The Imperial Archive
Archiv and Entropy
The Maxwell demon was an early prototype for what came to be called "governor" technologies. A sequence of relays designed to direct a ships rudder, the governor was, as Norbert Wiener has recognized, the beginning of cybernetics, the first unified system of feedback technology using the rapid transmission of information to counter entropy (the Victorian masters of thermodynamics both owe their greatest fame to their work on information systems, Kelvin on the transatlantic cable and Maxwell on the conundrum).
In a very real sense, as the name implies, the governor was also a prototype for a servo-engineered government for economy and society. In Tono-Bungays Wells pays homage to Maxwell when he ends his novel with young Ponderevo designing guidance mechanisms for destroyers and imagining the day when Britain willbecome an interlocking system of control mechanisms, a governor apparatus, what today has routinely come to be called a "state apparatus". Ponderevo, and perhaps Maxwell himself, did not foresee the day when the machine would lose its preeminence as a paradigm of knowledge and control, a day when, not too far in the future, knowledge would produce not only the known but the unknown, not only the controlled but the uncontrollable. "If", wrote James Clerk Maxwell in 1868, by altering the adjustments of the machine, ist governing power is continually increased, there is generally a limit at which the disturbance, instead of subsiding more rapidly, becomes an oscillating and jerking motion, increasing in violence till it reaches the limit of the action of the governor"(1)
Gravity's Rainbow rides a fine line along the conception of the apparatus and its paradoxical threshold of control: there comes a point at which control apparatuses lower the performance they claim to raise. Today, the term "feedback" has shifted its meaning from a completed to an interrupted act of communication (usually it means an information system catastrophically overloaded with energy.) Pynchon sees the world precisely as a set of feedback apparatuses that have become completely incompatible. Among them, thermodynamics continues to play a major role, and in a variety of ways Pynchon, like Wells before him, pushes the project of Victorian thermodynamics about as far as it can go as a dominant paradigm of knowledge and power. It appears as a principle of the capitalist economic process, the imperial administration apparatus, and the information nexus itself. But, as Maxwell perceived, there comes a point of diminishing returns beyond which even thermodynamics cannot project or protect the possibility of coplete control. The imperial archive had defined the outer perimeters of is control over an imperium of matter by imagining that it could control entropy.
In Pynchon's Zoneof 1944-45, the control of entropic processes encompasses only a limited portion of the observable world, and it does not even affect the control of a domain left out of Victorian thermodynamics, the unobservable world. In such a world "entropy" is only one possible measure, and a fairly linear one at that, the dynamic organization of energy, matter, and force. The new, nonlinear dimensions of control explored by Pynchon in Gravity's Rainbow announce what can only be considered a postthermodynamic world.The linear apparatus of the thermodynamic feedback control is most clearly crystalized in the guidance apparatus of the rocket, the novel's central motif. The rocket's guidance system would seem best to comform to "the Determination of the Number". (2)
The number functions to bring the performance of the rocket into an integrated whole. Numerical calculations tend to make nonlinear phenomena (especially thermodynamic phenomena) linear, or at least represent them using linear means. Calculations stipulate the frictive or delaying force that hampers the motion of the projectile. They plot the oscillations disturbing feedback to insure that it does not break down. They take into account the curvilinear prediction of flight (the rainbow arc of gravitational pull that is the novel's title). They determine not only economy of energy but also accurate reproduction of signal. They see to it that "all is in order" (757). They perform the work of modernizing classical mechanics by taking into account random, statistical variation. Such calculations reduce all epistemology from theoretical to practical knowledge founded on instrumental reason. In all, they would seem to construct effectively working simulacra of motion, a world in which moving objects trace trajectories that can be broken into small segments and analyzed according to the method of Newton's calculus, at world of motive forces described with utter certainty by Newton in his Principa (1686) as "absolute motion", or "the translation of a body from an absolute place into another within a stable gravitating system". (4)
Despite the overwhelming presence of guidance and feedback systems in Gravity's Rainbow, nowhere in the novel does the ordering of pilot protocols assume such a neat deterministic structure. Pynchon consistently drives determination into the realm of overdetermination. Nowhere do machine function on their own, independent of human agency. Everywhere he looks Pynchon sees the widespread use of such devices as gyrocompass ship-steering systems (guiding the Argentinian submarine), anti-aircraft fire-control systems (protecting the city of Luebeck), automatically controled oil-cranking stills (run by Shell Oil), thermostatic temperature equalizers (placed by electronics cartels), ulta-rapid computing machines (used by the White Visitation), and most prominently, self-propelled missiles. These automata contain in effect sense organs, effectors, and the equivalent of a nervous system and they lend themselves very well to description in physiological terms (but they cannot replace them). Throughout the diaspora of the Zone, the Herero people of southwest Africa come to regard the circular insignia of "the five positions of the launching switch in the A4 control car" as "something deep, maybe a little mystical".(361)
The novel ends in a scene of startling symbolic density in which Blicero launches the last V-2 of the Second World War. Sensing the insufficiency of the servomechanism as a device for the reception of impressions as well as the performance of actions, he turns the launch of Rocket 00000 into a ritual immolation of the boy Gottfried, bound in the capsule like a young girl in a Balinese fire ceremony. Blicero carefully omits the central feature of the governor apparatus, namely two-way communication (he can speak to Gottfried but Gottfried cannot talk back to him). In this scene the machine's nervous system requires the presence of a human being to become fully proprioceptive. As in the old circus act of the human cannonball, ballistics remains curiously anthropocentric. The motion of bodies, far from being the ultimate in a Newtonian calculus of moving dead matter, has here become contingent on the movement of a single human body through time and space.
