Whitness not the presence of absence but rather has a materiality – just as for Fanon there is a fact of blackness, there is, too, a fact of whiteness – the refusal to theorize the making of whiteness and simply say it is “the norm” obfuscates the question and makes resistance far more difficult.
Saldanha 07. Arun Saldanha, professor of geography at the University of Minnesota, Psychedelic White: Goa Trance and the Viscosity of Race, University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, MN, pg. 196
But although it’s true that whiteness gains its power from being invisible as a racial formation, the analysis should not stop here. In a sense this leaves whiteness as something in itself empty and ungraspable and leads to the problems identified with the formalism of post-Hegelian antiessentialism. That whiteness is central to contemporary race relations is a geohistorical accomplishment, not a question of formal logic in the unconscious. Even the literature on faciality tends not to analyze the positive and properly machinic workings of whiteness. Through slavery, cartography, guns, urban morphology, the regulation of reproduction, cultural representations and new circulations of nonhuman life (viruses, rats), Europeans profoundly alteredthe face of the global racial assemblage. 9 They deepened race’s virtuality. It seems that whiteness is race’s most energetic instantiation— even though, of course, much of its material and imaginative energies were tapped from other racial formations. Seen through a Deleuzian– Guattarian framework, whiteness is a force whose strength, as I said about race in general, lies in its concurrent implicitness and plasticity. If for Fanon the fact of blackness lay in the impossibility, imposed by whites, of blacks defining themselves, what can be called “the fact of whiteness” is that whites continually overcome themselves: becoming spirit, exploring, becoming richer and smarter than one’s parents, conquering the world and one’s body, going native, psychedelic transformations of self. Seemingly more than any other racial formation (even the warrior and shamanic tribes that Deleuze and Guattari cite as the heroes of deterritorialization), the white racial formation is defined by movement, by its urge to become different— especially during the period called modernity. Except for Leslie Fiedler, few commentators have taken this creative if parasiticfact of whiteness seriously. Of course, this does not deny other cultures and formations their creativity; it only stresses the unprecedented range and industriousness of white self-transformation. The great viscosities of capitalism, colonialism, and White Man emerged out of the many tiny desires to escape the viscosity that tied white bodies to their birthplace and traditional identity. In short, whites became dominant not simply by constructing an unbridgeable divide between white and nonwhite, as, for example, Edward Said would have it. It is crucial that the point I’m making is not taken as Eurocentric self-aggrandizement in the face of postcolonial theory. What I want to argue is, I hope, uncontroversial: that whites have been squarely in the business of producing and rearranging racial difference, whether it was through relatively benign exoticism and adventurous anthropology or state-sponsored genocide and apartheid laws. Marie Louise Pratt points out that it was certain white bodies who dominated this exercise— influential urban men. 10 But these explorers, generals, merchants, and missionaries were the vanguard of a subsequent globalizing whiteness. The fact of whiteness to a very large extent determined the shape of today’s globalization, and most of globalization’s injustices cannot be examined separately from it.
A materialist theory of race as machinic assemblage is necessary to unsettle the overdetermined racial categorizations.
Saldanha 07. Arun Saldanha, professor of geography at the University of Minnesota, Psychedelic White: Goa Trance and the Viscosity of Race, University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, MN, pg. 184
Microfascism, faciality, flow, deterritorialization, rhizome, abstract machine, becoming woman, the molecular, strata: most of the evocative concepts in Deleuze and Guattari’s collaborative work were Guattari’s. As he wrote: The capacity of human societies to escape from alienations territorialized in the ego, the person, the family, the race, the exploitation of labour, distinctions of sex and so on depends on a conjunction between the semiotics of consciousness and those of de-territorializing machinisms. 1 Particularly important to the Capitalism and Schizophrenia endeavor was, I think, the mutual recognition that Guattari’s political concepts matched Deleuze’s ontological ones. 2 Guattari’s “schizoanalytical” understanding of the unconscious displayed a strong urge to get rid of the Hegelianism of psychoanalysis and the traditional left, just as Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition sought to break out of Hegelian dialectics and all “representational” thought on a metaphysical plane. 3 Guattari called his materialist, collective view of the unconscious “machinic” to distinguish it from the signifierand family-obsessed psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan. What I want to discuss in the closing chapters of this book is how Guattari’s machinism helps me make both political and ontological sense of the emergence of race relations, first in Anjuna, and then in general. I want to propose a materialist theory of race, for I do think I can generalize from Anjuna. Perhaps it is the sheer possibility that the psychedelic lines of flight of white modernity are simultaneously concentrated and nullified in Anjuna that allows for the generalization. My fieldwork in Anjuna showed me, I think, the virtuality of race. Ethnography, as I stated at the outset, is thought.
We should work to render race as unpredictable, freaking whiteness in order to dissociate it from a privileged position in global modernity.
