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ungainly transit across the passenger seat through the near side door – the overlay of his knees in the metal door flank – the conjunction of the illuminized gutter trim with the volume of his thighs – the crashing of his left breast by the door frame and its self extension as he continues to rise – the movement of his left hand across the chromium trim of the right head lamp assembly – the movements distorted in the projecting catapults of the bonnet – the juckt and drake of his pubis as he sits in the drivers seat – the soft pressure of his thighs against the rim of the steering wheel –
Ahh… The key image in the 20th century, the man in the motor car, it sums up everything – the elements of speed, drama, aggression, the junction of advertising and consumer goods, the technological landscape, the sense of violence and desire, power and energy, the shared experience of moving together through an elaborately signaled landscape.
We spend a substantial part of our lives in the motorcar, and the experience of driving condenses many of the experiences of being a human being, the marriage of the physical aspects of ourselves with the imaginative of technological aspects of our lives… … the future is something with a fin on it It seems we have even “reached the point now… where we only make sense in terms of these huge technological systems”1
“ …technocracy as the totalitarian replacement of participatory politics in our time, which he says has come about because the instrumentalism that was born with what we call 'technology' has exceeded the machinic bounds of the term to encompass ever greater sectors of society, with the result that today it necessarily includes any standardized complex of procedures that transform nature, animals or humans into a means to an end, such that reflective and deliberatory decision-making are replaced, as seen for example in the way in which both the machinic technology of the nuclear bomb and the economic technology of neoliberalism involve the transformation of billions of living beings into either hostages or consumers rather than political actors in their own right. Thus, politics and technology can no longer be separated in a time when the latter forms the very framework within which the former takes place, to such an extent in fact, that deliberation is often subsumed by technique altogether; as John Street has argued, this occurs because "technology encompasses not just nuclear power stations and computers. It extends, for example, to hedgerows, trees and walls. The row of trees outside the American Embassy in London was not planted out of commitment to natural beauty, but to break up student demonstrations, just as the Paris streets were designed to frustrate revolutionary mobs"2 “In slow motion the test cars move towards each other on collision courses – unwinding behind them the coils that ran to the devices by the impact zone. As they collided the debris of wings and fender floated into the air the cars rocked against each other as they continued on their disintegrating courses. In the passenger seats the plastic models transcribed
Crash! (short film directed by Harley Cokliss, based on J. G. Ballard's short story Crash! Starring J. G. Ballard and Gabrielle Drake.)
Adams 2003 (Jason, The Evergreen State College, POPULAR DEFENSE IN THE EMPIRE OF SPEED: PAUL VIRILIO AND THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE POLITICAL BODY. THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS - In the Department Of Political Science - SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY - November 2003)
therefore. is rather more the result of critical distance. September 2008) In emphasizing Freud's comment that "accumulation puts an end to the impression of chance. To counter the fear of the indeterminate interval. productive irrationality. Here it is worth repeating the Ballard epigraph to this essay: "reason rationalizes reality . Was this not the logic used in the United States' targeting of Iraq as the source of past and future accidents? Rather than recognizing the dynamic distribution of terrorist elements.) . and dangerously. and end. further organized by the accompanying agents. reflectively took the photograph of aluminum tubes that Secretary Powell presented as representational evidence of a pending nuclear accident. Securing representation is the first move in securing the United States. even the intended accident. grounds the belief that the accident can be represented and thereby prevented. G. far from being the result of a lack of critical distance. This metaphysical approach utilized in the rhetorical justification for the affirmatives call to action only serves to further obscure these accidents and opens the door for the most violent forms of self destructive imperialism Smith 2008 (Jillian. Tolerating the Intolerable. the Bush Administration asserted transcendental object categories: the "axis of evil." Virilio reveals perhaps an overdependence on the forces of reason and intention in the accident and its prevention. action that would rescue time through resolution-we stand here before you with the evidence of what the enemy has done in the past." These entities. University of North Florida. G. of the accident to come that threatens the chaotic destruction of time itself? How many rational people recognized in this accident the need for swift action. now known quantities. the potential of the accident as perhaps a new logic of productivity. middle. . geopolitical entity in order to organize its own decisive action-the classic sensory-motor logic of conventional narrative cinema. based on J. the all-too-representable good guys and bad guys. representable. action that promised to restore to time its coherence and linearity." "yellow cake. Must we nonetheless respond to accidents