Posted by: Rajesh Shukla | June 22, 2010

The one big hole.

Ramkumar, The City, 1960s

The wise ruler “causes others to love”. He makes the people “delight in war,” so that “they behave like hungry wolves on seeing meat” . He “establishes what they desire”..

“If God is a despot for religions then technical reproduction and market is big hole God of capitalism. Everything refers to it, every value must proof its utility to it. ”

Unless the people are made one, there is no way to make them attain their desire. Therefore, they are made one; as a result of this unification, their strength is consolidated, and in consequence of this consolidation, they are strong. … A country that knows how to produce strength … bars all private roads for gratifying their ambition and opens only one gate through which they can attain their desire … It can make the people do what they hate in order to reach what they desire.

All doors of desire are closed save one. Behind the closed doors lie cultivated pleasures. These imply leisure. Which in turn implies shelter from the most basic demands of the state. Sheltered, a body is free to indulge. Its satisfactions, as listed among the lice, are of three kinds: consumptive (having a physical object such as food, another body, or a material possession), reflective (having an intellectualized object, as in the case of music and wit), and preservative (moral training, family ritual, the only object of which is reproduction). Consumptive and the preservative satisfactions go hand in hand. The former, by their very nature, require constant replenishment. The latter assure the physical availability of the necessary objects through the perpetuation of an amenably sheltering social order. Combined, they mitigate the dangers posed by either in isolation: outright hedonism or utter stagnation. Reflective satisfactions contribute to this mutual control loop, but also present a danger of their own: a kind of aesthetic hedonism that would be next to impossible to stop once it took off on its own, due to the slippery nature of its intellectualized objects.

The closed doors lead to an arena of more or less superfluous activity privileging repeated, object-oriented satisfaction and reproduction. The open door leads directly to the predatory thrill of pursuit and attack, a joy so immediate that all concern for consequences disappears. “For the sake of our superiors, we (the people) forget our love of life” . For the people, as desired by the ruler, there is no object, not even self-preservation. The process of coinciding with the ruler’s desire is its own reward. The prey–its specific attributes, the predator’s enjoyment of them after the capture (in other words whether any given wolf eats the meat)–is irrelevant. It is more the stimulus than the destination of a drive. The ruling drive with which the people coincide as they die is fueled by interim objects, but has no end. There is always another state to conquer, and when they all fall there are still seas to cross. The insanity of an infinite outward rush replaces the reasoned circularity of social reproduction attended by the petty satisfactions of privilege. A ‘barbaric,’ ultimately objectless, one-time orgiastic expenditure replaces the limited excesses of the repetition-compulsion of ‘civilization’ and its contents.

The channelization of energies toward war and away from semi-privatized or familialized satisfactions is not a repression, or even a sublimation, so much as an immediate conversion of investments that retain their directly libidinal nature. The people must be made to do what they hate–place themselves in bodily danger, forego the sophisticated pleasures of good food and witty conversation, turn their backs to the sweet rigors of morality and ritual–in order to give themselves over to an intenser love, the life-consuming pull of predation in fusion with the person of the ruler as State desire in the raw.

An excepts from the book ‘The Absolute State and the Body of the Despot’ by Kenneth Dean and Brian Massumi.


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