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Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre délicat,
-Hypocrite lecteur, -mon semblable, -mon frére.
Le semblable n’est pas le pareil.
The unifying premise (of my work) is...
the uniqueness of things even as fakes,
copies, impersonations, doubles and
Mary Ellen Carroll
In the famous opening poem of The Flowers of Evil, „To the Reader“, Charles Baudelaire accuses his readers of a number of sins. By far the most dangerous of these is Ennui, the monstre délicat that leaves Baudelaire`s readers with their willpower vaporized, unable to muster an emotional investment in anything at all. Worse still, they do not acknowledge this boredom, instead indulging in a self-satisfied remorse and hypocritical contrition for sins only halfheartedly committed in the first place. However, in a surprising turn at the and of the poem, Baudelaire emphasizes that he is neither above nor fundamentally different from his readers. In fact, he feels fully implicated in the situation he describes. He addresses a reader who he feels is like him, both semblable and frére.
If the reader is likely to recognize what it is to be a brother (even if the range of connotations and allegorical meanings suggested therein is quite wide), who or what a semblable is may be a little more puzzling. While it i soften translated into English as „double“, it might more accurately be rendered as „similar“, if we may turn that word into a noun: the one-who-resembles. And it should be emphasized that, as Jean-Luc Nancy writes, „the like is not the same“ (le semblable n’est pas le pareil). (1) That is, similarity is distinct both conceptually and phenomenologically from sameness; it offers a third term aside the identity-difference opposition. The semblable, or like-being, is neither incommensurate nor identical; it is related but distinct. „A like-being“, Nancy writes, „resembles me in that I myself „resemble“ him: we „resemble“ together, if you will.“ (2)
From his reader, then, Baudelaire solicits a kind of mutual mimesis: like you, I am bored; we are bored together. The exploration of this being-in-common becomes a primary focus of his poetic practice, as he shows his readers that an apparently divers set of melancholic or bored characters – lesbians and dandies, rag pickers and widows – are in fact not just his semblables but his readers’ as well. Baudelaire thereby defamiliarizes a set of shared feelings, bringing a being-in-common into view for his readers and at the same time encouraging them to see the specificity and singularity of their participation in that common existence.
Like Baudelaire, Mary Ellen Carroll is interested in the perception and production of semblables; her artist`s statement for a 2007 show at the Power House in Memphis, Tennessee, which I have quoted above, makes this clear. A recurring insight of her work concerns the emergence of singularity – as opposed to identity or so-called individuality – precisely in relation to similarity. In fact, in the universe conjured up in the work of Carroll, singularity or particularity can come into being only within a field of similarities, a collection of semblables. In order to appreciate such singularity, however, one must be recalled to the phenomenon of similarity itself. And thus one of the chief effects of Carroll`s work ist the stimulation of an otherwise dormant or obscured ability to recognize and create similarities, what Walter Benjamin called „the mimetic faculty“. (3) Frequently, Carroll pursues this task by placing herself as image or as person into various relations of similarity, for example by inviting others to impersonate her, by herself impersonating others, or through processes of doubling or simulation. One effect of experiencing the artist`s enthusiastic proliferation of semblables ist he recognition that similarity in Carroll`s work is attractive precisely because it offers us the chance to experience resemblance and exercise our mimetic faculty in ways that the exigencies of everyday life tend to make difficult.
We need not look far to find ways that modernity has been unkind to the mimetic faculty. Walter Benjamin, who was preoccupied with the decline and possible renewal of the mimetic faculty throughout his career (a concern that, in part, fueled his fascination with Baudelaire), understood our capacity for imitation to be directly related to the experience and transmission of affect. He argues that we have withdraw our imitative relation to the world and to other people in defensive response to the emotionally jarring situations that characterize modernity – war, crowds, the daily news, mechanization of work and entertainment. It would, for instance, be emotionally draining to the point of paralysis if one were affectively open to all the people one encounters on city streets or public transportation, never mind the deaths, disasters, terror alerts, and bombings one sees on the nightly news. (4) On another level, e can observe that the capitalist system of universal equivalence, in which anything can be made to be equivalent to anything else through the medium of money, has dulled the finer antennae of the mimetic faculty. In a world where we move instantly from the incommensurate to the equivalent, likenesses are obscured.