of the past and the future? Yes. stimulus-response is the form of action that structures the logical beginning. Action ensures the end. providing a more palatable or convenient explanation. after all. Ballard's short story Crash! Starring J. Just like in the movies. and would enable us to close the whole. Enduring the Unendurable: Representing the Accident in Driver's Education Films.The air behind the cars was a carnival of arms and legs”3 And thus the project of the 1AC. The images of accidents that are shown to students in driver's education can never be the accident that awaits them. How many reasonable men and women. Volume 19. we must determine the future with action that resolves 3 Crash! (short film directed by Harley Cokliss. stimulus-response. The accident of perception that Virilio worries over. When Secretary of State Colin Powell presented his obligatory photographic evidence before the United Nations in 2003 in preparation for the United States' war on Iraq. If one cannot see chance." "aluminum tubes. would return time itself to us by anchoring the disorganized time of the interval. . unreason-if one cannot see that there is that which one cannot see because of these elements-one will never see the accident. and the accident that awaits them can never be known in advance. one whose rhetorical structure itself relies upon reason to rationalize an unreasonable rationality and initiates a reactive response to nuclear accidents which only serve to fix the idea that accidents themselves can be represented and hence avoided. his primary rhetorical grounds lay in the securing function of representation that would warrant action.graceful arches into the buckling rouves and windshield – here and there a passing fender severs a torso . To assert reason and reflection in order to deny chance is to begin a reactive response to accident that. Postmodern Culture. and there are so many subjects today about which we should not be reasonable". Reason blinds us to the accident as event. the Bush Administration found it easier to point to this contained. while it may indeed service prevention in this accident or that accident. Ballard and Gabrielle Drake. Number 1. But too often reactive responses marshal their representational products in an assertion of secure knowledge that obscures the very difficulty and difference that accident presents. more importantly.
but this ideal mode of representation is in continual tension with empirical humans and with the singular occurrences it represents. University of North Florida. "Teenagers on Trial" (1955). the flash from an atomic bomb can come at any time!" warns "Duck and Cover" (1951)-to any number of internal threats such as germs. the only solution is to act as subject and bring it about ourselves. we must react in a similar way.” Diacritics. Postmodern Culture. teenage delinquents. Number 1.this present problem. or rather the same way. Training one's action toward predictable repetition-of-the-same creates a prophylactic barrier against threatening organisms. frequently deploys the stabilizing effect of scientific representation.the nuclear test cars set in motion. the fact that we are debating about how to best avoid a nuclear accident is no accident in itself. the best way to prevent an accident in the future is to practice accident prevention now. or the auto crash. a tension that sometimes breaks-producing its own accident. and prevents one from courting the variation that produces accident. Failing to habituate behavior is to open oneself to the variation that is accident. As long as we live. whose goal is accidentprevention. from the external threat-"Always remember. Yet the reasoned response to these representations of accident did not inaugurate a recognizable duration of time with a sensible end. and domestic accidents-"Joan Avoids a Cold" (1964).how Paris streets were designed to frustrate revolutionary mobs". repeated without variation just as we have trained ourselves in rounds like these – for. "Why Take Chances?" (1952). certain behaviors. For in order to successfully avoid accidents of policy failure. of Ferguson (Mary Elizabeth Garrett Chair in Arts and Sciences and professor of English at Johns Hopkins University. rather than a desire for natural beauty . and mom should always boil the dishes for 10 minutes. [Smith Continues …] “The humanist logic that allots to people the power to prevent accidents also locates the human generally as the cause of accident. September 2008) . kids should always use their own towels in gym class. like accidental nuclear war. the rhetoric of driver's education. so the insistence in accounts of the sublime 4 Smith 2008 (Jillian. The words of Professor Adams continue to haunt us… “politics and technology can no longer be separated in a time when the latter forms the very framework within which the former takes place” Just as the trees outside the American Embassy were planted out of a commitment break up student demonstrations. 14:2. Tolerating the Intolerable. and repeat.”4 Attempting to eliminate uncertainty can only realize its end in one way – self-annihilation. Volume 19. Variation is the enemy. Within the reactive logic which must squash accidents before they can occur. we are an object of uncontrollable circumstances. The intensity. Accordingly. the plot suddenly twists and plan passage alters the trajectory of both the cars on the screen and those we may someday find ourselves behind the wheel the wheel of – apocalypse narrowly avoided Professor Jillian Smith explains … “The catalog of classroom mental hygiene films reads like a national history of social fear-intransformation. The sublime comes increasingly to seem like the repudiation of all accidents. Just as the possibility of the exchange of aesthetic objects somehow qualifies out of existence the claims of the individual subject to uniqueness and irreplaceability (for the aesthetic object continues to exist in John Doe's possession just as it did in mine). Enduring the Unendurable: Representing the Accident in Driver's Education Films. but rather has opened multiplicity without end. the commitment of the sublime to the promotion of individuality in the form of irreplaceable subjectivity becomes apparent in another feature of the descriptions of the sublime. 