synopsis

This dissertation is concerned with how the self is constituted in a culture of what Elizabeth A. Povinelli has termed late liberalism, focusing on how this can be understood though postmodern imaginaries of movement rather than imaginaries of form. Chapter one explores the topological twist of the late 1960s and early 1970s in the governance of markets and the governance of difference through Michel Foucault’s theorisations of neoliberal governmentality and state racism. The second chapter traces the desire for assimilation that constitutes the late liberal subject back to Jacques Lacan’s extimate formulation of the self through the drive of jouissance. This ostensibly inherent tension of dissatisfaction is understood through the debt to Hegel’s conceptualisation of Aufhebung. The third chapter explores how the phantasms constructed by these theories can result in the engendering of violence by firstly aiming to define violence by its oscillational definition, and then understanding that any strategy to curtail and redistribute violence must be understood through the dimension of the becoming subject. The fourth chapter acts as a practical implementation of these theories and uses a transmedia augmented reality archive that has been proposed by the Karrabing Film Collective to understand how Édouard Glissant’s notion of errantry can offer an alternative phantasm to the tension of dissatisfaction, replacing it with the joy of inconclusiveness.

Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction Directionality After Postmodernism

Chapter 1 The Topological Twist Constitutive of Late Liberalism

Chapter 2 The Desire for Assimilation

Chapter 3 An Inaugural Violence: The Importance of Becoming

Chapter 4 The Errant Joy of Inconclusiveness

Conclusion A Threatened Beauty

Bibliography

List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Elizabeth A. Povinelli: Variations on the symphony of late liberalism. In Povinelli, Elizabeth A., Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism (Durham [N.C.]: Duke University Press, 2016), pp. 170–171.

Figure 2.1. Digital Dynamics Across Cultures. Digital screenshot. <http://vectors.usc.edu/issues/3/digitaldynamics/.> [Accessed 15th January 2019].—The landing page of the Warumungu web project.

Figure 2.2. Digital Dynamics Across Cultures. Digital screenshot. <http://vectors.usc.edu/issues/3/digitaldynamics/.> [Accessed 15th January 2019].—A page in the Warumungu web project with an image that is partially obscured following the ‘protocols’ of the Warumungu and due to my digital ‘social skin’.

Figure 2.3. Digital Dynamics Across Cultures. Digital screenshot. <http://vectors.usc.edu/issues/3/digitaldynamics/.> [Accessed 15th January 2019]

Figure 2.4. Digital Dynamics Across Cultures. Digital screenshot. <http://vectors.usc.edu/issues/3/digitaldynamics/.> [Accessed 15th January 2019]—A restricted page: ‘Some ceremonies are restricted to women only. Women who own the songs and dances and maintain the country decide together who should be allowed at ceremonies.’

Figure 3.1. Karrabing Film Collective, When the Dogs Talked, 2014. Film still.

Figure 3.2. Karrabing Film Collective, When the Dogs Talked, 2014. Film still.

Figure 3.3. Karrabing Film Collective, When the Dogs Talked, 2014. Film still.

Figure 3.4. Karrabing Film Collective, When the Dogs Talked, 2014. Film still.

Introduction

Directionality After Postmodernism

In actuality, dialectics does not liberate differences; it guarantees, on the contrary, that they can always be recaptured. The dialectical sovereignty of the same consists in permitting differences to exist but always under the rule of the negative, as an instance of nonbeing. They may appear to be the successful subversion of the Other, but contradiction secretly assists in the salvation of identities. Is it necessary to recall the unchanging pedagogical origin of dialec­tics? What ceaselessly reactivates it, what causes the endless rebirth of the aporia of being and nonbeing, is the humble classroom interro­gation, the student's fictive dialogue: ‘This is red; that is not red. At this moment, it is light outside. No, now it is dark.’ In the twilight of an October sky, Minerva's bird flies close to the ground: ‘Write it down, write it down,’ it croaks, ‘tomorrow morning, it will no longer be dark.’

Michel Foucault, from Theatrum Philosophicum1

I would like to begin with a small preface of sorts that attends to the state of critical theory today. It will hopefully act to place this dissertation in dialogue with the aims that define a certain contemporary criticality, for as Frederic Jameson states,

Any ontology of the present needs to be an ideological analysis as well as a phenomenological description; and as an approach to the cultural logic of a mode of production, or even of one of its stages—such as our moment of postmodernity, late capitalism, globalisation, is—it needs to be historical as well (and historically and economically comparatist).2

In many ways, Elizabeth A. Povinelli’s pressingly necessary conceptualisations form the backbone that subsist and buttress this dissertation, and so it seems pertinent to use the four axioms she has developed to typify contemporary critical theory for this cause. Three of these four axioms are orbiting points for today’s critical theorists, with the fourth ‘aspiring’ axiom currently in the process of crystallisation.3 They are as follows: existence is extimate; the powers to affect this extimacy vary according to circumstance and so are differential in nature; the forms of the event have multiplied, proliferated and lost their significance; and, lastly, the ‘coming’ axiom is the impossibility of mutual thriving. Povinelli points to the particularity of these axioms as being not solely concerned with creating ‘a new ontology of material to give me a hold on universal truth’4 but rather to ‘provide a directionality […] to dislodge a certain Deleuze.’5 This Deleuze would focus on the rhizomatic form without analysing the temporalities to be found within the directed movement of its roots. There is a fairly clear ring of this particular postmodernism in the claim that existence is extimate and this notion has been expounded on in Karen Barad’s concept of quantum entanglement that is resultant of her theory of Agential Realism,6 the webbed ecologies of Donna Haraway’s symbiogenesis,7 and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s resistance to alienation through conceptualising the phenomenon of the matsutake mushroom.8 However, what is also commonly present is the need to accentuate the fact that these knots of extimacy are formed due to current arrangements of power and thus also the exigency to refocus on Deleuze’s concept of the power to affect and the power to be affected by. The legacy of Latour's flat and evenly distributed Actor Network Theory, in which intentionality and agency are lost, and Graham Harman’s subsequent Object Oriented Ontology9 are born from a ‘certain Deleuze’ and a certain imaginary of form that Povinelli aims to disrupt.10 This requires a re-emphasising of agency within the rhizome and is nothing less than an attempt to ask how temporality, directionality and, because direction involves intent towards and morality informs intent, the formulation of ethics can be understood after postmodernism.

Jameson suggests postmodernity is defined in contradistinction from modernity by the ‘increasing predominance of space over time.’11 The structure of interdisciplinary research that typifies critical theory—and is enacted in this text— itself exists as a product of the schizophrenic turn away from the teleology of canonical studies. This emancipation from totalising intellectual regimes in favour of the momentary crystallisation of an assemblage has bled through our philosophies and in doing so has affected both the ontological and epistemological understandings of the self. Ideological frameworks unfold in codetermination with phenomenal happenings, space and time being both constitutive of our existence, and yet there has been a certain ‘postmodern reduction to the present of the revolutionary multitude.’12 Jameson leaves the question: can this ever be ‘little more than a television temporality, its raw material quickly exhausted, its future programming subject to Nielsen ratings it manufactures itself?’

This dissertation is concerned with how the self may be constituted in the culture of what Povinelli terms ‘late liberalism’ and the consequent violences held within these constituting phantasms. Jameson leaves the question posed above unanswered but I would like to suggest, in the specific context of this dissertation, that directionality must be extant if one has any hope of striking an ethical direction that could lead to violence being not annihilated—for this is ‘an abstraction so empty it could refer to anything’13 and a soft pluralisation that leads to the impossibility of the perfect redemptive future—but redistributed. This will be argued through the formulation of a resistance to the violence of assimilation that is characteristic of late liberalism. This dissertation aims to firstly use the theoretical lens to come to understand how the self is constituted, by coercion or acceptance, within the late liberal space while contextualising its conception by outlining the history of its political economy. I will then analyse the violence of the characteristically assimilating directionality that the late liberal self is constituted by and, in doing so, reposition focus on the agency of the rhizomatic root and the desire that pushes it, alternatively conceptualising its movement as errant. In a final speculation, the text turns to the unrealised transmedia project initiated by the Karrabing Film Collective that engages in a material redressal of socio-ethical problems through the utilisation of aesthetics to strike an ethical direction without reverting to a teleological notion of progress.

1

The Topological Twist Constitutive of Late Liberalism

Here, late liberalism is defined as a ‘concept-image’ developed by Povinelli to represent the environment that was first determined by a ‘topological twist’14 in the way both the governance of markets performed and the way difference was governed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Late liberalism cannot be defined by the linear and mounting progression of these two modes homogeneously occurring and advancing—these two strands of governance do not co-determine each other—but is rather demarcated in a manner which aims to counter the teleological by assembling disparate and particular instances of each or both happening. These ‘quasi-events’ can describe the ways in which the governance of markets exhibits neoliberal characteristics and/or instances of the governance of difference being enacted through a ‘politics of recognition’.15 Providing a singular timeline of its bordered effects and confining late liberalism to a specific period risks misconstruing there to be a temporal break between the then of each ‘Event’ that would progress late liberalism and the now of late liberalism’s continual happening that takes place multilaterally between these quasi-events. A linear conception of it would, in other words, conceal late liberalism’s pervasive, unanchored presentness and do injustice in representing the way power through governance moves and unfolds.16

The New International Economic Order Declaration of 1974

Such rhizomatic conceptions prove difficult to represent by the terms of logos and the linear rationality of text. Povinelli uses symphonic scores to more accurately represent power’s movement [Fig. 1]; ‘late liberalism is a citational power that is able to figure a series of geographically and temporally diverse and dispersed occurrences into a part of this thing we call liberalism.17 Therefore it cannot be, and cannot be represented as, a homogenising periodisation, rather it should ‘appear as the geographical assemblage of a social project’18. The score shows regions of affection that don’t resort to the ‘temporal imaginaries [that] are reinforced and circuited through a specific drama of a specific way of measuring harm relative to a form of eventfulness’19, and in doing so it helps elucidate the subjectifying processes of the governance of markets and the governance of difference.

Such a quasi-event that I would like to utilise here, and which has relation to both strands of governance mentioned above, can be found in that ever influential failure—that initial death of such unsparing completion that, paradoxically, the resulting ghost gained such force and longevity (or as Jennifer Wenzel calls it, ‘an unfailure’20)—the New International Economic Order (NIEO) United Nations declaration of 1974. Following the riots of 1968 in Paris and just preceding the Washington Consensus, this quasi-event (that cannot, be described by the defining catastrophe of the Event which would demand a total break in perspective) provides a contextual footing to the ill-defined and sprawling notion of the current economic period. Forged in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development led by Raúl Prebisch, the NIEO was an agenda pushed by a bloc of 77 countries (the G-77) in the Global South, sponsored by the growing Non-Aligned Movement, that pushed for an alternative international economic order. The hope was that this would redress the structural economic bias towards old imperial states in the North in which the relationship between commodity producing states and manufacturers slowly but inevitably become disadvantageous to the former.

During the decolonisations that took place in the third quarter of the twentieth century, a great many more formally independent states were born in the South which lead to a greater reach of power for developing nations through the utilisation of the one-state one-vote mechanism of the UN General Assembly. What was hoped to be achieved was a restructuring, but not an overturning, of the ‘embedded liberalism’21 of the Bretton Woods financial order that was instigated in the postwar period by the Allied powers of the Global North. Once the Bretton Woods order had run out its life and its goals of redeveloping a postwar Western Europe were completed, it became a burden that limited the spending of Northern Governments.22 Nixon’s consequent instigation of the gold standard collapse of 1971 and the dissolution of the fixed exchange rate regime that lay at the heart of the Bretton Woods order was the moment of volatility that at once provoked the G-77 to push for the NIEO reforms while the G-7 were to use the opportunity to influence and empower the old Bretton Woods institutions, namely the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (now part of the World Bank Group and which for our purposes I will continue to call the World Bank).23 These institutions were to move their attentions from the redevelopment of Western Europe to the developing economies of the South but with the profound development of adding a caveat in the form of the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs), which would be first implemented after the Mexico default of 1982. The SAPs were conditions of structural economic change that would accompany any loan, with the higher the risk factor (which were commonly attributed to developing nations in the South) the more severe the conditions.