Not yet diseducated, children are more attuned to similarity, Benjamin observed; they have a penchant for creating collections and an affinity for imitations of all kinds: „The child plays a being not only a shopkeeper or teacher, but also a windmill and a train.“ (5) As we grow up, we are taught quite carefully and deliberately what is permitted to imitate and what is not. The child`s open and expansive imitative relation to the world, one filled with a variety of mimetic games, is discouraged by any number of institutions and discourses that push us to think and feel in terms of the binary opposition between identity and difference. Even logic itself, as Nietzsche wrote, suppresses similarity, because it requires that we „treat as equal what is merely similar“ (a move that, he reminds us, is „an illogical tendency, for nothing is really equal“). (6) The universal standard of equivalence established by money is then only „logical“, as is the compensatory valorization of the „genuine“ and „authentic“. The related ideology that holds that we should be independent, self-owned, and self-willed individuals (a version of which is found in the persistent art-world premium on originality and authenticity) disparages imitation as a sign of weakness and dependence. And then there are all the everyday contexts in which a fixed and verifiable personal identity is compulsory, such as signing and cashing checks, crossing a border, driving a car, filing taxes, reporting to work; or, less generally, signing a work of art or authoring a text. In these contexts, there is to be no confusing you and your semblable; plying someone you are not can get you into all kinds of trouble. Andy Warhol encountered this peril when he was caught sending Allen Midgette to college campuses to lecture as him – without, of course, telling the colleges. What for Warhol had been, as he put it, a classic Pop „put on“, was „what some people would call fraud“. (7) While being harassed by a university official, Warhol realized how quickly one`s sense of identity can unravel. When the official asked, „How can I even be sure this is really you on the phone right now?“ Warhol paused for a moment to reflect, then replied, „ don´t know.“ Despite his fascination with the surprisingly disruptive effects these simple acts of impersonation could have, he had to give the lecture fees back, and concluded that he had to Stop playing his „anti-star identity games...and start acting more grown-up.“ (8)
In one of her own Warholian anti-identity games, Carroll recently courted similar trouble by impersonating the artist Judi Werthein, speaking as her on a 2007 conference panel discussing about artist interventions. (9) The organizer of the panel, who recognized that Carroll was not Judi Werthein, despite Carroll`s assertions to the contrary was not pleased. But what could the organizer do? As Warhol had noted, playing with identity is remarkably easy and just as remarkably stupefying. Once people are jostled out of their naturalized presumption that we are all self-identical subjects, they can find themselves like Warhol`s outraged college official, unsure how to verify who he was actually talking to, or like Warhol himself, unable to offer any reassuring response.
Carroll`s interest in impersonation has been consistent throughout her career. In the projectsAll the men who think they can be me. (2003),ME VS I, par tone: Divine in South Africa (2000),Blacks LIKE Me (2007), and other, Carroll has enjoined people to impersonate her, across various and variously perceivable differences. In All the men who think they can be me., for example, Carroll documents all the men (and women) who answered an ad seeking men who could „play“ the role of her. Looking at the head shots these men and women seen in, one`s first thought is: these people don`t „look like“ her at all. Yet even as we doubt the ability of these actors o impersonate Carroll persuasively, we find ourselves imagining in each case how they might. And then in turn, we see that all these people in the head shots are themselves similar to each other inasmuch as they all ry and fail to „successfully“ impersonate Carroll. They are brought together by virtue of the singular way that each of them does not fit the role. The sense of similarity (and singularity) extends to us, the artwork`s audience, since we all know what it feels like to fail to fit a role.
