XI

"It's the haze, the solar haze, filling space.  Rebellion itself is a gas, a vapor.  Haze is the first state of nascent perception and produces the mirage in which things climb and drop, like the movement of a piston, and men rise and hover, suspended by a cord.  Hazy vision, blurred vision; a sketch of a kind of hallucinatory perception, a cosmic gray.  The gray splits in two, and gives out black when shadow wins out or light disappears, but also gives out white when the luminous itself becomes opaque."

Gilles Deleuze, "Shame and Glory: T.E. Lawrence," Critic and Clinic, 1993.

 

"No one and nothing gives an alternative adventure as a present: there's no possible adventure besides that of conquering a fate.  You can't wage this conquest without starting from that spatio-temporal place where 'your' things stamp you as one of theirs."

Giorgio Cesarano, Survival Manual, 1975

 

 

From the cybernetic perspective, threats cannot be welcomed and transcended a fortiori.  They must be absorbed, eliminated.  I've already said that the infinitely renewed impossibility of this annihilation of events is the final certainty that practices of opposition to the device-governed world can be founded on.  Threat, and its generalization in the form of panic, poses an unsolvable energetic problem for the holders of the cybernetic hypothesis.  Simondon thus explains that machines with a high information outflow and control their environment with precision have a weak energetic output.  Conversely, machines that require little energy to carry out their cybernetic mission produce a poor rendering of reality.  The transformation of forms into information basically contains two opposing imperatives: "information is in one sense that which brings a series of unpredictable, new states, following no predefined course at all; it is thus that which requires absolute availability from an information channel with respect to all the aspects of modulation that it routes along; the information channel should in itself have no predetermined form and should not be selective... On the opposite hand, information is distinct from noise because information can be assigned a certain code and given a relative uniformization; in all cases where noise cannot be immediately/directly brought down to below a certain level, a reduction of the margin of indetermination and unpredictability in information signals is made."  In other words, for a physical, biological, or social system to have enough energy to ensure its reproduction, its control devices must carve into the mass of the unknown, and slice into the ensemble of possibilities between what is characterized by pure chance, and has nothing to do with control, and what can enter into control as hazard risks, immediately susceptible to a probability calculation.  It follows that for any device, as in the specific case of sound recording devices, "a compromise should be made that preserves a sufficient information output to meet practical needs, and an energy output high enough to keep the background noise at a level that does not disturb the signal levels."  Or take the case of the police as another example; for it, this would just be a matter of finding the balance point between repression - the function of which is to decrease social background noise - and reconnaissance/intelligence - which inform them about the state of and movements in society by looking at the signals it gives off.

 

To provoke panic first of all means extending the background interference that imposes itself when the feedback loops are triggered, and which makes the recording of behavioral discrepancies by the ensemble of cybernetic apparatuses costly.  Strategic thinking grasped the offensive scope of such interference early on.  When Clausewitz was so bold as to say, for example, that "popular resistance is obviously not fit to strike large-scale blows" but that "like something vaporous and fluid, it should not condense anywhere."  Or when Lawrence counterposed traditional armies, which "resemble immobile plants," and guerrilla groups, comparable to "an influence, an idea, a kind of intangible, invulnerable entity, with no front or back, which spreads everywhere like a gas." Interference is the prime vector of revolt.  Transplanted into the cybernetic world, the metaphor also makes reference to the resistance to the tyranny of transparency which control imposes.   Haze disrupts all the typical coordinates of perception.  It makes it indiscernible what is visible and what is invisible, what is information and what is an event.  This is why it represents one of the conditions for the possibility of events taking place. Fog makes revolt possible.  In a novel called "Love is Blind," Boris Vian imagined what the effects of a real fog in existing relations.  The inhabitants of a metropolis wake up one morning filled by a "tidal wave of opacity" that progressively modifies all their behaviors.  The needs imposed by appearances quickly become useless and the city is taken over by collective experimentation.  Love becomes free, facilitated by a permanent nudity of all bodies.  Orgies spread everywhere.  Skin, hands, flesh; all regain their prerogative, since "the domain of the possible is extended when one is no longer afraid that the light might be turned on."  Incapable of prolonging a fog that they did not contribute to the formation of, they are relieved when "the radio says that experts have noted that the phenomenon will be returning regularly."  In light of this everyone decides to put out their own eyes so that life can go on happily.  The passage into destiny: the fog Vian speaks of can be conquered.  It can be conquered by reappropriating violence, a reappropriation that can even go as far as mutilation.  This violence consists entirely in the clearing away of defenses, in the opening of throughways, meanings, minds.  "Is it never pure?" asks Lyotard.  "Is a  dance something true?  One could still say yes.  But that's not its power."  To say that revolt must become foglike means that it should be dissemination and dissimulation at the same time.  In the same way as the offensive needs to make itself opaque in order to succeed, opacity must make itself offensive in order to last: that's the cipher of the invisible revolt. 