Saldanha 07. Arun Saldanha, professor of geography at the University of Minnesota, Psychedelic White: Goa Trance and the Viscosity of Race, University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, MN, pg. 206
In the last chapters, I criticized the dominant paradigm for understanding race— social constructionism— for focusing on race’s linguistic and cultural components at the expense of its more extensive (and intensive) materiality. In particular, the work that phenotype does in the racial machine has been all but left out of much social theory. From a machinic perspective, race is simultaneously discursive, genetic, neurochemical, technological, economic, aesthetic, and more. It is thus defined not simply by boundaries between self and other but by the lines of flight of its components: for example, the capacity of phenotype to connect to music, or the capacity of music to connect to phenotype. What can and does frequently precipitate from all these connections is viscosity, bodies slowing down, sticking together, and collectively becoming impenetrable. “Slowing down” means that the connections endure, not necessarily that bodies decelerate in Euclidean space. Thus power-geometries of mobility are viscous in that businessmen keep connecting to airplanes and the stock exchange. The way out of viscosity, out of racism and the privilege white bodies enjoy in this world, is not to abolish race but to multiply it, to use its lines of flight toward a situation wherein skin color, genitals, AIDS, hunger, obesity, beauty, wealth, and speed connect in less predictable ways than they do now. One component of race that I think hasn’t received the attention it deserves is drugs. Psychedelics was defined as the use of pleasure (mainly of drugs and music) in order to escape one’s imprisonment in white modernity. Hippies and Goa freaks were psychedelic insofar as they were escaping the regimes of home, education, work, consumerism, and the state, using the intensive difference that drugs and music offered to transform themselves. Overcoming whiteness was always virtually ingrained in white modernity itself. The hippies were building on older traditions of white romanticism, occultism, and travel. “The fact of whiteness,” as it was called in the preceding chapter, consists precisely in this urge for more, further, higher, faster. Other social formations have had this urge too. But it is the structural presence of lines of flight among modern whites that make whiteness quantitatively different from earlier social formations and other racial clusters. Whites reached the planet’s poles, climbed Mount Everest, appropriated Buddhism, named the planet’s creatures, landed on the moon, invented TV and science fiction as well as the United Colors of Benetton and “world music.” Within this generalized thirst for transcendence, it is no coincidence that LSD became popular among whites. Perhaps whiteness is psychedelic. However, when seen in the material workings of embodiment-facelocation, psychedelics is on the whole not transcendent but regressive, ultimately reinforcing the white cluster. I’ve discussed many ways in which Anjuna’s psychedelic transformations of self did not overcome whiteness: the capacity to experience Goa as a psychedelic paradise was mainly a white privilege; the sociochemical monitoring accompanying drug ritualism favored long-staying whites; the discourse around the trance-dance experience and techno-shamanism reworked old European exoticisms and fantasies of transcendence; in India-psychosis, there was a “thickening” of the whiteness and foreignness of freaks. Similarly, Anjuna’s visual economy kept white bodies firmly in certain places at certain times. This viscosity emerged through anything from clothing to sunrise and voyeurism on the beach. The white purity of the freaks was attained, consciously or not, as an effect of a host of subcultural rules. In a broader scope, viscosity also follows from the politics of location, that is, from the conflicts over placements of bodies in global geographies of mobility, wealth, and national belonging. Whether a body speaks Danish or Hindi, or knows deejays, or imports jewelry from abroad to sell at the flea market, or has a family who would pay for bail, are questions one needs to ask when evaluating what that body is capable of in Anjuna. Globalization can therefore be appreciated as a planetary ecology of differential speeds, in which the phenotype of human beings matters for how they are positioned within that ecology. In the end, embodiment, face, and location are three aspects of the same social process. There are some disconcerting political and ethical problems of psychedelic whiteness in Goa. They include noise pollution, the deliberate indifference of freaks toward Indian poverty, the profound corruption, the moral panic about cultural imperialism in the Goan press, the party bans and their effect on the livelihood of Anjunkars. All these problems correlate with the politics of location and phenotype, as they reflect the intensive difference between white and wealthy freaks and India as a third-world country. But the struggle against white privilege should not confine itself to antiwhite, hybrid, or multicultural politics, as each of these misses the complicated and unpredictablemateriality of race. Understanding how phenotype matters in social formations and interactions can thus be the first step toward a situation in which phenotype can be appreciated outside of the entrenched racist configurations now in place. An ontological approach to racial formations asks how they emerge as physical aggregates, how what Guattari would call the molarity of race comes about, rather than merely how race is known or represented. 1 Again, research into the discourses and ideas of race is relevant and necessary, but it should not shy away from the question of what race then “is,” of how it works as a material force, not merely as a fiction or opinion. Race’s continuing significance in cultural, political, and scientific hegemonies demands from philosophy and the social sciences a rigorous engagement with its multifarious realities, rather more than what the widespread injunction “race is a social construction” allows for.