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Capital is nothing without energy, without a working which it desires to measure in terms of itself — and often wishes to imagine itself coincident with (and even more original than) this working — so much so that capital is often said to “represent” the flow of energy into the machine. On this reading, the economy is a largely imperceptible field of forces which, like a magnetic field, disappears instantaneously when the flow of energy stops. But capital is not quite this virtual flow (e.g., of electricity,) nor its abstract numerical representation — and furthermore, capital is not even the surplus energy guaranteed by distribution, or “real” profits (the actual satisfaction of desire.) Rather, capital appears in the spontaneous transfer of segments between flows of energy.

To be sure, desire makes an appearance here, too. When aspects or “internal relations” of capital grow rigid or supple, forming fields and blocks, they begin to produce breaks in the flow; this process is like an infinite division, a decoding without boundaries. Divide by zero. At some moment within history, the virtual body of capital produces an indirect appearance in the form of money, but its true appearing occurs in the gesture of acquisition, only coinciding with itself as a kind of indigestion which takes hold of the body from without.

What remains is perhaps the husk; capital “realized” is nothing but an englobing retention of matter. “Things” multiply ceaselessly: an obsessional matrix of part-objects, a machine built around “breaks” or “fissures,” places where a flow of energy breaks apart, explodes, ruptures, starts leaking from the seams. When do we discover that these apparent blockages are “really” just a species of more slowly-moving flows of energy? How does this imperceptible differential shift occur, this minimal break between the part and the flow? Is it finally “all” a question of spacings, different speeds, elliptical cycles? If indeed, we walk the thin line of supposing that neither can we presume absolute chaos, nor a fundamental harmony.

These abstract simple oppositions will only land us into trouble. For it all begins with minimal or imperceptible differences, a declination which becomes a revolution. The political-economic must not simply remain an “inconclusive” paradox, a broken whirlwind at whose core the face of god shines, his invisible hands’ spinning the market’s glittering wheel (upon which we, playthings of chaotic fortune, are endlessly crucified.) These kinds of morality plays amounts only to a transcendental illusion of “metaphysical” capitalists (a particularly virulent species of market fundamentalists) of whom Boethius would perhaps have been proud.

For capital indeed represents a kind of pure war machine, in its own way not unlike passional or prophetic discourse — a regime of total deterritorialization bent on a lethal line of flight. This line of escape from capital — from the “daily market junk” — this potential or actual subjectivity, is calculatedly negated, and we too take our part in the choir condemning it, this strange line guaranteed and yet “barred” by the system itself. Yet what is this “differential” system of capitalistic relationship but the constant movement of a line of transformation — far from barring subjective development — functioning as a radical dissolution of all barriers, a pure undecoded flow, the very en-structuration of the appearing of “real” war machines: an absolute regime of unadulterated de-subjectification, pure depersonalization?

This entry was written by Joseph Weissman and published on Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 4:48 am. It’s filed under barrier, break, capital, cycle, difference, economy, energy, flow, paradox, Politics, space, subjectivity. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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