1984. to be vigilant against the variation. the 1AC begins . makes one popular in school. moreover. And so. “The Nuclear Sublime. family members should always spit into the toilet not the sink. moving faster and faster towards one another on the inevitable collision course to be envisioned as world of the status quo – and as the cars ever so rapidly continue to inch closer. weapons launch. Frances gender modified). To avoid germs. prevents one from becoming a juvenile delinquent. The way to avoid germs and accidents is to learn.
Number 1. to an attack" [26-27]. the notion of the sublime is continuous with the notion of nuclear holocaust: to think the sublime would be to think the unthinkable and to exist in one's own nonexistence. of any finality whatever.on the subject's determination of [her] own death comes to be a way of underscoring the sublime determination to remove itself from the world of objects subject to accidents. it suggests precisely the world that the evocation of the sublime is supposed to shield you from: the accident that tells one how radically he/she is subject to-or object of-conditions. The greatest danger in computer-generated misinformation and other mechanical errors may be that one error might start a chain reaction of escalating responses between leading. truly sublime-the image of mechanical errors infinitely proliferating corresponds to an image of thought continuing to infinity. of a finality. Schell notes that "On three occasions in the last couple of years. University of North Florida.and nineteenth-century aesthetics because its threat cannot deliver a consciousness of individual identity that seems more than a temporary delusion. taking one's own death into one's own hands. And just as the sublime continually fails in its promise in eighteenth. far from having the "critical distance" called for by Virilio. and I would like to explore it a bit more to suggest something of the purpose it serves. From another perspective. Rather than limiting the encounter with the representations of accident-the cars-Ballard opens it by assembling elements for further disorganization. so the effort to think the nuclear sublime in terms of its absoluteness dwindles from the effort to imagine total annihilation to something very much like calculations of exactly how horrible daily life would be after a significant nuclear explosion. viewers are provoked to respond in the moment of their engagement with accident. circumstances. September 2008) Virilio wants exhibition of accident to play a role in prevention of accident but seems more to exert a critical and aesthetic control that blinds itself to the accident even as it claims to open perception to it. page 212) . This information is. Volume 19. from one perspective. Tolerating the Intolerable. The human race owes its becoming (and perhaps even its survival) entirely to the fact that it had no end in itself. Postmodern Culture. where nudity and alcohol incite a less measured. command centers. also displayed three crashed cars in a London gallery. Rather than embracing the re-active force of accident prevention. Far from being encouraged to seek a critical distance. The suggestion raised as the most appalling in The Fate of the Earth is not merely that the earth might be devastated by nuclear holocaust but that such devastation might occur by accident. however. having overcome the resistance represented by interference with its progress. and once when a test tape depicting a missile attack was inadvertently inserted in the system. Thus when Schiller describes suicide. Ballard. less inhibited 5 Baudrillard 2005 (Jean. The Intelligence of Evil. "verged on nervous hysteria" (Ballard 25). this response in the very moment of active engagement with the accident is of critical importance to our survival … “The halting of becoming is the imposition of an end. we create the exhibit of the Open Smith 2008 (Jillian. J. what interests me is the commitment to the sublime notion of crisis. Enduring the Unendurable: Representing the Accident in Driver's Education Films. But whereas Schell would most likely see that progression as a mere evasion. American nuclear forces were placed on the early stages of alert: twice because of the malfunctioning of a computer chip in the North American Air Defense Command's warning system. he is of course right: the outcome of the subject's search for selfdetermination is not the achievement of absolute freedom in a positive form but rather the achievement of a freedom from the conditions of existence by means of one's nonexistence. In that sense. He hired a "topless girl" to interview guests and provided alcohol for the opening night. which "deteriorated into a drunken brawl" where "she was almost raped in the back seat of the Pontiac" (25). eventually. as the inevitable outcome of the logic of the sublime. that nihilistic act of turning force against what it can do in order to negate every potential for difference and becoming – our alternative is to renounce the affirmative and allow the disorganized forces of the accident to remain active. opening the exhibit itself to include viewer participation.G. taking force to its limit and affirming that becoming in the process our own difference – As Jean Baudrillard explains. and certainly not that of becoming what it is…”5 Hence. best known for rendering the car crash a libidinal event in his novel Crash. where the audience response.
