when no one could be watching


The plot of the “recall double-cross” takes place in the future anterior: Mr. Universe returns to the past in order, once again, to cancel the revolution of mille neuf soixante huit, (Kennedy’s eternal flame[i] eternally haunts the US political imaginary; even when snuffed by Reagan’s California governorship, like a trick candle, it automatically relights.), in order that the neo-liberal totalitarian revolution can continue to deepen its successes. In this performative, fully concrete charade of public alliance making, the structure of spacetime is literally altered. The double-cross need no longer be serial, no longer needs two sets of victims, since, the spectacle is now an integrated,[ii] ubiquitous force field that spreads as it concentrates, and concentrates as it spreads. The double-cross is internalized in a single object of deceit, by means of a conversion machine that produces series of transitive re-interpolations, as demonstrated by Terminator 1-3. ‘John’ the yet unborn figure of the future revolutionary leader in T1 and countercultural hacker of the second episode, shades by episode three into ‘John’ the counter-terrorist, as the Terminator itself morphs from ‘enemy’ in T1 (sent into the past to kill the mother of the future leader of the resistance), to ‘friend’ in T2, in preparation we must assume, for Schwarzenegger’s ‘recall’ race. The Matrix series reinforces the pattern; Mr. Andersen the hacker gives way to Neo the new age savior in the power game of predestination ‘governed’ by the architect-oracle dualism (white male/black woman, mind/body, law/chance) that maintains the racialized economy of the matrix, and rules human subjection through mere iteration disguised as revolution. More on this below. It is a decidedly Lutheran-Buddhist vision that allows for only asocial, libertarian redemption, modeled on the standard martyrdom of the white, master-savior of black Zion, apparently incapable, as usual, of saving itself. The result: sociopolitical closure as a zero-sum game. The lesson: the switch of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in each case took place between films when no one could be watching.


These non-visual spaces – spacings in the Derridean sense, localities with duration – are materialized within the spectacle as a new order of spacetime, materially constituted as invisibility. They are the intervals between the release dates of episodes of a sequel. They are chronotopes of a far more radical, material character than those first brilliantly diagnosed by Bakhtin for the novelist imaginary. And they are far more sinister. They will remain forever beyond visuality, beyond all phenomenologies. They cannot be sensed, neither seen nor heard. Other analytic methods are necessary to discover how these spacings constitute new orders of spectacular integration.

[i] Of importance here is the work of Antfarm’s “Eternal Frame,” the reenactment of Kennedy’s assassination based on the Segruder film. See the catalog, Ant Farm, 1968-1978: January 21-April 25, 2004. University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, 2004

[ii] ‘Integration’ in this article refers to two sources: Guy Debord, Comments of the Society of the Spectacle, translated by Malcolm Imrie, Verso, 9-11, and Pierre Bourdieu, Acts of Resistance, 75, where the interviewer introduces Umberto Eco’s concept of the “integrated intellectual.” See note 15 below.

when no one could be watching

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