Spatial Resistance: Literary and Digital Challenges to Neoliberalism 1498552420, 9781498552424

Spatial Resistance: Literary and Digital Challenges to Neoliberalism utilizes various literary and digital artifacts to

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Spatial Resistance: Literary and Digital Challenges to Neoliberalism
 1498552420, 9781498552424

Table of contents :
1 Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics
2 The Tempest and the Coming Storm
3 Dietland
4 Remapping the Story
5 Digital Spaces and the Rise of Hacktivism
6 #Tagging Social Space
7 De-Aerialization
8 Digital Resistance
About the Author

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Spatial Resistance

Spatial Resistance Literary and Digital Challenges to Neoliberalism Christian Beck

LEXINGTON BOOKS Lanham • Boulder • New York • London

Published by Lexington Books An imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706 6 Tinworth Street, London SE11 5AL, United Kingdom Copyright © 2019 by The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Available ISBN 978-1-4985-5241-7 (cloth : alk. paper) ISBN 978-1-4985-5243-1 (pbk. : alk. paper) ISBN 978-1-4985-5242-4 (electronic) TM The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992.

Printed in the United States of America

For Ivy Who fills my days with inspiration, optimism, beauty, and wit. And For all those who resist corporate and state oppression in all its forms.




Introduction: The Nomad in the Desert


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics: Using the Past to Resist the Present The Tempest and the Coming Storm Dietland: The Spatial, Revolutionary Body Remapping the Story Digital Spaces and the Rise of Hacktivism #Tagging Social Space: Graffiti and Resistance De-Aerialization: Drones and Volumizing Space Digital Resistance

1 27 55 87 95 115 135 155

Conclusion: Nationalism Is Not the Answer






About the Author




This book has a complicated history that weaves in and out of my training as a medieval scholar and experience as an activist. It blends my academic interests with my social concerns and so it would be impossible to list and thank everyone with whom I have come in contact and helped to shape the progress of the book. Nevertheless, the book really began to take shape when I designed a course around spatial theory and literary analysis. For this reason, I owe immense gratitude for all the students that have participated in my “Literature of Place and Space” course and have provided insights and ideas that helped form the structure of the book. I am very privileged to teach at the University of Central Florida, where my department, college, and various other units around our large campus have allowed me to bring a class of thirty-five students into some of the more interesting spaces on campus. Particularly the UCF Art Gallery, Burger U, and the CFE Arena. UCF has provided me with the latitude necessary to complete a book like this one. I am also grateful to the UCF Professional Development Leave Committee for granting me leave in the Spring 2018 semester, which allowed me to complete this book. During my leave, I was provided the opportunity to be a Resident Fellow at the Institute of American Universities in Aix-en-Provence, France. The wonderful students and faculty at IAU were immensely helpful and supportive of my work. In particular, Aboubakr Jamai was gracious enough to allow me to sit in on his Media and Conflict course, which provided me with new insight into media’s role in spatial representations. I also benefited greatly from our informal discussions and learning about his remarkable life. I also wish to thank my fellow Resident scholar in Aix, Mietek Boduszynski, whose friendship, insights, and hikes kept me focused every day. Lastly, thank you to Alan Roberts and Dean Leigh Smith of IAU for the opportunity to reside in Aix-en-Provence for the semester and providing a ix



venue to share ideas. I am also indebted to the staff and friends at New Smyrna Brewery; this was a wonderful place to work, talk, and of course enjoy a good beer after writing. Versions of two of these chapters have appeared in journals elsewhere. Chapter 1, “Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics: Using the Past to Resist the Present” appeared in Medievalia 36/37 under the title “Shaping Our (Medieval) Future: A Radical Reading of Ywain and Gawain.” All quotations from Ywain and Gawain, edited by Albert B. Friedman and Norman T. Harrington, London: EETS, o.s. 254, 1964, are reproduced by permission of the Council of the Early English Text Society. Chapter 5, “Digital Spaces and the Rise of Hacktivism” appeared in the Journal for Cultural Research 20 as “Web of Resistance: Deleuzian Digital Space and Hacktivism.” Both chapters are reprinted here with permission of the respective journals. Excerpts from Dietland by Sarai Walker reproduced by permission. Copyright © 2015 by Sarai Walker. Used by permission of Sarai Walker in care of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc. ([email protected]) and by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Sections of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus reproduced with permission. Copyright 1987 by the University of Minnesota Press. Originally published in French as Mille Plateaux, volume 2 of Capitalisme et Schizophrénie © 1980 by Les Editions de Minuit, Paris; as well as The Athlone Press, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. The number of people that have had an important hand in the research, writing, and editing process, as well as the professional support, is always large and I am deeply grateful for their help and support. These include: Tison Pugh, Bruce Janz, Giselda Beaudin, Fred Paxton, Trey Philpotts, Farah Cato, Pat Angley, Marilynn Desmond, Pearson Bolt, and the anonymous reader of the manuscript. I’d also like to thank my editors at Lexington Books, Jessica Thwaite and Lindsey Falk, for their guidance and help. My colleague François-Xavier Gleyzon’s friendship and discussions over coffee not only provided me with structure, but also allowed me to think through various aspects of the project, not least while reading Deleuze. His insights and suggestions leave a distinct and positive mark on this book. Lastly and most importantly, Ivy McKay has played multiple roles in this project, from research assistant and editor to supportive partner and patient listener. I am thankful for her intelligence, critical insights, and deeply hilarious sense of humor, without which this project probably would not have been completed in the time that it was. This book is dedicated to her.

Introduction The Nomad in the Desert

When we look up at the sky at night, we see the twinkling of stars whose light has passed through millions of miles; some of these lights have undoubtedly been long extinguished. While the light of these stars are from the past, the images we receive of them now allow us new insight into the movement of planets, the life (and death) of stars, and the formations of nebulae that lead to new planetary developments or indicate the destruction of a star. This means that nebulae are indications of both productive and destructive forces at work on various types of spatial structures. But most of the observable nebulae were produced millions of years ago. From this distant past, we produce new understandings of the elemental construction of our universe. The depth of space, the vastness of outer space cannot allow for immediate and conclusive deductions on large systemic formation—there is literally too much space to cover. While speed is integral to understanding these and other astronomical events (as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity posits), for this earth-bound, yet deeply spatial project, I am highlighting the ways in which the past not only affects the present, but also how the past can be a point of novel insight that allows for innovative perspectives, formations, and be a productive/destructive “nebula” for the future. My metaphor of the (outer)spatial nebula evokes the “constellations” that Walter Benjamin famously discusses: “Ideas are to objects as constellations are to the stars.” 1 This analogy suggests that if we put objects, possibly distant and intensely unrelated objects in relation to one another, new ideas begin to form and take shape. My project seeks to do precisely this: place concepts and artifacts from various times and places in vicinity of one another and posit relationships among them. Ranging from medieval English xi



romance to digital Distributed Denial of Service Attacks on the internet, from Shakespeare’s Tempest to graffiti and drones, this book aligns the past with the future, not in terms of constructing a Foucaultian genealogy, but rather to allow these objects to come in contact with one another in previously undocumented ways. As medievalist Carolyn Dinshaw noted about her project Getting Medieval, she aims to make new “histories manifest by juxtaposition, by making entities past and present touch.” 2 I, however, do not want to make new histories; I want to make new futures possible by “making entities past and present touch.” In particular, I am interested in positioning sociopolitical spatial theories in alignment with various cultural artifacts. In some cases, the theories are of the “past” and the new technologies are in the “present”; in other cases the theories represent the “present” when put next to literary fiction of the “past.” Nevertheless, historical time is not an issue that I confront in this text; here I am invested in the production of space as a means to confront, change, reform, and/or foreclose on oppressive institutions. Therefore, moving from the theories of the infinite, expansive, and mysterious elements of outer space, I want to turn to the finite, contentious, plastic space of our material world and investigate how this space can be utilized in forms of resistance. REDEFINING SPACE IN SOCIETIES OF CONTROL In his most cited and his most suggestive, if not prophetic article, “Postscript on Societies of Control,” Gilles Deleuze proposes our movement out of a discipline society and into a control society. A control society, Deleuze writes, is a society that does not need to be molded, but rather “modulated”: “controls are a modulation, like a self-deforming cast that will continuously change from one moment to another, or like a sieve whose mesh will transmute from point to point.” 3 In other words, our lives are not being determined and structured by a visible and centralized power (i.e., institutions like the military, schools, or family), but rather we are formed through means that are not necessarily visible and more subtle than Foucaultian discipline (i.e., advertising, technology, or media). “Control” can be slightly misleading in this context. As Jeremy Gilbert and Andrew Goffey write, “the French word contrôle, invariably translated in the case of the Postscript as ‘control,’ would normally be translated by the English ‘regulation’ almost as often as by ‘control.’ The phrase ‘control societies’ can summon up an image for some English readers of a highly directed and centralised power system, and it is important to understand that, if anything, the reverse was clearly Deleuze’s intention.” 4 As opposed to sites of enclosure that determined bodily movement that trained the individual in disciplinary society, a control society affords, prima facia, the appearance of freedom of movement. As Deleuze



points out in the oft cited futuristic image painted by Félix Guattari, Guattari imagines “a city where one would be able to leave one’s apartment, one’s street, one’s neighborhood, thanks to one’s (dividual) electronic card that raises a given barrier; but the card could just as easily be rejected on a given day or between certain hours; what counts is not the barrier but the computer that tracks each person’s position—licit or illicit—and effects a universal modulation.” 5 For the purposes of this project, then, the spaces we move in and through might possess elements of control, if they are not the control mechanism themselves. These spaces, in whatever form they take, should be scrutinized and contested as a means to break down the controls and create a more open and free society. The occupation and reclamation of space (public or private) is a commonly employed tactic for social dissent. The spaces used in protests and revolutions around the world are often publicly visible, symbolic, and culturally significant. Protests alert the public to social injustices and the space utilized by demonstrations serves as part of the message. This is to say, the place of protest is a site of power and allows people to symbolically or directly engage with institutions party to social injustice or inequities. In recent years, the targets of protests are often institutions linked to neoliberalism. Neoliberalism, as Todd May describes, is the view that “an unfettered (or largely unfettered) capitalist market is the best and most efficient way for an economy to be run . . . neoliberalism rejects what might be called the welfare state capitalism of the post–World War II period up to roughly 1980. It holds that, rather than relying on the government to ensure the welfare of its citizens, a country must instead rely on the mechanisms of a capitalist market.” 6 As more than just an economic theory, neoliberalism is intimately linked to institutions that oversee the global mapping of capitalism to create the socalled “borderless world” of twenty-first-century geopolitical order. 7 Neoliberal expansion, therefore, is intimately bound up with the nation-state and the institutions that shepherd global economic growth. As David Harvey writes: According to theory, the neoliberal state should favour strong individual private property rights, the rule of law, and the institutions of freely functioning markets and free trade. These are the institutional arrangements considered essential to guarantee individual freedoms. The legal framework is that of freely negotiated contractual obligations between juridical individuals in the marketplace. The sanctity of contracts and the individual right to freedom of action, expression, and choice must be protected. The state must therefore use its monopoly of the means of violence to preserve these freedoms at all costs. By extension, the freedom of businesses and corporations (legally regarded as individuals) to operate within this institutional framework of free markets and free trade is regarded as a fundamental good. 8



The neoliberal state does this through a variety of mechanisms, which Sheila Slaughter lays out: Particularly noteworthy are the ways in which the neoliberal state: alters the boundaries between public and private sector; shifts public subsidy from welfare functions to entrepreneurial activity; exhibits a preference for commercial solutions to public problems; empowers managers rather than workers; privileges the individual over collectivities when collectivities pursue activities that would constrain capital; and favors secrecy and various schemes of classification of information over public circulation of knowledge and civil liberties. 9

The inequalities and injustices created by this global project are manifest in social structures, relationships, and, importantly for this project, in the spaces of social engagement. Neoliberalism has immersed us “in a set of conditions that cannot help influencing how we think, feel, and act”; this book resists the dominant narrative by interrogating neoliberal space and investigating ways of remapping or remaking social space. 10 Michel Foucault’s claim that our time will be “above all the epoch of space” marks an epistemological transition that ushers in new forms of literary and cultural analyses of the spatial scaffolding that engenders hegemonic institutions. 11 While geography works in the domain of space exclusively, and post-structuralist thought highlights space as an important category, literary and cultural studies have only recently begun to embrace the insights of spatial analysis. Literary spatial studies often highlight the relations between language and the spatial construction of the world represented in a text; subsequently, these studies offer new ways of seeing literature, literary history, and criticism. Similarly, cultural studies and social sciences, such as sociology and political science, investigate the role of space in protest movements to better understand the larger spatio-cultural implications of dissent, resistance, and challenge. I look to combine these forms of analysis to posit the productive (and potentially destructive) capabilities of literary and digital artifacts in political action and resist the neoliberal organization and domination of our spatial lives. Rather than an analysis of a space for sedentary consumption, we need to push beyond a passive analysis that “fights against” injustice, inequality, and hyper-individualism and argue for direct action against unjust institutions from a position founded on the values of liberty, equality, and solidarity. Utilizing various spatial theories premised on Henri Lefebvre’s statement that “(social) space is a (social) product,” this book analyzes how space affects not just interactions between individuals, but also how individuals are distributed in space by cultural/disciplinary institutions, and at the same time become subjected to other (newly implemented) institutions and discursive practices. 12 Space and spatial analysis become important tools in disrupting, dismantling, or eradicating forms of power utilized by dominant cultural



institutions. As such, this project identifies ways to subvert neoliberal institutions and the associated hegemonic practices through radical spatial analyses of historical and contemporary literature, the intersection of digital and physical spaces, and the theoretical exploration of previously unmapped spaces. WHY SPACE? WHY THE STATE AND CAPITALISM? Space, according to Immanuel Kant, is a “necessary condition [for] the possibility of experience”; space plays a compulsory role in every experience we have, and consequently, it is a concept layered in complexity. 13 In The Production of Space, the first extended study on socially constructed space, Henri Lefebvre identifies three distinct types of space: perceived, conceived, and lived. Conceived space represents space that is developed by those with the power and ability to produce space for a particular reason and use (i.e., urban planning). Lived space refers to the ways in which ordinary people think of space for daily living. Perceived space is socially-constructed space. 14 Given that there is significant overlap among these categories of space, my analysis explores the idea that lived space can directly affect perceived space in ways that disrupt institutions that maintain conceived space for the benefit of state and corporate control. In other words, I aim to analyze the way redistributing the power of spatial determination to people disrupts spaces designed to benefit state and corporate institutions, as well as the power structures designed to maintain economic, cultural, and political dominance. Foucault discusses similar spatial relationships vis-à-vis the individual. Individuals are distributed in space through their participation and association with various discourses and institutions (e.g., within education, a student might be required to sit at a particular desk while in a certain classroom). In this instance, space is counted and measured by an institution and individuals are placed within this “known” and sufficiently monitored area—this type of space is referred to as “striated space” by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. In the words of Foucault, “discipline proceeds from the distribution of individuals in space.” 15 The institution that stakes a claim to a particular space or place dictates how spaces are used and disciplines bodies within those spaces, which in turn establishes a “norm” and affects the production of identity. Within the context of a nation, for example, the state designates how space is to be used by its “citizens” and polices that space to ensure conformity and proper usage. Institutions such as states and corporations have a self-sustaining interest in maintaining spatial control and the continued production of docile, disciplined citizens. This is to say, an institution in power utilizes space to assure its continued position of power and thereby codifies the means by which it gains and sustains power—in many cases through



institutionalized forms of oppression (i.e., racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, etc.). The unjust control and policing of space impinges upon the liberty and equality of some individuals, while solidifying dominant, privileged positions of others. Protesting the prejudicial institutions through petitions, marches, or awareness campaigns are insufficient to fully disrupt these practices; a more nuanced and aggressive form of spatial resistance is necessary. As a means of exploring how people might combat unjust striated spaces, I look to the thought of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Deleuze and Guattari theorize ways to strip space of its meaning, ideology, and cultural practices, which undoes any inherent claim to ownership of the space; this is the process of deterritorialization. Categorization and compartmentalization are two tactics used by neoliberal institutions. These institutions, which include the Western nation-state, assign identities to individuals that over time are viewed as natural, commonplace, and desired. Deterritorialization diminishes, if not eradicates institutionalized identity. Ian Buchanan characterizes deterritorialization as “the process whereby the very basis of one’s identity, the proverbial ground beneath our feet, is eroded, washed away like the bank of a river swollen by floodwater.” 16 Stripping away the ideologically informed neoliberal space allows new identities to form independent from these hegemonic institutions; or more radically, so that identity will cease to be a means of categorizing and compartmentalizing individuals, leading to new ways of associating and forming relationships. In this project, I explore novel means of viewing space, as well as introduce innovative ways to move through, inhabit, and generally deterritorialize state and corporate spaces. This project is deeply indebted to the work of Deleuze and Guattari. Much of the theoretical and practical ideas are directly or indirectly utilizing their work. I draw primarily from A Thousand Plateaus, but also utilize ideas from Anti-Oedipus, What is Philosophy?, Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature, as well as some of Deleuze’s independent work. In their final coauthored work, What is Philosophy?, Deleuze and Guattari write: Philosophy is at once concept creation and instituting of the plane [of immanence]. The concept is the beginning of philosophy, but the plane is its instituting. The plane is clearly not a program, design, end, or means: it is a plane of immanence that constitutes the absolute ground of philosophy, its earth or deterritorialization, the foundation on which it creates its concepts. Both the creation of concepts and the instituting of the plane are required, like two wings or fins. 17

Philosophy creates concepts that not only explain the world we live in, but also ways to transform the world. But for these concepts to be effective and/ or applicable to the world, they must be developed on the plane of immanence. The plane of immanence, as the authors say, is the “earth” of philosophy. In other words, the plane is tethered to the immanent reality of our



terrestrial existence. The concepts that emerge from this plane are of the world, both contained within the world and generated by it. The plane of immanence and the concepts that are a part of it are held in contrast to all philosophical ideas and concepts that are generated from a place of transcendence (i.e., the spirit, god, etc.). Deleuze and Guattari insist that philosophy—and thinking generally—take place within the world, not beyond it. For this reason, I find the concepts created by Deleuze and Guattari immensely useful in a discussion of resistance. By putting various aspects of Deleuze and Guattari’s thought, as well as the writings of other radical, political thinkers in dialogue with literary fiction and digital artifacts, I identify a trajectory of contemporary spatial resistance. LAYOUT AND SCOPE The book is sectioned into two parts that discuss different types of challenges to neoliberal constructed space. Each chapter utilizes an artifact as a means to explicate a particular type of space. The first part focuses the radical possibilities contained in fictional narratives. In chapter 1, I utilize a medieval English Arthurian Romance to bring to bear the subversive and revolutionary potential not just in historical literature, but also in the very fabric of Western literary and political culture. The second chapter builds from the first by analyzing Shakespeare’s last work, The Tempest. Through an analysis of Caliban and Ariel, I argue for an urgency to change our course so that we may mitigate the damaging “storm of progress” and minimize “the catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage.” 18 Chapter 3 utilizes a contemporary novel, Dietland, to interrogate the embodied experience, the caustic effects of neoliberalism on the body, and how the individual body can be site for revolutionary spatial action. Chapter 4 brings together the various threads of the section. By showing the entanglement between these three chapters, I wish for the connections to work outward and beyond the analysis contained within the project itself. The second part of the book moves from fictional space to digital and physical space. The first chapter of this section focuses on the internet and the dominant institutions that seek to regulate digital space. I discuss the rise of hacktivism, the use of “Distributed Denial of Service” attacks as means to combat striated digital space, and the need to create new spaces online. Chapter 6 merges the digital with the physical by analyzing the sociolinguistic connection between the digital “hashtag” and the role of graffiti (or tagging). The graffiti “tag” plays a palpable role in creating meaning, but this production of meaning resists easy commodification and when used in conjunction with the digital “hashtag,” or “#,” it becomes a means to support or create new physical gatherings, works of art, or targeted sites. The final



chapter turns to aerial space and outlines a program for challenging vertical space and establishing a form of countersurveillance through the use of drones. Chapter 8 combines the arguments in the section. Again, this brief synthesis looks beyond the horizon of the project to new possibilities within digital resistance. In the conclusion, I address the rise of nationalism in the West and the emergence of the revolutionary space of Rojava in northwestern Syria. This region is founded on anarcho-feminist ideas and is a selfgoverned space amid a civil war and a war on terrorism. Rojava has emerged as a space of radical democracy and continues to defend its political and spatial existence. As the cofounder of Occupy Wall Street has stated in his recent book, to create a more just and equitable world, new forms and means of protest must evolve. 19 Or in Deleuze’s words, “There is no need to fear or hope, only to look for new weapons.” 20 Embedded in Deleuze’s statement is a call to action. This project responds by seeking new ways to disrupt, fracture, and redeploy neoliberal space for a more just and equal society. This book is not just a compendium of various analyses of artifacts and how they “change” space or subvert dominant power structures—indeed, while this is part of the project, this study uses these artifacts to motivate readers to join direct action movements. In this sense, the project is political. The context for a call to action and the urgent need for action is not new, but this text explores different ways and means to act and invites readers to amend, change, and think/act beyond the ideas, concepts, strategies, and tactics I discuss. Hopefully readers will find ways in which change can be enacted through a synthesis of insights from literary texts and the use of transformative technologies. My goal in integrating historical and literary analyses and the possibilities afforded by technology is to show that radical ideas can emerge from a variety of places (both within and independent from capitalist “progress”) and can be employed as subversive measures against neoliberal institutions. We do not need to solely rely upon new technologies to combat oppressive institutions: any artifact possesses the most radical of possibilities. By witnessing the opportunities afforded by art, history, and literature, as well as engineering, technology, and the digital, we can combat, in the words of Paul Virilio, the “global accident” brought on by neoliberal globalization. This wholesale event affects “whole continents, anticipating the integral accident that is in danger of becoming, tomorrow or the day after, our sole habitat, the havoc wreaked by Progress then extending not only to the whole of geophysical space, but especially to timespans of several centuries.” 21 To avoid the global accident, a revolution must include art, literature, and philosophy, and therefore the critical, creative, and interpretive skills necessary to map possible outcomes. Without these elements we are at risk of producing the self-same institutions we seek to combat.



The title of this introduction comes from Deleuze and Guattari’s development of the concept of the nomad as the war machine in A Thousand Plateaus and Jean Baudrillard’s discussion of the Borges fable at the beginning of Simulation and Simulacra: Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it. It is nevertheless the map that precedes the territory—precession of simulacra— that engenders the territory, and if one must return to the fable, today it is the territory whose shreds slowly rot across the extent of the map. It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges persist here and there in the deserts that are no longer those of the Empire, but ours. The desert of the real itself. 22

For Baudrillard, the original is gone. We are only left with a copy of a copy and no recourse to access the original. Only the map created by the cartographers of the Empire remains. Consider for a moment the implications of this. Our reality, or what Baudrillard calls the “hyperreal,” is a product of a powerful empire; only the desert of the real remains. Indeed, there is a cynicism in Baudrillard’s assessment of our reality and we are subject to the whim of the governing institution that has created the map—or the institutions that have picked up the empire’s mantle after its fall. 23 However, we are not helpless, there is a power in wandering the desert of the real. If our reality, our territory, is constructed by institutions of power, then it can be remade, reshaped, reorganized, amended, or ripped apart and reassembled. 24 The nomad, the machine de guerre can wander the desert of the real and has the power to remake a (hyper)reality that is independent from the power structures that have created the map in the first place. As Deleuze and Guattari write, “In every respect, the war machine is of another species, another nature, another origin than the State apparatus.” 25 The nomad crosses boundaries, crosses borders, and undoes territory (deterritorializes) by his or her presence. The effects of the nomad penetrate deep into the spatial constitution of our “reality”: The nomadic trajectory does the opposite: it distributes people (or animal) in an open space, one that is indefinite and noncommunicating. . . . The nomos is the consistency of a fuzzy aggregate: it is in this sense that it stands in opposition to the law or the polis, as the backcountry, a mountainside, or the vague expanse around a city. Therefore, and this is the third point, there is a significant difference between the spaces: sedentary space is striated, by walls, enclosures, and roads between enclosures, while nomad space is smooth, marked only by ‘traits’ that are effaced and displaced with the trajectory. 26



The nomad resists the “civilized” cultures that desire private property, centralized governance, and a sedentary existence. The nomad remakes the map of reality by living on the horizon of the map and finding new prospects in the desert of the real. We need to look, for example, to the Bedouins of North Africa so see how a different life is possible, how to reconstruct the map of our reality, how the smooth space of the desert is liberating. To affect true change, we need to become the nomad in the desert, the war machine that is deterritorialization par excellence. From the desert, far away from the empire of state-sponsored neoliberalism we are able to see more stars and the productive/destructive power of nebulae that also lives inside the machine de guerre. NOTES 1. Walter Benjamin, The Origin of German Tragic Drama, trans. John Osborn (London: Verso, 2009), 34. 2. Carolyn Dinshaw, Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999), 12. 3. Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on the Societies of Control,” October 59 (1992): 4. 4. Jeremy Gilbert and Andrew Goffey, “Control Societies: Notes for an Introduction,” New Formations 84/85 (2015): 13. 5. Deleuze, “Postscript,” 7. 6. Todd May, Friendship in an Age of Economics: Resisting the Forces of Neoliberalism (New York: Lexington Books, 2012), 4. 7. See Kenichi Ohmae, The Borderless World: Power and Strategy in the Interlinked Economy (New York: HarperCollins, 1990). 8. David Harey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 64. 9. Sheila Slaughter, Academic Freedom and the Neoliberal State, quoted in Ryan KingWhite, Joshua I. Newman, and Michael D. Giardina, “Articulating Fatness: Obesity and the Scientific Tautologies of Bodily Accumulation in Neoliberal Times,” Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies 35 (2013): 85. 10. May, Friendship in an Age of Economics, 15. 11. Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces,” trans. Jay Miskowiec, Diacritics 16 (1986): 22. 12. Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1991), 30. 13. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, quoted in Henry E. Allison, Kant’s Transcendental Idealism: An Interpretation and Defense (New Haven, CT: Yale, 1983), 10. 14. The spaces in this conceptual triad are actually referred to as “Spatial Practice,” “Representations of Space,” and “Representational Spaces.” I chose to use less confusing monikers, but the language is taken from Lefebvre’s description. See Lefebvre, The Production of Space, 38–39. 15. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Pantheon Books, 1977), 141. 16. Ian Buchanan, “Space in the Age of Non-Place,” in Deleuze and Space, ed. Ian Buchanan and Gregg Lambert (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005), 23. 17. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What is Philosophy?, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 41. 18. Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History” in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), 256–57.



19. See Micah White, The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution (Toronto: Knopf Canada, 2016). 20. Deleuze, “Postscript,” 4. 21. Paul Virilio, The Original Accident, trans. Julie Rose (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2007), 11. 22. Jean Baudrillard, Simulation and Simulacra, trans. Sheila Faria Glaser (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994), 1. My emphasis. 23. See Clayton Crockett, “Technology and the Time-Image: Deleuze and Postmodern Subjectivity,” South African Journal of Philosophy 24 (2005): 176–88. 24. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1987), 12. 25. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 352. 26. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 380–81.

Chapter One

Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics Using the Past to Resist the Present

Historical fictions can offer novel insights into contemporary sociocultural issues by considering the past’s future. For example, medieval texts can inform and offer innovative approaches to direct action, social justice, as well as libertarian socialism, anticapitalist, antistatist movements. To this end, I advocate decontextualizing historical literary texts so that their radical possibility can inform our own spaces and movement, particularly in terms of social justice, dissent, and protest. By decontextualizing the text, I mean the removal of the literary text from its temporal and regional political context in order to allow the text to reflect the radical possibilities applicable to our current and future political environments. Reading the late medieval English text Ywain and Gawain through a lens of contemporary radical politics demonstrates how a medieval literary artifact can help us better understand—and ultimately transform—our own political realities. Overtaking a controlled or policed space has long been a tactic of oppressed peoples fighting against unjust laws, institutions, or belief structures. The places that are occupied are important to those dominant powers or the place carries an important symbolic value, which highlights the position of the resistance efforts. The act of redefining space, or even changing the view of how space is constructed serves as a form of resistance to the status quo. Theorists such as Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Henri Lefebvre, Edward Soja, David Harvey, among others, discuss the ways in which social spaces (i.e., public squares, buildings, rooms, etc.) undergo change through use and social desire. Space is malleable and plastic; it never has a set use or mean1


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ing. Lefebvre puts a finer point on this idea, “there is no sense in which space can be treated solely as an a priori condition of these institutions and the state which presides over them.” 1 Space and the people that occupy space can change not only the perception and use of a particular location, but, more importantly, can shift dominant discourses, affect “law” and the enforcement of it, and destabilize dominant power structures that are corrupt or oppressive. Couple this idea of space with the more radical, direct-action concept of insurgency and the results can undermine or even dismantle dominant forms of governance, hegemonic power structures, and repressive institutions. Space is often, for medievalists, a means to a historical end. In other words, an analysis of space or the language of space provides insight into the sociopolitical moment of the text’s authorship. Consider Megan CassidyWelch’s comment that “space gives meaning to the organization and perception of historical knowledge more generally.” 2 Admittedly Cassidy-Welch is a historian, so there is already an implied “look backward” in her research. In his article, “Gower, Liminality, and the Politics of Space,” John Ganim offers a close reading of the Confessio Amantis and highlights John Gower’s desire to “map what we now call ‘landscapes of power’” as a means to “integrate moral, natural, literal and psychological spaces.” 3 Ganim’s piece reconstructs the medieval spatial past to better analyze the ways in which space constructed medieval identities, controlled populations, and informed both secular and religious practices. Robert Rouse makes a similarly compelling argument about Guy of Warwick and the developing reading practices of the expanding gentry and mercantile classes based on geographical awareness and expectations. 4 Randy Schiff, in his excellent reading of Ywain as an exile and an example of the “ban” of homo sacer, argues that the “Ywainpoet systematically alters markers of species and class, refashioning the text for a fourteenth-century English North whose militarist elites faced increasing socioeconomic anxiety.” 5 These articles stress the historicity of texts and culture. I on the other hand want to use texts as tools to better inform political resistance in the present. Using Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the “nomad,” I highlight how the nomadic qualities of Ywain allow him to become an insurgent who transforms the dominant culture. The knight’s nomadic, insurgent identity is further realized through Ywain’s reliance upon anonymity. The nomad speaks to our contemporary moment, and through a radical reading of Ywain and Gawain’s spatial and gendered politics we can learn from a medieval narrative how to combat oppressive institutions and fight for equality through direct action. The anonymous nomadic insurgent is not an individual to be feared; rather, this figure is an agent fighting for social justice and the dismantlement of corrupt, oppressive power structures that are associated with the status quo. The category of the “individual” was not given as much preeminence and importance in the Middle Ages, unlike in our commodified, hyper-indi-

Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics


vidualist Western society. 6 As an entity, however, the individual is nonetheless located in a particular space. The way space is constructed, used, and perceived directly informs the identity of the inhabitants of a space, particularly gendered identity. Deleuze and Guattari divide space into two possible constructions: smooth space and striated space. They describe smooth space as “space that is occupied without being counted” and striated space as space that is “counted in order to be occupied.” 7 They continue: Smooth space is a field without conduits or channels. A field, a heterogeneous smooth space, is wedded to a very particular type of multiplicity: nonmetric, acentered, rhizomatic multiplicities that occupy space without “counting” it and can “be explored only by legwork.” 8

When viewing the ocean, for example, one does not see borders, fences, or sites of demarcation. Rather, there are open, expansive, smooth waters. A map of the ocean, however, shows various lines and marks demarcating current flows, national borders, boating channels, latitude, longitude, and the point at which international waters begin. These marks or striations differentiate spaces and define how each space ought to be used and who may occupy a given space. The nomad, according to Deleuze and Guattari, disrupts striated, counted space through the process of deterritorialization. Deterritorialization strips meaning, ideology, and cultural practices from a space, as well as any claim or ownership that attempts to determine the use of the space. Likewise, as I noted in the introduction, Ian Buchanan writes that deterritorialization is also “the process whereby the very basis of one’s identity, the proverbial ground beneath our feet, is eroded, washed away like the bank of a river swollen by floodwater.” 9 As spatial agents, people are distributed in space; the space is counted and everyone occupies a “known” area. As Foucault reminds us “discipline proceeds from the distribution of individuals in space.” 10 The state—or any centralized governance or institution that makes claims to a particular space or place—dictates how spaces are used and disciplines bodies within those spaces. Identity and behavior are constructed by the way individuals are distributed in space as well as by the discourses that affect a space—identity and identity politics are discussed in more detail in the conclusion. In short, the state designates how space is to be used by its “citizens” and polices that space to ensure conformity and proper usage. The nomad represents the type of being-in-the-world that can disrupt statist spatial programs. As Deleuze and Guattari argue, “Property is precisely the deterritorialized relation between the human being and the earth.” 11 In this formulation, humans become disconnected from their previous relationship with the earth by the advent and prioritization of “property.” The nomad, through his/her ambulatory nature, does not “own” land as property;


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subsequently, she/he maintains a vastly different relationship with the earth. The nomad is connected to the earth in ways that stationary “citizens” are not. Institutions do not determine the nomad’s identity, other than the group she/he belongs to. The nomad’s primary comportment in the world, her/his being, is premised upon movement. If (striated) space is produced by the state, by institutional power, then the presence or movement of the nomad can disrupt or deterritorialize that space: the nomad (re)creates smooth space in previously striated space. The nomad undoes space, undoes points or places, undoes relationships—human to earth, human to property, human to animal, human to nature, human to human, etc. But most importantly, the nomad undoes the human to self, the self that is constructed by the state through striated space. ARTHUR’S DOMINANT POWER Ywain and Gawain is a fifteenth-century translation of Chrétien de Troyes’s twelfth-century Yvain (Le Chevalier au Lion). 12 Extant in a single manuscript, Ywain and Gawain is a standard English romance, yet the anonymous poet deviates rather significantly from Chrétien’s text; as its editors note, the Ywain-author prefers “accounts of ‘dedes of armes and of veneri’ [‘deeds of arms and venery’] to idle banter about amour.” 13 Ywain, as the anonymous knight with a lion, enacts what Saul Newman terms “personal insurrections against localised sites of power.” 14 The remaking of his identity is more than merely “becoming someone new” however. Ywain’s entire ontology shifts, and he becomes the anonymous nomadic insurgent that disrupts space and power structures, ultimately changing every place he passes through and every person with whom he comes in contact. Although the story of Ywain is not originally English, the radical possibilities of the text are emphasized by the English translator of the French tale. Chrétien’s Yvain opens with an introduction of Arthur as the King of Britain (not “Yngland” as in the Middle English translation 15 ) and proceeds to address love and the decline of proper love in Arthur’s court (12–26). Chrétien’s narrator laments that “car cil qui soloient amer / se feisoient cortois clamer / et preu et large et enorable; / or est Amors tornee a fable” 16 (for those who loved in bygone days were known to be courtly and valiant and generous and honorable; now Love is a matter for pleasantries). Chrétien’s text is firmly focused on the discourse and courtliness of love, as the first twenty-eight lines can attest. The Ywain-author offers a different, more condensed text that focuses upon the martial feats of Arthur and his knights by consigning the discourse of love between men and women to knights that spoke “curtaysly / Of dedes of armes and of veneri / And of gude knightes þat lyfed þen” 17 (courteously of deed of arms and hunting/sex and of good knights that lived then). In fact, the English transla-

Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics


tor only mentions love once in the opening lines, stating that “trowth and luf es al bylaft” 18 (truth and love are all gone). If Chrétien’s text is emblematic of the twelfth-century concern with courtly behavior, the fifteenth-century English text has undergone a discursive shift: security, space, and identity are emphasized, and the need for knights that “war stif in ilka stowre” (were strong in every fight) further codified. 19 Ostensibly still a tale of love, the English romance opens the text up for a decontextualized reading that speaks to our contemporary moment by offering a possibility of transformative change through an emphasis on spatial justice and direct action. As a means to “orient” the reader, the opening thirteen lines of Ywain and Gawain not only introduce the text but also the land (place) and the ideological imports of power structures (space) that directly inform the narrative: Almyghti God þat made mankyn, He schilde his servandes out of syn And mayntene þam with might and mayne, Þat herkens Ywayne and Gawayne; Þai war knightes of þe tabyl rownde, Þarfore listens a lytel stownde. Arthure, þe Kyng of Yngland, Þat wan al Wales with his hand And al Scotland, als sayes þe buke, And mani mo, if men wil luke, Of al knightes he bare þe pryse. In werld was none so war ne wise; Trew he was in alkyn thing. 20 (Almighty God that made mankind, may he protect his servants from sin and maintain them with power and strength who listen to Ywain and Gawain. They were knights of the round table, therefore listen a little while. Arthur, the King of England, who won all of Wales by his sword, as well as Scotland, as the source says, and many more if men will look—of all knights, he was most esteemed. In all the world there was no one as prudent and wise. He was true in all things.)

The geographical space is defined by Arthur’s rule and his ability to conquer and occupy places. There are two elements at work in this introduction and together they create a moment of fracture. The round table suggests a lack of hierarchy, an equality between all those who sit at the table. The text, nevertheless, highlights Arthur’s power, noting how he conquered the lands of Wales and Scotland, “And mani mo, if men wil luke” (10) (and many more if men will look). Within the first thirteen lines, we are confronted with the ways in which power functions in and on these lands. While there is a sense of solidarity through the knights’ presence at the round table, the land “belongs” to the King who “wan” these lands by force. The use of “werld” and the subsequent references to “Yngland,” “Wales,” and “Scotland” all denote distinct, seemingly independent lands, yet they are brought together under the rule of Arthur and his “nation-state.” 21 Because the tale of Arthur takes


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place in a past (Arthur’s feats are recorded in “þe buke” the author is translating), the Ywain-author reaffirms an origin myth of Arthur as a powerful king with distinct spatial and geographic interests. Arthur, as a celebrated, mythically powerful character, unified the surrounding lands under a single rule. The term “werld” marks the texts with a statist-mosaic ideology that is then sutured to the land in what is referred to as metageography. As Xavier Oliveras González notes, “Metageography describes the internally consistent set of spatial structures or conceptual frameworks through which individuals and groups conceive, order, and interpret space and/or the spatial dimension of the world, the cosmos and/or the universe.” 22 Consequently, González continues, “mosaic-statist metageography orders geographical space through parcels, as if it were a mosaic or a puzzle where every piece is an independent entity continuous to the others. Overlapping spaces, spaces without description, void spaces or intermediate spaces are aberrations.” 23 In terms of “orienting” the reader, the narrator makes clear how geographical space is striated, and most importantly how those spaces are ruled (and dominated) by the centralized power of Arthur and his knights: Arthur is the sovereign of this mosaic. The geographical plotting of the text is predictable, as is the naming King Arthur, and the significance of these two elements rests precisely in their conventionality. By rehearsing these standardized tropes of medieval Arthurian literature and specifically noting Arthur’s power, the text maintains the status quo not just of the genre, but also of the power structures found in late medieval England: Arthur’s power and rule over this mosaicstatist model, coupled with his highly esteemed and battle-worthy knights, asserts the dominance of what I call the castle-culture model. Arthur’s power and spatial control gain emphasis when the lady in waiting, Lunet, reminds her lady, Alundyne, that the King is coming and that she needs a knight to defend her land after being made a widow: Allas, who sal ȝow now defend Ȝowre land and al þat es þareyn, Sen ȝe wil never of weping blyn? A, madame, takes tent to me. Ȝe ne have na knyght in þis cuntre, Þat durst right now his body bede Forto do a doghty dede, Ne forto bide þe mekil boste Of King Arthurgh and of his oste; And if he find none hym ogayn, Ȝowre landes er lorn, þis es sertayn. 24 (Who will now defend you, your land, and all that is within it, since you won’t stop weeping? Oh, Madame, pay attention to me. You have no knight in this country who will right now offer his body to do this brave deed and not abide that great menace of King Arthur and his army; and if he is not opposed, your lands are lost, that is certain.)

Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics


Arthur is referred to as “þe mekil boste,” that great menace, and if he arrives with no knight to oppose him, Alundyne will surely lose her land. Arthur’s presence as sovereign affords him the ability to acquire the land—his accompanying army further emphasizes his power. Here Arthur takes on a statist responsibility vis-à-vis Deleuze and Guattari: “The State is sovereignty. But sovereignty reigns over what it is capable of internalizing, of appropriating locally.” 25 Alundyne’s land is within Arthur’s realm, and he can claim it because there is no man/knight present, as Lunet makes clear when she tells Alundyne to call her council and ask them who is to defend “Ȝowre well, ȝowre land, kastel and towre / Ogayns þe nobil King Arthure” 26 (your well, your land, castle, and tower against the noble King Arthur). Although Arthur is described as “nobil,” he is nevertheless a threat to the castle. Lunet’s statements reveal a key spatial and gendered element within the text: Alundyne occupies both land and power, but she has no right to the land, castle, and tower. In other words, the land has passed to Alundyne as the widow of the former lord, but as a woman, the right to the land has not passed to her. Yet within this space she can still attempt to exercise power: she calls together “hir barons” (her barons) and asks them to assent to a marriage to Ywain because “me bus nedely have a lord / My landes forto lede and ȝeme” 27 (I must necessarily have a lord to oversee and protect my land). Although Alundyne has power within the castle and a claim to the land, this power and right to the castle are not permitted within normative society structured by the patriarchal, sovereign domination over both women and land. In other words, occupied/striated space is male/masculine as opposed to available/ smooth space that is female/feminine. Alundyne’s land does not conform to the normative culture, which allows Arthur to exert a claim to the land. YWAIN’S BECOMING Ywain enters the narrative through a subversion of Arthur’s rule. After hearing the tale of Colgrevance’s defeat at a mysterious well, Ywain wants to take revenge on behalf of his cousin. Ywain is told to stand-down and that Arthur will march to the well with his knights. However, “Þe kynges wil wald he noght bide, / Worth of him, what may bityde” 28 (the King’s will would he not await, regardless of what would become of him). Ywain, eager to fight the knight at the well, does not follow Arthur’s dictate and presses on without regard for himself or the will of the King. This initial act of Ywain’s points not to the tenuousness of Arthur’s rule, nor to the stalwart will of Ywain; rather, Ywain’s subversion of Arthur’s declaration shows the vulnerability of the power structure as well as the “social contract” that the structure is premised upon. 29 Arthur’s power is contingent on his knights’ service to his status as king and their fidelity to him (even as “equals” at the “tabyl


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rownde”). This is the beginning of Ywain’s subversion and radical transformation into a nomadic insurgent. After Ywain sets off to the well and defeats the knight defending it (making Alundyne a widow), he is able to enter the castle with the help of Lunet. Ywain, again with the support of Lunet, eventually marries Alundyne and agrees to defend her castle against the aggression of King Arthur. With his identity obscured—a foreshadowing of the power of anonymity later in the text—Ywain successfully defeats Sir Kay in battle. Arthur demands to know who he is and after Ywain reveals himself, “Þe king and his men war ful glad” 30 (the king and his men were very happy). The knight explains everything to Arthur and asks if he would “At wend with me to my purchace, / And se my kastel and my towre; / Þan myght ȝe do me grete honowre” 31 (go with me to my newly acquired property, and see my castle and tower; you would do me a great honor). Arthur happily agrees to spend a “fowretenyght” (fortnight) with Ywain and Alundyne. 32 Arthur’s joy at Ywain’s success (he now has his own “kastel” and “towre”) is critical to the normative rule of England: there is, first and foremost, a man and trusted knight residing in a castle within the domain of Arthur’s rule; the space is now under masculine rule and becomes marked or striated with the norm of patriarchy, which reaffirms Arthur’s mosaic nation-state. Ywain’s marriage, however, does not permanently stabilize the status quo since Ywain breaks a promise to return to his wife after a year of attending tournaments, and she publicly denounces him as a liar and unworthy knight. Ywain’s desire to go to tournaments expresses a normative, gendered behavior in relation to space, as Mino Vianello and Elena Caramazza put it “the two genders have had to face very different material and psychological situations, resulting in the male projecting himself outwards towards the external world, and the female inwards towards a small circle of primary social relationships.” 33 Ywain’s movement “outward” and his failure to keep a promise provide the catalyst for Ywain’s radical transformation. Ywain goes mad at the loss of his beloved and runs into the forest: “Obout he welk in þe forest, / Als it wore a wilde beste” 34 (he lurked all about the forest as if he were a wild beast). After living as a “wilde beste” for over a year, a woman comes upon Ywain while he is asleep. Upon recognizing the former knight, she treats him with an ointment that brings him back from being a “wilde beste.” As Ywain regains his senses, he looks around and realizes he does not know where he is. Seeing the maiden that helped him he says to her: Par charite I walde þe pray Forto lene me þat palfray, Þat in þi hand es redy bowne, And wis me sone unto some towne. I wate noght how I had þis wa,

Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics


Ne how þat I sal heþin ga. 35 (For the sake of charity I pray you, lend me that horse you hold who is ready to ride, and guide me to a near town. I do not know how I came to this woe nor how I shall go from here.)

Although his recovery signals a return to the human, rational, ordered world, Ywain has changed his view of this world since living as a “wilde beste” has caused him to disconnect from the normativity of his previous existence. The phrase “wilde beste” marks a radical change in his ontological and epistemological comportment: in the language of Deleuze and Guattari, Ywain’s sense of self has been deterritorialized, as well as his relationship with other humans, animals, and the earth. From this experience and his reemergence into the human world, Ywain’s connection to the world has shifted so deeply that he is not able to wholly return to a normative existence. While Ywain has returned to his “rational” position in the world, the fact that he does not know where he is nor where to go disconnects him from the land, from his sense of “home,” and thus from his previous sense of self. Ywain’s identity has been “washed away like the bank of a river swollen by floodwater.” 36 As a result, Ywain must reconstruct his identity based on a lack of home, and his identity now becomes contingent, rather than static and fixed. While he is on the mend, Ywain stays at the maiden’s castle. The text is not clear as to whose rule the castle is under, but the only inhabitants of the castle discussed by the text are women. 37 Ywain defends the Lady’s castle from an Earl, who had been threatening to take the lady’s land. Much like the land of Alundyne, the Earl attacks the castle because it is not ruled or defended by a man. This time, however, Ywain defends the land in the name of the maiden without marrying her or taking her land. This act is a repetition of the actions he has already performed and will continue to perform, though now he is not acting as a representative of the status quo but rather from a position of alterity in protecting the right of women to rule land. After defeating the Earl, Ywain makes him on a book “sware” (swear) that he would “big ogayn bath toure and toune / Þat by him war casten doune” 38 (build again both the tower and fortress, which were destroyed by him). Ywain helps reshape the gendered power structure by assuming a power role through masculine spatial occupancy, but immediately handing power and land governance over to the maiden of the castle. Ywain further subverts the normative gendered paradigm by having the Earl pay “Umage” (homage) to the land-holding maiden. 39 As nomad, Ywain deterritorializes the gendered power dynamics within this location by empowering a female claim to land in the absence of male protection. He does this without laying his own claim to the land or castle. Seeing Ywain as worthy, the lady asks him to “dwel here still” (dwell here) and that she will “ȝelde into ȝowre handes / Myne awyn body and al my lands” 40 (yield into your hands my own body and all my lands). After his failure to keep his promise to Alundyne and his transfor-


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mative experience in the forest, Ywain cannot stay in one place. He must move on; he must continue on his way; he must not stop traveling: “Now rides Ywayn als ȝe sal here, / With hevy herte and dreri chere / Thurgh a forest by a sty” 41 (Now Ywain rides, as you shall hear, with a heavy heart and little cheer, through a forest by a pathway). This “sty,” this path, comes to represent precisely the limit of Ywain’s identity. As a nomad within the normative castle-culture, Ywain deterritorializes the path and makes it a site of possibility that threatens the castle and the power structures associated with the castle. The path, as a space, “creates a fissure between history (past experiences) and future (consequences) to allow for imaginative possibilities,” in the words of Rebecca Umland. 42 As Deleuze and Guattari remind us, “A field, a heterogeneous smooth space, is wedded to a very particular type of multiplicity: nonmetric, acentered, rhizomatic multiplicities that occupy space without ‘counting’ it and can ‘be explored only by legwork.’” 43 The nomadic is juxtaposed to the “imperial” or “royal” spaces that are counted, measured, centered singularities. Ywain, consequently, is cast as distinctively Other, not just in contrast to the normativity of Arthur and the other knights, but also to the normative inhabitants of space. As a nomad, Ywain is at home in the liminal. Indeed, Ywain is still in position of power vis-à-vis gender, but his gendered identity as a knight gives him access to dominant power structures, which he in turn transforms as a nomad. Ywain’s alterity becomes reified by the company of the lion. Ywain helps save the lion from a dragon and in return, the lion “thanked þe knyght als he kowth” (thanked the knight as best he knew) and “In þe forest al þat day / Þe lyoun mekely foloud ay, / And never for wele ne for wa / Wald he part Sir Ywayn fra” 44 (in the forest all that day the lion always meekly followed and for good or bad he would never part from Sir Ywain). Although the lion has been interpreted as various attributes of Ywain—of England, and of the chivalric, heroic spirit—the lion, as a creature not typically found within this specific geographical space, speaks to the radical difference of Ywain’s identity within the normative space of castle-culture. 45 The absurd improbability of the presence of a lion in England directly reflects the nomadic identity of Ywain. When juxtaposed to castle-culture, the nomad is as absurd, unsettling, and nonnormative as a lion befriending a knight within the forests of England. Mobility and anonymity are conventional characteristics of the knight-errant character, and all questing knights possess a radical possibility. 46 Ywain’s radicality, however, is enabled by the presence and identityaugmenting lion since the lion becomes a material manifestation of Ywain as a “wilde beste.” The point at which Ywain truly embraces his nomadic identity comes when he speaks to Lunet. Lunet, who has been charged with treason, needs a knight to be her champion at her trial. Ywain agrees to help, but says to Lunet:

Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics


At my might I sal noght fayl, Bot how so bese of þe batayle, If ani man my name þe frayne, On al manere luke þou yt layne; Unto na man my name þou say. 47 (My strength shall not fail, but however interested one may be in the battle, if any man asks you my name, in every way see that you conceal it. Unto no man say my name.)

Ywain’s desire for anonymity derives from his hope that it will allow him to regain his honor and place in normative society. Having been a part of Arthur’s retinue but also having lived as a “wilde beste” totally outside of the norm, Ywain has a unique perspective on castle-culture. In order to get his beloved back, he must also be able to return to society. As it stands, Ywain has little hope of being welcomed back into Arthur’s court, let alone Alundyne’s house. Ywain must therefore navigate the waters of medieval social protocol by reclaiming his honor: he must embrace his nomadic distinctiveness, utilize his outcast identity and become a type of insurgent acting against the dominant, normative society. To embrace this identity, Ywain must become “something else” by becoming the anonymous knight with a lion. After agreeing to help Lunet, Ywain: “Þan rade he forth into frith, / And hys lyoun went hym with. / Had he redyn bot a stownde, / A ful fayre castell he fownde.” 48 (Than he rode forth into the woods and his lion went with him. After he had ridden but a brief time, he found a very pleasing castle.) Riding into the woods with his lion, Ywain “finds” a castle. This phrasing is significant because it points to Ywain’s lack of direction. He was not specifically riding to this castle and he was not on his way to someplace else. Ywain leaves Lunet, still imprisoned, and comes across a castle precisely because he cannot not move. As Ywain approaches the castle that he “fownde,” the four porters manning the drawbridge: fled for þe lyown. Þai said, ‘Syr, withowten dowt, Þat beste byhoves þe leve þarout.’ He sayd, ‘Sirs, so have I wyn, Mi lyoun and I sal noght twyn; I luf him als wele, I ȝow hete, Als my self, at ane mete. Owþer sal we samyn lende, Or els wil we heþin wende.’ 49 (fled because of the lion. They said, “Sir, without a doubt, it behooves you to leave that beast outside.” He said, “Sirs, as I may thrive, my lion and I shall not part; I love him as much, I assure you, as equally as myself. Either we shall remain together, or else we will go from here.”)

