tirado/thrown


Philosophy for (S)Lowriders

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One of Infinite Thought’s recent posts on walking/stomping mentions some reflections of Alain Badiou’s that seem to channel Paul Virilio’s dromological musings:

 ‘To an epoch such as ours, nothing circulates as fast as capital, its merchandise and its communications, it exists as a particular oppression bearing time which is translated as the normal speed to which the subject must bend. I speak purposefully here of a structural speed. It is very different from the capacity for a sudden decision as is necessary for the subject exposed to an event. To this imposed rapidity, I oppose this maxim: ‘go slow/be slow/slowness’. A maxim which, remember, was already explicitly to the fore in certain workers struggles of the 1970s. ‘Go slow down the imposed speed of production needed for it to work its proper rhythm’.

In the same post, the friend who passed on this excerpt from a lecture on Plato to Infinite Thought recalled an anecdote about freedom and the pace of walking from an encounter with Badiou.

‘When Badiou was down here J Clemens and I were walking with him down the street. We had to keep stopping and turning to wait. He made a joke of us and he told us that for the Greeks to walk slowly was the privilege of free men.’

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On the one hand, I couldn’t keep myself from thinking about the lowrider, that cybernetic Chicano contribution to car culture that is more signifier than tool.  In light of Badiou’s commens, the lowrider’s calling to cruise “low and slow” is more than a sign of resistance against a dominant culture consuming vehicles for commerce-oriented transport and circulation, i.e., for participation in the political economy.  The lowrider can also operate as a sign of freedom, using the car outside of the circuits of transport and work.   The lowrider’s not built for speed, but for show.  They are cars that precisely don’t work, revealing a leisure unavailable to capital’s rapid circulation.  I defy you to speed along in a bouncing or tilted car.   This, in spite of non-emancipatory tendencies within lowrider culture.  

One could only imagine Badiou at a lowrider show.

(For an example of “low and slow” see 0:24, 2:20, and 3:35 in the video below.)

On the other hand, thoughts return to walking.  Being harried, walking fast-really fast-is the mark of a typical commute.  Mercilessly, I slash through the spaces opened up between people on sidewalks or subway passage to at least think that I’m either dampering my habitual tardiness or even approaching punctuality.  It is a mark of my servitude to the wage, a monstrous Hyde-like tendency that gives way to a relaxed dawdle during the weekend, when I would like to not be hurried, entertaining the (not-so) decent Dr. Jekyll in me.  Captialism and schizophrenia?  Why yes, me thinks so.

so-fucking-lonely

The decisive matter in all of this, as mentioned by IT’s friend in the post, is the mastery of temporality, a concern that has dogged me since first hearing about the ‘moment’ in Kierkegaard as an undergraduate.  More on that later, perhaps.

Images: Lowrider from howstuffworks.com; Nicola Villa,“Walking”, 2007, “So f*cking lonely”, 2008.  (More fantastic images of walking at her site…)



Mi Ranfla is More than a Ride: Cybernetics, Exhibition Value, Recognition, and Pride

 

Artist Ruben Ortiz Torres digs into his archives and offers his readers at For the Record a video piece entitled Custom Mambo (1992, 5 min., 13 sec).  It’s a marvelous study replete with kaleidoscopic imagery and multiple juxtapositions: Mexican folk iconography with 1950s and 60s American pop culture symbols, dancing cars set against women dancing at car shows, signs of the dangerous, furtive, and panicked border crossings contrasting the relaxed, low-and-slow car cruise.  Ortiz brings these signs of arrival into American consumer life, highlighting in them the desire for recognition in a cultural setting that relegates such ingenuity and communication to the margins of American culture.  Custom Mambo also shows the technology of low-rider culture to be a kind of proto-cybernetics, giving cars the capacity to take on human qualities of gesture, movement, and storytelling beyond through aesthetic intervention.  About these re-tooled, re-constituted wonders, Torres-Ortiz notes:

These “rides” constitute an effort to be noticed in a society that doesn’t want to see the people that ride them. I hope the video conveys the overwhelming experience of the Dyonisian “beauty” that escapes any notion of rationality and at the same time hints at some of the problems it raises.