Twilight in the Eyeholes, or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer
"Weary thought, incapable of maintaining itself on the plane of immanence, can no longer bear the infinite speeds of the third kind that, in the manner of a vortex, measure the concept’s copresence to all its intensive components at once. It falls back on the relative speeds that concern only the succession of movement from one point to another, from one extensive component to an other, from an idea to another, and that measure simple associations without being able to reconstitute any concept."
(Gilles Deleuze, What is Philosophy?, p.214; quoted by Isabelle Stengers)
"Plug in, mecha butterfly kraftwerker!"
(sportsbabel, april 2012)
"Of course he and she can as easily be she and he (and everything in between). The point is not so much the singular biological body that performs the role of catcher, but rather the catcher's affective modulation of pitching, hitting and adjudicating bodies through a proximity of flesh resonance that we have come to identify as the feminine — expressed in the signal of the called pitch. Ronell's figure of the switchboard operator looms present in this context, though the linguistic signals of telecommunication have been replaced, at least in part, by a more subtle consideration of co-resonance with these three other performing bodies."
(sportsbabel, march 2010)
"Of course, the direct human agency involved to trigger the commands and activate the card stunt emerges as a fourth required element to follow the first three, which during the history of college football is a responsibility that has fallen to the cheerleading corps. Given the gendered histories of cheerleading in football, we might inquire into the specific ways that women were involved with triggering these program activation commands. It seems not a stretch to read the figure of the card stunt leader in resonance with both Kittler's figure of the typist and Ronell's figure of the switchboard operator — that is, one (woman) who can both inscribe a new flow of coded data as well as one who can connect an existing flow-in-potential, suggesting further that the history of technotext is always already a feminist one."
(sportsbabel, february 2010)
[help side defence,
or the tactile recalibration of peripheral vision,
or the hands of the clock at 13h50 -- just past high noon.]
"The faster we go, the more we look ahead in anticipation and lose our lateral vision."
(Paul Virilio, The Administration of Fear, p.36)
"Whiteness as blindness, as third type of blindness in which one sees with one's eyes open to the world, yet sees nothing. Not the absence of light and the consequent darkness that renders one incapable of seeing, nor the total intensification of light on the retinal receptors such that one is blinded by its sheer intensity and has a visceral reaction, which forces a closure of the eyes to get relief from the pain (as when looking at a sunny sky after being in a dark room). But a visible sightlessness that Antony Gormley helps us perceive, a third type of blindness in which one listens and touches, in which objects emerge from the white fog of chaos only at the penultimate moment of proximity."
(sportsbabel, june 2012)
a recursive game of prisoner's dilemma
The problem is not, as Bertrand Richard suggests in conversation with Paul Virilio, "that we still want even more speed and instantaneity." It is rather that we cannot afford to slow down, that we do not want to be left behind. The problem of speed thus becomes the inverse of the problem of exodus, except that we are describing an exodus from the hyperlinearity of time.
And as a question of praxis, we borrow from Paolo Virno to suggest a gradual move from a determined problem: keep pace or fall behind, to a totally different problem: how to realize the tempos available or at hand and to experience forms of self-expression that perhaps belie these temporal qualities and/or release differential energies.
Other nonhuman actors play no small role in manifesting the crowd-as-crowd — and by (intensive) extension, the expressive potential of the athletes on the basketball court. The public address announcer, cheerleaders, jumbotron, canned sound effects, in-house music: all of these purportedly exist to "enhance the game experience" for paying consumers.
But it might be more accurate to suggest that they serve to keep an otherwise distracted or exhausted audience in a state of electro-charged readiness for the potential of crowd-as-crowd to become in-formed and activated.
In many cases these are electrically-generated shocks of sound or light that serve to twitch the assembled flesh at regularly programmed intervals, though the gestures and gyrations of the team cheerleaders or mascots may accomplish similar goals in a more analog fashion. The point is less the modality and more the shocks themselves, which unfold as a steady stream of attack on the collective perception of these bodies assembled under the rubric of "spectator".
While they appear at a surface glance to be visual or auditory phenomena, their affective force is rather to be felt as a synaesthetic folding which locates itself in the haptic and proprioceptive. Blink, blink, twitch, twitch: think of a defibrillator that may kickstart smooth cardiac muscle into autonomous, yet directed, contractions — except absent the direct tactile connection of the medicalized jumper cables.
If the role of the in-stadium spectator is increasingly to bear resonant witness to the athletic virtuosity otherwise digitized as television signals for mediated distribution around the world, this electroshock readiness is paramount. Just as the crowd — even one relatively uninformed about the sport in question — can readily spot qualities such as particularly stylish performance or submaximal effort given, so too can the television audience spot a fake. Gestures are not enough. It is obvious to the TV spectator when the intensity of witness response flips from an aggregation of individual reactions to the "crowd" proper as independent and enthusiastic actor. The play-by-play commentary only confirms this in narrative form and completes the affective transfer to whatever potentials exist elsewhere via the telescreen.
The stadium spasms the assembled spectators, in other words, to optimize the readiness potential for the formation of crowd-as-crowd and witness-as-intensity. An electroshock therapeutics framed in terms of entertainment value and consumption, but which is more properly understood in terms of a fuzzy affective labour value and abstract production.
It is in this readiness potential that consumption actually invests itself — this time as sponsorship capital. The relentless stream of attack on the perceptive faculties of witnessing serves first and foremost to coordinate the gaze toward advertising images, whether flat or volumetric. The intensive crowd knows nothing about corporate sponsors, but the extensive aggregate of more or less engaged spectators certainly may: programming meets readiness in this zone of indistinction between the two. If the crowd ends up forming, directing, contracting, then so much the better — but at least the ads will have been viewed during the twitchy interim. Exhaustion, indeed.