The fear of the lion and Ywain’s insistence upon its accompanying him suggest the fear of the nomad’s presence, the fear of the cultural insurgent’s


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presence, the fear of alterity. Upon entering the castle, Ywain learns that there is a giant threatening the castle and the lord’s family. Ywain agrees to help the lord under the condition that the lord’s foe arrives before Ywain will have to leave to attend to another matter (Lunet’s trial). The next day, Ywain awakes, goes to church, and then states that he has to leave. The lord, trying to persuade the knight to stay says “I sal ȝow gif, withowten ende / Half my land with toun and toure, / And ȝe wil help us in þis stoure” 50 (I shall give you, forever, half my land with both town and castle, if you will help us with this situation). Once more, Ywain is offered land, a town, and a castle, but he says clearly, “Nai, God forbede / Þat I sold tak any mede” 51 (No, God forbid, that I should take any reward). Since Ywain has become a nomad, he cannot accept land, he cannot settle, he must continue to move to the next space, the next place. Ywain’s nomadic identity increasingly allows him to right social injustice. After hearing what the giant plans to do with the lord’s daughter, Ywain says, “Þis geant es ful fers and fell / And of his wordes ful kruell; / I sal deliver hir of his aw / Or els be ded within a thraw” 52 (this giant is very fierce and vicious and speaks very cruelly; I shall deliver her from his power or else be dead within a short while). Ywain is able to act in ways that others previously could not. The lord’s six sons were knights and were not able to protect the castle. The giant defeated the normative and visible power of these knights. Ywain, however, represents a different form of power that is nonnormative. Ywain exits the castle to fight the giant and “Ful mani sari murnand man / Left he in þe kastel þan” 53 (so many sorry, mourning men he left in the castle). Leaving others behind within the knowable and safe castle, Ywain ventures into the exposed and open field. As a nomad, Ywain is at home in this smooth space, a space that is not “ordered” and measured like the space of the castle. As a nomadic insurgent, Ywain “rade into þey playne” 54 (rode into the plain). Ywain’s presence within the plain surprises the giant: “What devil made þe so balde / Forto cum heder out of þi halde?” 55 (What devil made you so bold to come hither out of the protected castle?) Ywain’s actions are so unconventional that the giant can only believe that a devil has made Ywain so bold. The castle is not only a place of safety, but a place of stability, knowledge, and visible identity, aptly shown in the use of the term “halde.” Ywain’s ability to pass through the gates of a castle, penetrate its security, and thereby change the expectations and views of normative society through his actions mark him as an insurgent whose presence destabilizes and deterritorializes space. Ywain slays the giant, and when “men in þe kastel se / Ful mekil mirth on ilka side” (men in the castle see, much mirth was on every side), the lord invites the knight to return and live within the castle. 56 Ywain simply responds by saying “Sir, þat may I noght do; / Bileves wele, for me bus go” 57 (Sir, that I may not do; stay well, for it behooves me

Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics


to go). Indeed, he must return to Lunet, but his transformative experience also compels him to move. After defeating the giant, Ywain quickly rides to defend Lunet against the charge of treason. As he presents himself against three men preparing to burn Lunet at the stake, Ywain asserts that “with me es bath God and right, / And þai sal help me forto fight, / And my lyon sal help me; / Þan er we foure ogayns þam thre” 58 (with me is both God and justice and they shall help me to fight, and my lion shall help me; then are we four against those three). “We foure” consist of Ywain, the lion, God, and justice (“right”). Ywain’s contention that he fights for justice is also a declaration against the corrupt power structures within castle-culture. Lunet tells Ywain that the three men who accuse her of treason “say þat my lady / Lufed me moste specially, / And wroght al efter my rede; / Þarefore þai hate me to þe ded” 59 (say that my lady loved me most, and did according to my council; therefore, they sentenced me to death). The power that Lunet held under Alundyne threatened the men of the castle, and they used their positions to oust Lunet from favor and gain more power for themselves. Ywain’s presence as the anonymous nomadic insurgent draws attention to the injustices housed within the walls of the castle. Ywain’s anonymity becomes a central issue after he saves Lunet and reconciles her with Alundyne. He formalizes his anonymity by responding to Alundyne’s query about his name by saying, “I hat þe knight with þe lyoun” (I am called the knight with the lion), to which Alundyne responds, “We saw ȝow never or now, / Ne never herd we speke of ȝow” 60 (We never saw you before now, nor ever heard anyone speak of you). Not only does Ywain not offer his given name, he also fails to give a proper name. Ywain instead describes his presence and formalizes his identity, marked by the use of the word “hat,” which refers to him being called “the knight with the lion.” Ywain’s choice to use a nonnormative name again marks his ontological difference and signals his defiance of normative identity and castle-culture. 61 Ywain is concerned about the health of his lion, who is suffering from wounds sustained in battle; nevertheless, he chooses not to stay in the castle with Alundyne. If he were to stay, his identity might be discovered and he would either return to his normative life or be cast out and his reputation further destroyed. His need to return to Alundyne impels his nomadic status, which allows him to continue to perform as an agent of change who fights social injustice as the anonymous nomadic insurgent. This is to say, the nonnormative identity is made legible to normative society: the Knight with the Lion becomes a codified individual with an identifiable moniker. As a nonnormative agent within the borders of Arthur’s domain, the Knight with the Lion/Ywain can enact radical change visible and knowable to the dominant culture.


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As the anonymous knight with the lion, Ywain as a nomad who lacks a home is contrasted with the abduction of the Queen from her home, which causes Gawain to leave from the castle to pursue her. 62 As a consequence of Gawain’s absence in the castle, the people who needed his help to defend their honor and land could not find him: “Whare was Syr Gawayn? / He has bene ever trew and lele, / He fayled never no damysele” 63 (Where was Sir Gawain? He has always been true and loyal; he has never failed a damsel). This marks an important distinction between Gawain and Ywain: Gawain is not at home and Ywain has no home. Gawain could not perform knightly duties because he is not in the place he ought to be: a castle. Similarly, Ywain is present to perform these duties precisely because he is not in a castle, but rather moving through space with no predetermined endpoint or goal. The title of the Middle English romance neatly shows the organizing principle of the contrast between Gawain and Ywain. 64 The Middle English tale is not solely about Ywain, but rather the conflict between Ywain and Gawain, or more specifically, the conceptual alignments of Nomad/Home and Ywain/ Gawain, as the final events in the narrative elucidate. Two sisters fighting over land rights try to find champions to defend their claims. The older sister succeeds in enlisting Gawain as her champion, in part because she “Unto þe court fast gan sho fare” 65 (went to the court as fast as she could). The speed with which she acts allows her to secure Gawain; however it is also the known location of Gawain that allows the elder sister to enlist him as her champion. Like her older sister, the younger woman also goes to the court to seek Gawain’s help. Unfortunately, she is too late and Gawain cannot support her due to his promise to champion the older sister. This brief passage (lines 2759–72) shows that Gawain’s location is not only known, but there is a confidence that on “þe toþer day” (the other day) Gawain can be found in “kourt” to plead “of his help.” 66 After the younger sister is denied Gawain’s help, she hears of a “knyght with a lyoun” and begins to search for him. 67 Finding him, however, proves difficult: Day ne nyght wald sho noght spare; Thurgh al þe land fast gan sho fare, Thurgh castel and thurgh ilka toun To seke þe knight with þe lyown Sho soght hym thurgh al þat land, Bot of hym herd sho na tythand; Na man kouth tel hir whare he was. 68 (Neither day nor night would she spare; through all the land she rode as fast as she could, through castle and through each town to seek the Knight with the Lion. . . . She sought him through all that land, but of him she heard no news; no man could tell her where he was.)

Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics


The difference between Gawain and Ywain is the difference between the concepts of home/away, as well as the knowledge claims that accompany these concepts. Gawain is a known quantity, in part because he is associated with a particular place. Those in need go to him. Ywain, as an anonymous nomadic figure, is only known through hearsay, and he goes (unknowingly) to those in need. When the young woman tries to reproduce the traditional mode of securing a champion, she is met with difficulty because Ywain is not a traditional knight. Ywain’s nomadic identity contributes to the confusion of castles in the Middle English narrative. Where Chrétien’s narrative clearly shows Yvain’s location and the castles he visits, the Middle English text compresses these sections, creating a narrative that blurs castles together, makes places less intelligible, and opens up the text to the possibility of nomadic deterritorialization. Due to the emphasis on security, identity, and space, the English narrative focuses on the feats of Ywain. 69 Chrétien’s narrative attends to Yvain’s courtly behavior, while the Middle English tale focuses on Ywain’s travel from one place to another, outside of courtly spaces. For example, in Chrétien’s text, after saving Lunete from being burnt alive, Yvain delivers Lunete back to her lady—Laudine, Yvain’s scorned wife. Not knowing the identity of the knight, Laudine asks the anonymous knight to stay; Yvain replies: Dame, ce n’iert hui que je me remaingne an cest point tant que ma dame me pardoint son mautalant et son corroz. Lors finera mes travauz toz. 70 (Milady, I cannot remain / a single day in this place / until my lady has ceased / her anger and displeasure toward me. / Only then will my task be ended.)

The dialogue between Laudine and Yvain continues in a courtly fashion (4595–4640). Ywain meets Alundyne in the English tale as well, but the exchange is very brief and does not mention an end to the knight’s quest: No lenger dwel I ne may; Beleves wele and haves goday. I prai to Crist, hevyn kyng, Lady, len ȝow gude lifing, And len grace, þat al ȝowre anoy May turn ȝow unto mykel joy. 71 (No longer may I dwell here; stay well and have a good day. I pray to Christ, heavenly king, Lady, that he grant you good living, and lend you grace, that all your trouble may turn for you to great joy.)

By including neither the courtly dialogue nor the precise articulation of when the quest will end, the English author reshapes the narrative by focusing on Ywain’s movement and eliminating an explicit teleology of the quest. In addition, unlike Chrétien de Troyes, the Ywain-author frequently does not


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include proper names of locations (i.e., “le bois d’Argone,” “li sires de la Noire Espine”) 72 nor does he differentiate between various types of habitations: Ywain only travels to castles with little or no description, 73 whereas Yvain goes to “d’une meison molt fort et bele” (a very strong and beautiful manor) and various lands and castles with lengthy descriptions. 74 The Middle English translation ideologically shifts the concepts of space from distinct and idiosyncratic places of courtliness to singularities of normativity through which Ywain passes. Due to Ywain’s constant movement, knowledge of his whereabouts and identity are in continuous flux. The young maiden seeking the Knight with the Lion’s assistance asks: ‘Par charite, I ȝow pray, If þat ȝe wate wil ȝe me say, Whederward þat he es went?’ Þai said, for soth, þai toke na tent; ‘Ne here es nane þat þe can tell.’ 75 (“For the sake of charity, I pray you, if that you know, will you tell me, which way he went?” They said, in truth, they paid no attention; “Nor is there anyone here that could tell you.”)

Finding a person without a name who will not stay in a single location proves difficult—movement and anonymity are the traits that allow Ywain to remain a threat to normative castle-culture. Lunet, having left the castle with Ywain, knew how he began his trip and helps the young woman find the path Ywain took. She “broght hir sone into a playn, / Whare sho parted fra Sir Ywayn; / Sho said, ‘Na mare can I tel þe, / Bot here parted he fra me’” 76 (soon brought her into a plain, where she had parted from Sir Ywain; she said, “I can tell you no more, but here he parted from me”). The place of Ywain and Lunet’s parting is significant, insofar as they are not on a path, trail, or road, but rather a “playn,” similar to the “playn” where Ywain faced the giant. This “playn” as a geometrical space moves outward in all directions with no singular line or path to follow. Within the plain/plane, any path becomes a site of potential action, change, and movement. Deleuze and Guattari expound upon this notion, noting that the nomad might use a path, but the use is fundamentally different: The nomad has a territory; he follows customary paths; he goes from one point to another; he is not ignorant of points (water points, dwelling points, assembly points, etc.). But the question is what in nomad life is a principle and what is only a consequence. To begin with, although the points determine paths, they are strictly subordinated to the paths they determine, the reverse of what happens with the sedentary . . . every point is a relay and exists only as a relay. A path is always between two points, but the in-between has taken on all the consistency and enjoys both an autonomy and a direction of its own. . . . But the nomad goes from point to point only as a consequence and as a factual necessity; in principle, points for him are relays along a trajectory. 77

Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics


In this formulation, Lunet and the young woman could not determine where Ywain is going because any specific point for him is a relay, a place to pass through. Knowledge of where Ywain is, then, can only be determined through movement. Eventually, the maiden arrives at the castle where Ywain and the lion were treated and healed, but she does not find the knight there. She asks the lord of the castle where “sho myght fynd in toure or toun / A kumly knyght with a lyoun” 78 (she might find in castle or town a noble knight with a lion). Like Lunet, the lord can only point to the trajectory of Ywain, and the maiden hurries to catch him, but she does not find him in a “toure or toun,” but on the move, in between castles and battles: “with hir force sho hasted so fast / Þat sho overtoke him at þe last” 79 (with all her strength she hastened so fast that she overtook him at last). Ywain’s nomadic identity materializes on the road, in a trajectory of relays. In their search for shelter, Ywain and the maiden arrive at the “Castel of Hevy Sorow.” Both are given lodging for the night; however, when they awake and attempt to leave, the lord of the castle tells Ywain: Tak it to na greve, To gang heþin ȝit getes þou na leve. Herein es ane unsely law, Þat has bene used of ald daw And bus be done for frend or fa. 80 (Take no offence to what I say, but to intend to go from here does not mean you can leave. In here is an unfortunate law that has been in use since olden days and must be adhered to by friend or foe.)

This “law” that must be upheld is a fight between Ywain and two champions. If Ywain wins the fight, “Þan sal þou have al þis honoure / And my doghter in mariage / And also al myne heritage” 81 (than shall you have all this honor and my daughter in marriage and also all my wealth). As Ywain prepares for battle, he says “Als mot I the, / Þi doghter sal þou have for me; / For a king or ane emparoure / May hir wed with grete honoure” 82 (As I hope to prosper, you shall keep your daughter on my behalf; For a king or an emperor may she wed with great honor). Ywain declares that he will fight, but the lord should keep his daughter and marry her to a king. Declaring that he will not take the lord’s daughter were he to win the fight also means he will not accept the lord’s “heritage.” Certainly, Ywain is already married and wants to return to Alundyne; Ywain’s nomadic identity likewise does not allow him to occupy land, which would mean conforming to the dominant castle-culture. Indeed, there are “laws” within castles that do not extend beyond their walls: “Herein es ane unsely law.” The place creates a space of hierarchical power based on tradition: the law “has bene used of ald daw” and applies to everyone whether “frend or fa.” What Ywain confronts at this moment, in this place, is not only a display of power based on established tradition, but also the practice of dominant castle-culture where each castle functions as a


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sovereign power, yet part of the larger mosaic-statist model. Ywain’s presence as a nomad, as an agent of deterritorialization, disrupts the sovereignty localized within the space of the castle. Before the fight commences, the two champions require Ywain to lock his lion away or surrender to them. Again, the presence of the lion reflects Ywain’s disruptive presence and the champions seek to restore order and normality by locking the lion away. As the fight begins, Ywain is losing the battle to the two champions. Fortunately, the lion escapes from its incarceration and helps Ywain defeat the two warriors. Randy Schiff notes the significance to this action: “The exiled Ywain and lion act both lawlessly and exceptionally, dissolving the law as they impose their will.” 83 The imposition of will comes from a very particular strength founded upon the nomadic insurgent identity that Ywain has constructed. The corrupt castle-culture, and the laws formed by the power of castle-culture, are exposed and shown to be insufficient in the presence of Ywain. But Ywain’s subversion of the status quo and castle law does not end with his victory over the two champions. The lord offers Ywain his daughter in marriage, and Ywain again refuses to wed her saying, “For, sertes, whif may I none wed” 84 (For, certainly, I may wed no wife). The lord insists that Ywain marry his daughter and threatens Ywain with prison, but for a third time the nomadic knight refuses the lord’s daughter, citing the company of the maiden: “I sal hir never wed to wive; / For with þis maiden most I wend / Until we cum whare sho wil lend” 85 (I shall never make her my wife; for with this maiden must I go until we come where she will stay). Ywain does not say that he must go with this maiden to defend her, or to be her champion; he states that he must go with her until they arrive at the place where she will stay. Here Ywain acknowledges his nomadic status: he must travel until his travel companion finds a place to stay, and then, it is implied, he will continue to travel alone. Nevertheless, Ywain’s refusal to take the lord’s daughter in marriage disrupts the established tradition—the law—of the castle. Similarly, Ywain’s “request” that the lord free all the imprisoned women who have been making gold cloth for the lord further dismantles the sovereign power of the castle, along with its economic production. Indeed, the lord made the women prisoners as a result of a deal he struck with the two fiendish warriors—it was their desire to have “Threty maidens to trowage” 86 (thirty maidens as tribute)—but the lord is ultimately responsible for their capture and beatings. The lord also benefits from their cheap labor; when Ywain arrived in the castle he saw the lord “Opon a clath of gold he lay” 87 (upon a cloth of gold he lay). Ywain’s refusal to marry the lord’s daughter and his insistence upon freeing the captured maidens transform the space of the castle and ruptures the power dynamic previously at work within the castle’s walls: once again, Ywain embodies the power of the insurgent nomad in the face of oppressive, sovereign power.

Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics


Ywain and the maiden continue their journey to defend the young woman’s land in Arthur’s court. Upon their arrival, the maiden introduces the anonymous knight to Arthur: Unto ȝowre court, sir, have I broght An unkouth knyght þat ȝe knaw noght; He sais þat sothly for my sake Þis batayl wil he undertake; And he haves ȝit in oþer land Ful felle dedes under hand. 88 (Unto your court, sir, have I brought an unknown knight that you know not; He says that truly for my sake this battle will he undertake; And he has important deeds to do in other lands.)

The terms “unkouth” and “knaw” not only mask Ywain’s identity but also confirm that he is not of Arthur’s court; he has become something else. Furthermore, the maiden clearly states that this knight cannot stay in this place; he must travel onward to other duties in other lands. Although it is in Ywain’s interest not to be recognized, these statements posit the ontological shift Ywain has undergone. He has become a knight that is not recognizable due to his nomadic life. The intervention of the nomad in Arthur’s court facilitates the radical possibilities of equality and justice, as well as to the way land is represented and held. Ywain’s identity is eventually revealed in the course of his fight against Gawain. After this revelation, there is a marked shift in the text. Because his face is known, because his past is known, Ywain is identified with his prenomadic identity and the expectations that accompany that identity. This culminates in Arthur’s acknowledging Ywain and stating, “Sir Ywain, welkum home!” 89 (Sir Ywain, welcome home!) In this utterance, “home” alludes to his coming back into the fold of Arthur’s court, his returning to a normative existence. Arthur and the knights know that he has a “home,” a place where he owns land, but the “home” speaks to a larger concept as well. Ywain’s return “home” signals the dominant castle-culture’s re-interpellating the young knight within normative values and relationships. The nomadic insurgent, for better or for worse, cannot exist in this land. Nevertheless, Ywain’s presence, even the newly re-interpellated presence, retains a nomadic insurgency. Arthur declares the fight between Ywain and Gawain a draw with no clear winner. However, given that there must be a decisive outcome in order for a settlement to be reached between the sisters, Arthur states that he will “Al ȝowre landes depart” 90 (partition all your land). In other words, Arthur divides the land equally between the two sisters. This judgment might not appear to be of great consequence; however, the narrator states that “Þis land was first, I understand, / Þat ever was parted in Ingland” 91 (this land was the first, I understand, that was ever partitioned in England). Though Arthur was “Forto do þe landes law” (to uphold the law of the land), this outcome


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was made possible by the presence of a nomadic insurgent. 92 Ywain’s past nomadic insurgency overwrites the normative knightly battle and leads to an unprecedented deterritorialization, which in turn, allows for a new “landes law” based on equality. At the end of the tale, Ywain rides to see Alundyne and maintains his anonymity. But instead of going directly to her, he rides to the well and casts water on the stone, as he did at the beginning of the story. As before, this act creates a large and furious storm. However, the narrator tells us not only what the storm looks like, but also what happens at the castle: For al þe kastel walles obout Quoke so fast þat men might think Þat al into þe erth sold synk; Þai trembled fast, both boure and hall, Als þai unto þe grund sold fall. Was never in þis mydlerde In no kastell folk so ferde. 93 (All the castle walls shook so fast that men might think that all into the earth should sink; they trembled fast, both chamber and hall, as if they should all fall to the ground. Never in this world were people so afraid in a castle.)

Upon Ywain’s return to this place, the castle “quoke” and “trembled” like no castle ever before. If the previous act of casting water onto the stone produced a storm, this act by the nomadic insurgent disrupts the place itself, unsettles the structure, and disturbs the “kastell folk.” Because of Ywain’s failure to keep his promise to Alundyne, he is not permitted to return to the castle. The Knight with the Lion, however, is permitted to enter through the gates. Lunet makes Alundyne swear to help the knight reunite with his Lady, thus providing access to the Knight with the Lion. In the end, the identity of the Knight with the Lion is revealed and Ywain is accepted back by Alundyne. The narrator closes the tale with a standard medieval romance ending, but adds this final comment: “Þus þe knyght with þe liown / Es turned now to Syr Ywayn / And has his lordship al ogayn” 94 (thus the knight with the lion is returned now to Sir Ywain and he has his lordship once again). This statement posits a difference between “Ywain” and the “Knyght with þe Liown.” This difference is more than merely a change in nomenclature, or even identity, but a deeper, structural, ontological transformation. Ywain’s return to his “home” and Alundyne’s acceptance of his return complete his time as a nomadic insurgent; he has returned to his previous status and “lordship.” But this ending poses a rather significant question: what does it mean for the nomadic insurgent to desire his own end and become a part of the status quo?

Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics


THE ANI: ANONYMOUS NOMADIC INSURGENT Ywain’s identity as a nomadic insurgent places him outside of the status quo—though he was at one time an active participant of the status quo. Ywain is fighting to get back to his land, castle, and wife, and the means for him to achieve this must come from embracing a nonnormative identity: for Ywain to get back to his ordinary life, he must act and be extraordinary. My analysis of Ywain and Gawain can be categorized as schizoanalysis or a militant analysis. It is a militant analysis, as Deleuze and Guattari note, “because it proposes to demonstrate the existence of an unconscious libidinal investment of sociohistorical production, distinct from the conscious investments coexisting with it.” 95 The central paradox of this text, in my reading, parallels the goal of schizoanalysis: “to analyze the specific nature of the libidinal investments in the economic and political spheres, and thereby to show how, in the subject who desires, desire can be made to desire its own repression. . . . All this happens, not in ideology, but well beneath it.” 96 Ywain’s return to normative society and his reestablishing the heteronormative dynamic is offset by Arthur’s declaration of women’s right to land and his changing of the “landes law.” The production of Ywain and Gawain redefines dominant power structures according to a different value system. While the tale leaves the patriarchal structure more or less intact, Ywain’s nomadic, insurgent actions offer some change to the existing gender paradigm. The nomadic insurgent does not dismantle all oppressive structures, but the agent can produce new (smooth) spaces so that further action can be taken. This analysis of Ywain and Gawain not only shows the radical possibilities of the figure of Ywain in the text, but it also articulates a discourse of radical possibility, politics, and action within the genre of medieval romance more broadly. By entangling medieval texts with contemporary radical politics, we can begin to highlight radical moments and contingencies not just in historical literary analysis, but also in broader contemporary, cultural analysis, as well as in social institutions, and even our daily lives. By identifying these moments and positing their potential effects, we might become increasingly aware of the frequency of radical contingencies and how to embrace these moments for future action against oppressive institutions. As the Parisian anarchist collective known only as Tiqqun note, the frontline of social change and radical politics “no longer cuts through the middle of society; it now runs through the middle of each of us, between what makes us a citizen, our predicates, and all the rest.” 97 Much like Ywain embracing his altered identity and creating change, we too can take hold of moments of radical contingency to create new possibilities for transformation. In his wake, Ywain left significant changes on the local level, and he played a significant role in changing the “landes law” regarding the distribu-


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tion of land to women. More importantly, the lessons to be learned from Ywain’s transformative identity affect not just the narrative, but also the future of political resistance. We can learn from the medieval knight how to disrupt and deterritorialize seemingly intransigent spaces. For instance, many of us are in positions to reshape, change, and altogether rewrite the daily operations of the (medieval) academy. Like Ywain, we can become the nomadic insurgent in our own institutions by disrupting the corporate model of governance, which is becoming increasingly common in universities. We can utilize our positions by staging visible acts of resistance against the exploitation of staff and adjuncts or staging protests against increasing corporate and capitalist “collaboration” on university campuses. These acts must move beyond the campus commons and into the fortified boardrooms, the protected walls of presidents, and the palatial halls of state/university governance. Although Ywain and Gawain retains what Schiff calls the “programmatic support of aristocratic exceptionalism,” the deconstruction of that power structure also comes from within the text; in upholding the importance of the status quo, the text also inadvertently shows precisely how to disrupt the normative structures of power. 98 Ywain’s insurgency, as ours should become, “is not like a plague or a forest fire—a linear process which spreads from place to place after an initial spark. It rather takes the shape of a music, whose focal points, though dispersed in time and space, succeed in imposing the rhythm of their own vibration, always taking on more density. To the point that any return to normal is no longer desirable or even imaginable.” 99 We, as linguistic and cultural inheritors, can learn from medieval narratives how to best engage with the normative power structures of our time, as well as any institution that propagates, promotes, or participates in any form of oppressive practices that limit the equal-liberty of any person. In these places, in these spaces, we should find the anonymous nomadic insurgent. NOTES 1. Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (Oxford: Blackwell 1991), 85. 2. Megan Cassidy-Welch, “Space and Place in Medieval Contexts,” Parergon 27.3 (2010): 3. 3. John M. Ganim, “Gower, Liminality, and the Politics of Space,” Exemplaria 19 (2007): 91. 4. Robert Rouse, “Walking (between) the Lines: Romance as Itinerary/Map,” in Medieval Romance, Medieval Contexts, ed. Rhiannon Purdie and Michael Cichon (London: D. S. Brewer, 2011), 135–47. 5. Randy P. Schiff, “Reterritorialized Ritual: Classist Violence in Yvain and Ywain and Gawain,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 56 (2014): 229. 6. For identity formation and the individual, see Susan Crane, The Performance of Self: Ritual, Clothing, and Identity during the Hundred Years War (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), specifically 126–28.

Postmodern Theory, Premodern Tactics


7. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 362. 8. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 371. 9. Ian Buchanan, “Space in the Age of Non-Place,” in Deleuze and Space, ed. Ian Buchanan and Gregg Lambert (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005), 23. 10. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Pantheon Books 1977), 141. 11. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 388. 12. For a discussion of the text’s opening and the differences from Yvain, see David Matthews, “Translation and Ideology: The Case of Ywain and Gawain,” Neophilologus 76 (1992): 452–63. 13. Albert B. Friedman and Norman T. Harrington, ed., Ywain and Gawain (London: EETS, o.s. 254, 1964), xvii. 14. Saul Newman, The Politics of Postararchism (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010), 143. 15. The practice of tranlatio studii et imperii attempts to legitimize the cultural and political power of the English as decedents of ancient Greece and Rome. By putting this tale in the language of “Yngland,” the English author solidifies contemporary readers’ knowledge of the past, as well as shows the political power of “Yngland” through naming specific geographical spaces conquered by Arthur. 16. Chrétien de Troyes, Yvain (Le Chevalier au Lion), ed. and trans. William W. Kibler (New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1985), 21–24. 17. Ywain and Gawain, 25–27. 18. Ywain and Gawain, 35. 19. Ywain and Gawain, 31. 20. Ywain and Gawain, 1–13. 21. Although the term nation-state is modern, national identities are beginning to emerge in the fifteenth century. Readers of a Middle English romance such as Ywain and Gawain would be acutely aware of the differences between England, Wales, and Scotland. Nevertheless, Arthur’s subjugation of these lands is an attempt to unify the isle in what could be referred to as a nation-state. For the purposes of this essay, I will read Arthur’s kingdom as an analogue to nation-state. For a discussion of emergent nation identity in late medieval England, see Thorlac Turville-Petre, England the Nation: Language, Literature, and National Identity 1290–1340 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996). 22. Xavier Oliveras González, “Deny Anarchic Spaces and Places: An Anarchist Critique of Mosaic-Statist Metageography,” Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies (2010): 4. 23. González, “Deny Anarchic Spaces and Places,” 7. 24. Ywain and Gawain, 948–58. 25. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 360. 26. Ywain and Gawain, 1081–82. 27. Ywain and Gawain, 1180, 1184–86. 28. Ywain and Gawain, 545–46. 29. For more on the problems of social contract from the framework I am utilizing, see Newman, Postanarchism, 28–30. 30. Ywain and Gawain, 1351. 31. Ywain and Gawain, 1368–70. 32. Ywain and Gawain, 1372. 33. Mino Vianello and Elena Caramazza, Gender, Space and Power: A New Paradigm for the Social Sciences (London: Free Association Books, 2005), 42. 34. Ywain and Gawain, 1653–54. 35. Ywain and Gawain, 1823–28. 36. Buchanan, “Space in the Age of Non-Place,” 23. 37. See Ywain and Gawain, 1834–45. 38. Ywain and Gawain, 1947, 1949–50. 39. Ywain and Gawain, 1952. 40. Ywain and Gawain, 1960, 1961–62.


Chapter 1

41. Ywain and Gawain, 1975–77. 42. Rebecca A. Umland, “The Liminal Space of the Road and the Transformative Quest,” in The Image of the Road in Literature, Media and Society: Proceeding of the 2012 Conference of the Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Social Imagery (Pueblo, CO: The Society for Interdisciplinary Study of Social Imagery, 2012), 259. 43. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 371. 44. Ywain and Gawain, 2005, 2013–16. 45. For various interpretations of the lion, see Matthews, “Translation and Ideology”; Schiff, “Reterritorialized Ritual”; Richard Barber, Bestiary: Being an English Version of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Bodley 764 (London: Boydell and Brewer, 1992). 46. Ywain’s anonymity and mobility are not unique to this text, or to Chrétien’s twelfthcentury Yvain; Ywain/Yvain share the attributes of anonymity and mobility with Lancelot, for example, in Chrétien’s Le Chevalier de la Carrette. 47. Ywain and Gawain, 2193–97. 48. Ywain and Gawain, 2207–10. 49. Ywain and Gawain, 2216–24. 50. Ywain and Gawain, 2364–66. 51. Ywain and Gawain, 2367–68. 52. Ywain and Gawain, 2409–12. 53. Ywain and Gawain, 2425–26. 54. Ywain and Gawain, 2429. 55. Ywain and Gawain, 2433–34. 56. Ywain and Gawain, 2486–87. 57. Ywain and Gawain, 2503–4. 58. Ywain and Gawain, 2519–22. 59. Ywain and Gawain, 2159–62. 60. Ywain and Gawain, 2662–64. 61. The similarities to the hackivist group “Anonymous” cannot be overstressed here. 62. See Ywain and Gawain, 2182, 2294. 63. Ywain and Gawain, 2178–80. 64. The editors Friedman and Harrington note that manuscript contains three rubrics marking the beginning, middle, and end of the text. The first states “Here begyns Ywaine and Gawain” and the last reaffirms the name of the text, “Ywain and Gawayn þus makes endyng, / God grant us all hys dere blyssing. Amen.” See Ywain and Gawain, xi. 65. Ywain and Gawain, 2760. 66. Ywain and Gawain, 2767, 2768, 2771. 67. Ywain and Gawain, 2775. 68. Ywain and Gawain, 2801–4, 2807–9. 69. These remain hallowed categories to this day, see for example, Athina Karatzogianni and Andrew Robinson, “Schizorevolutions Versus Microfascisms: The Fear of Anarchy in State Securitisation,” Journal of International Political Theory 13 (2017): 282–295. 70. Chrétien de Troye, Yvain, 4590–94. 71. Ywain and Gawain, 2673–78. 72. Chrétien de Troye, Yvain, 3232, 4707. 73. See Ywain and Gawain, 2254 and 2803. 74. Chrétien de Troye, Yvain, 4665. For castle descriptions see 3765–97, 4878–89, and 5116–99. 75. Ywain and Gawain, 2835–39. 76. Ywain and Gawain, 2865–68. 77. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 380. 78. Ywain and Gawain, 2885–86. 79. Ywain and Gawain, 2897–98. 80. Ywain and Gawain, 3127–31. 81. Ywain and Gawain, 3138–40. 82. Ywain and Gawain, 3141–44. 83. Schiff, “Reterritorized Ritual,” 244.

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84. Ywain and Gawain, 3297. 85. Ywain and Gawain, 3324–26. 86. Ywain and Gawain, 3035. 87. Ywain and Gawain, 3085. 88. Ywain and Gawain, 3473–78. 89. Ywain and Gawain, 3717. 90. Ywain and Gawain, 3752. 91. Ywain and Gawain, 3767–68. 92. Ywain and Gawain, 3740. 93. Ywain and Gawain, 3848–54. 94. Ywain and Gawain, 4020–22. 95. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983), 98. 96. Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 105. 97. Tiqqun, This Is Not a Program, trans. Joshua David Jordan (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2011), 12. 98. Schiff, “Reterritorialized Ritual,” 228. 99. The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2009), 12–13.

Chapter Two

The Tempest and the Coming Storm

On Saturday, October 8, 2016, Stephen Greenblatt wrote an op-ed in The New York Times about Shakespeare’s Richard III and its applicability to the 2016 presidential election. At the time, a day before one of the most vitriolic debates in modern U.S. history, Donald Trump, the now president of the United States, was proving to be a contender against Hilary Clinton. Greenblatt, not so subtly positions Trump as Richard and argues that we should not be silent, instead we should play an active role in our political future—had more people done this, Richard might not have ascended to power with such ease, as portrayed in Shakespeare’s play. But Greenblatt makes another, more salient point regarding the longevity of Shakespeare’s work and the importance of historical literature more generally: “Shakespeare’s words have an uncanny ability to reach out beyond their original time and place and to speak directly to us. We have long looked to him, in times of perplexity and risk, for the most fundamental human truths. So it is now.” 1 These sentences, I argue, could have been written at any time, not just in the face of a troubling presidential candidate and an important election year. What I want to note here, however, is that Greenblatt does not just point to the timelessness and poignancy of Shakespeare’s words, but also their ability to “reach out beyond their original . . . place.” From where do these words speak? Which place are they calling from? Shakespeare’s historical moment? The pages of the text? Or “the great globe itself”? 2 As this chapter will discuss, I believe the “place” Greenblatt alludes to is just one of an immeasurable number of sites that reveals social consciousness and the spaces of resistance. As the last chapter demonstrated, historical literature can be a trove for radical spatial thought. The errant knight proves to be an agent of spatial insurgence and deterritorialization. This chapter moves forward in time and 27


Chapter 2

literary development to consider how one of the most read authors in the English language can lead to new insight into spatial resistance. Indeed, Shakespeare is part of the traditional literary canon and it is precisely for this reason that I want to address a play that many inside and outside of literary studies are familiar with: The Tempest, his last, “most bookish play . . . even by the scholarly humanistic measures of its age.” 3 Just as the previous chapter “decontextualized” the text from its medieval cultural and historical setting, a similar approach to The Tempest looks to engage with a major literary text as though it were “minor literature,” to use Deleuze and Guattari’s language. That is, I will focus on the two enslaved voices within the play, not just as a means to hear the voices of the oppressed—this is an important aspect of course—but also to see how the actions of the “enslaved” show a fracture within dominant, elite, ruling powers. Much has been made of the “placeness” of the island that Prospero inhabits. Specifically, many critics point to the colonial attributes of the play. 4 Given the historicity of the play, there are definite colonial elements at work: Prospero brings his Western knowledge to bear on the space and the inhabitants of the island, “civilizing” those who live there, as the frequently cited lines between Miranda and Caliban show: Mir: Abhorred slave, Which any print of goodness wilt not take, Being capable of all ill! I pitied thee, Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour One thing or other. When thou didst not, savage, Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like A thing most brutish, I endow’d thy purposes With words that made them known. But thy vild race (Though you didst learn) had that in’t which good natures Could not abide to be with; therefore wast thou Deservedly confin’d into this rock, Who hadst deserv’d more than a prison. Cal: You taught me language, and my profit on’t Is, I know how to curse. The red-plague rid you For learning me your language. 5

In this very postcolonial way, Caliban learns the language of the colonizer and then uses it against them. Nevertheless, Caliban’s use of the colonizer’s language also embeds him within the capitalist system of gains and losses: in his ability to curse he may “profit on’t.” But there is more to this. Caliban’s use of language corresponds to his use of space. With a new language comes a new spatial understanding; as Caliban first says of the island: Cal: I must eat my dinner. This island’s mine by Sycorax my mother, Which thou tak’st from me. When thou cam’st first, Thou strok’st me and made much of me, wouldst give me

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Water with berries in’t, and teach me how To name the bigger light, and how the less, That burn by day and night; and then I lov’d thee And show’d thee all the qualities o’th’isle, The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile. Curs’d be I that did so! All the charms Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you! For I am all the subjects that you have, Which first was mine own king; and here you sty me In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me The rest o’th’island. 6

Again, this is often read as a very colonial moment: Prospero comes to the island and makes it his, taking it from Caliban, who “first was mine own king.” I do not deny that this quote, if not the entire play, contains (post)colonial elements or utilizes “imaginative geographies produced by European voyages through non-European landscapes.” 7 The particulars of the geographic location of the island are debated, leading John Wylie to comment, “the tendency to read the play in terms of English colonial discourse is to an extent reliant upon an ‘atlanticist’ spatial dynamic, wherein the play becomes a historical commentary upon Anglo-American colonial relations.” 8 Nevertheless, the colonial discourse remains. Without detracting from the importance of the geographical, Caribbean postcolonial critical and creative responses to the play, I want to reframe the colonial discourse around the neoliberal project—a different type of colonization. José Antonio Giménez Micó argues, “The Tempest was one of the first ‘weapons’ used by Western colonialist discourse to take possession of ‘the Isle.’ . . . It is not a coincidence that in 1950–1960, promoters of the thencalled Third-World independence movement ‘occupied’ the Shakespearean masterpiece, more or less in the contemporary political meaning of the word ‘to occupy’: they ‘intruded’ on the until-then exclusive space of their oppressors.” 9 Giménez Micó updates the postcolonial rhetoric to mirror the contemporary language of resistance, but his point about the weaponization of the play to meet Western colonial discourse and the counter-weaponization of the play by postcolonialist criticism posits the power of the play as both a hegemonic and counter-hegemonic text. Giménez Micó continues, pointing out the “disorder” that Caliban creates is a threat to the colonial system, but once the threat is nullified by colonial power, the now tamed disorder “fulfills its function of legitimating—naturalizing—the existing order.” 10 Neoliberalism behaves in a similar way. To use Giménez Micó’s own example of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, the disorder created at Zuccotti Park was co-opted and used by the media to perpetuate the existing order. For example, a CBS radio advertisement that aired in 2011 proclaims over a swell of patriotic music, “America. The movement is growing. Everybody is joining in. It’s time to occupy your couch and watch CBS tonight. Just sit


Chapter 2

down with the 99% who demand The Big Bang Theory, for everyone.” 11 The disruption caused by OWS became a marketing tool for large media, which reinforced the power of the neoliberal capitalist market: all things can be commodified, even forms of resistance. Or again with Pepsi’s ill-fated attempt to co-opt the Resist movement in their 2017 television advertisement featuring reality star Kendall Jenner handing a Pepsi to a police officer patrolling a protest, only to be met with cheers from protesters and police alike. As Giménez Micó and others have shown, there is a level of success within these types of resistances and through a reading of The Tempest, actions can be reread in light of new categories, and “weaponized” concepts to create successful points of challenge. In the power dynamics of the play, Prospero is the symbol of neoliberal progress and Ariel and Caliban are positioned outside of, or as resistant to, neoliberal power. Through a lens of resisting neoliberal colonization, I want to revisit the “disorder” caused by both Caliban and Ariel. My reading of The Tempest reveals that Caliban and Ariel utilize space and movement in ways that forge a means of resistance against Prospero and the storm of neoliberal progress. THE STORM, BENJAMIN, AND NEOLIBERAL PROGRESS The Tempest opens amid the heavy winds and lightening of a storm at sea. Within the scene, there is a quarrel between the nobles, who know nothing about sailing, and the Boatswain, who is trying to keep the ship afloat. During all the prattle, the Boatswain yells to the group “You mar our labor. / Keep your cabins; you do assist the storm.” 12 While it is the workers who fight against the storm, they also respect the power and the potentiality of the storm. The nobles, however, seemingly aid the tempest through distracting the sailors and do not understand their precarious situation. The Boatswain offers a very tongue-in-cheek response to Gonzalo’s reprimand to remember who is on board—the King and other nobles and the power they represent: You are / a councillor; if you can command these elements / to silence, and work the peace of the present, we will / not hand a rope more. Use your authority. If you cannot, / give thanks you have liv’d so long, and make yourself ready in your cabin for the mischance of / the hour, if it so hap. 13

The Boatswain’s retort comes from an understanding of the power the nobility possesses and the power of the tempest itself, a differentiation lost on Gonzalo. In the end, there is nothing that the Boatswain or the mariners can do to save the ship and it, along with all its passengers, become wreckage upon the shores of Prospero’s island. This opening scene pits the power of nature against the perceived power of man. However, this storm is not all together natural; rather it has been

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raised by Prospero and his “art,” leaving “A brave vessel / (Who had, no doubt, some noble creature in her) / Dash’d all to pieces!” 14 The storm and the wreckage are results of human action, not merely the natural happenings of being at sea. As Prospero’s explanation to his daughter Miranda reveals, he was former Duke of Milan and was usurped by his brother, Antonio, with the aid of Alonso, King of Naples. “By accident most strange, bountiful Fortune” put all his enemies on a single ship and with his companion Ariel, Prospero raised a great tempest to bring this group of nobles to his shore. While Ariel reveals that “Safely in harbor / Is the King’s ship,” the rest of the fleet are “Bound sadly home for Naples, / Supposing that they saw the King’s ship wrack’d.” 15 While magic allows the ship to remain intact, the perceived wreckage of the ship and the scattered members of the ship’s cabin are causes of conflict in the narrative. I want to pause on the wreckage, the storm, and Prospero’s desire to return to Milan as a Duke. The manipulation of the sea and of the members of the crew and passengers are the sources for the plays conflict and leads, to some degree, to a resolution at the conclusion of the play, but not without its own host of issues. The storm and the narrative arc of the play itself are emblematic of our own societal movements and flows (though without the resolution). Reframed, the opening of The Tempest reveals that the desire of those within dominant positions of power create the environment to suit their ends with little regard for those who are affected by such decisions. Not coincidently, Prospero and Miranda arrived on this barren island through very similar actions, though a result of Antonio’s desire for power. Antonio’s poor decisions led to his brother and niece being “wrack’d” upon an island, which becomes the place of another shipwreck and Prospero’s revenge. With wreckage piling up on the shores of the island and this isolated place becoming a site of power and desire, our gaze rests on the trouble taking place on the island. But there is another storm that propels the action and discord within this play and it continues to create wreckage in our own time. Walter Benjamin identifies this storm in his analysis of Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus. Benjamin’s examination of Klee’s painting shows how under the current socioeconomic condition we are caught within a perilous tempest. Benjamin writes: A Klee painting named “Angelus Novus” shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the


Chapter 2 future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress. 16

Much like Prospero’s man-made storm, the storm “we call progress” persists as an engine driving the neoliberal machines of our time. Important to Benjamin’s insight here, as it pertains to a spatial analysis, is the debris at the feet of the angel. Neoliberal driven consumerism produces a “waste driven” society. Our commodities litter the earth after they have outlived their usefulness—though they do not outlive their material reality as objects in the world. Taken literally, our progress produces mounds upon mounds of waste. While out of our sightline, these mounds of debris constitute many living conditions for the poor and homeless who scavenge for reusable or recyclable products and remain well within the gaze for many, including the astonished and unbelieving angel of history. 17 Taken metaphorically, the wreckage at the feet of the angel is our fractured and perforated lives, our developing and caustically paradoxical hyper-individualist, neoliberal culture (at once connected through global commerce, digital networks, and travel, yet isolated and singular through labor, socioeconomic means, and national immigration laws). The shockwaves of the singular catastrophe of history propel the angel into the future; our linear experience is incapable of, or unwilling to read the seismic activity of the rupturing past. This inability to identify the rupturing past maintains a trajectory toward a perilous future, a future of environmental catastrophe, corporate mediation/domination of everyday life, and the rise of xenophobic nationalism. Henry Giroux comments on Benjamin’s thesis: The storm that pins the wings of the current diminutive angel of history is more intense, more paralyzing in its hyper-materialistic visions and more privatizing in its definition of agency. The historical forces producing this storm and its accompanying catastrophes are incorrigibly blind to the emergence of a “pulverized, atomized society spattered with the debris of broken inter-human bonds and their eminently frail and breakable substitutes.” This is best exemplified in the now infamous and cruel tenets of a harsh neoliberalism state without apology by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s in their mutual insistence that “government is the problem not the solution” and “there is no such thing as society.” 18

Pushing the angel into the future—an undesired future for the angel, who wants to make the wreckage whole—is a storm of tremendous violence. This is “progress.” If it hasn’t been made clear, progress as I have situated it, is not a benefit to society, but a totalizing force of destruction. At another point in history (Shakespeare’s perhaps), progress was a social good, something that elevated the lives of a community and enhanced living conditions (materially, mental-

The Tempest and the Coming Storm


ly, spiritually); indeed, progress can be a social good (i.e., progress in equal rights, equal pay, and progress toward eliminating all the inequities produced by capitalism). However, the language of progress has been co-opted by capitalism and neoliberalism as a means to sell its ethos as a social benefit to the global community. “Progress” for neoliberalism is the privatization of resources, the monetizing of action and thought, the complete corporate domination of every aspect of living: progress means a bolstered bottom line for investors at all costs, including environmental catastrophe and an overburdened, underpaid global population. The neoliberal “storm of progress” can be seen and in fact is rendered within Prospero’s tempest. Much like physical debris is the result of neoliberal progress, Prospero’s storm and the shipwreck it causes is a result of unseen power. Knowing of his brother’s shipwreck and with some prescience of the coming events, Prospero reveals to his daughter, Miranda, who he actually is and where they are from, “Thy father was the Duke of Milan and / A prince of power.” 19 As he continues his tale, he reveals to his less than intrigued daughter that in his desire to pursue his studies, Prospero handed governance of Milan over to his brother Antonio. Desiring the title and power for himself, Antonio put Prospero and his then infant daughter into a rudderless boat along with his “own library with volumes that / I prize above my dukedom;” eventually, “Here in this island we arriv’d.” 20 Prospero then meets with his servant Ariel and recounts how he freed Ariel from the clutches of Sycorax (this will be discussed below), after which he calls for Caliban, “Thou poisonous slave, got by the devil himself / Upon thy wicked dam, come forth!” 21 All of this dialogue marks Prospero’s power; even though he has lost his title of Duke, he still remains a “prince of power.” This is reaffirmed in his exchanges with Caliban. After Caliban remarks about the loss of his island to Prospero (quoted above), Prospero reminds Caliban that “I have us’d thee / (Filth as thou art) with human care, and lodg’d thee / In mine own cell, till thou didst seek to violate / The honor of my child.” 22 Before his attempt to populate “This isle with Calibans,” Caliban was not treated humanely; he was not viewed or treated as an equal. 23 He could not have been, “When thou dist not, savage, / Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like / A thing most brutish.” 24 According to Miranda and Prospero, Caliban did not understand himself or his purpose in life because he did not have language, or at least the proper language of “civilized” people. But after Caliban’s attempted violation of Miranda, Prospero’s power became increasing more evident as Caliban admits, when he is given an order, “I must obey. His art is of such pow’r, / It would control my dam’s god, Setebos, / And make a vassal of him.” 25 What we are able to glean from Prospero’s character in this scene is not only the extent of his power, but also his desire to reinstitute Western social dynamics on the island, as well as his previous social standing: he maintains his book


Chapter 2

collection (knowledge that affords him a more powerful position), the tutor and educator of both Miranda and Caliban (disseminating the narrative he desires), power over the indigenous peoples (Caliban and Ariel), and a type of magic that controls the very gods of the inhabitants. As Giménez Micó remarks, “Prospero stands as one of the only authorized enunciator of the history of the island. . . . He is the historian, as well as the only authorized educator. . . . Prospero is the only subject capable of relating past events from his own point of view, in order to legitimize the present situation of domination.” 26 For Prospero, this is a reestablishment of the natural order. Read as the power of neoliberalism, Prospero has brought to this desolate isle progress and a new means of raising the “quality of life” of the inhabitants. However, Caliban (and Ariel) has become shackled to the system that can/ will improve his life: Caliban has made a “profit” by learning the language of his dominators and he now knows “how to curse.” 27 Much like neoliberalism, Prospero’s power affects Caliban and Ariel (as representatives of the global south or any group in a developing nation) in a more evident way than on the new shipwrecked arrivals to the island—that is, other Western peoples. Positioned as the agent of neoliberal power, Prospero maintains a position of absolute power over the space of the island and all who inhabit it. However, Prospero’s power does not solely emanate from himself. As with neoliberalism, Prospero’s power does not originate from a singular position or have a static origin. The power is dispersed and diffuse. THE DRONE OF NEOLIBERAL POWER Much of Prospero’s power does not originate from him directly, but rather Ariel, the airy spirit of ambiguous origin, who performs his desires. Ariel was being held by the “foul witch Sycorax,” and was freed from captivity by Prospero. 28 As a means to assert his domination, Prospero forces Ariel to recall his situation before Prospero freed him: Pros: Hast thou forgot her [Sycorax]? Ari: No, sir. Pros: Thou hast. Where was she born? Speak. Tell me. Ari: Sir, in Argier. Pros: O, was she so? I must Once in a month recount what thou has been, Which thou forget’st. 29

Prospero continues to recount the story of Ariel’s servitude and imprisonment in “a cloven pine.” 30 Prospero reminds him: Thou, my slave, As thou report’st thyself was then her servant,

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And for thou wast a sprit too delicate To act her earthy and abhorr’d commands, Refusing her grand hests, she did confine thee. 31

This speech clearly shows that Prospero substituted himself for Sycorax. Referring to Ariel as “my slave” while simultaneously reminding him that as a delicate spirit he was imprisoned for not obeying the witch’s commands reinforces the obedience required of Ariel. He must obey Prospero because he is indebted to him, but he will also be subject to further disciplinary action if he refuses Prospero’s own “grand hests.” Prospero states this more directly, “If thou murmur’st, I will rend an oak, / And peg thee to his knotty entrails, till / Thou has howl’d away twelve winters.” 32 This is a rather severe punishment for disobedience, but the severity is coterminous with Ariel’s power and the potential threat he posses to Prospero. After the shipwreck, Ariel comes to Prospero and announces his presence: All hail, great master, grave sire, hail! I come To answer thy best pleasure; be’t to fly, To swim, to dive into the fire, to ride On the curl’d clouds. To thy strong bidding, task Ariel, and all his quality. 33

Ariel can clearly travel further and through more diverse terrain than Prospero, as Prospero himself states: Pros: Dost thou forget From what a torment I did free thee? Ari: No. Pros: Thou dost; and think’st it much to tread the ooze Of the salt deep, To run upon the sharp wind of the north, To do me business in the veins o’th’earth When it is bak’d with frost. 34

Ariel is beholden to Prospero and does his work in spaces that Prospero cannot travel. Ariel can walk on the sea-bottom, ride the wind, and travel underground streams. 35 Ariel can experience different spaces (under the ocean, in the air, and underground). These spaces offer very important vantage points that could be utilized as an immanent form of resistance. Through Ariel’s abilities, he is capable not only of seeing new and different aspect of the world and its inhabitants, but he also provides new ways to traverse the land, thus opening up space to new possibilities and outcomes. Ariel tracks new lines of flight across the plane of colonized/neoliberal space. Ariel is not all together nomadic because of his dependence upon and enslavement by Prospero. His movement, however, offers a degree of power and this is the power that Prospero wishes to capture and use. As Holger Henke argues,


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“Ariel has to be ‘read’ for what he really is, an ethereal force permeating the sky just around the heads of the colonial intruder but operating well below the radar of his/her sight/consciousness.” 36 What is important in Ariel’s power and what Prospero desires is precisely the movement that Henke highlights and the space he moves in: the sky. Due to his movement and potentiality, Ariel possesses more power than Prospero, as revealed through his thorough decimation of the ship. Ariel, not Prospero, caused the shipwreck—Prospero may have stirred the waters and brought about the storm, but it was Ariel who enacted the violence against the ship and crew: I boarded the King’s ship; now on the beak, Now in the waist, the deck, in every cabin, I flam’d amazement. Sometime I’ld divide, And burn in many places; on the topmast, The yards and boresprit, would I flame distinctly, Then meet and join. Jove’s lightning, the precursors O’ th’ dreadful thunder-claps, more momentary And sight-outrunning were not; the fire and cracks Of sulphurous roaring the most mighty Neptune Seem to besiege, and make his bold waves tremble, Yea, his dread trident shake. 37

Ariel’s destructive power is evident. He was able to ravage the entirety of the ship with such devastation that Neptune’s trident trembled. Indeed, Prospero asks Ariel if he had “Perfom’d to point the tempest that I bade thee?” to which Ariel answered, “To every article.” 38 What is significant about this attack is the means of destruction. Unseen by the crew and likening himself to “Jove’s lightening,” Ariel resembles a present-day drone used primarily by the U.S. military to track and destroy targets (i.e., people) in the Middle East. 39 Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have quickly become the preferred method of surveillance and attack in the “War on Terror.” 40 President Barak Obama has defended the use of drones as a strategic and innovative means to conduct surveillance and as a means of “targeted killing.” As of January 2016, President Obama had authorized 506 drone strikes that have killed 3,431 people, which includes 391 civilians. 41 In a recent tally, The Guardian has reported that the Obama administration dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016 alone; “This means that every day [in 2016], the U.S. military blasted combatants or civilians overseas with 72 bombs; that’s three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.” 42 Micah Zenko from the Council on Foreign Relations, writing for the New York Times reports that drones are a technology that “developed and matured shortly before 9/11 to kill one individual, Osama bin Laden, [and] became the default tactic for a range of counterinsurgency and counterterrorism missions outside of traditional battlefields.” 43 The

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use of the drone has dramatically risen over the course of the Obama administration due, in part, to the abilities of drone warfare and the “safety” it affords the U.S. military. In a document titled “Recommendations and Report of the Task Force on US Drone Policy,” fellows at The Stimson Center delineate the advantages and attributes of using a drone in counterterrorist activities: Persistence: UAVs have the ability to loiter over a specific area for extended periods of time, allowing them to capture and collect more information and allowing the user to observe, evaluate and act quickly. Precision: In military applications, UAVs’ sensor technology can provide for more precise information collection that facilitates more accurate targeting as well as battlefield and non-battlefield surveillance. Operational Reach: Because of longer flying times, UAVs can be used to project force from afar in environments that may otherwise be inaccessible or too dangerous for manned operations. Force protection: UAVs allow the user to have a military presence in areas that otherwise would be impossible politically, capacity/resource prohibitive, too dangerous to risk being shot down, or topographically inhospitable. Stealth: While today’s UAVs can be readily detected by sophisticated air defense systems, most UAVs are relatively small, quiet and capable of being flown at high enough altitudes to avoid detection by the individuals being surveilled or targeted. 44

As these five points make clear, the drone has access to spaces that are too risky for a manned mission and/or is not bound to the constraints of manned vehicles (i.e., flight time). Drones afford their operators and those designing missions a significant distance on their targets, as well as a degree of invisibility, or at least undetectably. In other words, people with power send drones on missions with little danger to themselves, or any person except for those who are targeted. I discuss drones and vertical space in a later chapter, but suffice it to be said for now that the elements that constitute beneficial drone warfare are precisely the benefits that Ariel offers Prospero: distance, invisibility, stealth, access to otherwise difficult places, and accurate surveillance. Key to Prospero, and neoliberal expansion, is the kind of coverage that Ariel can offer. Much like the neoliberal desire for the growth of and access to a global market, expansion and distance covered are essential for sustained power and dominance. Ariel-as-drone becomes an extension of Prospero’s spatial domination over the island: Prospero can conduct “operations” from afar without threat from those he is manipulating—much like the drone pilots who fly missions in Afghanistan and kill “enemies” from their base outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. For any power to maintain itself (and expand) there must be an ability to oversee operations, which is to say spatial surveillance; as the operational space grows, more advanced technology is required to