Within this tangle of contrary forces and discourses in driver's education is thus a confused command for viewers to secure self control but also to be subject to their own dispossession. It is an exhibit of production rather than of prevention. driver's education provides something of a survey of accident response generally. I do not pursue Nietzsche's conception of value further. Ballard constructed an uncontrolled space of representation where expression was undetermined. In light of these basic definitions. . a historical practice that attends to the differential relations of forces in order not to discover the causal origins of things but to trace their transformations in value. and more directly to Gilles Deleuze's influential interpretation of Nietzsche. ¶ Perhaps the most enduring experiment in accident exhibition is found in the institution of driver's education in American high schools. Becoming active is a matter of taking a force to the limit of what it can do and affirming that becoming. being. and time as grounded in the possibility of exact repetition or endurance of the same (Rodowick. and their carefully protected identities. After the naked "girl" and the alcohol were gone.N. and representation. thought. where shape was unknown. accident-prevention is reactive and even at times nihilistic. Here contact between things and participants speeds up to the point of creating more violence. representation. following D. Ballard created an exhibit of the Open as defined in the epigraph to this essay: "its nature is to change constantly. this classical way of thought belongs to "what Deleuze called the Platonic order of representation. Nietzsche's method of tracing specific active and reactive forces through their historic formations and deformations is genealogical. Whether by emphasizing causal origin or a priori form. splashed them with white paint" (25). where the disorganizing forces of accident remain active. but rather by forces of intensity that engage and connect its varied parts with external parts to form spontaneous. for example. We can turn to Friedrich Nietzsche. their purest possibilities. Rodowick. Reading 189). the response to interview questions. It was a long-standing practice in this pedagogy to show gruesome highway accidents and fatalities in films with names such as "Wheels of Tragedy" (1963) and "Highways of Agony" (1969). spanning from a Ballardian orgy of disorganizing forces. for insight into the movement of such reactivity. and representation as a confirmation of prior presence all steady a world where we must encounter the outburst of accident and endure the irregularity of becoming. but instead note. violating the (critical) distance between the two." These concepts make differential the forms of similitude that classically and commonly ground ideas of time. and as such it recognizes uncritical. providing a more palatable or convenient explanation. Cinema 1 9). Deleuze focuses on Nietzsche's understanding of productive force. a repetition that always suggests the original outside the world of difference. the contrast between genealogical thought and classic conceptions of event and historical understanding. . Time as structured and linear. and thus preventatively. accident prevention is a conservative discourse (literally. In his interpretation. America responded with a selfsecuring statement of intolerance that further required a series of reactive responses to support it. in short. Breaking these of accident and succession" (qtd. or to give rise to something new. They provide a ground of regularity and so allow us to judge the accident as aberrant. In this he created an exhibition of accident." virtuality. to a Virilian command to perceive the accident critically. unreasonable production. where accident is less viewed than it is provided duration. where forces were disorganizing. thus Nietzsche notes that the conventional philosophy of history takes as its topic something outside of history. that which does not necessarily return back to conserve the self through its repetition. who broke windows. the irreducible diversity of potential configurations possible in any being or event. being as stable and enclosed. active and reactive force as the two qualities of One general distinction between the two (which are always in relation) lies in "whether one affirms one's own difference or denies that which differs" (Deleuze. for it aims precisely to turn force against what it can do. ¶ Deleuze invents concepts that open these bulwarks of classical thought by way of difference. Something about the deformed cars opens the enclosure of the representation and invites commingling. self preserving) dominated by reactive force. Reactive force is negating and nihilistic because it turns force against what it can do. for the cars "were continually attacked by visitors to the gallery. For the purposes at hand. The