Along with the swelling political and economical power of the OPEC nations (and the resulting embargo in 1973), the United State’s coming defeat in Vietnam, and the radical and dissenting politics of identity led by domestic subalterns that were increasingly adopting the foreign subaltern’s ‘emergent language of transnational racial and economic emancipation’24, the NIEO was seen as another blow to the foundations of the North’s power and a crisis of governability25 in which the hegemonic power systems the North had utilised since the postwar period and beyond were finally breaking apart.26 If we follow a public choice analysis, this crisis of governability consequently leads the publics of the North (especially in the US post-Nixon) to grow increasingly suspicious of the capabilities of government and unwilling to place faith in the institution as a power for positive change. This results in the election of Reagan and then Thatcher who were to usher in the period of neoliberal capitalism that would be typified by the hollowing out of the state and the global stretch of the IMF and the World Bank through the use of the SAPs.27 Many of the conditions laid out in these programmes were intensely neoliberal in character: the cutting of government spending and the implementation of austerity policies; the privatisation of state-owned industries; the deregulation of markets to increase competition; and the opening up of economies to free trade.28 What we see here is the relationship between the formerly entwined yet definably separate strands of political governance and economic governance being profoundly altered by the subsumption of the former into the latter. Through the Bretton Woods institutions, a neo-colonial enforcement of a certain cognitive schema was enacted and a certain ideology was to ramify outwards and its implementations to proliferate on a global scale.

The Governance of Markets and Foucault’s Neoliberal Governmentality

The NIEO declaration is interesting precisely for the fact that the, in many ways antithetical, following economic order achieved two things: the globalisation of neoliberal ideology and the absorption of the decolonisation movement and other radical social movements of the 1960s, which were making ‘the way liberalism governed difference [undergo] a serious legitimacy crisis. That whole civilisational rhetoric in its multiple forms just [could] not fly anymore’.29 As stated before, these twists in governance do not determine each other but they are related by how they mutate liberal ideology, with the governance of markets executing a neoliberal subjectivation and the governance of difference determining the limits of a subject’s divergence from the normative framework of late liberalism.

Firstly, then, it would be beneficial to understand how neoliberalism can both be an economic model and an ideologically driven subjectivation process. Shortly after the NIEO declaration, during the 1977-1978 academic year, Foucault delivered the lecture series Sécurité, Territoire, Population at the Collège de France.30 It is here that Foucault made the claim that government is firstly a practice and, consequently, will always be facilitated by specific rationalities; the key to understanding different operations of power is to realise how certain practices destabilise or deploy these powers. These practices construct how individuals are subjected in a society and if we are to study government as a practice then, and not as ‘a theory or an ideology—and even less, certainly, as a way for ‘“society” to “represent itself…”’31 but instead as a manière de faire, or a ‘way of doing’32, liberalism becomes ‘a principle and a method of rationalising the exercise of government, a rationalisation that obeys—and this is its specificity—the internal rule of maximum economy.’33 From here we may see how the liberal and the consequent mutation of the neoliberal subject is constituted.

Foucault posits that it is the collapse of feudalism in the 16th century and the establishment of new territorial states that replaces monarchical power by a liberalist art of government that is typified by its primary concern of economy. The Birth of Biopolitics charts this trajectory from the sovereign state to classical liberalism and finally on to the contemporary emergence of neoliberalism; from the sovereign power that maintains feudal territory, and is rationalised by philosophical or divine reasoning, to a biopolitical power that is typified by ‘the problem of population34. This can be understood in Foucault’s much cited distinction between sovereign power and biopower, with the prior being the power to ‘take life or let live' and the latter being the ‘power to foster life or disallow it to the point of death.’35 Neoliberalism, as explained by Foucault to be formed by the Chicago School,36 and the ideology that the IMF and World Bank would align with, takes this biopolitical subjectivation through the management of population and pushes it into an exacerbated mutation by placing at the core of its rationality the homo oeconmicus; here we see the birth of the man whose moral responsibilities are redefined by economic rationality. In classical liberalism, the freedom of the individual is understood to be a natural freedom (see Hobbes’ Robinson Crusoe figure in the State of Nature37) and is the ‘technical precondition for rational government, […] an external limit at the inviolable core of governmental action’.38 Conversely neoliberalism sees this man’s behaviour as manipulable and ‘the correlative of a governmentality which systematically changes the variable “environment”’39. Of course, that which constitutes the neoliberal subject will also constitute the formation of what a neoliberal governmentality comprises of, and vice versa. In Foucault’s conception of governmentality, there are many ways in which governance can be enacted, ranging from formal political governance (more related to ‘techniques of power’, or a subjugation by an other) to what Foucault describes as ‘the technology of the self’ (or techniques of self-regulation). Neoliberalism can be understood to be the dispersal of the boundary between these two polarities. There is a transformation in which the classical liberalist market as a domain of justice becomes a form of truth for neoliberalism: the state’s rationality cannot be separated from the rationality of the market—it is the same—and therefore, the subject’s rationalisation must be this replica too.40

The neoliberalist credo that we contend with today furthers the belief that the ‘coding of social existence as an enterprise was at the same time a politics of rendering the social domain economic and a “vital policy”’41, and so the ideal becomes the complete dissipation of the difference between the social and economic spheres. The reason of its success lies in how it recodes the coercive strategies and techniques of domination into the ‘self-care’, ‘self-determination’ and ‘self-fulfilment’ of the neoliberal’s subject’s techniques of the self. It creates an illusion that the free-market state of pure competition is already inherently and naturally extant in the human condition. Its success, then, is that it can claim and condition the belief that, as the Thatcherite maxim insists, There Is No Alternative.

The Governance of Difference and Foucault’s State Racism

It is this conception of the ‘market as the site of “veridiction”’ for neoliberalism that is one of the factors that Wendy Brown uses to define it from classical liberalism, ‘the market becomes the, rather than a site of veridiction and becomes so for every arena and type of human activity.’42 It is also this, then, that gives rise to a biopolitical mode of governance and provides the source at which both the liberal mutation of the governance of markets and the governance of difference can be traced to, specifically because any logic that is not one formulated by market forces is refuted on the basis that they are not just irrational but actually refuse reality.43 Herbert Marcuse calls this the ‘closing of the political universe’44, in which all alternatives to this economic model are annihilated by claiming that their foundations rely on a deluded understanding of practical economy. Therefore, the liberal atomisation of the individual suffers an inverted twist so that the contestation of difference is replaced by a political homogeneity: all ‘economic partners produce a consensus, which is a political consensus, inasmuch as they accept this economic game of freedom.’45 This closing off from alterity through a governance of power that utilises the notion of personal freedom is the great absorbing potential of neoliberalism.

The topological twist in the governance of difference is an enactment of this absorption. Before the politics of recognition, liberalism’s most prominent mode of governing difference was through what Foucault termed ‘state racism’. One of biopower’s main utilities is the technology of security, or techniques of control that promise to secure the safety and normative way of life of a population, and this utility is easily coerced into justifying racism. Some early instances of this can be seen to be enacted in settler colonial societies with liberal governments, in which ethnicity and the construct of race is used to create a hierarchy of peoples that are ‘often conceived in terms of a social-Darwinist construal of the struggle of the fittest.’46 The notion of state racism unfolds in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is used to justify apartheids and, most extremely, genocides by using the biopolitical reasoning that ‘the “health” of the “higher” or “more developed” races and ethnic groups needs to be defended against the “lower” or “more primitive” races and ethnic groups…“the death of the other, the death of the bad race, of the inferior race (or of the degenerate or the abnormal) is something that will make life in general healthier: healthier and purer.”’47 These acts, although motivated by a biopolitical reasoning, are enacted through the means of sovereign power and it is the resistance to this sovereign power that typifies the radical politics of the 1960s and the decolonisation movement48: ‘late liberal cultural recognition incorporated and disciplined the challenge that anticolonial and new social movements posed to liberal forms of government by shifting the locale of the crisis and creating a definitive, though undefined, limit on the formative legal and social power of cultural difference.’49 The topological twist, then, is the evasion by liberal governments in confronting the biopolitical motivations of the governance of difference through state racism by introducing such politics of recognition as multiculturalism. This dealt with the ‘Event’ of the enactment through law or governmental decree of a sovereign governance of difference but allowed it to be twisted into a truly biopolitical one in which difference could still be governed through the pervasiveness and invisibility of a neoliberal mentality, possible to chart through the everyday happenings of quasi-events and only occasionally possible to attach a specific agency to (although one such possibility could be the infamous Summers Memo of 1991, in which Lawrence Summers, who was then Chief Economist of the World Bank, suggested in a leaked memo that dumping toxic waste in developing countries would be much more logical, by which he meant more economically rational, than depositing them in the first-world countries of which they were product of50).

We have so far defined late liberalism as the change in how subjects have been governed post the 1970s. The failure of Keynesian economics to keep subordinating finance to industry results in the reconstitution of the subject’s worth to be completely defined by their human capital resulting in the eradication of ‘moral autonomy and hence the basis of sovereign individuality’51 and therefore the withering of the space in which political choice and contestation can be realised. The subsequent superficial expansion of what can be deemed ‘different’ is enacted through the politics of recognition through policies such as multiculturalism. These policies utilise biopolitical rationalisations to assimilate more humans and their capital into late liberal societies while providing an answer to the crisis of governability that was rampant throughout the Western world. It does this all without adjusting the fundamental rationality of assimilation so fundamental to liberalism, without withdrawing its colonising insistence on the totality of its cognitive schema.

2

The Desire for Assimilation

In defining the strands that form a late liberal rationality, I have pointed towards examples in which assimilation is enacted and alluded to the centrality of such a desire to its ideology. The question that remains is where such a desire stems from and whether it can be presented as truly constitutive of late liberalism. Assimilation is the process of becoming similar to the assimilator, and is thus a directed and intended action. Intent is born from desire and so our question pivots to point in its direction, the subject’s reasoning for a momentous drive towards, and how it manifests in biopolitics. The recent publication of the fourth volume of The History of Sexuality shows Foucault tracing St. Augustine’s concept of sexual desire as constitutive of the subject back to his doctrine on the flesh. Joseph Tanke notes that,

In Augustine’s responses to Pelagianism — the heresy of denying original sin — Foucault isolates what he calls the “libidinization of sex,” a concept that refers to the uncoupling of sexual reproduction from the agency of the will. According to Augustine, as a result of the Fall man’s will is shadowed by concupiscence, and the human being is thus barred from achieving full autonomy over itself.52

The will, and its desire, becomes subordinated to the libido and thus the libido must become the bearing source of all intent. In the first volume of The History of Sexuality, under the section ‘Scientia Sexualis’, Foucault examines the language of sexuality and how it came to replace the linguistic descriptions of amor and eros. The discourse of sexuality was redefined by the language of analysis, jurisdiction and medicine and so aligned with the rise of the biopolitical control of population. What became of interest, more broadly, in the next three volumes (reaching its zenith in Confessions of the Flesh) was how the historical configuration of sexuality could be understood by how individuals identified with themselves as subjects of desire. This fed into Foucault’s theory of biopolitics but also problematised it—how does power not only secure the yielding of the subject it coerces but also come to ‘produce and manifest the truth about themselves as well—how is it that we have been lead to think that sexual desire harbours the truth of who we are?’53

Jouissance as the Energy of the Libidinal Economy

Consequently the libido is the link that provides the coordinates for the intersection of the constitution of a self and the assimilative intent in the governances of late liberalism. Keti Chukhrov explores this intersection in relation to Lyotard’s conception of libidinal economy, positing that because the logic of capitalism aligns with our libidinal ‘pulsions’ for surplus and, if we are to believe Deleuze’s understanding of the unconscious as ‘dissipated on the surface of the social’54, then our critiques of capitalism which exist inside this system are also driven by these pulsions: ‘The libidinality scattered over the social body of capitalism permeates anything produced under its regime – including anticapitalist critique.’55 This absorption can be seen to be similarly enacted in Povinelli’s topological twist and the subsumption of the self-reflexive truths made about individuals’ identities through the dissenting identity politics of the 1960s so that a late liberal governance would recognise the difference of these claims but domesticate them into mediums of exchange. Under capitalism, subversiveness or creative energy—our manifestations of surplus—will become commodified and as such not only deradicalises transgression but makes it impossible; it can only ever be a part of the system which it wishes to transgress.

