Leaning back as I took another puff on my cigarette, things went in and out of focus as the whiskey worked its way through my body. Still unable to shake a linger desire for clarity, I jotted down some notes while played things back in my head like a movie reel.
Disorientation. Most people’s initial experience of the Metropolis is through disorientation. When you first hit the streets, you settle into its strangeness of it as if it was all just a dream. And while you are trapped in its dreamlike embrace, the Metropolis slowly reveals its erotic and morally ambiguous nature, a tempting but repulsive allure set against a background of violence (Borde and Chaumeton).
Most of the smart ones leave. I hope they’re happy back on the farm. Others try to be good samaritans. I gave up being a white knight a long time ago. Raymond Chandler said that a hardboiled detective could walk these dirty streets and do no wrong. Bullshit, I’ve never seen one. And if I did, I’d probably hate their guts. Asking someone to get their hands dirty doesn’t work when they think they’re already helping. I don’t want to be a role model, I want to win. “By any means necessary.”
“Step one: ditch the false piety of doing good and start using your feet.”
A lot of red herrings had been thrown my way. The Metropolis makes it hard to know who to trust. There are no longer any good guys, only con men looking for dupes who couldn’t see through their whole nice-guy act. Everyone here has the potential to do bad, and more importantly, everyone has an angle. Nobody is innocent. Neutrality is the sure sign that someone is either playing it close to the chest or too clueless to figure out whose bidding they are unwittingly doing.
The last people to have faith in are the authorities. They lost control of the streets a long time ago. And whatever power they still exercise always plays into the hands of some higher power. Yet knowing the numbers of a few bureaucrats and cops is never a bad idea, given that you don’t get too close – mistaking them for a friend or a confidant makes you worse than a signing jailbird. Information is their greatest weapon; it gives them leverage. It therefore isn’t wise to feed them even a breadcrumb because that’s how people like you and me end up in trouble to begin with. The bottom line: authorities are to be used, never trusted.
“Step two: find allies.”
The spoils of my stakeout laid out on my desk likes stolen loot. The killer had left a path of dead bodies in his wake. And in my search to find out whodunnit, I had uncovered every one of them. It all started when I stumbled across what remained of the once-terrifying king of the Archaic State after some of his slaves had gotten to him. My hunt continued when I spotted His Benevolence of the Priestly State after his blackmail and extortion went south. The Police and Publicity gave away the Modern State next, but the threads only started to unravel. I knew I was close when I spotted what remained of the Social State, broken and half-crazy, having fallen into a crowd of marginal, undesirables, and illegalists.
Just when I thought the trail went cold, I got the call. The anonymous caller told me to meet them at an abandoned lot in a rather seedy part of downtown. But when I got there, I was too late. The killer had struck again. This time, however, I knew that the body would give me all I needed to know. But this operation would have to be a full-blown autopsy, for the answer was stuck deep in the veins of the Metropolis.
“Step three: disembowel the Metropolis.”
The Metropolis stands as the ground on which Empire operates. It exists on its own accord as a material reality, although it is improbable that the Metropolis would last long without Empire or another state-form to govern it. Despite its material existence, the Metropolis itself is not material but a real abstraction – it is a process of composition that brings together material according to a specific set of rules. In particular, the Metropolis operates according to inclusive disjunction. Inclusive disjunction allows the Metropolis to connect otherwise incommensurate subjects, flows, temporalities, and visibilities without suppressing their differences. Yet in assembling them, Empire does not leave those incommensurate things unperturbed. Rather, Empire introduces things into the Metropolis by producing an immanent plane of positivities the unfolds secured elements, exposes them to risk, and eliminates their futurity. (more…)