Means Without End: A Paroxysm of Praxis

A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. Nietzsche

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It (re)begins now.

Praxis. This is a promise I made to myself, and has thus far gone unfulfilled. It is hard to break out of old habits, especially those techniques I utilize which lead to overly regulatory technologies of the self. I may be frustrated because there is a tension, even a contradiction between my techne and potential ethos. Of course, the ethos is the most important element, and is the generative basis of desire, to become.

What do I want to become? A 'social theorist'; a rendering agent for 'liberation' of 'society' and 'self.' In other words, following the later Foucault, I want to minimize the fascism in my head, the domination that works through my body.

What can I do? Though the drawbacks are many, academia is the best suited institution in the U.S. to engage in (an always imperfect) form of praxis. I have committed myself, rightly, to providing a genealogy of sovereignty in relation to the torture question. In terms of academia, this is what I have to dedicate myself to for the next eight months. Though, for the moment, I have to completely dedicate myself academically to entertaining Hardt and Negri's project. They are obviously allies, so I should critically read them and provide insight as to how to make our perspective projects better, to 'ensure transition' as Laclau and Mouffe put it, particularly by focusing on their notion of sovereignty.

After Hardt and Negri, I need to best approach my thesis questions by strategically working them through my school work; i.e., through my responses to Anna, and through my project with Virginia. What are the contents of my thesis? This is the outline for what I need to send to my committee:
1. Sovereignty & the 'state of exception'
-How is this theoretically constructed?
-how has it been utilized in geography?
-Agamben, Schmitt, Gregory, Secor, "Culture of Exception"
2. Biopolitics vs. Sovereignty
-or Pastoral power vs. the 'city-citizen' game
-theories of sovereignty
-Mitchell, Rose, Foucault
3. The myth of sovereignty -- Law of the Father
-sovereignty as mnemic image
-Laclau and Mouffe -- Mitchell's totalitarianism
4. Governmentality, Torture, and "leak spaces"
-history of torture techniques
-role of torture in liberal governmentalities
-how torture was put into effect
-what kind of space was produced (exception vs. leak)

I needed to write that down.

What about outside my academic life? Even though this is the part I have the least amount of time to work on, it is obviously the critical crux towards a positive ethico-political existence. In many ways, it has to be a positive constitution through means of self-regulation; it must be politically positive and in sync with the desires of my partner, Lauren. It comes aas no surprise that this must arise from a politics of the body. I have to ask myself: what are those networks that my everyday actions have the most impact upon? What are the consequences of my actions? What are my desires in relation to those consequences? Is this where contradictions and frustrations on my part arise?

The most obvious network that I have an impact upon is my food network. The consequences are indeed well known, and something that concerns me greatly in the abstract, but always fall short of importance in terms of practice. Who rules the food network? Transnational corporations. How do I resist? Resist transnational corporate networks to the greatest extent possible; learn not to fetishize my food; follow the commodity chains to their source. This means stocking up on food from the co-op and farmer's market, avoiding corporate grocery stores and non-local businesses, and avoiding corporate food sold in local businesses to the greatest extent possible (especially meat). This also means avoiding corporate coffee, and making my consumption as sustainable as possible. Why this sort of technique on the self with an ethos of sustainability? Because the consequences on the Earth are indeed on the brink of crisis (that is, if we are not already in crisis) and this is something that I can effect to the extent of my effective scope within the network.

The second most obvious netowrk is financial. I need to move away from having accounts with massive transnational corporations. The better of two evils dictates a transference of funds into a credit union, while exploiting to the greatest extent possible frequent flyer loop holes.

The third netwok is (for lack of a better term) "pop cultural." Even though I have greatly minimized my participation relative to the past in public spectacle production, I need to transcend the last great hurdle related to footboall, because the impact it has my thinking is too great, and ultimately bad for my body (in terms of beer and food). I must exercise a great amount of secular asceticism towards that bread-and-circus activity, no matter how much it pains me. It is a social problem that I must not reproduce.

Which leads to what I do wish to produce. Again, I seem willing to fall victim to the dictates of contemporary biopolitical paradigms, as well as the neoliberal mentality of producing 'human capital,' but I am adament about producing a healthy body, free of contradictions. Secondly, I want to reorient my political activity to blog writing, which I should make the time to do. It will help me synthesize my ideas.

This is the foundation, now I need to work through it and anticipate the outcome.


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