One-Eyed, One-Armed

Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, p.424 (boldface emphasis added):

The State apparatus is thus animated by a curious rhythm, which is first of all a great mystery: that of the Binder-Gods or magic emperors, One-Eyed men emitting from their single eye signs that capture, tie knots at a distance. The jurist-kings, on the other hand, are One-Armed men who raise their single arm as an element of right and technology, the law and the tool. … This is not to say that one has exclusive right to signs, the other to tools. The fearsome emperor is already the master of large-scale works; the wise king takes up and transforms the entire regime of signs. What it means is that the combination, signs-tools, constitutes the differential trait of political sovereignty, or the complementarity of the State.

Courtesy of CBS

Can we not suggest that the two poles of sovereignty as they constitute the sporting Empire might be the sports-media production complex and the world anti-doping authorities? The first symbolically represented by the eye of CBS and the second by the juridical arm of Dick Pound?

Dick Pound

Spectacle and the cosmos of sign-constellations. Surveillance and the endocolonization of the body athletic. The first already the master of large scale works in terms of a massive, "networked" televisual production and distribution system rivaling the great aqueducts of Ancient Rome. The second taking up and transforming the regime of signs, for example by substituting the press conference for the podium ceremony as in the case of Beckie Scott, who was awarded a gold medal two years after the fact. One, an economy dependent on speed; the other, a nexus of power that seeks to curtail or limit speed.

Now, the interior of the running body becomes the smooth space within which this athletic war machine operates. What new methods, techniques, modalities, substances, agents might facilitate the quest for speed? The nomadic running-warrior continually seeks to find out and, consequently, its body must be striated, visioned, measured and administered by the State. In concert with the Newtonian physics that describe the earlier regime of disciplinary technologies, we now find biological, chemical and information systems subsumed under a contemporary regime of semiotic control: Nielsen ratings, steroid structures, world records, Q-scores, urine metabolites and markers, sponsorship contracts, masking agents, metres per second squared; all related on the one hand to global flows of capital and on the other to protein structures in the athletic body.

As an aside, the traditional nation-state plays a subordinated role in both of these poles of sovereignty. The media companies and their corporate sponsors are increasingly subject to the tides of global commerce and transnational capital, while becoming less beholden to national boundaries and laws. And WADA, which is a direct descendant of the International Olympic Committee, is today only tangentially accountable to its individual member nation-states. What complicates matters, however, is that most of the high-performance sport that attracts the interest of WADA (and to a lesser extent the sport-media complex) is still contested under the paradigm of nationalism.


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