 

But that also means that its first objective must be to resist all attempts to reduce it away with demands for representation.  Fog is a vital response to the imperative of clarity, transparency, which is the first imprint of imperial power on bodies.  To become foglike means that I finally take up the part of the shadows that command me and prevent me from believing all the fictions of direct democracy insofar as they intend to ritualize the transparency of each person in their own interests, and of all persons in the interests of all.  To become opaque like fog means recognizing that we don't represent anything, that we aren't identifiable; it means taking on the untotalizable character of the physical body as a political body; it means opening yourself up to still-unknown possibilities.  It means resisting with all your power any struggle for recognition.  Lyotard: "What you ask of us, theoreticians, is that we constitute ourselves as identities, as managers.  But if there's one thing we're sure of, it's that this operation (of exclusion) is just a cheap show, that incandescences are made by no one, and belong to no one."  Nevertheless, it won't be a matter of reorganizing a few secret societies or conquering conspiracies like free-masonry, carbonarism, as the avant-gardes of the last century envisioned - I'm thinking mostly of the College of Sociology.  Establishing a zone of opacity where people can circulate and experiment freely without bringing in the Empire's information flows, means producing "anonymous singularities," recreating the conditions for a possible experience, an experience which will not be immediately flattened out by a binary machine assigning a meaning/direction to it, a dense  experience that can transform desires and the moments where they manifest themselves into something beyond desire, into a narrative, into a filled-out body.  So, when Toni Negri asked Deleuze about communism, the latter was careful not to assimilate it into a realized and transparent communication: "you ask whether societies of control or communication would give rise to forms of resistance capable of giving a new chance for a communism conceived as a 'transverse organization of free individuals.'  I don't know; perhaps.  But this would be impossible if minorities got back hold of the megaphone.  Maybe words, communication, are rotten.  They're entirely penetrated by money: not by accident, but by their nature.  We have to detourn/misuse words.  Creating has always been something different from communicating.  The important thing is maybe to create vacuoles of non-communication, interrupters who escape control."  Yes, the important thing for us is to have opacity zones, opening cavities, empty intervals, black blocs within the cybernetic matrix of power.  The irregular war waged against the Empire, on the level of a given place, a fight, a riot, from now on will start with the construction of opaque and offensive zones.  Each of these zones shall be simultaneously a small group/nucleus starting from which one might experiment without being perceptible, and a panic-propagating cloud within the ensemble of the imperial system, the coordinated war machine, and spontaneous subversion at all levels.  The proliferation of these zones of offensive opacity (ZOO), and the intensification of their interrelations, will give rise to an irreversible disequilibrium.

 

As a way of showing the kinds of conditions needed to "create opacity," as a weapon and as an interrupter of flows, it is useful to look one more time to the internal criticisms of the cybernetic paradigm.  Provoking a change of status/state in a physical or social system requires that disorder, deviations from the norm, be concentrated into a space, whether real or virtual.  In order that behavioral fluctuations become contagious, it is necessary that they first attain a "critical mass," the nature of which is clarified by Prigogine and Stengers: "It results from the fact that the 'outside world,' the environment around the fluctuating region, always tends to deaden the fluctuation.  Critical mass measures the relationship between the volume, where the reactions take place, and the contact surface, the place of linkage.  Critical mass is thus determined by a competition between the system's 'power of integration' and the chemical mechanisms that amplify the fluctuation within the fluctuating subregion."  This means that all deployment of fluctuations within a system is doomed to fail if it does not have at its disposition a local anchor, a place from which the deviations that arise can move outwards, contaminating the whole system.  Lawrence confirms it, one more time: "The rebellion must have an unassailable base, a place sheltered not only from attack but from the fear of attack."  In order for such a place to exist, it has to have "independent supply lines," without which no war is conceivable.  If the question of the base is central to all revolt, it is also because of the very principles on the basis of which systems can attain equilibrium.  For cybernetics, the possibility of a contagion that could topple the system has to be absorbed/deadened by the most immediate environment around the autonomous zone where the fluctuations take place.  This means that the effects of control are more powerful in the periphery closest to the offensive opacity zone that creates itself around the fluctuating region.  The size of the base must consequently grow ever greater as proximity monitoring is upheld.