To better understand this phenomenon, it seems important to name this transgressive force jouissance; the notion of the libidinal economy is nothing less that jouissance playing out writ large on the stage of the socio-economical. Jouissance is the subversive drive originating from the self-constituting theory that is Lacan’s extimacy. Lacan’s theory of the self, the Mirror Stage, pivots around this essential theory of extimacy—as David Pavón-Cuéllar notes, ‘we may see, then, that in the Lacanian perspective, all things considered, the extimacy of the Thing is—temporally speaking—at the origin of the subject’s exteriority and—spatially speaking—at the fixed centre of the subject’s life’56. In a countering to the existential notion that one exists firsts and is subsequently alienated from one’s self by the other, Lacan’s theory of extimacy posits that is there is no self before interaction with the other. The proof we are given lies in the Mirror Stage: the infant’s initial identification with his own image in the reflection of a mirror—the ‘Ideal-I'—is the first méconnaissance; the image presented does not correlate to the fragmented sensorial experience of the infant who is still physically vulnerable. This stage of development occurs in a period before the primordial is cultured by systems of language and thus deeply marks the subject and ‘characterises the ego in all [its] defensive structures’.57 The image serves as a gestalt of the infant’s self, a figure of transformative distinction that is crucial because it acts as a symbol that the infant recognises to be much more significant than simply an image of its own shape. Forever after, this Ideal-I that will never be accomplished will be the desire that motivates the subject forward, oriented by the indefinable and unattainable telos that is complete satisfaction. As such, Lacan defines it thusly, ‘“That's not it” is the very cry by which the jouissance obtained is distinguished from the jouissance expected.’58 If the jouissance obtained ever was in fact the jouissance expected, the tension of frustrated desire would be dissipated and the subject would experience complete stasis, a termination of life. This tension, therefore, is the perpetual and endless fuel of the libidinal economy. In other words, the gestalt is the germ of the subject’s ‘essential libidinal relationship with the body-image’59 and the original bearing source of energy.60

The paradox lies in the fact that this extimate formulation of the self does not align with the atomisation of the liberal subject. However, repositioning our focus on the intent of the subject within this relationship, it seems that it is exactly this dissatisfaction that creates movement but also places a violent desire to escape at the centre of our source of energy. I will later expand on the idea that a different source will be necessary, a different phantasm required, if one is to provide an alternative to the violence that is inherent to this movement of assimilation. Firstly though, I would like to trace Lacan’s supposition back further, so that we can see where from this germ that has been planted originates.

Hegel’s Aufhebung: the Assimilative Struggle for Recognition

Originally Lacan names jouissance as the instrumental factor in Kojève’s interpretation of Hegel's Master and Slave61 but it is in the psychoanalyst’s later work that we see the full potential of jouissance in the constitution of the subject. As discussed, it is this want past pleasure, the need for a damaging excess that far outstrips the sating of hunger, that is what is planted at the Mirror Stage. The subject will never be able to become the Ideal-I, will never be able to become the subject’s self in their fullest imaginary.62 A split opens up between the symbolic and the real, a relentless tension that will cause the subject to chase after an image impossible to embody:

At the very moment when the ego is formed by the image of the other, narcissism and aggressivity are correlatives. Narcissism, in which the image of one’s own body is sustained by the image of the other, in fact introduces a tension: the other in his image both attracts and rejects me.63

The human’s natural jouissance firmly ties the late liberal subject to the need for surplus that can be seen as constitutive of the governance of markets and, in alignment with the concerns of this dissertation, the assimilative character of late liberalism. Recoding normative belief as rational fact leads liberalism’s violence to be read as ‘aberrations of its own ideals’64 when in fact it is exactly this supposed search for the Ideal-I that pushes the liberal subject to constantly move towards the horizon of homogeneity and, most infamously, towards the end of history and the last man.65 Fukuyama’s premonition of 1989, in which he foresaw the final hegemony of Western and capitalist liberal democracy and the ‘unipolar moment’66 that would not pass into history, reveals the embedded desire of liberalism to absorb and assimilate entire ways of existences into its logics and it is possible to trace this theoretical lineage back through from Allan Bloom, to Leo Strauss, and finally to Kojève whose interpretation of Hegel’s dialectical method was of such influence to Lacan.

Hegel’s dialectics, and specifically their reliance on Aufhebung or sublation, characterises this ‘toward-which67 expansion that is so essential to liberalism. Slavoj Žižek has claimed that the last two-hundred years of philosophy has been characterised by its opposition to Hegel, or to an idea of a Hegel that does not really exist, and that he is the Real for these critics,

‘Real' in the Lacanian sense: the construction of a point which effectively does not exist (a monster with no relation to Hegel himself), but which, nonetheless, must be presupposed in order to justify our negative reference to the other, that is to say, our effort at distantiation.68

Žižek uses this initial statement to expand on the constitutive lack found in the Other, stating that this construction of the Hegelian ‘Absolute Knowledge’ is the antithesis to the thesis that is the ‘traumatic void against which the process of signification articulates itself’69 and must play the role of the Hegelian ‘Thing’ for these critics: the kernel necessary for the drive towards the ideal but actually unrealisable. In doing so, Žižek aims to prove how integral the Hegelian dialectic is to any line of reasoning and it is this assumption, along with its concomitant notion of teleology, that is part of the embedded mentality Povinelli aims to disrupt within liberalism and the discourse of liberalism via the multiple iterations of her Symphony of Late Liberalism. The assimilative unfolding of the teleological timeline is the action towards Lacan’s Ideal-I, in which what is enacted is ‘a closed economy in which the self-movement of the Concept sublates all differences and every dispersion the material concept.’70

Therefore, we can track late liberalism’s urge for an all-encompassing homogeneity and the assumed inherency of an assimilative urge right back to Hegel’s dialectic that specifically stated being’s reliance on absence; only a human self, we are led to believe, is not satisfied with just existing but must negate given-being,71 must always be searching for something that is absent. Desire, therefore, constitutes the subject, and desire, that all subsuming stimulus, must therefore drive the ideological structures birthed there from. A useful precursor to a commentary upon Hegel’s account of Self and Other can be found in his views on language. Following a Hegelian development of the mind, there reaches a stage in which thought is fixed in verbal signs and begins to utilise the apparatus of the word without mediation. From this point on, words are not vessels in which sense inhabits, rather sense is to assimilate the word and occupy it fully, to perfectly colonise it: ‘words, when used thus effortlessly, no longer have sense for Hegel, words are their sense.’72 Here, we find a base instance of assimilation, that act so entirely essential to the Hegelian abstract-negative-concrete dialectic, in which nothing can be lost or discarded on the long path to the absolute ideal: ‘Given the name lion, we need neither the actual vision of the animal, nor its image even: the name alone, if we understand it, is the unimaged simple representation.’73 In its ultimate development, the mind has formed a synthesis of the nominal, the conceptual and the ontological.74 This relational framework is the fundament that also constitutes Hegel’s Self and Other. The enactment of this dialectic on language, and similarly on Hegel’s idealist historicity in which Reality is constantly being assimilated to Ideality, is the same enactment of this dialectic on being. We know then, through this logic, that any body that self-consciously is, is nothing less (or more) than a medium through which the Absolute may self-cognise. However, for Reality to be assimilated into Ideality, in this instance through Being, the self must be self-conscious—so the question becomes, how is this self-consciousness achieved? The notion is distinct from a mere consciousness or awareness of the subject by itself through sense and its definition lies in the realisation that the subject’s self is not an other’s self. We must know that this being body is not that being body and so understand that for Hegelian nature to be extant, there must always be constitutive lack.75

It is here that Hegel lays down one of his most dominant legacies: subjectivity requires intersubjectivity.76 The raw being of the lone subject cannot hope to achieve the ‘universal self-consciousness’ that is the Ideal, without a synthesis of the thesis of the self with the antithesis of the other through assimilation. The logic underpinning Hegel’s Self and Other is succinctly rationalised in relationship laid out in Herrschaft und Knechtschaft,77 or Master and Slave.78 This abstractly idealised study endeavours to answer the question laid out above by constructing a development from consciousness to self-consciousness in purely phenomenological terms. When two such consciousnesses meet, the notion of the self becomes alien because it is, for the first time, othered. At this moment the other is an object, or a gegenstand, for the subject to literally stand against, to define itself in opposition. Alan Badiou has a concisely phrases the concept by stating that the ‘I’ can no longer just be an ‘undifferentiated thing of the world’79, it cannot exist just as an object in-itself or even for-itself, but what Sartre calls for-other (it is here that lies the root of Sartre’s problem with the Hegelian Self and Other: ‘Hegel does not even conceive of the possibility of a being-for-others which is not finally reducible to a “being-as-object”’80): ‘self-consciousness exists in and for itself when, and by the fact that, it so exists for another.’81 For our purposes, what is necessary to note about this relationship is that it abides by the essential monism of Hegel’s ontology and therefore is always just the preface to assimilation. The subject is dependant, but this dependance must be a struggle for recognition and, if we follow Kojéve’s interpretation, is just a necessary teething on the way to the end of history: supposedly that synthetic birth of the Napoleonic citizen sprung from the inescapable (op)positions of either Master or Slave. Interdependence is not a sufficient state of being; there must be a struggle of assimilation.

To recap: we have understood Hegel’s conception of Aufhebung to be constitutive of the Hegelian and therefore Lacanian subject, utilising Lyotard’s notion of libidinal economy to understand the relationship between the desire of assimilation and capitalist liberalism. The next chapter hopes to prove that the assimilative desire found at the heart of the late liberal subject can be characterised as violent. I would like to continue to attend to the inherent instability of an extimate existence but by way of thinking ‘with, against and apart’82 these formulations, or, as Barad and Harraway would have it, to take the affirmative action of ‘diffractively reading’83 these texts. In other words, I would like to emphasise the mutability of these theories by taking the plausible validity of such a concept as the extimate self while erring from its original path to posit that a different imaginary of movement may be resultant of it. Could we replace the phantasm that propounds that an inability to reach totality must create a tension of dissatisfaction—and for this tension to necessarily be our driving force—with an alternative phantasm that postulates that the bearing source of our energy is perhaps motivated by a different means? And, consequently, could interdependency be a dynamic and extimate existence that does not have to finally assimilate the Other into the Self?

3

An Inaugural Violence: The Importance of Becoming

The phantasm that is the struggle for recognition is, for Kojève, what defines humanity from mere ‘real, natural, biological life’, instead seeking ‘something ideal, spiritual, nonbiological’84. This is Hegel’s Spirit, and to reach such an ideal the human cannot just fulfil the animal desire which is content in material satisfaction but instead seeks the doubly negative: the thing that one does not have and is not materially extant in the world already. Therefore, for Kojève the pinnacle of this want must be the desire to be the Other’s desire, for this is the only other emptiness that cannot be filled. This marks the point at which the ideology of liberalism unfolds, ‘which begins in the confrontation that produces the master-slave relationship and ends in the universalisation of equal recognition.’85 The questions that end the previous chapter will have to be approached via the defining of violence as it pertains to the action of assimilation. Only after violence can be stated to have an essential relationship to the libidinal drive of assimilation is it possible to account for the err made from the theoretical paths I have laid out in the second chapter.