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conduct surveillance and/or act upon the space. Henke writes, “Yet, by virtue of his quasi-supernaturalistic appearance, Ariel seems to point to a higher order. The notion of ethereal force implies certain powers—powers that cannot be seen, operating subtly yet with determination, transmitting waves through the air that may on different occasions either gently direct or announce dread with a thunderous voice.” 45 Ariel becomes a form of advanced technology capable of surveillance, producing “Jove’s lightening,” and used by Prospero as a means to control the space of the island. Prospero, as the figure of the panopticon, requires sight that exceeds the immediacy of his own vision and Ariel-as-drone affords him an Icarian or cartographic gaze that penetrates from above. The cartographic gaze, Christine Buci-Glucksmann writes, “deterritorializes the gaze through a generalized panopticon, that can mark out passages, borders and power plays as in all the military strategies of the present day.” 46 From this view, Prospero can direct Ariel to engage in various actions, utilizing his drone attributes: surveillance, distanced disruption of events, and direct action. Ariel’s powers to transform, transport, and remain invulnerable makes him dangerous and, from Prospero’s perspective, he must therefore be controlled. Ariel’s power, however, is also what affords Prospero his power. Ariel-as-drone serves as a weapon and a surveillance apparatus, but his ability to fly above land and people proves to be his best attribute and highlights the spatial importance of the Icarian gaze. Andy Lavender writes that Prospero “subjugates” Ariel “to perform various acts of surveillance and facilitation.” 47 Lavender continues to show the ways in which space and surveillance function in a digital society, and as a theater director, he mirrors this in his staging of The Tempest. I find Lavender’s staging compelling and it speaks directly to an interpretation of Ariel as a drone and part of “Prospero’s controlling mode in The Tempest. . . . Prospero arranges not only space but also action and activity.” 48 Due to Ariel’s ephemeral and spirit-like nature, he is able to fly above those he puts under surveillance. He moves without their knowledge and positions himself in a privileged position to look down on spaces and people. This Icarian view provides a detailed cartographic knowledge of the space and the movements of people within the space. “In many respects, the drone dreams of achieving through technology a miniature equivalence to that fictional eye of God. As one soldier writes, ‘Using the all-seeing eye, you will find out who is important in a network, where they live, where they get their support from, where their friends are.’” 49 Indeed, Ariel reports back directly to Prospero—who sits in his “cell” making plans based on the information fed to him—but the details and clarity of the land/subjects cannot be fully transmitted. While a drone (and Ariel-as-drone) might be “a revolution in sighting” 50 —sighting is not merely viewing a target, but acting upon a target—the information is “filtered through [an] interface” and “the resolution, although detailed

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enough to allow the operator to aim, is not good enough to distinguish faces.” 51 Ariel-as-drone is both the camera and the interface: Ariel determines the clarity with which Prospero can see the movements of his “targets” and engages the targets in unique ways. For example, Ariel manipulates Alonso, Sebastian, and Antonio. Ariel enters “as a harpy” and speaks to them from above: You are three men of sin, whom Destiny, That hath to instrument this lower world And what is in’t, the never-surfeited sea Hath caus’d to belch up you; and on this island Where man doth not inhabit—you ‘mongst men Being most unfit to live. [All draw their swords] You fools! I and my fellows Are ministers of Fate. The elements, Of whom your swords are temper’d, may as well Wound the loud winds, or with bemock’d-at stabs Kill the still-closing waters, as diminish One dowle that’s in my plume. My fellow ministers Are like invulnerable. 52

As a harpy, Ariel is role-playing but also revealing his power to glide above the space of the island “where man doth not inhabit.” Ariel unleashes a verbal assault on the three men while also announcing his invulnerability. What is unique about this particular instance is Ariel’s (truthful) proclamation of his invulnerability. As the airy substance that can traverse various landscapes and environs, the swords of the three men will not hurt Ariel. Ariel’s declaration also reveals his own weaponized capabilities and power. Ariel’s drone-like attributes allow him to extract information from other characters and transform their views of the island. One way he does this is through singing. For example, in one instance Ariel remains invisible, but audible to Ferdinand. Ariel sings of the environment surrounding Ferdinand: Come unto these yellow sands, And then take hands: Courtsied when you have, and kiss’d, The wild waves whist: Foot it featly here and there, And, sweet sprites, [the burthen bear]. 53

The song suggests a unity within the space of the island. As part of Prospero’s larger plan, Ferdinand should feel enticed by the space and Ariel’s song presents a welcoming atmosphere for the young man. The affective qualities of Ariel’s song model the welcoming potentiality of neoliberalism: in this place all things are possible and your dreams can succeed. Prospero’s control over Ariel renders him as a singular, yet powerful, multifaceted weapon and


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the only weapon needed in Prospero’s arsenal. 54 After hearing the beginning of Ariel’s song, Ferdinand says: Where should this music be? I’th’air, or th’earth? It sounds no more; and sure it waits upon Some god o’th’island. Sitting on the bank, Weeping again the King my father’s wrack, This music crept by me upon the waters, Allaying both their fury and my passion With its sweet air; thence I have follow’d it, Or it hat drawn me rather. But ‘tis gone. No, it begins again. [Ariel’s song] The ditty does remember my drown’d father. This is no mortal business, nor no sound That the earth owes. I hear it now above me. 55

Ferdinand initially searches for the origin of the song within the immanent plane where the natural elements and the human emotions are both affected: “This music crept by me upon the waters, / Allaying both their fury and my passion / With its sweet air.” The song creates an affective space on the island that attaches Ferdinand to the space: “thence I have follow’d it / Or it hat drawn me rather.” His role in this, then, marks a unique ability in Ariel’s approach and relationship to space. Ariel possesses productive, not just destructive capabilities and can create affective lines of flight from his position above the terre. The ethereal nature of the character at once links him to the natural elements (recall he is able “to fly, / to swim, to dive into the fire, to ride / On the curl’d clouds”) and through these immanent connections he is capable of creating bonds between people and spaces as a conduit for affective change. However, Ferdinand identifies the music as nothing of earth (of the terre) and not mortal. Rather, the song comes from the air: “I hear it now above me.” Ariel-as-drone would naturally be above his target and in this instance, the drone is positioned above Ferdinand and raining his lyrics down on Ferdinand. From the perspective afforded to him by being above Ferdinand, Ariel as a worldly, albeit radically different being, maintains elements of stealth, protection, and precision—attributes the Stimson document lists as key advantages to drone use. This kind of “long reach” is also what Prospero needs in order to adequately control the people scattered about the island and manipulate them into desired spaces and interactions. Ariel hovering above the terre is spatially situated to disseminate ideology. Indeed, drone warfare is an extension of a national ideology (if not also economic), but just as ideology remains in the realm of the intangible so too does Ariel. Ariel-as-drone is not just meant to be a show of power, but also to propagate the discursive attributes driving Prospero’s ideology. In other words, Prospero, as a figure of neoliberal progress, needs an apparatus to

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spread, disseminate, police, and if needed, violently reinforce the neoliberal project. Much like ideology hovers or layers over objects, actions, and events, Ariel sits above Ferdinand and through his song brings to bear the “progress” of Prospero. As mentioned, the welcoming, unifying quality of the song resembles the possibility of neoliberalism. Just as the space of the island is portrayed as available for Ferdinand’s use, so does neoliberalism purport a better life for all who willingly participate. But in both cases, this is the type of rhetoric and discursive hyperbole that allows corrupt and powerful forces to maintain their seat of domination over other individuals, groups, or entire populations, whether it is Prospero or a multinational corporation. In both cases, the power structures want you to “buy in” or “suffer a seachange / Into something rich and strange.” 56 Drones, cameras, and other means of surveillance inhabit the space above us, but neoliberal ideology also stands above society and directs, shapes, and determines many of our desires. It is also precisely from this perspective, from above the debris, that Benjamin’s angel, mouth agape, looks back and “sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage.” Ariel, also flying above us, exists in the same vertical space as the angel and sees the result of his actions but is propelled forward and cannot escape the storm of progress. Ariel is the drone both being directed by and causing the storm. In the end, Ariel achieves his desired outcome, “My Ariel, chick, / That is thy charge. Then to the elements / Be free, and fare thou well!” 57 Ariel is free from the oppressive power of Prospero. However, neoliberal progress and its attending power structure remain intact. Prospero remains in a position of power and the storm of progress continues to blow. Ariel is not a figure of resistance. Rather he is a character that follows orders and hopes to achieve his desired outcome. In this instance, this decision worked to Ariel’s advantage. The same cannot be said for Ariel’s enslaved compatriot, Caliban. Where Ariel possesses attributes not only desirable to Prospero, but also necessary for him to maintains and sustain his power, Caliban does not occupy a similar position within Prospero’s mechanisms of control. In the privileged position among the enslaved, Ariel, while still oppressed, garners favor from Prospero, which leads toward his freedom. This opportunity is not available to Caliban, so he must resort to a different means to attain his freedom. CALIBAN’S STILLNESS AND EARTH SONG As the “monster” of the play, Caliban often generates interest because he represents the “indigenous population,” the “native” of the island, the oppressed and disenfranchised. Indeed, Caliban openly claims his right to the island: “This island’s mine by Sycorax my mother,” which Prospero had


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“tak’st from me.” 58 But Caliban’s relationship to the island significantly differs from Prospero’s. Caliban has knowledge of “The fresh springs, brinepits, barren place and fertile” and he curses Prospero in the name of his mother and other life on the island, “All the charms / Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you!” 59 Even Prospero acknowledges Caliban’s association with the land: “But as ‘tis, / We cannot miss him. He does make our fire, / Fetch in our wood, and serves in offices / That profit us. What! slave! Caliban! / Thou earth, thou! Speak.” 60 Caliban is not just connected to the land by birth; he sees and experiences an undivided flow between all aspects of life on the island. Caliban’s island is a smooth space where he moves about, not delineating the land, but being with the land. Caliban is a nomad, a machine de guerre, he is becoming-animal. However, Caliban’s relationship to the land, his nomadic transformation, and becoming-animal are different points in his trajectory. Caliban’s change emerges from Prospero’s power, which is to say the power of the West and the Western-statist form of organization. As Caliban, at the request of Prospero, hauls firewood to his master’s dwelling, he laments the work foisted upon him and the torments he must endure: All the infections that the sun sucks up From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall, and make him By inch-meal a disease! His spirits hear me, And yet I needs must curse. But they’ll nor pinch, Fright me with urchin-shows, pitch me i’ the’ mire, Nor lead me, like a fire-brand, in the dark Out of my way, unless he bid ’em; but For every trifle are they set upon me, Sometime like apes that mow and chatter at me, And after bite me; then like hedgehogs which Lie tumbling in my barefoot way, and mount Their pricks at my footfall; sometime am I All wound with adders, who with cloven tongues Do hiss me into madness. 61

As previously stated, Caliban initially appears to be linked to the earth through his knowledge of the land and as an inhabitant of the island. However, as this monologue shows, Prospero has effectively turned the terre against Caliban. He begins by asking for the actual land, the “bogs, fens, flats,” to release all their infectious elements onto Prospero. However, note how Caliban calls forth these diseases: the sun sucks them up from the lands and brings them down onto Prospero. He evokes dangerous elements from within the earth and desires them to rain down on oppressive power at work on the land, Prospero. As Caliban continues, he marks all the other natural elements that work at the behest of Prospero. These elements, much like Caliban, are

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sentient beings, “spirits” that are able to move about and “chatter,” “bite,” “prick,” and “wound” Caliban, which ultimately “hiss [him] into madness.” Prospero only utilizes those things that are directly useful and does not value the space and terre of the island. Much like Prospero, neoliberalism only sees utility, (spatial) control, and profit. 62 Prospero uses his powers to control other “natives” of the island and turns them on Caliban—effectively isolating Caliban from the land and mitigating his attempt to resist Prospero’s power. Caliban, however, attempts another novel form of resistance. As he is cursing Prospero, Caliban hears “a spirit of his” that will undoubtedly “torment [him] / For bringing wood in slowly.” 63 Caliban is already at the threshold of resistance: he knows he is performing his task too slowly, not at the desirable speed of the determining power. In order to mitigate the repercussions for slowing the work, Caliban takes action, or rather inaction, “I’ll fall flat, / Perchance he will not mind me.” 64 Instead of acquiescing to the demand to hurry, Caliban altogether halts working; he lies flat and attempts to sidestep the storm of progress by not only not participating, but also by presenting himself (consciously or not) as something else, something different. Already seen as something different, as a “savage,” as Other, Caliban’s flatness, his stillness takes him outside of the productive neoliberal order; he becomes a radical potentiality shaped by systemic power meant to dominate him. However, it is not an agent of Prospero that enters, but a member of Alonso’s shipwrecked retinue, Trinculo, the jester. As Trinculo enters the scene, he discusses the state of the island and the weather: Here’s neither bush nor shrub to bear off any weather at all. And another storm brewing, I hear it sing I’th’wind. Yond same black cloud, yond huge one, looks like a foul bumbard that would shed his liquor. If it should thunder as it did before, I know not where to hide my head. Yond same cloud cannot choose but fall by pailfuls. 65

While we get what seems to be a well-populated, rich land from Caliban’s voice, Trinculo, a Western voice, sees the island as barren, as not producing what is desired or expected. 66 There is a need for protection, especially with “another storm brewing.” Trinculo sees another storm, but it could be that this is the same storm of progress. It is unrelenting and while he might not hear the thunder or feel its rain, the storm continues: “Yond same cloud cannot / choose but fall by pailfuls.” The deluge of the storm of progress will continue to mount wreckage “by pailfuls.” But before Trinculo can continue lamenting the island and weather, he notices Caliban lying on the ground: What have we here? a man or a fish? dead or alive? A fish, he smells like a fish; a very ancient and fish-like smell; a kind of,


Chapter 2 not-of-the-newest poor-John. A strange fish! Were I in England now (as once I was) and had but this fish painted, not a holiday fool there but would give a piece of silver. There would this monster make a man; any strange beast there makes a man. When they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian. Legg’d like a man; and his fins like arms! Warm, o’my troth! I do now let loose my opinion, hold it no longer: this is no fish, but an islander, that hath lattely suffer’d by a thunderbolt. 67

Trinculo misidentifies Caliban. He sees him as something completely other, as something animal. Indeed, Caliban does not look like the Westerners who come to the island, but Caliban’s inaction coupled with Trinculo’s misidentification leads back to the Western capitalist economy: “Were I in England now (as once I was) and had but this fish painted, not a holiday fool there but would give a piece of silver. There would this monster make a man; any strange beast there makes a man.” With the obvious pun on the monstrosity of English men, Trinculo believes he could become a rich man by putting this body on display, because people “will lay out ten [doit] to see a dead Indian.” Trinculo’s Western, capitalist interpellation is obvious in his desire to commodify the (living? dead?) body of a “monster.” Caliban’s act of resistance is pulled back into capitalism in a very neoliberal manner by monetizing objects, death, life, and the Other. Trinculo’s statements reveal the mercenary nature of neoliberalism by showing that the status of the object does not matter—a new commodity will become or be made desirable, and then profitable. But upon closer examination, Trinculo realizes his mistake, “this is no fish, but an islander, that hath lately suffer’d by a thunderbolt.” Trinculo’s realization, his “opinion” and his “troth,” that Caliban is, in fact, an islander carries deeply important implications. By all appearances, Caliban has “lately suffer’d by a thunderbolt” and become a casualty of the storm of progress. Trinculo’s change in opinion between Caliban as “fish” and Caliban as “islander” necessarily marks Caliban as Other. Trinculo’s Western (male) gaze inadvertently links Caliban-the-islander to Caliban-as-animal and serves as a clear example of the colonizer foisting the attributes of “animalistic,” “savage,” and “barbaric” onto the body of the native. However, Trinculo is led to view Caliban as a fish due, in part, to his different appearance, but also his stillness—this is not characteristic of a (Western) man; one must be moving, progressing. Therefore, by articulating Caliban’s non-Western appearance and his stillness, Trinculo identifies what will become Caliban’s ultimate subversion. In the words of Deleuze and Guattari, Caliban is becoming-animal. To be clear, becoming-animal as Deleuze and Guattari conceptualize it is not a reversion to an animal state and is in no way a claim to Caliban’s colonialized status. Deleuze and Guattari write, “To become ani-

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mal is to participate in movement, to stake out the path of escape in all its positivity, to cross a threshold, to reach a continuum of intensities that are valuable only in themselves, to find a world of pure intensities where all forms come undone, as do all the significations, signifiers, and signified, to the benefit of an unformed matter of deterritorialized flux, of nonsignifying signs.” 68 While the authors claim that becoming-animal is movement, this need not be physical movement: “this becoming is presented as a simple imitation and if it is a question of finding an escape (an escape, and not ‘liberty’), this escape doesn’t consist in fleeing—quite the contrary. Flight is challenged when it is useless movement in space, a movement of false liberty; but in contrast, flight is affirmed when it is a stationary flight, a flight of intensity.” 69 Caliban’s stationary state and his movement toward becominganimal put him in a different space, a space that is not outside of the dominant regime, but a space that offsets or challenges the basic assumptions of the dominant power. As Irving Goh states, “In taking that step toward an animal space via becoming-animal, one in fact initiates the process of counteracting the militarized surveillance architectures of State politics.” Goh continues: [A]nimal spaces largely escape the gaze and capture of politics. . . . One must however be meticulous to ensure that this animal space is not outside of the militarized s/State of contemporary global politics, or that it explicitly marks a space that tears away from the State. . . . Rather, it will be an adjacent space that escapes the gaze and capture of State military and surveillance apparatuses, where becoming-animal can posit a political resistance that counters and goes beyond the terror and limits of early twenty-first-century “democratic” normativity. 70

I will return to a discussion of state surveillance as it applies to the text later, but for the moment, let it suffice to say that Caliban forms a space that allows for a resistance to the dominant power structure embodied in Prospero. Caliban begins the deterritorialization process through enacting a different type of behavior, a different type of (stationary) movement that is counter to that of the storm of progress. The storm of progress initiated by Prospero prompts Caliban’s desire for a different way to live. The storm of progress as a Western ideal is not progress for all, only those outfitted to weather it; all others are driven down by its oppressive winds and demoralizing rains. The stationary, animal space, however, is not completely outside of the capitalist/ colonizing power. Caliban is still seen by Trinculo, but Caliban is unintelligible from the perspective of the interpellated Western gaze. Caliban-becoming-animal is seen as only animal and therefore not a (direct) threat to the power structures in place. As it stands, Caliban creates an animal space, but he is not alone in this space for long.


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Immediately after seeing Caliban, Trinculo hears a clap of thunder and declares, “Alas, the storm is come again! My / best way is to creep under this gabardine; there is no / other shelter hereabout. Misery acquaints a man with / strange bedfellows; I will here shroud till the dregs of / the storm be past.” 71 In an effort to escape the storm, Trinculo is forced to join Caliban in a stationary position, in the animal space. The only way to protect oneself from the storm of progress is to step into an adjacent space. In this space, one comes in contact with the difference of the Other and creates solidarity. The effects of neoliberalism and the persistent storm of progress are perpetual movement, work, and oppressive hierarchies determined to increase docility. The neoliberal machine is seemingly totalizing, but a line of flight can be found in the animal space. The storm does not come, however. The other servant to the King, Stephano comes upon Caliban and Trinculo hiding and in his drunkenness declares a new monstrosity when he hears Caliban’s pleas to not torment him: “This is some monster of the isle with four legs, / who hath got (as I take it) an ague. Where the devil / should he learn our language.” 72 Stephano unifies Trinculo and Caliban as a singular monster. In his desire to avoid the storm, Trinculo inadvertently joins Caliban’s resistance and Stephano identifies this resistance/stillness as a new type of monster. Much like Trinculo before him, Stephano expresses a desire to commodify the body of the monster: “If I can recover him, and keep him tame, I will not take / too much for him; he shall pay for him that hath him, / and that soundly.” 73 In order to make the monster docile, Stephano offers Caliban some of his wine, at which point Trinculo makes his presence known and describes how he came to join the “mooncalf” under his “gaberdine.” 74 Reunited as “two Neapolitans scap’d,” Trinculo and Stephano drink with Caliban. 75 As Caliban imbibes, he believes Stephano to be otherworldly, “That’s a brave god, and bears celestial liquor.” 76 When Caliban asks, “Hast thou not dropp’d from heaven,” Stephano replies, “Out o’ th’ moon, I do assure thee. I was the / Man i’ th’ Moon, when time was.” 77 In his inebriation, Caliban takes Stephano at his word and sees an opportunity to join arms against Prospero. What is striking about this, however, is the linguistic link between them. Previously, both Trinculo and Stephano referred to Caliban as a “moon-calf,” a misshapen beast caused by the lunar cycle. As the “Man i’ th’ Moon,” Stephano is the cause of Caliban’s “monstrosity.” Caliban is a monster only as the result of Stephano’s presence; this is to say, only from the Western perspective is Caliban deemed monstrous. This is not a causal relationship, but rather an imposition of identity due to obfuscation and dissimulation—a rather typical colonial/capitalist practice. Nevertheless, in his desire to impress the new “god,” Caliban offers to “show thee every fertile inch o’ th’ island.” 78 Caliban continues:

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I’ll show thee the best springs; I’ll pluck thee berries; I’ll fish for thee, and get thee wood enough. A plague upon the tyrant that I serve! I’ll bear him no more sticks, but follow thee, Thou wonderous man. I prithee let me bring thee where crabs grow; And I with my long nails will dig thee pig-nuts, Show thee a jay’s nest, and instruct thee how To snare the nimble marmazet. I’ll bring thee To clust’ring filberts, and sometimes I’ll get thee Young scamel from the rock. Wilt though go with me? [singing] No more dams I’ll make for fish, Nor fetch in firing At requiring, Nor scrape trenchering, nor wash dish. ’Ban, ’Ban, Ca-Caliban Has a new master, get a new man. Freedom, high-day! high-day, freedom! freedom, high-day, freedom! 79

Caliban reveals his ample knowledge of the island and it is completely contrasted by Prospero’s “civility” and Western knowledge—i.e., that of books. Caliban’s knowledge is immanent and natural. Willing to work for Stephano, Caliban sees this work as freedom: freedom to engage with the world as he sees fit, freedom from the demands of Prospero. The way forward for Caliban is through the natural world, leaving the knowledge of Prospero behind. Both the line of flight from imperial or royal knowledge and the engagement with the plane of immanence afford a new future for Caliban; a future that appears, from Caliban’s perspective, as a form of freedom. After Caliban decries Prospero as a tyrant and sings his song of freedom, Stephano, the “new master,” cedes control and leadership over to Caliban: “O brave monster! lead the way.” 80 However, equally important here is the way Caliban celebrates his freedom. He sings his dissent; he sings his name; he sings his freedom. From the resistant stillness to the immanence of knowledge to a song of freedom—the movement of this scene strikes us as a liberation of voice and person; albeit a minor success, but done in a minor language and sung in a minor key (or so we must imagine). In a recent article, François-Xavier Gleyzon states that a principal category and concern within Deleuze’s work is the great refrain. The great refrain is the triad of (1) tracing a territory critical to flight, (2) deterritorialization by means of people leaving the territory, and (3) reterritorialization. Gleyzon writes, “A key concept central to the work of Deleuze, the refrain is that “powerful song of the earth” which deterritorializes itself as voices are raised and cause to tremble and resonate the slightest hollow on the earth’s empty space.” 81 In his stillness, his becoming-animal, Caliban creates an adjacent


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space that is resistant to the colonizing powers of Prospero, a space that is immanent and grounded in the place of his birth. It is from this space, and a desire to show Stephano the terre, that his song of freedom emanates. Caliban’s space deterritorializes the colonial/neoliberal space through his stillness and his becoming-animal, but it is his song that reterritorializes, announces his return: “My [island] . . . farewell, I am leaving, yes, it’s me, I had to come back.” 82 As Gleyzon asserts, Caliban and his voice make an appearance in Deleuze’s essay, “The Grandeur of Yasser Arafat”: This character in Shakespeare that Deleuze does not name, but that he knows, is Caliban in The Tempest. This being attached to his native territory, this monstrous being in the eyes of the West only lives and exists under the yoke of the Occidental Empire embodied by the dominating and panoptic figure of Prospero. This voice—earth voice, Caliban/Arafat, is that very voice that does not stop singing, like a refrain, of his lost land. 83

Indeed, Caliban has lost his land, but he is still very much connected to this land. Unlike Prospero, who utilizes rigid hierarchies of control/domination based on a particular type of knowledge (contained in books), Caliban employs a rhizomatic, interlocking knowledge of the land, thereby possessing an affective understanding of the territory. Furthermore, as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri write, “From the perspective of the colonized, though, in their struggle for liberation, Caliban, who is endowed with as much or more reason and civilization than the colonizers, is monstrous only to the extent that his desire for freedom exceeds the bounds of the colonial relationship of biopower, blowing apart the chains of the dialectic.” 84 His knowledge of the island is experiential and in his labor for Prospero, Caliban gains insight that leads to his resistance and the formation of an adjacent (animal) space, shattering the “chains of the dialectic.” In this space the earth speaks to and through him: Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments Will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices, That if I then had wak’d after long sleep, Will make me sleep again, and then in dreaming, The clouds methought would open, and show riches Ready to drop upon me, that when I wak’d I cried to dream again. 85

The earth speaks and Caliban hears the lost land with which he coexisted. Colonization/neoliberalism moves through the triad refrain and reterritorializes the land as a commodity, as merely a resource and distances the human from the earth. Caliban remains in the same place, but the value of the space has changed and he has become alienated from his island home. His resis-

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tance then is twofold: he wants his freedom from the “panoptic figure of Prospero” and he wants to sing the “powerful song of the earth,” the refrain that deterritorializes itself. Caliban’s resistance, his adjacent animal space, does not last and it cannot weather the storm of Prospero/neoliberal power. Nevertheless, Caliban sings with his “earth-voice,” a voice that “rising in the air at the same time as that to which it refers sinks below ground.” 86 The neoliberal/colonized space of the island covers over and buries the previous way of life, but Caliban with his “long nails will dig” and sing the refrain of “Freedom, high-day! highday, freedom! freedom, high-day, freedom!” Caliban’s earth-voice rises into the air, just as it points to the souterre, the hidden space of becoming-animal, yet again . . . “yes, it is me, I had to come back.” But the rising voice into the air was also stymied (or supplemented?) because in the air was another looking for his own freedom. In the end, Caliban’s resistance fails because the refrain of his song is not picked up. The refrain passes into the air and remains. It does not return to the terre because of Ariel’s competing and conflicting desire for freedom. THE CHANGING ISLE, THE CHANGING WORLD In “What Is a Creative Act,” Deleuze discusses what he refers to as “the great cycle” in cinema: А voice is speaking about something. Someone is talking about something. At the same time, we are shown something else. And finally, what they are talking about is under what we are shown. This third point is very important. You can see how theater cannot follow here. The theater could take on the first two propositions: someone is telling us something, and we are shown something else. But having what someone is telling us be at the same time under what we are shown-which is necessary, otherwise the first two propositions would make no sense and be of little interest. We could put it another way: the words rise into the air as the ground we see drops further down. Or as these words rise into the air, what they are talking about goes underground. 87

As Deleuze claims, this great cycle is proper to cinema, “theater cannot follow here.” However, I contend this cycle can manifest differently in theater and literature. In The Tempest, the cycle is a collaboration between characters, two characters working in tandem draw our attention sous le terre, underground. The language utilized by Shakespeare produces the cycle: Caliban’s song rises up, carried by Ariel, sung anew, and rains down onto the earth where it is absorbed by the terre. These lyrics, both to and of the earth then go underground to remake the island—this mirrors the “great refrain” articulated by Gleyzon. Caliban draws our attention to this movement very early in the play when he curses Prospero: “All the infections that the sun


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sucks up / From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall.” 88 This movement then becomes the refrain of resistance. Sung by the terrestrial Other, carried and dropped by the aerial drone so that the lyrics may reverberate “in the veins o’th’earth.” 89 From underground, these voices shatter the “territorial principle” of state and neoliberal power. This is the metaphorical “pig-nut” that Caliban with his “long nails will dig” to expose: the solidarity of those seeking their liberation from oppressive regimes and their freedom from restrictive and overdetermined spaces. Ariel and Caliban, however, do not work together for their freedom. Prospero wants both Ariel and Caliban at his disposal and subject to his will. However, he is also aware of the imminent threat that they, as inhabitants of the isle, can pose to him if they were to band together. Prospero must keep these two servants at odds with each other as a means to control them both. Prospero openly treats Caliban poorly and provides no sense of respite or freedom. Ariel, however, is presented with the opportunity to claim his liberation from Prospero’s service. By giving hope to one servant and not to the other, Prospero decisively pits Ariel against Caliban and renders them as unequal. Ariel is not inclined to sacrifice his future freedom from Prospero in order to join together with Caliban to fight for the possible freedom of them both. This is a tactic that was used in colonial America and has been reproduced by neoliberal capitalism. While bound to a system that limits our freedom of action and self-determination through “work” or systemic forms of oppression, much of the world’s population competes against each other for money, position, or power and through this competition provides the needed labor and resources for those already with/in power. The Tempest is not the story of Ariel or Caliban; it is the tale of those with power; the story of dominant, established structures winning out (again) over those that have been oppressed. Nevertheless, the art of resistance is contained within the art itself. The potential of the great refrain/cycle is visible and the play points to the ways in which those with power can be resisted. If Caliban and Ariel work together, if the power of Caliban’s (in)action and Ariel’s ability to move in diverse spaces were to be harnessed, their solidarity would instantiate the great cycle. Read as a form of minor literature, The Tempest shows precisely how the dominant language can be used against itself, how resistance is made. Ariel and Caliban are the minority voices in this tale and cannot be allowed to become part of the majority. Otherwise, they would be the heroes of the story and they would have successfully found their freedom. Taken separately, these two characters possess characteristics of the oppressed and act with their individualized best interests. Taken together, these characters show the cycle and possibility of resistance as a form of affinity-network. Athina Karatzogianni and Andrew Robinson explain “[an affinity-] network is not necessarily a network only of humans, but can also refer to an ecological network composing an entire lifeworld. One can

The Tempest and the Coming Storm


thus speak of the affinity-network form in cases (usually of indigenous peoples) where the entire lifeworld is lived as a web of connections and relations. . . . These are built, however, on the primacy of desiring-production over social production.” 90 Caliban and Ariel are connected through their desire for freedom from Prospero’s power. While they are taking widely divergent paths to achieve their freedom, they are part of the affinity-network of the lifeworld of the island. Caliban’s “earth-voice” and Ariel’s elemental etherealness, the life and nature of the isle marks them as nodes within the lifeworld affinity-network of liberty. They are further unified in their singing, in their voices of the earth. The songs they sing, the relations they have with the natural world, and the spatial modes they embody link them together as a potentiality, as a different way forward that is not part of the storm of progress, but is a new storm of resistance and becoming. When Trinculo is standing alone on the island he thinks there is “another storm brewing, I hear it / sing I’th’wind.” 91 It is the storm of resistance and becoming that he hears and feels, but it does not arrive; nevertheless, it remains a threat as the coming storm of resistance. This storm is the voices of Caliban and Ariel singing of their land, singing of their freedom, seemingly disparate and separate groups working together in solidarity to overcome and take control from the invisible hand of neoliberal power. Those that participate in this “great cycle” will work in different spatial settings (aerial, terrestrial, underground), but will be bound by the common goal to wash away the wreckage of progress “by pailfuls,” to live a different life, a life of becoming. This is a life that is not limited by socioeconomic, racial, national, or gender identity. In this coming storm, the deterritorialized self—a “singularity” 92 that is free from the neoliberal identities bestowed upon us and internalized—undergoes a significant shift that does not limit and restrain, but liberates and opens life to new forms of becoming. The coming storm maybe anonymous and dressed in black (i.e., Antifa), but, like the nomadic anonymous insurgent, these are agents of change; they are the Calibans and Ariels of our time who have joined together to overwrite neoliberal progress, moving from the land skyward and going underground in a great cycle of spatial resistance. All the while singing the great refrain, singing “Freedom, high-day! high-day, freedom! freedom, high-day, freedom!” NOTES 1. Stephen Greenblatt, “Shakespeare Explains the 2016 Election,” The New York Times, October 8, 2016, 2. William Shakespeare, The Tempest, ed. B. Blakemore Evans, The Riverside Shakespeare, 2nd Edition (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997), 5.1.153.


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3. Marcell Gellért, “‘The Baseless Fabric of this Vision’: The Poetics of Space in The Tempest” in Discourses of Space, eds. Judit Pieldner and Zsuzsanna Ajtony (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013), 25. 4. See, for example, José Antonio Giménez Micó, “Occupying the Isle; or, Which Monster—and Which Island—Are We Talking About?” Hispanic Issues On Line 15 (2014): 78–97; Holger Henke, “Ariel’s Ethos: On the Moral Economy of Caribbean Experience,” Cultural Critique 56 (2004): 33–63; John Wylie, “New and Old Worlds: The Tempest and Early Colonial Discourse,” Social & Cultural Geography 1 (2000): 45–63; Ania Loomba and Martin Orkin, eds., Post-Colonial Shakespeares (New York: Routledge, 1998); Geraldo U. De Sousa, “The Tempest, Comedy, and the Space of the Other,” in Acting Funny: Comic Theory and Practice in Shakespeare’s Plays, ed. Frances Teague (London: Associated University Presses, 1994), 52–71; Steven Greenblatt, Learning to Curse: Essays in Early Modern Culture (New York: Routledge, 1990); George Lamming, The Pleasures of Exile (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990); among many others. This is not to mention the creative work of Aimé Césaire that is a direct response to the colonial discourse found in Shakespeare’s work: Aimé Césaire, A Tempest (New York: Ubu Repertory Theater Publications, 1992). While this chapter does speak to resistance and the power structures within The Tempest, I am not going to address Césaire’s wonderful play. This chapter, like the one previous, focuses on the dynamics of the Jacobean play as a site for developing new forms of resistance from historical literature. 5. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.351–65. 6. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.330–44. 7. Wylie, “New and Old Worlds,” 45. 8. Wylie, “New and Old Worlds,” 46. 9. Giménez Micó, “Occupying the Isle,” 80. 10. Giménez Micó, “Occupying the Isle,” 83. 11. “CBS Occupy Your Couch” audio, 12. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.1.13–14. 13. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.1.20–26. 14. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.1, 1.2.6–8. 15. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.178, 1.2.226–27, 1.2.235–36. 16. Walter Benjamin, Illuminations (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), 257–58. 17. For example, the Kolkata landfill in India, Dhapa, where an approximate 30,000 people live in or around the dumpsite. See Vidhi Doshi, “The Kolkata Dump That’s Permanently on Fire: ‘Most People Die by 50,’” The Guardian, October 24, 2016, https://www.theguard 18. Henry A. Giroux, “In the Twilight of the Social State: Rethinking Walter Benjamin’s Angel of History,” Truthout, January 4, 2011, 19. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.54–55. 20. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.167–68, 1.2.171. 21. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.319–20. 22. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.345–47. 23. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.351. 24. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.355–57. 25. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.372–74. 26. Giménez Micó, “Occupy the Isle,” 85. 27. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.364–65. 28. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.258. 29. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.259–63. 30. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.277. 31. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.270–74. 32. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.294–96. 33. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.189–93. 34. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.250–56.

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35. There is a parallel with the human body here: “veins o’th’earth” and the veins of the body. This makes for an interesting ecological overlap between the body and the earth. Ariel, then, exists in a much more immanent way than Prospero. 36. Henke, “Ariel’s Ethos,” 47. 37. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.196–206. 38. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.194–95. 39. Micah Zenko, “Obama’s Embrace of Drone Strikes Will Be a Lasting Legacy,” New York Times, January 12, 2016, 40. Zenko, “Obama’s Embrace.” 41. Zenko, “Obama’s Embrace.” 42. Medea Benjamin, “America Dropped 26,171 Bombs in 2016: What a Bloody End to Obama Reign,” The Guardian, January 9, 2017, 2017/jan/09/america-dropped-26171-bombs-2016-obama-legacy. 43. Zenko, “Obama’s Embrace.” 44. The Stimson Center, Recommendations and Report of the Task Force on US Drone Policy (Washington, DC: The Stimson Center, 2014), 18. My emphasis. 45. Henke, “Ariel’s Ethos,” 48. 46. Christine Buci-Glucksmann, “From the Cartographic View to the Virtual,” trans. Jane McDonald (2004), 47. Andy Lavender, “What This (Actual and Virtual) Space: Surveillance, Dis/location and Transit in Shakespeare’s The Tempest,” Studies in Theatre & Performance 32 (2012): 141. Also see, Giménez Micó’s “Occupying the Isle,” 85. 48. Lavender, “Surveillance, Dis/location, and Transit,” 143. 49. Grégoire Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, trans. Janet Lloyd (London: The New Press, 2015), 37. 50. Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 38. 51. Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 117. 52. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 3.3.52–66. 53. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.375–80. 54. Ariel-as-drone also shows the potential for a neoconservative arm with a neoliberal state apparatus. Neoconservatism, like neoliberalism is a stringent belief in the “invisible hand of the market” and the power of unregulated free trade. However, neoconservatism adds an element of foreign interventionist policy designed to “open” new markets, by military force if necessary. 55. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.388–96, 406–8. 56. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.473–74. 57. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 5.317–19. 58. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.331–32. 59. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.338, 339–40. 60. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.310–14. 61. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.1–14. 62. This is precisely what the “water protectors” in their resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) were fighting in late 2016. The indigenous people saw their land being used and harmed in the name of perpetuating the use of fossil fuels, an already damaging source of energy. As I will show, the protesters, like Caliban, used “stillness” or the “unmovable” as a means to protect themselves and their lands. 63. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.15–16. 64. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.16–17. 65. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.18–24. 66. See Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.336–40. 67. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.24–37. 68. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, trans. Dana Polan (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), 13.


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69. Deleuze and Guattari, Kafka, 13. Deleuze and Guattari are thinking of Gregor from Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” when they write of the stationary. Much like Gregor, Caliban’s stationary position finds an escape, a line of flight, not just from Trinculo, but the entire apparatus associated with Trinculo: the colonizing desire and in my reading the neoliberal capitalist machine, or the storm of progress. 70. Irving Goh, “Becoming-Animal: Transversal Politics,” Diacritics 39 (2009): 43. 71. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.37–41. 72. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.65–67. 73. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.76–78. 74. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.111. 75. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.113. 76. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.117. 77. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.137–39. 78. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.148. 79. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.160–64, 167–72, 180–87. 80. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.187. 81. François-Xavier Gleyzon, “The Grandeur of Palestine: Song of Earth and Resistance,” The Journal for Cultural Research 20 (2016): 400. 82. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, What is Philosophy?, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 68. 83. Gleyzon, “The Grandeur of Palestine,” 403. 84. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Commonwealth (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009), 98. 85. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 3.2.135–43. 86. Gilles Deleuze, “What Is the Creative Act?,” in Two Regimes of Madness: Texts and Interviews 1975–1995, trans. A. Hodges and M. Taormina (New York: Semiotext[e]), 324. 87. Deleuze, “What Is a Creative Act,” 324. 88. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.1–2. 89. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.255. 90. Athina Karatzogianni and Andrew Robinson, Power, Resistance and Conflict in the Contemporary World: Social Movements, Networks and Hierarchies (London: Routledge, 2010), 145. 91. Shakespeare, The Tempest, 2.2.19–20. 92. See Hardt and Negri, Commonwealth, 332–39.

Chapter Three

Dietland The Spatial, Revolutionary Body

In this chapter, I want to turn to contemporary literature and the embodied experience of space. Bodies provide the means to navigate space, but also provide us with firsthand knowledge of what it means to be in space and how we affect the places we find ourselves inhabiting. Furthermore, the places we inhabit affect our thinking about spatial life. Embodied experience not only takes place in space, but, as Immanuel Kant asserted, space is a prerequisite for any and all possible experience. 1 As such, this chapter investigates the way sized and gendered bodies function in space and the ways that bodies are interpreted in spaces/places. In the final section of the chapter, I address how a body may engage in social spatial resistance against neoliberal capitalism and its desire to structure and control the body. Specifically, this chapter will look to the ways in which the “obese” female body is inscribed, viewed, interpreted, and treated in Western, particularly American society. For close to two decades, the world has been fighting the so-call “obesity epidemic.” In 2000, the WHO issued a report, Obesity: Preventing and Managing the Global Epidemic, in which the authors write, “Obesity is a global problem. Prevention and management strategies applicable to all regions of the world should be developed.” 2 The report continues to advocate for the use of Body Mass Index (BMI) as a means to monitor weight gain, and to situate individuals in the appropriate classification: Underweight, Normal, and Overweight, which includes three classes of “obese.” 3 Since the WHO issued this report, scholars from diverse disciplines have engaged with the discourse of obesity and find it to be problematic. As Kathleen LeBesco notes, “The very language of ‘epidemic’ when applied to the phenomenon of fatness invites a response that is self-protective 55


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(for those of average weight) and that requires the monitoring of (and distancing from) fat others. This does not make a whole lot of sense to me as a way to make people healthier.” 4 With the emergence of areas such as fat studies, critical weight studies, and obesity studies, critical attention to sized bodies has dramatically increased and brings awareness to the fact that “the reality of the obesity epidemic is that the connection between fat and morbidity is more complex than just fat itself.” 5 In fact, numerous studies have found that BMI is not an accurate way to address weight, fatness does not equal unhealthy, and that the idea of the “normal” body BMI does not equate to health. 6 Most interesting for the current study are the links between the obesity “epidemic,” neoliberalism, and state biopolitical control. Of neoliberalism, Lynne Gerber writes: As capitalism has intensified, the regulation of food consumption and body size has intensified with it, with the co-emergence of a neoliberal economic order and an alleged “obesity epidemic.” The sociologists Julie Guthman and Melanie Dupuis argue that neoliberalism creates both obesity itself and obesity as a social problem. “The problem of obesity,” they write, “can be seen as a partial fix—in some respects, even as a spatial fix—to some of the contradictions of neoliberalism.” The affinity between dieting culture and capitalism first evident in the industrial era has expanded through the rise of neoliberal economic orders and attendant concerns about “globesity.” 7

Indeed, neoliberalism puts profit above all else and perpetually seeks new markets. In the case of obesity, sales of food, diets, slimming clothes, various beauty products, exercise regimes, exercise machines, and all the related industries that concern body image and “health” are all growing markets that seek to fight this perceived problem. As an “epidemic,” however, this means that obesity cannot be solely the concern of the private sector; the state must also be involved. As the WHO states in its report, “Obesity is not just an individual problem. It is a population problem and should be tackled as such. Effective prevention and management of obesity will require an integrated approach, involving actions in all sectors of society.” 8 As nation-states have taken this problem on, academic circles have been rightfully suspicious of the implications of state involvement and surveillance. For example, Susan Greenhalgh writes that she views the “war on fat” as a “biopolitical field of science and governance that has emerged to name, study, measure, and manage the ‘obesity epidemic’—a newly threatening flaw in the biological and social body of the nation—by remaking overweight and obese subjects into thin, fit, proper Americans.” 9 However, many scholars have noted that we have moved from the “old” forms of direct state surveillance and discipline into a regime of what Foucault refers to as “governmentality.” Governmentality is not how we are governed externally (i.e., state and social institutions), but rather the internal-



ized principles of society that we use to govern ourselves. 10 As Shannon Jette, Krishna Bhagat, and David L. Andrews write, “Informed by the notion of biopower, scholars argue that pedagogies of bios (life) form part of an apparatus of governmentality that centers upon regulating life: how to live, how to eat, how to move, how to look.” 11 Given neoliberalism’s plasticity, governmentality becomes another means for the neoliberal ideology to expand and at the same time remain hidden. As Kate Cairns and Josée Johnson write: Neoliberal governance operates through technologies of “responsibilization” that transfer collective responsibility onto self-regulating individuals (Cruikshank 1996; Lupton 1999; Rumpala 2011). Thus, neoliberal governance is not externally imposed onto bodies, but operates through the embodied actions of free subjects—often by exercising choice in the market. While governmentality studies tend to emphasize embodied surveillance and discipline, neoliberalism also operates at the level of emotion, as structural problems are individualized as private burdens that are felt in everyday life (Cairns 2013; Cairns et al. 2013). 12

The diverse choices of products on the open market give us the “feeling” of choice, which subsequently becomes the “right of choice”: “One of the ways that neoliberal governmentality produces a certain sort of subject is through the fetish of consumer choice (along with the fetish of the market) and through the idea that choice represents a sort of right.” 13 But this “right to choice” is always contained and limited by the market itself: we can only choose based upon what is offered. Although the neoliberal ideology is always expanding and offering more choices, not every individual desire can be mass-produced and sold back to us; that would not be profitable. Instead, companies offer you a product or service that is aligned with a desirable identity and thus allows you to (try to) become that type person. Identity construction through products is an important aspect of living in a neoliberal society and I want to focus on the ways in which body size plays a role in the commodification of the self. Specifically, I want to address the ways the diet and beauty industries have emerged as important players in the “war on fat” and are selling ways to help defeat the “global obesity epidemic” one person at a time. The obese body is often read as out of control, lazy, and that the individual is somehow “bad.” However, as many feminist scholars have pointed out, the female body is more often subject to criticism or comment in everyday interactions and popular culture. As a means to mitigate this criticism (at the same time exacerbating it), the diet and beauty industries try to sell women ways in which to lose weight, look slimmer, and become more desirable—as I discuss later, this is often framed as a type of feminism called “postfeminism.” The neoliberal governmentality of the body, then, becomes a site of


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spatial contestation: how much space ought a body (or my body) occupy? After discussing some of the theoretical framework of the gendered obese body, I will turn to the contemporary novel Dietland to better explore the spatial body and the body as a means and site of resistance. Concluding with Deleuze and Guattari’s minoritarian politics of becoming, I show how becoming-obese creates a space of and for resistance. However, I want to begin with a discussion of embodied existence and the corporeal reality of the lived body. THE OBESE, SPATIAL BODY The body as an immanent, material entity becomes subject to all sorts of discourses, stratifications, desires, opinions, sights, and affects. Our bodies send and receive signs that are read and interpreted. More than this, however, culture overlays our bodies with a semiotic chain of expectations: what a body should look like, how a body should present or hold itself, what actions are permissible for certain bodies, etc. These “outside” factors contribute to the way we construct our idea of our bodies from the “inside.” This is to say, there is the body that is affected by the world and other people, and there is the body as the individual thinks and imagines it. However, the inside and outside intermingle and inform each other. In other words, the space that surrounds us affects not just our physical body, but how we conceive our body. As Elizabeth Grosz writes, “Spatiality, the space surrounding and within the subject’s body, is thus crucial for defining the limits and shape of the body image: the lived spatiality of endogenous sensations, the social space of interpersonal relations, and the ‘objective’ or ‘scientific’ space of cultural (including scientific and artistic) representations all play their role.” 14 Ultimately, Grosz argues, the internal and external versions of the body are interdependent, or rather, don’t exist on their own and it would be futile to assign a causation or privilege to either conception of the body—this breakdown of the binaries internal/external and mind/body is what Grosz means by “body image.” Space, therefore, is integral to the construction of body image (our own and also ways in which we view other bodies). Grosz continues by stating, “Human subjects never simply have a body; rather, the body is always necessarily the object and subject of attitudes and judgments.” 15 As both in and defined by space, the body serves as the site of multiple discourses, values, beliefs, and judgments, or more specifically, the body participates in these actions. Again, Grosz writes, “The body image is not an isolated image of the body but necessarily involves the relations between the body, the surrounding space, other objects and bodies, and the coordinates or axes of vertical and horizontal. In short, it is a postural schema of the body. The body image is the condition of the subject’s access to



spatiality (including the spatiality of the built environment).” 16 The body’s position in space, its structure and stature, its prostheses (glasses, jewelry, phones, etc.), and the structures that surround the body, all contribute to the way the body is thought and put into action (as a subject) and seen, judged, spoken about, and put to use/work (as an object). This means that the body is always exceeding static conceptions or singular identities. Rather, the body continually changes, flexes, bends, and morphs as a means to accommodate new experience, knowledge, and space. The “oversized” body has been a cultural concern for some time. However, the 1990’s brought “[t]he intensified medicalization of the problem of weight.” 17 The medical discourse of body size “marks a major cultural shift in Americans’ concern about fatness, from ‘self-control’ (or virtue) to ‘health.’” 18 As Susan Greenhalgh writes, “No longer are fat people merely “lazy” (and “ugly”); in the current discourse, they are also biologically ‘abnormal,’ ‘at risk of disease,’ and ‘in need of medical treatment.’ The medical model has not replaced the moral model of body size but has built on it in ways that intensify the pressures to be thin.” 19 The scientific space of cultural representations of the body brought the “obesity epidemic” to the forefront of neoliberal and governmental discourses by positioning fat as a problem and, subsequently, thin as normal. Julie Guthman and Melanie DuPuis position this as a form of policing, not unlike class, sexuality, and race, stating: Fat, in short, has become another way to police the bounds of normalcy (and class), to the extent that, as LeBesco aptly notes, we feel compelled to explain away fatness, just as we do homosexuality, whereas thinness, like heterosexuality, and, for that matter, whiteness, is generally taken for granted. In other words, even defining fatness as a problem holds an a priori assumption that thinness is normal, suggesting just how oppressive discourses of obesity can be. 20

From this discourse of “normalcy,” thinness becomes the desired body image; individuals desire to have a thin body and to be surrounded by thin bodies. Thinness does not just posit a bodily desire, it is (wrongly) made synonymous with the “healthy body” that, as Kathleen Lebesco writes, “has come to signify the morally worthy citizen—one who exercises discipline over his or her own body, extends the reach of the state and shares the burden of governance.” 21 The good citizen is responsible for maintaining his/her health so that he/she is not a burden on the state or on the other citizens that have successfully cared for themselves. “Fatness” becomes imbued with everything a society and culture view as “bad”: unhealthy, immoral, lazy, and lacking control and virtue. These attributes make for the ideal consumer, but neoliberal ideology wants to simultaneously create the overconsuming body to buy as much as possible, while keeping that same body within the


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culturally desirable strata of thinness and restraint. Here lies the paradox of neoliberalism and the body. The neoliberal body is one that consumes; the neoliberal body ought to overconsume. However, the body should not show its overconsumption by way of fatness. In fact, the overconsuming body should be thin and fit. Neoliberal governance, then, functions as a means of control over the consuming body. In the words of Guthman and DuPuis: In short, neoliberal governmentality produces contradictory impulses such that the neoliberal subject is emotionally compelled to participate in society as both out-of-control consumer and self-controlled subject. The perfect subject-citizen is able to achieve both eating and thinness, even if having it both ways entails eating nonfoods of questionable health impact (Splenda) or throwing up the food one does eat (the literal bulimic). Those who can achieve thinness amidst this plenty are imbued with the rationality and self-discipline that those who are fat must logically lack; they then become the deserving in a political economy all too geared toward legitimizing such distinctions. 22

Guthman and DuPuis use the figure of the bulimic to read not just the neoliberal body, but also the neoliberal economy more generally. The amount of waste produced by neoliberalism is astounding, and much of this waste goes unused or not fully used (much as the bulimic eats food, only to expel it)— this is the wreckage at the feet of the Angel of Hisotry discussed in the previous chapter. Thinness serves as the sign of “success” within the neoliberal economy and culture; it shows the self-control needed to maintain one’s “beauty” in a society of overconsumption. Not coincidently, this very same society will sell you any product or service (including surgery) to maintain that thinness. The body, then, becomes the site of neoliberal governance and the signification of success, health, and good citizenry. On the other hand, the obese body represents a form of failure as a citizen, a failure to maintain good health, and an inability to move up the professional ranks. While the body is the site of neoliberal interpellation (or governmentality), the body is also the spatial representation/signification of the individual. 23 While I am speaking of the generic body, the female body receives a disproportionate amount of scrutiny and is ultimately more subject to the social ideals of beauty than men. Karin Sellberg writes, “[C]ontemporary culture’s consistent portrayal of female beauty in terms of extreme skinniness induces young women to feel like they always have to lose more weight, because a decrease of fat becomes synonymous with an increase of beauty. . . . [P]atriarchy enforces an idea of debilitating and painful beauty upon women—and that this regime is sustained because women are made to feel that it is their responsibility or duty to look beautiful.” 24 Or as Rachel Sanders states:



Just as biopower in the era of neoliberalism delegates the governmental tasks of surveillance, normalization, and discipline to the public health establishment, patriarchy in the era of post-feminism delegates its duties to the fashion/ beauty complex, the source of authority and judgment for young women. This realm of women-oriented commercial and entertainment media is, in its own right, a field of expertise whose authorities—fashion, health and lifestyle magazines; style advisory cable television shows; makeup tutorials pervading Pinterest and YouTube; and so on—construct and promote norms of feminine beauty, enlist women in the pursuit of these norms, and guide them in the bodily practices and behaviors that produce a heterosexually desirable feminine artifice. 25

Even though many women acknowledge that these body ideals cannot be met, there is the cultural expectation that women approximate or strive toward the societal standards. 26 The media representations of women’s bodies sustain the process of governmentality, but also the societal disciplining of women who cannot meet the norm or are not attempting to gain control over their bodies (i.e., shaming). 27 Consequently, the female obese body produces self-critique, ridicule from other women, lack of interest from men, and general social disfavor as “dirty and lazy.” 28 To better show how these cultural, economic, and gendered ideas weave together, I want to turn to Sarai Walker’s 2015 novel, Dietland. This immensely poignant, comedic, and, at times, uncomfortable novel highlights the ways that all these concepts not only intersect, but rely upon each other. Dietland is a novel that directly confronts issues of less than ideal female bodies and the ways in which these ideals are produced. Moreover, Walker’s novel is a not so subtle call to arms to actively resist the misogyny women encounter on an everyday basis, as well as the larger discriminatory and oppressive patriarchal structures on which our “civilized” and “advanced” society are premised. While Dietland offers compelling forms of protest and resistance, I want to expand on the theoretical implications of what a resistance of “sized-bodies” might look like and how this social defiance can be enacted on a daily basis. DIETLAND: OVERSIZED RESISTANCE Dietland is a third-person limited narrative of a woman named Alicia Kettle, whom everyone calls Plum—a nickname her mother gave her as an infant. Plum works for a teen fashion magazine, Daisy Chain, run by the media empire, Austin Media. Specifically, Plum works for Kitty Montgomery, the editor of Daisy Chain, answering emails from young women all around the country asking “Kitty” for insight about their boy/girlfriends, bodies, clothes, school, parents, and other issues teenage girls confront in their daily lives. Plum generally answers emails, in the persona of Kitty, from a café around


