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The Politics of Everyday Fear

The Politics of Everyday Fear

Brian Massumi editor
Copyright Date: 1993
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    The Politics of Everyday Fear
    Book Description:

    The contemporary consumer is bombarded with fear-inducing images and information. This media shower of imagery is equaled only by the sheer quantity of fear-assuaging products offered for our consumption. The contributors address questions raised by the saturation of social space by capitalized fear.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8472-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Brian Massumi
  4. I. Buying and Being at the Border

    • 1 Everywhere You Want to Be: Introduction to Fear
      (pp. 3-38)
      Brian Massumi

      Lynn Hill, the world’s top female rock climber, fell eighty-five feet and landed on her tailbone after she failed to secure the knot in her safety harness. A twenty-foot fall can be fatal. Her worst injuries were a dislocated elbow and a “sore butt.” Lynn is wearing a dress watch from the Timex women’s fashion collection. It has a very secure buckle. It costs about $45.

      Pilot Hank Dempsey fell out of an airplane at 2,500 feet when a rattling door he was checking suddenly opened. He hung onto stairs outside the plane and was inches from the runway when...

    • 2 The Broken Line
      (pp. 39-40)
      Emily Hicks

      Border cultures have certain common features and can be imagined—by borderizing the catergories of French poststructuralists Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari—as a machine. The Mexico-U.S. border provides metaphorical parts of the machine: the border crosser (the “polio”), the helicopters of the border patrol (the “moscos”), the immigration officer (the “migra”), the person who guides the “polio” across the border (the “coyote”), the “turista” (from the United States), the young inhabitant of the border region (the “chola”/“cholo”). The coyote and the chola/cholo are the most bicultural, because their survival depends on their ability to live in the interstices of...

    • 3 Califas
      (pp. 41-50)
      Guillermo Gόmez-Peña

      Califasis a bilingual performance poem. The structure is disnarrative and modular, like the border experience. This makes it possible to recycle parts into other formats such as performance, radio art, and book art. There are two levels: the narrative, which describes “impossible situations” that subvert historical, political, and cultural facts (in italics); and the poetical level, which operates as memory or inner monologue. The poetical level is told by several mythic characters.Califaswas commissioned by filmmakers Philip and Amy Brookman in 1987 for their film,My Other Self/Mi Otro Yo.This idea of Latin America has been operative...

    • 4. Liberty Net Computer Bulletin Board My Father, the Customs Man
      (pp. 51-58)
      Aryan Nations and Adolf Hitler

      Today it seems to me providential that Fate should have chosen Braunau on the Inr as my birthplace. For this little town lies on the boundary between two German states which we of the younger generation at least have made it our life work to reunite. In this little town on the Inn, gilded by the rays of the German martyrdom, Bavarian by blood, technically Austrian, lived my parents in the late eighties of the past century; my father a dutiful servant, my mother giving all her being to the household, and devoted above all to us children in eternal,...

  5. II. Mutations of Domination

    • 5 The Sovereign Police
      (pp. 61-63)
      Giorgio Agamben

      One of the least ambiguous lessons of the Gulf War was the definitive appearance of sovereignty under the guise of the police. The casualness with which a particularly destructivejus bellicloaked itself in a seemingly modest “police operation” should not be considered a cynical sham (as certain rightfully indignant critics have maintained). Perhaps the mostspectacularcharacteristic of this war is that the reasons given to justify it cannot be dismissed as ideological superstructures intended to cover up a hidden motive: quite the opposite, ideology has penetrated so deeply into reality that the declared reasons (particularly those pertaining to...

    • 6 Testimony
      (pp. 65-81)
      Charles Manson

      Do you have anything to say?

      Yes I do.

      There has been a lot of charges and a lot of things said about me and brought against me and brought against the codefendants in this case, of which a lot could be cleared up and clarified to where everyone could understand exactly what the Family was supposed to have been, what the philosophies in regards to the families were, and whether or not there was any conspiracy to commit murder, to commit crimes, and to explain to you who think with your minds.

      It is hard for you to conceive...