An Inaugural Violence

Judith Butler’s theories of nonviolence and interdependency are an apt place to begin for two reasons: the first is that her 2018 Gifford Lecture in Glasgow worked to expose the inherent violence of liberal ideology; and the second is that her studies on Walter Benjamin’s Critique of Violence originate from her work following Edward Said’s ruminations on Zionism and Palestinian dispossession. I mention this second reason only as a contextualisation, for the breadth of the material goes beyond the scope of this text. However, I think an apposite observation to make would be that the tension between biopolitical and sovereign forms of assimilation and the possibility of radical difference residing in democratic cohabitation are similarly playing out in the discussions around the one-state solution. The similarity to the problems of late liberal society and its coercion into a specific schema of existence that Povinelli’s ‘family and friends’ in the super-majority Indigenous Australian Karrabing Film Collective face align with similar notions of state violence and state-sponsored racism explored in Butler’s studies on Israel and Palestine.86

As for the first of the two reasonings that I have laid out above, Butler’s postulations in the Gifford Lectures focused on the violence of liberalism originating in the Robinson Crusoe figure at the centre of Hobbes’ State of Nature, ‘He sprang, this lucky guy, fully formed from the imagination of liberal theorists as an adult without relations… with a self-sufficiency that depended on a natural world preemptively void of other people and malleable to his will.’87 Butler points out that there is another prehistory preceding this one. This prehistory, embedded into the first, is the annihilation of alterity and thus commences with an ‘inaugural violence’: it is not a Tabula Rasa, rather it is a slate wiped clean. Hobbes’ theorisations are no doubt staunch foundations for liberal ideology but it is not just the assumption that all actors are motivated by independency that begets violence, violence can also appear in the intent and directionality of interdependent subjects. The extimacy found within both Hegel and Lacan’s theorisations of the Self do not conform to the liberal ideal of atomisation and would then, seemingly, be an alternative formulation to counteract this liberal mentality. However, in the late liberal topological twist, ‘political integration and consensus replace the atomisation and individuation of classical liberalism’88 and competition is no longer seen as natural: ‘competition has an internal logic; it has its own structure. Its effects are only produced if this logic is respected. It is, as it were, a formal game between inequalities; it is not a natural game between individuals and behaviours.’89

A Progressive Directionality

It may seem that if we are to explore the violences held in the Western assumptions of a late liberal self, then Hobbes might be the ideal candidate for this study. There undeniably is, in both Hegel and Lacan, an acceptance of the falsity to be found within the notion of a sovereign self, a stark contrast to the liberal formulation of the self.90 Hegel even goes so far as to critique Locke’s classical liberal conception of the state in which its function as a means to secure the life, liberty and property of the individual are all paramount to the state as a whole in itself. Hegel posits, contrarily, that ‘since the state is objective spirit, it is only through being a member of the state that the individual himself has objectivity, truth, and ethical life. Union as such is itself the true content and end, and the destiny of individuals is to lead a universal life.’91

Wood does point out that ‘Hegel’s political ideas leave the liberals’ state pretty much intact’92 and despite communitarian readings that emphasise the German Idealist break with Enlightenment rationalism, Franco stresses ‘Hegel’s doctrine of rational freedom and self-determination—a doctrine which descends from the Kantian concept of rational autonomy and which, far from being antithetical to Enlightenment aspirations, in some ways represents their highest fulfilment’. However, it seems that the theoretical foundations of liberalism cannot be aligned to an extimate formulation of identity: the extimate selves that Aufhebung and jouissance presuppose are not liberal in the classic or early modern spirit. Instead, as previously discussed, one could accept how the agents within an extimate relationship are formed while disagreeing with, or rather feeling it has to be necessary to refuse the violence of, such imaginaries of movement that posit that there is a tension of dissatisfaction that must be the source of our energy. Refusing this imaginary of movement that follows the linearly progressive direction towards the telos can ultimately curtail the reproduction of violence this engenders.

The Oscillational Definition of Violence

So, how can violence be justifiably attributed to the obsession with mono-directional and linear forward movement that has been discussed in the theories of Hegel and Lacan? And can progression be typified as violent at all? For this, let us turn to Butler’s use of Benjamin’s Critique of Violence. As understood by Butler, Benjamin’s critique is ‘a critique of legal violence, the kind of violence the state wields through instating and maintaining the binding status that law exercises on its subjects.’93 One of the definitive ways in which Butler characterises Benjamin’s view on violence is in contradistinction to Arendt’s. For Arendt, law is not inherently violent and the ‘founding of a state can and should be an uncoerced beginning and, in that sense, nonviolent in its origins’94, democratic law is a power that is the ‘exercise of collective freedom’ whereas violence is always coercion: law is illegitimate if it is violent. In opposition to this conception, Benjamin ‘identifies coercion at the heart of all legal regimes and names it violence’95 and the binding nature of the law on the subject must always be a violent act. However, it is important to note that the structures in which the definitions of the law are always oscillating; Butler uses the example of people coming together in a ‘pre-contractual condition’96, usually after a moment of violent upheaval, who form laws based on mutual common and self-interest. Self-legislation therefore becomes legitimate—this, however, opens up any legal regime to the possibility of renaming its own violence as necessary or justifiable coercion—‘This renaming practice and the justification tend to be articulated through a story form that narrates the transition from a pre-conceptual sociability to the social contract.’97

Whatever state is formed relies on how exactly a subject may be justifiably coerced and in Hobbes we see the human’s necessarily ‘natural’, and therefore boundless, violence as the phantasm that, in Butler’s estimations, entrenches the idea of an inherent and utter independency into liberal thought. However if we turn to Balibar, what is most pressing about Benjamin’s conception of violence, or gewalt, is its transformative nature. The ability of gewalt to oscillate between definitions ‘by means of the conversion it effects’98—its transformative nature—‘doubtless constitutes a typical case of “dialectical sublation” [Aufhebung] or negation of the negation’. Hegel’s dialectic makes clear that ‘politics in the strong sense is no more nor less than history, and that history, correspondingly, has no content other than to realise or accomplish a political end’99:

We should perhaps advance a still more radical thesis: history is the ‘absolute’ process in which it turns out ‘in the end’ that all seemingly irreducible, inconvertible violence, or all violence initially represented as inconvertible, will necessarily be converted into its opposite if only the level of ‘representation’ or ‘imagination’ [Vorstellung] is overcome, opening the way for a real [wirkliche] efficacy or effectivity that is nothing other than the presence of the absolute in time, as its dialectical concept seeks to grasp it.100

Balibar’s challenge is to prove Hegel's affirmation insufficient by showing that there exists a ‘politics of civility or anti-violence’101 that does not, in the end, transform extant violence into power through dialectical sublation. Aside from this challenge, it shows us that the assimilative direction of a liberal historicity presupposes violence and, albeit through its conversion from a chaos into an order, is in fact necessary for the continuation of history through politics.

However, in order to propose an alternative to the violence of assimilation, one would first have to identify exactly how to define violence and, as we have seen, its convertibility due to the frameworks that define it means ‘we cannot agree what constitutes its empirical instance’102, although it can be stated that ‘violence is precisely what is perpetually subjected to this oscillational framework.’103 Butler makes clear that she will not let the postmodern subjectivity of violence’s definition be merely a matter of opinion and relativism, for ‘even though we cannot decide whether violence is justified without knowing what is counting as violent, we cannot give up on the demand to decide in the face of this problem. The operation of critique cannot preclude commitment and judgement.’104 A temporary commitment to a framework Butler makes in the Gifford Lectures is that of nonviolence being constituted by its inability to reproduce violence or generate an environment in which violence can be begotten, although we of course circle back round to the difficulty of how violence is only ever defined by the frameworks that it is enacted through. This is what Rosa Luxemburg calls the antinomic nature of violence105 and the crux to Povinelli’s claim that mutual thriving is impossible; when Balibar attempts to formulate strategies for civility it is this that becomes the paradoxical problematic.

A Suggested Alternative to the Violence of Assimilation: ‘Becoming-Minoritarian’

So instead of conceptualising a generalised definition of nonviolence, another strategy would be to fully understand the framework generative of this violence and offer a specific method of redistribution. Again, it is this emphasis on the importance of imaginaries of movement that would let us curtail and redistribute where violence unfolds rather than a specific imaginary of form that would just give us a falsified and static definition of the term, a universal that could not exist. We have understood that in late liberalism the state requires its subjects to sign a universalist contract that subtends familial and cultural ties, confirming their belief in the law and politics constitutive of the state. Hegel’s dialectical method enacts a synthesis between these two primary communities and there is an ‘emergence of secondary communities that are neither “natural” or “political” but precisely social, offering a kind of affiliation or belonging halfway between constraint and freedom.’106 This reveals, once more, the essential force that ‘tears individuals more or less violently from their primary, immediate identity’107 and into a constricted pluralism that must abide by the universalism of the state’s logic. Difference is thus subordinated by the universalist contract of the state. So, it can be understood that a Hegelian 'strategy of civility’, or his Sittlichkeit, is always a hegemonic normalising process:

Normality in turn extends to all spheres of social life (property, family, education, physical and mental health, patriotism) that embody its forms and are converted into processes of normalisation. Above all, however, it generalises the normalising distinction between public and private, which Hegel, even more emphatically than his predecessors, makes into a determinant structure of social life.108


Balibar proposes that Hegelian normalisation—that which is essential to late liberalism’s specific method of governance—can be resisted by the Nietzschean notion of play and its definitive aversion to regularity and thus any Hegelian heritage.109 Balibar offers Deleuze’s notion of ‘becoming-minoritarian’ as a radical alternative to this strategy by invalidating the idea that any identity can be fixed—a notion that is presumed in the framework of normativeness. This notion is a deterritorialisation of the ‘false universalism’110 in any identity, instead taking the path of dynamic becoming in which one can become a subject ‘of multiple ecologies of belonging.’111 Here I would like to draw out the aspect of Deleuze which calls for an ethical directionality within the creation of a rhizomatic structure, 'becoming-minoritarian is a political affair and necessitates a labor of power {puissance}, an active micropolitics.’112 This is the specific strategy of resistance against the late liberal framework and its totalitarian root, in which we can identify violence in this singular instance as attributed to the intent to assimilate:

The idea of a becoming-minoritarian does not reflect the activity of creation or identification of the ‘self’ but, rather, a movement of disidentification that we must perhaps call ‘active-passive.’ Dissolving the fixity and unity of the ‘self,’ it allows it not only to change places but to trade places with others in the transindividual space of ‘desire.’113

Reclaiming this transindividual space of desire that can be found in Lacan’s notion of extimacy and the being-for-other of the Hegelian subject but dismissing the assimilative movement post this conception, interdependency can be understood as a state in itself that is fluctuating and dynamic but does not have to continuously absorb all in the direction of the horizon with the ultimate aim of achieving the surround.114 The emphasis here must be on the assumed becoming, as opposed to the assumed being. In calling for this political action, Deleuze places emphasis on the Kantian idea of subsistence over substance, with the crucial defining element being time. ‘The idea of Relation for [Kant] does not intervene as an opening onto plurality, insofar as it would be a totality’115 and therefore plurality can only take place in time rather than space: ‘In space there is existence, which seems not to be differentiated within itself.’116 Therefore the focus must be on time, for only in time can we achieve plurality and dislodge totality: ‘The root is not important. Movement is.’117

4

The Errant Joy of Inconclusiveness

The quote that ends the previous chapter is lifted from Édouard Glissant’s Poetics of Relation. Glissant’s notion of errantry is of use here as a final rejoinder to the question of resistance to the violence of assimilative movement. In these final comments I will summarise the argument I have made by way of implementing these theories in the specificity of the practical using a transmedia augmented reality project instigated by the Karrabing Film Collective. Elizabeth A. Povinelli works with and from within this media collective, whom usually use the medium of film as a method of endurance in the face of the colonising late liberal cognitive schema. The Karrabing started as ‘a group of interrelated families who had been interned on the Belyuen Community in the 1940s’118 but refuse to resort to imperial anthropological self-definitions, 'to divide themselves on the basis of this or that tribe, this or that territory, this or that clan group’. This would be counter-productive in their aims to ‘“endeavour” to open a space for an otherwise within the current configuration of settler power’119 and late liberal governance in Australia. Much of Povinelli’s conceptualisations come from trying to look outwards from where they are situated so as to understand the powers and modes of governance that force the Karrabing into a struggle of endurance for their analytics of existence.

