A fine line between love and hate – The War Machine

13.09.2006 |

In 2023 we will work together again and make a Film:
A fine line between love and hate – The War Machine

It’s not easy to have a look into the Future from here – the present! One
needs bits and pieces of actual Reality to find a path which leads you
there where the Future transmutes into the present and from there in the
past over and over again. On a personal level a forecast into the Future
is pure speculation although we do it all the time and because we need
to keep the options open. But social Reality in this complexity is more
stable because the past is still in communication and interaction with
the Future on the levels of Reality and Production and not only on the
level of imagination as in the individual or subject.

The bit of Reality I/we will apply to 2023 is still the reality of wars,
because it’s clear that we will not get rid of it for a long time and
the concept of »The War Machine« is very useful to forecast the Future.

The first time I came in touch with the concept of »The War Machine« was
around 13 years ago as part of a group of people who read »A Thousand
Plateaus« from Deleuze/Guattari together every two weeks, page by page for
over two years.

I have two significant memories of this group:

1. One day a member of the reading group – a very quiet guy – suddenly
jumped off his chair and said: It’s enough! He left the room very angrily
and slammed the door. We overcame the shock quite quickly and went on
reading. The guy never came back and we never find out why he was so angry.

2. One day Peter Gente and Heidi Paris, the Owners of the publishing
house MERVE and editors of »A Thousand Plateaus« in German, who
initiated the group, couldn’t come to the session. It was the only
meeting in which we did not read a single word. The functioning and discipline of
the group was gone and we behaved like teenagers do when the parents leave
the House.

Let’s say that the first episode stands for »The War Machine« and the second
for its opponent »The State Apparatus« and both are mingled.

I left the group when we had finished the nearly 700 pages, because I was
not in the mood to go on reading in public. A few years later, when the
book EMPIRE from Negri/Hardt was released in English, I joined a group
like this for the second time. In between, the term or concept War
Machine was not present for me any more, although I remember that we had
a lot of discussions toward the issue, I don’t remember if it had an
impact on me. Consciously or not … there is only a dark memory of a feeling
that the way the nomadic War Machine is described has a strong
romanticizing touch, although Deleuze/Guattari criticize the Arrogance
of the western State toward the Orient. By then the book »Orientalism«
of Edward Said and the idea, that the »Orient« is a discursive and
material construction of western Colonialism was not in my brain but
when we read EMPIRE together it was. To read EMPIRE was from the
beginning a two-edged experience. On the one hand the
Descriptive Conceptualization of the global situation as a new form of
EMPIRE seemed to be interesting and productive although a lot of details
appeared to be strange overstatements. The most obvious simplification
for me is the Statement that the new capitalist World order has no
outside and that it is outspread in a smooth Space organized like a
Network power between States. On the other hand when it comes to
MULTITUDE the Problems are even bigger. The way this diverse political
subject is presented in the book as a self-fulfilling Prophecy on the
way to establish a Counter-Empire within the EMPIRE itself just by
crossing it, seemed to be a very vague utopian Dream – sometimes pure
Kitsch. Anyway the good thing about the book and reading it in an
assembly was that the text functioned like new glasses. One could
try it out from time to time and see if the world was sharper or not.
Sometimes it was, sometimes not. In the end of the sessions I had more
and more the impression that there is something fundamentally wrong in
the very construction of the Relation between the Empire and the
Multitude itself. The concept of Negri/Hardt seemed to be driven and
misled by a much too simple Dualism between good and evil. I was not so
sure where and what the bug was but for sure there was one.

The term War Machine came back into my brain during the 9/11 day, sitting,
watching and speculating in front of the TV like every one else. As
shocked as every one else, I thought: a War Machine made of hijacked
airplanes, knives, passengers and buildings, that’s what we see live on
TV. Collateral damage not as an accident or unloved side effect
which has to be hidden or excused, but rather collateral damage in front
of the public eye. The War Machine lives in the technical and structural
folding of the Empire.

A week later or so I started to read two Chapters of »A Thousand
Plateaus« again:
1227: Treatise on Nomadology: The War Machine
7000 B.C.: Apparatus of Capture

And I must say I was really amazed how perfect the Scenario
Deleuze/Guattari developed
through the confrontation Apparatus of Capture versus War Machine,
functions as a missing Link or fill-the-blind-spot between the totally
idealistic, clean and artificial confrontation EMPIRE versus MULTITUDE
and that Negri/Hardt have nearly totally overseen or ignored this,
although the theoretical Framework of »A Thousand Plateaus« is
omnipresent in EMPIRE.
Finally, I was convinced – and I still am, that all the Aspects of EMPIRE
and even worse, in the sequel MULTITUDE which leads toward the narrative
of the »Evil capitalistic EmpireVampire« sucking the blood of the good
communistic »Multitude in Love« – is a joke. A least one must
acknowledge that the Multitude has not only one evil and problematic
side but in fact thousands and that its interaction with the Empire is
much more complicated than Negri/Hardt pretend. But even then it’s not
possible to integrate theoretically all Aspects of the War Machine into
the Multitude without blowing up!

Apropos blowing up, while it’s not total nonsense that the Attacks on the
WTC and the Pentagon are a pure manifestation of what Deleuze/Guattari
describe as the reactionary or fascist Side of »The War Machine«: maybe
the Revolution will now be televised, the War Machine already is.

Anyway, I will decide to write a Text about the relationship between
Empire, Multitude and the War Machine and I will ask Tara Herbst to help
me, because she is living in India then I hope that she will remember our old
inquiry into the work of Jean-Luc Godard and French Philosophy.

She will answer me via mail: stop writing let’s make a Film again:

A montage of two kinds of montage, two types of assembling images about,
in between, beyond, as a war machine within the images themselves. A
fine line between love and hate: 1. Jean Genet’s »Un chant d’amour« (A
love Song) – how to make love through a wall and que(e)r it (smoke). …
in-between: GODARD – embedded War Machine … 2. The Godard/Gorin/Mieville
machine »Ici et Ailleurs« (Here and elsewhere) – how to use a
two-image-assembly to ruin the War Machine as montage itself – are we
not mature to read an Image yet? (Fascism)

What counts is the gap between the images, between two images!

Read more (Text Maska (pdf) with article written about the artist)