American Pragmatism


the geometry of the thing couldn't be any more obvious: a rectangle with standardized dimensions and rounded corners; a swath of freshly zambonied ice about half the width of the rink; a puck from dead middle centre ice on a plumb line straight vertical to the goal; a goaltender crouching in the way, also dead centre on this plumb line to victory.

modern sport writ large: sochi olympic men's ice hockey prelims; usa vs. russia; shootout; tj oshie is picked to shoot an unprecedented 6 times and almost single-handedly lifts team usa to the win.

but it's the style of the how which concerns us here, not simply the 4 goals oshie scored (after beating the russian goalie bobrovsky cleanly on all 6 attempts, it should be added). what was so devastating about his approach?

think expressive lines. it begins in the difference from the line oshie takes relative to the plumb vertical, not to mention the more normative lines skated by other players in shootout situations.

the orthodox lines that constitute shootout normativity? think of full-bore speed straight down the plumb line with a little deke at the goalmouth; or one big arc before coming to the strong hand and sniping from the slot; or the dangle that emerges at the end from an otherwise gentle wave of a line; or that crazy mess of a scribbled line when the coach puts in the wrong shooter to win the game — the indecisive line.

(or perhaps putting the brakes on, right before the crease, showering the goldtender in the eyes with a little snowy blindness?)

oshie has taken flight from this expressive normativity in a number of ways. first, the tempo: his opening arc is extremely slow relative to the average shooter, and the pace and shape of the arc somehow suggest a snake charmer conjuring the relational cobra with a tune. second, his use of space: he explores almost the entire width of the freshly flooded ice, even to the point of skating beyond that outer limit a few times (and in the process suffering stumbles to otherwise smooth curves).


because of the first two, slowness and width of arc, there emerges a third: oshie is able to complete a pretty full two turns of generous and seductive curvature in the opening of his approach, relative to what is usually at most only one. as a result he doesn't reveal his handedness too early to bobrovsky (which is to say his contextual handedness — ie. front or back hand — rather than a general handedness — ie. left or right shot).

these turns are of descending amplitude: there is a gravitational pulling-towards the epicentre that is the goal, oshie generating an intensity with the big slow arcs before the lightning and chaotic finish right at the net. it is vortical: his line expresses a tornado that has bobrovsky as its subject and the goal right behind if the displacement is successful enough ("in other words, a figure in which all the points of space are simultaneously occupied according to laws of frequency or of accumulation, distribution" — d+g, atp, p.489). oshie has shortened the phase of the relational tango between he and bobrovsky using an exponential time signature on skates.

(it is noteworthy that oshie's stumbles from going wide on the opening turn didn't necessarily result in a miss; in fact, they seemed to add even more chaos to the approach, allowing oshie a greater disequilibrium with/in which to play at the goal.)


so which one of these lines or attempts constitutes oshie's "ideal form", then?

of course it is the topology itself — the biogram — held within a sort of statistical probability of lines that may be expressed. it is all six of the attempts, and more ("a physics of packs, turbulences, 'catastrophes,' and epidemics corresponding to a geometry of war, of the art of war and its machines" — d+g, atp, p.489). it is oshie's ability to manipulate and intensify experiential time, and then quickly read the relational tango that emerges such to avoid formatted routines. and it is the confidence born of inherited results which ultimately state either a functional yes or no — even if you've beaten the goalie cleanly on six and only scored on four.

on accelerating

iBolt (No.22)

on the surface it seems profoundly anti-"ecological" (to use a term floating around right now) to go wholesale into an acceleration: ecologies are more profoundly periods of stillness mixed with accelerations. the latter are very traumatic, especially when considered intensively — childbirth is an acceleration of sorts, in which the "speed" and "distance" involved don't seem like much, and yet are extremely traumatic in both material and psychic senses (and we could include the traumas of other accelerations, such as returning from space travel, car accidents, the fall of the Berlin Wall, etc. etc.).

what sort of ruptures, tears and detachments would be implied in an accelerationism at the planetary level?

before this technical infrastructure was "turned on", so to speak, i'd love to know more about the ontological, epistemological and ethical problems entailed — for example, collaborative decision-making which is shot through by speed and its intensified fragmentation of part-knowledges and part-subjects.

since it wouldn't be animals, rocks or other "objects" creating these technical infrastructures it seems fair to ask these questions even if they seem a little "humanist" in the process.




in the meantime, can we start more simply by "training" for an accelerationist world, not unlike how a world-class sprinter would do: by dialing up tempo and intensity incrementally, learning how to endure, speeding up and slowing down "schizostrategically" (to use joseph's term), allowing traumas (muscular, psychic, relational) to heal more readily, all while preparing for the "big race" — even if we don't know what or when said race is, or if it is for a people to come?


(thoughts that have been gestating for a while, and which have only "accelerated" since reading nick srnicek and alex williams' #accelerate manifesto and mckenzie wark's response a few weeks ago.)




kleinian kisses need stitching
breathing, and leaking
at the seams

seems like only yesterday
you tore free
from me, in me
and me to be


come, rated as such and dated as much
blue breath whispers
time written flee


seems extreme
this veering theme


explosive dreams need sequencing
mines stuttering cuts and pasting
and stitching
ocular gauze


three stitches or less
by exxxtension
impulsive tears by the tens
in another frame of mine

images of thought lying tattered
knead breath, defibrilly



(for all the gadflies and barflies.)