The Karrabing Transmedia Augmented Reality Project

To preface this conclusion, I would like to quote from the Karrabing’s project pitch at some length to give an unmediated description of this transmedia project:

Our project implements and investigates “mixed-reality technology” for re-storying the traditional country of families living on the quasi-remote southern side of the Anson Bay area at the mouth of the Daly River in the Northern Territory. More specifically, it would create a land-based “living library” by geotagging media files in such a way that media files are playable only within a certain proximity to a site. The idea is to develop software that creates three unique interfaces—for tourists, land management, and Indigenous families, the latter having management authority over the entire project and content—and provide a dynamic feedback loop for the input of new information and media. We believe that mixed-reality technology would provide the Indigenous partners with an opportunity to use new information technologies to their social and economic benefit without undermining their commitment to having the land speak its history and present in situ. Imagine someone preparing for a trip to far north Australia. While researching the area online, she discovers our website that highlights various points of interest. She then downloads either a free or premium application to her smartphone. Now imagine this same person in a boat, floating off the shore of a pristine beach in the remote Anson Bay. She activates her smartphone and opens the application and holds up her smartphone to see the video coming through her phone’s camera. As she moves the phone around, she sees various icons representing stories or videos available to her. She touches one of these icons with her finger and the story of the indigenous Dreaming Site where she finds herself appears; she can also look at archival photos or short animated clips based on archived media files. The archive is a living library insofar as one of its software functions allows new media files to be added, such as a video of people watching the videos of the place. 120

The project could thusly be characterised as an archive of sorts, but an archive that would attempt to not ‘authorise a specific form of the future by domiciling space and time, the here and now relative to the there and then: us as opposed to them.’121

If an archive is a power to make and command what took place here or there, in this or that place, and thus what has an authoritative place in the contemporary organisation of social life, a postcolonial digital archive can- not be merely a collection of new artefacts reflecting a different, subjugated history. Instead, the postcolonial archive must directly address the problem of the endurance of the otherwise within—or distinct from—this form of power. In other words, the task of the postcolonial archivist is not merely to collect subaltern histories. It is also to investigate the compositional logics of the archive as such: the material conditions that allow something to be archived and archivable; the compulsions and desires that conjure the appearance and disappearance of objects, knowledges, and socialities within an archive; the cultures of circulation, manipulation, and management that allow an object to enter the archive and thus contribute to the endurance of specific social formations.122

Povinelli states that her purpose is not to blindly champion this use of mixed reality as an undifferentiated solution to how the Karrabing can make their analytics of existence endure under late liberalism, rather it is to problematise this issue with an aim of an incremental achievement, if only it is in revealing late liberalism’s incredible pervasiveness and how deeply embedded its reasoning is in the morality and rationality of our information and industrial network systems. For instance: the project is inevitably reliant on the financial and distributive reliance of state and extra-state infrastructures and their particular ways of existence123; there is a counter-productive environmentally damaging toxicity produced by the storage of large amounts of data and the facilities that process this data due to the huge amounts of electricity they take to run, along with the necessary use of cheap PCB laminate within wireless communications which contributes to ‘the ultimate toxicity of the storage and circulatory systems of big and small data’124; and the conformation to the logics of digital media and its use of binary choices 'do not reflect the incoherencies of governance that intersect in Karrabing worlds’125, instead assuming ‘the social world outside the digital archive can be apprehended as a set of semantically based, logically construable social protocols. This is not what the Karrabing believe to be the case.’126

The Archive as an Archeology of Power, a Kind of Iteration or Drive

As shown, there is much in this project that problematises existence under late liberalism (even aside from Povinelli's recent theory of geontology as the subtending power structure enforced by the Life and Nonlife divide127) but with the objective of a form of conclusiveness for this dissertation I would like to focus on the problematic of the archive being an ‘archeology of power’, a ‘kind of iteration or drive.’128 In Archive Fever, Derrida presents the archive as an energy akin to a Lacanian jouissance as we have come to understand it, always searching for the next discovery, always wishing to go deeper into a certain history but never reaching a totalised knowledge. What the Karrabing’s project would have hoped to achieve is to simultaneously harness this energy—becoming ‘a great engine for a local economy […] an endless archive drive enticing an infinite line of consumers who, in using the archive, protect the land as it enacts a specific local analytics of existents’129—while denying the assimilative desire for totality that is presumed of it. This would happen by coding the application in a similar way to Kim Christen and Chris Cooney’s Waramungu web project [Fig. 2.1–2.4], that aims to create an experimental anthropological archive of knowledge held by the Waramungu Indigenous Australian group.130 An algorithm within would present an individuated and ‘representational assortment of content’131 from within the database taking into account the status of the user (creating a ‘social skin’ based on the users ancestry and ritual status through a set of ‘protocols’ that ‘limit access to information or to images in accordance with Aboriginal systems of accountability’132) and thus ‘precludes the possibility of the user being able to “systematically…know the ‘Other.’”’133 The code can develop in time with the user as well, granting further access or permissions to contribute to the database of image, text, movie and audio files. Rather than take an ostensibly objective stance from which to dictate information from, the project would offer an ‘embodied in-place experience’ that would better represent 'forms of embodiment over time.’ [emphasis added] 134


Povinelli points to the similarity of the technique used in making one of the Karrabing’s films, When the Dogs Talked [Fig. 3.1–3.4], in which rather than filming an indexical representation that would tell the story to the viewer, the audience was presented 'with competing and incommensurate truth claims that contemporary Karrabing encounter. […] In other words, the film is less about the Dog story itself and more about how this story can maintain its force in the world as it is currently constructed. The landscape is represented as a complex dynamic between locally contested cartographies and densely governed geontologies.’135 What this postcolonial archive must do, then, is not accept the static universality of colonial definitions, in which everything must be labeled, petrified and presented in the language of imperial exhibition: ‘rather than simply digitalising traditional knowledge, the archive had to operationalise the variation, contestation, and change over time of narratives and environments.’136 What this would achieve is a focus on the notion of becoming through the plurality that time allows, accepting a dynamic extimacy of existence in which no single subject can exist in essence and removed from its constituting relationships with others without ever promising, and in fact refusing, the hollow promise of a total understanding. The user cannot seek knowledge in the totalising method of the imperial explorer and is restricted from undertaking an assimilative movement that desires universal unity. Their movement must be errantry; not in a linearly aimed direction, nor in a manner that is continuously circular, but as the wanderer does137: with a ‘sense of sacred motivation.’138 In Poetics of Relation, Glissant defines errantry as a roving movement that is opposed to, or rather offers an alternative to, the notion of the totalitarian root while still advocating the necessity of rootedness, however temporary this rootedness may be. The focus therefore is shifted from the form of the rhizome to the movement of the individual strands of relation within it. It is not an unanchored ‘solipsistic peripateticism’139, rather it remains understanding of the rhizome as fundamentally a root network and therefore still a generative system that secures ‘perhaps only temporarily, a specific localisation of matter and energy.’140

Glissant’s Errantry

Errantry is still a rooted movement, in that to err one must have a path to err from, but its desire is always to go against the root from which it came. Glissant suggests that rhizomatic forms in themselves can still lead to violence: for instance, the movement of the conqueror is proposed to be rhizomatic and Povinelli posits that ‘in 1492 a Protestant rhizome, cleaved from a fibrous unfolding Christian European bulb, floated to the Americas and began the process of its own reterritorialising.’141 Povinelli continues, ‘we should not rush too quickly past the amnesia of the rhizome—the fact that it doesn’t remember where it started or where it is going. It just goes. This thing, this motion without memory or remorse, can suffocate what it encounters as systematically as the sovereign at the frontier—even other rhizomatic forms, motions, and dynamics.’142 These movements are still driven by the desire to assimilate through territorial expansion and would create sovereign frontiers at any opportunity. The image of plurality that is held within the movement of errantry, the image of an inconceivable multitude of erring roots, provides an alternative imaginary of movement.

Glissant posits that it is only when a colonised people can escape not only the imperially defined relationship with the coloniser but also the inflicted limitations on how one could react to this relationship, only when the Other is allowed to be not fully knowable by the cognitive schema of the coloniser, that decolonisation will have done its work.143 Similarly, Glissant touches upon what Povinelli will call the twist in the governance of difference in saying,

One could get away with: “I can acknowledge your difference and continue to think it is harmful to you. I can think that my strength lies in the Voyage (I am making History) and that your difference is motionless and silent.” Another step remains to be taken before one really enters the dialectic of totality. And, contrary to the mechanics of the Voyage, this dialectic turns out to be driven by the thought of errantry.144

What is so generative and generous about the notion of errantry is that it imagines totality, that which seems so humanly essential to both the Spirit of Aufhebung and the Ideal-I of the Mirror Stage, but inherently denounces the falsity of ever being able to posses it. It even accepts and abides by the transgressive motivation of jouissance but encourages its emancipatory potentiality while denouncing sublation as integral to it by placing its imaginary of movement within the rhizomatic imaginary of form, instead of that of the teleological horizon.