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the corner from her brownstone in Brooklyn, New York. She works from home because of the digital nature of her job and because, as Kitty states, “We’re a bit tight for space.” 29 It’s true that Kitty’s assistant’s desk is in the hallway, but it is also true that Plum’s size and appearance do not complement Daisy Chain’s image, or Austin Media’s image as a women’s fashion empire. Plum, who weighs over three hundred pounds, literally does not fit within the space of women’s fashion. Plum has struggled with her weight for most of her life. While Plum played outside at her Aunt Delia’s house, strangers would come up to the house and take pictures: “One of the women leaned out the passenger window with a bulky black camera and snapped the button several times. When she was finished, she eased back into the car and it sped away, the sound of the women’s laughter trailing behind it. I looked around, searching for something photo worthy, but saw nothing. Had she been taking a picture of me?” 30 At this age, Plum did not see herself as different or “overweight.” As she states, “I didn’t know what other people saw when they looked at me. In the mirror I didn’t see it. Now at Delia’s house, things were even worse. People were taking photos and I didn’t know why.” 31 Plum is unaware of what makes her different vis-à-vis her image. As a child, she does not yet see her larger body as “abnormal” or “undesirable.” 32 These strangers are not taking pictures of Plum, but rather, as Delia explains, “They’re taking photos of the house. A famous lady used to live here. I’ve been in the house so long, I don’t notice those crazy people anymore.” 33 This scene shows how society engages with a place and the effects of that interaction on identity formation, as well as constructing the normalized judgment of body/space. Plum believed that these people were taking pictures of her and she could not understand why, it is at this point that she notices that her most significant difference is her size. These instances of Plum becoming subject to the photography of strangers highlights the binary of seen/unseen, which structures much of the novel. Nevertheless, the binary should not be read as an either seen or unseen, but as both seen and unseen. Plum explains how she is both seen and unseen at the very beginning of the book when she realizes that a young woman has been following her: “I was used to being stared at, but that was by people who looked at me with disgust as I went about my business in the neighborhood. They didn’t study me closely, not like this girl did. I spent most of my time trying to blend in, which wasn’t easy, but with the girl following me it was like someone had pulled the covers off my bed, leaving me in my underpants, shivering and exposed.” 34 Plum is “seen” because of her weight and size (i.e., the amount of space she inhabits), but at the same time unseen because she is not desirable in the normative way; she is overweight and consequently overlooked. As a result of this early experience, and subsequent experiences with being both seen and unseen, Plum’s life eventually becomes spatially restricted:



When I think of my life at that time, back then, I imagine looking down on it as if it were contained in a box, like a diorama—there are the neighborhood streets and I am a figurine dressed in black. My daily activities kept me within a five-block radius and had done so for years: I moved between my apartment, the café, Waist Watchers. My life had narrow parameters, which is how I preferred it. I saw myself as an outline then, waiting to be filled in. 35

The retrospective narration provides the Icarian view necessary for the frame of the narrative, but also provides insight into the “larger picture” that the narrative will open up. There is a sense of irony in the perspective vis-à-vis Plum’s life. The expansive sight that the Icarian view provides is used to show the limited spatial existence of Plum’s life and her limited movement. But this irony also directly informs the inverse correlation made between the size of a person and the space of movement: the larger the person, the smaller the space of travel. This is due to the cultural normativity of personal space/ size and the (potential) desire for a larger person like Plum to not be seen or interact with (normative) spaces. While maintaining limited movement, Plum’s dress is also limited for similar reasons. Not unlike those with radical politics and those that engage in subversive social action, Plum is dressed in all black—the purposes are the same: not to be seen, to blend into the background, to be overlooked. Much of Plum’s movement is determined by her size/weight, though this strict regime is self-imposed and serves as a clear example of governmentality and discipline. On her daily routine, Plum strategically maps her route so that she “could bypass the boys who congregated at the end of my block and often made rude comments,” and so that she “didn’t have to pass in front of the health club windows, where the smug spinners could have gawked at me.” 36 Peter Hopkins, in his sociological study of obese young adults, states that many of his subjects admit to “carefully planning their journeys and examining the social landscape in order to attempt to manage their space–time embodied negotiations of different spaces and time.” 37 Citing Anna Kirkland, Hopkins refers to this awareness of space as “scanning”: Scanning is a technique for assessing, surveilling, and planning one’s movement through the world to avoid discomfort and humiliation. I mean to use the term scan both in its literal sense, to cast a glance over a situation or place quickly, but also more broadly to mean the kind of assessments and observations that one learns to make about how one will be received in new situations that then constitute expectations and behaviors in the ongoing present. 38

Plum recurrently engages in this type of behavior, particularly when using transit or open public areas. When asked what kinds of places she avoids, Plum responds, “‘Parties, clubs, bars, beaches, amusement parks, airplanes.’ I told her that I hadn’t been on a plane in four years.” 39 Scanning reveals an


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implied spatial element in Foucault’s assessment of normalizing judgment and discipline. Foucault clearly articulates that in a disciplinary society every individual has his/her space and every space has an individual. 40 This means that in a disciplinary society, it is not just judgment that is normalized, but the spaces in which the individual must reside—classroom desks, for example are all one size. By normalizing the space, the disciplinary society also normalizes the body size. However, if, as Deleuze argues, we passing out of a disciplinary society and into a society of control, institutions need not discipline the body. Rather, and here is the overlap between the concepts of Deleuzian control and Foucault’s governmentality, the individual and the surrounding societal mechanisms impose self-regulating behaviors (i.e., working out) in order to maintain the normalized body size as a means to “fit into” the normalized space. If one cannot control his/her body size, then the body is shamed or restricted (or restricted through shame) from entry. In “Postscript on the Societies of Control,” Deleuze writes, “Félix Guattari has imagined a city where one would be able to leave one’s apartment, one’s street, one’s neighborhood, thanks to one’s (dividual) electronic card that raises a given barrier; but the card could just as easily be rejected on a given day or between certain hours; what counts is not the barrier but the computer that tracks each person’s position—licit or illicit—and effects a universal modulation.” 41 In a society with normalized judgments about body size, the body itself serves as an “electronic card that raises a given barrier.” While we have not moved into the type of society of control imagined by Guattari, we are interested in the borders of the body, specifically when the body exceeds its designated space, when the body penetrates “secured” locations such as other bodies’ borders. Plum is intimately aware of where her body is granted access and where her body is (socially) restricted or forbidden to enter—like the offices of Daisy Chain in Austin Tower. The first time Plum enters Austin Tower to meet with Kitty—where she is “asked” to work from home—she describes the tower as “a glistening silver tree trunk.” 42 This image brings to mind the sturdiness of the building, but also its height and the privilege that this type of structure provides. This privilege is embodied in Kitty’s assistant, Eladio. On Plum’s first visit, Eladio takes her to a conference room “with the panoramic windows and pointed to the stickpin people on the sidewalk below. ‘What I love about working here,’ he’d said, ‘is that we get to look down on everyone.’” 43 Eladio’s statement attests to both the height of the building, but also the social privilege that the employees of Daisy Chain, and Austin Media more generally enjoy. Plum’s description of the tower as a “tree trunk” here and later in the novel (243) asserts the social and neoliberal hierarchy that the tower represents. Deleuze and Guattari discuss “arborescent systems” that “are hierarchical systems with centers of significance and subjectification, central automata like organized memories. In the corresponding models, an element



only receives information from a higher unit, and only receives a subjective affection along preestablished paths.” 44 The tree trunk represents stability, steadfastness, and strong foundation. Through these interpretative models of a trunk, this object makes associated segments (i.e., branches or roots) subject to its strength and assigns meaning through levels of importance. In other words, the power of Austin Media is physically represented through the “arborescent scheme” of the tower and makes all associated segments (Daisy Chain, Kitty, Eladio, Plum, etc.) subject to that power. The tower, like the trunk, is a conduit and path for all the various segments and provides the necessary materials for their continued support and progress. But the tower/ trunk uses these departments/segments as a means to support itself: the segments reinforce and solidify the centrality of the hierarchical structure. Austin Tower spatially represents the hierarchy of power that provides Plum with her significance (job) and making her subject to the arborescent system. Because of the limited space within Austin Tower, Plum is “allowed” to work from home—“home,” however, is a five-block radius with limited movement. While Plum’s limited movement appears to be her own choice, her required once-a-month meetings with Kitty maintain her role as a segment within the arboreal system of Austin Media. Consequently, Austin Media indirectly helps to determine Plum’s movement. In short, Austin Tower is a physical representation of the hierarchical neoliberal power that controls Plum’s spatial movement, and the “information” Plum receives “along preestablished paths” exceeds the directives provided by Kitty. The halls of Daisy Chain within the tower and the message of the magazine itself provide Plum with sustained “information” about her size and her need to change. Like many fashion magazines, Daisy Chain has photos of its cover models hanging on the walls of its offices. These images are designed to speak to the consumer—what a young woman ought to desire to look like and what ought to be (sexually) desirable for a young man. Plum thinks, “[W]inding my way through the corridors lined with the huge magazine covers—the models, with their glazed-over looks, like the heads hanging on the hunter’s wall.” 45 The “glazed-over looks” directs the viewer solely to the body by negating signifiers that suggest thought or any internal psychic presence of the model. The model, and therefore those that purchase the magazine, believe in the type of beauty propagated by this type of media. The image of “fashion” shows simply a body on display, but also creates an object of desire: an object other women want to be and an object that men want to possess. Furthermore, Plum’s alignment of the models’ headshots with hunting trophies positions the magazine as the proprietary predator within the arboreal structure. Beauty, or more specifically the female sexual object is the prey. Traditional media, social media, and public spaces are all the hunting grounds. Plum and other women exposed to this type of media are told that they must be desirable and, at the same time, the standards for desirabil-


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ity are set by media outlets like Daisy Chain. This type of commodification of desire is addressed in the novel by the character Marlowe Buchanan’s book, Fuckability Theory: “Page two: We all want to be attractive to our partner, but being fuckable is about more than that. It’s about having a high fuckability quotient on the open market, as if we’re stocks with a value that rises and falls.” 46 “Fuckability” should be what women desire and the logic of “fuckability,” disseminated by media like Daisy Chain, is bound up with female empowerment. To be beautiful (i.e., skinny) is a choice—the morally right choice, and the freedom of the right to choice—that makes a successful woman: self-control, discipline, hard work, confidence, and dedication. The ability to make the “right” choice to be skinny goes by the name “Postfeminism.” In this rhetorically ambiguous concept, women are encouraged to “choose” normative beauty standards, which will empower them in the personal and professional areas of their lives. Contained within this choice, however, is the wholesale acceptance of and participation in neoliberalism. As Alison Winch summarizes: Angela McRobbie (2009) maintains that young women are interpellated in the “new sexual contract” where they are promised equal participation in education, employment and consumer culture, as long as they abandon criticisms of patriarchy and reject political radicalism. In return for this recognition, they must adhere to the entrepreneurial, self-managing and individualizing logics of neoliberalism. Postfeminist culture frames feminism as no longer relevant, as a thing of the past, because “gender equality” has become commonsense. Rosalind Gill (2007) identifies a “postfeminist sensibility” that emphasizes selfsurveillance, monitoring and discipline in the construction of feminine subjectivities. In a neoliberal postfeminist culture there is a shift from objectification to subjectification where the rhetoric of individualism, choice and empowerment is enabled. 47

In short, postfeminism allows women to be completely embraced by a neoliberal society and afforded agency within the system, so long as the subjectivities created by this society do not critique or attempt to change the system. Women are “equal” insofar as they can be educated, work, and live within the system; a system designed and founded on patriarchal hierarchy. This means that someone like Kitty may rise in the ranks of a large media company, so long as she adheres to the structures, goals, and vision set forth by the owner, Stanley Austen. By accepting these conditions, Kitty, and all the other women who work for Austen Media, are also accepting the norms of appearance for professional women working at a fashion magazine. The elements of the postfeminist social contract (i.e., physical appearance, acceptance of patriarchal hierarchy, etc.) are not explicitly obvious. Rather, postfeminism emphasizes the individual and her abilities within the established systems, while proclaiming the benefits of this “freedom.” 48 The hyper-indi-



vidualism espoused by postfeminism is one component of contemporary neoliberal capitalism, which is itself a patriarchal hierarchy. This ideology becomes sutured to the female body and creates the female body in the image it desires. Postfeminism uses neoliberal capitalism with its commodification of the body and emphasizes “feminine” individualism through self-control and bodily discipline. 49 The neoliberal body, particularly the female body, marks one’s ability to succeed in the current socioeconomic nation state, as Guthman and DuPuis have argued. 50 Body size is the first and most visible indication of this success, “the svelte, disciplined body is rewarded as the successful neoliberal citizen, while the fat body is pathologized as a site of failure.” 51 Daisy Chain, Austen Media, and the fashion/beauty industry epitomize this postfeminist, neoliberal position. Plum is immersed in this environment of bodily normalization and “perfection,” resulting in her decision to choose surgery as a means to reduce her weight and size. When Plum is around other women who are skinnier, even other woman looking to lose weight at her Waist Watcher’s meetings, she “felt much larger, as well as much younger. . . . When I was around women who had grown-up lives, the kind of life I thought I should have, I felt suspended in time, like an animal floating in a jar of formaldehyde.” 52 Plum’s feeling of being younger and not grown up (not even part of the same living species) attests to the neoliberal, postfeminist pressures to possess a certain body type and adhere to a traditional career path in order to become a “grown-up”—read: consumer. However, it is not just her work environment that pushes Plum to this decision, it is the society more generally and her (failed) experiences with dieting. Plum’s first experience with dieting began while she was still in high school. She started on a diet devised by Eulayla Baptist called the “Baptist Plan.” Plum was introduced to the “Baptist diet plan” through watching television. TV and other media play an important role in normalizing judgment: “For hours I watched TV, waiting for the ads, mesmerized. . . . I imagined seeing that photo on TV, me in my ever-present black dress, the roll of fat under my chin. Burst! I’d obliterate that hideous girl.” 53 In the diet program, Plum learns the proper way to discuss her “situation,” “We learned to say overweight or obese, not fat. We were never to say diet, either, but instead use terms such as the plan, the program, or eating healthily.” 54 This is a marked attempt to change the language and therefore change the ways in which people think. It also links their ascribed identity (“overweight” or “obese”) to the product (“the plan” or “the program”). While they are not allowed to use the word “fat,” the person leading the introduction to the Baptist plan handed each new Baptist “a booklet with ‘When I’m Thin . . . ™’ printed on the cover.” In this instance, the word “thin” is permitted, showing that the Baptist plan desperately wants to emphasize one half of the binary and put the other under erasure (privileging “thin” over “fat”). Furthermore,


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the fact that the phrase “When I’m Thin . . . ™” is trademarked, further reiterates the extent to which the product and identity are intertwined: to be thin is to also be a Baptist. In the booklet the first page had “five blank lines underneath with suggested topics such as romance, careers, and fashion. . . . She [Gladys, the leader of the group] told us to write down five things that our thin selves would be able to do that our overweight selves couldn’t.” 55 This “program” is not a health plan, but a means to further bifurcate and fracture identity, all the while preying off the participants’ desires and insecurities to generate capital. This is the program of neoliberalism. After seeing this, Janine, another new “Baptist,” stands up and loudly states, “What kind of sick, self-loathing mindfuck is this?” 56 Janine sees this for what it is, but after she leaves, there is “silence in the room, leaving us to contemplate the departure of the loud, angry woman, disagreeable and huge, what none of us wanted to be.” 57 Janine embodies precisely what everyone in the room does not want to be, but she is the other part of the binary (“fat”) resisting the erasure and violence being done by the Baptist plan. In an effort to save the meeting, Gladys tells the rest of the group, “‘What we’re doing here at the clinic is radical and life affirming,’ she said. ‘We’re taking care of our bodies. People like that woman find this very threatening. She’s like an alcoholic or drug addict, completely in denial. She’ll probably be dead soon.’” 58 Gladys gets the group back on script in part by denigrating the person who is unashamed of her body image and therefore sees through the neoliberal narrative. This eliminates the “problem” that the Baptist plan creates in order to sell the solution/product. In order to keep the other group members hooked on the product, Gladys doesn’t just denigrate Janine, she must effectively show the consequences with Janine’s attitude and put it further under erasure: “She’ll probably be dead soon.” The Baptist Plan is the first of many diet plans Plum attempts well into her twenties. At a certain point, Plum decides to forego dieting and get elective surgery: Given my failure at dieting, my plan was to trade Waist Watchers for weightloss surgery. The surgery was scheduled for October, little more than four months away. I was excited about it, but also terrified at the thought of having my internal organs cut up and rearranged and of the possible complications that might follow. The surgery would make my stomach the size of a walnut; afterward I’d only be able to eat spoonfuls of food each day for the rest of my life. That was the horrible part, but the miraculous part was that I would lose between ten and twenty pounds a month. 59

Plum, from high school onward, positions herself as someone who is an “onthe-way-to-becoming-thin subject.” 60 Plum, as well as others who create this subject position and elect for weight-loss surgery, bifurcate themselves into a pre- and post-surgery subject, where after the surgery there is a “new me.” 61



Plum does this by referring to her post-surgery self as “Alicia,” her given name, and she will “obliterate that hideous girl” called Plum. As Vikki Chalklin writes, “the surgery enables the becoming of a disciplined subject capable of self-control and thus weight-loss, thereby enacting the full ‘self’ that has been there all along but was previously obscured and stifled by excess fat.” 62 In other words, the surgery will allow Plum to enter the neoliberal, postfeminist society and be accepted as a peer, as a model of control and discipline that ostensibly leads to, but definitely signifies, a successful life. However, Plum’s desire for “normal” life is upended through a series of events and interactions with a diverse set of women. Plum’s adventure into a new world and her acceptance of her body begins when she realizes she is being followed by a young woman. “She crept into the edges of my consciousness like something blurry coming into focus. She was an odd girl, tramping around in black boots with the laces undone, her legs covered in bright fruit-hued tights, like the colors in a roll of Life Savers.” 63 This young woman, with whom Plum exchanges very few words, is named Leeta and she, or rather her idea and the path she shows Plum, saves Plum’s life in the end. Leeta works as an intern at Austen Media in the Austen Tower basement with a woman named Julia. Julia runs “The Beauty Closet,” a massive basement space that provides the makeup for the nine fashion magazines, various television programs, and other media produced on the fifty-two stories that sit on top of The Beauty Closet. 64 Julia “looked like someone who worked in some sort of fashion-forward coal mine” and as Plum eventually learns, Julia has “five sisters, all of their names beginning with J. . . . Their surname was Coleman, but they had deleted the man. The sisters all worked in the media or the fashion and beauty industry and were all spying like Julia” to find ways to combat institutionalized patriarchy. 65 While Julia maintains an important role at Austen Media, she works below the base of the arboreal Austen Tower. She is what lies underneath, unseen, and yet connected to the many branches that rise above her. Julia nourishes the various branches of Austen Media with the supply of beauty products necessary to maintain the “image” of femininity. Leeta introduces Plum to Dietland, a scathing book on the diet industry written by Eulayla Baptist’s daughter, Verena. Quotes from Verena’s book litter the novel via footnotes and provide insight, albeit fictional, into the marketing and conceptual development of the Baptist Diet Plan. These footnotes to the novel express the neoliberal profiteering that occurs around people’s insecurities, body image, and supposed “ideal” body. For example, one footnote reads: “Memorandum: From senior vice president [name redacted] to Eulayla Baptist (October 24, 1982): ‘People who only imagine they’re fat are a huge market for us. Fat, thin . . . these are meaningless distinctions, except at the extremes. What is fat? What is thin? Who cares.” 66 This example reveals the heart of the dieting industry, as well as the neoliber-


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al market more generally. Create the problem, and then provide the solution. The problem does not need to be based in reality, but a perceived reality. Neoliberal institutions rely upon a form of social construction. Consider: reality is constructed through normalization of judgment. However, the general population is not aware of the ways in which social construction creates identities and the ways through which our thought, society, and culture are formed. Consequently, corporations and other neoliberal institutions create the reality that they most desire and foist it upon society. A reality constructed by corporate interests is sold to consumers, and the consumer believes this to be the reality of our culture, our society, and identities—this is Baudrillard’s hyperreal and reveals the need for a type of nomadic resistance suggested by Deleuze and Guattari. The insights in Verena Baptist’s Dietland, in part, push Plum toward a better understanding of herself and her desires. As a result, Plum eventually finds compassion in radical vigilante action. Through her interest in Leeta, Plum is eventually introduced to Verena Baptist. Verena brings Plum to the Calliope House, a house of women working on projects for the betterment of society via social justice, awareness campaigns, activist organization, and policy and legal avenues. 67 When Plum first enters the house—which “was actually two townhouses joined together, sitting on a leafy stretch of Thirteenth Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in the West Village”—she is confused by how the space is used, “‘Is this a house or an office?’ I asked, still looking around, noticing something different every time I turned my head. On top of a cabinet, a large orchid was trapped under a bell jar. ‘It’s both.’ Verena explained that she lived in the house, but it also served as her office. Most of the women came and went each day, but a few of them lived there with her.” 68 Plum must reconceptualize what it means for a place, like a house, to function as more than a place to eat, sleep, and relax. Indeed, she does more than live in her apartment (she also works there), but that is a fundamentally private place. Verena’s type of house/home is both public and private. People come and go, women use this place as a “ground zero” for cultural change. Just as Plum’s childhood home on Harper Lane deconstructs the public/private, the Calliope House provides a “private” place to do public work, while affording the women a community of like-minded, empathic people to use as resources for their various projects. Nevertheless, Plum attributes her arrival at Calliope House to Leeta, “It was Leeta who had led me here. She had followed me around the neighborhood, but now it was as if she was leading me somewhere.” 69 The connection Plum feels for Leeta is one of possibility and becoming. Without knowing or really even meeting the young woman, Plum feels that Leeta has led her down a path, a new trajectory, a line of flight that will create something new; she is not sure what, but there is another world that Leeta will expose, one of possibility and difference. This manifests



spatially as well: Plum is now in Manhattan and ventures there more frequently, as opposed to her daily activity that consists of walking between her apartment and the café in Brooklyn. After meeting Verena and walking through the Calliope House, Plum agrees to meet with Verena regularly to embark on the “New Baptist Plan.” Verena makes Plum a wager that after meeting with her and concluding all the steps in this new plan, Verena will give Plum the money for the weightloss surgery if she still wants to go through with it, approximately $20,000. But she must complete the new plan in its entirety. The New Baptist Plan consists of Plum clearly articulating why she wants the weight-loss surgery, weaning herself off her antidepressant pills; confronting those that demean or show disgust toward her; getting a normative beauty “make-over” and going on five dates; and disconnecting and reflecting on her actions and life while staying at the Calliope House. “Verena spent some of her time working with former Baptists and helping them heal, but the New Baptist Plan was the deluxe service, she’d said, and just for me.” 70 The goal of the New Baptist Plan was for Plum to realize that she is not two separate selves (a fat self and a skinny self, Plum and Alicia), but rather a complete, singular life; a life that Plum has deferred while she waits for her “true self” to emerge. “Alicia will be able to go anywhere. . . . She won’t be alone all the time, she won’t spend all of her time in this apartment, she’ll dress in pretty clothes, she’ll travel, she’ll have a job that she likes, she’ll host dinner parties.” 71 In Plum’s mind, Alicia is everything that Plum wants to be, but has postponed until she is skinnier. In effect, Plum has not been living her life (as her spatial movement might suggest), but has been waiting for the “right” moment to begin living her “real” life. But Verena asks, “‘What if this is your real life right now? What if you’re already living it?’ ‘I’m not.’ ‘But what if you are? What if this is your real life and you’re fat and that’s that?’” 72 Verena pushes Plum to consider what “real life” means. What might it mean for Plum if she never achieves her desired weight or look, what does that mean for the life she has lived? Verena identifies Plum’s desire, “I’m not a dasher of dreams, Plum. Your dream, as it were, is to look different. To be smaller.” To which Plum replies, “I want to look normal.” 73 Tellingly, Plum reveals that big is not normal, fat is not normal, and what she desires is precisely the normativity that she has been sold and has been surrounded with at Austen Media. The New Baptist Plan, then, not only asks Plum to accept her current self as normal, but to embrace her difference and allow that difference to be seen by the world around her. To further prepare Plum for taking on the New Baptist Plan, Verena wants Plum to meet with her friend Marlowe Buchanan. Marlowe was an actress, who cut her fame-making hair and gained a significant amount of weight during a vacation. Upon returning from vacation, Marlowe met with corporate television executives and was told, “We’re sorry, Marlowe, but


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since you cut your hair, women don’t want to be you, men don’t want to fuck you. . . . Unless you figure out a way to up your fuckability quotient, your career in Hollywood is finished.” 74 This is the experience that leads Marlowe to write her book, Fuckability Theory. As Marlowe explains to Plum what it means to be “fuckable,” she speaks directly to Plum’s normative desire, “A fuckable woman doesn’t take up space. Fuckable women are controlled.” Plum replies by simply naming a product that quite literally controls and contains the female body, “I said, ‘Control-top pantyhose.’” To which Marlowe poignantly states, “Fat women are not controlled. They are defiant, so they are unfuckable.” 75 Fat, according to Marlowe, is a form of spatial and social subversion. Thinness is desirable; thinness does not take up space and the body is controlled through a structuring of desires. Products are then designed to enhance thinness and broadly marketed. The desire to be thin, to get thin, is still a form of control. While a woman might not be thin, it is the desire for thinness that marks her as normative precisely because she will remain within the diet/fashion matrix and purchase products to meet her desire (to be seen as desired as fuckable). By controlling desire, by structuring desire, a wide range of intersecting and interconnected industries attempt to control not just the body, but the ways we think about ourselves and others around us. Put another way, a sort of “image-industry” has structured our desire and therefore mediates our relationships with others through a focus on appearance. As a form of resistance, however, to be fat is not by itself enough. A person must be confident in his/her body, and defend his/her right to take up space, to not be determined by the image-industry, and to confront vocally and with action anyone (person or corporation) whose desire has been structured and determined by the image-industry. Plum begins her New Baptist Plan and it is, not unexpectedly, difficult. Nevertheless, Plum persists and after getting a completely normative makeover (from clothes to a bikini wax), she waits for the subway at the Fourteenth Street Station. The platform serves as a liminal space; a place where revelations are made, changes occur, and new lines of flight become possible. “I waited on the platform for the train, conscious that people were staring at me in my costume. I concentrated on the blackness of the tunnel, but from the din of the station, a male voice cut through. ‘Can you imagine doing that?’” 76 For the first time, Plum responds to a male mocking her, “‘I’m too much woman for you. From the looks of you, you probably like to diddle little boys.’ The two guys next to him, the friends, his white-guy posse, laughed.” 77 With his friends laughing at him, the man sees Plum’s comment as permission to assault Plum, “The fist of the man who’d made the comment came flying at me. I saw it coming—the white paw, the hairy knuckles, the ring finger wrapped in a thin gold band. I opened my mouth as if to yell but his fist hit me before I could, the gold band smashing my lip into my incisor. I stumbled backwards, past the white line, near the edge of the



subway platform.” 78 This man’s assault stems from the threat she poses to his masculinity, sexual prowess, and sexuality. While he is culturally authorized to comment on (not) having sex with her, she ought not respond, as any normative woman would know; she should feel embarrassed and remain quietly complicit. The text is not all together clear if his gold ring is a wedding band, but if we assume it is, his wife is undoubtedly normative and complicit with the image-industry. Though we must wonder what his wife would think of him publicly assessing another woman’s “fuckability.” She might nod her head in agreement. Plum has a sense of this, “Alicia didn’t deserve such a nice dress, not after her flirtation with the nasty man on the subway platform, but then, Alicia didn’t know he was nasty. Only Plum could see that side of him.” 79 The normative woman, the controlled woman, would not be the object of the “nasty man’s” derision and would not know that he could be nasty. Plum’s reply unearths the depth of this man’s nauseating and irrational disgust for all to see. While Plum had always been aware of the horrible ways people treat oversized individuals, her actions on the platform make publically visible the extent to which obese people are the objects of normative derision. In this instance, Plum, as obese, not only resists the normative judgments made about oversized people, but also reterritorializes the liminal space of the platform from a space of waiting to one of action and insight. Plum’s vocalization, and the man’s response, provokes action from the people that surround Plum: “a woman knelt down next to me. ‘Are you alright?’ She helped me to my feet. Another woman handed me a wad of tissues from her purse, which I held to my lip.” 80 Not coincidently, those who help Plum are women while the men flee, but it was the man’s act of throwing a punch that brought aid to Plum, not the nasty comment made by him. For Plum, however, the comment and the punch are both assaults on her and both require action. As the incident on the platform suggests, the New Baptist Plan irrevocably changes Plum, personally and professionally. Plum had been ignoring “Kitty’s girls” (her job at Austen Media) for quite some time and Kitty eventually finds out. Not unsurprisingly, Kitty calls a meeting with Plum, who realizes that “Kitty was going to fire” her. 81 Plum takes a taxi to Austen Tower and as she approaches the building Kitty calls to her, but Kitty “was barely recognizable” since she got caught in a downpour. 82 Kitty suggests that they walk to a coffeehouse down the street and as they walk Plum “looked at the sidewalk, Julia was down there beneath the wet concrete of Times Square, which now reflected a pretty pattern of neon light.” 83 Plum continues to walk and looks up to find the source of the light creating the pretty pattern, only to see that “Leeta’s face was on the side of a building.” 84 This scene marks the movement from the earth, to the air, that then goes underground—Deleuze’s “great cycle” discussed in the previous chapter. Plum walking down the street in Times Square, aware of Julia below her


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engaging in some form of espionage and subterfuge, remains on the earth, remains part of the terre; this is emphasized by Kitty’s presence. Kitty embodies normativity and perpetuates Plum’s desire to be “unseen.” Kitty stands with Plum as she looks into the air to see the face of subversion high above Times Square. Plum’s focus leaves the immediacy of the territorial and capitalistic for something greater, for something high above her—this is not to say transcendent, but something that hovers above the land, something not bound to the pedestrian movement of the day-to-day and the determination of capitalism. Leeta, who represents all the possibility and promise of a different life for Plum, stands above Plum, and the rest of Times Square. Plum physically moves away from Kitty and her perceived power of normativity, “There were things I could have said to Kitty, but without the hair she had lost her power. I pushed past her, heading out into the street to find a taxi.” 85 Plum pulls at the chains that normativity have clamped on her (the image-industry and neoliberal capitalism more generally) and wants to break free from the li(f)e that has held her down, made her part of the terre. However, Plum’s awareness does not send her up, does not make her take flight into the air. Rather, she must find a line of flight souterre, underground. In a panic, Plum flees and Verena invites Plum to finish the New Baptist Plan “right here at Calliope House.” 86 Plum, however, cannot be just at the house, she needs a specific space: “I followed Verena and Marlowe outside into the rain, down the front steps of Calliope House. To the right of the steps, unseen by passersby, there was another series of steps leading down to a red door, its frame overgrown with ivy. This was the door to the basement. I followed them down the steps. Down we went, down to the very bottom.” 87 Plum goes underground, literally and figuratively. Her movement “underground” serves to make her unseen, not just culturally unseen, but out of the public eye altogether. This movement underground also further radicalizes her, making her more visible upon her reentry into society. This section of the text is also subtitled “Underground.” Given the increased radicalization of Plum, there is a need for an underground: a place where “radicals” can speak freely and unfettered, a place where they are hidden from public view so that they may continue their work in social justice, activism, or vigilante action. This underground mirrors the Deleuzian souterre: from underground, an organic resistance emerges to change all other elements of the world. In order for this organic resistance to take root, Plum needs the time and space to further understand not only herself, but the kind of world that she lives in, and how it can be changed: The underground apartment was nestled into the earth beneath Calliope House, deep in the place where roots grow. The walls vibrated faintly whenever a subway train passed by. This dark, cool space was where I landed after weeks



of falling. It was Leeta’s appearance in the café more than two months ago that had caused me to lose my balance. I tripped into a hole, where strange things happened and even stranger women dwelled. Spinning and falling, trying desperately to steady myself, I kept reaching for something to cling to on my way down. 88

Plum’s movement underground is necessary for her becoming, for her to find a new way to exist in the world. Indeed, she has been falling and has landed underground, but it is from this “place where roots grow” that new growth, new life emerges. But this is more than a new life, a singular change of a singular entity. From underground, new formations, links, alliances, relationships, and bonds are created so that when the new life emerges, it changes the surrounding environment and everything it comes in contact with. Plum needs the time underground to consolidate everything that has occurred on earth and in the air (represented by Kitty and Leeta respectively), 89 to make these events part of her and allow it to spread in new directions (i.e., rhizomatic movement) so that she emerges as a catalyst of change, challenge, and resistance. Throughout the novel, there are sections that interrupt the narrative and depict the radical vigilante action of women fighting the dominant patriarchal structure and individuals who perpetuate it. These vignettes are scattered throughout the novel and the first four sections depict: (1) anonymous actions against two male rapists; (2) the kidnapping of the twin brother of the CEO of the Daily Sun (the British run newspaper that prints topless photos of young women on page three) and his son; (3) “The world’s most famous porn star . . . shot in the head outside a Times Square hotel”; 90 and (4) a group of twelve men that are kidnapped for gang raping a twelve-year old girl and publicly shaming her through a viral video, which led to her suicide. “Every day for twelve days, the editors at the Los Angeles Times received a video via email. The videos, each titled ‘Death Porn,’ were shot in grainy black-and-white and featured a different man sitting in front of a concrete wall. . . . Twelve men, twelve videos”—including two of the men that raped the young girl, Luz. 91 In each of these acts, a note or “signature” was left and signed only as “Jennifer.” The media coverage of these actions not only frightens men and stirs the public’s fear of women named Jennifer, but female news pundits make it clear that these actions are retaliations against institutions that exploit or demean women. These sections are important because Leeta, the young woman that put Plum on a different path and whose face was depicted above Time Square is associated with “Jennifer.” In one example of what “Jennifer” was acting against, the famous Porn Star Stella Cross (before being shot) perpetuated the exploitation of women through porn to such an extent that her “vagina and anus [were] torn” and she “was left with a gaping wound that needed reconstructive surgery.” 92 After


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the surgery, “A mold of her new vagina was mass-reproduced by a factory in Manila and sold on her website as a sex toy. Stella had a framed photograph of the hair-netted Filipino factory women hold the molds of her ladyparts and smiling.” 93 This is quintessentially neoliberal exploitation of the female body. A factory in the South Pacific tasked with producing a usable replica of a porn star’s vagina. Stella is selling her body, but in a way that suggests the only worthwhile part is her sex organ. More men can access her body due to its mass production. What makes this neoliberal is the spatial distance between production, sales, marketing, and use. While the production occurs in a place far away from the area that is most likely to use this product, the marketing and sales occur on the internet, which means that anyone, anywhere can purchase the sex toy. The overt commodification of women’s bodies has long been an issue, but within the neoliberal world, the female body becomes doubly exploited: (1) the dismembered vagina of the porn star is mass produced and commodified as a product sold on the internet and (2) the Filipino women in the factory that produce the product are exploited for their cheap labor. The vigilante action against the porn star, then, is not just about the exploitation of the female body, but an action against neoliberalism and capitalism as well. Women’s bodies are immensely profitable (more so than men’s bodies) and any disruption of that will be met with derision—not necessarily just from the corporations that profit from the exploitation, but also from the normative patriarchal society that see this as “just the way it is.” The capitalist ideology is so internalized, that the “right to use my body to make money” is defended, if not commended. And here lies the connection between porn and the fashion industry. Both are exploiting the body in different ways, but both are forms of exploitation nonetheless. This exploitation is not just to make profit (though this is the central concern), it is also the production of desire: marketing and the porn/fashion industries tell society what is attractive and fashionable. By doing so, they produce desire for both women and men (to different degrees): women desire the product or look to be beautiful and men desire to fuck women who reproduce that look. Plum spends her time underground gaining an understanding of the various apparatuses that have informed her life, perspectives, and desires. She begins to understand that her body affords her a kind of power and she embraces it: Because I’m fat, I know how horrible everyone is. If I looked like a normal woman, if I looked like you, then I’d never know how cruel and shallow people are. I see a different side of humanity. Those guys I went on the blind dates with treated me like I was subhuman. If I were thin and pretty, they would have shown me a different side, a fake one, but since I look like this, I know what they’re truly like. . . . I see past the mask to the real person underneath. 94



Much like her encounter on the subway platform, Plum realizes that her presence as an obese woman produces truths: the “real person” that resides under the constructed identity of so many people that surround her. Through corporate and media social construction, this “real person” is also a construction of the media and fashion/beauty/porn industry. Due to the neoliberal model that increasingly dictates so much of our lives and constructs the dominant cultural discourse, Plum’s body, which represents lack of control and laziness, becomes the site of derision and hatred. When Plum is ready to emerge from the underground, she has embraced a completely new attitude that will reshape the way she engages with the normative world: “Foxy, hot, fuckable. Whatever it was called, that’s what I’d wanted—to be hot, to elicit desire in men and envy in women. But I realized I didn’t want that anymore. That required living in Dietland, which meant control, constriction—paralysis, even—but above all it meant obedience. I was tired of being obedient.” 95 Dietland, which is our current society and culture, is a place of control and obedience. Dietland is the spatialization of male sexual desire that is internalized by women and (re)produced by neoliberal capitalist institutions and media. Dietland is one apparatus in our society of control. Plum’s emergence is not just a rebirth, as much of the imagery of the novel suggests. Through her emergence Plum also finds a new weapon to fight the society of control, to combat Dietland, to battle the dominant neoliberal order: her obese body. Plum has always been “obese” in the strictest sense of the word (she is over three hundred pounds), but now she is, to use a Deleuzian construction, becoming-obese. BECOMING-OBESE After spending time in the basement of Calliope House, Plum emerges a different person, but well aware of the world that still surrounds her, “I squeezed my feet into my tattered black flats and opened the front door of Calliope House. Outside there was fresh air and sunshine and people who stared at me. Outside hadn’t changed—but I had changed.” 96 Still seen and still an object of derision, Plum continues to develop herself, she continues becoming, but now with her body as an “ally”: “I had never appreciated or loved the body that had done so much for me. I had thought of it as my enemy, as nothing more than a shell that enclosed my real self, but it wasn’t a shell. The body was me.” 97 This is a seemingly obvious, if not mundane observation. But, as mentioned above, many obese people bifurcate their identity into a skinny (real) self and a fat (temporary) self. Somehow, their identity and their body size are two different things. This is the import of Plum’s statement; identity and the body are now connected. As Judith Butler writes, “Indeed, to understand identity as a practice, and as a signifying


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practice, is to understand culturally intelligible subjects as the resulting effects of a rule-bound discourse that inserts itself in the pervasive and mundane signifying acts of linguistic life.” 98 In other words, a fat body cannot be a real body because it is the object of disgust, mockery, and ridicule; the fat body and the corresponding subject are breaking the rules of the neoliberal “successful” subject by signifying laziness and lack of control. However, Plum’s identity and her acceptance of her body, while formed and informed by the external world and linguistic acts, are also the important elements of her becoming. By way of conclusion, I want to end this chapter by investigating what “becoming” entails, and link Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of becoming-woman to another form of minor politics: becoming-obese. I want to start with a discussion of “becoming” more generally and what this concept means for Plum. “Becoming” does not have its origins in Deleuze and Guattari’s thought, though they advance the concept rather significantly by linking it to other concepts of their own design. “Becoming” is held in contrast to “Being”: precisely the “thing” that constitutes our existence in the world. Being is static and unchanging, and has habitually been thought of as the “nature of our existence.” Becoming, on the other hand, attempts to show the ever changing and developmental process of our existence. As the world continues to change, reshape, and remap, so too does the way we exist in it— consider the ways communication technology has affected personal interactions with other people, objects, and products. Deleuze and Guattari write, “The act of becoming is a capturing, a possession, a plus-value, but never a reproduction or an imitation.” 99 Becomings add something to world, to existence, they produce something altogether novel and different, where difference itself allows for creation. Becomings cannot be an act of imitation or repetition of the same—like the reproduction of a fashionable look or product. To be clear, Elizabeth Grosz writes: [B]ecomings are not simply a matter of choice, not simply a decision, but always involve a substantial remaking of the subject, a major risk to the subject’s integration and social functioning. One cannot become-animal at will and then cease and function normally. It is not something that can be put on or taken off like a cloak or an activity. Nonetheless, what Deleuze and Guattari make clear is that there is a kind of wildness, pivots of unpredictability, elements whose trajectories, connections, and future relations remain unpredictable. 100

Becoming, then, must keep pace with challenges of a changing world. In this ever shifting world, we need, Deleuze and Guattari claim, new concepts to combat and resist the dominating forms of power that attempt to root themselves in “nature” or naturalizing narratives of “that’s just how it is.” Concepts like the ones I have been using—de/reterritorialization, the nomad,



smooth/striated space, lines of flight, etc.—are developed to show alternative ways of existing and combating dominant forms of power. Deleuze and Guattari discuss new, specific forms of becoming, such as becoming-woman, as a means to engage in minoritarian forms of politics. Becoming-woman has been a controversial concept. Ostensibly, becomingwoman reads as though the experience of being a woman can be appropriated and used (by men) as a form of radical subjectivity or political position. However, as Deleuze and Guattari write, “man is majoritarian par excellence, whereas becomings are minoritarian; all becoming is a becoming-minoritarian. . . . Majority implies a state of domination, not the reverse. . . . In this sense, women, children, but also animals, plants and molecules, are minoritarian.” 101 Becoming-woman, then, means to deterritorialize oneself and inhabit a minoritarian position, “Even women must become-woman.” 102 If women must become-woman “it is because only a minority is capable of serving as the active medium of becoming, but under such conditions that it ceases to be a definable aggregate in relation to the majority.” 103 Becomingwoman, the authors continue, “therefore implies two simultaneous movements, one by which a term (the subject) is withdrawn from the majority, and another by which a term (the medium or agent) rises up from the majority.” 104 Note the movement of becoming: withdrawing, then rising up. Plum, in her movement underground, withdraws from dominant society, only to reemerge and rise up against the normative society: As I walked I steadied myself, raising my chin confidently, daring someone to say something. People had always insulted by calling me fat, but they couldn’t hurt me that way, not anymore. I was fat, and if I no longer saw it as a bad thing, then the weapon they had used against me lost its power. I was wearing bright colors, refusing to apologize for my size. The dress made me feel defiant. For the first time, I didn’t mind taking up space. 105

Plum is always seen, but is now being seen on her terms, being seen the way she wants to be seen: as a fat body that moves through and takes up space. Through reclaiming the term “fat,” Plum takes a weapon away from her “enemies.” She also changes the way she dresses, which attracts more attention to her and her size. But in this instance she “didn’t mind taking up space.” Her dress, posture, and movement all become forms of resistance (a weapon?). Plum is becoming-minoritarian not simply through her resistance, but because of having been fat and being fat. This is to say, she is passing between the two aspects of her identity: Plum and Alicia. Deleuze and Guattari write, “Becoming-revolutionary remains indifferent to questions of a future and a past of the revolution; it passes between the two. Every becoming is a block of coexistence.” 106 Plum passes through this middle, she is both the fat woman who did not stand up for herself and existed within a


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small radius; she is also the self-possessed fat woman who confronts those who antagonize her based on her size and wears what she likes. 107 While shopping for her new look, Plum receives a call from “Dr. Shearer’s office” regarding her surgery: “I stopped between a set of double doors. Other shoppers bumped into me from both directions, but I didn’t move.” 108 This is a clear spatialization of the problem Plum must deal with and the delineation of becoming: she is in between two worlds, standing at the threshold of her new life. The phone call halts her in that moment of passing through and she remains in the liminal space. Stopping in a liminal space, such as a doorway, disrupts the movement of the individual and those around him/her. The individual is jostled and expected to move one way or another, but the decision to move, to exit the discomfort of the liminal, must and can only come from the individual. This choice, however, does not stem from the individual solely, but comes from the individual existing within the culture and communities she/he associates with. If Plum stayed at her previous job with Kitty, this culture would have most likely pushed her toward the surgery, but Verena and company have changed her thinking on the surgery and what it means. This is to say that individual choice is never shaped solely by the individual (who ultimately makes the choice), but the choice is a reflection of who and what surrounds the individual: “You don’t deviate from the majority unless there is a little detail that starts to swell and carries you off.” 109 Plum stops in this liminal space because she is caught between two competing narratives: the status quo, normative, culturally appropriate narrative and the alternative, defiant, resistant, and subversive narrative. The first of these two narratives also reveals the invested interest of neoliberal and statist structures. The normative, culturally appropriate choice is to stay within the capitalist economy by buying the appropriate body image. The second resists this by opting for the “non-normative” body image that openly, visibly, and spatially defies expectations. This decision, then, is seen as dangerous to the economy and the various supporting structures because it refuses to acknowledge and conform to social norms—to even consider another option is an entry into becoming. By taking up more space, Plum openly defies social norms and visibly announces her disdain for the body image industry, and possibly other cultural, if not national narratives and norms. Plum becomes conscious of this change and her liminal position: “It’s a lifelong process and it’s never going to be easy, Plum,” Sana said, “but there comes a moment when you realize you’ve changed in some irrevocable way and you’ll never go back to the way you were before. Think of it as crossing over to a new place.” I liked the idea of crossing over. “But how will I know for sure that it’s happened?” “If you’re not sure, then it hasn’t happened yet. You’re still in flux.”



In flux—that’s how I felt. She had helped me understand what I was feeling, as I knew she would. 110

Plum’s “flux” is the coexistence of both positions within the same body. This tension is productive insofar as it spawns, or feeds a becoming. The form of becoming Plum is experiencing here is becoming-obese. Much like becoming-woman, this is a minoritarian position, which is to say it is “a political affair and necessitates a labor of power, an active micropolitics.” 111 Becoming-obese is not a passive acceptance of yourself (identity or body), but rather embracing the potentiality as a body, a Body without Organs (BwO). Deleuze and Guattari write: A BwO is made in such a way that it can be occupied, populated only by intensities. Only intensities pass and circulate. Still, the BwO is not a scene, a place, or even a support upon which something comes to pass. It has nothing to do with phantasy, there is nothing to interpret. The BwO causes intensities to pass; it produces and distributes them in a spatium that is itself intensive, lacking extension. It is not space, nor is it in space; it is matter that occupies space to a given degree—to the degree corresponding to the intensities produced. 112

The obese body, Plum’s obese body, creates intensities through her body’s presence. In a given space, the obese body becomes a node for others to voice, view, and desire. Becoming-obese is also not an acceptance of the world as it is, but rather changing the dominant narrative through action and creating possibilities through bodily presence as a BwO. Through becomingobese, the body networks, rhizomatically, and connects to the earth and the air. Becoming-obese is the movement from the souterre that changes spaces and allows for not just re-categorization, but complete re-signification. Becoming-obese does not simply deterritorialize a given space. Becomingobese deterritorializes with the possibilities of new becomings, it introduces new lines-of-flight that were previously foreclosed, and remaps desire of the body. Most importantly, becoming-obese directly confronts the neoliberal order of desire through the beauty found outside of products, commodified images, and modifications that reproduce normativity. One of the great ironies of contemporary capitalism’s desire to codify identity is the attempt to mass-produce individuality, and then ostracize any individual that falls outside of the preestablished identity categories. Becoming-obese directly engages with the established order by breaking down the neoliberal and social norms, and, at the same time, questioning the categories of “identity” that are established within the model. Plum’s becoming-obese leads her to helping her mysterious stalker/helper, Leeta. Leeta, a known associate of the women collectively referred to as “Jennifer,” became the face of the vigilante feminist movement. Plum


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watches a young man walk away from her “in his lavender shirt, wondering how it could be that the girl who used to stalk me at the café was now emblazoned on T-shirts like Che Guevara. In a few weeks, Leeta had become both a symbol of rebellion and a fashion statement. She was the face of a movement.” 113 Leeta’s image, at once blazoned high above Times Square, is now also reproduced on a T-shirt, made, as a neoliberal culture is want to do, into a commodity. Nevertheless, when many thought Leeta had fled to the most remote parts of the country, she “had been hiding beneath fifty-two stories of Stanley Austen’s media empire the whole time. I thought of the barricades outside the building and had to smile. The enemy was inside.” 114 The enemy is always inside; the enemy is produced by the inside. When a small section of the population realizes the cultural influence and power of the neoliberal fashion/body industry (as well as the media) and acts against the reproduction of the ideal, the enemy is born—this is to say, the minoritarian and micropolitical are born. Becoming-obese means that we must submerge ourselves into dark places, “Leeta and I had both been underground— she in the Beauty Closet, me in Verena’s basement. New York was full of these dark places.” 115 Like Plum and Leeta, we must go to those dark places that are safe and breed change and resistance. In this instance, the darkness can be precisely what is needed, as Plum realizes when she goes underground: “In the underground apartment, darkness wrapped itself around me. I didn’t resist.” 116 To embrace the darkness is, to some extent, also embracing nonnormative forms of resistance that are often deemed “violent,” “counterproductive,” or “antithetical to the movement.” The darkness is not evil; it is not turning into a bad person. The darkness is the ability to see another side of resistance, to embrace both the visible and the invisible (seen and unseen). New ideas, new life, new ways of becoming emerge from darkness and as such, the darkness should be embraced. Like Plum says with confidence, “I didn’t resist.” To resist the path of resistance, new ways of protest, new approaches to action, places you against the resistance. This does not reinstitute a binary of us/them, but shows a complexity at work: you don’t have to agree with all actions within a resistance, but you ought to support the resistance and its diversity of tactics and understand the various interconnected goals of related movements. Embracing a diversity of tactics, seeing the potentiality in a movement toward the “darkness,” is part of becoming-obese. In the end, becomingobese means “being defiant” and “taking up space.” 117 Becoming-obese creates smaller spaces, revealing the boundaries of imposed constructs, and finding freedom within the world: “It felt good to be free. With unexpected power in my legs, I kept going, racing ahead with the wind and the sun on my face, taking a leap into the wide world, which now seemed too small to contain me.” 118 Becoming-obese directly confronts the neoliberal order of body image, but at the same time creates opportunities to burst through the



constructed limitations, borders, and spaces that dominant cultural sets in front of us. NOTES 1. Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 165–67 (A37/B54-A41/B58). 2. World Health Organization, Obesity: Preventing and Managing the Global Epidemic (Geneva, Switzerland: 2000), 4. 3. See WHO, Obesity, Table 2.1, 9. 4. Kathleen LeBesco, “Neoliberalism, Public Health, and the Moral Perils of Fatness,” Critical Public Health 21 (2011): 160. 5. Ryan King-White, Joshua I. Newman, and Michael D. Giardina, “Articulating Fatness: Obesity and the Scientific Tautologies of Bodily Accumulation in Neoliberal Times,” Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies 35 (2013): 83. 6. See, for example, Paul Campos, The Obesity Myth: Why America’s Obsession with Weight Is Hazardous to Your Health (New York: Gotham Books, 2004); Michael Gard and Jan Wright, The Obesity Epidemic: Science, Morality and Ideology (London: Routledge, 2005); M. G. Franzosi, “Should We Continue to use BMI as a Cardiovascular Risk Factor?” The Lancet 368 (2006): 624–25; Bethan Evans and Rachel Colls, “Measuring Fatness, Governing Bodies: The Spatialities of the Body Mass Index (BMI) in Anti-Obesity Politics,” Antipode 41 (2009): 1051–83; Susan Greenhalgh, “Weighty Subjects: The Biopolitics of the U.S. War on Fat,” American Ethnologist 39 (2012): 471–87; Shannon Jette, Krishna Bhagat, and David L. Andrews, “Governing the Child-Citizen: ‘Let’s Move!’ as National Biopedagogy,” Sport, Education and Society 21 (2016): 1109–26. 7. Lynne Gerber, “Fat Christians and Fit Elites: Negotiating Class and Status in Evangelical Christian Weight-Loss Culture,” American Quarterly 64 (2012): 62–63. 8. WHO, Obesity, 4. 9. Greenhalgh, “Weighty Subjects,” 472–73. See also, Jette, Bhagat, and Andrews, “Governing the Child-Citizen,” 1109–26. 10. See Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 2 (New York: Vintage Books, 1985). 11. Jette, Bhagat, and Andrews, “Governing the Child-Citizen,” 1112. 12. Kate Cairns and Josée Johnson, “Choosing Health: Embodied Neoliberalism, Postfeminism, and the ‘Do-Diet,’” Theory and Society 44 (2015): 155. Also see Jennifer R. Whitson, “Foucault’s Fitbit: Governance and Gamification,” in Gameful World, eds. Steffen P. Walz and Sabastian Deterding (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013), 339–58; Jerry Shannon, “Food Deserts: Governing Obesity in the Neoliberal City,” Progress in Human Geography 38 (2014): 248–66. 13. Julie Guthman and Melanie DuPuis, “Embodying neoliberalism: Economy, Culture, and the Politics of Fat,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 24 (2006): 442. 14. Elizabeth Grosz, Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 80. 15. Grosz, Volatile Bodies, 81. Emphasis original. 16. Grosz, Volatile Bodies, 85. 17. Greenhalgh, “Weighty Subjects,” 471. 18. Greenhalgh, “Weighty Subjects,” 471. 19. Greenhalgh, “Weighty Subjects,” 471. 20. Guthman and DuPuis, “Embodying Neoliberalism,” 434. 21. Lebesco, “Neoliberalism, Public Health,” 154. 22. Guthman and DuPuis, “Embodying Neoliberalism,” 444. 23. For a discussion of the role of reality television in maintaining the neoliberal logic to remake the body, see Carolyn Vander Schee and Kip Kline, “Neoliberal Exploitation in Reality Television: Youth, Health and the Spectacle of Celebrity ‘Concern,’” Journal of Youth Studies


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16 (2013): 565–78. This is also what Deleuze and Guattari refer to this as the “interpreted” body. As opposed to a body that produces new possibilities or lines of flight (a Body without Organs—discussed later), nothing passes through or over the interpreted body. Rather, the interpreted body is read as an indication of some psychoanalytic insight. 24. Karin Sellberg, “The Philosophy of ‘The Gap’: Feminist Fat and Corporeal (Dis)connection,” Somatechnics 4 (2014): 97. 25. Rachel Sanders, “Self-Tracking in the Digital Era: Biopower, Patriarchy, and the New Biometric Body Projects,” Body & Society 23 (2017): 47. 26. See Sander, “Self-Tracking,” 48. 27. See Alison Winch, “‘I Just Think It’s Dirty and Lazy’: Fat Surveillance and Erotic Capital,” Sexualities 19 (2016): 901. 28. Winch, “Fat Surveillance and Erotic Capital,” 903. Also see, Alison Winch, “Brand Intimacy, Female Friendship and Digital Surveillance Networks,” New Formations 84/85 (2015): 228–45. 29. Sarai Walker, Dietland (New York: Mariner Books, 2016), 23. 30. Walker, Dietland, 34. 31. Walker, Dietland, 36. 32. For “normalizing judgment” see Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1977), 177–84. I will discuss this in more detail below. 33. Walker, Dietland, 37. 34. Walker, Dietland, 4. 35. Walker, Dietland, 5. 36. Walker, Dietland, 6, 8. 37. Peter Hopkins, “Everyday Politics of Fat,” Antipode 44 (2012): 1234. 38. Anna Kirkland, “Think of the Hippopotamus: Rights Consciousness in the Fat Acceptance Movement,” Law and Society Review 42 (2008): 411 (397–431); quoted in Hopkins, “Everyday Politics of Fat,” 1234. 39. Walker, Dietland, 107. Hopkins relates similar narratives in his young adult subjects. See Hopkins, “Everyday Politics of Fat,” 1236. 40. Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 141–49. 41. Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on the Societies of Control,” October 59 (1992): 7. 42. Walker, Dietland, 20. 43. Walker, Dietland, 24. 44. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 16. 45. Walker, Dietland, 27. 46. Walker, Dietland, 142. 47. Winch, “Fat Surveillance and Erotic Capital,” 900–901. 48. See Sanders, “Self Tracking in the Digital Era,” 41. 49. This is very much a form of Foucault’s governmentality. For a comparison of Deleuze’s concept of “control” and Foucault’s “discipline” and “governmentality,” see Mark G. E. Kelly, “Discipline Is Control: Foucault Contra Deleuze” New Formations 84/85 (2015): 148–62. 50. See Guthman and DuPuis, “Embodying Neoliberalism,” 444. Quoted above. 51. Cairns and Johnson, “Choosing Health,” 154. 52. Walker, Dietland, 7. 53. Walker, Dietland, 42. 54. Walker, Dietland, 48. 55. Walker, Dietland, 48. 56. Walker, Dietland, 48. 57. Walker, Dietland, 48–49. 58. Walker, Dietland, 49. 59. Walker, Dietland, 7. 60. Vikki Chalklin, “Obstinate Fatties: Fat Activism, Queer Negativity, and the Celebration of ‘Obesity,’” Subjectivity 9 (2016): 109. 61. See Robyn Longhurst, “Becoming Smaller: Autobiographical Spaces of Weight Loss,” Antipode 44 (2012): 874.



