I intended to spend today (29 Dec. 2012) staring out the window and starting a list of all the reasons why kitties were superior in every single way to humans. However, my plan was pummeled to pieces when, through Facebook, I came into contact with Nina Power’s review of Tiqqun’s (trans. Ariana Reines) Preliminary Materials For a Theory of the Young-Girl. I am a boy. I like monster trucks and Arthur Rimbaud. But, even though I’m not a young girl, I still contain an awful amount of admiration for how Tiqqun (a French collective of theorists and artists) depicts the young girl, and I did not appreciate Nina Power’s patronizing, neo-liberal evaluation of it.
So, now, I am impelled to illuminate the wrongness of her ways.
Near the end of her review Power asks, “What, ultimately, would it mean to let the Young-Girl speak for herself and not through the categories imposed upon her by a culture that heralds her as the metaphysical apex of civilization while simultaneously denigrating her, or even the categories that Tiqqun mobilize to take her apart in a subtly different way?”
Nina, I don’t think there is a sole self. Democracy (and the grown ups who perpetuate it) have told me otherwise. They say that I am an autonomous, independent being. I have my own views, and I should be grateful for the right to voice my opinions because in other countries (like the ones where a large amount of the citizens sport turbans and burkhas) people aren’t as fortunate. But I don’t believe such stuff. There are no independent individuals. That’s bull crap.
Jasbir K. Puar, the contemporary queer theorist, is the antithesis of bull crap. In her book, Terrorist Assemblages, Puar argues that corporeal creatures (or, as Barack Hussein Obama calls them, “folks”) aren’t the self-determining denizens that democracy makes them out to be but a combination of natural and artificial materials. Assemblages are evinced in the suicide-bomber where the bomb skin fuses with the human skin to produce a “body weapon.” The boundary between the human skin and the bomb skin is extinguished. When the bomb explodes the body explodes as well. The two are interlocked. For Puar, an assemblage is an
inability to clear delineate a temporal, spatial, energetic, or molecular distinction between a discrete biological body and technology; the entities, particles, and elements come together, flow, break a part, interface, skim off each other, are never stable, but are defined through their continual interface, not as objects meetings but as multiplicities emerging from interactions.
The cacophony of biological and artificial materials that composes the terrorist’s identity is also applicable to identities that aren’t trying to blow up the most marvelous place in the world (a city that allowed Edie to be so glamorous), like young girls (like Edie). Girl are “powerfully drawn” to “popular culture” writes Caitlin Flanagan’s in her condescending but nonetheless amusing Girl Land. They find it “mesmerizing and enticing” — they are “immersed” in it. The young girl is a collection of telly shows, movies, internet sites, lip gloss, dresses, mini skirts, tights, stockings, leg warmers, sighs, tears, tantrums, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, cellies, sunnies, and, best of all, bows. “The Young-Girl lives at home amongst commodities, which are her sisters” writes Tiqqun. The young girl is a mobile movie. She’s endowed with a wardrobe, props, and tons of drama. I only want to exist in Poor Little Rich Girl (or Ciao! Manhattan or Beauty #2) too. But I still want to be a boy…
I don’t castigate Power’s criticism of the ambiguous way in which Tiqqun employ gender. Tiqqun say that any one can be a young girl, “and yet,” counters Power, “the book is preciously not called Theory of the Wizened-Pope.” I think it’s crucial to interpret the young girl as a young girl (like Edie Sedgwick not Edward Norton) since the young girl, as Flanagan points out, is at the apex of consumer culture. But I don’t see why Power bemoans the position that the young girl occupies. Just as assemblages in terrorist cells are evaluated based on their ability to blow up America/America-esque places, consumers in consumer cultures are based on their ability to consume. Practically everyone is a consumer! The fatty faggot Frank Bruni would have an utterly different identity without the New York Times, the food that he previously critiqued, his memoir . Also, Paul Ryan (I don’t care what anyone else says — he’s a handsome fellow) wouldn’t be Paul Ryan without football, his hunting weapons, the airplane that flies him from Wisconsin to Washington. In 2012, where America is to earth what Nazi Germany was, for a short period, to continental Europe, all subjects derive their identity from what they consume. Young girls are the most powerful because they consume the most.
Power wants a young girl who doesn’t speak through “the categories imposed upon her by culture.” But without these categories the young girl wouldn’t be able to speak — no one would. Interpellation (hi Louis Althusser!) is only possible when there is shared discourse. If you alter the culture, then you alter the interpellation, and the young girl ceases to be a young girl. This, though, is what Power advocates. She wants the young girl to “destroy the system.” She wants change. But change is a part of the system. The leader of the system — that community organizer with the birth certificate issues — talks about change quite a bit. Protesting and demonstrating (whether it be against Obamacare, against abortion, against DOMA, against [insert your cause here]) reinforces the system. Meanwhile, according to Tiqqun, the young girl is condemning “all physical violence directed against her aspiration of society’s total pacification. She and the dominant power are obsessed with security.” The young girl’s alliance with consumer culture and abhorrence for those who insist that she tame her consumerism is why she’s so powerful. America is not a democracy: it’s a totalitarian state run by endless amounts of products. The young girl’s infatuation with commodities puts her on the side of the tyrants. Power says the young girl is denigrated. But she isn’t. The young girl is a cute, sassy, stylish collage that helps the tyrants run the world.