A Multitude of Drives

I would like to take a brief tangent to address the paradox at the heart of this, namely that jouissance is transgressive and therefore emancipatory but it is also ‘permeated by the libidinal economy’145, feeding capitalism’s libidinal desire as it tries to transgress it. If we return to Chukhrov’s reading of the libidinal economy, she claims that ‘a totalising attitude towards the instinctive and affective was also characteristic of Deleuze and Foucault. Although these authors uncovered the ambivalent character of the unconscious and sexuality, they nevertheless reserved a subversive, emancipatory role for them.’146 It is important to remember that the mechanism of jouissance and the tension of dissatisfaction are not deterministically set. Chukhrov points to Soviet Marxist philosophers, such as Lev Vygotsky, who mistrusted ‘a certain dominant ideology of the unconscious in which all drives are reduced to suppressed enjoyment, acquire the status of an a priori principle, and thereby take on emancipatory potentialities.’147 The idea of a non-libidnal economy being present in Soviet Marxism is beyond the reach of my text, but it is useful to remember that it was a choice to regard the energy of jouissance as an ‘an autonomous vital resource (primum movens, as Vygotsky put it), when it could have just remained a biologically auxiliary condition.’148 In Marxism, surplus is no longer the source of energy, rather we see the Hegelian inversion quite familiar to us now in which the material world holds objective reality and therefore reality is already de-libidinised. Viewing pleasure-as-necessity rather than pleasure-as-ideal thus replaces the individual’s jouissance with the ‘collective Eros’149: atomised enjoyment is replaced with a shared joy. If we are to follow a Deleuzian understanding of what a concept is, then we should view them as tools of experimentation and creativity rather than ‘waiting for us, ready-made.’150 Phantasms are necessary and my aim is to not strike one down in place for another which I will call truth. Instead I would use them and their different alterities with the awareness that they are the assumptions that belie ideology and therefore act as ‘uncritical dimensions of our moral deliberations.’151

The Joy of Inconclusiveness

I have made this detour to emphasise the essential entanglement of Lacanian psychoanalysis and Hegelian metaphysics with the libidinal economy of liberalism, and how they co-sustain each other. The individuated energy of jouissance does not have to spring from dissatisfaction and, to heed Povinelli’s advice, it would be astute to remember ‘Derrida’s call for us to never forget Marx’152; not so as to replace one assimilative movement with another, but rather so one remains aware of the 'directions and forces of various forms of power; how are they shaping the ability for some things to stay in existence. […] That Marx is the one you keep on your shoulder, that materialism, absolutely.’ [emphasis added] 153 One may, then, understand the various forms of power that encourage the totalising analytics of existence extant in a late liberal rationality and deny forms differing from it as originating in the individuated source of energy that is jouissance. This is what denies the power and joy of collective entanglement that has been renounced by the late liberal rationality, and by readings of a ‘certain Deleuze’, as ‘tepid consensus or baleful conformism rather than a source of value and fulfilment.’154 In this proposed augmented reality project, the Karrabing assert that ‘knowledge about country should be learned, but abstract truth is not the actual end of learning. Learning—knowing the truth about place—is a way to refashion bodies and landscapes into mutually obligated bodies.’155

A final and summative point can be found residing in a specific text command that greets the user on entering the Waramungu web project: ‘Enjoy!’ As Povinelli notes, what is so interesting about this enjoyment command is that ‘it simultaneously incites the jouissance of the Other and counters the notion that the social restriction of the subject is against enjoyment.’156 Thus the jouissance that is born from the essential extimacy of the Self and Other does not have to follow the Hegelian dialectic that would sublate all into the Ideal, nor does it have to follow a Marxist one that must presuppose the violence of the Master and Slave directionality, but rather is characterised by the specificity of errant movement. So let us, as stated previously, ‘think with, against, and apart from’ these theorists to form new assemblages of thought, for ‘such heterodox practices of engagement are what I understand critical theory to be and to be for.’157 To revisit Foucault’s Theatrum Philosophicum, the place from which we started, let us focus on how subsistence can be understood as substance, using what Foucalut calls the ‘univocity of being’ and how it permits ‘difference to escape the domina­tion of identity, frees it from the law of the Same as a simple opposi­tion within conceptual elements.’158 In doing so,

Being can express itself in the same way, because difference is no longer submitted to the prior reduction of categories; because it is not distributed inside a diversity that can always be perceived; because it is not organised in a conceptual hier­archy of species and genus. Being is that which is always said of difference; it is the Recurrence of difference.159

If we contradictorily understand being as the recurrence of difference, then we can avoid the assimilation of Aufhebung that ‘nevertheless maintains a unity­ not only and not especially that of an infinite container but also the unity of fragments, of passing and recurring moments, and of the floating consciousness that recognises it.’160 Consequently, I would like to postulate that what generates the energy behind the errant movement that this augmented reality project engenders is the want to digress from normativeness while never presupposing that the impossibility of knowing the telos which the subject seeks is essentially painful. It rather assumes that there is a limitless well of energy that springs from what could perhaps be called the joy of inconclusiveness.

Conclusion

A Threatened Beauty

I hope to have outlined the political economy of late liberalism and its reliance on the libidinal energy of jouissance, revealing the far reaching consequences of its rationality that stretch beyond the arena of finance and into the formulation of the subject. The reliance on Hegel’s notion of Aufhebung to the formulation of this phantasm has shown its capacity for violence in its assimilative desire to homogenise. The violence of such a movement must be resisted in not just the spatial imaginaries of the postmodern rhizome but in imaginaries of movement that focus on the agency, will and intent of the subject and thus the process of subjectivation. Following on from my introductory comments on what Povinelli assumes to be the use of contemporary critical theory, I hope to have made a case for a focus on these imaginaries of movement that allow for plurality as opposed to totality by their stress on the temporality of becoming.

In these ending notes, I would like to point to the attempt at errantry throughout this text which aimed to utilise a multitude of theorists and their respective conceptualisations in a way not characterised by duty or dualism. Rather, it aims to respect the rootedness that these theorists provide, not denying the clear consequences of their theories on contemporary political, cultural and economic thought, while erring from the normativeness of their claims with the intent to curtail the violence that these hegemonies can engender. The generative possibilities of an extimate self that denies the falsity of absolute sovereignty can be taken without the assumption that the jouissance it produces must finally be a painful dissatisfaction with the impossibility of totality. The energy of unattainable assimilation, so embedded with violence, can instead be perhaps replaced by a different source of energy, one found in the movement of errantry:

If it is at variance with territorial intolerance, or the predatory effects of the unique root (which makes processes of identification so difficult today), this is because, in the poetics of Relation, one who is errant (who is no longer traveler, discoverer, or conquerer) strives to know the totality of the world yet already knows he will never accomplish this—and knows that is precisely where the threatened beauty of the world resides.161

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Footnotes

1 Michel Foucault, ‘Theatrum Philosophicum’, in Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology, ed. by James D. Faubion, trans. by Robert Hurley and others (New York: The New Press, 1999), pp. 343-368 (p.358).

2 Frederic Jameson, ‘The Aesthetics Of Singularity’, New Left Review, 92 (2015), 101-132 (p.101).

3 Stephen Squibb and Elizabeth A. Povinelli, ‘Elizabeth A. Povinelli On The Four Axioms Of Critical Theory’, e-flux Podcast, 2019, 52m31s (18m32s) [Accessed 6 September 2018].

4 Ibid., 41m15s.

5 Ibid., 45m06s.

6 Karen Barad, Meeting The Universe Halfway (Durham [N.C.]: Duke University Press Books, 2007).—‘In fact it is not so much that they change from one moment to the next or from one place to another, but that space, time, and matter do not exist prior to the intra-actions that reconstitute entanglements. Hence, it is possible for entangled relationalities to make connections between ‘‘entities’’ that do not appear to be proximate in space and time. […] The point is that the specificity of entanglements is everything.’—From p. 74.

7 Donna Haraway, Staying With The Trouble (Durham [N.C.]: Duke University Press, 2016).—‘Symbiosis is not a synonym for “mutually beneficial.” The array of names needed to designate the heterogeneous webbed patterns and processes of situated and dynamic dilemmas and advantages for the symbionts/holobionts is only beginning to surface as biologists let go of the dictates of possessive individualism and zero-sum games as the template for explanation.’—From p. 60.

8 Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom At The End Of The World (Princeton [N. J.]: Princeton University, 2017).—‘This history has inspired investors to imbue both people and things with alienation, that is, the ability to stand alone, as if the entanglements of living did not matter. Through alienation, people and things become mobile assets; they can be removed from their life worlds in distance-defying transport to be exchanged with other assets from other life worlds, elsewhere. This is quite different from merely using others as part of a life world—for example, in eating and being eaten. In that case, multispecies living spaces remain in place. Alienation obviates living-space entanglement.’—From p. 4.

9 Despite Harman’s recurring insistence that OOO is a thorough departure from ANT, with such adjustments as the differentiation between real and sensual objects, it still forms a flattened existence in which, following Levi Bryant, a ‘subject is precisely a nonsubstantial entity fully reducible to its relations to other entities.’—From Slavoj Žižek, ‘Afterword: Objects, Objects, Everywhere’, in Slavoj Žižek And Dialectical Materialism, ed. by Agon Hamza (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), pp. 177-192 (p. 178).

10 Povinelli describes how Indigenous Australian members of the Karrabing Indigenous Corporation that she works with and from within are perplexed by such assumptions: ‘When I try to describe the debates within speculative realism and object oriented ontology to them, my Karrabing colleagues think it equally odd to say that nonhuman things do not exist and establish relationships with each other equal to and alongside human things as it is to say that the primary orientation of things, human and nonhuman, is one of autonomous withdrawal and radical indifference. Objects manifest and withdraw; they have their own reason but are not indifferent.’—From Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Economies Of Abandonment (Durham [N.C.]: Duke University Press, 2011), p. 84.

11 Jameson, ‘The Aesthetics Of Singularity’, p. 105.

12 Ibid., p. 132.

13 Squibb and Povinelli, ‘Elizabeth A. Povinelli On The Four Axioms Of Critical Theory’, 37m08s.

14 Raja Khalidi, Elizabeth A. Povinelli and Vivian Ziherl, ‘The Symphony Of Late Liberalism In Palestine: A Conversation Between Raja Khalidi, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, And Vivian Ziherl’, Jadaliyya - جدلية, 2016 [Accessed 6 January 2019].

15 Povinelli, Economies Of Abandonment, p.26.—I will expand on the specificity of this term, and provide an example of an implementation, later in this chapter.

16 Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Economies Of Abandonment (Durham [N.C.]: Duke University Press, 2011), p.xvi-xvii.

17 Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism (Durham [N.C.]: Duke University Press, 2016), p.169.

18 Ibid., p.169.

19 Ibid., p.172.

20 Jennifer Wenzel, Bulletproof: Afterlives of Anticolonial Prophecy in South Africa and Beyond (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), p.184.

21 Umut Özsu, ‘“In The Interests Of Mankind As A Whole”: Mohammed Bedjaoui’s New International Economic Order’, Humanity, 6.1 (2015), 129-143 (p.129).

22 For instance, the US was fighting an increasingly expensive war in Vietnam while also trying to fund its utopian Great Society programme.

23 Arthur Foch, ‘Explaining the G7 and G10’s influence on World Bank decisions: The role of formal and informal rules of governance’, Documents de travail du Centre d’Economie de la Sorbonne, 2013.35.—Foch surveys a selection of analyses of the International Financial Institutions’ biases when providing funding: 'Andersen et al., (2005) and Kilby (2009) show that developing countries with votes aligned on the US’ one at the UN general assembly have a stronger probability of receiving loans from the WB. Harrigan et al., (2006), demonstrate that the probability for countries to receive a loan from the WB and the IMF is substantially determined by political factors that favour Western countries such as the implementation of pro-western foreign policies or the degree of political liberalisation. Killick (1995) shows that one third of the 17 countries examined have received better terms of loans from the IMF thanks to the intervention of some of its major shareholders.’—From p. 6.

24 Nils Gilman, 'The New International Economic Order: A Reintroduction’, Humanity, 6.1 (2015), 1-16 (p.7).—See also Uptight in Babylon, in which Sean L. Molloy has argued that the people of Vietnam were confronting American imperialism at the same time as the Black Panther Party were fighting it off in Oakland and so what formed was a globalised aesthetic and ideological blend of ‘Third World symbols and rhetoric, a loosely Marxist economic analysis, and a distinctive verbal and visual style’.—From Sean L. Molloy, ‘Uptight In Babylon', Diplomatic History, 37.3 (2013), 538-571 (p.551).

25 Michel Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington, and Joji Watanuki, The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission, (New York: New York University Press, 1975).

26 Joan Didion famously depicts this state of crisis in Slouching Towards Bethlehem: ‘The centre was not holding. It was a country of bankruptcy notices and public-auction announcements and commonplace reports of casual killings and misplaced children and abandoned homes and vandals who misplaced even the four-letter words they scrawled.’

What is perhaps most interesting here though is Didion’s focus on what Povinelli would come to term the quasi-event, ‘It was not a country in open revolution. It was not a country under enemy siege. It was the United States of America in the cold late spring of 1967, and the market was steady and the G.N.P. high and a great many articulate people seemed to have a sense of high social purpose and it might have been a spring of brave hopes and national promise, but it was not, and more and more people had the uneasy apprehension that it was not. All that seemed clear was that at some point we had aborted ourselves and butchered the job, and because nothing else seemed so relevant I decided to go to San Francisco. San Francisco was where the social haemorrhaging was showing up.’—From Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem’, in Slouching Towards Bethlehem (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1968), pp. 84–122 (p. 84).