62. Chalklin, “Obstinate Fatties,” 113. 63. Walker, Dietland, 3. 64. See Walker, Dietland, 69–70. 65. Walker, Dietland, 75, 100. 66. Walker, Dietland, 47. 67. See Walker, Dietland, 212–13. 68. Walker, Dietland, 85, 86. 69. Walker, Dietland, 92. 70. Walker, Dietland, 213. 71. Walker, Dietland, 107. 72. Walker, Dietland, 108. 73. Walker, Dietland, 110. 74. Walker, Dietland, 137. 75. Walker, Dietland, 144. 76. Walker, Dietland, 149. 77. Walker, Dietland, 149. 78. Walker, Dietland, 149–50. 79. Walker, Dietland, 159. 80. Walker, Dietland, 150. 81. Walker, Dietland, 173. 82. Walker, Dietland, 174. 83. Walker, Dietland, 174. 84. Walker, Dietland, 174. 85. Walker, Dietland, 175. 86. Walker, Dietland, 176. 87. Walker, Dietland, 176. 88. Walker, Dietland, 179. 89. See Walker, Dietland, 174–75. 90. Walker, Dietland, 116. 91. Walker, Dietland, 153. 92. Walker, Dietland, 116. 93. Walker, Dietland, 116. 94. Walker, Dietland, 197. 95. Walker, Dietland, 201. 96. Walker, Dietland, 217. 97. Walker, Dietland, 221–22. 98. Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (New York: Routledge, 1990), 184. 99. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature, trans. Dana Polan (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), 13. 100. Grosz, Volatile Bodies, 174. 101. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 291. 102. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 291. Deleuze and Guattari also warn against confusing “‘minoritarian,’ as a becoming or a process, with a ‘minority,’ as an aggregate or a state.” 103. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 291 104. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 291. 105. Walker, Dietland, 222. 106. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 292. 107. While Plum does go shopping and reproduces Leeta’s look, Plum is not fully becomingobese. She is still figuring her “new” self out and tries this by stepping into the shoes of someone she likes and respects. The point here is that she no longer wants to merely blend it, be part of the background of the city. She wants to be seen. 108. Walker, Dietland, 237. 109. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 292. 110. Walker, Dietland, 240. 111. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 292.


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112. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 153. As Elizabeth Grosz makes clear, “The BwO does not oppose or reject organs but is opposed to the structure or organization of bodies, the body as it is stratified, regulated, ordered, and functional, as it is subordinated to the exigencies of property and propriety.” Grosz, Volatile Bodies, 169–70. 113. Walker, Dietland, 225. 114. Walker, Dietland, 301. 115. Walker, Dietland, 304–5. 116. Walker, Dietland, 179. 117. Walker, Dietland, 222. 118. Walker, Dietland, 307.

Chapter Four

Remapping the Story

Literature has often been seen as subversive and dangerous to a population. Hence the list of banned books and the continued efforts of some parent associations, schoolboards, right-wing activist groups, churches, and various religious or conservative institutions to restrict certain titles from entering schools. These “problem” books are thought to give children the wrong impressions of the world or introduce them to ideas that might question, if not outright challenge belief structures, outmoded ideologies, naturalized social norms, or introduce readers to different, new, and alternative ways of living. This is to say, literature, like all art, helps create a thinking populace that can see beyond words on the page, make connections between the textual world and the lived world, and make more critical insights into societal structures based on empathetic readings of different cultures and social practices. While the untrained reader might not articulate his/her experience in this way, it is more or less common knowledge that the more one reads—not just literary fiction, but just about anything—the more likely one empathizes with people from different races, religions, regions, and cultures. 1 Indeed, empathy for other types of lived experiences (i.e., race, gender, sexuality, immigration status, etc.) is a dire need in the United States at the current moment. However, there is more to literature than producing empathy for someone different than yourself. As these three previous chapters have shown, literature can provide insight into our spatial constructions and movement, our “becomings,” and our consumption. As I have attempted to show, literature, from any period, can not only speak to our current moment, but also be utilized as a means to construct new ways of living that challenge neoliberalism, as well as the interconnected institutions that rely upon and support global capitalism. In this brief conclusion, I want to bring together



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some of the unifying themes among these disparate literatures and provide a new literary roadmap for radical literary spatial readings. In his text on literary spatiality, Robert Tally argues that cartography and literature “only represent reality through figurative means.” 2 He continues, “The representation of reality, a goal of both narratives and maps, is thus tied to genre, which Medvedev also calls ‘the aggregate of the means for seeing and conceptualizing reality.’” 3 Genre represents reality in particular, identifiable, distinctive ways. Which means, in order to represent reality, the author must choose the path (via literary mapping) that best suits the type of story he/she is narrating. “Genres,” Fredric Jameson writes, “are essentially literary institutions, or social contracts between a writer and a specific public, whose function is to specify the proper use of a particular cultural artefact.” 4 Indeed, medieval romances, for example, adhere to specific courtly tropes and chivalric codes that create, structure, and satisfy the expectations of the readers. Through these expectations, the genre becomes codified and allows authors to expand and amend the genre through new forms of literary mapping. These literary inventions augment reality based on how the author chooses to structure the narrative—again, as Tally argues, the narrative serves as a map that the reader interprets to find his/her way through the (fictional) world. However, Deleuze and Guattari believe this literary map may be “torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation.” 5 This is precisely the type of literary analysis I advocate and demonstrate in the first three chapters. Dietland directly addresses the issues of neoliberalism, but this is somewhat expected in such a conscious and deliberate contemporary novel. Ywain and Gawain as a fifteenth-century romance and The Tempest as a Renaissance drama are, prima facia, not historically, linguistically, or ideologically equipped to address issues such as state-sponsored neoliberal capitalism and radical politics of the twenty-first century. These texts, then, must be remapped while maintaining a fidelity to the “geography” (i.e., the language) of the text. My reading of all three texts utilized the philosophical, and one might argue distinctly spatial, concepts of Deleuze and Guattari. These concepts serve as the frame for the literary remapping and from this, a new kind of mounting proceeds. In What is Philosophy?, Deleuze and Guattari write, “new concepts must relate to our problems, to our history, and, above all, to our becomings.” 6 By using Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts—which speak “to our problems”—the new literary map of these texts are, by the very nature of the frame, going to make the texts relevant to our moment and extricate them from their historicity. In other words, all three literary texts develop new types of “becoming.” As a result, the three temporally distinct pieces of literature are rhizomatically connected and create a line of flight toward forms of resistance based on an anarchist or radical reading of literature.

Remapping the Story


In each of the three chapters, spatial change comes through some aspect of becoming. In chapters 1 and 2, becoming-animal is essential for dynamic change to occur. Ywain becomes a “wilde beast” that leads to him becoming an anonymous nomadic insurgent (1654). 7 I described this as a deterritorialization of the self, where Ywain’s ontological and epistemological comportment dramatically shifts. But this significant shift is more than a deterritorialization. Much like Caliban, Ywain does not exist in the same world as he previously did after becoming a “wilde beast.” Recall Caliban’s stationary state and his becoming-animal put him in a space that offsets and challenges the basic assumptions of the dominant power. Similarly, his experience of “becoming-animal” makes Ywain an agent of deterritorialization that directly challenges “castle culture”—that is, dominant power. In Caliban and Ywain’s cases, their connection to the natural world marks them as something aberrant and gives them the ability to not only move in different spaces, but also to create new, dynamic spaces that manifest difference and resistance to oppressive power structures. What is important about these two cases, as well as Plum in Dietland, is the interplay between space, identity, and becoming. The spaces (the island for Caliban, the castle for Ywain, and the city for Plum) create a necessity for a different type of action, but this behavior is not always consistent with cultural norms. A new “identity” is constructed by these characters, but it is much deeper than simply identity. These three characters all experience an ontological shift that occurs through becomings—but this is often read as merely a change in identity—which as Elizabeth Grosz reminds us are not simply a matter of choice, not simply a decision, but always involve a substantial remaking of the subject, a major risk to the subject’s integration and social functioning. One cannot become-animal at will and then cease and function normally. It is not something that can be put on or taken off like a cloak or an activity. Nonetheless, what Deleuze and Guattari make clear is that there is a kind of wildness, pivots of unpredictability, elements whose trajectories, connections, and future relations remain unpredictable. 8

Indeed, there is a “wildness” and “unpredictability” to Caliban, Ywain, and Plum. The trajectories of these characters appear erratic, but it is precisely this appearance of unpredictability that makes these characters dangerous to the societal norms they are challenging. These becomings (Caliban and Ywain becoming-animal, and Plum becoming-obese) do more than challenge oppressive norms and practices, they change the spaces that the characters pass through. Deleuze and Guattari write that becomings “are absolute deterritorializations, at least in principle, that penetrate deep into the desert world.” 9 Deleuze and Guattari speak to becoming-animal affecting the “desert world” of Kafka, but their point pushes toward the horizon of all becomings and Baudrillard’s “desert of the real.” 10


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If we apply these becomings to Baudrillard’s retelling of Borges’s fable (discussed in the introduction), the map is no longer static and (pre)determined, but rather changeable, malleable, and possesses areas that if not undiscovered are completely new creations. These becomings, as Deleuze and Guattari argue, are lines of flight: lines of flight are highly charged kinetic energy bound up in society and when released shoot through the control mechanisms within society. Lines of flight are not literal energy, but may take many forms: oppressed groups liberating themselves, technology being utilized in new, unanticipated ways, historical literature decontextualized, to name just a few examples from infinite possibilities. These lines shoot off in a diagonal and not the normative grid and ninety-degree angles. Lines of flight through their unique movement pass beyond the limits of what exists and create new spaces and ontologies. In this sense, the nature of the “reality” becomes almost secondary to the ability to change, challenge, and shift ontologies. Indeed, there are deep connections between space, reality, and our ontology. Through concepts like becomings, lines of flight, and deterritorialization, the ideas I discuss attempt to show that through exploring and experimenting with new ways of existing, our reality will shift with the becomings. To be clear, becomings do not determine space and space does not determine becoming; rather, there is a consistent, perpetual, and integrated relationship between space and becoming that is not strictly causal. These two elements affect each other in equally unpredictable ways, but importantly, a new trajectory is plotted. Here lies the core of this analysis and project: to show the possible interventions into both space and becoming as a means to create new trajectories that will constitute new “realities”—hyper or otherwise. Trajectories and becomings do not fall out of the sky. New realities do not just appear. Work must be done and there must be a movement underground. Plum and Caliban both look underground for their becomings: Plum literally goes underground into the basement of a brownstone and Caliban with his “long nails will dig” to unearth new possibilities. 11 Both of these movements underground are what allow for their becoming to take root. Only by going underground can the new emerge and remake and remap space. Accessing the souterre punctures the “desert of the real,” and what emerges is a new type of becoming. When this new mode of existence emerges, it further perforates the map of reality and makes new spaces that are not gridded by the map. This new space exists within the map but isn’t of the map. This is how resistance to neoliberalism occurs: the map of capitalism can be punctured, ripped, torn, and shredded by becoming-animal, becoming-obese, or any type of becoming. New spaces are created through becoming and the map of reality can be completely remade, but it cannot be done on the same level on which this reality is constructed. Hence, we must go underground, souterre to develop and become. This is not, however, the space of resis-

Remapping the Story


tance. Resistance can only occur on the site of “reality” and this is done by creating fractures or perforations in the fabric of the neoliberal capitalist and statist reality. This is what all three literary texts show: a becoming that took place “elsewhere,” but then a return to the normative society to cause disruptions in that reality. Ywain and Plum’s actions are clear indications of what the nomad, as the agent of disruption, as an insurgent can accomplish. Ywain remakes spaces not only by passing through them, but also by disrupting the status quo within castles. He remains outside of “castle culture,” yet gains access to the castle. Once inside, his actions fracture the social practices of that castle, usually through some type of challenge, test, or fight. A new “normal” is established in place of the previous practice. Through his becoming-animal, he returns to society and its “reality,” but in doing so establishes another way of living in the world that does not deal in oppression or inequity. Similarly, Plum emerges from underground not as a “new person,” but as herself, “For the first time, I didn’t mind taking up space.” 12 Plum’s becoming is an act of defiance to the body image industry and its efforts to construct our ideas of body. Like Ywain, it is not just her presence, but the way in which Plum takes up space. She occupies space unapologetically, if not assertively and aggressively. She is not forcing herself on to society; rather, she is demanding a remaking of society and she attempts to puncture the reality constructed by neoliberalism. Ywain and Plum become nomads that deterritorialize capitalist and statist spaces. Through their becoming and their movement through space, these two characters show how nomads present a direct threat to the oppressive and unequal practices of normative society and social spaces. This resistance is, in the language of Deleuze and Guattari, minoritarian. These characters, through their becoming reenter the world as “minorities” and in direct opposition to the “majority.” This minority has nothing to do with a count, with numbers. Rather, they possess qualities that are not only outside of societal norms (the majority), these qualities are antagonistic to the majority. The characters’ becomings move them from the majority into the minority: “All becoming is minoritarian.” 13 Their becoming is, unto itself, an act of creation and creation is part of the “minoritarian consciousness.” These three distinct literatures create a minoritarian consciousness through the characters of Ywain, Caliban, and Plum. These creations in turn [address] powers (puissances) of becoming that belong to a different realm from that of Power (Pouvoir) and Domination. Continuous variation constitutes the becoming-minoritarian of everybody. . . . Becoming-minoritarian as the universal figure of consciousness is called autonomy. It is certainly not by using a minor language as a dialect, by regionalizing or ghettoizing, that one becomes revolutionary; rather, by using a number of minority elements, by connecting, conjugating them, one invents a specific, unforeseen, autonomous becoming. 14


Chapter 4

All three of these characters are examples of an “unforeseen, autonomous becoming.” This is why these particular literary pieces, as well as many others from different times and genres, are important for understanding and articulating new becomings, forms of resistance, and revolutionary possibilities. We need not, in fact we should not attempt to reproduce these types of becomings exactly, but rather embrace the processes of becoming as a means to create a new minoritarian consciousness. Minor literature can aid this process and offer insight into new becomings. Deleuze and Guattari write, “Production of intensive quantities in the social body, proliferation and precipitation of series, polyvalent and collective connections brought about by the bachelor agent—there is no other definition possible for a minor literature.” 15 These literary works, just like the characters contained in them, produce lines of flight and intensities within society. All of this is to say, the work itself does precisely what its contents proclaim. While the pieces of literature I have chosen here are very much part of the major literatures: medieval romances and Shakespeare’s plays are requisite reading for any English major and many people have read at least one Shakespeare play in high school. Dietland was initially marketed as a “beach read” or “chic lit,” but this text obviously exceeds any generic category. 16 By choosing texts like these and offering an analysis that shows the minor qualities of the texts, they are no longer literary texts to be studied. These texts become the types of weapons that Deleuze refers to in “Postscript on Societies of Control.” 17 These are weapons of and for justice, liberty, and equality. These texts and other minor literature can be used as a map for radical becomings, which, in turn, directly spatially challenge neoliberal capitalism and statist ideologies. We need to continue to remap narratives, finding minor literature so that we can move beyond these oppressive ideologies and seek justice for those that are oppressed, justice for those whose identity is policed, and justice for everyone that is adversely affected by state-sponsored neoliberalism. This type of justice is not found in a court system or in the formation of laws. When the state protects businesses, corporations are considered people, and lawmakers receive money from multinational corporations, the laws cannot be trusted to be in the best interest of the people. As Deleuze and Guattari write, “Where one believed there was the law, there is in fact desire and desire alone. Justice is desire and not law.” 18 Essentially, becomings, revolutionary action, subversion, and resistance are all a matter of desire production. Desire for equality, liberty, and solidarity with those who desire to see these values instituted in daily life are the hallmarks of anarchism. The minor literatures discussed here all work toward or show a desire for these values. A Deleuzian reading and analysis of literature does not constitute an anarchist reading of a text. However, anarchist ideas are in many ways connected to the concepts devised by Deleuze and Guattari. I attempted to utilize

Remapping the Story


these ontological concepts as a means to further strengthen the foundation of current anarchist thought and at the same time link anarchist ideas to other radical thinkers who are not considered anarchist. Much like reading a text as minor literature, I read Deleuze and Guattari with an eye to anarchism. By highlighting the similarities, overlaps, and intersections, we create a new space of literary analysis; one that is not only imbued with Deleuzian radical politics, but also carries an edge of anarchism. In this way, my analyses are gesturing toward an anarchist reading and a remapping of traditional literature and criticism. As corporations continue to globalize, state power is exercised more visibly, and as people begin to connect in new ways, spaces of resistance will become increasingly more common. We will need new lines of flight, new becomings, and we will need more maps to help us create successful resistances. As I have shown, literature can be one type of map, but there are other ways, other means toward successful spatial resistance. In the next section, I move out of literary fiction and into the digital aspects of resistance. As much as reading can help map our resistance, the practicality and function of the internet and digital devices can be used to help realize and navigate the new spaces and landscapes that affect us on a daily basis. If this section is an effort to shift the landscape through a theoretical remapping, then the next is an exercise in practical resistance that takes place on this new map of reality. Curiously, this new map of reality takes place in a digital rhizome that mediates our experiences with the physical world. This digital reality does not replace or overlay the physical world, but rather augments it, presents and provides intensities and lines of flight for new spatially connected (and weaponized) agents of resistance. With our new maps of becoming in hand, we will now move from the fictional and theoretical to the digital and experimental. NOTES 1. See, for example, Julianne Chiaet, “Novel Finding: Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy,” Scientific American, October 4, 2013, novel-finding-reading-literary-fiction-improves-empathy/; Alison Flood, “Literary Fiction Readers Understand Others’ Emotions Better, Study Finds” The Guardian, August 23, 2016,; Michael Fischer, “Literature and Empathy,” Philosophy and Literature 41 (2017): 431–64. 2. Robert Tally, Spatiality (New York: Routledge, 2012), 59. 3. Tally, Spatiality, 59. 4. Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Symbolic Act (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981), 106–7. 5. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1987), 12. 6. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What Is Philosophy?, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 27.


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7. Albert B. Friedman and Norman T. Harrington, ed., Ywain and Gawain (London: EETS, o.s. 254, 1964). 8. Elizabeth Grosz, Volatile Bodies: Towards a Corporeal Feminism (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994), 174. 9. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), 13. 10. Jean Baudrillard, Simulation and Simulacra, trans. Sheila Faria Glaser (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994), 1. 11. William Shakespeare, The Tempest, ed. G. Blakemore Evans, The Riverside Shakespeare, 2nd Edition (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997), 2.2.168. 12. Sarai Walker, Dietland (New York: Mariner Books, 2016), 222. 13. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 106. 14. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 106. 15. Deleuze and Guattari, Kafka, 71. 16. The Amazon reviews of Dietland show a large amount of readers enjoying the text, but also proclaiming their surprise at its content. 17. See Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on Societies of Control,” October 59 (1992), 4. 18. Deleuze and Guattari, Kafka, 49.

Chapter Five

Digital Spaces and the Rise of Hacktivism

The internet has led to unprecedented levels of connectivity around the world. People are able to maintain contact with distant friends and family, read news from disparate parts of the world, and access vast amounts of information and knowledge with minimal effort. Through its profound level of connectivity, the digital spaces of the internet possess the capability to unite large groups of people around a single cause or help rally support for protests and other forms of resistance. However, the effectiveness of online organization and protest, and the trend of online social justice more generally is a hotly contested issue. 1 While connectivity can generate empowerment through a multiplicity of voices and so-called hashtag activism can bring social justice issues into daily discourse, the power of the internet to develop organically and to create new forms of knowledge and associations across the arts, sciences, and various modes of existence is suppressed by the corporate and state control of digital space. Corporations rely upon the internet for sales, marketing, branding, communication, and interfacing with the consuming public. Similarly, governments maintain a large online presence and devote large amounts of money for online surveillance and “national security.” Corporations and states utilize various mechanisms as a means to dominate digital space and control online traffic. These elements of control function both invisibly and in plain sight and affect the structure of the internet, consequently mitigating users’ freedom to control their online destinations and paths. Nevertheless, the internet can be a space that challenges these controlling institutions and ultimately changes perceptions in the physical world. Due to the deep connectivity that the internet offers, coupled with the important role it plays in everyday operations, there is a growing necessity to create digital spaces that 95


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are free from controlling institutional powers. As such, there is an urgency to mount resistance against the ever increasing corporate/state regulation, striation, and surveillance of space both digital and physical. Athina Karatzogianni, in her wonderful assessment of digital resistance in Firebrand Waves of Digital Activism 1994–2014: The Rise and Spread of Hacktivism and Cyberconflict, outlines three orders of digital dissent. The first order deals with basic human rights such as right to education, health, and justice. “At the second order of dissent,” Karatzogianna writes, “demands are more overtly political, encompassing demands for democracy and equality of political participation, equal distribution of power and resources, and freedom of speech and movement.” 2 She continues: At the third order of dissent, concern for the global predominates, a critique which points to the failing of the capitalist order as a whole and to a recognition of postnational or transnational issues and demands for a reform or radical change of capitalism to address issues of global inequality and poverty, as well as national financial and economic realities, such as unemployment, exploitation, corruption, unequal distributions of wealth, and so on. 3

In this chapter, I look at the ways in which the internet functions as a space of challenge through hacktivism, or direct digital action through the third order of dissent. While I reference actions that might be part of the second order of dissent, given the all-consuming nature of neoliberalism, actions such as DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks can be most effective on the global scale. Using Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s concepts of the rhizome, smooth and striated space, and the nomad, I argue that through its spatial construction and connectivity, the internet possesses the ability to openly challenge oppressive global institutions through establishing smooth digital spaces and deterritorializing controlled corporate-statist striated spaces. THE RHIZOMATIC INTERNET The earliest iterations of the now ubiquitous “internet” began with ARPANET, which was only accessible at various hubs, often located at military bases, large tech companies, and universities. As personal computing gained popularity in the late 1970s, more people began developing software and sought to connect with each other. The 1980s saw non-programmers buying computers for their home (i.e., the Apple IIe). By the early 1990s, computers had become standard in schools and in the homes of many middle-class Americans. With the rapid rise of personal computing, the desire to connect grew; initial iterations of online connectivity brought Internet Relay Channels (IRCs) and Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs). However, early webpages

Digital Spaces and the Rise of Hacktivism


were static and only provided standard information on a topic with little user interaction. Until the introduction of hypertext, pages did not connect to other content directly but might reference different domain names that had to be entered directly into the browser. In this early manifestation of the internet, users were primarily consumers of content and could not directly interact with each other or the content on the page (with the obvious exceptions of the IRCs and BBSs). As developers began devising new technologies, the everexpanding web dramatically increased connectivity not just from person to person via IRCs and BBSs, but through hypertext, interconnected webpages, social media, and live chat. With the introduction of hypertext, developers and critics began to see the internet as structurally different: a digital rhizome. A term borrowed from organic, underground plant structures, Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizome is a concept of spatial interconnectivity. The rhizome is a radical departure from traditional ways of thinking, writing, and ultimately understanding the world; the conceptual rhizome is premised on the existence of broad but relatable connections among seemingly disparate concepts, objects, or entities as opposed to isolated singular constructions that arose completely independently, disassociated from anything previous. As early as 1993, Kathleen Burnett theorized that hypertext exemplifies the rhizome by embedding and linking ideas, concepts, and related web content together. 4 More recently, Leandro Viera and Marcos Ferasso made the case for the internet’s rhizomatic structure, concluding that the internet is “full of lines and points that connect to each other continuously, links, multiple entryways and exits, aggregating structures that sometimes accrete into bulbs and sometimes into tubercles; sometimes they break and form new lines, new pathways and may reappear in other coordinates of the virtual universe.” 5 Like the organic rhizome, the internet is malleable and ever changing. The internet’s pliability powers its connectivity. Deleuze and Guattari write: “A rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles.” 6 Computer code serves as a semiotic chain acting as an entryway to various organizations of power, brought together through the connective structure of the internet. Because of the complex, morphing structure of the internet, there is no singular “center” of the internet but rather multiple strategically interconnected network and router centers— hosted by commercial, government, and academic institutions—that support the majority of internet traffic, referred to as the internet backbone. As Tim Jordan and Paul Taylor explain: The Internet is centralised because it uses a translation between numbers and letters to define the location of Internet resources. When someone types into their browser then these letters are automatically translated into numbers such as, which the Internet’s routers and


Chapter 5 computers then use to identify the resource being requested. This allows people to work mainly with letters and computers with numbers, each playing to their respective strengths. However, a central database is also needed to ensure numbers and letters match each other. 7

Again, this “central database” is not an absolute center with a singular location from which all things digital emanate, but rather consists of thirteen interconnected primary root Domain Name Systems (DNS) scattered throughout the world. While internet traffic must, to some degree, pass through a DNS, this is not a singular route—there are many avenues available. From these DNSs, new smaller centers may arise creating longer interconnected branches that envelop and embrace each other, forming a large interconnected network. Deleuze and Guattari further state that the rhizome possesses the principles of multiplicity and asignifying rupture. Multiplicities, they argue, are “flat,” like a geometrical plane, and are only defined by “the abstract line, the line of flight or deterritorialization according to which they change in nature and connect with other multiplicities.” 8 A rhizome is not a singular entity with only one use, rather it has multiple functions that are constantly changing, fluctuating, redefining, and morphing based on need, desire, and participation. We use the terms “internet,” “web,” and to a lesser degree, but with important lexical attributes, “cyberspace,” to attempt to unify the multiplicity that is online content and connectivity. Due to the deep connectivity of online content, the multiplicity changes with the addition and subtraction of content. The shifting of the multiplicity occurs, in part, through the related principle of asignifying rupture. This principle states that the rhizome may be broken up, split or “shattered at a given spot, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines.” 9 The rhizome may rupture, or an aspect of the rhizome may rupture, but this only gives birth to a new aspect of the rhizome, producing new potentialities previously not realized, or what Deleuze and Guattari call “lines of flight.” Through the connectedness of the internet, new websites, links, videos, files, and content are created by the very nature of interaction with previous content; one website may cease to exist, but a new one with similar content may appear. Or more radically, a new site begins through an expansion of previous ideas or concepts (consider how a site like Buzzfeed exists because a social media site like Facebook exists). Both of these principles of multiplicity and asignification posit a necessary spatialization contained in the conceptual and practical “internet.” The principle of mapping further refines the spatiality of the internet. Deleuze and Guattari contrast mapping with tracing. Cartography, they argue, allows for a new vision of something known, for new connections between entities that are revealed through novel exploration. They write:

Digital Spaces and the Rise of Hacktivism


What distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real. . . . The map is open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification. It can be torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation. It can be drawn on a wall, conceived of as a work of art, constructed as a political action or as a meditation. 10

The malleability of the map affords the rhizome its power. The cartographic nature of the rhizomatic internet is twofold. First, as noted, the terms “net” and “web” not only lend themselves to the connectivity of online content, but they also suggest cartography: a mapping of online content that can be followed and/or plotted. The mapping of online content on a small scale, such as a website, serves as “experimentation in contact with the real.” Something as simple as checking the hours of a business online leads to a material effect. In this case the website performs as a map plotting movements and connecting both digital and physical entities: the content (i.e., hours of operation) help determine the movement of the use in physical space and through time. On a larger scale the internet maps various ideas, places, businesses, videos, blogs, and information through links. As Martin Speer notes, “The possibility to connect every linking point with another one inside a closed web production is enhanced by interlinking it with archived material (that is, enhancing spatial depth and compressing historic time). . . . The number of possible paths increases and becomes nearly incalculable as hyperlinks interconnect sentences or words or images with different net archives or web productions across the whole globe.” 11 Not only does Speer posit the cartography of the internet (“enhancing spatial depth” through newly developed “paths”), but also the ways in which the internet maps global points through informational nodes. In other words, a place on the internet (say, the Lexington Books website) unifies people from various points in the world, thus creating a new map based on information and knowledge acquisition. In a more radical sense, digital content is mapped onto the physical world where the flow between the digital and the physical feed each other by creating new ways of thinking and acting, changing the way the world functions through experimentation. This type of cartography can create new lines of flight that could change the rhizomatic structure of the internet, as well as create new immanent affects. Mapping in this sense touches on the second aspect of the cartographic nature of the internet. The internet can be a map of an individual’s interests, behavior, desires, politics, and ethics. More than simply viewing someone’s search history, the networking functions of the internet allow for individuals to be tracked, traced, and watched. The Internet Protocol (IP) address of every computer can be attained with relative ease and monitored to reveal online behaviors and interests. Through mapping a person’s online browsing habits, a map can


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be drawn to create a fuller picture of an individual’s cognitive/libidinal landscape. 12 The rhizomatic internet does not just connect digital places but also connects individuals to those places: we are part of the rhizome. We are part of the rhizome that bridges the digital and the physical or what Deleuze and Guattari call “intensities.” Intensities are spatio-temporal events actualized in states of affairs. Even when we are not online, digital content affects our thoughts, communication, and interactions. Bernd Frohmann notes the importance of these affects: “From the perspective of affects, the question is not, for example, about the effects of the Internet on a person, group, institution, or place (locality), but about the intensities generated by digitally mediated connections between bodies that make it possible for bodies to change, mutate, and become capable of new actions in new assemblages.” 13 The virtual (in both the Deleuzian and colloquial senses) and the immanent are intimately tied together, allowing the rhizome to spread beyond its digital manifestation in new forms of becoming and possibility. Herein lies the power and importance of the rhizomatic internet. With its decentered, morphological, and cartographic configuration, the internet possesses the ability to connect people in novel ways, enhance new ways of approaching the lived world, and be a site of radical possibility. As Athina Karatzogianni notes, “organized protests through Internetted movements in rhizomatically organized sociopolitical networks has been historically a frequent occurrence in mass mobilizations since 1999 in Seattle with the antiglobalization movement.” 14 However, due to the productive power of the rhizome, desire to control the power, and therefore the structure of the internet, makes it a contested space. The internet’s spatiality goes beyond the idea of “cyberspace” and directly affects digital activism’s ability to be productive, useful, and coherent. THE SPATIAL INTERNET Smooth space, as conceptualized by Deleuze and Guattari, allows for the creation of new identities, forms of becoming, and material innovation. Those who reside in this undetermined space decide how and for what purpose the space may be used. Unlike the striated space that is determined by an institution (i.e., a state or corporation) with a singular, unwavering use. The inhabitant of striated space might be able to voice their desire to use the space in a certain way, but the space, as well as its inhabitants are always subject to the power of the determining institution. Mark Nunes attempted to read the digital space of internet in terms of smooth and striated space: “‘The variability, the polyvocality of directions’ that Deleuze and Guattari associate with the rhizome and smooth space equally describes the topography of hypertext: a ‘localized and not delimited’

Digital Spaces and the Rise of Hacktivism


variable cartography (382). In place of the ‘relative global’ of the cybernetic city, the World Wide Web’s hypertextual links create a nomadic ‘local absolute’ (382).” 15 To Nunes’s credit, he was writing at the time when so-called Web 2.0 was emerging, bringing increased connectivity via hypertext, social networking sites more advanced than the BBSs, and new scripts that allowed for video. Nunes saw the potential for a hyperlinked web but overestimated its smoothness. Nunes importantly identifies that hypertext can expose “a nomadic information space by providing an interface that allows users to ‘move’ in a non-linear or multilinear fashion.” 16 However, non- or multilinear navigation occurs where links are provided by the website designer who controls where the links direct the user; thus, this movement is not without some direction or channeling. 17 Online movement may also be mediated through a corporate entity, which makes determinations based on a proprietary algorithm or commercial interest. Furthermore, the construction of the sites themselves is not necessarily designed to optimize the user’s experience but to include advertising, via corporately sponsored links. Most importantly, simply moving nonlinearly does not necessarily make movement nomadic or create smooth space. The rhizomatic structure of the internet allows for, if not requires, nonlinear movement. However, this type of navigation is possible within striated space without changing or disrupting the configuration of that space. An analysis of Nunes’s claim makes visible the perceived freedom the internet offers: nonlinear movement and connection are based on a user’s desires, but desires suggested, channeled, and facilitated by corporate entities. While Nunes sees the potential of a smooth digital space, Ian Buchanan views the internet as solely a means for consumers to satisfy commercial or material desires: In its first blush, the Internet seemed to be about connectedness, but that idea has since been exposed as a perhaps necessary but nonetheless impossible ideal. . . . [The internet] is predominantly used to search for objects, i.e., commodities, and in the case of pornography and celebrity gossip one may well say it is searching for people in their guise as commodities. A lot of quiet utopian claims have been made on behalf of the Internet, the strongest being that it has so changed the way people interact it has created a new mode of politics. But it now seems clear that it is just another “model of realisation,” Deleuze and Guattari’s term for the institutions capitalism relies on to extract surplus value from a given economy. 18

Buchanan views the internet as a means to satisfy cultural commodity-fetishism. He sees the web as a means of perpetuating the desire for commodities but does not value the internet as a means of social organization or a site of protest. I will not disagree that corporations, commodities, and consumerism largely populate the internet. In fact, I believe Buchanan makes an important


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point about the role of capitalism on the internet. An overt corporate presence, an unending flow of products, and a barrage of marketing striate digital space. Citing Tiziana Terrenova’s 2003 article “Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy,” Karatzogianni writes, “the Internet is rather ‘a mutation that is totally immanent to late capitalism, not so much a break as an intensification, and therefore a mutation, of a widespread cultural and economic logic.’ She explains that cultural flows are originating within a field that is always already capitalism, which is channeling collective labour into monetary flows and its structuration within capitalist business practices.” 19 Furthermore, most of our interactions online are somehow mediated through corporate interests. Even if what we are doing online is not directly related to a corporation through consumerism, we use sites like Facebook to connect to friends and use Google to help navigate the digital space and find information across the vast web of “cyberspace.” The term “cyberspace,” while dated, touches on an important element of not just the development of the internet (as historical), but also the continued immanent effects of web development (as political). “Cyberspace” was first used in William Gibson’s 1984 science fiction novel, Neuromancer. In Gibson’s novel, individuals connect to “cyberspace” by linking their consciousness directly into digital networks. These people are able to navigate this space through thought without ever leaving the comfort of their chairs. While we are not traversing the internet with solely our minds, connecting to and navigating digital networks is something quite familiar to us. The mind is capable of occupying digital spaces that are as real as the physical environment. Accessing sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or playing online roleplaying games is akin to going to a place (i.e., a bar) to meet friends, discuss issues, engage with new people, and share information. For instance, you may have an authentic interaction with a “Friend” on Facebook in which you plan to meet each other after not seeing one another for years. While this digital connection is generative and actualizes material effects, the space of this interaction is still mediated by a corporate entity. From the perspective of affects and intensities that make possible new assemblages, 20 corporate social media becomes an invisible actor in communications, connections, and various types of digital interaction. In time, we will not be able to imagine digital communication without corporate mediation. Furthermore, these entities often dictate the type of communication that takes place in a designated space: they are mechanisms of control that are passively consumed and obeyed. The strictures imposed by these spaces are indicative of striated spaces, if not inherent to them. The freedom to navigate, interact, and learn online is a freedom determined, constructed, and profited from by corporations. This is precisely the corporate environment that allows Deleuze to proclaim that we “no longer pass through the old factory form” and we have entered a “society of control.” 21 However, as I will show shortly, the internet

Digital Spaces and the Rise of Hacktivism


is not entirely reducible to Buchanan’s commodity fetishism or corporately controlled striated space. As is now common knowledge, the U.S. government (as well as many other national and local governments) has a vast surveillance network. 22 Tracking online behaviors is a part of the new society of control. Deleuze writes that Felix Guattari “imagined a city where one would be able to leave one’s apartment, one’s street, one’s neighborhood, thanks to one’s (dividual) electronic card that raises a given barrier; but the card could just as easily be rejected on a given day or between certain hours; what counts is not the barrier but the computer that tracks each person’s position—licit or illicit— and effects a universal modulation.” 23 While Guattari’s city seems dystopian, a recent article has noted, “In the early moments of the uprising in Baltimore after police killed Freddie Gray, Baltimore city officials monitored social media. The officials labeled activists and other users, who were posting about reported rioting, protest activity, and police action, as ‘threats.’” 24 On a global scale, the persistent threat of terrorism has grown large-scale digital surveillance of the internet exponentially. Edward Snowden’s release of NSA documents outlining PRISM brought to light the complicity of nine large internet companies in the surveillance program. 25 This revelation put to rest any doubt of intertwined corporate and state interests. This is to say, state surveillance and corporate complicity explicitly attempts to striate digital space. While we navigate through a seemingly smooth space with perceived freedom, the striations of capitalism and state surveillance remain persistently present by directing, monitoring, and redirecting the flow of internet traffic and content. This kind of surveillance and state action certainly “effects a universal modulation.” The corporate-state puts this once promising smooth space “in the service of striated space.” 26 Athina Karatzogianni and Martin Gak take this a step further and declare that digital surveillance has become a form of quasi-totalitarianism: “The mechanisms of surveillance, control and coercion exposed by the Snowden affair point to a machinery which in many ways resembles the mechanisms of totalitarian regimes.” 27 They continue: The distinct features of the current alignment of forces and players include: the monopoly of digital planning on surveillance operating through back-channel and secret communication between government, tech corporate elites and, sometimes, NGOs; the use of civil society NGOs as mechanisms for circumventing democratic processes; an enterprise-association politics that ensures that the dual goals of state (security) and capital (profit) continue unabated and with little unaccountability; the unprecedented scope offered by total structural data acquisition to western intelligence matrixes; the persecution and prosecution of journalists, whistle-blowers and transparency actors outside the scope of civil society groups; and the significant, if insufficient, contestation by members of the public concerning the infringement on civil liberties. 28


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Unlike in previous disciplinary societies, our burgeoning totalitarian society of control directs through “modulation” and not spatial enclosure. The apparent freedom offered by the internet is merely one element in a larger machine of control. Molly Sauter notes that “the online space is being or has already been abdicated to a capitalist-commercial governance structure, which happily merges the interests of corporate capitalism with those of the post-9/11 security state while eliding democratic values of political participation and protest, all in the name of ‘stability.’” 29 Deleuze and Guattari note the restriction or barring of potentially smooth space is a probable outcome of new untested and uncontrollable knowledges produced within the smooth spaces. They write that the state may appropriate the fluid and flowing attributes of smooth space, such as non- or multilinear navigation online, as a means to assure predictable and tested outcomes. 30 The state does this to bring the radical or revolutionary possibilities offered by smooth space under control, to “prevent turbulence” and “constrain movement,” while at the same time allowing for a sense of freedom and choice. 31 The fluidity and unrestricted movement that are inherent in smooth space, on the other hand, are developed by “turbulence across a smooth space, in producing movement that holds space and simultaneously affects all of its points, instead of being held by space in a local movement from one specified point to another.” 32 Statist and corporate interests want to “prevent turbulence” by tracking threats and sharing information. For example, on Tuesday, October 27, 2015, the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act” (CISA) passed the U.S. Senate. CISA is ostensibly designed to “stem the rising tide of corporate data breaches by allowing companies to share cybersecurity threat data with the Department of Homeland Security, who could then pass it on to other agencies like the FBI and NSA, who would in theory use it to defend the target company and others facing similar attacks.” 33 However, as Andy Greenberg and Yael Grauer note, many see “CISA as a free pass that allows companies to monitor users and share their information with the government without a warrant, while offering a backdoor that circumvents any laws that might protect users’ privacy.” 34 Without impeding the sense of freedom individuals have online, corporate and state complicity have striated the fluidity of the smooth rhizomatic internet as a means to measure the threat of an individual. Or as Bernd Frohmann puts it, “Information processing capabilities permit cybernetic capitalism to manipulate electronic consumer, legal, and medical records to rationalized corporate strategies. Digital networks are thoroughly stratified by the great ‘molar’ determinations analyzed by Deleuze.” 35 However, these “molar determinations” do not make up the entirety of the internet. There are “molecular” spaces that go unperceived, where micro-politics attempt to deterritorialize the striated internet of the corporate-state, and where the machine de guerre assembles in its heterogeneity and anonymity.

Digital Spaces and the Rise of Hacktivism


THE NOMADIC INTERNET While the internet is dominated by large corporations, it is not a “utopian claim” to say that there are spaces on the internet where people connect and organize to fight corporate and state hegemony. Activists of all types gather together to exchange ideas and tactics; anarchists and others with radical politics find one another to organize and speak out against states and corporations. In the recesses of the digital world (both in the Clearnet and the Darknet) 36 there are vibrant communities utilizing noncorporate modes of connecting to one another and mounting resistance to hegemonic powers. From the early days of the internet—the World Wide Web only became widely accessible in 1993—groups like the electrohippies, Cult of the Dead Cow, the Electronic Disturbance Theatre, and the Critical Arts Ensemble (CAE) engaged in various forms of online protest, direct action, and what has now become known as “hacktivism.” 37 Highly attuned to the potential effects the internet will have on society, the CAE commented that “[t]he new geography is a virtual geography, and the core of political and cultural resistance must assert itself in this electronic space.” 38 While this new geography perpetually maps itself onto our lives, the digital space must also become a site of resistance: a space where the “overwhelmingly privatized nature of the internet” can be challenged and changed, a space that is not striated by the corporate-statist interests. 39 Rather than tracing the geography of the internet—a mindless navigation of websites—an overt and conscious mapping must occur. A new map may be “torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation.” 40 By participating in online civil disobedience, hacktivists create a new map of the internet by becoming nomads, deterritorializing digital space, and making striated space smooth. 41 Deleuze and Guattari connect their concept of the nomad, also known as the machine de guerre, and the state apparatus to smooth and striated space respectively. The nomad exists in the world differently than a “citizen” of a state. The nomad’s presence strips striated space of its meaning, ideology, and cultural practices, and undoes any inherent claim to ownership of the space—this is the process of deterritorialization. Put simply, the nomad creates smooth space through deterritorializing the statist striated space. In response to the controlling mechanisms of the state and the state’s perpetual desire to striate space, the machine de guerre is created or “revived”: One of the fundamental tasks of the State is to striate the space over which it reigns, or to utilize smooth spaces as a means of communication in the service of striated space. It is a vital concern of every State not only to vanquish nomadism but to control migrations and, more generally, to establish a zone of rights over an entire “exterior,” over all of the flows traversing the ecumenon. If it can help it, the State does not dissociate itself from a process of capture of


Chapter 5 flows of all kinds, populations, commodities or commerce, money or capital, etc. . . . And each time there is an operation against the State—insubordination, rioting, guerrilla warfare, or revolution as act—it can be said that a war machine has revived, that a new nomadic potential has appeared, accompanied by the reconstitution of a smooth space or manner of being in space as though it were smooth. . . . It is in this sense that the response of the State against all that threatens to move beyond it is to striate space. 42

There is a tension between the nomad and the state, to say the least. At a fundamental level, the nomad and the state approach space as functionally different. The nomad enjoys unfettered movement and freedom to pursue his/ her interests, creating new relationships between and among undifferentiated areas. Within the striated space of the corporate-state, however, movement is policed and restricted; to enter a new space, authorization is required. Nevertheless, the relationship between the nomad/state and smooth/striated space is not a simple binary alignment. The state may “utilize smooth spaces as a means of communication in the service of striated space” and the nomad introduces into striated space a “manner of being in space as though it were smooth.” The state and the nomad may tread on the same space, but the uses of the space differ. The nomad’s deterritorialization of striated space maps neatly onto hacktivist actions, as does the state’s destructive response to nomadic hacktivism. Early in the days of hacktivism there was a discussion about what constitutes ethical Electronic Civil Disobedience (ECD) and hacktivist action. Abby Goodrum and Mark Manion argued that while civil disobedience is necessarily nonviolent and is used to expose unethical actions by institutions, groups, or individuals, “the purpose of ECD is to disrupt the flow of information into and out of institutional computer systems.” 43 To this end, they argue, hacktivism “must be shown to be politically, i.e., ethically motivated.” 44 Similarly, Brian Huschle argued that online civil disobedience must maintain a delicate balance between activism and revolution, in which “the agent simultaneously shows both respect for the system of law and a willingness to work within that system to bring about the desired change.” 45 Huschle takes this a step further by emphasizing the visibility of online civil disobedience: “We must . . . allow that electronic disobedience does not require the physical presence of the individual agent. We cannot, I urge, go so far as to allow the anonymity of the disobedient person. This means that those who use electronic disobedience must either operate under a real name, or if using an alias, that alias must be traceable to her.” 46 These discussions of hacktivism, however, came before significant changes in laws and corporate influence on federal governments designed to minimize disruption of flows and ultimately attempt to silence any form of dissent. Currently, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) of 1986 is used to prosecute instances of “hacking” in which information was stolen from a

Digital Spaces and the Rise of Hacktivism


computer or a computer was damaged. The amendments of 2008, however, gave more scope to the prosecution of “hacking.” Specifically, the amendments eliminated the requirements that information must have been stolen and that the action must have resulted in a loss exceeding $5,000. 47 These amendments allow for a new means of counting and measuring what constitutes “hacking” and subsequently the prosecution of a wider range of actions, including DDoS attacks (discussed in more detail below). In 2010 a group of fourteen people associated with the hacktivist group Anonymous were arrested for disrupting the online payment site PayPal. 48 The website was merely made inaccessible. Nothing was stolen from PayPal servers, nor was any software or hardware damaged. PayPal merely lost revenue while the site was inaccessible. The fourteen participants were found guilty of one misdemeanor count of “damaging” a protected computer (i.e., overwhelming the server) and one felony count of conspiracy; they were sentenced to pay a fine and probation after a plea agreement. 49 These legal changes and prosecutions exemplify “that the response of the State against all that threatens to move beyond it is to striate space.” 50 Furthermore, in a recent article discussing hacktivism, Ashleigh Greene Wade writes: Security discourses often conflate hacktivism and cyberterrorism, and the distinctions between the two tend to depend on one’s relationship to government agencies. . . . Though still political in nature, hacktivism, as opposed to cyberterrorism, often relies on freedom of speech and expression frameworks that empower the masses. This emphasis on power displacement provides some insight into why governments tend to place hacktivism and cyberterrorism in the same category[,] as hacktivism threatens hegemonic power. 51

Because of the threat they pose to hegemonic power, compounded by the ubiquity of NSA surveillance and laws that make prosecution easier, hacktivists have openly embraced anonymity on the internet. In fact, the group Anonymous suggests that individuals use both a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for privacy and The Onion Router (TOR) for anonymity while online for any reason. More to the point, there needs to be a radically different internet denizen in order to smooth the corporate-statist digital spaces: a digital nomad that deterritorializes space as he/she passes through the increasingly policed striated space. However, for safety from laws seeking to protect corporations and mitigate dissent, these actors must be granted anonymity in order to challenge these spaces. There is, in my view, no reason to show “respect for the system of law” or a “willingness to work within that system” when the lawmakers are not interested in protecting the rights of people. 52 These laws are meant to restrict the nomadic actions of the hacktivist by further striating digital space and preventing the nomad/hacktivist from deterritorializing the previously striated, policed spaces of the internet. As Athina Karatzogianni and Andrew Robinson write:


Chapter 5 While open space is a necessary and enabling good from the standpoint of active desire, it is perceived as a threat by the state, because it is space in which demonised Others can gather and recompose networks outside state control. Hence, for the threatened state, open space is space for the enemy. It is a space of risk, which needs to be mitigated. Given that open space is necessary for difference to function, since otherwise it is excluded as unrepresentable or excessive, the attempts to render all space closed and governable involve a constant war on difference, which expands into the fabric of everyday life. 53

Consequently, I am an advocate for anonymity becoming a necessary condition of the digital machine de guerre. The strength of hacktivist groups like Cult of the Dead Cow, CAE, and Anonymous is that they often have no leader, no official spokesperson, and a constantly moving membership working on different projects. Due to rotating membership, a decentralized model, and a lack of corporate or state affiliation, these groups and their members function as a hoard targeting various online spaces. The group’s structure, much like that of the internet itself, is rhizomatic: they are nonhierarchical and interconnected, yet they may morph, rupture, and grow. When an operation begins, the group chooses which digital spaces, or targets to attack based on an act of maleficence. The group does not predetermine its targets: the nomad is “revived” and goes where he/she is needed. Deleuze and Guattari put a finer point on this, “the nomad goes from point to point only as a consequence and as a factual necessity; in principle, points for him are relays along a trajectory.” 54 The trajectories for these digital nomads include the eradication of oppressive institutions, large-scale surveillance, and governmental invasion of privacy—actions undertaken as a form of social justice. When an entity commits an act deemed to infringe upon individual liberty and/or equality, hacktivists, bound by an acute sense of solidarity, are drawn to the entity’s online presence. The subsequent digital attack is a point on nomadic hacktivists’ trajectory. The hacktivists’ presence in this digital space is a consequence, a “factual necessity” of an oppressive act. Hacktivists, through their structural organization and their guiding principles, embody the digital nomad. They are nomads who arrive at (web)sites to challenge socially damaging institutions and affect both digital and physical change. The most common hacktivist action that requires little technological knowledge and skill, and the one I will focus on here, is the Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS). 55 A DDoS attack employs a large number of computers that simultaneously access one particular website over a long period of time. The effect of this type of action makes the website unavailable by overwhelming the server or, in some cases completely shutting the server down. An individual or group can easily engage in this type of action—Anonymous frequently uses this technique to disrupt the flow of infor-

Digital Spaces and the Rise of Hacktivism


mation as a form of protest or to take websites offline that are viewed as threats or oppressive. As a means to create change, hacktivists will isolate a particular target and begin a DDoS attack against the target. Through DDoS attacks hacktivists very literally strip the digital space of its meaning and ideology without destroying that space. The digital space striated by a corporate or state entity is made smooth by shutting down the website, if only temporarily, and diverting internet traffic away from the site. The website has been deterritorialized not through its absence (the site’s domain name still exists, yet the content cannot be accessed), but through its changed appearance and function. A DDoS attack can be viewed as similar to graffiti. As David Fieni points out: “Graffiti is a fugitive set of illegal operations performed by semi-anonymous interacting bodies in motion. . . . [T]he graffitist positions him or herself outside the law, while also writing on the very material surfaces of the law (property, the walls built by the state); graffiti does not simply stand outside or against the state, but always links up with the state, disfigures the representatives of the state and becomes barred by state science.” 56 Rather than physical bodies with cans of spray paint changing the appearance of a wall, a DDoS attack uses digital avatars and lines of code to disfigure visible websites—an action, like graffiti, barred by the state. A DDoS action attempts to occupy and hold the corporate/state striated digital space and render it smooth. The site is inhabited by something other than the state or corporate entity as a result of movement toward the site by hacktivists and produces movement away from the site by holding the space and forcing users to go elsewhere. Deleuze and Guattari point out that the nomadic trajectory “distributes people . . . in an open space, one that is indefinite and noncommunicating.” 57 The DDoS attack redirects traffic away from the target into new spaces that are indeterminate and not obviously connected or linked. The DDoS attack creates a new map of the internet through (re)distributed movement. This map is “constructed as a political action” that disrupts “tracing” and, in accordance with the trajectory of the nomad, creates new lines of flight. 58 The DDoS attack is an act of deterritorialization that creates new relations, both digital and physical. Part of the power of a DDoS attack does not solely come from the act of deterritorialization, but from the cascading effects of the website being taken offline. Because the website’s content cannot be accessed—or the target attracts substantial media coverage—a larger audience of activists and nonactivists come in contact with the issues hacktivists are trying to make known. While people in this larger audience might not engage in a DDoS attack, they may integrate this knowledge into their behaviors through boycotts, physical protest, petitions, or simply discussions with friends—these effects are ruptures or extensions that the attack produces due to the rhizomatic structure of the internet. The power of DDoS attacks performed by the digital machine de guerre is directly related to, if not dependent upon the


Chapter 5

internet as a rhizome. Furthermore, as Sauter notes, “When used by political activists, disruptive tactics like DDoS actions can act as power levelers: they enable activists to funnel media and public attention to unnoticed causes and events, and as direct action tactics DDoS actions allow activists to translate their political speech into an action which demands a response.” 59 The threat and result of an attack shows the vulnerability of the digital space and marks both the online and physical entity as a site of resistance. Moreover, the deterritorialization of the digital geography of the internet not only results in a reterritorialization of the digital space but creates new rhizomatic relations between the target, the physical world, and social geography, more generally. For example, Anonymous disrupted PayPal’s service for its refusal to provide its services to the website WikiLeaks (a position that changed after a DDoS attack). The group disabled numerous Saudi Arabian state sites to help stay the crucifixion of pro-democracy protestor Ali Mohammed Baqir alNimr (though this campaign is ongoing). Anonymous also helped bring the Westboro Baptist Church’s antics into the national spotlight and more recently engaged in taking down websites of the so-called Islamic State. All of these actions changed belief structures, produced new knowledge, spawned physical protests, and made local oppressive actions visible globally. In conjunction with a DDoS attack, Wikipedia pages may briefly be changed or created to address the problematic issues that caused the DDoS attack. In other words, as a result of the rupture, all traffic to the site is diverted to or distributed among secondary sites that directly inform the targeted website, its content, and the company, state, or organization as a whole. Even once the website is restored, the diverted traffic returns to the site with new or supplemental information about the target. The subsequent reterritorialization of the website cannot dissolve or completely supplant the nomadic digital deterritorialization. In short, the deterritorialization changes the rhizomatic structure by creating new lines of flight and/or flows of information that otherwise might not have occurred without the DDoS attack. Whatever the outcome, the deterritorialization of a digital presence, a redistribution of people in digital space, and subsequent reterritorialization of digital and physical space openly challenges corporate-statist oppressive actions online and in the physical world. THE SMOOTH INTERNET The rhizomatic internet is primarily a striated space determined by corporate and state interests. Growing dissatisfaction with state governance and the increasing commercialization of culture will continue to fuel resistances to state and corporate institutions. As opposed to street demonstrations, or in conjunction with them, online protests in the form of DDoS attacks will hold

Digital Spaces and the Rise of Hacktivism


an important place in the coming struggles against hegemonic state and corporate power. Those who execute and participate in these actions are not only activists looking for their voices to be heard, these are interconnected people seeking to disrupt the identified, counted, and assessed digital space and the stakes are getting higher. Karatzogianni concludes her analysis with this prophetic statement, “Long term, ‘digital’ activism will become less important, because it will be part and parcel of any sociopolitical activity. However, high-information warfare attacking infrastructure and network penetrations will become more important, because they provide another battle space for humanity to negotiate difference, power, inequality, competition, and affect.” 60 These actors are compelled and propelled by the immanence of emotion, by affect. As Deleuze and Guattari claim, “the regime of the war machine is . . . that of affects, which relate only to the moving body in itself, to speeds and compositions of speed among elements. Affect is the active discharge of emotion, the counterattack. . . . Affects are projectiles just like weapons. . . . Weapons are affects and affects weapons.” 61 The connectivity of the internet does not come solely from interconnected computers but from the rhizomatic structure creating affective relationships between actors on a digital network, actors that become “the moving body itself.” From these relationships new smooth spaces are forged between the corporate-statist striated spaces. From this vantage point, the weaponized affects are utilized in the form of DDoS attacks or other forms of digital direct action. There are already places on the internet that could be considered persistently smooth. For example, some IRCs utilized by activist groups are channels of smooth spaces lying between two striated spaces and areas of the socalled Darknet or Deepweb allow for unfettered interaction between peoples and groups without the watchful eye of the National Security Agency or other government/corporate entities. However, like the machine de guerre, knowledge of a different form of movement, space, nodes, and language is necessary to navigate the spaces with ease. Google searches per se do not exist on this smooth internet—there is freedom from corporate mediation between users and content. Simply put, this is the place where people go not to be found, watched, categorized, and forced into a striated space by a corporation or state. I do not mean to romanticize the Darknet—indeed, there are plenty of unsavory things in this space—but I want to posit the possibility of a sustained, though not sedentary, smooth digital space. 62 Robert W. McChesney affirms this, “Digital technologies,” he writes, “make the new economy and self-management of decentralized units far more realistic.” 63 From a sustained smooth space, affective relations can blossom, new forms of association can develop, new insurgent actions can advance, and, as Deleuze states, new weapons can be sought. 64 The internet is, no doubt, a powerful tool. Left in the hands of corporate and state entities, the internet and its powerful rhizomatic structure is a


Chapter 5

mechanism of control. In the hands of hacktivists, this tool has the ability not just to challenge the digital presence of oppressive institutions, but also functionally change both our digital and physical world. As web technologies become more advanced and more aspects of our lives interface with a digital environment, the necessity for tools to smooth space and free us from the constraints of corporate and state determination rapidly increases. Understanding the rhizomatic possibilities of the internet and its spatial attributes marks an important transitional moment for advocacy of liberty, equality, and solidarity. To achieve these ends, however, actions such as DDoS attacks are necessary to challenge and change the strictures of corporate and statist oppressive regimes. DDoS attacks and other actions performed by hacktivists are “a new nomadic potential” and with these acts come “the reconstitution of a smooth space or manner of being in space as though it were smooth.” 65 Like any generative space, the internet is and can be continually deterritorialized and reterritorialized by the nomad and the state. Our goal should be to render the internet as smooth as possible through normalizing digital direct action, hacktivism, and various forms of digital insurgency as a means to create a better, more equitable, and free physical world. NOTES 1. See David Carr, “Hashtag Activism and its Limits,” New York Times, March 25, 2012,; Noah Berlatsky, “Hashtag Activism isn’t a Copout,” The Atlantic, January 7, 2015, http:// 2. Athina Karatzogianni, Firebrand Waves of Digital Activism 1994–2014: The Rise and Spread of Hacktivism and Cyberconflict (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 134. 3. Karatzogianni, Firebrand Waves, 134. 4. Kathleen Burnett, “Toward a Theory of Hypertextual Design,” Postmodern Culture 3 (1993), HTML file, 5. Leandro Mauricio Medeiros Viera and Marcos Ferasso, “The Rhizomatic Structure of Cyberspace: Virtuality and its Possibilities,” International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organizations 7 (2010): 557. 6. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 7. 7. Tim Jordan and Paul Taylor, Hacktivism and Cyberwars: Rebels Without a Cause? (New York: Routledge, 2004), 101. 8. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 9. 9. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 9. 10. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 12. 11. Martin Speer, “The Complementary Aspects of Marshall McLuhan and Postmodernism in the Literary Study of the Internet: Exemplified in the Rhizome Theory of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari” in McLuhan’s Global Village, eds. Carmen Birkle, Angela Krewani, and Martin Kuester (London: Routledge, 2014), 52. My emphasis. 12. This is the importance of Edward Snowden’s documents and revelations. See Karatzogianni, Firebrand Waves, 106–20, as well as Luke Harding, The Snowden Files (New York: Vintage Books, 2014).

