13 October 2006


16+ Hour of teaching this week; hence no blogging. The following is a list of exam questions produced by my colleague here at Swansea. We are co-teaching the History of Political Thought (HPT), but he is also borrowing season 2 of Veronica Mars (VM) at the same time:

'Logan Echolls is a Rousseuian romantic trapped in the persona of a Machiavel'. Discuss.

With reference to the issue of incorporation consider whether Mayor Woody's concept of property is essentially Lockean or Hobbesian.

To what extent does the character of Dick Casablancas stand as a refutation of Mill's arguments for free speech?

Can the character of Lucky the janitor be interpreted in the light of Marx's discussion of species being and alienation?

In the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels refer to the bourgeoisie as sharing their women in common. Is this statement verified or mocked by the characterisation of Kendall Casablancas in TV's Veronica Mars.

Discuss the validity of Rousseau's concept of 'amour propre' with reference to the internal relationships of o-9ers in Veronica Mars.

Illuminate critically conceptions of the relationship between state and civil society as played out in the conflict between Sheriff Lamm and Keith Mars.


Chantal Mouffe said...

Clearly they haven't reached Sam's portion of the class:

Discuss Foucault's concept of the carceral archipelago as it relates to (1) Sheriff Lamb and the Neptune County Jail and (2) Vice Principal Clemmon's approach to higher education.

"Logan Echolls is the posterboy for Butler's theory of performative politics in Gender Trouble." Discuss.

"Lily Kane's murder was punishment for her practices of radical transgression, as part of the politics of sexual normalization." Discuss.

Discuss the relationship between Weevil and his place in Neptune society and Spivak's article, "Can the subaltern speak?"

Chantal Mouffe's Signifying Master said...

Dear Sir,

Please find below my application for funding to undertake a PhD with you and your colleagues, said application consisting of an abstract for the intended work.

Title: Clamouring for Chlamydia: The Trace Beyond the Dialectic of Surveillance and Sexualisation in the Veronica Mars Desiring Machine

That the dominant theme of Veronica Mars is sex goes, I am sure, without saying. And yet it must also be said, for it is this very saying, a saying thematised via the very trope of the unsaid, the unsayable and the 'verboten', that forms the substance (perhaps the sub-stance) of the diachronic narrative 'thrust' of Veronica Mars. This too, we can be sure, needs no saying. Indeed, this too, needs no interpretation. For to interpret it would be to participate in the narrativisation of, precisely, narrative itself. And it is through the very narrative form of thematisation that Veronica Mars imagines that the acts of sexual transgression which, of course, turn out to have been the source of the narrative drive of each season, can be recuperated. And yet.

And yet indeed. For this narrative framing is itself framed by a frame - the frame of a camera. Or perhaps we should say, so that we may not be misunderstood, cameras. Their pluralisation surely matters: the telephoto lens that serves to identify Veronica herself and to insert her into the form of noir(ish) genre; the surveillance cameras that adorn hotel hallways; the DV hidden away in the Echolls bedroom; the home video that walks the halls of Woody's mayoral mansion. These surveyings in their multiplicity cannot be contained. They proliferate. And it is their very proliferation that both exposes the crime and makes the crime necessary.

It is this productive post-dialectic that my thesis will seek to surpass by examining the integration of seeing machines and hearing machines and behind them the general coding machines that themselves seek to encode the desires of what will, in the end, turn out not to have been the protagonists.

The machines exceed protagonism, antagonism and agonism as they exceed all bounds of narrative. Is this not why each season of the show seems as if it must, and we do not mean must in the sense of a mere hysteria, a categorised symptom, but must as in the form taken in the very rejection of the Law, must, we repeat it to be sure we know where we are, must abandon all narrative structure and logic, must render plot incoherent to the point of joyful renunciation - usually by about episode 7.

For in this willing exceeding of narrative, the literalisation at the level of the archi-texture, of the very ambivalence embodied in Veronica herself, she is outside the law precisely so that she can enact the law, Veronica Mars points to a productivity beyond law and narrative. She exists in order to precipitate the use of technologies of expose in order to expose crimes that would not have happened were it not for the fact that they were able to be exposed by Veronica or her avatars. And this, in its intersubjective dimension makes us – the spectator – not so much Echolls as Echoes, encoded as the desiring machines attached to the textual vision machine that is Veronica Mars: a smooth space, a body without organs through which all moves freely like the code imagined to contain the answer to a mystery of originary sexual transgression yet which upon inspection (and we choose this word with care) is revealed to be nothing other than code that moves from machine to machine (from answerphone to mobile to computer through fax and moderm and wireless and d on again in what we must call (and we choose this word also with care and wish its full import to be understood) a Series.

Thus we discover that there was nothing to be discovered, all is as it was and yet not at all the same, after a Series of codings of what was not coded and decodings of that which needed no decoding until we see that it is us who are plugged into the machine precisely so that we can encode and decode non-necessarily in the effort to produce a non-narrative sense out of this flux, a sense that exceeds the bounds set by the recognition that, yes, it is the one out of Police Academy and, yes, the one who was from Fame seems to have disappeared. But. No. No. It does not matter.

I envisage a 6 part chapter structure with neither beginning nor end and a rapid completion because, as is all too evident, I have way too much time on my hands.

I look forward to discussing this thesis with you too often because, as we are sure you will see, it is also (and we choose these words with care) not entirely (a qualifer given also with unaccountable purpose) not entirely untrue.