    • 7. The Game
      (pp. 83-84)
      Aimee Morgana

      “When he raped me, the pain and fear were so strong that I used to leave my body. The numbness would start in my throat, which he would squeeze tightly with his hand to keep me from making any noise. Slowly it would work its way down my body until even the tips of my fingers and toes would have no feeling. I never wanted to look down and so I never saw my body lying there with his on top. Instead I journeyed as far away as possible. I remember soaring in the blackest depths of space, feeling that...

    • 8 Back to the Witch
      (pp. 85-111)
      Kathy Acker

      From now on, whenever I dreamed, I called itgoing back to the witch...

      I was now more alone than I had been before returning to school. In or due to this loneliness, B was more me than me. Since I could no longer see anything in this state, I decided that I had to destroy my obsession. Obsession. The only way to do this, destroy my deepest being, it seemed, would be to become a man.

      The name of that man is Heathcliff:


      Kathy says,

      For finally my father was coming back. As soon as the night...

    • 9 Bodies of Fear: The Films of David Cronenberg
      (pp. 113-136)
      Steven Shaviro

      David Cronenberg’s films focus insistently, obsessively on the body.¹ They relentlessly articulate a politics, a technology, and an aesthetics of the flesh. They are unsparingly visceral; this is what makes them so disturbing.

      Cronenberg’s explorations of the flesh go against the grain of our most deeply rooted social myths. The body remains the great unknown, the “dark continent” of postmodern thought and culture. We live in a world of ubiquitous, commodified images of sexuality; but one in which the shocks of tactile contact and (in an age of AIDS) of the mingling or transmission of bodily fluids are all the...

  6. III. Dominations of Mutation

    • 10 Good Touches, Bad Touches Government of Canada
      (pp. 139-141)

      1.Girl looking in the mirror (all images in watercolor)

      Your body is yours. Your eyes, your nose, your mouth, your hair.

      2.Girls and boys playing

      You can make your body do what you want it to. You can make it run, skip, hop, or jump.

      3.Girl hugging herself

      Your body is yours, and you love it and take care of it.

      You can even give yourself a big hug if you want to.

      4.Two girls playing pat-a-cake

      Sometimes when we play we touch each other’s bodies...

      5.Father holding up daughter

      ...and we touch when we...

    • 11 Poison
      (pp. 143-170)
      Todd Haynes

      Raunchy guitar instrumental (“Getaway”/Kid Rogers?) over shots of dark, sinister streets.

      Narrator(In “B” fashion): The city. Night. Evil lurks in every doorway, turning everything black. What is it that brings people here? Is it greed? Is it lust? This is the story of one man’s quest into darkness. But beware! This man could be you.

      Dissolve to shadowy close-ups of a child’s hands exploring the body of another child with the plastic instruments of a toy doctor’s kit.

      Narrator(Cont.): Ever since he was a child, Thomas Graves had been hungry for knowledge, hungry to discover all the secrets...

    • 12 Censored
      (pp. 171-184)
      Sandra Buckley

      The article that was to have appeared in this space, “Japanese Technoporn,” consisted of a collage of images and words developed around a specific pornographic Japanese comic book(manga)story entitled “For Nights When You Can’t Sleep.” The collage intercut fragments of the narrative of themangaimage-text with “found quotes” from other official and unofficial texts drawn from across the multiple discourses that inform the condition of “being woman” in Japan. The strategy of intercutting a violent pornographic tale with the conflicting statements of Japanese feminists, lawmakers, politicians, rape counselors, and other constitutive voices of the public construction of...

  7. IV. The Traffic in Morbidity

    • 13 The Skull of Charlotte Corday
      (pp. 187-209)
      Leslie Dick

      Controversy at the Universal Exposition in Paris, on the centenary of the Revolution, as rival craniologists examine the skull of Charlotte Corday, kindly loaned for exhibition by Prince Roland Bonaparte, great-nephew of Napoleon and noted anthropologist, botanist, and photographer Professor Cesare Lombroso, criminal anthropologist, insists (after a brief examination of the skull) that specific cranial anomalies are present, which confirms his theory of criminal types, or “born criminals.” He subsequently uses three photographs of the skull of Charlotte Corday in his bookLa donna delinquente, la prostituta e la donna normale(Turin, 1893, cowritten with Guglielmo Ferrero, translated into English...