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13. Bernd Frohmann, “Foucault, Deleuze, and the Ethics of Digital Networks,” in Localizing the Internet: Ethical Aspects in Intercultural Perspective, eds. Rafael Capurro, Johannes Fruhbauer, and Thomas Hausmanninger (Munich: Fink, 2007), 62. 14. Karatzogianni, Firebrand Waves, 100. 15. Mark Nunes, “Virtual Topographies: Smooth and Striated Cyberspace” in Cyberspace Textuality: Computer Technology and Literary Theory, ed. Marie-Laure Ryan (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2013), 70. 16. Nunes, “Virtual Topographies,” 69. 17. Even on sites such as Wikipedia, where anyone can include a link to other information, these links are reviewed and often remain internal to Wikipedia itself—only through the citations does the site include “external sources.” Even though Wikipedia remains a free site run by donations, it remains an outlier in a majority of popular websites; other sites, such as or, run on donations but do not carry nearly the amount of traffic as Wikipedia. 18. Ian Buchanan, “Deleuze and the Internet,” Australian Humanities Review, 43 (2007): para. 25, 19. Karatzogianni, Firebrand Waves, 136. 20. See Frohmann, “Foucault, Deleuze, and the Ethics of Digital Networks.” 21. Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on the Societies of Control,” October, 59 (1992): 7. 22. Again, see Karatzogianni, Firebrand Waves, 106–20 and Harding, The Snowden Files. 23. Deleuze, “Societies of Control,” 7. My emphasis. 24. Kevin Gosztola, “During Baltimore Uprising, City Officials Criminalized Hashtags & Labeled Social Media Postings as ‘Threats,’” ShadowProof, July 31, 2015, http://www. 25. Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras, “U.S., British Intelligence Mining Data from Nine U.S. Internet Companies in Broad Secret Program,” The Washington Post, June 7, 2013, https:/ / story.html. 26. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 385. 27. Athina Karatzogianni and Martin Gak, “Hack or Be Hacked: The Quasi-Totalitarianism of Global Trusted Networks,” New Formations 84/85 (2015): 146. 28. Karatzogianni and Gak, “Hack or Be Hacked,” 147. 29. Molly Sauter, The Coming Swarm: DDoS Actions, Hacktivism, and Civil Disobedience on the Internet (London: Bloomsbury Publishing Inc., 2014), 150. 30. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 363. 31. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 363. 32. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 363. 33. Andy Greenberg and Yael Grauer, “Security Bill Passes Senate with Privacy Flaws Unfixed,” Wired, October 27, 2015, 34. Greenberg and Grauer, “Security Bill Passes.” 35. Frohmann, “Foucault, Deleuze, and the Ethics of Digital Networks,” 69. 36. “Clearnet” is the term used to describe the openly accessible websites, usually found through a simple Google search. “Darknet” is the moniker for websites that are only accessible through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or software that gives exclusive access to a network such as The Onion Router (TOR). 37. For a fuller discussion of the rise of digital resistance, see Karatzogianni, Firebrand Waves, 5–14. 38. CAE, The Electronic Disturbance (New York: Autonomedia, 1994), 3. 39. Sauter, The Coming Swarm, 3. 40. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 12. 41. See Karatzogianni’s discussion of M. G. Alakhdar dissertation and his references to “eimmigrants” and “e-nomads” as agents of cultural (digital) change. Karatzogianni, Firebrand Waves, 105.


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42. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 385–86. My emphasis. 43. Abby Goodrum and Mark Manion, “The Ethics of Hacktivism,” Journal of Information Ethics, 9 (2000): 51–52. 44. Goodrum and Manion, “The Ethics of Hacktivism,” 53. 45. Brian Huschle, “Cyber Disobedience,” International Journal of Applied Philosophy, 16 (2002): 73. 46. Huschle, “Cyber Disobedience,” 78. 47. H. Marshall Jarrett and Michael W. Bailie, Prosecuting Computer Crimes (Office of Legal Education Executive Office for United States Attorneys, 2010), 2, https://www 48. For the best sociological analysis of the group Anonymous, see Gabriella Coleman, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous (London: Verso, 2015). 49. Douglas Lucas, “The Legendary #Anonymous PayPal 14 Speak Out Post-Sentencing,” The Cryptosphere, October 31, 2014, 50. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 386. 51. Ashleigh Greene Wade, “There’s a Hack for That: Subverting Repression through Hacktivist Modes of Freedom,” Powerlines, 3 (2015), E2%80%99s-a-hack-for-that-subverting-repression-through-hacktivist-modes-of-freedom/. 52. Huschle, “Cyber disobedience,” 73. 53. Athina Karatzogianni and Andrew Robinson, “Schizorevolutions Versus Microfascisms: The Fear of Anarchy in State Securitisation,” Journal of International Political Theory 13 (2017): 284. 54. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 380. 55. Molly Sauter (2014) writes, “by referring to all DDoS actions, regardless of motivation as ‘attacks,’ the public, law enforcement, and even practitioners are primed to think of DDoS actions in terms of violence, malice, and damage” (7). Sauter chooses not to use the term “DDoS attack” to avoid a “bias toward an interpretation of violence and harm” (7). I want to maintain the subversive “criminality” of the action and allow DDoS to be an “attack.” Much like the machine de guerre, change must come as an immanent challenge, actively deterritorializing spaces. Similarly, the machine de guerre is a creation and response to the state and a DDoS attack is a response to perceived problematic actions by a group, state, or corporation. Consequently, I will use both the terms “attack” and “action.” 56. David Fieni, “What a Wall Wants or How Graffiti Thinks: Nomad Grammatology in the French Banlieue,” Diacritics, 40 (2012): 75. 57. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 380. 58. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 12. 59. Sauter, The Coming Swarm, 147. 60. Karatzogianni, Firebrand Waves, 141. 61. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 400. 62. See Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 380. 63. Robert W. McChesney, Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet against Democracy (London: The New Press, 2013), 232. 64. See Deleuze, “Societies of Control.” 65. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 386.

Chapter Six

#Tagging Social Space Graffiti and Resistance

Graffiti is nothing new. We have documented evidence of graffiti throughout the Roman Empire—specifically in Rome itself and the preserved cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum 1—as well as in the English Renaissance. 2 Many of these instances, however, involve scratching words or symbols into a surface—the word graffiti comes from the Greek graphein which means “scratch, draw, write.” But the word graffiti in modern society brings to mind colorful letters and words (often illegible) spray painted on overpasses, embankments, train cars, or more brazenly, on walls in visible, highly trafficked parts of a city. Graffiti in this sense takes the form of the “tag” (usually a quickly drawn name), a throw-up (a quickly drawn image that is usually associated with a particular writer or tag), and pieces (short for “masterpieces” and are more time intensive, use multiple colors, take up larger spaces, and can be images or words). 3 This type of graffiti also often evokes ideas of criminal behavior, vandalism, destruction, and a lower-class sensibility, if not racial divisions. But graffiti offers more than just destruction or defacement. When considered in a context of spatiality, graffiti offers an important view not only into culture, but also resistance within culture. Graffiti is, by its very nature, a form of resistance. While numerous articles and books have been written on graffiti and resistance, 4 this chapter explores the potential of graffiti when it is linked to digital media. The graffiti writer’s “tag” is a means to designate, mark, and, at times, categorize space. Similarly, the digital hashtag marks and categorizes social media posts, making terms searchable and clustering topics together. In this chapter, I want to explore the relationship between these two “tags” and how this relationship is and can continue to be employed to 115


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challenge neoliberalism. I argue for a new, multi-contextual spatial language. This spatio-digital language not only merges two types of writing, it also seeks to create a network of interconnected cities. As a result, the spatiodigital language enacts a nomadic ontology of resistance through the figure of the Anonymous Nomadic Insurgent. I will begin by discussing graffiti’s emergence as a form of writing as we now understanding it. I will then show graffiti’s significance to social protest and conflict through its modern emergence; attending specifically to graffiti’s appearance in New York City during the rise of hip hop culture and its linguistic qualities. I then want to turn to the use of the digital media in protests and social justice movements. Specifically, I want to show how the use of the hashtag bares a linguistic similarity to the tag of the graffiti writer, but within the digital space of the internet. By merging street and digital “tags,” a new space of resistance emerges that exceeds both the street and digital spaces and allows for solidarity across geographical spaces through the development of a nomadic language. This nomadic language, and the spatial insurgence it relies upon, serves as a form of resistance against the global neoliberal project. In the end, I argue that graffiti is no longer simply the vandalism of disaffect youth, but rather by merging street level graffiti writing with digital organization, the spaces that are persistently dominated by corporate and state entities can be deterritorialized and, even if only temporarily, mute these entities’ ability to influence cultural practices and beliefs. GRAFFITI AND RESISTANCE Graffiti writing as we know it emerged from the hip hop scene of New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Graffiti writing was just one aspect of hip hop culture in NYC. Alongside graffiti writing was disk jockeying, MC-ing, and break dancing; these four distinct, yet very connected talents came together in block parties and formed the culture of hip hop. Obviously contemporary dj’s, rappers, street artists, as well as aspects of modern dance, all owe allegiance to the NYC hip hop culture of the 1970s. 5 During this period, graffiti’s stylized lettering and signature styles began to emerge as writers would “tag” train cars and public spaces. This practice, known as “bombing,” hit a fever pitch in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The 1983 documentary Style Wars offers a clear depiction of what the graffiti writing scene was like. In an opening scene, a shot opens on two white police officers standing in a subway train car with every inch of the car covered in graffiti and the narrator’s voiceover says graffiti has become “a symbol that we’ve lost control.” 6 In another telling moment, an NYC Transit Police detective proclaims in a voiceover that the writers are the ones running the subway system, while a

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shot of numerous (mostly black) writers gather. One young black writer responds to this statement by saying, “I ain’t runnin’ the system. I’m bombin’ the system.” 7 These two opening moments of Style Wars clearly articulate the attitude toward graffiti and the role it plays in NYC, and arguably the culture on the whole. On one hand, the narrator’s claim that many see graffiti as a loss of control (while juxtaposing that statement with the image of law enforcement appearing impotent and helpless) is the assessment of “civilized” peoples that prefer to see clean walls, unblemished by the names that, if legible, have no meaning to them. On the other hand, the young black writer’s statement can be read in two ways. One, he is contradicting the detective’s statement that writers are running the subway system and that he is simply writing on or over the subway system with his art (aka “bombing”). In a second, more broadly cultural reading of the writer’s statement, he possesses no power within the current socioeconomic system and he is trying to destroy the system that is oppressing him by bombing it, by actually trying to destroy it. Returning to the image of the graffiti ridden train, there is a deep irony at play in this image when the second reading of the writer’s statement is taken into consideration. Indeed, there is graffiti covering the inside of the train, but that is not the only writing present. There are also at least three visible advertisements in this image—the most legible, the large orange “Newport 100s” lettering on the green background. This type of writing is completely acceptable. Corporate advertising is not just acceptable, but privileged to the extent that advertising needs to be protected by the militarized state apparatus. What this single image makes evident is that in public spaces some forms of writing and images are legitimate, while not only delegitimizing, but also criminalizing other forms of writing and images. In this way, graffiti becomes a form of protest, a way for the disenfranchised to impose themselves upon the public space and be read, seen, and acknowledged as members of society—even if disruptive ones. In the early 1970s and 1980s, the cityscape was changing; people and spaces that were thought to be (or desired to be made) invisible were becoming visible through a new way of occupying space. But the advent of modern graffiti writing was important not just for its geographical location (NYC), but also for the actual space on which it was written: the subway cars that traversed the city. Writers want their tags to be seen and read by as many people as possible and try to get up on all the lines and divisions that pass through the five boroughs. One writer refers to this as “Going all city.” 8 The tags, throw ups, and pieces that travel the city begin to form a network of graffiti personae that spread outward connecting to other forms, styles, and personae that grow and morph, but are then sent back through the boroughs through the train lines. In short, writing on trains creates a rhizome of graffiti writing built on the existing infrastructure. The


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efforts of the Transit Police, NYPD, and NYC mayor Ed Koch, using their linear, hierarchical, royal, arboreal methods, could not suppress or otherwise contain the rhizome of graffiti writing. NYC was in various degrees of disarray from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. Wealth and whites were fleeing the downtown and many of the boroughs; the poor, however, could not afford to move into the suburbs. Most of the Bronx was in flames due to rioting and crime, as well as landlords setting fire to their buildings for the insurance money. Much of this destruction came as a result of capitalist restructuring and deindustrialization that eroded the economic base of the city. 9 With the recession taking hold in the 1970s, David Harvey writes: The gap between revenues and outlays in the New York City budget (already large because of profligate borrowing over many years) increased. At first financial institutions, were prepared to bridge the gap, but in 1975 a powerful cabal of investment bankers (led by Walter Wriston of Citibank) refused to roll over the debt and pushed the city into technical bankruptcy. The bail-out that followed entailed the construction of new institutions that took over the management of the city budget. 10

The banking industry refused to work with the city and as a result created the space for a new type of urban governance to take seed and for investment banks to restructure the city in ways that played to their benefit: “Corporate welfare substituted for people welfare.” 11 Again, David Harvey explains: [T]he investment bankers reconstructed the city economy around financial activities, ancillary services such as legal services and the media, . . . and diversified consumerism (gentrification and neighbourhood “restoration” playing a prominent and profitable role). City government was more and more construed as an entrepreneurial rather than a social democratic or even managerial entity. Inter-urban competition for investment capital transformed government into urban governance through public-private partnerships. City business was increasingly conducted behind closed doors, and the democratic and representational content of local governance diminished. 12

Not unsurprisingly, this focus on business and profit within the city made the poor and impoverished increasingly more invisible and undesired. This move, adopted by mayor Ed Koch, opened the door to the firm establishment of neoliberal policies within New York City. Put another way, the adoption of neoliberal policies by NYC was the first largescale attempt to enact neoliberalism as a means of urban restructuring. To be clear, “urban restructuring” includes the remaking of the city—this is the period in which the largest buildings in the world were built, the Twin Towers—but it also includes the social and cultural remapping of the city. With gentrification comes not just new buildings, but also new aesthetics and ethics that are only (re)affirmed

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through the ability to afford the cost of living in these new areas—which is to say predominantly white, upper- and elite classes. It is therefore unsurprising that graffiti (and hip-hop culture more generally) arises at precisely the same time that far-reaching neoliberal policies are instituted for the first time in a large urban center. As Liz Kinnamon notes, “People of color and those of working-class backgrounds made up the majority of writers in the early 1970s, and due to demographic changes, economic policies, racism, and the post-industrial shift, those who lived in cities like New York faced increasing marginalization and fewer economic and social possibilities.” 13 Contemporary graffiti writing as a form of protest emerges from a population that had been overlooked and thrust into the shadows by the neoliberalization of space. And from these shadows, graffiti grew into a form of writing that is used to deterritorialize the neoliberal city. Why did graffiti writing spread the way it did and why did it become so popular among a certain set of the New York (and global) population? In his famous 1975 essay, “Kool Killer, or The Insurrection of Signs,” Jean Baudrillard states, “Like the riots [of 1966–70], graffiti was a savage offensive, but of another kind, changing content and terrain. A new type of intervention in the city, no longer as a site of economic and political power, but as a space-time of the terrorist power of the media, signs and the dominant culture.” 14 Liz Kinnamon strengthens the connection between riots and graffiti by stating that their “overall similarity lies in our a priori knowledge of them as speech acts with subversive, even revolutionary potential.” 15 Indeed, there is a “revolutionary potential” in both riots and graffiti, however, both Baudrillard and Kinnamon link this potential strictly to the sign. Baudrillard writes: The city is no longer the politico-industrial zone that it was in the nineteenth century, it is the zone of signs, the media and the code. . . . It is the ghetto of television and advertising, the ghetto of consumers and the consumed, of readers read in advance, encoded decoders of every message, those circulating in, and circulated by, the subway, leisure-time entertainers and the entertained, etc. . . . Today a multiplicity of codes submit socialisation, or rather desocialisation, to this structural breakdown. 16

For Baudrillard, graffiti is a disruption of the codification of the status quo and of the capitalist system that surrounds us. Consider again the image of the subway above: the advertising begins to recede into the background, not while the graffiti comes to the fore, but rather the graffiti and the advertising share the same semiological foundation: both are merely signs, or writing, on a wall and neither can emerge as a privileged signifier among the onslaught of signifiers. The writers are seeking “to turn indeterminacy against the system, to turn indeterminacy into extermination.” 17 The two types of writing begin to cancel each other out by reading the signs as illegible. However,


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many thought this “extermination” was emblematic of the problems of the city. Graffiti, as Laurie MacGillivray and Margaret Sauceda Curwen note, is a language unto itself, “Tagging is a social practice. Tagging has its own rules and codes, it is a literacy practice imbued with intent and meaning (Aguilar, 2000). Alphabetic style, colors, and lettering script are of high value in this particular segment of youth culture (Miller, 2002). While often viewed as merely graphics, tagging functions as a ‘language—not just as a generic sign system’ (Bushnell, in Phillips, p. 41).” 18 They continue, “Literacy and language practices, particularly nonmainstream practices, contribute to one’s construction of identity and representation.” 19 Indeed, writing and identity construction have long been associated and the extent to which illicit forms of writing not just construct identity, but also establish that identity within the larger cultural context cannot be overstated. However, the language of graffiti exceeds merely identity construction and possesses a form of grammar unto itself. Specifically, graffiti holds three distinct elements that make its placement on walls (or any surface) powerful: iteration, transferability, and transmutability. The iteration of the tag or throw-up brings recognition to the writer’s name, but importantly the repetition establishes the territory of the writer and/or insurgency of the writer into specific spaces. 20 The frequency of the writer’s tag shows his/her movement through the city and creates openings in space that suggest a different way of interacting with the world. David Fieni refers to this as “mobile geography”: “a new way of relating to the earth and marking one’s position on it in a way that does not presuppose a fixed, sedentary writer or reader. It bypasses technocratic legislative procedures and claims an immediate ‘right to the city.’” 21 The non-sedentary writer uses his/her tag to show movement, claim territory, and overwrite any manner of other writing, but this is only possible if the same instance of writing is used repeatedly. The tag is, by its very nature, repeatable, but also an inscription on a different surface, a new space, with a different texture; Derrida’s analysis of iterability of language then is doubled through the changing locations of the same word/name. 22 In the words of Sonja Neef, graffiti writing “is an image-writing, both linguistic and visual, both allographic writing and autographic image, a doubling that problematizes the conventional dichotomy of text and image.” 23 Neef continues, “This iterability makes graffiti a performative practice, that is, a practice that is, like dance, singular and repeatable at once.” 24 The iterability and the performative nature of graffiti writing, then, is related to the transferability of the tag. Because of the nature of graffiti, the paint from the aerosol can easily transform any blank space into a “populated” space of tags, throw-ups, or pieces. The tag or throw-up particularly can be transferred to just about any surface. In this case the wall (or any surface that holds the paint) becomes just as important as the repeating elements of the writing. The transferability from

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one surface to another, then effects the transmutability of the art. The tag or throw-up undergoes changes as the writer develops his/her skills—much like any other use of language, the more you do it, the more the language begins to take shape. But more than this, the actual space undergoes a significant shift based on the writing and the writer’s skill. The visual paradigm dramatically changes with the incorporation of graffiti writing. Through these three interconnected “grammars,” graffiti writing is more than just an “insurrection of signs,” graffiti possesses the ability to shift territorial and spatial conceptions not just within the cityscape and the population, but also the ideologies that shape a city’s space. This is done by changing the affective or haptic space, where graffiti creates new connections in the city and among its population. Haptic space, Deleuze and Guattari write, is a tactile experience of a space that exceeds merely the optical experience. 25 They write, the haptic function presupposes “smooth [space], which has no background, plane, or contour, but rather changes in direction and local linkages between parts.” 26 In other words, the haptic allows for a different way of experiencing the world other than simply through sight—it is a bodily experience. The space that precipitates this experience is a deterritorialized smooth space, which allows for possibilities and connections. Graffiti writing through its use of the “nomad line,” which as Deleuze and Guattari write, “has a multiple orientation and passes between points, figures, and contours,” creates, or rather highlights the smooth space of a surface. 27 Kaustuv Roy phrases it this way, “If we pay close attention to things that we normally ignore, it can momentarily disorient us and set us on a different sensory path and an encounter with the haptic. In this network of proximities, the observer and observed are in close, even fusional contact, not in the sense of the production of unity but in the production of new couplings that leads to an insurge of subversion.” 28 I want to emphasize Roy’s phrase that the viewer must “pay close attention.” As we pass through spaces without paying close attention, we function only through the optical and not the haptic. The solely optical experience presupposes striated space and a plane of determined borders, paths, and lines. In this way, then, simply viewing graffiti writing, not attending to it, leads to “a feeling of anxiety that calls for striation,” 29 which in turn leads to the belief that graffiti writing (of all kinds), “contribute[s] to the fear of crime by suggesting lawlessness and disorder.” 30 However, by engaging with graffiti writing haptically not only presents new possibilities, but the very act of writing produces an affective understanding of the spatial layout of the city. Cities are determined spatial structures that are created by various invested, powerful parties that have the ability to change and reshape the spatial layout of territory. What capacity do non-moneyed classes have to shape the city to their desires? There is very little that a group of people, let


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alone an individual can do to claim a “right to the city.” 31 Graffiti writing, however, is one option. While I agreed with Baudrillard’s and others’ claims about the disruptive nature of graffiti writing, as a form of protest, as an intervention into the dominant system of capitalism, graffiti is also a distinctly spatial disruption. As David Fieni writes, “graffiti’s ‘subversive litany of anonymity’ (as Baudrillard called it) forces us to think about it beyond psychology and identity politics. Instead, graffiti compels thinking to move in different fields of knowledge and to see the empty signifiers that cannot be read.” 32 In other words, graffiti writing highlights spatial elements that are generally overlooked; for example, walls, bridges, over/underpasses, trains, or what Jasmine Ulmer refers to as “non-places”: “the spaces through which we mindlessly traverse because they do not seem distinctive enough to actively register.” 33 Graffiti writing marks, these “non-places” and transforms them into spaces that are not merely traversed, but spaces that are engaged with by the viewer (even if just optically). By transforming these spaces, the writer engages in “a fugitive set of illegal operations” that, as David Fieni says: is also a way of underscoring the specific position of the letters of graffiti in relation to the letter of the law; by definition, the graffitist positions him or herself outside the law, while also writing on the very material surfaces of the law (property, the walls built by the state); graffiti does not simply stand outside or against the state, but always links up with the state, disfigures the representatives of the state, and becomes barred by state science (what Deleuze and Guattari call “royal science”). Graffiti decodes the performances walls enact as a theatrical disavowal of the porousness of sovereignty—by deforming, inflating, playing with letters, making them something you can see but cannot necessarily read. . . . Graffiti is never a product, always production, taking place in a heterogeneous time of improvised and contingent durations. 34

The relationship between the writer and the wall/law becomes one of critique and deconstruction—not destruction. 35 The lettering or image, aside from what it is saying, shows the fragility of the law and the state’s ability to police its own means of enclosure. Walls, Fieni argues, “are built to contain the stateless, not other sovereign nation-states. They respond to a permanent state of emergency and lawlessness, producing the margins that separate the inside of the nation-state from its outside, the legal from the illegal.” 36 But more than that, “[W]alls . . . have come to signify the very mobility of capital itself. . . . [Walls want] to distract us—all of us, the included and the excluded, those who are walled in as well as those who are walled out—from its regulatory function by entrancing us with its performative, theatrical one.” 37 This assessment of walls addresses walls of all types: large walls dividing nations (i.e., the Palestinian/Israeli wall, or the type of wall Presi-

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dent Trump would like to build on the border with Mexico), walls of gated communities, walls of corporate buildings with internal security checkpoints, or even walls that are not walls at all (i.e., bridges or train tracks that divide a city and (un)desirable neighborhoods). Walls desire mobility, according to Fieni, precisely so that they can be porous and flexible—this aligns not so much with Foucault’s idea of enclosure, but with Deleuze’s concept of control. 38 The flows of capitalism, of neoliberalism in particular, simultaneously routed through and beyond walls, while constructing the self-same walls as a means to create exclusivity and the illusion of security. Graffiti, then, shows precisely how these contradictions work within the neoliberal city. Graffiti writing acknowledges, in fact relies upon, the movement of language through its transmutability, transferability, and iteration. The marks on the wall becomes marks of resistance to neoliberalism by scrambling “the codes used to negotiate the contradictions of capitalist democracies, evoking at once postcivilized wilderness and neo-tribal anarchistic glee and terror.” 39 Graffiti writing can, and in my opinion should be “an act of resistance that reclaims space in the public line of sight.” 40 As an act of resistance, graffiti proclaims a territorial principle. As Baudrillard writes, “The city is a ‘body without organs,’ as Deleuze says, an intersection of channeled flows” and as such, graffiti writers “come from the territorial order. They territorialise decoded urban spaces—a particular street, wall or district comes to life through them, becoming a collective territory again.” 41 Baudrillard’s claim that the city is a Body without Organs tracks with early graffiti writers in NYC trying to “go all city.” More important is what the city as a BwO means for the transmission of graffiti writing and the messages that are created by the writing—these messages create an encounter that in turn creates new lines of thought. These new lines of thought within the world are what Deleuze and Guattari refer to as “intensities.” They write, “The BwO causes intensities to pass; it produces and distributes them in a spatium that is itself intensive, lacking extension. It is not space, nor is it in space; it is matter that occupies space to a given degree—to the degree corresponding to the intensities produced.” 42 The encounter with graffiti writing forces thought to occur and subsequently creates intensities that are then distributed around the city. In other words, resistance to the law, to the wall, and to the status quo traverses the spatial city by affective writing in illicit places. Graffiti writing, by disrupting the sanitized sight lines of a city, or a wall, pulls the viewer into the language of resistance. Regardless of the viewers attitude toward graffiti, the law of the state is immediately questioned. But more than this, graffiti points to those walls that implicate us in neoliberal urban space. By viewing graffiti, by “paying close attention” and not just the writing, but also the placement and space of the writing, we are able to decide how that individual/writing fits into the location. For example, there is a debate between the benefits of street art and/or murals versus that of graffi-


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ti. 43 Interestingly, many businesses choose to have a mural placed on a wall as a way to deter graffiti (i.e., tags, throw-ups). Jasmine Ulmer argues, “Because many street artists simultaneously undermine and support neoliberal policies by providing (un)invited art, the role of the arts in revitalizing cities is becoming increasingly complex. As one street artist seeks legal injunctions to protect her work, another faces legal charges.” 44 This tension is not unsurprising. As graffiti grows in popularity, neoliberalism embraces its moneymaking possibilities—consider Nike and Coca-Cola hiring graffiti writers to design murals, or new apartment buildings that commission (or keep) graffiti to be a part of their aesthetic. 45 How can graffiti maintain its status as a form of resistance writing and as a means to deterritorialize? I will return to this question after an analysis of the hashtag (#), at which point I will show how merging the hashtag and graffiti can reestablish graffiti as a form of resistance writing. DIGITAL ELEMENTS OF PROTEST Recent protests have been developed, organized, shared, manipulated, tracked, policed, and generally viewed through various digital media. Using social media platforms to organize has become a standard practice and the press particularly highlighted the Arab Uprisings of 2010. 46 With the growth of online organizing, a form of online activism known as “hashtag activism” has also grown and has been shown to have some effectiveness. 47 On any given day, it is possible to logon to your social media account and find a protest, occupation, march, sit-in, strike, or any number of social justice and social reform actions that are taking place around the world. The digital elements of resistance have also taken various shapes and forms. From illegal actions like DDoS attacks by vigilante groups like Anonymous (see chapter 5) to merely sharing petitions or “liking” a page that supports a cause, the digital component to social justice and protest cannot be overstated. However, we must ask: to what degree do these types of actions constitute a form of resistance? Does digitally supporting and sharing facts or updates from “The Other 98%” Facebook page create resistance to the dominant ideologies that structure not only our political system, but also the institutions that we participate in on a daily basis? I don’t want to belittle this type of political engagement by referring to it as “slacktivism,” but this is also not a form of resistance. In “What Is a Creative Act,” Deleuze speaks directly to what does and does not constitute resistance: Let’s say that is what information is, the controlled system of the order-words used in а given society. . . . [L]et’s at least say that there is counter-information. . . . We must realize that counter-information was never enough to do

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anything. . . . Counter-information only becomes really effective when it is— and it is by nature—or becomes an act of resistance. An act of resistance is not information or counter-information. Counter-information is only effective when it becomes an act of resistance. 48

This is precisely what most contemporary digital “resistance” looks like: counter-information that, even while disseminating truth, simply thrusts more information into the public discourse. This is not resistance. This counter-information can become resistance by using this information as a means of creation. For Deleuze, and for the concept of resistance more generally, there must be a creative act that utilizes counter-information in ways that exceed sharing an article, or even applying a hashtag to a word, #resist, for example. However, by using a hashtag an order, sequencing, and rhizomatic assemblage arises within the digital environs. In this situation, the hashtag can become a useful tool and can provide distinct and direct counter-information to those that are seeking it out by using the digital, rhizomatic structure creatively. Utilizing the hashtag (#) as a form of ordering and demarcation is an old strategy from Internet Relay Channels (IRCs). In some IRCs, you could join different groups and conversations through entering the designated group proceeded by a hashtag (within the Anonymous IRC, Operations are designated by the hash, for example #OpNewBlood). In August of 2007, Chris Messina suggested on the Factory Joe blog that Twitter begin using the hash/ pound sign as a way to organize groups and discussions within the growing social media site. 49 This was the first mention of using the hash as an ordering paradigm within a social media platform for users that are less technologically adept and/or have never ventured into an IRC. Obviously, this idea developed and morphed over time to become the ubiquitous digital entity that we now recognize on and offline. 50 While the hashtag is used by a majority of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram users (not to mention the innumerable other platforms that now utilize hashtags), there is a concerted effort among activists and organizers to use them as a means of broadcasting issues that need to be addressed. Consider the use of #J20 in the lead up to January 20, 2017, the day that Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States. Many of the antifascist, anarchist, and communist groups used “#J20” as a means to organize and disseminate information to those following or participating in the demonstrations. Before considering the power of the hashtag in the digital setting and its rhizomatic outreach, I want to assess the linguistic elements of the hashtag itself. The hashtag is an interesting linguistic phenomenon. The hash (#) itself is an arbitrary symbol chosen from the realm of coding and IRCs—program writers will make internal notations by using hashes so that other coders will be able to read the notes and the program itself will not be affected. When


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paired with a word or phrase, the hash functions as a means to digitally manage and render searchable a particular discourse or topic. As I mentioned, the term #J20 was used for inauguration day protests, but a term such as #food, will yield a very dynamic and widely disparate set of results. Consequently, the iteration of a hashtag creates singular instances of a term, but completely repeatable in new contexts. Much like the graffiti writer’s tag, the hashtag is performative insofar as it is always producing new usages, contexts, and constructing a map of digital discourse. The tag shows the movement of a writer through the city, just as the hashtag maps the movement of a discourse through the digital jungle. Again, the iterability is connected to the hashtag’s transferability. Just as a tag can transfer from surface to surface, the hashtag can transfer from one discourse to another, but remain connected through the continuity of the term (just like a tag)—again, consider the multiplicity of ways that #food could be used and the numerous ways that term/tag applies to various discourses. The flexibility and iterability of language allows terms to transfer across contexts and digital platforms, but unlike the tag, the hashtag is not a term utilized by a single person. Rather, the hashtag becomes an egalitarian form of expression that is open to anyone to use. Within the digital realm, then, the identity of the writer becomes secondary to the use of the term, whereas with the graffiti writer’s tag the personalization of the tag brings identity to the fore; even if the writer is anonymous, we know it is a singular person. Where the transferability of the graffiti tag refers to social spaces, the transferability of the hashtag refers to the users, which in turn maps the digital spaces and contexts that are affected by the term. The hashtag has an asynchronous nature as a result of the transferability of users: at any given time, even at the same time the term can be used in different ways and be a part of different discourses. For this reason, the transmutability is accentuated and bears a close similarity to our everyday language, but as distinctly written and relevant in the digital environment. Indeed, there are similarities between the hashtag and the graffiti tag or throw-up. I intentionally chose three aspects of their attributes that aligned, but these three categories—while distinct and inseparable—allow for the two types of writing to merge, but also stay discretely within their respected domains. Through showing their similarities, we can begin to see the potential for the two writing practices not just to come together, but also interact with each other in unique and productive ways. In the next section, I want to show how these two types of writing might inform the practice of street protest and more specifically how a theory of digital street writing might create a form of resistance against neoliberalism.

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#TAGGING SPACES Late at night on Saturday, January 23, 2016, the world’s most well-known street/graffiti artist, Banksy, put up a new piece on the side of the French Embassy in London. The image depicts the young woman from Les Misérables, Cosette, with CS gas (tear gas) floating up to her face, as tears stream from her eyes. The torn and battered French flag waves behind the girl. Earlier in the month, the French police raided the refugee camp in Calais. There were reports that the police had used CS gas in their raid. The police denied their use of the gas, with police spokesmen Steve Barbet commenting, “It’s not in our interest to use teargas unless it’s absolutely necessary to restore public order, and it is never used in the camp itself.” 51 While this is a typical Banksy piece, insofar as it is politically driven and poignant in both its timing and placement, what is new to this piece is his use of a QR code in the lower left-hand corner of the piece. When a viewer puts his/her phone over the stencil, it links to a YouTube video of the raid in Calais, which distinctly shows canisters of what appear to be CS gas launched at refugees inside the camp. This piece by Banksy does precisely what I want to claim all protest graffiti or resistance street art should do: a piece’s placement, timing, and ability to exceed the limiting factors of physical space through the use of the digital speak directly and dynamically to sociocultural issues. Through integrating the digital with the street, spatial resistance becomes increasingly multifaceted and powerful. In “What Is a Creative Act,” Deleuze discusses what he refers to as “the great cycle” in cinema: А voice is speaking about something. Someone is talking about something. At the same time, we are shown something else. And finally, what they are talking about is under what we are shown. This third point is very important. You can see how theater cannot follow here. The theater could take on the first two propositions: someone is telling us something, and we are shown something else. But having what someone is telling us be at the same time under what we are shown—which is necessary, otherwise the first two propositions would make no sense and be of little interest. We could put it another way: the words rise into the air as the ground we see drops further down. Or as these words rise into the air, what they are talking about goes underground. 52

As I argue in chapter 2, where Deleuze sees this great cycle as emblematic and solely part of only cinema, I believe a version of this cycle is reproduced, albeit differently, in various forms of art. The Deleuzian cycle can show the complexity of Banksy’s piece, as well as much of graffiti and street art. The voice that is “speaking about something” is the voice of the French police denying their use of CS gas, but this voice is notably absent. This is to say that voice of the police state, the oppressive, militaristic regime of the state


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power is not represented in the image, precisely because it is the only voice speaking. The speech of the refugees is muted, the speech of international volunteers is muted, only the voice of state power is audible. Therefore, Banksy’s piece intentionally does not reproduce the language of power, but rather speaks directly back to it. Arguably, all graffiti does this. The placement and inscription of a tag onto the physical space of dominant power structures speaks back to the voice of the power without directly reproducing that voice. 53 A throw-up on the side of Whole Foods that replaced a local shop overwrites and deterritorializes the corporate ownership of that space by showing its vulnerability to the population that it has displaced through gentrification. The throw-up literally re-marks on the corporate exploitation of constructed consumerist desire. The voice of power is the “someone talking about something,” and as Deleuze writes “At the same time, we are shown something else.” We are shown the emblematic figure from a musical that valorizes the redemptive qualities of humanity, the plight of the poor, and the goals of the French Revolution. While this is no doubt an iconic image from one of the most well-known musicals in the world (not to mention Victor Hugo’s literary text), the reader must be aware of what this image is stating in this new context: namely, the abandonment of the values and ideas that modern France was founded on—Liberté, Egalite, Fraternité. Cosette’s tears are indeed a result of the CS gas, but they are also lamenting the destruction of French values. This image therefore is also speaking. These three words are also rising up into the air in tandem with the absent words of French authorities. This alone makes a very powerfully political point and, to a degree, these words rising into the air send us “underground,” we are able to see beyond and underneath both what is being said and what we are viewing. What takes us further “underground”—those elements that rhizomatically connect to other points on the plane of immanence—resides in the QR code at the bottom of the piece. While the video is evidence of the piece’s point (or even a form of a citation), the video itself does not take us underground. It is the presence of the QR code embedded into the piece and the potentiality and indecipherability that the QR code establishes within the piece that sends us beyond the image. In other words, the viewer must interact with the image, because by itself, the QR code remains simply a potentiality and never realized. What is being talked about is buried within the image of the graffiti and leads to the rhizomatic internet. Banksy’s piece is a complex and deeply integrated example of merging the digital with graffiti/street art. While this is admirable, not every writer can perform this, so the case can still be made for utilizing something as simple as the hashtag into the basic graffiti tag. In street protests, acts of resistance, or even just the common tag as a means to reclaim space, integrating a hashtag into tag not only indicates the graffiti writer’s identity on the

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street, but also broadens the scope of the writing by connecting to digital spaces. I do not necessarily mean that the name of the writer becomes a hashtag—though this is a possibility—but rather in the middle of a throw-up or integrated into the tag, a hashtag with a word or phrase can become part of the art itself. For example, let’s return to the example of a throw-up on the side of a Whole Foods. If you were to integrate a hashtag into the throw-up, some people would seek out the reference and wonder why the writer would choose to include this in the imagery, #foodwaste for example. In this instance, this hashtag would implicate not only the spatial organization and appropriation of Whole Foods, but also linking the store, in a very public and visible way, to the issue of throwing away usable food. 54 While the hashtag might not speak directly to this singular Whole Foods, or in a search of the hashtag Whole Foods might not even be within the discourse, but the throwup makes this particular space a node in the discourse of food waste. 55 As more people become aware of the throw-up, so too does the issue of food waste at this particular Whole Foods. In other words, a global issue such as food waste becomes the local concern at this particular site. The effects of this are more than just the local population holding a food store accountable, but since Whole Foods has a deeply neoliberal agenda, this can begin to push back against the ethic of the commodification of everything. 56 Indeed, one throw-up with an integrated hashtag is not going to stop neoliberalism, but this kind of action, as a form of resistance, marks the issues in a visible and public way that affect us all. Integrating hashtags, or any digital element into graffiti and street art creates a map of the city and the writer’s movements through the physical layout of the city, but it also imbeds the writer into the larger rhizomatic structure of the internet and the power of a larger community. As a form of spatial resistance, digitally informed graffiti, or what I want to call #tagging (a merging of the hash [#] with graffiti writing or tagging) engages the local spaces and local populations, while at the same time putting this particular space/place in dialogue with other global communities confronting the same issue. By linking these nodes from across the world through the internet and the use of the hashtag (or some other line of flight), a form of resistance may emerge as nomadic and based in a spatio-digital language—a particular relationship between writing and technology. This type of relationship between writing and technology exemplifies Deleuze and Guattari’s nomad science, which, according to the authors, “is not a simple technology or practice, but a scientific field in which the problem of [the relations between science and technology] is brought out and resolved in an entirely different way than from the point of view of royal science.” 57 This is to say, the type of spatiodigital writing I am advocating here, #tagging, exceeds the boundaries of everyday fields of knowledge (“royal science”), and becomes a form of writing that creates, in the words of David Fieni, “a smooth, heterogeneous


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space: quite literally the striated space of the city ‘lived smooth.’” 58 Fieni is here talking about his concept of nomad grammatology, but the idea is the same for #tagging. Unlike Fieni’s nomad grammatology, however, #tagging moves beyond the immediacy of the neighborhood or city and connects other cities, other locales so that the striated space of neoliberalism—and its lack of acknowledgment of borders 59—can be lived as smooth. The deterritorialized, smooth space of the urban achieved through graffiti writing coupled with the smooth digital space of the internet enacts a multi-contextual spatial resistance to the neoliberal global order. NEW WALLS, NEW STREETS, NEW CITIES In Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution, David Harvey writes: No alternative to the contemporary form of globalization will be delivered to us from on high. It will have to come from within multiple local spaces— urban spaces in particular—conjoining into a broader movement. . . . The space of [the] commons deserves intense exploration and cultivation by oppositional movements that embrace cultural producers and cultural production as a key element in their political strategy. . . . Here lies one of the key spaces of hope for the construction of an alternative kind of globalization and vibrant anti-commodification politics: one in which the progressive forces of cultural production and transformation can seek to appropriate and undermine the forces of capital rather than the other way round. 60

Harvey acknowledges that urban locations from multiple regions need to become unified in their desire to combat global capitalism. Furthermore, these urban spaces need to engage in a unique form of cultural production as a means to establish and maintain the resistance to neoliberalism. I’m arguing that #tagging does precisely this: it is a form of written spatial resistance that allows for communication beyond the immediate areas of resistance. When the commons, here understood as any space that is visible and accessible to all members of a society regardless of the ownership status, becomes the site of open and accessible communication through #tagging, the messages of resistance are spread more effectively. The wall and the street take on new and dynamically different meanings: the wall becomes the entry point, not the stopping point, to resistance; the street becomes a physical line of flight that allows for access to spaces that move beyond the physical and into the digital. These spaces are made smooth. As Deleuze and Guattari write, “sedentary space is striated, by walls, enclosures, and roads between enclosures, while nomad space is smooth, marked only by ‘traits’ that are effaced and displaced with the trajectory.” 61 The #tagging remakes the spaces of the wall and the road by becoming “traits” that mark these

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spaces as a point on a trajectory: the writing (and the spaces) become access points to the digital that connects these streets and walls to others in a different urban setting. Through these connections, new possibilities arise and new types of resistance become possible. Furthermore, these spaces are not just deterritorialized through type of graffiti writing, only to be reterritorialized once more. These spaces become deterritorialization par excellence: “If the nomad can be called the Deterritorialized par excellence, it is precisely because there is no reterritorialization afterward.” With the nomad, Deleuze and Guattari claim “it is deterritorialization that constitutes the relation to the earth, to such a degree that the nomad reterritorializes on deterritorialization itself.” 62 Who is the nomad that can affect such change within an urban setting, who changes our relationship to the earth/space itself? The graffiti writer of course. The writer, however, sheds his/her identity and becomes like Ywain discussed in chapter 1: an Anonymous Nomadic Insurgent (ANI). In this type of resistance, identity politics fall away precisely because it is the neoliberal spaces that construct and prey upon identity that are being changed. The ANI sheds identity not just as a security precaution (though this too might be a necessity), but because the spaces that establish these “codified” identities are being overwritten by the act of writing graffiti that gestures toward a resistance to neoliberal identity production. Anyone could be and can become ANI. In the end, graffiti writing will always be, and should always be, viewed as an act of resistance. What this chapter advocates, however, is that through the use of what I call #tagging (incorporating a digital component into graffiti/street art), these acts of resistance can be put in dialogue with one another and traverse geographical locations that become connected through the internet. By making these connections across physical space through digital space, a more unified and global resistance can be formed against the equally global neoliberal project. Through neoliberalism, we already refer to cities like New York, London, Paris, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Dubai as global cities. I am advocating making these urban spaces global in the sense that acts of resistance can interconnect these cities through #tagging, which in turn can begin to put pressure on the capitalist mechanisms that systematically limit the liberty and equality of individuals and populations around the world—even and especially those outside of these global cities. Solidarity of peoples adversely affected by capitalism is embedded within the act of #tagging. As an act of spatial resistance, #tagging is not the language of disaffected youth as graffiti was once thought to be, but the marks of a disenchanted global population bent on “bombin’ the system.” NOTES 1. See


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2. See Juliet Fleming, Graffiti and the Writing Arts of Early Modern England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001). 3. There is a differentiation between graffiti and street art. Graffiti is usually considered illicit and the owner of the property was not consulted. Street art on the other hand is usually commissioned by the property owner, or the owner has at least been consulted before the artwork went up on the wall. 4. See, for example, Jeff Ferrell, Crimes of Style: Urban Graffiti and the Politics of Criminality (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1993); William Parry, Against the Wall: The Art of Resistance in Palestine (Chicago: Laurence Hill Books, 2011); Guillaume Marche, “Expressivism and Resistance: Graffiti as an Infrapolitical Form of Protest against the War on Terror,” Revue Française D’études Américaines 131 (2012): 78–96; Gillian Jein, “(De)Facing the Wall: The Traditions, Transactions, and Transgressions of Street Art,” Irish Journal of French Studies 12 (2012): 83–111; Kara-Jane Lombard, “Art Crimes: The Governance of Hip Hop Graffiti,” The Journal for Cultural Research 17 (2013): 255–78; Liz Kinnamon, “London Riots, Living Walls: Questions of Resistance in Late Capitalism,” Rhizomes 25 (2013): n.p., http://; Jasmine Ulmer, “Writing Urban Space: Street Art, Democracy, and Photographic Cartography,” Critical Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies 17 (2017): 491–502; Dominic Davies, “‘Walls of Freedom’: Street Art and Structural Violence in the Global City,” Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities 9 (2017): 6–18; Hakkı Taş , “Street Arts of Resistance in Tahrir and Gezi,” Middle Eastern Studies 53 (2017): 802–19. 5. Baz Luhrmann created a Netflix mini-series called The Get Down that nicely portrays hip hop culture in NYC at this time. 6. Style Wars, directed by Tony Silver (New York: Public Art Films, 1983), 2:56, https:// 7. Style Wars, 4:07. 8. Style Wars, 5:39. 9. David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 45. 10. Harvey, Neoliberalism, 45. 11. Harvey, Neoliberalism, 47. 12. Harvey, Neoliberalism, 47. 13. Kinnamon, “London Riots, Living Walls,” paragraph 4. 14. Jean Baudrillard, Symbolic Exchange and Death, trans. Iain Hamilton Grant (London: Sage Publications Ltd, 2017), 97. 15. Kinnamon, “London Riots, Living Walls,” paragraph 8. 16. Baudrillard, Symbolic Exchange, 98. 17. Baudrillard, Symbolic Exchange, 99. Emphasis original. 18. Laurie MacGillivray and Margaret Sauceda Curwen, “Tagging as a Social Literacy Practice,” Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 50 (2007): 354. 19. MacGillivray and Curwen, “Tagging as a Social Literacy Practice,” 356. 20. See Kurt Iveson, “Cities with the City: Do-It-Yourself Urbanism and the Right to the City” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 37 (2013): 941. 21. David Fieni, “What a Wall Wants, or How Graffiti Thinks: Nomad Grammatology in the French Banlieue,” Diacritics 40 (2012): 79. 22. See Jacques Derrida, “Signature, Event, Context” in Margins of Philosophy, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 307–30. 23. Sonja Neef, “Killing Kool: The Graffiti Museum,” Art History 30 (2007): 421. 24. Neef, “Killing Kool,” 424. 25. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 492. 26. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 496. 27. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 496. 28. Kaustuv Roy, “Power and Resistance: Insurgent Spaces, Deleuze, and Curriculum” Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (2005), 36. 29. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 497.