If a work such asAll the men who think they can be me.encourages us to imagine instances of bad acting, in a series called simplyResemblance(1999-), Carroll plays with the idea that she too is impersonating Mary Ellen Carroll, that she also succeeds in failing, and that in the end we are all semblables to ourselves. InResemblance, Carroll photographs anonymous persons (and sometimes things) that she encounters in the course of her daily life and perceives to be similar to her in one way or another. The series produces a pleasurably disorienting effect as one examines each new image, thinking, What is it that constitutes similarity here? Is it the glasses, a particular way the hair is parted, a posture, a way this person is opening her bag, a gait? And then upon further reflection, one asks: Similar to what? Even as a certain range of recognizable characteristics comes into view, the work offers no sense of there being a mode into which all the other images are being compared, the one thing to which they are all similar. In fact, the photo the artist included of herself in the series – taken in a mirror – appears as just one more image among innumerable semblables, another image about which she could say, „Oh, this looks kind of like me.“ Carroll posits a field of resemblances that appears to lack an original or origin of identity.
Rather than a model and copies, then, we find the logic of the collection. The basic move fort he collector, as Benjamin reminds us, is to take something out of its everyday context and place it into a kind of „magic circle“ in which it mingles with other things that it resembles. (10) Within this constellation of similarities, a dynamic process is at work: each item adds to the collection acquires its new significance in relation to the collection itself, and at the same time, each new object slightly reorders the collection and makes a new totality, shifting ever so slightly the relationship between the items in the collection and the collection as a whole. Thus this person known as Mary Ellen Carroll comes into view in relation no to any single image but to a constantly shifting aggregate of distinct yet similar images. Here, a „we“ made up of semblables is the precondition fort he „I“.
Each images singularity is sharpened, in the sense that in each photo we notice little differences – these are not the same glasses, the haircut is different, this person seems a little bit shorter than that other one. Yet even as the specificity of each image may become newly apparent through its juxtaposition with other similar images, the principle of identity itself seems to fade into the background. One finds oneself doubting ones capacity to distinguish between the persons represented inResemblance. The fact that each photo has a different setting, and the variation among shot angles, contributes to the uncertainty. Unlike the images in for example, Carroll`s100 German Men(1997), these do not resembles ID photos. Rather one realizes that what one is comparing when looking at the various images is not so much the people in the photos but the fleeting moments of perception the photos index. And viewing the work as recording a series of moments of feeling-like in turn encourages a mimetic response – an imaginative impersonation – as one begins to wonder about Carroll`s state of mind when these resonant images flitted by her. What was it that Carroll noticed in the person she photographed? How did her mood, or whom she was with, or what she was doing at the moment affect her capacity for noticing similarities?
In my own mimetic reverie, I found that the flashes of perception referenced inResemblancereminded me of nothing so much as those moments when a certain toss of the hair, a profile, or a coat can lead a grieving person to think that she or he sees the person being mourned getting onto the subway or turning a corner on the street – there he is! – only to realize that the perception was a mistake. Like a phantom limb, which remains proprioceptively present yet is frustratingly absent when one tries to use it, the missing loved one refuses to depart from one senses. Beyond the confusion they sow, these mistaken perceptions remind us of the extent to which our affects travel along paths of similarity – indeed, even invent similarities – in order to find their way into the word. Freud hypothesized that objects of emotional attachment are always „transferences“ of earlier attractions or past emotional ties onto an object in the present. The new object need only be seen as somehow similar to the old one fort he transference to occur. In this sense, emotions never occur fort he first time, appearing instead as what Freud called „facsimiles or new editions“ of old emotional ties. (11) When one thinks one sees that deceased person, in this understanding, it is an emotional tie taking advantage of a perceived similarity to repress itself on the world.
In viewing the images inResemblance, then, it is as if our capacity for recognition has been disoriented precisely because we have begun to see the images assemblables. Similarity has displaces identity, and we shift into another register, the one in which affects travel. However, in the case ofResemblance, Carroll is looking not at semblables of some other person whom she has lost but at semblables of herself, as I fit is herself she mourns. The suggestion its hat not only do our attachments to other persons travel along paths of similarity, but that the „I“ also comes into being by way of a succession of moments of perceiving someone else to look like „me“. We become subjects by way of being-like: not Rimbaud`s „I is an other“, but „I is a semblable“.
The production of resemblance may be seen to begin in infancy, when, in order to cope with the absence of one`s first caretaker, one imitates her or him in order to preserve something of that person „in“ the „self“, as an initial self. In this way, being-like or resemblance is motivated from the first by loss. The „self“ is at once the instrument and creation of this like-being: the need for a „self“ arises from the need to mime the other as a response to its potentially traumatic absence. As Derrida put it: „The terrible solitude which is mine or ours at the death of the other is what constitutes that relationship to self which we call „me“, „us“, „between us“, „subjectivity“, „intersubjectivity“, „memory“. The possibility of death „happens“, so to speak, „before“ these other different instances, and makes them possible“. (12) there is neither a „self“ nor an „us“ before our awareness of the potential absence, the death, of the other. We are all miming what we lack, in a melancholic process that creates the very possibility of emotional attachment and brings the self into existence. This process requires a talent for noticing and prioritizing resemblances, a talent that we are all evidently born with but that frequently falls into disrepair, and that, in theResemblance series, Carroll reactivates.
If, as I have been suggesting, the „I“ needs being-in-common to exist as such, if singularity only exists in relation to a plurality of similar singularities, then it is as if, here in Resemblance, Carroll is bringing herself into existence by way of her semblables. In this sense, the series could be seen as an attempt to get a grasp on what Lacan has called the gaze the fact of appearing in the field of the visible before others. In order to imagine ourselves as seen, we picture the point of view from which we are seen. Of course this is impossible, not least because the gaze is neither singular nor localizable. (13) We are always more visible, and from more points of view, than we would like to be or can imagine ourselves being. (14) Nonetheless, in order to think of ourselves as existing in the visual worked (and indeed, Lacan suggests, to be seeing subjects at all), we are forever trying to imagine the point of view from which we are seen. (15) In Resemblance, Carroll seems at first to be imitating this point of view by looking at others who are like her with a remarkable facility for noticing likeness that – for the person who knows her – one imagines she herself does not see. But upon further reflection, it becomes clear that she is calling into question the idea of the gaze by pluralizing herself. For part of the fantasy of the gaze is the notion that one could be a whole, coherent self, if one could just see oneself being seen as if from outside. Carroll, however, by seeing herself as a collection or assemblage of images, displaces the negating force of the gaze. There is no hope here for a total, Archimedean point of view on one`s self. That is, there is no point o view fro which the „I“ can really be seen because this „I“ does not exist as such; it only exists in relation to its semblables. The „I“ becomes inseparable from multiplicity. As Nancy puts it, being is always „an instance of „with“: singulars singularly together, where the togethereness is neither the sum, nor he incorporation, nor the „society“, nor the „community“... the togethereness of singulars is singularity „itself“. It „assembles“ them insofar as it spaces them; they are „linked“ insofar as they are not unified.“ (16) Being is necessarily being-with, with others who are similar to us inasmuch as they too require this multiplicity.
I cannot here do justice to the full range of Carroll`s interest in similarity and semblables, which extend in a number of different directions. I would, however, like to draw attention here to one more of her works, the videoFederal, which does not thematize similarity as explicitly return us to the connection between boredom and similarity with which i began.
Shot on July 28, 2003,Federal(2003) is a two-part video documenting twenty-four hours in the life of the north and south sides of the Federal Building in Los Angeles, which houses offices fort he FBI, CIA, and Secret Service. When it was shown in New York in 2005, the two parts of the video were projected simultaneously and in their entirety in two adjacent theaters. In its minimal, real-time approach to videotaping a building, Carroll`sFederalalludes overtly toEmpire(1964), Warhol`s eight-hour film of the Empire State Building. But where the Empire State Building appealed o Warhol because of its star status and instant recognizability, the L.A. Federal Building, designed in 1970 by Charles Luckman, is notable for its ability to signify governmentality and bureaucracy. The remarkably negative entry inAn Architectural Guidebook to Los Angelesreads: „An immense file cabinet that one can`t miss. As depressing a comment on architecture of the 1970s as it is a condemnation of the bureaucracy of our society.“ (17) The building seems a fitting emblem for a particular idea about the government and other bureaucratic institutions as a source and locus of a disabling sense of alienation and dissociation from politics and public life. (18)
This Federal Building is an interesting object for visual investigation also because it occupies one need of the now unprecedentedly enormous national security surveillance apparatus. Indeed, the quantity of surveillance at a produced each year is so large – an estimated thirty million security cameras in the United States generate approximately four billion hours of footage a year – that FBI and CIA agents no longer actually do the work of looking at security footage so much as they examine the results produced by the „analytic software“ processing it. (19) Carroll`s video promises the ironic pleasure of „watching the watchers“, (20) but the Federal Building presents a particular challenge to those wishing to observe it: precisely because it houses „the watchers“, the building is a potential site for terrorist attacks, and thus its inhabitants direct a highly suspicious gaze a anyone caught looking at it for too long – not to mention actually videotaping it. Nobody would be surprised, therefore, to learn that it tool Carroll more than a year to get authorization to tape the building; indeed, one is amazed that she was able to make the movie a all.
Thus, as with many of Carroll`s projects, a lengthy, labor-intensive and complicated negotiation with some institutional framework is a crucial part of the work. (OFPC (1999-2009), a project in which Carroll is rotating a house in Houston, would be another notable example.)
One imagines lots of phone calls placed, letters written, and forms filled out. Required for such endeavors are not only a facility for navigating institutional channels but also a talent for determining whatever is required to persuade various officials to actually care in one way or another about Carroll`s project – a talent, in other words, fort he affective labor of persuasion, persistence, cajoling, and charisma. Here, as in so much of her work, Carroll has to figure out what role it is necessary to play – a kind of impersonation – in order to convince the powers that be to let her do what she wants to do. As a way to understand the aesthetic utility of such a practice, we might go back to Baudelaire, who as part of his attempt to shake off the stupor of boredom purposefully sought out experiences of loss, becoming a „traumatophile“ as a way to research historical change. (21) The affective knowledge acquired in this research became a kind of raw material for his poetic practice, and a means by which he could feel like his semblables. Carroll exposes herself not so much to loss or trauma but to an experience that is as representative of our historical moment as loss and shock was of Baudelaire`s – immaterial, affective labor. (22) Not unlike a customer service representative or flight attendant, Carroll needs to produce a feeling of ease in her governmental interlocutors. Like a legal assistant or health care worker, she needs to manage information and create lines of communication. Yet when the movie is finally made and we are watching it, this immaterial labor is invisible; we know it is there, but it leaves its mark through absence, its performance a disappearing act.
It is fitting then that the experience Federal offers its spectators is a kind of dialectical reversal of the experience Carroll herself undergoes to make the movie: where the affective labor of persuasion and maneuvering requires a very specific and not especially flexible emotional orientation and skill set, Federal creates room for a lush mode of relaxation wherein no affective demands are directed at one. The powerful aesthetic experiences that Federal makes possible are at least in part effects of duration itself; as Warhol noted, „The more you look at the exact same thing, the more the meaning goes away, and the better and emptier you feel.“ (23) As meaning quite assuredly „goes away“, a period of discomfort or disorientation is likely to set in. The screen image is indifferent to us. We can look or not; our attention can wander. We can go back and forth between the north and south sides of the building. While there is occasional banter, and birds fly past from time to time, there are no characters and no sequential, narrative logic to follow, other than the sun`s disappearance and reappearance. Inevitably, one becomes bored.
