Monday, 23 April 2007

walk through walls, like a philosopher

One of the great things about being an academic is that you interact with weird people. No offense, weirdos--you perform a great service. You tell me things I would never know without you. One of you, for example, told me that the Israeli Defense Force reads the postmodern philosophy of Deleuze. This from Eyal Weizman at (sorry, I don't have a better citation). An Israeli friend of mine suggests taking this story with a grain of salt, so please do so. Nevertheless, I find it interesting enough to warrant repeating.

In its way, I suppose this should not be unexpected--philosophy and warfare have always influenced one another. The trouble is, when I'm in the world of philosophers, I tend to view warfare at a distance: abstract and simple. Philosophy enters, if at all, at a moral or ethical level.

But Deleuze (reconditioned) is all about tactics: rethinking the battlefield itself. The idea is simple enough. Examine your preconceptions about battle. These will probably be very similar to the preconceptions your enemy has. Now invert those conceptions--in a world of booby-traps, doors become the one place you don't pass through. Instead, you walk through walls. In a world of deadly crossfire, alleys aren't passages, they're barriers. Former barriers (buildings, civilian dwellings, ceilings, and walls) become passageways.

What better way to surprise a Clauswitzian than by being Foucaultian?

That's not to say all philosophy is equally useful. Derrida, apparently, is a bit to opaque even for the IDF. Can't say I'm surprised.

No comments: