Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mad Max Nominalism

As the world fell it was hard to know who was more crazy. Me... Or everyone else.
George Miller's wasteland universalizes the accelerating will of mechanical-industrial society beyond the limits of any intelligent control until all that remains are the Dionysian fireworks of savage violence. It is nowhere because it is everywhere a permanent possibility of the present. Yet with no fixed and necessary reality beneath the sands of fire and blood, every entity that constitutes our imminently collapsing constructions are ultimately named only by the imperious imposition of totally extrinsic definitions: nothing binds them together either within the center of themselves nor in the epicenter of all, as each floats between infinite horizons as lonely atoms hanging in the void. Nominalism, the late-medieval doctrine that names signify nothing over and above themselves, renders the signification of names no more than uncharted islands. With no necessary relation between names, concepts, and things, every thought and action becomes the imposition of a violent will that, in the absence of any further justification, is always justified by itself. On the road to Gas Town harangued by scavengers there is no higher tribunal than the quick draw of a loaded gun.

The despotic domination of the vital resources of water, nutrition, and reproduction, are consequences of this apocalyptic demolition of the heavenly hierarchy of universal Ideas. Each represents an essential good of human life that has been harvested from its spontaneous source to be stored up in a private reservoir. The Citadel of Immortan Joe is the concrete realization of this domineering will to gather into a single source all the power of beings in idolatrous imitation of the absolute ground and author of Being itself. The release of flowing water symbolizes - first instrumentally but finally absolutely - the life-giving flow of universal Being to particular beings. But its deathly heraldry of skulls and ghost-faces expresses the abysmal negativity of non-being within, between, and around every conceivable collection of finitely delimited beings. Under his complete ontological domination, all beings are equally non-beings so that all men may undoubtedly confess that “we live; we die; we live again” in the one and the same servile unlife.

The sexual exploitation of women is the logical consequence of this gargantuan will to dominate, reserve, and instrumentalize all vital resources: for from the wombs of women uniquely arise the singular possibility for serial immortality through the succession of generations. Every warlord needs wives to eternally reproduce his rule. But nominalism blurs any firm distinction between legitimate sex and illegitimate rape, just as it abolishes any ground of moral justification, so that sex and rape blend into one and the same expression of an accelerating will to dominate all beings. Immortan Joe has locked away a small harem of 'breeders' in the deepest vault of his fortress. When the wives escape with Furiosa they symbolically deface their objectification by painting on the prison walls the words "we are not things!" He growls "they're my property!" Furiosa, who was herself a victim of sexual violence, fights to emancipate the wives and lead women to the 'Green Place': a virgin territory flowing with the unspoilt outpouring of goodness, life, and Being.

The chase concludes when Furiosa finds the Old Mothers and final fighters of revolutionary Feminism who, having hidden themselves at the edge of the world, remain barren of the political or physical fecundity to challenge the Citadel without the seminal contributions of Mad Max. Before the endless salt-fields at the lifeless edge of the real, each is presented with a choice to either journey onward in private endurance or to publicly challenge their assailant, the lord of the world. The outward conflict with the warboys then belies this more meaningful inward struggle with their own aspirations as each chooses to forsake the safe but unrealizable hope of immortality, abundance, and even sanity for the most perilous hope that may yet be concretely realized. In this common conviction, any hint of feminist-masculinist strife evaporates in the clasp of arms, the thunder of cannons, and the flight of wheels.

In a mad existence where hope is a mistake, redemption in the invisible economy of conscience might only be achieved by revolting against the visible economy of violence. Its rewards may only be purchased through a good will that first seeks for the welfare of another. Hardened in the belief that names signify nothing beyond themselves, Max first refuses to tell Furiosa his name; but before the fateful battle he give her his name as a symbol of their newfound trust. The wives' prayer to “anyone who's listening”analogously gives their trusts to a higher power beyond the immanent deification of political-economy. Its fulfillment is represented, not merely in the violent climax of rape-revenge, but by opening each heart to another, so that as their egoistic self-enclosures are abandoned, woman and man may once more join together in the free gift of love, which pours forth more mightily than a torrent of living water.

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