But his feeling is not Baudelaire`s Ennui; it is not the boredom of emotional withdrawal. Rather, this boredom is one with which we might be less familiar, a relaxed and almost hypnotic state in which the mind wanders and the rules of perception seem to bend, and where unexpected emotions flit in and out of consciousness. This is what Benjamin called „the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience.“ (24) In other words, this boredom is characterized by an emotional opens that is the condition of possibility for being affected and transformed, for being interested and surprised by one`s desires, attractions, and imaginations. It is also a stimulant to the mimetic faculty: settling into this state of boredom, the Federal Building stops being the Federal Building and starts looking like other things. Just as, on an afternoon at the park, one may stare at the sky and see elephants, teapots, or letters of the alphabet forming n the clouds, so inFederal one sees combs, bookshelves, old computer punch cards, and faces formed in the lines and shapes made by the buildings features. Likenesses float to the surface of one`s perception like magic bubbles from the springs of one`s unconscious. this phenomenon is all the more appreciated because it is seldom found or indulged. Indeed, the routines and structures of work and entertainment alike seem to conspire against this relaxing kind of boredom. The problem, as Siegfried Kracauer put it, its that when one might which „to rouse (oneself) into real boredom“, by doing nothing, and despite not being interested in the world, „the world itself is much too interested for one to find the peace and quiet necessary to be as thoroughly bored with the world as it ultimately deserves.“ (25) One of the chief agents of the world`s intrusive interest in one is, of course, government. The United States government`s so-called war on terror alerts, security checks, the constant intoning of the 9/11 mantra; wiretaps and surveillance, not to mention actual torture. And given the deception and cynicism of the member of the Bush administration in strating the war in Iraq, along with the brazen profiteering of the architects of the war, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, the easiest course for many on the Left is emotional withdrawal from the political world. (26) At best, anger can be mustered for brief bursts – but even this outrage, when faced with the enormity of the problem and the impunity with which the government does its business, is quickly exhausted to be replaced by a depressive and slightly amazed stupor. In such a situation, the comments Guy Debord made in the early 1960s still ring true: „The events that occur in our individual existence as its is now organized, the events that really concern us and require our participation, generally merit nothing more than our indifference as distant and bored spectators.“ (27)
In the space of Federal, we find the peace and quiet to become as bored (in the relaxing sense) as we want, precisely in relation to the very institution to blame fort he boredom (in the cynical, withdrawn sense) that plagues our everyday lives. Quite surprisingly, we and ourselves daydreaming with the state security apparatus as context. As one sits in the theater spacing out and, from time to time, sees lights going on and off, or figures coming and going in the distance, one wonders about the jobs these people are engaged in. Are there holding cells in there? What goes on behind those windows with the shades drawn? Its hat where they interrogate people? WhereasEmpire, as a kind of celebrity portrait film, provided more of a blank screen for us to put up our various affective images (for Warhol, it was a big hard-on; for Callie Angell, it seemed at times to be a hypodermic needle (28)),Federaloffers a more tightly framed area in which our free-floating attention can play. What results are two, not necessarily compatible, modes of viewing. In the mode I have been discussing, the building itself vanishes into a hallucinatory Rorschach test of shapes and patterns. But on can find oneself brought out of this mode and returned to the Federal Building qua Federal Building through the various forms of disruption built into the movie, such as a light going on, a conversation among the camera operators in the background, or one`s own movement between the theaters showing the front and back of the building. When I sawFederal, having recently moved from one theater to the other, and thus thinking about the twinned nature of the images here, my thought turned, perhaps unsurprisingly, to footage of the World Trade Center in the seconds before the planes crashed into it on September 11. The undisturbed building, in Carroll`s work, began to look like a target. And here I felt the return of a familiar, and collectively experienced, anxious energy. But these feelings were no longer mine; for in being pulled out of the gravitational force of the durational image, it was as if I had been separated from my affects, which still resided in the image on the screen. Karl Kraus once remarked that the more closely you stare at a word, the greater the distance from which it stares back. Similarly, I found that the feelings associated with the building-target seemed themselves to stare back at me from the screen. For a moment, my „I“ seemed divested of its identity as my emotions – what one usually thinks of as the most intimate and most personal aspects of one`s existence – were displaced into another world.