 

 

These bases must also be as inscribed in the space itself as in people's minds: "The Arab revolt," Lawrence explains, "was to be found in the ports of the red sea, in the desert, or in the minds of the men who supported it." These are territories as much as they are mentalities.  We'll call them planes of consistency.  In order that offensive opacity zones can form and be reinforced, there need to be planes like that, which connect deviations together, which work like a lever and fulcrum to overturn fear.  Autonomy, historically - the Italian Autonomia group of the 1970s for example, and the Autonomy that is possible is none other than the continual movement of perseverance of planes of consistency that establish themselves as unrepresentable spaces, as bases for secession from society.  The reappropriation by the critical cyberneticians of the category of autonomy/self-rule - along with the ideas deriving from it, self-organization, auto-po├»esis, self-reference, self-production, self-valorization, etc.  - is from this point of view the central ideological maneuver of the last twenty years.   Through the cybernetic prism, giving oneself one's own laws, producing subjectivities, in no way contradict the production of the system and its regulation.  By calling for the multiplication of Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ) in the real world and in the virtual world ten years ago, Hakim Bey became the victim of the idealism of those who wanted to abolish politics without having thought about it first.  He found himself forced to separate out a place for hedonistic practice within the TAZ, to separate out a place for the "anarchist" expression of forms-of-life from the place of political resistance, from the form of the struggle.  If autonomy is here thought of as something temporary, it is because thinking about its duration would require conceiving of a struggle that merges with all of life; envisioning for example the transmission of warrior knowledge.  Bey-type Liberal-anarchists are unaware of the field of intensities in which their sovereignty cries out to be deployed and their project of a social contract with no State at root postulates the identity of all beings since in the end it is about maximizing pleasures in peace until the end of time.  On the one hand.  On the one hand the TAZ are defined as "free enclaves," places whose law is freedom, good things, the Marvelous.  On the other, the secession from the world that they issue from, the "folds" that they lodge themselves in between the real and its encoding, would not come into being until after a succession of "refusals."  This "Californian Ideology," by posing autonomy as an attribute of individual or collective subjects, deliberately confuses two incommensurable planes: the "self-realization" of persons and the "self-organization" of society.  This is because autonomy, in the history of philosophy, is an ambiguous notion that simultaneously expresses liberation from all constraints and submission to higher natural laws, and can serve to feed the hybrid and restructuring discourses of the "anarcho-capitalist" cyborgs.



The autonomy I'm talking about isn't temporary nor simply defensive.  It is not a substantial quality of beings, but the very condition of their becoming/future.  It doesn't leave the supposed unity of the Subject, but engenders multiplicities.  It does not attack merely the sedentary forms of power, like the State, and then skim over the circulating, "mobile," "flexible" forms.  It gives itself the means of lasting and of moving from place to place, means of withdrawing as well as attacking, opening itself up as well as closing itself off, connecting mute bodies as bodiless voices.  It sees this alternation as the result of an endless experimentation.  "Autonomy" means that we make the worlds
that we are grow.  The Empire, armed with cybernetics, insists on autonomy for it alone, as the unitary system of the totality: it is thus forced to annihilate      all autonomy whenever it is heterogeneous.  We say that autonomy is for everyone and that the fight for autonomy has to be amplified.  The present form taken on by the civil war is above all a fight against the monopoly on autonomy.  That experimentation will become the "fecund chaos," communism, the end

       of the cybernetic hypothesis.

changed April 27, 2010