27 Although the NIEO had no defined preference for what internal economic structuring nations chose, the assumption was that they would be broadly capitalist in essence. It can be speculated that the enforcement of internal economic structures would not have been as severe as the practices of the IMF and the World Bank. Despite the NIEO’s accommodating nature towards state bound capitalism, the global system would be a sort of socialism among states in which a redistribution of the accumulated wealth in the North would be dispersed among former colonies and other Southern states.

28 Ruth Felder, ‘From Bretton Woods to Neoliberal Reforms: the International Financial Institutions and American Power’, in American Empire and the Political Economy of Global Finance, ed. by Leo Panitch and Martijn Konings (London: Palgrave Macmillam, 2009). pp. 175-197.

29 Raja Khalidi, Elizabeth A. Povinelli and Vivian Ziherl, ‘The Symphony Of Late Liberalism In Palestine’.

30 Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, ed. by Michel Senellart, trans. by Graham Burchell (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).—See Lecture 4 for the multiplicity of practices of government, pp. 87-114.

31 Michel Foucault, ‘The Birth of Biopolitics’, in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, ed. by Paul Rabinow, trans. by Robert Hurley and others (New York: The New Press, 1997), pp. 73–79 (p.73-74).

32 Foucault, ‘The Birth of Biopolitics’, p.74.

33 Ibid.

34 Michael A. Peters, 'Neoliberal Governmentality: Foucault On The Birth Of Biopolitics’,in Gouvernementalität Und Erziehungswissenschaft, ed. by Susanne Weber (Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2006), pp. 37-49 (p.39).

35 Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Volume 1 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1990), p. 138. For more on this distinction see also the lecture delivered at the Collège de France on 17 March 1976. In Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, trans. by David Macey (London: Penguin, 2004), p. 240.

36 Thomas Lemke, ‘"The Birth Of Bio-Politics”: Michel Foucault's Lecture At The Collège De France On Neo-Liberal Governmentality’, Economy And Society, 30.2 (2001), 190-207 (p. 197)—Lemke understands the Chicago School in contradistinction to the Ordo-liberals of the Friebug School: ‘Foucault suggests that the key element in the Chicago School’s approach is their consistent expansion of the economic form to apply to the social sphere, thus eliding any difference between the economy and the social. In the process, they transpose economic analytical schemata and criteria for economic decision making onto spheres which are not, or certainly not exclusively, economic areas, or indeed stand out for differing from any economic rationality. Whereas the Ordo-liberals in West Germany pursued the idea of governing society in the name of the economy, the US neo-liberals attempt to re-define the social sphere as a form of the economic domain. The model of rational-economic action serves as a principle for justifying and limiting governmental action, in which context government itself becomes a sort of enterprise whose task it is to universalize competition and invent market-shaped systems of action for individuals, groups and institutions.’

37 Thomas Hobbes, ‘Chapter XIII: Of the Natural Condition of Mankind, as Concerning their Felicity, and Misery’, in Leviathan, (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1909), pp. 94-98.—The most commonly quoted evidence would be Hobbes’ preposition that ‘during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called warre; and such a warre as is of every man against every man’.—From p. 96.

However, I would like to propose that for our purposes two other sections from this chapter act as useful examples of the assumed violence that belies the atomisation of the liberal subject, in which an original and universal equality is presumed as opposed to the extimacy of the Lacanian subject that I will explore in chapter two: ‘For every man looketh that his companion should value him, at the same rate he sets upon himself: and upon all signs of contempt, or undervaluing, naturally endeavours, as far as he dares, (which amongst them that have no common power to keep them in quiet, is far enough to make them destroy each other), to extort a greater value from his contemners, by dommage; and from others, by the example’.—From pp. 95–96; and ‘therefore at if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies; and in the way to their end, which is principally their own conservation, and sometimes their delectation only, endeavour to destroy, or subdue one another’.—From p. 95.

38 Thomas Lemke, ‘"The Birth Of Bio-Politics”: Michel Foucault's Lecture At The Collège De France On Neo-Liberal Governmentality’, p. 200.

39 Ibid., p.200.

40 Foucault posits that this stems from the Ordo-liberal doctrine of the Freiburg School who, acting in the aftermath of the Second World War, no longer had to limit an already present state in order to found a free-market with economic liberty. A historical mission, based in transcendent theorisations, could no longer be the justification for a new national doctrine whereas the ostensibly objective logic of free-market competition was sufficiently absent of, or perhaps less admitting of, discriminatory ideology.

41 Ibid., p.197.

42 Wendy Brown, Undoing The Demos (New York: Zone Books, 2017), p. 67.

43 Ibid., p.68.

44 Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man (London: Routledge, 1964), pp. 21-58.—‘Class struggles are attenuated and "imperialist contradictions" suspended before the threat from without. Mobilised against this threat, capitalist society shows an internal union and cohesion unknown at previous stages of industrial civilisation. It is a cohesion on very material grounds; mobilisation against the enemy works as a mighty stimulus of production and employment, thus sustaining the high standard of living. On these grounds, there arises a universe of administration in which depressions are controlled and conflicts stabilised by the beneficial effects of growing productivity and threatening nuclear war.’—From pp. 23-24.

45 Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–79, ed. Michel Senellart, trans. by Graham Burchell (New York: Picador, 2004), p.84.

46 Vanessa Lemm and Miguel Vatter, "Michel Foucault’s Perspective On Biopolitics", in Handbook Of Biology And Politics (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017), pp. 40-52 (p. 43).

47 Ibid, p.43.—Internal quotes from Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, p. 255.

48 Mona Lilja and Stellan Vinthagen provide an incredibly useful service in identifying the acts of resistance most appropriate for the three forms of power that Foucault conceptualises. For this instance, ‘sovereign power is about claiming the monopoly to violently or forcefully repress certain behaviour and/or command other behaviour, resistance becomes a matter of breaking such commands or repressions; that is, doing what is illegal or doing things for deviant interests and circumventing, undermining the sovereignty of power centres.’—From Mona Lilja and Stellan Vinthagen, ‘Sovereign power, disciplinary power and biopower: resisting what power with what resistance?’, Journal of Political Power, 7.1 (2014), 107–126 (p.113).

49 Povinelli, Economies of Abandonment, p.26

50 David Naguib Pellow, Resisting Global Toxics (Cumberland: MIT Press, 2014), p. 9.

51 Brown, Undoing The Demos, p.78.

52 Joseph Tanke, 'The Final “Final Foucault”?’, Los Angeles Review of Books, 2018 [Accessed 6 January 2019].

53 Ibid.

54 Keti Chukhrov, ‘Sexuality In A Non-Libidinal Economy', e-flux Journal, 54 (2014) [Accessed 6 January 2019].

55 Ibid.

56 David Pavón-Cuéllar, ‘Extimacy’, in Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology, ed. by Thomas Two (New York: Springer, 2014), pp. 661-664 (p.662)

57 Jacques Lacan, Écrits, trans. Bruce Fink, (New York: W.W. Norton, 2007), p.80.

58 Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XX: Encore, 1972- 1973, ed. by Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. by Bruce Fink (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1998), p.111-112.

59 Jacques Lacan, ‘Some reflections on the ego’, The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 34 (1953), 11-17 (p.13).

60 For Freud, the libido is the denied of metaphysics: a sexually motivated, bodily drive of the unconscious. Lacan engages in a certain dialogue with Freud on this subject but notes an insufficiency in his articulation:

Libido, in Freud's work, is an energy that can be subjected to a kind of quantification which is all the easier to introduce in theory as it is useless, since only certain quanta of constancy are recognised therein.

Its sexual colouring, so categorically maintained by Freud as its most cen­tral feature, is the colour of emptiness: suspended in the light of a gap.

This gap is the gap desire encounters at the limits imposed upon it by the principle ironically referred to as the "pleasure principle," the latter being relegated to a reality which, indeed, is but the field of praxis here.—From Lacan, Écrits, p. 851–852.

Following Freud’s development of the libido theory with its replacement by the two inherent urges of Eros and the death drive, there still remained problems of articulation that stemmed from Freud’s dualist positioning of the id and the ego/superego. It entrenches a binary in Freud’s later work that he struggles to overcome in defining the two base instincts of Eros and the death drive that can, he believes, both ‘operate against each other or combine with each other. Thus, the act of eating is a destruction of the object with the final aim of incorporating it, and the sexual act is an act of aggression with the purpose of the most intimate union.’—From Sigmund Freud, Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works, Vol. 23 (London: Hogarth Press, 1953–65), p. 149–150.

It is Lacan’s notion of jouissance that manages to express the extimate nature of this relationship.

61 Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan I: Freud's Papers on Technique, 1953–54, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. John Forrester (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). And Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan II: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954–55, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. Sylvana Tomaselli (New York: W. W. Norton, 1988).

62 Slavoj Žižek, The Sublime Object Of Ideology (London: Verso, 2002), p.20.

63 Philippe Julien, Jacques Lacan's Return To Freud, trans. by Devra Beck Simiu, (New York University Press, 1994), p. 34.

64 Elizabeth A. Povinelli, ‘Horizons and Frontiers, Late Liberal Territoriality, and Toxic Habitats’, e-flux Journal, 90 (2018) <https://www.e-flux.com/journal/90/191186/horizons-and-frontiers-late-liberal-territoriality-and-toxic-habitats/> [Accessed 8 September 2019].

65 Francis Fukuyama, The End Of History And The Last Man (London: Penguin, 2012).

66 Soli Özel, 'The Transatlantic Drift And The Waning Of Turkey’s "Strategic Westernness”’, Heinrich Böll Stiftung European Union, 2018 [Accessed 24 April 2018].

67 Povinelli, ‘Horizons and Frontiers, Late Liberal Territoriality, and Toxic Habitats’.

68 Slavoj Žižek, ‘Lacan—At What Point is he Hegelian?’, in Interrogating the Real, ed. by Rex Butler and Scott Stevens (London: Continuum, 2005), pp. 32-41 (p. 36).

69 Ibid., p. 33.

70 Ibid., p. 34.

71 Diana Gasparyan, ‘Mirror for the Other: Problem of the Self in Continental Philosophy (From Hegel To Lacan)’, Integrative Psychological And Behavioral Science, 48 (2013), 1-17 (p. 7).

72 Frances Berenson, ‘Hegel on Others and the Self’, Philosophy, 57 (1982), 77-90 (p. 79).

73 G. W. F. Hegel, Hegel's Philosophy Of Mind, trans. William Wallace (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1894), p. 246-247.

74 Berenson, ‘Hegel on Others and the Self’, p. 81.

75 Wes Furlotte, ‘Lack And The Spurious Infinite: Towards A New Reading Of Hegel’s Philosophy Of Nature’, in Rethinking German Idealism (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2016), pp. 191-214 (p. 201).

76 Roger Frie, Subjectivity And Intersubjectivity In Modern Philosophy And Psychoanalysis (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997).

77 G. W. F. Hegel, 'Independence and Dependence of Self-Consciousness: Lordship and Bondage’, in Phenomenology Of Spirit, trans. A. V Miller, and J. N Findlay,  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), pp. 111-119.—‘Self-consciousness is faced by another self-consciousness; it has come out of itself. This has a twofold significance: first, it has lost itself, for it finds itself as an other being; secondly, in doing so it has superseded the other, for it does not see the other as an essential being, but in the other sees its own self.’ From §179, p. 111.

78 Kojève’s preeminent role in introducing Hegel to the continent means that it is Kojève’s interpretation of dialectical historicity that has been so influential. I have therefore used his translation as it proves most apt when exposing the inherent violences of assimilation.

