Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Non-existence through indifference

The practical consequences of Galloway and Thacker's formulation of nonexistence are clear: It's not a question of hiding, or living off the grid, but of living on the grid, in potentially full informatic view, but in a way that makes one's technical specification or classification impossible.
- Seb Franklin, On Game Art, Circuit Bending and Speedrunning as Counter-Practice: 'Hard' and 'Soft' Nonexistence

Franklin's remark, looking at Galloway and Thacker, explores the notion of non-existence from totalisation-by-database. Databases serve to record information for sorting, and sorting requires a schema. Large scale sorting requires groupings, and so forth. To exist, in this sense, is to be recorded, stored and classified. Non-existence is the dumbfounded expression that accompanies, "But you're not in our system." To be a little reductionist, it's also the teenager who screams, "Don't put me in a box!" This kind of non-existence is not simply rejecting the taxonomy of the system, it is actively working to be missed by the system because if the system finds you, it will classify you and make you part of the system.

There is something of Badiou in this idea, however. His truth-procedure model insists that the created subject is outside of the system, resisting totalisation. But for Badiou, this is not merely a case of avoiding detection. Badiou's subject exhibits more power than this, demonstrating power through indifference. The structures of the human-animal or the human-evil are ignored by the subject and this is the power of the truth: the capacity of the subject to be defined by the truth rather than by the situation.

For the subject who is siezed by a truth, the protest is not, "Don't put me in a box!" Rather the response is a non-response. Box or not, the subject will live by the truth and the box superimposed by others will be powerless. Herein lies the challenge for anyone who wants to be faithful to the truth: hiding from the system is weakness, indifference to the system is power.

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