Post-Cinematic Affect is a work of “affective mapping” for a world of neoliberal, networked and hypermediated, endlessly metamorphosing capitalism. This hypercapitalism is a “world of crises and convulsions” ruthlessly organized around the relentless logic of commodification and capital accumulation, a world of “modulation, digitisation, financialization, and media transduction.” Rather than moralize or denounce the symptoms of cultural malaise or wax nostalgic about the past, Shaviro looks for the “aesthetic poignancy” of post-cinematic media that assume that “the only way out is the way through” – works that pursue a strategy of “accelerationism,” exacerbating or radicalizing capitalism to its point of eventual collapse.
Grace Jones, in Shaviro’s reading, is a transgressive posthuman who endlessly modulates her own image, which “swells and contracts, bends and fractures, twists, warps and contorts and flows from one shape to another”, all the while projecting a certain “singularity” as “Grace Jones, celebrity icon,” a “long string of Jones’s reinventions of herself.” Rather than being homeopathic, as Shaviro contends, which would suggest that she injects a minute dose of the “hair of the dog that bit us” to trigger an immunogenic effect in the body politic of hypercapitalism, Jones’s work seems to me a plunge into excessive, performative mimicry – magical rather than homeopathic, yet fully expressive of the condition itself.
That makes it incumbent upon viewers to activate the immunogenic response for themselves, rather than assimilating the dose into a bloodstream configured for endless modulation. The question is whether Jones provides a hinge for critiquing the infinite transcodability of hypercapitalism. More broadly, it’s whether there remain breathing spaces and sources of transcendence outside of hypercapitalism’s ever-modulating codes. Is it futile to look for them, say, in truth, beauty, adventure, art, or peace (the five qualities A. N. Whitehead identified with “civilization” back when the word still meant something), or in nature, spirituality, political hope? Are these reducible to nothing but their commodified forms? Does modulation and plasticity render everything a commodity, or on the contrary, does an open universe -- the kind Whitehead and Deleuze, two of Shaviro’s philosophical heroes, believed in -- allow us to modulate commodification itself by exposing it to a different standard, a different hair of a different dog? Can we get by without hope for a beyond to hypercapitalism?