79 Alan Badiou, ‘Hegel's Master And Slave’, Crisis And Critique, 4.1 (2017), 34-47 (p. 36).

80 Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, trans. Hazel E Barnes (London: Routledge, 1969), p. 225, 238.

81 G. W. F. Hegel, 'Independence and Dependence of Self-Consciousness: Lordship and Bondage’, in Phenomenology Of Spirit, trans. A. V Miller, and J. N Findlay,  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), pp. 111-119 (§178, p.111).

82 Brown, Undoing the Demos, p.78

83 Evelien Geerts and Iris van der Tuin, ‘The Feminist Futures of Reading Diffractively: How Barad's Methodology Replaces Conflict-based Readings of Beauvoir and Irigaray’, Rhizomes, 30 (2014), §3.

84 Alexandre Kojève, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit, ed. by Allan Bloom, trans. by James H. Nicholas , Jr (New York: Cornell University Press, 1980), p.45.

85 Elizabeth A. Povinelli, ‘After the Last Man: Images and Ethics of Becoming Otherwise’, e-flux Journal, 35 (2012) <https://www.e-flux.com/journal/35/68380/after-the-last-man-images-and-ethics-of-becoming-otherwise/> [Accessed 8 September 2019].

86 These have both been explored on the same axis—through the addition of further stanzas—in another iteration of Povinelli’s Symphony of Late Liberalism from within the context of Vivian Ziherl’s curatorial project Frontier Imaginaries, commissioned by the Al Ma’mal Foundation for the third Qalandiya International in Palestine.

For further examples of work that are similarly exploring the questions of this dissertation—namely the striking of an ethical stance that curtails and redistributes violence—one could also turn to Forensic Architecture and their mission to 'turn the sensibilities of critical theory toward an auto-critique that helps us navigate the political and legal fields’ and counter ‘the poststructuralist theorists coopted by the Israeli army [who are] known for their critiques of representation.’—From Eyal Weizman, Hal Foster and Yves-Alain Bois, ‘On Forensic Architecture: A Conversation with Eyal Weizman’, October, 156 (2016), pp. 116-140 (p. 120).

Entanglement, or extimacy, as a notion in itself can still reproduce and encourage the enactment of violence if the agency contained in these relationships are not attended to: Eyal Weizman points to a moment in which refugees are fleeing Libya but are refused help by NATO forces tasked with overthrowing Gaddafi: an ‘entangled situation gets even more entangled when the NATO boats and planes, in order not to be distracted from their humanitarian intervention, let about eighty people die in the boat.’—From Weizman, Foster and Bois, ‘On Forensic Architecture: A Conversation with Eyal Weizman’, p. 135.

87 Judith Butler, ‘My Life, Your Life: Equality And The Philosophy Of Non-Violence’, Gifford Lectures, 2018.

88 Brown, Undoing the Demos, p.68. See also—Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–79.

89 Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–79, p. 120.

90 An interesting note is that for our purposes, Hegel and Lacan act as avatars of sorts, representative of the notional conceptualisation of continental philosophy and the observed theories of psychoanalysis. Tracking the conceptualisations of the Self and Other through the shift from philosophy to psychology washes us up on the shores of present perspective. The lines Lacan drew between philosophy and psychoanalysis, the lines of separation between the metaphysics and the ‘specific empirical equivalents’ [from Gasparyan, ‘Mirror for the Other’, p. 11.] of phenomena in the real life of the subject that is psychology, are telling of the möbius relationship in Western thought between the two: the negation of philosophy by psychoanalysis is internal to it—‘psychoanalytic theory refers to a gap/antagonism which philosophy blurs but which simultaneously grounds philosophy’ [from Žižek, Slavoj, ‘Between Philosophy And Psychoanalysis, 3’, Birkbeck Institute of the Humanities, 2016]. This in itself is a perfect example of the extimate existence of these disciplines.

91 Elements of the Philosophy of Right, ed. by Allen Wood, trans. by H. B. Nisbet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), §258.

92 Paul Franco, ‘Hegel and Liberalism’, The Review of Politics, 59 (1997), 831-860 (p. 836).

93 Judith Butler, ‘Walter Benjamin and the Critique of Violence', in Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), pp. 69-98 (p.70).

94 Butler, ‘Walter Benjamin and the Critique of Violence', p. 77.

95 Butler, ‘My Life, Your Life: Equality And The Philosophy Of Non-Violence’.

96 Ibid.

97 Ibid.

98 Etienne Balibar, Violence And Civility, trans. G. M Goshgarian (New York: Columbia university press, 2015), p.34.

99 Ibid., p.35.

100 Ibid., p.34.

101 Ibid., p. 36.

102 Judith Butler, ‘Distinctions on Violence and Nonviolence’, European Graduate School Public Lectures, 2017.

103 Butler, ‘My Life, Your Life: Equality And The Philosophy Of Non-Violence’.

104 Ibid.

105 Balibar, Violence And Civility, p. 104.

106 Ibid., p. 111.

107 Ibid., p. 112.

108 Ibid., p. 114

109 Ibid., p. 126.

110 Rosa Braidotti, ‘The Becoming-Minoritarian of Europe’, in Deleuze and the Contemporary World, ed. by Adrian Parr and Ian Buchanan (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006), pp. 79-94 (p. 81).

111 Ibid., p. 92.

112 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, ‘Becoming-Intense, Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible...', in A Thousand Plateaus, trans. by Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), pp. 232-309 (p. 292).

113 Balibar, Violence And Civility, pp. 125-126.

114 Povinelli expounds on this imaginary of the surround in an essay written for e-flux Journal that I have cited earlier in relation to the liberalist ideological end-game of universal recognition: ‘But if the dominant image of this theory of desire and democracy begins as a horizon, it ends as something very different. If liberal democracy is the horizon of desire already inscribed in the fight for recognition (the orientation and end of human becoming, and thus the end of history itself), then when liberal democracy has been universally achieved, human historical becoming collapses into a satisfied human state of being. The horizon then becomes what I will call a surround, a form of enclosure without a wall or gate. The surround is without an opening. It is an infinity of homogeneous space and time. It is an “everywhere at the same time” and a “nowhere else.” One can go here or there in the surround but it really makes no difference because there are no meaningful distinctions left to orient oneself—to determine where one goes or what one believes or holds true. To paraphrase Nietzsche, there is no shepherd or herd in the surround. Everyone wants the same because they are the same. Even the hope of the madhouse, as the place where difference is interned, is lost because difference no longer exists.’—From Elizabeth A. Povinelli, ‘After the Last Man: Images and Ethics of Becoming Otherwise’.

115 Édouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation, trans. by Betsy Wing (Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1997), p.212.

116 Ibid., p. 212.

117 Ibid., p. 14.

118 Elizabeth A. Povinelli and Martina Angelotti, "Elizabeth Povinelli In Conversation With Martina Angelotti On The Karrabing Film Collective", Visibleproject, 2015 [Accessed 16 January 2019].

119 Ibid.

120 Povinelli, Geontologies, p.147-148.

121 Ibid., p.148.

122 Ibid., p. 149.

123 Keller Easterling provides interesting examples of the entanglements of extra-state infrastructure and their subliminal yet powerful significance, ‘until recently, East Africa, one of the most populous areas of the world, had no fiber-optic submarine cable link and less than 1 percent of the world’s broadband capacity. A country like Kenya had to rely for its broadband on expensive satellite technology acquired in the 1970s that cost twenty to forty times its equivalent in the developed world. Before 2009, one Mbps (megabit per second) of bandwidth could cost as much as 7,500 US dollars per month against the world average of $200. The monthly cost of putting twenty-five agents on the phone was $17,000 a month instead of the $600–900 that it would cost in other developed countries.’—From Keller Easterling, Extrastatecraft (London: Verso, 2014), p. 176. Apple ebook.

124 Povinelli, Geontologies, p. 165.

125 Ibid., p. 161.

126 Ibid.

127 A useful summary of Povinelli’s intended usage of the concept of geontology and geontopower can be found in the interview held with her for Theory, Culture & Society: ‘Thus the point of the concepts of geontology and geontopower is not to found a new ontology of objects, nor to establish a new metaphysics of power, nor to adjudicate the possibility or impossibility of the human ability to know the Truth of the world of things. Rather they are concepts meant to help make visible the figural tactics of late liberalism as a longstanding biontological orientation and distribution of power crumbles, losing its efficacy as a self-evident backdrop to reason. I explored this operation in the supposed height of cultural recognition’s embrace of the Other in “Do Rocks Listen?”’—From Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Mathew Coleman and Kathryn Yusoff, ‘An Interview with Elizabeth Povinelli: Geontopower, Biopolitics and the Anthropocene’, Theory, Culture & Society, 34.2–3 (2017), 169–185 (p. 173).

128 Povinelli, Geontologies, p. 148.

129 Ibid., p. 150.

130 Kim Christen and Chris Cooney, ‘Digital Dynamics across Cultures’, Vectors. <http://vectors.usc.edu/projects/index.php?project=67> [Accessed 6th January 2019]. To interact with the project, follow this link: <http://vectors.usc.edu/issues/3/digitaldynamics/>

131 Povinelli, Geontologies, p. 152.

132 Christen and Cooney, ‘Digital Dynamics across Cultures’.

133 Povinelli, Geontologies, p. 152.

134 Ibid., p. 157.

135 Ibid., p. 162.

136 Ibid.

137 Glissant identifies these as the Old Testament, the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Chansons de Geste, the Islandic Sagas, the Aeneid or the African Epics. Although inherently about errantry, it is suffice to say that, ‘and this is an immense paradox’, the ideological cooptation that these texts were far from these ideals: 'These are books of errantry, going beyond the pursuits and triumphs of rootedness required by the evolution of history.’—From Glissant, Poetics of Relation, pp. 15–16.

138 Glissant, Poetics of Relation, p. 211.

139 Max Hantel, ‘Errant Notes on a Carribean Rhizome’, Rhizomes, 24 (2014), §3.

140 Ibid., §36.

141 Povinelli, ‘Horizons and Frontiers, Late Liberal Territoriality, and Toxic Habitats’.

142 Ibid.

143 What Viveiros de Castro demonstrates in the notion of perspectivism is that when a Western anthropological study is undertaken, the peoples studied are not merely separated and misunderstood due to a cultural difference but, more importantly, from a completely different ontology that is used to frame their existence: ‘Viveiros had proposed the term ‘perspectivism’ for a mode that could not possibly hold inside the narrow strictures of nature versus culture, since for the Indians he was studying, human culture is what binds all beings together – animals and plants included – whereas they are divided by their different natures, that is, their bodies.’—From Bruno Latour, ‘Perspectivism: “Type" or “bomb”?’, Anthropology Today, 25.2 (2009), 1-2 (p. 1).

144 Glissant, Poetics of Relation, p. 17.

145 Chukhrov, ‘Sexuality In A Non-Libidinal Economy’.

146 Ibid.

147 Ibid.

148 Ibid.

149 Ibid.

150 Povinelli, Elizabeth A., Mathew Coleman and Kathryn Yusoff, ‘An Interview with Elizabeth Povinelli: Geontopower, Biopolitics and the Anthropocene’, p. 181.

151 Butler, ‘My Life, Your Life: Equality And The Philosophy Of Non-Violence’.

152 Squibb and Povinelli, ‘Elizabeth A. Povinelli On The Four Axioms Of Critical Theory’, 42m46s.

153 Ibid., 43m40s.

154 Terry Eagleton, After Theory (London: Penguin, 2003), p. 173.

155 Povinelli, Geontologies, p. 157.

156 Ibid., p.153.

157 Brown, Undoing the Demos, p. 78.

158 Foucault, ‘Theatrum Philosophicum’, p. 364.

159 Ibid.

160 Ibid.

161 Glissant, Poetics of Relation, p. 20.