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30. Gill Saunders, “Street Art: Prints and Precedents,” Art in Print 1 (2011): 8. 31. This oft used phrase comes from Henri Lefebvre’s essay of the same name, “The Right to the City,” in Writings on Cities, ed. and trans. Eleonore Kofman and Elizabeth Lebas (Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers Inc, 1996), 147–159. 32. Fieni, “What a Wall Wants,” 88. 33. Ulmer, “Writing Urban Space,” 494. 34. Fieni, “What a Wall Wants,” 75. 35. For more on the wall/law connection, see Davies, “Walls of Freedom.” 36. Fieni, “What a Wall Wants,” 81. 37. Fieni, “What a Wall Wants,” 88. 38. For enclosure, see Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1977). For control, see Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on the Societies of Control,” October 59 (1992): 3–7. 39. Fieni, “What a Wall Wants,” 88. 40. Ulmer, “Writing Urban Space,” 491. 41. Baudrillard, “Kool Killer,” 100 42. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 153. As Elizabeth Grosz makes clear, “The BwO does not oppose or reject organs but is opposed to the structure or organization of bodies, the body as it is stratified, regulated, ordered, and functional, as it is subordinated to the exigencies of property and propriety.” Elizabeth Grosz, Volatile Bodies: Towards a Corporeal Feminism (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994), 169–70. 43. See, for example, Cameron Mcauliffe, “Graffiti or Street Art? Negotiating the Moral Geographies of the Creative City,” Journal of Urban Affairs 34 (2012): 189–206; Danielle Crinnion, “Get Your Own Street Cred: An Argument for Trademark Protection for Street Art,” Boston College Law Review 58 (2017): 257–85. 44. Ulmer, “Writing Urban Space,” 491–92. Also see, Lombard, “Art Crimes,” 255–78. 45. See Elizabeth Greenspan, “The New Must-Have for Luxury Buildings: Graffiti,” The New Yorker, May 2, 2014, 46. See, for example, Peter Beaumont, “The Truth about Twitter, Facebook, and the Uprisings in the Arab World,” The Guardian, February 25, 2011, world/2011/feb/25/twitter-facebook-uprisings-arab-libya; Raymond Schillinger, “Social Media and the Arab Spring: What Have We Learned,” The Huffington Post, n.d., https://www.; Heather Brown, Emily Guskin, and Amy Mitchell, “The Role of Social Media in the Arab Uprisings,” Pew Research Center, November 28, 2012,; Jessi Hempel, “Social Media Made the Arab Spring, but Couldn’t Save It,” Wired, January 26, 2016, These are only a handful of the numerous articles on this subject that continue to be published to this day. 47. See Anjali Vats, “Cooking Up Hashtag Activism: #PaulasBestDishes and Counternarratives of Southern Food,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 12 (2015): 209–13; Kate Scott, “The Pragmatics of Hashtags: Inference and Conversational Style on Twitter,” Journal of Pragmatics 81 (2015): 8–20. 48. Gilles Deleuze, “What Is a Creative Act?,” in Two Regimes of Madness: Texts and Interviews 1975–1995, ed. David Lapoujade, trans. Ames Hodges and Mike Taormina (New York: Semiotext(e), 2007), 327. 49. Chris Messina, “Groups for Twitter; Or a Proposal for Twitter Tag Channels,” Factory Joe, August 25, 2007, 50. The use and pervasiveness of hashtags became so fevered that Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake performed an entire skit using nothing but hashtags verbally, outside the digital environment, There was also a reprisal with Jonah Hill,


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51. Hannah Ellis-Petersen, “Banksy’s New Artwork Criticizes Use of Teargas in Calais Refugee Camp,” The Guardian, January 24, 2016, 2016/jan/24/banksy-uses-new-artwork-to-criticise-use-of-teargas-in-calais-refugee-camp. 52. Deleuze, “What Is a Creative Act,” 324. 53. See Neef, “Killing Kool,” 426. 54. When I searched #foodwaste on Twitter, one of the first posts was a link to and an article on the topic: Story Hinckley, “France Was the First Country to Ban Supermarkets from Throwing Away Unused Food; and the World Is Taking Notice,” Business Insider, January 6, 2018,–1?IR=T. 55. See Dominic Davies, “Walls of Freedom,” 7. 56. For an interesting analysis of Whole Foods and its particular brand of capitalist enterprise see, Nicole Aschoff, The New Prophets of Capital (London: Verso, 2015). 57. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 367. 58. Fieni, “What a Wall Wants,” 80. 59. See Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, 66. 60. David Harvey, Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution (London: Verso, 2013), 112. 61. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 381. 62. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 381. Fieni’s derives his concept of “mobile geography” from Deleuze and Guattari’s nomad. See Fieni, “What a Wall Wants,” 79.

Chapter Seven

De-Aerialization Drones and Volumizing Space

The thirteenth-century glossator on Roman law, Accursius, wrote, “Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos” (Whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell). This seemingly simple and straightforward articulation of property ownership became the standard for modern property rights. However, this maxim becomes increasingly more difficult to implement as buildings began to grow higher and objects began to take flight. As it stands today, the issues surrounding “air rights,” public air space, the “height” of national sovereignty, and permissible “levels” of air travel for various flying objects are contested and debated in courts around the United States and the world. Much of these legal hearings concern the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or more commonly referred to as drones. From national governments to multinational corporations to the average person, how drones occupy vertical space exceeds the jurisprudence of the courts and enters the public debate of property, privacy, surveillance, violence, and, of course, resistance. In this chapter, I want to explore the seemingly “empty” space above the ground and the ways in which drone technology intersects with both the aerial and the terrestrial. In the first section of the chapter, I layout the theoretical relations between the air and the terre through “volumizing” space. This three-dimensional approach to spatial analysis allows for various nodes to connect and affect each other over nonvisible spaces (airspace as opposed to visible connections like roads or pathways). Laying out the intersection between land and air allows me to explicate the ways in which nation-states utilize airspace in drone warfare. By extension, with the increased militarization of police forces in the United States (and elsewhere), 135


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the use of drone tactics becomes a domestic issue. Police forces use drones during protests to monitor the protesters and identify individuals or groups that might engage in “violent actions.” Putting aside the question of the necessity of drones for domestic policing, there is a concerted effort by drone manufactures to promote drone use among both military and police forces for financial gain. As the global war on terror continues to expand and prodemocracy/social justice protests grow in various parts of the world, the perceived need for drones also increases. Drone sales have increased worldwide not just among governments, but also among individuals for private use. As drones become more readily available to everyone, the use of drones for countersurveillance, aerial disruption, and novel forms of resistance have become increasingly common in protests. Again, these types of actions reorient the relationship between the air and the ground. In the final section of the chapter, I want to turn Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of deterritorialization on its head, so to speak. Using this reformed relation between the air and the terre, I argue for the concept of de-aerialization. De-aerialization as a concept derives from the nomadic smooth space discussed throughout this book and attends to the volumized space of air and terre. In the end, drones are indispensable for protesters and non-state actors to counter the pressures of state-sponsored neoliberalism. However, more radically, the conceptual restructuring of space introduced by the use of drones allows for new ways of occupying a space that by its very nature poses resistance to global capitalism and the imperialistic endeavors of nation-states. DRONES AND THE CURRENT SPATIAL ALIGNMENT The air, or rather airspace, for much of human history has been a smooth, untouched space where only birds and elements could pass. Through flight technology (balloons, zeppelins, airplanes, jets, etc.) humans have attempted to utilize this unimpeded space. Indeed, with commercial air travel and shipping, the smooth space has become increasingly striated with the establishment of flight paths for mass movement of people and goods across the globe. However, the advent of the drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) changed the ways in which sovereign airspace and its striation were approached. The modern drone was developed by General Atomics, who designed and built the Predator drone in 1995. By 1999, the Predator was employed in Kosovo, but only as a means of surveillance and providing laser targeting for manned aircraft. On February 16, 2001, the Predator drone successfully fired a Hellfire missile and hit its target. Only seven months before the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Predator drone became the first armed UAV and a fully capable means of attack. After the 9/11 attacks, the Predator was hastily deployed in Afghanistan to prey upon live targets. 1



What makes the development of the drone interesting, particularly the Predator and its successor the Reaper, is the relationship these aircrafts have with space. Drones, like all aircraft, have a distinct connection to the ground (terre); whether it is as a form of surveillance, a bombing run, takeoff/ landing, or mapping, aircraft are always in direct relation to the ground. The militarized drone, however, differs from other aircraft due to the operational spaces it occupies: it remains in the air for extended periods of time, but is operated by individuals on the ground. The distances between operational combat/surveillance spaces and manned operational centers can be thousands of miles—drone pilots at Creech Airforce Base in Nevada, for example, fly drones over Iraq and Afghanistan. Also unlike manned aircraft, the sightlines of the drone afford a much better view of the ground, moving across the territories below with a god-like view. In essence, then, the drone reorients the previous relationship between the air and the terre through its operational distances and lines of sight. Eyal Weizman, one of the early commentators on drones and drone warfare, notes, “Airspace is a discrete dimension absent from political maps. But it is a space of utmost importance cluttered with civilian and military airways, allowing a vantage observational point on the terrain under it, denying that position to others.” 2 The perspective afforded drones gives the drone pilot (and his/her associated nation-state) a distinct position of power. This position of power allows for the de- and subsequent reterritorialization of the land below. Thinking in terms of volume, then, allows for a reconceptualization of territory itself. As Stuart Elden writes, “Territory is a process, not an outcome; not so far from what is increasingly being understood as an assemblage, continually made and remade. Territory can be understood as a political technology, or a bundle of political technologies, understanding both political and technology in a broad sense: techniques for measuring land and controlling terrain.” 3 I find Elden’s comments fit nicely with Deleuze’s discussion of a society’s movement from a disciplinary society to one of control. Many commentators have mentioned the panoptic nature of drone surveillance and the psychological effects of the drones above a population. 4 While the perpetual surveillance does indeed relate to the disciplinary function of the panoptic prison, I think the Deleuzian elements of control are more appropriate in this instance. Andrea Brady states that drone surveillance and attacks “have made whole territories in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan into open-air prisons.” 5 It is precisely the “open-air” quality that marks drone warfare as a type of control. As Deleuze remarks, “Enclosures are molds, distinct castings, but controls are a modulation, like a self-deforming cast that will continuously change from one moment to another, or like a sieve whose mesh will transmute form point to point.” 6 In the disciplinary society, the presence of the disciplinary power is not only known, but em-


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ployed to constantly and consistently correct the subject, but “the man of control is undulatory, in orbit, in a continuous network.” 7 The networked individual is precisely the reason for the mechanisms of control in drone warfare: “This extremely inventive development in human geography set out to draw maps of a new kind, spatio-temporal graphs that would show the course of lives in three dimensions, with all their cycles and itineraries but also their accidents and deviations. In a cruel perversion, this idea of a cartography of lives has today become one of the main epistemic bases of armed surveillance.” 8 This type of surveillance, known as “pattern of life,” seeks to identify potential terrorists/threats and his/her connection to other potential terrorists/threats through the networked individual. However, the actual individual (i.e., identity) is not relevant, only the pattern of life and the data that it provides: 9 “The numerical language of control is made of codes that mark access to information, or reject it. We no longer find ourselves dealing with the mass/individual pair. Individuals have become ‘dividuals,’ and masses, samples, data, markets, or ‘banks.’” 10 Deleuze cites The Trial by Franz Kafka to highlight the movement from the disciplinary society to the society of control, he writes that in this transition there are two type of juridical forms, “The apparent acquittal of the disciplinary societies (between two incarcerations); and the limitless postponements of the societies of control (in continuous variation) are two very different modes of juridical life.” 11 The people living in regions where U.S. drones operate are in a perpetual state of surveillance, as well as limitless postponements of “juridical judgment.” Kafka best suits the United States use of drones because much like Kafka’s text, many of the subjects of surveillance and/or Hellfire missiles are completely unaware of what they did, who might have implicated them, or that the presence of drones is emblematic of any sort of “justice.” Grégoire Chamayou, author of A Theory of the Drone, notes that as war technology advances, the distance between the aggressors grows. Consider the development of the longbow and the crossbow in the Middle Ages; guns and cannons with the advent of gunpowder; tanks, planes, and finally drones. Chamayou writes, “The problem is that what we call ‘distance’ covers several dimensions that are confused in our ordinary experience but which technologies both disaggregate and redistribute spatially. So it is now possible to be both close and distant, according to dimensions that are unequal and that combine a pragmatic co-presence. Physical distance no longer necessarily implies perceptual distance.” 12 The imaging technology on drones allows for a collapsing of spatial distance where sighting an enemy (not just seeing but acting upon) can be done from the safety of the homeland. There are some significant issues with this type of warfare. Most important of these issues is that drones negate the act of war or combat altogether. In other words, the drone pilot flies missions on the “frontline” of the war on terror, but at the end of the day, goes home to his/her family at the “rear” of the war. At no



point is the body of the pilot ever put in danger, only the drone technology is in harm’s way. The imaging technology allows for these advances in combat, but this creates a paradox. In Chamayou’s words, “The paradox is that the drone, so highly praised for its great ability to make out the difference between combatants and noncombatants, in practice abolishes the very condition for that differentiation, namely combat.” 13 I will return to this issue, but for now, I want to highlight the distance between pilot, drone, and the space of “combat.” The triangulation of the pilot, drone, and territory/land of operation creates an uneasy tension between all three nodes. As mentioned, the pilot and drone are simultaneously present in combat, but also distant from each other, thereby collapsing the operational space and expanding the reach of U.S. military operations without loss of life. 14 However, the spatial relations between the drone and the terre of its hunting ground (i.e., Iraq or Afghanistan) creates new forms of striations. “The aerial sovereignty of every coastal state . . . extends to a horizontal distance of 12 miles from its coastline, whilst for land-locked states it mirrors its land boundaries, and for all states this sovereignty extends vertically to the point at which atmospheric conditions prevent aircraft maintaining flight, approximately 100 km above sea level.” 15 This means that U.S. drones require approval to operate over the land of their targets. However, drones reterritorialize the sovereign airspace of a nation to conform to the desired striations of surveillance and warfare. The United States functionally deterritorializes a nation’s sovereign airspace so that it may reterritorialize both the airspace and the territory it is flying over. In war, the aerial space directly affects the territorial space: the drone above can fire a Hellfire missile at a target on the ground, completing the triangulation of the three nodes of drone warfare. Chamayou notes, “The hostile zone, for its part, remains a space that is left derelict but which, as a potentially threatening area, definitely needs to be kept under surveillance. It may even be exploited for its resources, but it is not, strictly speaking, to be occupied.” 16 The drone becomes most useful or the best means of action when a place is hostile and requires surveillance, but should not be occupied. Aerial space is not seen as occupied in this assessment, but remains a means of maintaining a territory: aerial space is de-/reterritorialized so that the actual terre also remains unoccupied by foreign nationals. Nevertheless, the terre becomes deterritorialized through observational practices and surveillance. The earth or terre is the matter on which continuity, movement, networks, and rhizomatic connections are made. However, in state societies these productive connectivities are mitigated. Deleuze and Guattari attribute this to the state’s territorial principle: “Everything changes with State societies: it is often said that the territorial principle becomes dominant. One could also speak of deterritorialization, since the earth becomes an object, instead of being an active material element” in establishing connections. 17 The authors continue:


Chapter 7 [T]he question is not to find out whether what is retained is natural or artificial (boundaries), because in any event there is deterritorialization. But in this case deterritorialization is a result of the territory itself being taken as an object, as a material to stratify, to make resonate. . . . Each State is a global (not local) integration, a redundancy of resonance (not of frequency), an operation of the stratification of the territory. 18

The territory over which the drone operates becomes subject to the global territorial principle not just of one state (the United States), but all states that desire sovereignty and national security. Indeed, the United States acts with its own interests in mind, but the ability to deterritorialize airspace, as well as the terre of another sovereign nation in the name of security reveals the imperial and global reach of the neoliberal ethic: all developed nations are willing to forcibly deterritorialize any space that threatens its economic (which is to say sovereign) security. Much like state-sponsored neoliberal capitalism, the flows of communication and distribution of drone warfare are dispersed through and in space. The nodes of this spatial distribution create a triangulation of relations between Operator/Drone/Target. In the standard alignment of this relationship, the drone directly “interacts” with the target via surveillance or attack and the pilot engages with the drone through sighting and aerial control. However, the target and the pilot are also connected through their spatial positioning on the ground. This is to say, the pilot and the target are thousands of miles away, but as terrestrial beings, they are in a particular type of relationship precisely because of the terre. Before the earth/terre is inscribed with the statist territorial principle, the earth is “before all else the matter upon which the dynamic of lineage is inscribed,” which is to say the matter from which we all derive. I’m not making some humanistic claim of universal origins from which we should respect all life (though this is one option). 19 Rather, the terre, as Deleuze and Guattari point out, becomes divided in arbitrary and artificial ways that attempt to accentuate difference. 20 This difference, while on the horizontal plane of immanence, in conjunction with the territorial principle becomes the basis for establishing a hierarchized form of domination based on the (arbitrary and artificial) borders established in specific geographical locations, as well as technological advancement, and “civilization.” The tribal and communal living in Afghanistan, for example, is believed to be archaic and uncivilized by the centralized hierarchy of the modern nation-state system. This civilized dominance of the state is spatially represented by the god’s eye view provided by the drone. The difference of the pilot and the target is reified through the sighting ability of the drone and justified through the territorial principle—at this point, the nodes of pilot and target could easily be supplanted with the labels of state actor and non-state actor respectively. The connectivity provided by the terre is undone by the



aerial/vertical presence of the drone and reorganizes the territorial principle to include the vertical. Due to this triangulation and territorial principle of drone warfare, social geographers have called for understanding a sovereign nation’s spatial “volume”: “We all-too-often think of the spaces of geography as areas, not volumes. Territories are bordered, divided and demarcated, but not understood in terms of height and depth.” 21 Thinking of territory in terms of volume alters the relationship of space both for the individual (or dividuals), as well as for state sovereignty. With the global war on terror, the boundaries of where war is waged changes: “The whole world, it is said, is a battlefield.” 22 As a result, Chamayou writes, “The drone counters the terrestrial forms of territorial sovereignty, founded upon the enclosure of land, with the continuity of the air above. . . . It draws its own lines in the sky. . . . By becoming stratospheric, an imperial power alters its relationship to space. It now becomes a matter not so much of occupying a territory as of controlling it from above by ensuring its mastery of the skies.” 23 Again, the elements of control are found in Chamayou’s assessment of drones. Namely, the spatial enclosures of territorial nation-states are subverted through the continuity of aerial space. Drones become an aerial power, but with the ability to directly affect the territory/earth below it—this is precisely territorial volume and necessitates that we begin to think in three dimensions when considering hegemonic or imperial power. Before delving further into thinking of territorial space as volume, I want to explore the use of drones by the nation-state (primarily the United States) to a greater degree. After which, I will highlight the drone as part of the neoliberal project and the use of drones within protests. DRONES AND THE STATE The “Exterior” As I mentioned in chapter 2, drone strikes by the US government dramatically increased under the Obama administration, posting staggering statistics of the number of bombs dropped in 2016. 24 More recently, as Alex EdneyBrowne reports, the Trump administration’s drone policy is “shaping up to be even more aggressive than the Obama administration’s. There has been a significant increase in the number of drone attacks since Trump assumed office.” 25 These strikes and the use of drones more generally are a result of the “War on Terror,” but also the United States’ hegemonic military and economic power. As Ghazi-Walid Falah, Colin Flint, and Virginie Mamadouh explain, “[H]egemonic powers in the international state system . . . extend their power beyond their borders and into other sovereign states. Hegemonic power rests on such an extraterritorial reach, and so faces particular hurdles in constructing its wars as just.” 26 While I am not going to argue


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about the “justness” of a war or the War on Terror, the United States relies on its hegemonic power as a means to enter other sovereign territories and this hegemonic power is emphasized, epitomized, and legitimized through the use of the unmanned drone: there is no need for a foreign national to be in another sovereign territory. If, as Falah and his coauthors write, “Defending the prime modernity, the American ‘way of life,’ becomes the basis for a just war, a moral response, because of the extraterritorial assumptions of hegemonic universality,” then the use of drones allows for a significant reach for the imperial desires of the United States and its ability to “defend the homeland.” 27 Drones are the desired mode of surveillance and attack because “Surveillance by means of drones is more economical, as it involves no spatial alterations, nor does it require anything to be affixed to walls. Air and sky are all that are needed. . . . At this point, it is a matter no longer of surveillance and punishment but of surveillance and annihilation.” 28 The state, in addition to maintaining and redefining sovereign territory and functioning more economically, does not need to sacrifice lives of its citizens (as military personnel) in order to protect its citizens (as civilians in the homeland). In essence, the military personnel are not at risk in drone warfare, which means that the public discourse of a “just war” or a war that is worth fighting becomes nullified. As Chamayou writes, “Once warfare became ghostly and teleguided, citizens, who no longer risked their lives, would no longer even have a say in it.” 29 Essentially, drone warfare allows the government to unilaterally decide where to act without consulting the public or even acknowledging to its citizens that the nation-state is at war in another sovereign territory. The state has an invested interest in maintaining its unmanned aerial power because it is (1) economically advantageous, (2) politically advantageous, and (3) perceived as ethical (i.e., less violence and collateral damage). 30 These advantages of drone warfare offer a clear indication of why the United States wants to maintain its aerial power, but there is an additional reason the state desires a hegemonic power of verticality. While the airspace is striated by the use of aircraft and drones, specifically, by allowing U.S. unmanned drones over another sovereign territory, the striations of both the air and the terre below are striated by the United States. Deleuze and Guattari write that one of the most essential tasks of the state is to “striate the space over which it reigns, or to utilize smooth spaces as a means of communication in the service of striated space. It is a vital concern of every State not only to vanquish nomadism but to control migrations and, more generally, to establish a zone of rights over an entire ‘exterior,’ over all the flows traversing the ecumenon. If it can help it, the State does not dissociate itself from a process of capture of flows of all kinds, populations, commodities or commerce, money or capital, etc.” 31 The authors continue:



[T]he sea became the place of the fleet in being, where one no longer goes from one point to another, but rather holds space beginning from any point: instead of striating space, one occupies it with a vector of deterritorialization in perpetual motion. This modern strategy was communicated from the sea to the air, as the new smooth space, but also to the entire Earth considered as desert or sea. As converter and capture, the State does not just relativize movement, it reimports absolute movement. 32

The state striates space based on its territorial principle. This territorial principle takes the state outside of its own territory by establishing rights over its “exterior.” What takes the state outside of itself are the global “flows” that the state relies on for its sustainability, but also the desire to control all of the flows. As the neoliberal project gains momentum (and speed vis-à-vis Virilio), the powerful states attempt to capture the flows and control their directions. Control of these flows can take the form of people, as well as natural resources. This imperial venture, however, also requires a form of capture that leaves no trace by remaining anonymous. For a drone, much like neoliberalism, “anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power.” 33 A drone can put people under surveillance and also be outfitted to map territories and penetrate the terre in search of natural resources that are beneficial to the state. More than supporting the economic imperial project of the United States, drones also help to “vanquish nomadism.” Many of the territories that drones patrol and have under surveillance are the tribal territories of Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a result of congregations of Afghan citizens being targeted, many people stop participating in communal and tribal activities. 34 Under the logic of the United States, these types of organizations are threats not just to “national security,” but also the entire statist model: self-governing communities do not rely on the centralized, hierarchized power model of the state. In this case, drones become the means not just of “surveillance and punishment but of surveillance and annihilation” as a way to “vanquish nomadism.” 35 In order to find and annihilate these non-state, self-governing communities, a means of holding territory in perpetual movement is necessary. The drone provides precisely this type of ability: all territories, the entire terre/Earth becomes a space not just to striate through surveillance, but to anonymously occupy from a distance. The relationship of the pilot and the drone again provides a means to perpetually occupy the desert of the terre. In the end, the drone is the technology that binds the air and the terre and allows the state to striate, occupy, and capture space that becomes advantageous to its sustainability and longevity. However, the state’s need to striate space does not remain exterior to the territory; there is an increasing need to further striate the aerial space interior to the state. As citizens are cut out of the democratic process, become limited in their ability to self-determine, or call attention to institutionalize oppression, the police, as an arm of the state, becomes in-


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creasingly more militarized. With this militarization comes the use of drones and the very same tactics that are employed in the imperial projects “exterior” to the state. The “Interior” In the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri, protests, which involved clashes with heavily armed local police, the Obama administration opted to scale back the “1033 program.” This program supplied local law enforcement with military grade weaponry and armament, such as large caliber weapons and ammunition, armored vehicles (including tanks), grenade launchers, and weaponized aircraft. Announcing a change in this practice, President Obama stated, “We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people the feeling like there’s an occupying force—as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them.” 36 In late August 2017, President Trump voided this Obama-era directive. Only days before, Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio—the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona—who had been convicted of contempt of court for refusing to stop institutionalized racial profiling. As Jamelle Bouie writes, these two actions “show a key priority for [the Trump] administration: impunity for those with state authority and attendant disregard for the people that authority is wielded on, often cruelly.” 37 These actions indeed create a more militarized law enforcement and at the same time solidifies the United States as a budding (if not fullfledged) police state. While local law enforcement around the country receives military surplus, the tactics used by the military are also disseminated to police departments. The tracking and documentation of protesters has been a well-established practice for U.S. local law enforcement. However, with the use of drones, police forces are able to create a fundamental break from the horizontal plane and use a more versatile aerial perspective. 38 When coupled with facial recognition technology, the ability of the drone to identify potential disruptive protesters and/or create a digital archive of political dissenters becomes the key technological element of a totalitarian, police state. This change in perspective to the “overhead shot,” Andrea Brady argues, “prohibits an exchange of the gaze [which] inhibits empathy and encourages the use of force.” 39 In the end, when police forces use this technology on their citizens and are authorized to use “legitimized” violence against perceived threats, citizens are turned into potential targets. 40 Many protests assume or create a space that is autonomous from the state. All formal protests or demonstrations, however, need to be authorized by the state, but in the actual moment, protest can take on a life and feel of their own. The empowerment many people feel at these moments, while surrounded by a crowd of strangers, is a result of the space that is created by the



people and the movement. Hakim Bey named this the Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ): “The TAZ is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the State can crush it.” 41 Bey continues: Getting the TAZ started may involve tactics of violence and defense, but its greatest strength lies in its invisibility—the State cannot recognize it because History has no definition of it. As soon as the TAZ is named (represented, mediated), it must vanish, it will vanish, leaving behind it an empty husk, only to spring up again somewhere else, once again invisible because undefinable in terms of the Spectacle. The TAZ is thus a perfect tactic for an era in which the State is omnipresent and all-powerful and yet simultaneously riddled with cracks and vacancies. 42

The TAZ does not only appear at protests, nor does a protest always produce a TAZ. Nevertheless, the production of a TAZ is, as Bey points out, a direct threat to the control and power of the state. The smooth space created by a demonstration is a deterritorialization of the state’s striated space and the state must respond in order to maintain or recover its control over the space. 43 If the TAZ’s strength is in its invisibility, drones provide a means to make the TAZ visible through a shift in perspective, an advancement in sighting, and ability to put large spaces under surveillance with a single “eye.” Drones utilized by the police allow the state to reterritorialize over the protest space through aerial domination, while at the same time not disrupting the protest. More importantly, using drones does not draw attention to the state’s reterritorialization. By attempting to go unnoticed, the reterritorialization process allows the protesters/demonstrators to believe that they have created the smooth space of nomadic resistance. In the end, the use of drones allows the police and the state to maintain its control over the population, to partially fill in some of the “cracks and vacancies,” and to (once again) “vanquish nomadism.” Protesters, demonstrators, and activists, more generally, however, have also been using drones for their own security and social statements. DRONES AND PROTEST On December 7, 2011, Adam Martin published an article on one of the first uses of drones during Occupy Wall Street. The purpose of the drone was to provide a live feed of the protest and surrounding areas. Tim Pool, the developer and operator of the drone said, “It’s going to monitoring everybody. If there’s a black bloc, they’re going to get caught too. It’s going to show people the truth, whether that wrongdoing by protesters, by police, or by


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anybody else in the area.” 44 Pool’s comments articulate the broad use of drones by protesters, but there is a way to be more tactical in an approach to using drones. For example, as Neil J. Waghorn argues, “The utilisation of drones by protesters to watch the police and to conduct surveillance should be seen as a clear intention to exercise power in order to modify the behaviour of the police.” 45 Much like the police use drones to keep protesters under surveillance, activists themselves can (and should) use drones to maintain countersurveillance on the police. With the increasing awareness of police brutality and the mounting tension between various social groups within the United States, police action needs to be documented for the physical safety and legal standing of activists. 46 Indeed, police will object to the use of drones by protesters, but by broaching this topic, the legitimacy of the police’s/state’s use of drones also comes into question. 47 Waghorn calls for the use of drones as a means to establish a protester based “panoptic effect,” while at the same time creating “the potential to neutralise the capability of police to conduct police aerial surveillance of protests.” 48 With police and protesters both using drones as a means to conduct surveillance on each other, the aerial space becomes just as contested as the street and the right to the city. Drones have also been used in other forms of protest. For example, the graffiti artist KATSU utilized a drone to tag a billboard in Manhattan. As a Wired article explains, “In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the age of robotic graffiti was born. KATSU, a well-known graffiti artist and vandal, used a hacked Phantom drone to paint a giant red scribble across Kendall Jenner’s face on one of New York City’s largest and most viewed billboards. By all accounts, it is the first time that a drone has been deployed for a major act of public vandalism.” 49 While this is a rudimentary tag, the use of a drone for graffiti subjects the aerial advertising to easier and more accessible defacement. As a primary means of maintaining commodity fetishism, neoliberalism’s use of advertising can now be challenged in new and innovative ways. Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick writes, “At a time when corporations and the state capture an ever-larger share of private space, every effort must be made to maintain and expand civil society’s technological capacity for accountability and resistance.” 50 One way to do this is by “speaking truth to power through graffiti and protest art,” and the use of drones can help expand the reach of graffiti and various types of art: one can imagine using a wide array of mechanism with a drone to create an assemblage of aerial resistance. Because of the “threat” drones pose, there are various attempts by local, state, and federal government to regulate drone usage. A Fortune magazine piece articulates this in terms of safety, “Most industry experts believe the number of drones entering the airspace will rise considerably in the coming years, and there’s increasing concern that they could complicate air traffic. Given that, both lawmakers and the U.S. Department of Transportation are



working on ways to regulate drones and ensure safety.” 51 Indeed there is a safety issue for the use of drones on a daily basis and there have been documented instances of drones disrupting commercial air travel and even causing accidents. 52 However, these regulations can restrict the use of drones in places where they could benefit activists and/or mitigate the threat of police misconduct. In a more transparent effort to limit the use of drones, the Trump administration asked Congress “to give the federal government sweeping powers to track, hack and destroy any type of drone over domestic soil with a new exception to laws governing surveillance, computer privacy and aircraft protection, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.” 53 The language of the bill gives authority to law enforcement to “seize control of and use force to destroy any unmanned aircraft it determines may pose a security threat to an area designated for special protection.” 54 The ambiguity in the bill’s language means that “an area designated for special protection” can be named at a moment’s notice and just as quickly disappear—this is the state’s version of a TAZ or a domestic variance on the “Kill Box.” 55 This type of federal regulation can easily be used to striate the aerial space around a protest and destroy or incapacitate any drones operating within this space. Alternatively, NASA has developed a technology known as “Geofencing” that restricts drones from even accessing specified spaces: “A software system called Safeguard monitors the drone’s proximity to FAA-designated no-fly-zones like airports, military installations, and stadiums. If the drone gets too close (however close authorities decide that to be), Safeguard instructs it to land. Should it continue flying, the software— which works independently of the drone’s flight controls—assumes a system failure and cuts off power. The drone falls from the sky like a stone.” 56 Again, new spaces can be added to the software via updates as a means to temporarily make a new no-fly-zone. I fully support the use of drones during protests since they offer significant benefits to activists, protesters, and demonstrators. However, governments have the power to determine the use of drones through the control and striation of the airspace. Many of the options for using drones in activism that have been discussed are passive or defensive actions. In the final section, I want to explore more active or aggressive actions that do not just benefit activists, but also serve to deterritorialize the aerial space. DE-AERIALIZATION In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the ephemeral and mobile Ariel controls the airspace “where man doth not inhabit.” 57 Ariel serves as Prospero’s drone and while Prospero is already the seat of power on the island, his reach and power are significantly expanded by Ariel’s ability to soar above the territo-


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ry, surveil the land, and manipulate both the terre and people. Ariel, and drones more generally, unify the air and the terre, but where Ariel seeks his freedom from the arm of power, drones offer a line of flight to directly confront the power structures of both the state and state-sponsored neoliberalism. This “line of flight” emanates from the deterritorialization not just of the land, but through the relationship between the terre and the air. The triangulation created by the nodes of operator, drone, and target can be overwritten and by thinking these elements differently, the territorial principle can be neutralized—if only momentarily. As a means to rethink these relationships, I want to begin by discussing deterritorialization. Let’s revisit the triangulation of the drone, operator, and target. The assemblage of these nodes has a particular relation of power (pouvoir), where the operator determines both the movement of the drone and the outcome of the target (this can vary depending on the mission). The focus is on the vertical and horizontal lines: the vertical line is a line of sight/attack from the drone to the target. This line supplies information by way of surveillance or neutralization of a target through delivery of munitions. The horizontal line is the plane on which the operator and target are aligned. Both individuals exist on the terre, but Chamayou argues that thinking of the modern enemy changes this relationship. Working from Carl Schmitt’s assessment of “autonomous aerial warfare,” he states, “The verticalization of armed violence implies a tendency toward the absolute hostilization of the enemy, both politically and juridically. He is no longer positioned, in any sense of the term, on the same ground as oneself.” 58 The enemy is always viewed (in some cases literally viewed through surveillance) as hostile and puts this enemy in a different political and juridical territory. While this might be true, the territorial and spatial alignment remains the same: both the operator and the target have both feet on the ground. The vertical line is dependent on the horizontal line; in other words, the target must be on the ground for the drone to be tactfully advantageous. Deleuze and Guattari, in their discussion of the rhizome, explain that the complexities of relationships are made up of various “lines.” Lines, for the authors, are movements and potentialities; they are avenues to particular points and make up the connectivity of objects, places, species, writings, or concepts. They write, “We can identify a first state of the line, or a first kind of line: the line is subordinated to the point; the diagonal is subordinated to the horizontal and vertical; the line forms a contour, whether figurative or not; the space it constitutes remains subordinate to the One in an always superior or supplementary dimension. Lines of this type are molar, and form a segmentary, circular, binary, arborescent system.” 59 The U.S. drones used abroad and the drones of the militarized domestic police forces are the arborescent systems that create the binary of hostile enemy and just government. The diagonal line between the drone and the operator is subordinate to the



vertical and horizontal alignment. The operator’s connection to the drone is assumed and the drone is merely a point that is controlled to meet the ends of the One (i.e., the U.S. government or police). The second type of line that Deleuze and Guattari identify is “molecular and of the ‘rhizome’ type.” They write: The diagonal [line] frees itself, breaks or twists. The line no longer forms a contour, and instead passes between things, between points. It belongs to a smooth space. . . . The multiplicity it constitutes is no longer subordinated to the One, but takes on a consistency of its own. These are multiplicities of masses or packs, not of classes; anomalous and nomadic multiplicities, not normal or legal ones; multiplicities of becoming, or transformational multiplicities, no countable elements and ordered relations. . . . At the level of theory, the status of multiplicities is correlative to that of spaces, and vice versa: smooth spaces of the type desert, steppe, or sea are not without people; they are not depopulated but rather are populated by multiplicities of this second kind. 60

What makes the diagonal line distinctive and “rhizomatic” is that it is not subordinate to any other line and offers new connections through viewing these connections in a new order. In other words, the diagonal connection between the operator and the drone, when not subordinated to the vertical and horizontal lines, breaks the binaries manifest in the triangulation (operator/drone, drone/target, operator/target), brings into focus the connectivity between human, object, and earth, and deterritorializes those relationships. Rather than viewing the drone/airspace as a means to a desired end, the drone and airspace become codetermining nodes in the volumizing of territory. Indeed, this identifies the diagonal between operator/drone in an attempt to show the means of deterritorialization; by connecting these nodes, the spatial volume not only becomes realized, but the ability to de-/reterritorialize the volume becomes possible—volume is space of multiplicities. By thinking in terms of volume and three dimensions, the plane of possibility (plane of immanence) is multiplied to include vertical and diagonal movement—the nomad can move in and take advantage of movement in the aerial space. The drone is like “metallurgy” for the war machine. 61 By including the aerial in nomadic/smooth space, the possibilities of new connections increase to n + 1. The drone is the addition to the space that allows for new combinations. As Manuel DeLanda writes, “a crucial ingredient for the emergence of innovation at any level of reality is the ‘combinatorial productivity’” of chemical-like reactions among different elements when a catalyst is introduced. 62 The drone is not the catalyst, but rather part of the combinatorial productivity. The aerial space serves as the catalyst and the drone, as a nodal point, offers one possibility within the volumetric space. This is to say,


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the drone, an aerial “element” produced by the volumizing catalyst, serves as connective property/node within the combination of the air and terre. One effect of the nomad’s (here read as protester’s) use of the drone changes the signifier from “enemy” or “target” to something altogether different by not subordinating the diagonal. The conceptual triangulation undergoes a shift in which the multiplicity of nodes/points have equal value. This makes the points of attack no longer singular, but multiple, varied, and unpredictable. This is a recognition, not just of the diagonal, but the individual nodes/points vulnerability/power (puissance). In fact, the drone’s “target” could be other members of the protest/war machine. The drone, operating above the space of engagement (protest or counter-protest against the state or other elements of oppression) becomes a means to disseminate information, communiques, or even provide means of digital connectivity by maintaining a secure and encrypted wireless router. 63 If the drone carries an encrypted router that serves as a “hotspot” for activists, protesters, or any group resisting oppressive forces there is no one specific target, no singular element that receives the “payload” of the drone. Rather, the drone allows digital access for all equally and, in many ways, merges the nodes of operator and “target.” A drone with a camera sends images back to the operator, who then could notify agents on the ground. While this creates what Waghorn refers to as the “protester panopticon,” the operator becomes a node that can be easily isolated and counteracted. 64 On the other hand, if the drone not only has the means to communicate to various outlets via an encrypted network, the drone could also be operated by various users—not a singular operator. Furthermore, by using swarm technology for drones, the aerial node can be multiplied, thus creating a more populated and decentered volumized space. 65 The drones are no longer simply a means to an end as the U.S. military and intelligence community uses them, but become integrated into the war machine itself—this would be an outcome of a “minor science,” a “hydraulic model” that is “one of becoming and heterogeneity.” 66 Imagine an updated diagram of the triangulation of operator, drone, and target. The multiple (potential) operators are in contact with the multiple drones above the zone of contact, which in turn are communicating with multiple recipients of the drone’s signal. But there is a more acute diagonal line here: the connection to the internet and the users not present in the physical volumized space. These users become a variable within the space that cannot be accounted for. In other words, through the communication between the protesters/recipients and users online (in a designated IRC, for example), users can use the information provided by both the drone and by the protesters on the ground to affect the space in a variety of ways or simply gather additional support for action in the zone of contact. In effect, the line of flight is exterior to the protest space, but still has the capability to affect the space. The drones act as a decentered access point to the larger digital



space of the internet and the resources it contains. As opposed to a single person with a “hotspot,” the vertical space projects the signal to a broader group and the swarm can provide access from/to a large swath of activists on the ground. Indeed, the airspace is and will become a highly sought-after space by both agents of resistance and the police. However, those in the resistance are not trying to control the aerial space, but diversify the space in new ways. Unlike the ways in which the military uses drones, a resistance movement might think of drones as a means to complicate the protest space by exceeding it. Military drones are striating aerial space as a means of control. The military drone patrols and monitors space. The resistance drone introduces new elements not just into the aerial space, but the entire volume of space. De-aerialization, then, is not simply disrupting the striated aerial space of police or military drones (though this is a viable tactic). De-aerialization uses the vertical/aerial space as a means to introduce outside, not necessarily airborne, forces that can affect the entire space, air and terre. De-aerialization is a component of Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of deterritorialization. This particular aspect of deterritorialization highlights the ways in which the state uses aerial space to striate territory and ways in which that striation might be resisted. This chapter shows the ways the state, particularly the United States, uses drones and aerial space to assert its territorial principle, but also maintain its power through superior position, perspective, and firepower. While this chapter doesn’t deal with neoliberalism directly, the state has a direct connection and interest in neoliberal capitalism. David Harvey writes, “The neoliberal state should persistently seek out internal reorganizations and new institutional arrangements that improve its competitive position as an entity vis-à-vis other states in the global market.” 67 Harvey continues, “the neoliberal state needs nationalism of a certain sort to survive.” 68 The modern nation-state and the current iteration of neoliberalism are intimately bound together, so much so that the current ideas of freedom in the United States are central to the neoliberal ideology and detrimental to individual liberty. This connection between nation and neoliberalism helped to produce drones and various forms of technology that can now be used to resist these institutions that seek to mitigate freedom, disrupt community solidarity, and maintain oppressive forms of inequality. By understanding drone tactics used by the military and increasingly by domestic police forces, activists, protesters, or any form of resistance can better prepare us for what is to come. Furthermore, these tactics can be used to support acts of resistance in various forms. I attempted to isolate one particular use of drones and how this power can create a smooth space of action. This space benefits from thinking vertically, or more precisely, volumetrically. Drones operate in aerial space, but merely occupying or taking over the airspace does not effectively produce the smooth space of the war


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machine. I argue that the introduction of digital connectivity by way of secure aerial internet connections and images becomes a line of flight that disrupts the standard space of protest activity. Drones become a digital appendage not just to the individual, but to the multiplicity required by acts of solidarity and resistance. In the end, drones become yet another mechanism in the art of resistance. This art draws from the minor science of the war machine. As the state and its neoliberal ideology continue to penetrate the lives of individuals and destroy the territories it claims to defend, the war machine also gathers strength by looking for new weapons to combat the mechanisms of control. NOTES 1. See Grégoire Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone (New York: The New Press, 2013), 26–29. 2. Eyal Weizman, “The Politics of Verticality: Control in the Air,”, May 1, 2002, 3. Stuart Elden, “Secure the Volume: Vertical Geopolitics and the Depth of Power,” Political Geography 34 (2013): 36. 4. See, for example, Alex Edney-Browne, “‘I Saw Pieces of Bodies’: Afghan Civilians Describe Terrorization by US Drones,” Truthout, July 1, 2017, item/41127-i-saw-pieces-of-bodies-afghan-civilians-describe-terrorization-by-us-drones; Neil J. Waghorn, “Watching the Watchmen: Resisting Drones and the ‘Protester Panopticon,’” Geographica Helvetica 71 (2016): 99–108; Andrea Brady, “Drone Poetics,” New Formations 89–90 (2017): 116–36; Weizman, “The Politics of Verticality”; Ghazi-Walid Falah, Colin Flint, and Virginie Mamadouh, “Just War and Extraterritoriality: The Popular Geopolitics of the United States’ War on Iraq as Reflected in Newspapers of the Arab World,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 96 (2006): 142–64. 5. Brady, “Drone Poetics,” 117. 6. Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on the Societies of Control” October 59 (1992): 4. 7. Deleuze, “Postscript,” 6. 8. Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 42. 9. See Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 30–45. 10. Deleuze, “Postscript,” 5. 11. Deleuze, “Postscript,” 5. 12. Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 116. 13. Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 144. 14. For a discussion of issues of sovereignty surrounding the incursion of a UAV into a state territory, see Alison J. Williams, “A Crisis in Aerial Sovereignty? Considering the Implications of Recent Military Violations of National Airspace,” Area 42 (2010): 51–59. 15. Williams, “A Crisis in Aerial Sovereignty,” 53. 16. Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 22–23. 17. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 388. 18. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 433. 19. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 388. 20. See Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 433. 21. Elden, “Secure the Volume,” 35. 22. Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 52. 23. Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 53.



24. See Micah Zenko, “Obama’s Embrace of Drone Strikes Will Be a Lasting Legacy,” New York Times, January 12, 2016, 25. Edney-Browne, “‘I Saw Pieces of Bodies.’” Also see Ken Dilanian, Hans Nichols, and Courtney Kube, “Trump Admin Ups Drone Strikes, Tolerates More Civilian Deaths: U.S. Officials,” NBC News, March 14, 2017, 26. Falah, Flint, and Mamadouh, “Just War and Extraterritoriality,” 145. 27. Falah, Flint, and Mamadouh, “Just War and Extraterritoriality,” 145. 28. Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 44. First emphasis mine; second emphasis original. 29. Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 188. 30. See Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 189. 31. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 385–86. 32. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 387. 33. George Monbiot, “Neoliberalism: The Ideology at the Root of All Our Problems,” The Guardian, April 16, 2016, Bookmarks+base&utm_term=199120&subid=28447&CMP=EMCBKSEML3964. 34. See Edney-Browne, “‘I Saw Pieces of Bodies”; Brady, “Drone Poetic,” 118; and James Cavallaro, Stephan Sonnenberg, and Sarah Knuckey, Living under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan (Stanford: International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, Stanford Law School, New York: NYU School of Law, Global Justice Clinic, 2012). 35. Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 44. 36. Quoted in Jamelle Bouie, “A Fetishization of ‘Law and Order,’”, August 28, 2017, ed_arpaio_and_reinstated_a_militarized_police.html. 37. Bouie, “A Fetishization of ‘Law and Order.’” 38. See Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, “Drones for Good: Technological Innovations, Social Movements, and the State,” Journal of International Affairs 68 (2014): 20–21. 39. Brady, “Drone Poetics,” 118. On the other hand, Ian Thresher argues that arming drones with non-lethal weapons will reduce the risk of direct, armed confrontation between citizens and police. I am skeptical of this precisely because of the distance between the operator and the target. See, Ian Thresher, “Can Armed Drones Halt the Trend of Increasing Police Militarization?” Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, & Public Policy 31 (2017): 455–77. 40. See Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 202–3. 41. Hakim Bey, T.A.Z.: Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism (The Anarchist Library: 1985), 95. 42. Bey, T.A.Z., 95. 43. See Gülsüm Baydar, “Gender, Public Space, and Resistance,” Architecture _Media_Politics_Society 5 (2014): 1–12. 44. Adam Martin, “Occupy Wall Street Has a Drone: The Occucopter,” The Atlantic, December 7, 2011, 45. Waghorn, “Watching the Watchmen,” 100. 46. Consider the events in Charlottesville, NC, on August 11, 2017, and Berkeley, CA on February 1, 2017 (as well as, March 4 and April 15). 47. Waghorn, “Watching the Watchmen,” 101. For a discussion of state legitimacy, policing, and free speech, see Amory Starr, Luis Fernandez, and Christian Scholl, Shutting Down the Streets: Political Violence and Social Control in the Global Era (New York: New York University Press, 2011), 23–48. 48. Waghorn, “Watching the Watchmen,” 102. 49. Michel Holland, “The Age of Drone Vandalism Begins with an Epic NYC Tag,” Wired, April 30, 2017, 50. Choi-Fitzpatrick, “Drones for Good,” 29.


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51. Don Reisinger, “Proposed Law Would Let Local Governments Legislate Drones,” Fortune, June 28, 2017, 52. See Jennings Brown, “This Could Be the Frist Drone-Caused Aircraft Crash in the US,” Gizmodo, February 16, 2018,; Conner Forrest, “12 Drone Disaster that Show Why the FAA Hates Drones,” TechRepublic, March 20, 2015, 53. Charlie Savage, “Proposed Rules Would Allow U.S. to Track and Destroy Drones,” New York Times, May 23, 2017, 54. Savage, “Proposed Rules.” 55. For an explanation of the “Kill Box,” see Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 52–59. 56. Eric Adams, “New NASA Tech Kills Trespassing Drones without Touching Them,” Wired, July 12, 2017, 57. William Shakespeare, The Tempest, ed. G. Blakemore Evans, The Riverside Shakespeare, 2nd Edition (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997), 3.3.57. 58. Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, 166. 59. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 505. 60. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 505–6. 61. See Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 404–15. 62. Manuel DeLanda, “Deleuze and the Open-Ended Becoming of the World,” The Manuel DeLanda Annotated Bibliography, 63. This could be achieved in a variety of ways, but the U.S. Secret Service is currently experimenting with “tethered” drones. This technology is designed to mitigate signal jamming, as well as reduce lag time in the video feed. See Joanna Walters, “Secret Service Will Deploy Drones to Watch Trump during Golfing Vacation,” The Guardian, August 3, 2017, https:// 64. Waghorn, “Watching the Watchmen,” 101. 65. Currently, there is only one reported use of a drone swarm in military action. A swarm of thirteen drones attacked a Russian position in Syria. See David Reid, “A Swarm of Armed Drones Attacked a Russian Military Base in Syria,”, January 11, 2018, https:// 66. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 361. 67. David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 65. 68. Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, 85.

Chapter Eight

Digital Resistance

The world is becoming increasingly more digital with every passing day. Moore’s Law, which states that processing speed and technological production will double itself every eighteen months, attempts to articulate the speed not just of technological growth, but of social growth as well. As technology improves, becomes more reliable, faster, and increasingly utilized in society, the society and culture that employ this technology changes as well. From the development of the cellular phone to the ubiquitous use of smart phones, the transformation of the global society, as well as individual cultures, has been changing in parallel to technological development. 1 People rely on the internet, apps, and various digital “prosthetics” for their daily activities and as a means to (dis)engage with the surrounding physical world. Digital spaces and the spaces that digital devices augment become layered, potentially smooth, spaces that allow for new types of creativity generally and new practices of resistance specifically. The reality constructed by the interface of the digital and the physical need not be a hyperreality—though this is a possibility and a danger—but rather a reality that, in its dynamism, becomes its own line of flight that produces new types of interaction and connections. Indeed, the internet alone allows for unique connections across the globe. But this also means that neoliberalism forges new connections that solidifies its status as a global capital leviathan. Therefore, only by resisting neoliberalism in both the physical and digital worlds can progress be made to go beyond the ethic of complete commodification. The last three chapters explored various ways and means of creating smooth digital space, an interconnected community of resistance, and occupied aerial space. The spaces discussed are not exclusively digital (i.e., the spaces of graffiti writing and air space), but the ways that these spaces are enhanced or augmented rely upon digital elements. In each one of these 155


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chapters, the digital element serves the physical world of resistance in ways that allow for a stronger, more connected and yet plastic model of social resistance. This is to say, exclusively digital resistance (say for example a DDoS attack without any physical manifestation) remains ephemeral and more easily dismissed precisely because of the digital nature of the action. Nevertheless, digital resistance is a powerful tool that when used in conjunction with physical protest or action, the mark and effect of the resistance becomes more pronounced. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, #tagging, and de-aerialization are only a few ways to engage in a multifaceted resistance. Nevertheless, these resistance tactics begin to form an assemblage of a larger nomadic resistance: a digitally enhanced war machine. Every war machine requires language and means of communication. As forms of writing, #tagging and DDoS are both direct assaults on specific spaces. As I argued in chapter 6, where #tagging uses spray paint on a wall, a DDoS attack uses lines of code on a website. Both spaces are publicly visible and the assaults employ a form of writing. Both actions are also temporary. The fact that these actions are temporary does not make them any less effective. In fact, due to the impermanent nature of DDoS attacks and #tagging, an “overwriting” becomes possible. In other words, as situations, movements, issues, as well as the spaces themselves change, the writing on these spaces can change as well. No wall remains the same and as such, the writing on the wall should be fluid and change as the wall and its surroundings change. Nevertheless, #tagging as a spatio-digital language opens up a specific space to new criticisms, new ways of viewing a previously unnoticed space, and connect peoples and issues from around the world. DDoS attacks that use lines of code to disrupt and make invisible a state or corporation’s online presence draws attention to the problematics of that entity. Much like the hashtag attached to graffiti redirects attention online to a specific discussion or issue, the effects of the DDoS attack act as a detour that asks for an explanation. By attacking specific targets and spaces, these actions open possibilities and new insights through an unexpected occurrence. #tagging and DDoS attacks create new digital smooth spaces from which new lines of flight can be created. For these lines of flight to be truly effective, the desire for power and control must be mitigated as much as possible. As forms of direct action that lead to or support new lines of flight, DDoS and de-aerialization resist the surveillance apparatuses of state and statesponsored neoliberalism. As I argue, a DDoS attack can inhibit web traffic to strategic targets and either take a website offline temporarily thereby not allowing specific information to be disseminated or impede a company’s ability to make money for a certain span of time. While this action is illegal, the rise of what is becoming illegal should be a matter of concern and emphasizes the need for actions such as DDoS-ing specific targets that encroach upon the liberty and equality of all people. 2 DDoS attacks show the cracks

Digital Resistance


within the seemingly impenetrable walls of state and corporate monoliths. This action is also a means to curtail the surveillance and tracking of online traffic. 3 Learning how to utilize DDoS programs also requires other simple software that everyone should use regularly: Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and/or The Onion Router (TOR). These programs inhibit the collection of metadata—this is not to say that they are infallible, but they do allow for more private and anonymous navigation of the internet. Furthermore, by engaging in DDoS attacks, the target corporation or state entity cannot collect metadata and other identifying information, even if momentarily. For example, in Florida, the Orlando City Police Department recently activated facial recognition software developed by Amazon. 4 In a similar move, Google is currently developing an AI drone system for the U.S. Department of Defense. 5 These two enterprises clearly exemplify the corporate complicity with state surveillance and data collection. (How might one stop this collection of data?) These systems will not just be utilized in the United States, but will mostly likely be employed and sold abroad; thus, reinforcing the link between corporations and state-sponsored neoliberalism. Like DDoS attacks, de-aerialization seeks to mitigate the governmental presence of drones by jamming and/or retaking the airspace for the inhabitants of a particular territory. The state lays sole claim to airspace, but with the increase in individual drone use, this claim is being challenged. Fortunately, the laws cannot keep up with the development and now is the time to openly challenge state aerial space and its absolute desire for the panoptic/Icarian view. As state power grows and an increasing number of corporations collaborate with the state, spatial restrictions and surveillance will only increase. Resistance, particularly spatial resistance, must become a key element to not only maintaining liberty and equality, but expanding them for the betterment of all people. Maintaining and creating connections in the ever-expanding rhizome must be integral to a resistance movement. #tagging and de-aerialization are means to digitally connect parts of the resistance movement. Graffiti alone marks a specific territory and may only be visible to the local community. However, through #tagging, an issue, message, or ongoing struggle can be broadcast to a much larger population. As a new form of a spatio-digital language, #tagging not only marks a specific territory in an effort to deterritorialize the space, it transmits the message across the digital environment linking other nodes of resistance to create a larger social movement. As these nodes of resistance find each other, a wave of resistance begins to grow, making the great cycle even greater and more powerful. For this resistance to become truly effective the message needs to “rise into the air” and what it is talking about “goes underground.” 6 The resistance, then, requires de-aerialization to move skyward and push the message further toward the horizon. De-aerialization, by reclaiming airspace and the immediate territory of a protest/direct action, can provide valuable


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information and communication to the actors on the ground. De-aerialization provides an important service for the proximate space, but the information, images, communications, etc., can then be broadcast outward to a larger community via the internet. While the reclamation of airspace serves a very specific purpose for an act of resistance, the act of de-aerialization binds the larger resistance movement through shared content, practices, and information and allows the movement to go underground, to unearth new potentials, to destabilize the foundations of state-sponsored neoliberalism. All three of these chapters express a desire for increased connectivity and solidarity. In each case, an action (a Distributed Denial of Service attack, tagging, or using a drone) is initially imagined as solitary, an individual act of subversion. However, there is, imbedded in the action and by the very nature of the act, an expression of connectivity. For a DDoS attack, many times these types of actions are done in concert with other hacktivists or lead to the formation of new contacts. Similarly, the act of #tagging connects a resistance movement, cause, or issue to other people engaged in a similar struggle in various places around the world. Through de-aerialization, groups of people can create a secure means of communication, countersurveillance, and, if needed, protection from the powerful overreach of the state. Maintaining an unwavering solidarity within acts of resistance, as well as larger, ongoing resistance movements is key to creating spaces in which new forms of existence, new ways of becoming can flourish. In the end all these actions are striving for increased connections and new becomings. This means that the ethic of solidarity and a radicle of possibilities should be embedded into the actions themselves. From this radicle, the rhizome of new becomings can begin to grow and expand in novel and unexpected ways. NOTES 1. Consider Jean Twenge’s research on teenage development and cell phone use: IGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us (New York: Atria Books, 2017). 2. President Donald Trump praised the NFL’s decision to ban kneeling during the national anthem, stating that “You have to stand proudly for national anthem, or shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. And the NFL owners did the right thing.” John Bowden, “Trump: ‘Maybe You Shouldn’t Be in the Country’ if You Can’t ‘Stand Proudly’ for National Anthem,” The Hill, May 24, 2018, 3. After the recent school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, Fox News anchor Sean Hannity suggested that all high-school-age teenagers’ social media should be monitored. 4. See “Orlando Police Testing Amazon’s Facial Recognition Software,” WESH 2 News, May 23, 2018,

Digital Resistance


5. See Kate Conger, “Google Employees Resign in Protest against Pentagon Contract,”, May 14, 2018, 6. Gilles Deleuze, “What Is the Creative Act?,” in Two Regimes of Madness: Texts and Interviews 1975–1995, trans. A. Hodges and M. Taormina (New York: Semiotext[e]), 324.

