In 2012, Sean Joseph Patrick Carney published an article for continent. titled “’The Precession of Simulacra’ by Jean Baudrillard, Translated from English into American.” The article, while entirely humorous and, at some points, lewd, served to explain Baudrillard’s rather difficult essay in terms the layperson could understand. Given the success of Carney’s translation in elucidating some of Baudrillard’s more complicated ideas, I figured a few other dead French guys deserved the same American love that we export to the world. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari have frustrated students and scholars alike for decades due not only to the intentional obtuseness of their prose, but also due to the difficultly of their ideas. Well no longer! I present Deleuze and Guattari’s (arguably) central idea, the rhizome, in bite-sized, McNugget format. One devient deux.
Translated from Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi, 3-25.
The New York Times recently reported Russian buildup of unconventional weapons: inflatables. Specifically, the Times notes that following increased tensions between the United States and Russia over Syria, the Russian army has been buying and moving inflatable weapons systems — tanks, anti-aircraft guns, MiGs, etc. — to make their military seem stronger than it really is (a tactic called maskirovka).1)Andrew Kramer, “A New Weapon in Russia’s Arsenal, and It’s Inflatable,” New York Times, published 10/12/16, accessed 10/13/16, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/13/world/europe/russia-decoy-weapon.html?%5C%5C&_r=1.
This move is obviously interesting on a number of different levels; is the Russian military weakening? Are nuclear weapons less of a deterrent than they used to be? And so on. The question I want to examine, however, is a starkly different one. The tanks, MiGs, and anti-air guns are obviously ‘fake,’ but does that really matter? Further, as we live in a world filled with simulacra, is there any legitimate difference between a MiG made of aluminium and jet fuel and one made of canvas and hot air? I’m not convinced that there is.
In the following post,1)Originally part of a research paper that I have since revised and made web-friendly. I will utilize the works of Jean Baudrillard (Baudrillard 1994; Baudrillard 1995), Nasser Hussain (Hussain 2013), and others (Dorrian 2014; Introna 2002; Meijer 2013) to make the case that the United States’ strategy of dealing with terrorists in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East via the usage of unoccupied aerial vehicles (drones)2)Drones are officially called “unmanned aerial vehicles,” but I have opted to change the gendered language and use the term “unoccupied” as opposed to “unmanned.” represents a profound shift in the way that war is, and is not conducted. Specifically, I will be arguing that the usage of drones has transformed war for all parties involved in a few ways. First, the usage of surveillance and weaponized drones has abstracted warfare far beyond what could be predicted after the First Gulf War by shifting conflict and conflict zones from the Real to the Hyperreal via the mediation of images from the drone. And second, conflict has become touted as “clean” and “surgical” while iconographies of war have been removed leading to not only a desensitization of war, but also a lack of ethical engagement with the Other (Baudrillard 1995, 32, 40, 62; Introna 2002)