Imperceptible.

In The Coming Insurrection, the Invisible Committee (IC) eschews any subject position, removing themselves from ‘authors’, they become merely editors of the immanent forces that seem to be percolating to the surface. They rail against social institutions, held assumptions, the constructed subject, and a host of other aspects that we often take for granted, towing the line without giving much thought about our complicity in the dominant system and how it controls our behaviors and our motivations. It was, I thought, a nicely balanced application of the work of Deleuze and Guattari, both Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus. Shedding the milieu, discarding our constructed selves, allowing ourselves to be made and unmade in equal turns; the negative task of schizoanalysis turns positive: D & G talk of the first negative task as being the act that destroys our ties that are developed out of habit and passive acceptance, the Invisible Committee sees this destruction as wholly positive.

I think in both instances, the message is the same, and I think the latter does away with any ‘palatable’ acknowledgement of the difficult task of questioning notions of family and relationships and provides an impassioned diatribe about the awkward and forced nuclear family arrangements, the couple as a pathetic institution, the socially constructed intimacy that defines certain relationships, etc. Their unsympathetic position of the bankrupt state of the nuclear family likely presents a small hurdle for those that may not blindly accept the institution, but actively try to have a life/relationship that is meaningful within that system. Whereas D & G actively argue for the same thing, my recollection is their position is one that is a little less abrasive, acquiescing that the negative task of schizoanalysis being hard, but fruitful and important. Ultimately, it seems like a way to get ourselves ‘out of the way’ so that we can engage with all the other singularities, so that we aren’t all “too busy shivering silently together.” (19) This calls for a kind of vulnerability that is impossible when we have a ‘rep’ to protect.

There is a particular attack on the notions of ‘managing’ and construction of the self that I found to be interesting, important and perhaps something of a ‘button pusher’, which always seems productive. Manage, in the IC’s sense, is the cultivation of a particular image, whether it’s the self, the space you live in, the relationships you uphold, blogs (the irony here is not lost…), etc., and the conscious attempt to produce an outward appearance or personal ideology, an “I am what I am” ethos that dictates our consumption, established relations, political affiliations, etc. In order to divest ourselves of the constructed, self-important self, ‘freedom’ as a concept emerges, one that invokes Spinoza and our capacity to interrogate our ‘inadequate’ beliefs and attachments, “Freedom isn’t the act of shedding our attachments, but the practical capacity to work on them, to move around in their space, to form or dissolve them.” (20) I think the distinction between the two is key, for we can fall victim to the latest fad of ‘minimal’ living, only to shift to another mode of a fashionable ethical lifestyle, rather than homing in on the forces that produce illegitimate behavior in the first place. Dismantling the barriers between things is crucial, setting aside our held assumptions and being open in order to ‘find each other’ (see post by Mark Purcell); embracing our failings that isn’t about ‘change’ or improvement in a normalizing sense, but a failing that can lead to a “dismantling of the hypothesis of the self”, in which we are no longer defined by perceived strengths that mark our ‘character’.

Inadaptability. They lambast the notion that ‘intelligence’ is predicated on the ability to adapt, and instead claim that adaptability is part of the slave mentality. I think the use of this word needs to carry a cautionary tone, for inadaptability can result from a heavily striated disposition, a stubbornness that is rooted in the same illegitimate behavior that ‘being adaptable’ can produce. I think there needs to be a negotiation in the terms here, for the IC marks adaptability as being normalizing, but I think adaptability can also allow us to move between the territories they celebrate, one that embraces the constant movement that keeps the ‘commune’ from ‘drying up’; that enables the formations of so many territories that networks are indiscernible to an outside view, a becoming imperceptible, if you will, that is required to subvert the system and be able to withstand cooptation by the capitalist regime. Ultimately, it seems that there needs to be a difference between adaptability as an embodied state of mind, as opposed to a position or ethos with which we identify.

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One thought on “Imperceptible.

  1. I too noticed the hostility to self-management, which caused me to catch my breath, but then it became clear that they are hostile to the idea that we should manage our atomistic, consumer self. They are all for us managing our self-as-bundle-of-connections-to-others, and so they seem to remind us that the ‘auto’ in autogestion must be understood, with D&G, as a mass of singularities that is aware of and is actively managing its multiple connections with others. I think Lefebvre would be sympathetic to that interpretation, even if he is not so explicit as D&G about the need for fleeing subjectification.

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