Such moments of self-alienation make one`s emotional life – one`s range of moods, set of structures of feeling, and collection of affective attachments – appear weird , surprising, and thus available for a now kind of recognition, interest, and analysis. In the case ofFederal, this self-estrangement allows one to see that one`s affects are no tone`s alone, and to feel-like other spectators past and future.Federalmakes of its audience a group of semblables who, for a few moments at least, may find themselves surprised rather than stupefied by the common affects that they feel about their shared subjection. Wandering back into the street from the theater, these audience members may find that the effect linger, that nothing really looks or feels like itself any longer. Instead, one has entered a world in which everything that happens begins to appear „not in identical but in similar guise, opaquely similar one to another“, distorted in various states of resemblance. (29)
(1) Jean-Luc Nancy,The Inoperative Community, ed. Peter Connor, trans. Peter Connor, Lisa Garbus, Michael Holland, and Simona Sawhey (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991), 33.
(3) See, in particular, Walter Benjamin, „Doctrine of the Similar“ and „On the Mimetic Faculty“, inWalter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Vol. 2, 1927 – 1934, ed. Michael W. Jennings, Howard Eiland, and Gary Smith, trans. Rodney Livingstone and others (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Universiy Press, 1999), 694 – 98 and 720 – 22.
(4) Georg Simmel`s observation is to the point: „Before buses, railroads, and streetcars became fully established during the nineteenth century, people were never put in a position of having to stare at one another for minutes or even hours on end without exchanging a word.“ See Georg Simmel, „The Metropolis and Mental Life“ (1903), inGeorg Simmel on Individuality and Social Form(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 324 – 39. For more on modernity and the mimetic faculty in Benjamin, see Susan Buck-Morss, „Aesthetics and Anaesthetics: Walter Benjamin`s Artowork Essay Reconsidered“October62 (Fall 1992): 3 – 41, and Miriam Hansen, „Benjamin and Cinema: Not a One Way Street“ inBenjamin`s Ghosts, ed. Gerhard Richter Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002), 41 – 73.
(5) Benjamin, „Doctrine of the Similar“, 694.
(6) Friedrich Nietzsche,The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Press, 1974), 171. On the suppression of similarity in logic, and on identity and nonidentity, see also sections 510 – 12 and 515 – 17 ofThe Will to Power, trans. Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage Press, 1967), 276 – 80.
(7) Warhol reasons that, since at his „speaking engagements“ he let his entourage do the talking for him while he sat silently and nodded, it was no big deal to send Midgett instead: „All he`d have to do was keep quiet the way I did and let Paul do all the talking. And we`d been playing switch-the celebrity at parties and openings around New York for years, telling people that Viva was Utra and Edie was me and I was Gerard – sometimes people would get all mixed p by themselves...and we wouldn`t bother to correct them, it was too much fun to let them go on getting it all wrong it seemed like a joke to us.“ Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett,POPism: The Warhol Sixties(New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980), 247 – 48. When someone at one of the colleges compared a pho he had taken of the person he thought as Warhol with a photo of Warhol in theVillage Voice, the ruse was revealed.
(8) Warhol and Hackett,POPism, 248.
(9)The Situational Drive: Complexities of Public Sphere Engagement, Cooper Union, New York, May 12 – 13, 2007.
(10) See Walter Benjamin, „The Collector“, inThe Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 203 – 11; the „magic circle“ passage appears on 205.
(11) The full passage reads: „What are transferences? Thy are new editions or facsimiles of the tendencies and fantasies which are aroused and made conscious of the progress of the analysis; but they have this peculiarity, which is characteristic for their species, that they replace some earlier person by the person of the physician.“ He also refers to the transferences as „new impressions or reprints“, noting that in some cases there are „revise editions.“ Sigmund Freud, Dora:An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria(New York: Collier Books, 1963), 138.
(12) Jacques Derrida,Memoires for Paul de Man(New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), 33.
(13) Thus Lacan`s many versions of „I am unable to see myself from the place where the other is looking at me.“ Jacques Lacan,Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis(New York: Norton, 1978), 167.
