The camera stalks its object, meting out justice, defining degrees of freedom. The metaphysics of the crane shot go all the way down to the inner core. Visions manufacture the agent, these screened hard facts call forth universality. I am that. A sphere of mediated images, actions and narratives: Truth, justice and freedom. A forcefield produced, reproduced and consumed; desirable, seductive images that assure political right by mobilising aesthetic might.
She was already inside. I entered into the necessary circle voluntarily.
Coming on like some pulp-laced old-times doctor of philosophy, she assembled a topline crew. Gz and Hustlaz: Stanley Fish dropkicking with Steven Seagal, Carl Schmitt shooting craps with Steve Wynn, Columbo avec Thomas Hobbes, Crockett and Tubbs double-dating Adorno and Horkheimer. She ran the archive tapes: powerplays, men in rooms, pressure, leverage, manoeuvres, the construction of universal truths through sheer willpower. Elevators, stacks, carparks, deals, high rollers, high visions and higher theories, pearls and cordite. She read events, reloaded and redelivered them from another perspective. She embedded multiple viewpoints, plotting crossfire fictions with moving targets. Propaganda shots, Powerpoint presentations, Quintilian rhetoric, dialectical imprecations, motivational speeches. Packed down hard inside the obsession chamber, tightly contained and cavelike, crushed up against her skull. Bassbins and plasma screens. No distance. Seeing things fast and bright. She eyeball-drilled it, cut it up, bolted it back together, until everything was abstract and totally concrete. Seduction wore thin through repetition. Only compulsion remained. The entire casing got ripped open. Some metallic, skeletal mechanism was down there, cycling relentlessly, where it had always been. Pounding.
She resolved all contradiction, exploded irony and imploded sincerity. It all combined into one cold, shining psychosis. Image-force, word-force. It pinned you down like a nailgun. After a while you’re just registering it blindly, feeling the impact. You can’t reason with bulletpoints.
God’s dead, there’s no plan, beyond good and evil, no natural bonds. The only way to get these lowlifes organised is by force. The visions fuel the belief that maintains the required state of affairs. So what’s the logic here, where’s the politics?
The artists really did not get the picture.
They were spooked. They picked over everything. Anxious, vigilant, second-guessing every move, checking for wires and surveillance trucks. Because they were too smart to believe in freedom, they believed they were free. The C-industry, the G-men, the powers-that-be bombarded them with come-ons. Complacently suspended in paranoid fantasy, they resisted.
So they figured power as freedom from affect. They built safehouses, they hid out. They plotted in autonomous zones. Behind the masks, the façades, they had the dominant power in their sights. One by one, they’d roll up every subordinate, right to the corner office, topple the kingpin, without getting dirty. Overambitious to say the least. Meanwhile, they were selling the same old dope out the back door to any uptown wannabe with enough cheese to buy into the glamour, the prestige, the almost priceless speculative purity.
Suddenly everything turned around. They intentionally relinquished their authority. They lost faith and drifted. They tried to melt into the street. Service the community. Went into remission: No more separation, no more grand claims. Not that they ever shut the fuck up about it. Still the freer than thou schtick. Autonomy was gone, but they became impresarios of contingency. The ground they still claimed, their mastery, their ability to distinguish between reason and belief, feeling, conviction, force.
These precious fantasy times had to end. Their imaginary choice, their distance, their care and their enjoyment of being against. On the six thousandth performance, she left town. She stopped attending the meetings.
No more discussion of conditions and possibilities. Instead she systematically heightened complexity and force. The new shit was high-grade.
It constrained, imposed itself, fucked with you, oppressive and demanding, providing no way out. True contingency. All the King’s men cannot put it back together again.
She didn’t roll the gear in order to subvert it. There was no choice but to buy it wholesale. She entered the necessary circle. That’s when things got real. Because—bulletpoint, MF—what unquestionably needs to be done gets done, with no appeal. Period. No grounds. The raw violence of constructing subjectivity and law, the pleasure of their convergence. Pounding. Hard facts plus universalisms. A new agent who recognises no authority, no dominant power over his action. Not even the power to master and exhibit his own contingency.
Boom. The investigations continued. She worked it full-time. She stayed on board. Moved on to fresh assignments.
Stavanger: She hit the archives hard. She turned the place upside down. The whole story came together; Lake Tahoe: She picked over the trail of mobsters and deep dirty deals on the state line; New York: The aerial perspective, the grid, the deals that made it happen; Vegas: The excess and the spectacle, the new regime; Harlow: She dug the concrete, plugged into the regeneration racket, stalked the inner sanctum; LA: She cruised the grid, the whole city a tight 1:1 map of her obsession: a cancerous rationalization prudently scoped out from the interior recesses of a glass-walled hideyhole, and/or a living jungle, roamed by SUVs, where reality bites hard. Extreme convergence: Rottweiler and Starr were one and the same. She turned it inside-out and hung it out to dry.
From LA to the Dominican Republic, dream logic distorted the details. Victims moved between crime scenes and displayed conflicting signs of death. She had no desire to exit. The ghosts were all versions of the same agent. They ran through her dreams interchangeably. The visions manufactured the agent.
Rottweiler and Starr walked out. Louis A walked in. A cold case. A burnout. One Parisian night, in an intense state of mental confusion, he did the old lady in. Staggering out into the courtyard, he copped to it right there. Get the Coroner. Get the Crime Lab and the photo car. Call La Crim and tell them to send a team out. Days later he walks on a technicality, a burden he’d carry for the rest of his sorry-ass life: non-lieu, no grounds. He was detained in institutions for years. He was no longer master of his own house. But back before ’68, he was at the top of his game. Normal Superior. He initiated a high-level recruiting campaign. He rounded up known operatives and initiated them into what was already running them. He taught them what they needed to know. He showed them how to cut it: clean, precise. He brought them into his confidence, supplied a corrective. A this is where the BS stops-style deal, a demarcation, a thin blue line. And his circular way of speaking—self-consciously so, which makes for one more circle: Circumspect theses. No illusions re: illusions. I entered into the necessary circle voluntarily. No exit, for real. He laid it all out, boom. Point after point rammed home. This is not a pool party. You can no longer make any assumptions as to the nature of these operations. This is no longer a theoretical game. No grounds. Let’s make things move.
She’d sat through the whole presentation and she knew she had her man. Case closed. The tapes, the post-its, the pins, the scribbled notes, the mugshots, the evidence dossiers, packed and filed. Leave it for some other chump to type up. But the loose ends nagged at her. She started to feel it again. The net widened. The plot thickened. She scoped out new locations. She stayed in the game.