sensational titles suggest the explosive quality of these films. aberrant in an otherwise reactive and conservative pedagogy of accident prevention. as seen in the cinematic event of highway safety films. To the "exact essence of a thing. and there are so many subjects today about which we should not be reasonable" (Ballard 54). as it is "an attempt to capture the exact essence of things. to "purest possibility. including the invasion of Iraq in 2003. and to "carefully protected identity. as well as a confused sense of representation as a tool of reason but also as a disorganizing force beyond our control. Nietzsche 68).enter into the representations. Rodowick 189). the incessant movement of being toward difference." Deleuze's thought generally juxtaposes becoming. For such repetition there is assumed an original form that is being repeated. and hence of accident and chance. provisional "bodies. and where viewers exhibit continued for a month to provoke the same violent refusal of distance. "[R]eason rationalizes reality . the body not defined by the totality of its organism." an order that structures understanding of identity. because this search assumes the existence of immobile forms that precede the external world The external world is a world of difference. . Because of its disparate practices. To the unforeseen terrorist attack that led to the collapse of the World Trade Center. ¶ By and large. tore off wing mirrors. to endure" (Deleuze. hence affirming difference." the Body without Organs.
to be able to disobey others. Voluntary servitude is a violence consented to: a freedom to will. and active force and allows us to understand representation not as a repetition of the same but as a reproduction of affective forces and intensities in a world where accident is ubiquitous within becoming and movement. prevents. of the time of accident itself. Viewing death as either timely or untimely condemns life to be evaluated on the basis of our will to be alive. however. reactive forces. those who submit themselves mercilessly to their own decisions who fill the greater part of the authoritarian ranks. It is not so opened. Last comes voluntary self-servitude or enslavement to one’s own will: the individual possesses the faculty to will. alleging sacrifice on their own part to impose even greater sacrifices on others. Involuntary servitude. a continual and blindly confident reactive enclosure of the subject. Over and over. despite how shitty our lives may actually be. He is the automatic agent of that faculty. Your epistemology of life and death is one that doesn't allow us to have death as an option. Quite by chance. It is certainly worse than enslavement to the will of others. is a mark of freedom.classical concepts releases irregularity as a constant. in this education. contrasts starkly with the effect of the conservative discourses within which the films are pedagogically configured. but is no longer free in respect of it. This wildly active effect of the films. on this one active current. but by their offering of a non-representational image of perception itself. in this case of perception as the sensational endurance of the unendurable. He is the serf to no master but himself. And it is. ¶ Driver's education demonstrates that active forces emerge even amidst a density of conservative. in a similar manner as the corporations in china who put up netted fences around workers housing. Driver's education shows repeatedly the conservative force of security that. by way of what the films represent. and enslaves us to live out our life. nor by establishing a critical distance from them. without regard to the painstaking construction it renders frail. Each stage of servitude is both more subtle and worse than the one which precedes it. To be able to disobey moral rules and laws. but not the will to be free. in an attempt to remain constant in a world of accident. not the accident. so that their employees couldn't kill themselves anymore. is overt violence. . indeed. constitutive. the servitude of the slave. despite what our actual quality of life is. oddly. Into this confluence of conservative forces crashes the documentary highway safety film head-on. The priority of self-security in accident prevention here produces a securing of the self. this taking cinematic force to the limits of what it can do without reactively coiling it back to the security of the familiar. the accident is opened to perception in all its painful potential. Obeying one’s own will is an even worse vice than being enslaved to one’s passions. and of time. self-security is enacted in rhythms of repetition-of-the-same in an attempt to craft a state of endurance. But the ability to disobey oneself marks the highest stage of freedom. of representation. Baudrillard explains in 2001. but the ability to endure its possibility.
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