Not only flesh, or not only reading, may be set working by machines reading (or machines assessing, diagnosing, encrypting); so too may interlocutory situations. Searching for the citations that spiderweb out of D.A. Miller’s “Cage aux folles: Sensation and Gender in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White” (1986) — 104 in total, says google —  mounts a fleeting collection. (Perhaps the kind of discussion commodities have with one another, or perhaps interlacing conversations attached to names).

Where would it take us if we were to put all 104 in a footnote? Rabbit-holes sprint toward totality but never really get there.

A possible technique: build a database collating every citation, (Miller’s essay, by the way, is merely exemplary of how a close reading may generate research), topic model its distributions of self-description (perhaps looking to organize them by the publisher’s topic headings or perhaps just by whatever clusters around the citation in each case, with a radius of, say, 250 words), and abstract, from those topic models, a summary of critical engagements out of context — not in order to replace, much less try to subsume under an average, those conversations (many of which, to be sure, head in completely different directions), but simply to retrieve one distillate among others of a provisional totality.

One technophobia might posit that kind of automation fearfully, as so many or too many automatisms. Too much data-hoarding and too little analysis. Quicksand for the poetics of talking with the living.

One technophilia might single out (passionately) sites of automatic becoming. Another swirl (entropically) around sites of automatized becoming. Where does that move you? Into magnetisms.



“passive aggressive” is a phrase the OED dates to 1945 at the earliest.

“passive aggression” appears in a 1905 article by Theodore Waters in Pearson’s Magazine titled “How DeOro Won the Pool Championship”:

It required the closest watching on the part of the referee to be sure that no scratch was made, and yet in all that time the object-ball seemed not to move an eighth of an inch.  It was delicacy of touch of the highest order; it was a magnificent combination of mechanical skill and intellectual endeavor, the very refinement of passive aggression; but it was nerve racking to look upon, and the assembly was to be pardoned the deeply expressive sigh of relief to which it gave utterance when DeOro, having determined upon a last brilliant stroke for victory, announced his intention of putting the ball into the far corner pocket.



parts of a thought about hoarding / dissipation

Accumulation is damaging but also already pitched toward dissipation.

Damaging in its appropriative overdrive – most intense, perhaps, when “dead labor” sucks the life out of every possible hour.[1] Marx elsewhere in the first volume of Capital (1867) sketches a theory of hoarding that would distinguish that vampiric lust for flesh from “lusts of the flesh,” which, he points out, the hoarder must “sacrifice … to his gold fetish.” To hoard is to feel the prick of an “antagonism” between gold’s two propositions:

1. “qualitative boundlessness”: money, “because it is directly convertible into any             other commodity,” seems to have “no bounds to its efficacy.”

2. “quantitative limits”: money always takes the form of a discrete “sum,” and so “has only a limited efficacy.”

Lust sacrificed to this antagonism yields to its drive to accumulate “quantitative limits” endlessly, as if thereby to catch up (and, of course, perpetually fail to catch up) with “qualitative boundlessness.” What distinguishes lust for flesh from lusts of the flesh lies in how each takes sensation. If the latter takes flesh as the “means of enjoyment” through which sensation circulates, the former enjoys it as a raw material that, once rendered into money, may convert any sensation into any other whatsoever.

But indulging a fetish for gold does not just mean restraining lust, nor does it simply displace it onto the gleam of pure exchange-value.[2] That displacement serves, rather, the abstract (or dead) lust of capital itself, which uses hoards as “conduits for the supply or withdrawal of money to or from the circulation.”[3]

Dissipative as it lets attention rove objectlessly, along currents of air, as in The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621). Not to say air can’t build pressures of its own; an “imposthume” full of reading squirts out prose gushing (sometimes as if from the mouth of Democritus Jr.) with self-effacements and hyperbolic malice. Satirical masking – effervescent, chatty, but still cutting with ridicule – makes writing a therapeutic apparatus, almost confessional were it not squeezed from archival performances (nothing deeply referential about assembling oneself through quotation).

Seventeenth-century hoarding – as figured by Harpagon in Moliére’s L’Avare (1688) – poses as a site of dissipation insofar as his autoaffective split into both guardian of and threat to his own hoard makes him laughably mechanical. “Rends-moi mon argent, coquin… (Il se prend lui-même le bras.) Ah, c’est moi.”

Some two centuries after the Anatomy, another scholar, Thomas De Quincey will assert a “project of living with ruin,” as Rei Terada calls it – or in an “abyss of divine enjoyment … bought for a penny,” as De Quincey calls it in Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821) – that, in Terada’s reading, admits neither of repression (as trauma) nor repair (as defense).[4]


It’s worth noting here that in requiring support from the elements, the subject also lays a claim on their reliable ability to resist pressure from it or damage by it. In Barbara Johnson’s paraphrase of Winnicott, “The object becomes real because it survives, because it is outside the subject’s range of omnipotent control.”17 Elsewhere in his book Balint uses air and even fire, in addition to water and earth, to exemplify the “friendly substances” for this purpose. “It is difficult to say,” for ex- ample, “whether the air in our lungs or in our guts is us, or not us; and it does not even matter. We inhale the air, take out of it what we need, and after putting into it what we do not want to have, we exhale it, and we do not care at all whether the air likes it or not. It has to be there for us in adequate quantity and quality”—adequate, Balint would empha- size, as opposed to infinite.18


[1] “Capital is dead labour that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks.” – page 85 in this —

[2] contra Renu Bora’s argument in “Outing Texture,” I think.

[3] At this point it’s worth noting, but not yet worth dilating on, a potentially enormous network of discourses about the hydraulics of desire / appetite in proximity to Marx’s hydraulic figure for capital’s desire. One resource is Kyla Wazana Tompkin’s work on Sylvester Graham in Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the 19th Century (2012).

[4] Rei Terada, “Living a Ruined Life: De Quincey Beyond the Worst”


73. What astonishment is
This surprise has great power to steer the spirits in the brain’s cavities towards the place ·in the brain· that contains the impression of the object of wonder—so much power that it sometimes it drives all the spirits to that place, and gets them to be so busy preserving this impression that none of them carry on through to the muscles. . . . The upshot is that the whole body remains as still as a statue. This is what we commonly call ‘being astonished’. Astonishment is an excess of wonder, and it is always bad because the body’s immobility means that the person can perceive only one side of the wondered-at object, namely the side first presented to him. ·If he weren’t outright astonished he could turn the object over, walk around it, or the like, thus learning more about it·.

  • René Descartes, in Les passions de l’âme (1649)

57. If some mystical art lovers who think of every criticism as a dissection and every dissection as destruction of pleasure were to think logically, then “wow” would be the best criticism of the greatest work of art. To be sure, there are critiques that say nothing more, but only take much longer to say it.

  • Friedrich Schlegel, Athenaeum fragments (1798-1800)

What if we think of these modes of being in the world–Warhol’s liking of things, his “wows” and “gees,” and O’Hara’s poetry being saturated with feelings of fun and anticipation–as a mode of utopian feeling but also hope’s methodology?

  • José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (2009)

hyperbolic topology

Questions about animatedness might be found in Treehouse of Horror VI. Schematically:

1. “Attack of the 50 ft Eyesores” — personified brands come to life first through the failure of the actual commodity (a donut) to live up to the advertised fantasy of the commodity (a “colossal,” larger than life donut). Just looking sustains their rampaging animacy; they’re only put to rest when everyone turns away.


2. “Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace” — allusive overdrive frames our opening encounter with a character’s (Bart’s) interior, via a dream rendered in an explicitly cartoonish style — the character becomes more like a person insofar as its dreams assume the exaggerated proportions of cartoon physics. (And the temporality of animated metadiegesis, itself premised on “misprinted calendars” dating the overt conspiracy of the “true story” to “the 13th hour of the 13th day of the 13th month.”) What does this physics tell us about the oblique racialization (or maybe only stereotyping) of Willie, one of the show’s recurring characters and, in this episode, its main antagonist?


3. “Homer3” – tour de force extrapolation of cartoon physics, staged first as an escape from the two-dimensional diegesis into a self-consciously expensive 3D render in a Tron-like space nobody has seen, then as the partialization of the 3D body as that space collapses, and finally as the 3D body’s transposition into video from an indexically real space. (Professor Frink, one of this episode’s many “eggheads,” calls the study of three-dimensional space “hyperbolic topology.”) In flight from the queer meatiness of Patty and Selma — Selma “baking like a meatloaf under this wet wool” and Patty sucking dead hermit crabs out of their shells — Homer ends up, in the episode’s and segment’s final scene, entering a shop advertising “Erotic Cakes.”


Note the obvious first: from the first segment to the third, the episode enacts a trajectory from the “colossal donut” to “Erotic Cakes.” Its narrative problematic, one might say, begins with a strictly orificial (that is to say, non-genital) desire and ends with an object that converts genitally organized desire into orificial desire. Or, put differently, it begins with a desire that’s hyperbolically literal in its construal of advertising’s phantasmatic claim on consumers and ends with a commodity that offers consumers the chance to literally eat a fantasy object – and this appeal is met with indifferent / distracted desire, as just enough consolation for the loss of the two-dimensional world.

How, then, does Selma’s perverse identification with / Patty’s gross consumption of meat cut through this trajectory? And what does it mean that this tangent also, within the segment, coordinates cuts from two-dimensional to three-dimensional diegetic spaces?

What is the performative force of statistical evidence?

Does it make sense to pose this question without a case of use?

Maybe, if we bracket what follows as grammatical speculation.

Statistical evidence tends to support forecasts. Numerically abstracting the patterns that obtain within a given set of bodies, the statistic takes, in the census at least, a tabular overview of those bodies so as to trace their synchronic distribution within a given year – a disfigural tableau of masses of bodies frozen by counting – and to calculate, by the proportion between one tableau plus at least one other, the rates of change within that set. To assert a probability is to project that rate of change forward. It is, in other words, to say the future will conform to the momentum of the past.

Statistical evidence may, then, exert a number of performative forces. Maybe “predictive” is the generic form of those forces. And yet predicting is not necessarily warning or foreshadowing or cursing or foretelling or prefiguring or prophesying or foreboding or even appending “probably.” Maybe the statistic itself doesn’t have a generic form insofar as it allows for the above spread of speech acts.

Is statistical evidence simply “predictive,” and if so, is its force explicit or inexplicit?

What other modes of invoking a performative formula, besides explicitly or inexplicitly, become visible here?