Conclusion Nationalism Is Not the Answer

In an article published in The New York Times on April 3, 2018, Mark Landler reported that President Donald Trump has not changed his views on foreign policy. Landler writes, “Far from learning on the job or modifying his views to fit the imperatives of America’s global role—as did so many of his predecessors—Mr. Trump is falling back on the familiar mix of belligerence and isolationism that fueled his ‘America First’ campaign.” 1 The Trump presidency, coupled with Brexit and the continued rise of far-right “nationalist” parties across Europe reveals an anxiety over the continued “global agenda.” Indeed, I have been showing the pitfall and arguing against the type of globalization touted by neoliberalism. However, in my critique of neoliberalism, I am not supporting a doctrine of isolationism and a strong, militarized nation-state. Quite the contrary. I am advocating something more radical and in line with what might be called an anarchist politics. 2 This concluding chapter was initially slated to focus solely on the rise of an independent, self-established, and self-ruled area of Syria known as Rojava. Borne out of the Syrian civil war, the three cantons of Rojava—made up of a Kurdish majority—declared their independence and established a governing system based on the work of Abdullah Öcalan, who was influenced by American anarchist thinker Murry Bookchin. The organization and rule of Rojava is a direct response to neoliberal capitalism and the Western nationstate as the privileged form of governance. However, with the perturbing rise of nationalist programs and the accompanied xenophobia, racism, sexism, etc., I feel it is necessary to address these issues as well as, and in contrast to, the emerging radical democracy in Rojava. Consequently, in this final section, I begin with a discussion of the current (white) nationalist and isolation161



ist trend in the United States and its association with the Trump administration. Serving as a counterpoint, I will introduce Rojava, its “democratic confederalism,” and the anarchist principles that inform its establishment—a particular form of an anarchist politics that blends post-structuralist critiques with anarchist ideas, often referred to as “postanarchism.” Finally, I will discuss and advocate for cooperative spatial resistance for the well-being of all forms of life on earth. I believe we are beginning to see the fracturing of the nation-state precisely because of the increased ability to interact with people from around the world and move across large spaces with relative ease. As the world becomes smaller, the sensibilities of an outdated modernity can no longer establish themselves or be maintained in a form of governance that requires centralization and built on hierarchy and domination. TRUMP, ISOLATION, AND A NEW NATIONALISM When Donald Trump began his presidential campaign, the red hats proclaiming “Make America Great Again” polluted his rallies and began to be seen in a variety of “alt-right” gatherings. Trump’s plan to “Make America Great Again” began with an isolationist attitude and promise to put “America First,” which ostensibly meant creating jobs for Americans, rebuilding the domestic institutions that made America strong, and introducing a foreign policy that will “make better deals.” 3 All of this language is rather ambiguous and very little policy is ever publicly discussed by Trump or members of his cabinet. Trump has condemned free trade agreements that left “millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache” and said that “Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalization, moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas. Globalization has made the financial elite, who donate to politicians, very, very wealthy.” 4 Indeed neoliberal free trade agreements hurt American workers and increased revenue for international businesses—and thus making shareholders pleased. While Trump’s statement reveals the implied connection between capitalism and the state (discussed below), he offers no way forward other than to “declare our economic independence once again. That means . . . That means voting for Donald Trump.” 5 Trump’s rhetoric taps into the population’s disenchantment with neoliberal capitalism and the fervor of patriotism. However, this type of patriotism is both media induced and myopic in its estimation of what constitutes being a good citizen. The amount of media consumed by the average American has been steadily rising with the twenty-four-hour news cycle, access to information via the internet, and the popularity of social media. 6 This level of connectivity coupled with an uncritical audience can (and does) lead to a proliferation of opinions that support a strong nation-state, as well as views that demean



equal-liberty and solidarity. As pundits on Fox News berate peaceful and strategic protests like Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem for denigrating the flag and disrespecting the troops (banned by the NFL as of May 23, 2018), the form of patriotism that has taken hold, primarily among conservative voters, is not tolerant of any type of criticism of the United States. The reason this type of movement toward nationalism is notable because it is reliant upon the arbitrary borders of a nation to define itself and requires a particular type of characteristics an individual should have to reside within a particular geographical area—i.e., speaking English in the United States. 7 Since Trump’s election, the national sentiment has shifted to include the rise of the so-called “alt-right.” This movement is a thinly veiled racism that seeks to ensure the continued dominance of the white, heterosexual, cis male in American society. Indeed, there are multiple reasons for this movement toward nationalism and/or fundamentalism. Meredith Tax posits that one reason for the rise in fundamentalism and invocation of “a dream of homogeneous ancient communities ruled by male elders” is “the success of the global women’s movement, which has been growing in strength, despite numerous setbacks and massive cooptation.” 8 In addition to the women’s movement, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ rights, environmental protests like Standing Rock, indigenous rights, among many other movements for equal rights and social justice, the status quo of white, middle-class, heterosexual male domination is fracturing and is under a perceived direct threat. As the popular protest sign reads: “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” Nevertheless, groups like Unite the Right and speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard Spenser, and David Duke all proclaim some form of white nationalism—often supported and promoted by Breitbart Media run by Stephen Bannon, former advisor to President Trump. Some groups, like Turning Point USA, do not necessarily promote white nationalism, but are staunch advocates for “libertarianism” or small government and the free market. Bound up with the libertarian stance is that the United States is the “greatest country in the history of the world” precisely because it supports a free market. 9 As David Harvey writes, “The free mobility of capital between sectors, regions, and countries is regarded as crucial. All barriers to that free movement (such as tariffs, punitive taxation arrangements, planning and environmental controls, or other locational impediments) have to be removed, except in those areas crucial to ‘the national interest,’ however that is defined. State sovereignty over commodity and capital movements is willingly surrendered to the global market.” 10 Since the election of Donald Trump, the intimate relationship between the nation-state/ nationalism and capitalism has been laid bare. President Trump does not appear to be a wholesale supporter of neoliberal capitalism and yet, he seems to be an avid backer of the free market and sympathetic to the libertarian stance. Honestly, I would be hard pressed to



find continuity in the statements of the forty-fifth president and show a particular “brand” of capitalism to which Trump subscribes. Suffice to say, Donald Trump is a supporter of capitalism and he is using his position as president of the United States to further a capitalist agenda—neoliberal or otherwise. Trump’s presidency not only shows the reciprocal relationship between capitalism and the nation-state, but also shows the type of governance desired by capitalism: Governance by majority rule is seen as a potential threat to individual rights and constitutional liberties. Democracy is viewed as a luxury, only possible under conditions of relative affluence coupled with a strong middle-class presence to guarantee political stability. Neoliberals therefore tend to favour governance by experts and elites. A strong preference exists for government by executive order and by judicial decision rather than democratic and parliamentary decision-making. Neoliberals prefer to insulate key institutions, such as the central bank, from democratic pressures. 11

Not coincidently, the rise of groups that not only support a free market, but also nationalism, white nationalism, if not fascism results from a desire to undermine democracy. Part of the appeal of Donald Trump to some voters was his decisiveness and strong man image. 12 This level of decisiveness, a reliance on executive orders, and an insistence on “law and order” all point to a burgeoning fascism. As the United States becomes increasing more nationalist and the president becomes increasing more powerful, the nation-state begins to become a fascist state. Abdullah Öcalan articulates this in no uncertain terms, “Fascist exercise of power is the nature of the nation-state. Fascism is the purest form of the nation-state.” 13 While the United States is not a full-blown fascist state (yet), it is not a democracy either. 14 Even if the United States is viewed as a democratic nation-state, as long as the nationstate exists, the territorial principle will also exist, 15 and with it the principle of property, which according to Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt includes identity, “identity itself is based on property and sovereignty. On the first level, the rule of property is a means of creating identity and maintaining hierarchy.” 16 Negri and Hardt continue, “On a second and more profound level, however, identity is property. . . . Though not alienable, like most forms of property, identity is title and possession that wields the power of exclusion and hierarchy. Identity is a weapon of the republic of property, but one that can be turned against it.” 17 With national sovereignty and the idealization of property, identity and the ways in which identity creates fractures in what ought to be a seamless solidarity (i.e., feminists working with members of the trans+ community) will continue to play a role in perpetuating both the nation-state and capitalism (neoliberal or otherwise). Identity as property, the commodification of identity, and the divisions created by identity politics need to be overcome. This means abolishing identity (and iden-



tity politics), while at the same time fighting for the equality of those identities. Negri and Hardt set out a series of three tasks to overcome the problems of identity. First, make visible the violence of identity. The authors write, “The initial positive task of identity politics in the various domains is thus to combat blindness and make visible the brutally real but too often hidden mechanisms and regimes of social subordination, segmentation, and exclusion that operate along identity lines.” 18 As Foucault and Deleuze have shown, power operates through institutions and structures, which leads to the second step: “proceed from indignation to rebellion against the structures of domination using the subordinated identity as a weapon in the quest for freedom.” 19 For example, Black Lives Matter has done amazing work in exposing the reality of white privilege, not just in law enforcement, but also in U.S. culture generally. While BLM is, in a sense, a radical movement, to become truly revolutionary and make significant change, identity politics and concept of identity itself needs to continue to move forward. This means “a third political task is necessary in order to support the first two tasks, keep the rebellious function of identity moving forward, and carry identity politics toward a revolutionary project: to strive for its own abolition.” 20 The abolition of identity is not the destruction of difference, but rather allows for a proliferation of difference by not institutionalizing difference within sociopolitical hierarchies. New forms of difference can (and will) be created if particular identities are not codified and emphasized by oppressive institutions. One way to push beyond identity is to think in terms of “singularity.” 21 Singularity has three primary characteristics: (1) a singularity can only exist in relation to other singularities (i.e., other people); (2) a singularity is composed of a complex mess of experiences, thoughts, feelings, and differences (multiplicities), some of which contradict one another and yet create the whole; and (3) a singularity is always growing and changing. Thinking in terms of singularity allows for the complexity of what it means to be immersed in society and be affected by environment, other singularities, and a host of other variables. We are always more than just our gender, sexuality, race, class, etc. We are always all of these at once, but a neoliberal state desires the stagnation of identity so that it can adequately quantify and categorize individuals as a means to use power to systematically dominate those within its grasp. Indeed, to live without race, gender, or any identity formations is a scary prospect and Negri and Hardt clearly state this: “This revolutionary process of the abolition of identity, we should keep in mind, is monstrous, violent and traumatic. Don’t try to save yourself—in fact, your self has to be sacrificed. . . . Revolution is not for the faint of heart. It is for monsters. You have to lose who you are to discover what you can become.” 22 But also keep in mind that you are not alone. Solidarity is key for both revolution and singularity. When other singularities come together to influ-



ence one another and work together a new form of democratic self-governance can begin to take hold. As Saul Newman writes, “Democracy—which is the motor for generating new and radical articulations of equality and liberty—always exceeds the limitations of the state and opposes the very principle of state sovereignty. However, for anarchists, democracy has to be more than just majority rule, because this can threaten individual liberty. Rather, it has to be imagined as a democracy of singularities.” 23 For a radical democracy that advocates individual liberty and equality to exist, we must begin with thinking of ourselves differently. This type of thinking is already taking place and being implemented in northern Syria based on the work of Abdullah Öcalan. DEMOCRATIC CONFEDERALISM AND ROJAVA In the 1970s, Abdullah Öcalan cofounded the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). The PKK has since been labeled a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and the United Kingdom, and Öcalan has been in a Turkish island prison in the Sea of Marmara since 1999. Even though Öcalan has been held in solitary confinement, his writings make their way out of the prison. Öcalan began as a Marxist when he cofounded the PKK, however, during his imprisonment he has undergone a shift in his thought and has embraced the writings of Murry Bookchin. While Öcalan never explicitly uses the word “anarchism,” Peter Lamborn Wilson describes him as “an anti-authoritarian proponent of radical direct democracy, or ‘democratic confederalism’ as he calls it.” 24 Öcalan’s democratic confederalism is based in anarchist principles of equality, liberty, and solidarity, but outlines how a self-governed space can attempt to exist alongside and among nation-states. In effect, Öcalan’s ideas outline a self-governed community in a globalized world—previously (and still) thought to be impossible to implement. In a small pamphlet titled, Democratic Confederalism, Abdullah Öcalan begins by highlighting the problematics of the nation-state model. 25 Öcalan outlines the ways in which the nation-state establishes itself: The development of the nation-state at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution more than two hundred years ago went hand in hand with the unregulated accumulation of capital and the unhindered exploitation of the fast growing population. . . . The new bourgeoisie, which rose from this revolution, wanted to take part in the political decisions and structures of the state. Thus, capitalism, the new economic system, became an inherent component of the new nation-state. 26

Trained as a medieval scholar, I could argue for the establishment of the nation-state dating back to the Middle Ages, as well as the burgeoning capi-



talist system. 27 However, Öcalan’s point is that the modern nation-state’s structure is intimately bound to institutionalized capitalism and vice versa. From this tightly bound relationship, “exploitation was not only sanctioned by the state but even encouraged and facilitated.” 28 The development of the nation-state went further and “allocated a number of attributes that serve to replace older religiously rooted attributes such as nation, fatherland, national flag, national anthem and many others. Particularly notions like the unity of state and nation serve to transcend the material political structures. They are, as such, reminiscent of the pre-state unity with God. They have been put in the place of the divine.” 29 By linking the state to transcendence, the structure of the nation-state, along with institutionalized capitalism, is made to be commonplace, natural, and unimpeachable—“the nation-state and nationalism show metaphysical characteristics.” 30 In short, anyone who attempts to think beyond the nation-state is labelled not only heretical, but as not living in “reality”—when those thinking beyond a statist system are actively attempting to change reality. As such, there is a concerted effort of the ruling elite to maintain a “monopolization of all social practices. Diversity and plurality need to be fought, an approach that leads into assimilation and genocide. . . . [The nation-state] aims at creating a single national culture, a single national identity, and a single unified religious community. Thus, it also enforces a homogenous citizenship.” 31 Öcalan’s analysis clearly shows (1) how we have arrived at renewed nationalist agendas in Western states and (2) why he cannot advocate for a Kurdish nation-state. Rather, Öcalan embraces the plurality of the Kurdish people and calls on “all regional peoples to unite within the democratic confederation,” as well as “neighboring countries to adopt a democratic position.” 32 This call has been answered by many in Northern Syria, as well as many around the globe who have travelled to the Rojava cantons to help establish a radical democracy. Democratic Confederalism, Öcalan argues, is a kind of non-state political administration. He writes, “States only administrate while democracies govern. States are founded on power; democracies are based on collective consensus.” 33 Öcalan argues that the governance of a territory should be based on the needs of the people in that particular location; this makes the form of governance local and people based. Rather than a bureaucratic entity that perpetuates itself through a consolidation of power, “confederalism represents a type of political self-administration where all groups of the society and all cultural identities can express themselves in local meetings, general conventions and councils. This understanding of democracy opens the political space to all strata of the society and allows for the formation of different and diverse political groupings.” 34 The diversity of the population and adequate venues for all to express their political voices is not only necessary for a practiced equality, but also allows for dynamic political groupings that can



speak to the needs of a territory’s population in any given situation. Öcalan writes: The social actors, which are, each for itself, federative units, are the stem cells of participative democracy. They can combine and associate into new groups and confederations according to the situation. Each of the political units involved in participative democracy is essentially democratic. In this way, what we call democracy then is the application of democratic decision-making processes from the local level up to the global level within the framework of a continuous political process. This process will affect the structure of the social web of the society in a positive way, whereas the homogeneity the nation-state strives for will remain a construct that can only be achieved by force and the loss of freedom. 35

Rather than being based on the needs of an arbitrarily designated space (i.e., a nation-state), interactions between spaces are determined by the population and not “representatives” of a place. The shifting sands of the political groupings more accurately corresponds to the ever-shifting population, cultural identities, and evolving belief systems. In short, this model does not rely on modernity’s need for static power structures and archaic view of “human nature” (i.e., the Hobbesian view that the “state of nature is a state of war”). In Deleuzian terms, these changing and growing political groupings from the local to the global are rhizomatic and the territories are smooth spaces where possibilities for new ways of living are manifest. This works on various scales as new radicles are established, the rhizomatic structure will continue to grow and find new ways to interconnect. In other words, new communities that are established under the democratic confederalist paradigm will form dynamic groupings, but will also interact with other communities that form a unified political grouping. This is how the three autonomous regions of northern Syria interact: each one of the three cantons are self-determining and at the same time function on a larger scale as the territory known as Rojava. The Constitution of the Rojava Cantons proclaims that the people of the Democratic Autonomous Regions of Afrin, Cizîrê, and Kobanî pursue the establishment of their territories in the name of “freedom, justice, dignity and democracy and led by the principles of equality and environmental sustainability.” 36 In Section I “General Principles,” Article 2, subsection (b), the charter reads, “The people constitute the sole source of legitimacy all governing councils and public institutions, which are founded on democratic principles essential to a free society.” 37 A nation-state’s legitimacy is based on its exercise of power and its fidelity to a static document (i.e., a constitution). Rojava locates its legitimacy in the people themselves, not the entity of a centralized government. By placing legitimacy with the people, the population is bound together in a form of solidary that collectively unifies the



community without infringing upon individual liberty. Together, these articulations of freedom, equality, and solidarity form not only the foundational and essential principles of the radical democracy of the Rojava region, they are also the basis for anarchist thought. In The Politics of Postanarchism, Saul Newman discusses democracy as conceived within anarchism: Indeed, all actually existing democracies are found to be inadequate, to never be democratic enough. Therefore, democracy always points to a horizon beyond, to the future; it is always “to come.” This does not mean that we should give up on democracy, or see it as continually deferrable. On the contrary, it means we should never be satisfied with existing forms taken by democracy and should always be working towards a greater democratization in the here and now; towards an ongoing articulation of democracy’s im/possible promise of perfect liberty with perfect equality. 38

The constitution of Rojava codifies the promise of “perfect liberty with perfect equality” with an eye to practicing a form of democratic solidarity and exceeds all current forms of democracy. By its very conception, the democratic confederalism of the autonomous regions are exceeding their areas of governance by extending outward and connecting not just with each other, but to other regions that desire to engage in the same type of democracy. The “confederalist” component of this idea brings together other radical democracies and creates a collation, at once independent and working in solidarity with one another. This is how democratic confederalism functions at both the local and the global level and why these autonomous regions are a threat to the current neoliberal global order of nation-states. As opposed to relying on a centralized government or become beholden to global trade and commodity fetishism, democratic confederalism relies on the active participation of people who choose to subscribe to self-governance. This type of democracy, however, must be practiced with an ethics of equality and liberty. Newman states that for anarchists, “democracy must be conditioned by an ethics of equal-liberty, where neither liberty is subordinate to equality, nor equality to liberty. Better yet, an anarchist approach to democracy would insist that democratic mechanisms promote both equality and liberty in equal measure.” 39 Furthermore, the steps beyond the current state-backed forms of democracy “should be supplemented with a libertarian micro-politics and ethics that aims at dislodging our psychic investments in power and authority through the invention of new practices of freedom. Democracy today consists in the invention or re-invention of spaces, movements, ways of life, economic exchanges and political practices that resist the imprint of the state and which foster relations of equal-liberty.” 40 In other words, to effectively practice anarchist democracy the ethics of equal-liberty and solidarity must be part of every singularity’s ethics and must be applied to every institution



that is constructed in and by the new democratic space. The cantons of Rojava are doing this through the invention of space, new ways of life, and economic exchanges. As Dr. Ahmet Yusuf, the president of the Committee on Economy and Trade of the Afrin Autonomous Region, has said, the people of Afrin will develop an economy based on agriculture, that is to say production. We will base this mode of production on a foundation by which all the peoples of the region will be included and benefit from it. With such a step we aim to change the economic model in Syria. We will develop projects in which we consider the interests of all the people in Syria. At the same time we will have presented an economic model for the peoples of the region. 41

As Dr. Yusuf suggests, the canton of Afrin is already looking ahead and beyond itself—this look toward the horizon is the application of equal-liberty and solidarity that exceeds its own borders. Rojava is “a democracy of singularities which is open to different articulations of equal-liberty” and will hopefully continue to survive despite various nation-states openly attacking Afrin, led predominately by Turkey, who view the PKK specifically as a terrorist organization. 42 The cantons of Rojava, however, have a strong record of self-defense and their security forces have proven themselves to be the strongest element in the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL, or preferably Daesh. With a brief anecdote about the YPG and the YPJ, I want to conclude by directly discussing Spatial Resistance. SPATIAL RESISTANCE From the beginning, the PKK has espoused gender equality and was one of the first resistance groups to create a woman only militia: Aliza Marcus estimated that, by 1993, one-third of the new PKK recruits were women. This influx prompted the formation of the first separate women’s guerrilla units that year. A PKK essay on the subject quoted Öcalan as saying, “a woman’s army is not only a requirement for the war against the patriarchal system, but is also a requirement in opposition to sexist mindsets within the freedom movement. Instead of traditional lifestyles and relationships, relationships based on freedom must be adopted; the synthetic dependence of women to men must be overcome by free choice.” 43

The PKK’s commitment not only to gender equality within its organization, but also the relentless assault on the patriarchal system through militancy and a new way of living has led to one of the most successful self-defense units in the cantons of Rojava: the Women’s Protection Units or YPJ. The YPJ is part of the larger People’s Protection Units (YPG), but maintain their own com-



mand structure and mission organization. As Dilar Dirik writes, “The YPJ underlines that the most direct way of defeating religious fascism, statism and other forms of authoritarianism is women’s liberation.” 44 The YPJ, in conjunction with the YPG, gained notoriety by battling ISIS in the city of Kobanî. The siege of Kobanî went unnoticed until August 2014 when “Daesh [ISIS] attacked the Yazidis on Sinjar Mountain and the YPG-YPJ rescued thousands of refugees, reporters began to pay attention.” 45 The geopolitics of the region is quite complicated: Turkey’s discrimination against the Kurds and aiding ISIS fighters, all while maintaining diplomatic relations with the United States, who was backing the YPG-YPJ via airstrikes and weapons, is just the beginning of the complex relations among the invested nation-states. However, the battle of Kobanî and the fight against ISIS more generally was a matter of self-defense for the cantons of Rojava and the Kurdish population. By January 27, 2015, the YPG-YPJ had declared victory in Kobanî after four months of fighting. But the fight was not over: Still, in the year following the liberation of Kobane, despite very difficult living conditions, losing a flood of refugees who hoped for a better life in Europe, and having to guard against attacks at any time the Rojava Kurds went from strength to strength. In June, they captured Tal Abyad, a key border town that was essential to the Daesh supply route from Turkey to its capital at Raqqa. The liberation of Tal Abyad freed the area between the Kobane and Cizire cantons and gave the Syrian Kurds control of a much larger contiguous space. These successes brought new recruits. In August 2015, a Reuters analysis put YPG-YPJ numbers at forty thousand fighters, and said they controlled twice the amount of territory they had the year before. 46

During this fighting, a report leaked from the ISIS camp that “IS militants [had been] shocked by the fierce resistance of the YPG fighters.” 47 The Rojava Kurds and the YPG-YPJ forces represent precisely the spirit and action of Spatial Resistance. Established on the premise of liberty, equality, and solidarity, the Rojava self-defense forces deterritorialize space from the religious ideology of ISIS and the statist (and religious) ideologies of Turkey and Syria. While not all forms of spatial resistance can or should take the route of the PKK and the YPG-YPJ forces, the ethics, ferocity, and commitment that inform them should. The art of spatial resistance needs to be varied and tailored to each scenario. At times, this might call for acts of violence. 48 At other times, as this book suggests, there are creative ways to establish a new space, an altered space, or a temporary autonomous space. Resisting neoliberalism and its compatriot the nation-state needs to be creative, innovative, novel, and based in an anarchist ethics. The way we (re)construct our spaces is emblematic and a mirror of our relationships with other people, cultures, the environment, animals, and the terre generally. Because of this, we need to overcome the



divisiveness of capitalism and state institutions that construct and codify identities. By resisting these oppressive institutions in a spatial manner, we lay bare their physical and immanent operations—the means of discipline and control. “There is no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons.” 49 I have used this Deleuze quote numerous times throughout the book. Indeed, it is one of my favorite statements from Deleuze. However, it embodies not only this project, but also the way to move forward. We must search our immanent existence—not the transcendent belief structures—for ways to combat elements that restrict our liberty, produce inequality, and champion individualism. As the nation-state begins its death throws, we must be careful (it remains powerful, corrupt, violent, and erratic), as well as prepared to fill the gaps that are created by this fracturing holdover of modernity. We cannot allow multinational corporations to fill these openings that the nation-state can no longer inhabit—these fissures will become increasingly more obvious as neoliberalism grows and the state withers. I’m intentionally using distinctly spatial language here because there is a distinctly spatial consequence to this type of shift. The type of power that fills these gaps will directly affect how we live our life: where we can go, activities we are allowed to participate in, structures we can build, etc. Because of these immanent realities, various forms and types of spatial resistance are necessary. We need to gain control of our spatial existence on the local, regional, and global levels and not cede control to oppressive institutions bent on exploitation of people, resources, and the environment. If we are to live in a world that allows for the proliferation of equal-liberty, it must begin with establishing a space for these values to be practiced. But as most of our spatial lives are determined by large, self-perpetuating, and damaging institutions, we must begin with resistance. A resistance that not only remaps the geographical spaces that we inhabit, but also plots new ontological trajectories that multiply difference in ways never before conceived. Our “weapons” are medieval knights, earlymodern monsters, bodies, digital technology, graffiti, and drones. Used together or in conjunction with other weapons, we can begin to mount a spatial resistance that will free us from the discipline and control of state-sponsored neoliberalism. NOTES 1. Mark Landler, “On Foreign Policy, President Trump Reverts to Candidate Trump,” The New York Times, April 3, 2018,®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news. 2. Anarchism is more precisely an antipolitics because of its position of equality, liberty, and solidarity. However, given that there must be a discussion of anarchism within the political field, I am suggesting that there is a political arm to anarchism.



3. Trump has repeatedly used the language of deals. See, for example, Jacob Pramuk, “Read President Trump’s Full Remarks on Trade Deals to CNBC,”, January 28, 2018,; Mara Liasson, “After Touting Negotiating Skills, Trump Struggles to Make a Deal on Health Care,”, July 6, 2017, after-touting-negotiating-skills-trump-struggles-to-make-a-deal-on-health-care. 4. “Read Donald Trump’s Speech on Trade,”, June 28, 2016, 4386335/donald-trump-trade-speech-transcript/. 5. “Donald Trump’s Speech on Trade,” 6. Pew Research Center reports that roughly two-thirds of Americans use Facebook and the median American uses three of the top eight social media platforms. These statistics continue to grow. See Aaron Smith and Monica Anderson, “Social Media Use in 2018,” Pew Research Center, March 1, 2018, At the time of writing, Mark Zuckerberg is currently testifying before Congress on how Russian groups were able to use advertising and the social media platform to sway voters. Through content creation and strategic ad placement, false information and “fake news” proliferated Facebook creating a misinformed population. Currently, it is not known the extent to which this level of infiltration has affected the election of Donald Trump or public knowledge, more generally. 7. For the best discussion of a literary and linguistic connection in establishing national identity, see the now infamous Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1983). 8. Meredith Tax, A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State (New York: Bellevue Literary Press, 2016), 24, 25–26. 9. This phrase comes from a sign used by Turning Point USA. See André Chung, “Trump’s Man on Campus,”, April 6, 2018, story/2018/04/06/trump-young-conservatives-college-charlie-kirk-turning-point-usa-217829. 10. David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 66. 11. Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, 66. 12. Donald Trump himself has expressed admiration for the strong man rulers of the world. See Will Hutton, “As Trump Fawns over Xi, Global Politics Is Now a ‘Strong Man’ Game,” The Guardian, November 12, 2017, 12/doanld-trump-fawns-over-xi-global-power-strong-man-game. 13. Abdullah Öcalan, Democratic Confederalism (Transmedia Publishing, 2011), 24. 14. This has been reported in numerous publications and even enthusiastically supported by many on the right. See, for example, Yascha Mounk, “America Is Not a Democracy,” The Atlantic, March 2018,; Clifford Humphrey, “Sorry, Liberal, but America Is Not a Democracy, and It’s Better That Way,”, February 7, 2018, 02/07/sorry-liberals-america-not-democracy-better-way/. Nevertheless, a now infamous report in 2014 concluded that the United States is an oligarchy: Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” Perspectives on Politics 12 (2014): 564–81. 15. See Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 388. 16. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Commonwealth (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2009), 326. 17. Hardt and Negri, Commonwealth, 326. 18. Hardt and Negri, Commonwealth, 329. 19. Hardt and Negri, Commonwealth, 330. 20. Hardt and Negri, Commonwealth, 332. 21. See Hardt and Negri, Commonwealth, 338–39. Also see Saul Newman, Postanarchism (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2015), 17–46. 22. Hardt and Negri, Commonwealth, 339.



23. Saul Newman, The Politics of Postanarchism (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010), 2. 24. Peter Lamborn Wilson, “Abdullah Öcalan,” in To Dare Imagining: Rojava Revolution, eds. Dilar Dirik, Devaid Levi Strauss, Michael Taussig, and Peter Lamborn Wilson (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 2016), 33. 25. Öcalan’s analysis is brief but draws on many previous critiques of the nation-state from anarchist thinkers; for the most relevant see, Murry Bookchin, The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy (London: Verso 2015). 26. Öcalan, Democratic Confederalism, 9–10. 27. For the beginnings of English national identity, the nation-state, and emergent capitalism, see Thorlac Turville-Petre, England the Nation: Language, Literature and National Identity 1290–1340 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996). 28. Öcalan, Democratic Confederalism, 10. 29. Öcalan, Democratic Confederalism, 11. Emphasis original. 30. Öcalan, Democratic Confederalism, 14. 31. Öcalan, Democratic Confederalism, 12–13. 32. Abdullah Öcalan, “Call to Support Democratic Confederalism,” in A Small Key Can Open a Large Door: The Rojava Revolution, ed. Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness (Combustion Books, 2017), 84. 33. Öcalan, Democratic Confederalism, 19. 34. Öcalan, Democratic Confederalism, 22. 35. Öcalan, Democratic Confederalism, 23. 36. The Constitution of the Rojava Cantons: The Social Contract of Rojava Cantons in Syria in A Small Key Can Open a Large Door: The Rojava Revolution, ed. Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness (Combustion Books, 2017), 141. 37. The Constitution of the Rojava Cantons, 143. 38. Newman, The Politics of Postanarchism, 180. 39. Newman, The Politics of Postanarchism, 179. 40. Newman, The Politics of Postanarchism, 181. 41. “Rojava’s Economic Model Is a Communal Model,” in A Small Key Can Open a Large Door: The Rojava Revolution, ed. Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness (Combustion Books, 2017), 98. 42. Newman, The Politics of Postanarchism, 179–80. 43. Tax, A Road Unforeseen, 136. 44. Dilar Dirik, “The Feminist Army Leading the Fight Against ISIS,” Red Pepper, July 11, 2017, 45. Tax, A Road Unforeseen, 182. 46. Tax, A Road Unforeseen, 189. 47. Tax, A Road Unforeseen, 186. 48. For a discussion of violence in forms of resistance and radical politics, see: Peter Gelderloos, How Nonviolence Protects the State (Boston: South End Press, 2007); M. Testa, Militant Anti-Fascism (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2014); Saul Newman Postanarchism (Cambridge: Verso Press, 2015), 68–90; Peter Gelderloos, The Failure of Nonviolence (St. Louis, MO: Left Bank Books, 2015). 49. Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on Societies of Control,” October 59 (1992): 4.


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abstraction, xix activism, 74, 124; digital, 100; as radical, 75 aerial space, xvii–xviii, 137, 147–148; reterritorializing, 139; utilizing of, in drone warfare, 135 affinity-network, 50 “America First” campaign, 161 anarchism, 92–93, 166, 172n2 Andrews, David L., 57 “Angelus Novus”, 31 ANI. See Anonymous Nomadic Insurgent animal space, 44–46 anonymity, 13; desire for, 11; on internet, 107; movement and, 16, 24n46; power and, 143 Anonymous group, 24n61, 108–110, 124 Anonymous Nomadic Insurgent (ANI), 131 anxiety, socioeconomic, 2 apparent acquittal, 138 aristocratic exceptionalism, 22 Arpaio, Joe, 144 atlanticist spatial dynamic, 29 Banksy, 127, 128–129 Bannon, Stephen, 163 Baudrillard, Jean, 119, 123; desert of the real, 89; Simulation and Simulacra by, xix BBSs. See Bulletin Board Systems

becoming, 87; animal, 42, 44–45, 47, 49, 51, 89; minoritarian, 79–81, 82, 91–92; movement underground as necessary for, 75; new types of, 88; obese, 77–83, 85n107, 89; politics of, 58; space, identity and, 89; thin, 69 Benjamin, Walter, xi, 31–32 Bey, Hakim, 144–145 Bhagat, Krishna, 57 bin Laden, Osama, 36 biopower, 48, 57, 61 BMI. See Body Mass Index bodies, of women: commodification of, 57, 65–67; as gendered, 55; as interpreted, 83n23; media representation of female, 61; as obese, 58–61; profitability of, 76; as spatial representation of individual, 60 body image, 58–59; desire and, 71; media presentation of, 65–66; non-normative, 80; normalization of, 64 Body Mass Index (BMI), 55 Body without Organs (BwO), 81, 86n112, 123, 133n42 Bookchin, Murry, 166 Bouie, Jamelle, 144 Brady, Andrea, 137, 144 Buchanan, Ian, xvi, 3, 101–102, 102 Buchanan, Marlowe, 66, 72 Buci-Glucksmann, Christine, 38 bulimia, 60 185



Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs), 96–97 Burnett, Kathleen, 97 Butler, Judith, 77–78 BwO. See Body without Organs CAE. See Critical Arts Ensemble Cairns, Kate, 57 capitalism, 55, 123, 163; cybernetic, 104; determination of, 74; dieting culture and, 56; divisiveness of, 171; global, 87; identity codified by, 81; intensification of, 56; neoliberalism, progress and, 33; postfeminism and, 67; resistance and, 44; role of, on internet, 102; State and, xiii; Trump supporting, 163–164 cartography, 88, 98–99, 101 Cassidy-Welch, Megan, 2 castle culture, 6, 10–11, 16, 89, 91; as corrupt, 18; as dominant, 17, 19 categorization, xvi CFAA. See Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Chamayou, Grégoire, 138–139 Choi-Fitzpatrick, Austin, 146 CISA. See Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act citizens, 3–4, 21 civil disobedience, 105, 106 civility, 47 class, sexuality, race and, 59 Clearnet, 105, 113n36 Clinton, Hillary, 27 collaboration, 22 colonization, 29, 45, 48, 54n69 colonizers: as animalistic, 44; language of, 28–29 commercialization, of culture, 110 commodification, of bodies, 57, 65–67 commodity-fetishism, 101, 102, 146 compartmentalization, xvi Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 106–107 concept creation, xvi Confessio Amantis, 2 connectivity, 140; desire for, 158; digital, 150; through hashtags, 131; through internet, 95–99, 162 constellations, xi

consumerism, 32, 60, 101 control, xii, 84n49; of desire, 72; digital space, freedom and, 95–96; drone warfare as type of, 137–138; governmentality and, 64; hierarchies of domination and, 48, 140; utility, profit and, 42 control society, xii counter-information, 124–125 Critical Arts Ensemble (CAE), 105, 108 Cult of the Dead Cow, 105, 108 Curwen, Margaret Sauceda, 120 Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), 104 cyberspace, 101–102 Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), 53n62 Darknet, 105, 111, 113n36 DDoS. See Distributed Denial of Service de-aerialization, 136, 147–152, 156–158 Deleuze, Gilles, xii–xiii, xv–xvii, xviii, 1, 16, 21, 64, 78–79; concepts devised by, 92–93; elements of control, 137; on haptic space, 121; on internet mapping, 98–99; on lines of flight, 90, 98, 148; on literary mapping, 88; on resistance, 124–125; on rhizome concept, 97; territorial principle of, 139–140; on weaponization, 111; What is Philosophy by, 88 democracy, xviii; nationalism undermining, 164; radical, 166 democratic confederalism, 162, 166–170 democratization, 169 Derrida, Jacques, 120 desert of the real, 89–90 desire, 11, 21, 71; for connectivity, 158; controlling, 72; for freedom, 48, 50; justice as, 92; for power, 31, 33, 100; production of, 76; sexual, 65, 77 deterritorialization, xvi, 3, 9, 47, 78–79, 131, 151; act of, 109; of aerial space, 147–148; of internet, 105; of intransigent spaces, 21; nomad as agent of, 17; as nomadic, 15; process of, 45; of self, 89; of striated space, 107–108; as unprecedented, 20 dieting: capitalism and, 56; experiences with, 67–68; industry surrounding,

Index 69–70 digital communication, 102 digital networks, global commerce, travel and, 32 digital reality, 93 digital space, control, freedom and, 95–96 Dinshaw, Carolyn, xii Dirik, Dilar, 170–171 discipline, 84n49; governmentality and, 63; normalization, surveillance and, 61, 64 disorder, 29–30 Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), xii, xvii, 107, 108–112, 114n55, 156 Domain Name Systems (DNS), 98 domination, 34; hierarchies of control and, 48, 140; power and, 91 drones. See Unmanned Aerial Vehicles drone warfare, 40; abilities of, 36–37, 37; distribution of, 140; triangulation of three nodes of, 139–141, 148–149; as type of control, 137–138; utilizing of airspace in, 135 DuPuis, Melanie, 56, 59–60, 67 ECD. See Electronic Civil Disobedience Elden, Stuart, 137 the electrohippies, 105 Electronic Civil Disobedience (ECD), 106 Electronic Disturbance Theatre, 105 emotions, 40, 57, 111 empathy, 70, 87 equality, 20, 172n2; gender, 66, 170; as radical, 19 exploitation, 167; corporate, 128; resistance against, 22; of women, 75–76 extermination, 119–120 Facebook, 102, 125, 173n6 fake news, 173n6 Falah, Ghazi-Walid, 141–143 fascism, 164 fashion, image of, 65 female empowerment, 66 feminism, 57–58, 81–82 Ferasso, Marcos, 97 Fieni, David, 109, 120, 122–123, 129–130 Flint, Colin, 141–143 force protection, 37


Foucault, Michel, xiv, xv, 3, 56, 64, 84n49, 165 freedom, xiii, 66; desire for, 48, 50; digital space, control and, 95–96; internet offering, 101; new practices of, 169; from restrictive space, 50; song for, 47–49 Frohmann, Bernd, 100, 104 Fuckability Theory (Buchanan, Marlowe), 66, 72 gains and losses system, 28 Gak, Martin, 103 Ganim, John, 2 General Atomics, 136 gentrification, 118–119 Gerber, Lynne, 56 Gibson, William, 102 Gilbert, Jeremy, xii Giménez Micó, José Antonio, 29–30, 34 Giroux, Henry, 32 Gleyzon, François-Xavier, 47–48 global accident, xviii global commerce, digital networks, travel and, 32 globalization, 161 globesity, 56 Goffey, Andrew, xii Goh, Irving, 44 Goodrum, Abby, 106 Google, 101, 111 governance, corporate model of, 22 governmentality, 56–58, 60, 84n49; control and, 64; discipline and, 63; process of, 61 Gower, John, 2 graffiti, xvii, 109, 157, 172; disruptive nature of, 121–122; as form of protest, 117; as form of resistance, 115–124; hashtags compared to, 115–116, 126; identity shown through tagging, 128–129; street art compared to, 132n3; tagging of, as social practice, 120 Grauer, Yael, 104 the great cycle, 49, 51, 73, 127, 157 Greenberg, Andy, 104 Greenblatt, Stephen, 27 Greenhalgh, Susan, 56 Grosz, Elizabeth, 58, 86n112, 89, 133n42



ground. See terre Guattari, Félix, xiii, xv–xvii, 1, 16, 21, 64, 78–79; concepts devised by, 92–93; on haptic space, 121; imagined city by, 103; on internet mapping, 98–99; on lines of flight, 90, 98, 148; on literary mapping, 88; on rhizome concept, 97; territorial principle of, 139–140; What is Philosophy by, 88 Guthman, Julie, 56, 59–60, 67 Guy of Warwick, 2 hacking, 106–107 hacktivism, xvii, 24n61, 96, 105 haptic space, 121 Hardt, Michael, 48, 164–165 Harvey, David, xiii, 1, 118, 130, 151, 163 hashtags, digital, xvii, 156, 157; activism, 124; beginning of, 125; connectivity through, 131; graffiti compared to, 115–116, 126; linguistic phenomenon of, 125–126 health, 59 Henke, Holger, 35–36, 37–38 heritage, 17 homo sacer, 2 Hopkins, Peter, 63 humiliation, 63 Huschle, Brian, 106 hypertext, 97, 100–101 identity, xvi, 51; acceptance of, 81; aspects of, 79; behavior and, 3; capitalism codifying, 81; construction of, 57; formalizing, 13; formation of, 62; as gendered, 10; graffiti showing, 128–129; imposition of, 46; media, neoliberalism and, 77; of nomad, 10–12, 19; nomadic, 10–12, 19; as nonnormative, 21; production of, xv; as property, 164; reconstructing of, 9; security, space and, 15; space, becoming and, 89 immigration laws, 32 indeterminacy, 119 indigenous people, 34, 41, 53n62 individualism, xiv, 66 Instagram, 125 institutions, xviii

internet: anonymity on, 107; as centralized, 97–98; connectivity through, 95–99, 162; deterritorialization of, 105; drones and, 150–151; as ever changing, 96–97; freedom offered by, 101; as nomadic, 105–110; as rhizomatic, 96–100, 109–110, 111–112, 128; role of capitalism on, 102; as smooth, 110–112; as spatial, 100–104 internet mapping, 98–99, 109 Internet Protocol (IP), 99 Internet Relay Channels (IRCs), 96–97, 125 investments, conscious compared to unconscious, 21 IP. See Internet Protocol IRCs. See Internet Relay Channels Islamic State (ISIS), 170 isolation, Trump, nationalism and, 162–166 isolationism, 161 Jameson, Fredric, 88 Jenner, Kendall, 30, 146 Jette, Shannon, 57 Johnson, Josée, 57 Jordan, Tim, 97–98 judgment, normalization of, 67, 70 Kaepernick, Colin, 163 Kafka, Franz, 138 Kant, Immanuel, xv, 55 Karatzogianni, Athina, 50, 100, 102, 103, 107–108, 111 Kinnamon, Liz, 119 Kirkland, Anna, 63 Klee, Paul, 31 Koch, Ed, 118 Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), 166, 170–171 landes law, 20, 21 Landler, Mark, 161 land ownership, women’s rights to, 21 language, 172; of colonizers, 28–29; of power, 128; of progress, 32–33; of resistance, 29; of Shakespeare, 49; spatio-digital, 116, 129 Lavender, Andy, 38

Index LeBesco, Kathleen, 55–56, 59 Lefebvre, Henri, xiv–xv, 1 libertarianism, 163 limitless postponements, 138 lines of flight, 90, 93, 98, 147–149 literary mapping, 88 MacGillivray, Laurie, 120 machine de guerre. See nomad magic, 31, 34 Mamadouh, Virginie, 141–143 Manion, Mark, 106 May, Todd, xiii McChesney, Robert W., 111 McRobbie, Angela, 66 media, 29–30; body image presented in, 65–66; entertainment, 61; neoliberalism, identity and, 77; representation of female bodies in, 61; rise in consumption of, 162–163; sexual violence covered by, 75. See also social media medieval romance, 23n21, 88, 92; endings in, 20; radical possibility in, 21 Messina, Chris, 125 metageography, 6 militant analysis, 21 militarization, 135, 143–144 minoritarian: becoming, 79–81, 82, 91–92; consciousness, 91–92 minor literature, 28 misogyny, 61 mobile geography, 120 modulation, xii, 103–104, 137 molar determinations, 104 monopolies, xiii Moore’s Law, 155 mosaic-statist model, 17 multiplicity, 3; of codes, 119; rhizome possessing principles of, 98; solidarity, resistance and, 152; types of, 10 nationalism, xviii, 32, 151; Trump, isolation and, 162–166; as undermining democracy, 164 National Security Agency (NSA), 107, 111 nation-state, 8, 23n21, 136, 164, 169 nebulae, xi Neef, Sonja, 120


Negri, Antonio, 48, 164–165 neoconservatism, 53n54 neoliberalism, xiii, 29, 56, 88, 123; as allconsuming, 96; capitalism, progress and, 33; caustic effects of, xvii; as harsh, 32; media, identity and, 77; participation in, 66; policies of, 118–119; possibility of, 41; power of, 34; resistance to, 90, 155, 171–172; state sponsored, xx Neuromancer (Gibson), 102 Newman, Saul, 4, 166, 169 nomad, xix–xx, 2, 42, 78–79; as agent of deterritorialization, 17; citizens compared to, 3–4; created as response to State, 114n55; digital, 108; fear of, 11–12; identity of, 10–12, 19; power of, 18; smooth space created by, 105–106; territory of, 16 nomadic insurgency, 19 nomadic resistance, 70 nomadism, vanquishing, 143 normalization: of body image, 64; of judgment, 67, 70; surveillance, discipline and, 61, 64 normative society, 13 normativity, democratic, 45 NSA. See National Security Agency Nunes, Mark, 100–101 Obama, Barack, 36, 141, 144 obedience, 35 obesity: becoming and, 77–83, 85n107, 89; epidemic, 55–59, 77 objectification, 66 Öcalan, Abdullah, 164–168, 174n26 occupation, of space, xiii, 29 Occupy Wall Street (OWS), xviii, 29–30 Oliveras González, Xavier, 6 The Onion Router (TOR), 107, 113n36 ontological transformation, 20 operational reach, 37 oppression: forms of, xvi; power and, 41; practices of, 22; systemic forms of, 50 outer-space, xii OWS. See Occupy Wall Street patriarchy, 8; dominant structure of, 75; institutionalized, 69



PayPal, 107, 110 People’s Protection Units (YPG), 170–171 persistence, 37 personal space, 63 philosophy, xvi PKK. See Kurdish Workers Party placeness, 28 plane of immanence, xvi–xvii, 140, 149 political resistance, 21 politics, 44; of becoming, 58; micro, 81; as radical, 63 The Politics of Postanarchism (Newman), 169 Pool, Tim, 145–146 pornography, 75–76, 101 postfeminism, 61, 66; capitalism and, 67 power, xiv, xv–xvi, 7; anonymity and, 143; of Arthur (King), 7; based on tradition, 17; of capitalist market, 30; colonial, 29; desire for, 31, 33, 100; disciplinary, 137–138; dispersal of, 34; domination and, 91; drones as aerial, 141; of expansion, 37; forms of, 12; Foucault on, 165; landscapes of, 2; language of, 128; of nature compared to man, 30–31; as neoliberal, 49; of neoliberalism, 34; of nomad, 18; as non-normative, 12; oppression and, 41; as systemic, 43. See also biopower power structures, 41; as corrupt, 2; deconstruction of, 22; dominant, 50; as gendered, 9; redefining, 21; threatening of, 10, 45, 107 precision, 37, 40 prima facia, xii The Production of Space (Lefebvre), xv profit, utility, control and, 42 progress, 41; capitalism, neoliberalism and, 33; language of, 32–33; storm of, 45, 51 protection, stealth, precision and, 40 protest, xiii; digital elements of, 124–131; graffiti as form of, 117; online, 110–111; resistance and, 61; use of drones within, 141, 145–147 protest movements, xiv quality of life, 34

race, class, sexuality and, 59 racism, 163 radicalism, 66, 74 radical subjectivity, 79 rationality, 9 Reagan, Ronald, 32 reality, xix–xx, 167; conceptualizing, 88; mapping of, 93; nature of, 90; perceived, 70; resistance occurring on site of, 91. See also digital reality Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution (Harvey), 130 repression, 21 resistance, xii, 151; art of, 50; capitalism and, 44; Deleuze on, 124–125; against exploitation, 22; failure of, 49; graffiti as form of, 115–124; to hegemonic powers, 105; multiplicity, solidarity and, 152; to neoliberalism, 90, 155, 171–172; occurring on site of reality, 91; as organic, 74; power structures and, 52n4; protest and, 61; spaces of, 27; types of, 30, 43, 88. See also political resistance resources, privatization of, 33 responsibilization, technologies of, 57 reterritorialization, 47, 110, 131, 139 rhizome concept, 96–97, 98 Robinson, Andrew, 50, 107–108 Rojava, Syria, xviii, 161–162; constitution of, 168; democratic confederalism and, 166–170 Rouse, Robert, 2 Roy, Kaustuv, 121 Sanders, Rachel, 60–61 Sauter, Molly, 104, 110, 114n55 scanning, 63–64 Schiff, Randy, 2, 18, 22 schizoanalysis, 21 secrecy, xiv security, identity, space and, 15 sedentary consumption, xiv self-determination, 50 Sellberg, Karin, 60 sexuality: body image and, 73; class, race and, 59 Shakespeare, William, 92; language utilized by, 49; Richard III by, 27; The

Index Tempest by, xvii shaming, 61, 64, 68 signal jamming, 154n62 Simulation and Simulacra (Baudrillard), xix singularity, 51, 165 slacktivism, 124 Slaughter, Sheila, xiv smooth space, 100, 130–131; manifestations within, 168; nomad creating, 105–106; uncontrollable knowledges produced in, 104 Snowden, Edward, 103 social consciousness, 27 social contracts, 7, 23n29 social defiance, 61 social dissent, xiii social justice, 1, 12, 13, 70, 74 social media, 102, 173n6; monitoring, 103, 158n3; popularity of, 162 social norms, xv, 80 social privilege, 64 social structures, xiv Soja, Edward, 1 solidarity, 46, 49–50, 165; ethic of, 158; multiplicity, resistance and, 152 space: as geometrical, 16; identity, becoming and, 89; as malleable, 1–2; movement within, 38; as not ordered, 12; overlapping, 6; of resistance, 27; security, identity and, 15; as smooth, 3, 10, 21, 78–79; as socially constructed, xv; volumizing of, 135–137, 141, 149. See also specific types spatial determination, xv spatial enclosure, 104 spatial practice, xxn14 Speer, Martin, 99 stars, xi State: capitalism and, xv–xvii; dissatisfaction with, 110; drones and, 141–145; exterior of, 141–144; interior of, 144–145; nomad created as response to, 114n55; overreach of, 158; politics of, 44; as sovereignty, 7; space approached by, 106; surveillance by, 103, 157; territorial principle of, 49, 139–140, 143 status quo, 18, 20–21


stealth, 37, 40 stillness, 53n62 striated space, xv, 100, 107–108 Style Wars, 116–117 subjectification, 64, 66 surveillance, 37–38, 146; normalization, discipline and, 61, 64; online, 95; by State, 103, 156 swarm technology, 150, 154n64 Tally, Robert, 88 Taylor, Paul, 97–98 TAZ. See Temporary Autonomous Zone technologies, xii, xviii, 57, 136 teleology, 15 Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ), 144–145 terre (ground), 40, 42, 49, 143, 171; becoming part of, 74; theoretical relations between air and, 135–136 Terrenova, Tiziana, 102 terrorism: counterterrorism, 36–37; cyber, 107; 9/11 terrorist attacks, 36; threat of, 103 Thatcher, Margaret, 32 A Theory of the Drone (Chamayou), 138 thinness, 59–60, 72 A Thousand Plateaus (Deleuze), xix Thresher, Ian, 153n39 Tiqqun, 21 TOR. See The Onion Router totalitarianism, 103 tradition, power based on, 17 transformative identity affect, 21 travel, 35; commercial air, 136; global commerce, digital networks and, 32 treason, 10, 13 The Trial (Kafka), 138 triangulation, of three nodes of drone warfare, 139–141, 148–149 de Troyes, Chrétien, 4–5, 15 Trump, Donald, 27, 125, 144, 158n2, 161, 173n3, 173n6, 173n12; capitalism supported by, 163–164; isolation, nationalism and, 162–166 Twitter, 102, 125 UAVs. See Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Ulmer, Jasmine, 122, 124

192 underground, 49–51, 73–77, 82, 90 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) (drones), 36–37, 135, 172; as aerial power, 141; attacks by, 136; imaging technology of, 137; internet and, 150–151; regulating use of, 146–147; State and, 141–145; use of, within protests, 141, 145–147 unpredictability, 89 urban restructuring, 118 utility, profit, control and, 42 Viera, Leandro, 97 violence, xiii, 32, 36, 114n55, 171; legitimizing, 144; media coverage of sexual, 75 Virilio, Paul, xviii Virtual Private Network (VPN), 107, 113n36 volume, space in terms of, 135–137, 141, 149 VPN. See Virtual Private Network vulnerability, 39 Wade, Ashleigh Greene, 107

Index Waghorn, Neil J., 146, 150 Walker, Sarai, 61 walls, 122–123 War on Terror, 36, 141 weaponization, 29, 39, 111 weight-loss surgery, 68–69, 71, 79–80 Weizman, Eyal, 137 What is Philosophy (Deleuze and Guattari), 88 Whole Foods, 128–129 Wikipedia, 113n17 Winch, Alison, 66 Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), 170–171 women’s rights, 21 Wylie, John, 29 YPG. See People’s Protection Units YPJ. See Women’s Protection Units Yusuf, Ahmet, 170 Ywain and Gawain, 1, 4–5 Zencho, Micha, 36 Zuccotti Park, 29 Zuckerberg, Mark, 173n6

About the Author

Christian Beck is a lecturer in the English Department at the University of Central Florida. He received his PhD from Binghamton University. Christian’s research and teaching touches on various aspects of literature and culture, from medieval to postmodern.