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One Thousand Plateaus with a Bullet!
September 7, 2007 6:22 PM   Subscribe

I asked Naveh why Deleuze and Guattari were so popular with the Israeli military. He replied that ‘several of the concepts in A Thousand Plateaux became instrumental for us […] allowing us to explain contemporary situations in a way that we could not have otherwise. It problematized our own paradigms. -- The Art of War and Walking Through Walls by Eyal Weizman. via
posted by geos (29 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
overthinking a plate of blood and guts...
posted by geos at 6:23 PM on September 7, 2007


Hi, have you seen my jaw? I seem to have dropped it.
posted by limon at 6:48 PM on September 7, 2007


Man, the comments on the blog in the first link really call into question the post-Freudian problematic of molar subjectivity, exposing the techniques through which power relations are reinscribed within a neo-colonialist framework of subaltern political agency.
posted by nasreddin at 6:53 PM on September 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


The first thing that one needs to deal with is that these strategists and tacticians are actually thinking like this. The second thing is that they are actually killing people like this. This is not postmodernist commentary on warfare. Rather it is evidence of soldiers adopting both the terms and the thinking strategies of postmodernism.

Geos, you seem to be both underthinking and overthinking. Underthinking because you don't seem terribly interested in the content of your own post. Overthinking because, despite your apparently realist intent, you are applying a moral interpretation to a problem that is being dealt with in determinedly amoral terms. "Blood and guts" is not an emotionally or morally neutral term.

I find this very interesting, actually. Very frightening, too. Some of the images in the "Art of War" link remind me strongly of Brazil. That Gilliam is a clever so-and-so, isn't he?

I'd like to make some actual constructive comment now, but it's either much too late at night or much too early in the morning. Anyone else?
posted by howfar at 8:20 PM on September 7, 2007


Geos, you seem to be both underthinking and overthinking. Underthinking because you don't seem terribly interested in the content of your own post. Overthinking because, despite your apparently realist intent, you are applying a moral interpretation to a problem that is being dealt with in determinedly amoral terms. "Blood and guts" is not an emotionally or morally neutral term.


you don't seem to understand: critical theory is so passe that the only real students are in war college.

oh and, America fuck yeah!
posted by geos at 8:35 PM on September 7, 2007


If there is one thing I have learned from MeFi in the past week, it is this: If it's popular with the Israeli military, some aspect of it must include Nazi porn.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:38 PM on September 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, geos, you hate critical theory and you're using these articles to prove that your hatred is justified? And, while you're at it, that America sucks? WTF?

A cursory glance at the links (yes, I should RTFAs in full) suggests to me that the Israeli army is using the language of D&G to its own ends, but is certainly not acting in the spirit of D&G. I have mixed feelings about D&G, but it seems to me that any reading of D&G which serves the state's ends must be a case of co-opting their work.
posted by treepour at 8:55 PM on September 7, 2007


I think that geos was to some degree being sarcastic there, treepour.
posted by Anduruna at 9:14 PM on September 7, 2007


Treepour, while I'm pretty sure D&G wouldn't be happy about their work being used to these ends, part of what made this interesting for me was that the Israeli military is co-opting a lot more than just language; they're also co-opting concepts. They really do seem to think these ways of conceptualizing space are militarily useful.
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur at 9:23 PM on September 7, 2007




I like turtles.

Also, the language here is created in order to deftly avoid bonafide meaning for the sake of being understood. This is acceptable but obviously pointless with intent. Then intent is what is called into question, and therein lies the subterfuge. Or rather, as I see it, the distraction that plausibly didactic reasoning such as D&G serves to perpetuate forces/renders the interactive user to be so profoundly dumbfounded or else busied with the intellectual processes that passageway from understanding to meaning is subsequently abandoned for the works/presentation's propensity to produce utter stupification.

This is not to say that is is good or relevant; it is clever.

And since when did clever serve to do anything but distract?

So, when you are intelligent, eat less and do more, no?
posted by humannaire at 9:27 PM on September 7, 2007


That may or may not be the most anexact thing I've ever read.
posted by trondant at 10:30 PM on September 7, 2007


Mécanosphère.

Y'know, that kind of appropriation / striation is a process they anticipated. And I suppose that's also what you get when a small, highly-developed nation has a conscript army.
posted by holgate at 11:16 PM on September 7, 2007


What I don't understand is why you'd need Deleuze, Guattari or Debord to justify the operational tactics..? It basically boils down to the operating commander realizing the following things :
"The question is how do you interpret the alley? […] We interpreted the alley as a place forbidden to walk through and the door as a place forbidden to pass through, and the window as a place forbidden to look through, because a weapon awaits us in the alley, and a booby trap awaits us behind the doors. This is because the enemy interprets space in a traditional, classical manner, and I do not want to obey this interpretation and fall into his traps. […] I want to surprise him! This is the essence of war. I need to win."
I didn't know military officers now needed to sound like untenured professors. However, the point is the officer is really saying : "We want to be able to attack these people in their homes. But they shoot us through the doors and windows when we kick them in. What should we do? I know, blast through the walls in a surprise attack!"

