If agency is a matter of multiple distributions, and those distributions are effected in many different coordinations and contrasts, then to understand the character of agency it becomes necessary to explore the character of these interferences. It becomes important to explore the ways in which they overlap or don’t. And it also becomes impor­tant to explore the Others that are generated in the course of setting up those contrasts—which means, predominantly, the distributions of passivity and their corresponding interferences.

The specific conclusion I want to draw in this chapter is that the performance of technological agency is complex. Perhaps technolo­gies are indeed predominantly characterized by their capacity for action in a series of partially related contrasts. In the present case we have come across a series of pairs: activity and passivity, invulner­ability and vulnerability, transcendence and mundanity, resource­using and constitution as a resource, containment and contained threat, rapist and victim, technical controller and technical outcome, man and woman, and woman and man. All of these are different (in some cases considerably so), but they all tend to perform the tech­nology as an active and controlling agent and to distribute those con­trasts in a way that simultaneously performs the passivity and vul­nerability of (aspects of) nature and culture.

140 Aesthetics I am arguing, then, that the distribution being built by the brochure



One way of insisting on the rigor of "interpretation" is to work with materials that appear side by side. One would look, for instance, to references about gender in the materials under study before making any argument about gendering.

There are no explicit references to gendering in the TSR2 brochure. The austere view is that this renders it impossible to talk of gendering in this context. An alternative view is that this requirement is unnec­essarily restricting: that if we allow only those categories which are to be found in the materials to form part of the analysis then we are limiting the ways in which we may juxtapose materials to generate effects.

The austere response in turn to this is that if we are allowed to juxtapose, for instance, a text by Griselda Pollock (1988) on gendering in pre-Raphaelite and impressionist art with the illustrations in a mid­twentieth-century aircraft brochure, then the effects are of a juxta­position that we have made, which might therefore be made in quite different ways by others: that we are, in short, in danger of seeing what we want to see.

In the context of distributions such as gendering this is an ever­present difficulty: that, so to speak, we know what we are going to find before we start looking. Hey presto, there it is again! The countervail­ing pull is, however, the sense, which is simultaneously a blessing and a curse, that gendering is indeed endlessly performed.

There is no way to resolve this tension. But it is possible to make it more complex by refusing to imagine that gendering is a single dis­tribution, or indeed a limited set of distributions and allocations, but rather is embodied and performed, as Stefan Hirschauer, Annemarie Mol (Hirschauer and Mol 1995), and Ingunn Moser (Law and Moser 1999) suggest, not as gender in the singular but rather in endlessly complex and partially connected genderings and genderings-relevant performances (all ungrammatically but deliberately put in the plural).


is strong precisely because of its complexity. It is a complex of inter­ferences between different and partially connected strategies for dis­tributing agency and passivity. For if the distributions are different, indeed so different that in places they appear to be in direct contra­diction, those contradictions are problematic only if they are brought together. But this does not happen. Often they work to reinforce one another, but because they are distributed, kept apart, even their in­consistencies are not necessarily troubling. In a multiple or a frac­tional world constituted from partial connections,37 there is no great premium on “overall” consistency—for there is no overall viewpoint, no god-eye view. Thus the division between the ‘‘purified’’ realms of the aesthetic and the ‘‘strictly technical’’ is precisely a source of poten­tial power. For if these are said to have nothing to do with one another, then they can work in quite contrary ways to generate mutually sup­porting distributions or singularities. This helps to explain why the aesthetic might be so deeply removed from and subordinated to the technical in modernism and yet also remain so important to it. For the aesthetic entertains contrasts that are impossible within the tech­nical or the pragmatic, contrasts that are discursively inconsistent or outrageous but that often enough work with those of the technical to produce singularity.

So agency, including technical agency, is performed in both techni­cal and aesthetic distributions. But if these strategies for coordination have their specificities (and of course it is consistent with the argu­ment that this is the case) we need to study both.38 It becomes impor­tant to avoid treating the aesthetic as ‘‘merely illustrative’’ while at­tending to what is taken to be ‘‘serious,’’ for to do so is to set draconian and quite unnecessary restrictions on our understanding of the dis­tributions made by technical agency and its Others. But the converse is also true: we also need to attend to that which calls itself‘‘techni – cal.’’ It is important to avoid restrictions that perform purity while, all around us, we are being distributed by impurities in ways that simply pretend to purity.

In short, once again, we are witnesses to the operation of an oscil­lation between singularity and multiplicity, an oscillation that juxta­poses multiplicities in a pattern of interferences that are the neces­sary condition for the strength of singularity thereby generated.

Soyez realiste! Demandez I’impossiblel—Text of French student poster at the time of the 1968 French evenements

S’il y a une tradition quinous singularise, c’est, me semble-t-il, celle quia nom ”politique.” La question de savoir ce qu’est la cite, quiluiappartient, quels droits, quelles responsabilites traduisent cette appartenance, et les mouvements de lutte, inventant des exigences, des obligations et des identi – tes nouvelles, transformant les modes de’appartenance, sont ce quisingular – ise d’abord notre histoire.—Isabelle Stenders, ”Le Medecin et le Charlatan,” in Tobie Nathan and Isabelle Stengers, Medecins et Sorciers


So there are multiplicities, multiple subjects and multiple objects. There are interacting performances. And there are many distribu­tions between subjects and objects. Or simply between different ob­jects. And then there are overlaps, resonances, alignments, coordina­tions, and interferences. Performances, multiplicities, distributions, and interferences come together as a package: it is not possible to talk about one without, at least by implication, talking of the others. And the singularities of ‘‘the modern project’’ arise from the interfer­ences between multiplicities produced in that characteristic oscilla­tion between one and many. Singularities arise even if the interfer­ences and the multiplicities are effaced in deferral—are rarely visible, except perhaps as a technical problem to be addressed and resolved in the next bout of problem solving, the next attempt to render ‘‘truly singular.’’

Подпись: •vjПодпись: DECISIONSIn this chapter I explore the coordinating interferences of politi­cal decision making. I’m interested in capital P Politics, the kind of politics that calls itself‘‘Politics,’’ that makes itself big and important, the methods by which it assures its distributions. And at the same time I am concerned with the overlaps and interferences implied in a notion like ‘‘decision making.’’ My case is the 1965 cancellation of the TSR2 project. Behind schedule and much more expensive than an­ticipated, cancellation, long debated, became a real possibility with the election of a Labour government in late 1964—a government that replaced thirteen years of Conservative administration.

EXHIBIT 7.1”The discussion showed there had been a certain divergence amongst those concerned. James Callaghan, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, wanted to can­cel the plane altogether for purely financial reasons. Ranged against him were (a) Denis Healey, who wanted to cancel the TSR2 and to substitute the American F-111-A, which would mean a certain saving of money but an enormous increase of outlay in dollars; and (b) Roy Jenkins, who wanted to cancel the TSR2 and re­place it with a British plane—which was roughly George Brown’s view as well; and (c) George Wigg, who held the view that we might have to cancel both but we musn’t make any decision until we had finished the strategic reappraisal which would show what kind of plane was required.” (Crossman 1975, 190-91)