(14) The gaze has a „pulsatile, dazzling and spread out function“. Ibid., 89.
(15) Lacan argues that the facts of our visibility, the gaze, how we imagine ourselves being seen are always experienced in relation to a felt lack, a desire to be seen in a totalizing, complete way: the „it`s really me“. In the mirror the child sees a whole body that seems coherent, which she or he identifies with. On this subject, Juliet Mitchell writes, „The identity that seems to be that of the subject is in fact a mirage arising when the subject forms an image of itself by identifying with others’ perception of it.“ „Introduction – I“, inFeminine Sexuality: Jacques Lacan and the école freudienneby Jacqus Lacan (New York: Norton, 1982), 5. But we are never as whole as our bodily outline might suggest, and the desire for a coherent, unified self remains a fantasy, one that is never fulfilled but that we nonetheless persistently seek in the gaze of the other.
(16) Nancy,The Inoperative Community, 33.
(17) David Gebhard and Robert Winter,An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles, rev. ed., ed. and updated by Robert Winter (Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 2003), 137.
(18) This idea has been in place at least since the 1960s, in the wake of books such as C. Wright Mill`sWhite Collar(1951), David Riesman`sThe Lonely Crowd(1950), and William H. Whyte`sThe Organization Man(1956), which adduced as a source of alienation and dissociation, especially among the new white middle classes, the increasing power of large, impersonal institutions – such as corporations, government bureaucracies, mass universities, the military, and the mass media – in structuring both work and leisure.
(19) Cited in Naomi Klein,The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism(New York: Henry Holt, 2007), 302.
(20) Carroll`s poster for the 2005 screening ofFederalat New York`s Cinema Village – formatted like a traditional movie poster – proclaims, „Watch the watchers.“
(21) I borrow „traumatophile“ from Walter Benjamin, „On Some Motifs in Baudelaire“, I Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 4, 1938 – 1940, ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings, trans. Edmund Jephcott and others (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 319.
(22) On immaterial labor, see Maurizio Lazzarato, „Immaterial Labor“, inRadical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics, ed. Paolo Virno and Michael Hart (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 133 – 46. In the „Glossary of Concepts“ at the end ofRadical Thought in Italy, the editors write: „Immaterial labor might...be conceived as the labor that produces the informational, cultural or affective element of the commodity“ (262). On affective labor, see Michael Hardt, „Affective Labor“,Boundary 2 26, no. 2 (1999): 89 – 100, and Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri,Multitude: War and Democracy n the Age of Empire(New York: Penguin Press, 200), passim and especially 108 – 14. Hardt and Negri describe affective labor as „labor that produces or manipulates affects such as a feeling of ease, well-being, satisfaction excitement, or passion. One can recognize affective labor, for example in the work of legal assistants, flight attendants and fast food workers (service with a smile)“ (108).
(23) Warhol and Hackett,POPism, 50.
(24) Benjamin, „The ‚Storyteller“, inWalter Benjamin, Selected Writings, Volume 3, 1935 – 1938, ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings, trans. Edmund Jephcott, Howard Eiland, and others (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 149.
(25) Siegfried Kracauer, „Boredom“, I Kracauer,The Mass Ornament: Weimarer Essays, ed., trans., and with an introduction by Thomas Y. Levin (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), 331 – 32.
(26) On Rumsfeld`s and Cheney`s profits from the war, see Klein,The Shock Doctrine, 308 – 16.
(27) Guy Debord, Critique of Separation (1961), in Debord, Complete Cinematic Works, trans. Ken Knabb (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2003), accessed online at http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord.films/separation.htm in March 2008. In the film, Debord speaks the quotation in voiceover.
(28) See Callie Angell,The Films of Andy Warhol, Part II(New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1994), 16, and Warhol, „Andy Warhol, Movieman: „It`s Hard To Be Your Own Script“, interview with Leticia Kent,Vogue, March 1, 1970, 167.
(29) Benjamin, „The Image of Proust“, in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 2, 239.