    • 14 The Primal Accident
      (pp. 211-219)
      Paul Virilio

      According to Albert Einstein, events do not come they are here, we encounter them in passing, in the eternal present. There are no chance mishaps. History is but a long chain reaction, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Harrisburg. The inertia of the moment: radioactivity in space is the analogue of the relativity of time. . . . Shipley Thompson, an expert with the U.S. commission overseeing the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, delared that “we faced the possibility of a core meltdown.” Fusion, fission—power is no longer a function of matter, element, but of immateriality, energetic performance. Henceforth, movement dictates the...

    • 15 Two Infinities of Risk
      (pp. 221-228)
      François Ewald

      Risk, once it appears, has a tendency to proliferate. It obeys the law of all or nothing. It knows nothing of the binary divisions of classical juridical thought—permitted and prohibited, legal and illegal. All it knows is the endless chain of discrete quantities. For example, in order to objectify a population of automobile drivers in terms of risk one must refrain from opposing “good” drivers to “bad” as two exclusive categories. The former are just as much risk factors as the latter, only with a lower probability. Risk implies a kind of active as well as passive solidarity among...

    • 16 The Forensic Theater: Memory Plays for the Postmortem Condition
      (pp. 229-242)
      Gregory Whitehead

      True to its military origins, the concept of shock describes an experience of total sensual disorientation. Through the accumulation of animal, mechanical, or electronic power into a single blow, the shock event only truly shocks if it exceeds the capacity of the target individual to absorb external stimuli. A large measure of the resulting sensual derangement centers on the psychophysical qualities of thelook,both what the shock event looks like as it happens and what the shocked target looks like later. For example, the power of the firearm salvo, which revolutionized infantry tactics during the eighteenth century and eventually...

  8. V. Buying and Being at the Edge

    • 17 Shopping Disorders
      (pp. 245-266)
      Rhonda Lieberman

      Dear reader: Apart from the usual dread and nausea with which I approach the editing of a more-than-two-year-old essay was the accompanying sinking feeling that this essay was written in a state of libidinal economy—both national and personal—that has since shifted dramatically and in fact is now totally irrelevant if not merely embarrassing. While it reads a bit “late” as a theory fashion statement now, as a period piece it stands as obsessive testimony to the delirious glitzkrieg of the 1980s: when the socius was persecuted by harmful voices telecommanding it to enjoy by shopping not till you...

  9. VI. Screening:: Home and Nation

    • 18 Television’s Unheimlich Home
      (pp. 269-283)
      Elspeth Probyn

      After the massacre at the University of Montreal, where fourteen women were killed because of their gender, it is difficult to speak glibly of the articulation of women and fear, of bodies en-gendered in violence. On the day that it happened I was several thousand miles away, but my sister rushed in with a copy of theLondon Evening Standardwith bodies splattered all over its front page. “God, you could have been there,” she said, referring to the fact that I teach at the university. And indeed, the frisson of fear and relief, of sorrow and anger held me...

    • 19 Fear and the Family Sedan
      (pp. 285-306)
      Meaghan Morris

      Once I took a visiting American to a Sydney surfing beach, and we swapped cultural comparisons. In spite of the gulf between Hawaii (his referent for myths of the beach) and Cronulla, our exchange of differences was easy enough until he told me a legend he’d heard in Hawaii that one day Australia would sink, and the Last Wave would appear on the horizon. Suddenly I found myself confronted with “the stark impossibility of thinkingthat.” According to Foucault inThe Order of Things,this is an experience that should lead us to apprehend in the “exotic charm” of another...

    • 20 Telefear: Watching War News
      (pp. 307-322)
      Thomas L. Dumn

      Oh, television. How might one suspend the play ofdifférancenecessary to pretend that one is not looking at television, its obscenity always already torn asunder by the mechanisms of its production, always already a beam, always already targeted? Does television evade the fiction of writing before the word only to reinvent it? Perhaps something of a different order of truth can be associated with the magnetic tapes of video, the laser disc, green lights in the sky above Baghdad, where the tracers glow and mark a parabola. It might be said this way, that more easily than any other...

  10. Illustrations and Quotation Sources
    (pp. 323-326)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 327-330)
  12. Index
    (pp. 331-336)