Why coudn't they be subscribing to a "Fleming-ist perspective"? Any James Bond movie would provide you with the exact same idea, or any Hollywood military/caper movie... Either the idea and application are quite thin, or the writer couldn't clarify the connection. Beyond the obvious idea that you want to attack your enemy from a position that a) surprises them and b) gives you a literal physical advantage, I'm not sure how the ACTUAL strategy represents advanced architectural/critical thinking.
posted by Slothrop at 5:12 AM on September 8, 2007


the comments here are not very helpful
posted by Postroad at 5:15 AM on September 8, 2007


Deleuze and Guattari are not the sum total of "critical theory." They are some of the most over-hyped and least coherent exemplars of that phrase. I think their names sound cool and that's why everyone claims to have a) read and b) understood and c) been influenced by their absurdist bullshit rhizomatic blah blah. But there is a lot of excellent critical theory work obscured by the obscurantist tendency.

But yeah, war is a meaning-destroying machine. Perfect match.

Oh, and the comment spam on that first link is somehow just beautiful.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:30 AM on September 8, 2007


And since when did clever serve to do anything but distract?

Reminds me of a Fry and Laurie line. "We may be stupid, but at least we're not clever"

humannaire, I'm a little puzzled by your comment. The writing in your post is obscure because it's bad, not because it's complex. If you don't think this sort of stuff is interesting or valid, fair enough. You can say so and move on. No need to snark.

Seems to me that a number of issues are raised here. Among these issues are the appropriation of theory to sanitise amoral practice, the application of theory in a practical context and the age old question of the responsibility of the thinker for the application of their creation. In a purely technical way it is interesting to consider the relationships between theoretical movements in the construction and destruction of cities.

One might question whether practical applicability constitutes some kind of "test" for a philosophical world-view. Roman philosophical views, in particular, with their tendency toward Stoicism, and existing within their own highly militarised context, are of such a practical bent.
posted by howfar at 6:36 AM on September 8, 2007


MetaFilter: problematizing our own paradigms
posted by Foosnark at 6:52 AM on September 8, 2007


I find it hard to read the abbreviation "D&G" as anything but Dolce & Gabbana.
posted by theorique at 10:37 AM on September 8, 2007


it's worth noting that many Israelis are comparatively well-educated, and that most every Israeli must serve in the military. That critical theory and military action intersect is partly just physics.
posted by cloudscratcher at 12:14 PM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I find it hard to read the abbreviation "D&G" as anything but Dolce & Gabbana.

About right. Deleuze and Guattari were the Dolce and Gabbana of the humanities, circa 1997. Now they are like a worn D&G bag on a table at a garage sale. Live by novelty, die like a fashion trend.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:21 PM on September 8, 2007


Bad, howfar? I'd say in need of a simple edit that re-reading makes understood. Ie....

Also, the language here is created in order to deftly avoid bonafide meaning for the sake of being understood. This is acceptable but obviously pointless with intent. Then intent is what is called into question, and therein lies the subterfuge. Or rather, as I see it, the distraction that plausibly didactic reasoning such as D&G serves to perpetuate, [it] forces/renders the interactive user to be so profoundly dumbfounded or else busied with the intellectual processes that passageway from understanding to meaning is subsequently abandoned for the works/presentation's propensity to produce utter stupification.

...now, as you were saying?
posted by humannaire at 7:11 PM on September 8, 2007


Then there is this....

Seems to me that a number of issues are raised here. Among these issues are the appropriation of theory to sanitise amoral practice, the application of theory in a practical context and the age old question of the responsibility of the thinker for the application of their creation. In a purely technical way it is interesting to consider the relationships between theoretical movements in the construction and destruction of cities.

One might question whether practical applicability constitutes some kind of "test" for a philosophical world-view. Roman philosophical views, in particular, with their tendency toward Stoicism, and existing within their own highly militarised context, are of such a practical bent.


Oh, does it seem to you this? In a "purely technical way," semantics and craft are regularly confused - by the inaesthetic - as art. However as we use the meaning of words for practical reasons, the use of words - sans meaning and in contrived and self-satisfied predictable linear but proof resistant and therefore noxious orders - for the sake of the use of words is (obvious to a goodly number of your less pretentious post-graduate colleagues) clever. Self-declaratively and bragadociously not-stupid to be sure, but plainly clever.

To wit, what is a good idea but a bad idea's model, and what is a bad idea but a good idea's reason for being. Several well-known Greeks put the last word on this matter together some thousand years ago. I'm sure you have heard of them? In the mean time, bona fide relevant contemporary content vastly superior to the D&G lines can be found in, say, the most recent installment of the Jason Bourne movies.
posted by humannaire at 7:31 PM on September 8, 2007


Or, I like turtles. Q.E.D.
posted by humannaire at 7:33 PM on September 8, 2007


BTW, howfar, bottled water for dogs? That's what you wanted to share with everyone for your first FPP?

[Now that's snark.]
posted by humannaire at 7:40 PM on September 8, 2007


Touched a nerve?
posted by howfar at 8:21 PM on September 8, 2007


It really feels to me as if they're using some poststructural mumbo jumbo to justify blowing holes in peoples houses.

The more interesting question is who are they trying to justify it to? Themselves? Their public? US public opinion? Dunno, but I'm getting really fucking sick of this shit.
posted by fingerbang at 10:26 AM on September 9, 2007


Touched a nerve?

Oh. I'm sorry, howfar. I thought you were talking to me. But you were just talking. Carry on then.

*switches off brighter-than-a-thousand-suns brilliance out of courtesy for ordinary mortal who merely misstepped*
posted by humannaire at 3:14 PM on September 9, 2007


humannaire, I'm confused. I can't work out if you're taking the piss or not. So. Yeah. Good luck with it either way.
posted by howfar at 3:53 PM on September 9, 2007


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