Media Theory for the 21st Century

March 4, 2008

The Politics of Nonexistence

Filed under: Discussion — zachblas @ 2:42 am

Based upon the research my group is conducting on un-becoming, I would like to work through Galloway and Thacker’s tactics of nonexistence (135 – 137). Even though we did not have to read this section of The Exploit, it resonates well with issues of visualizing the network (maps, graph theory) and their political ontologies.

Galloway and Thacker ask, “how does one develop techniques and technologies to make oneself unaccounted for?” (135). To begin with, the political impetus for attempting to become “nonexistent” is a fascinating one. It seems like a logical assertion to assume that grappling for more power, control, viability would produce a node with more agency. Yet, in informatic societies, if everything has become subsumed by capitalist logic and is thus up for commodification, the more that is put into / given into the network, the higher the chances are for subordination.

What would it mean to slip away? How can we work backward, removing ourselves from protocol? Importantly, G&T state that technologies of nonexistence are “tactics of fullness” (136); they are positive instantiations. Now, the removal of agency from the dominant network appears to produce a counter-agency. Different from the body bag performance of Chris Burden, we do not have to pretend to be dead with our physical bodies in physical time and space to not exist. We must informatically not-exist.

“When existence becomes a measurable science of control, then nonexistence must become a tactic for an thing wishing to avoid control.” (136) When measurement is the qualifier of freedom and control in life, escape is found by a non-representable identity. This appears to be an extraordinary claim when thinking to histories of minority practice that work toward a common goal of more representable identities. How does a tactics of nonexistence operate for those who seemingly are already nonexistent? Or is this strategy only operable for those that “exist”? What types of bias and discrimination are inherently built into the desire to not exist in societies / the world?

“The nonexistent is that which cannot be cast into any available data type. The nonexistent is that which cannot be parsed by any available algorithms. This is not nihilism; it is the purest form of love” (136 – 137). In a technological realm, this notion of nonexistence seems to at least partially insinuate a suggestion of nonfunctionality. If the algorithm is not available, it could be because it does not exist. What are the relationships between the nonexistent and the functional? If these are “positive” technologies, does this mean they function? If tactics of the nonexistent do position us at times within the nonfunctional, are we left in the body bag with Chris Burden? Or, in Empire, are there multiple layers that enable varying kinds of functionality? Is “love” here the freedom that non-representation produces by death in the body bag or is it an unfettered freedom that produces positive possibilities by dying informatically?

If the network of the multitude is formulated by n-1,  is this equation of “love” a more profound subtraction?

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