This conflation of control systems in Gravity's Rainbow completely undercuts the classical program of elaborating detailed and exhaustive mechanical models of phenomena .In Pynchon's novel a model is nothing more or less than a model, one framing device among many, a viewing platform, a point in time and space with no particular claim to privileged status. In the 1870s the Maxwell demon had constructed a model of knowledge as pure instrumentality in which the mechanisms of transmission, perception, and evalution formed a unified field. Maxwell believed in the existence of isolated and highly stable systems whose performance could be predicted and controlled if only all the variables were known. Following the monism of the mechanic epistemology, he believed that observation did not affect the observed phenomena, and that with the increased accuracy of instruments like the demon, it would finally prove possible to see things in their totality as they intrinsically are.
At the turn of the century H. G. Wells replaced the Maxwellian model of pure instrumentality with a model of knowledge as mediated instrumentality in which the various mechanisms of information form a fragmented but nevertheless highly stable system (such as the Bladesover system) whose performance cannot be predicted even if all the variables are known. Here as elsewhere Wells incorporates a basic object lesson of modern physics, that every act of observation disturbs what it purports to observe, all the while retaining, in his encyclopedism, a sense that whatever this knowledge turns out to be , it ought to be made internally consistent by dint of a vitalistic will to comprehensive knowledge.
In the London of the 1940s Pynchon sees the end of control itself. In Gravity's Rainbow knowledges form not global unities but discrete and incommensurate subcultures. Pynchon incorporates the hard core of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, namely, that it has become impossible for the observer to determine in which way, or by how much, observation disturbs the phenomena observed. He does not merely elevate objective laws of matter to meta physical prominence as someone like Ruskin had done. Instead Pynchon realizes that the Heisenberg uncertainty Principle expresses the inherent limitation of the human sensorium and its instrumental extensions. For Pynchon a mechanism of transmission is a mechanism of transmission, one of perception is one of perception, one of evaluation is one of evaluation. "Information is information" wrote Norbert Wiener in 1948, "not matter or energy"(4) Pynchon says it more vividly: "The knife cuts through the apple like a knife cutting an apple" The world is irreducibly fractional and cannot be molded into a noncontradictory framework. This is the heart of Niels Bohr's Principle of Complementarity, which states that phenomena can function with great consistency within entirely contradictory epistemologies. Just as the electron behaves both as a wave and as a particle concepts irreducible to one another so must a reader of Gravity's Rainbow be reconciled to the existence of mechanical, thermodynamic, and quantum phenomena side by side, and in complete opposition. But Pynchon complicates matters even further. Differing and opposed orders of information do not adhere to stable groupings in his novel. Centering around the figure of Slothrop, different orders of information continually interact to create new orders of information. Mathematics becomes chemistry becomes ballistics become cinema. (5) Formerly distinct knowledges once grouped into discrete specializations are transformed into relatively indistinct bodies of information that move like the turbulent flow of fluids. Nostalgic for a central ordering principle, Slothrop constantly suspects the presence of "a reflex of order beyond the visible" but before he can come up with a suitable totalizing explanation the ordering of ordres flutuates and sends the narrative off in a new direction. What troubles him the most is that order seems to have become disorderly, uncontrollable, that direction no longer entails directedness, that the ordering of orders now exists without reference to an order of orders.
The control of knowledge in Gravity's Rainbow, then, has very largely become a non-control of information. Informatio is not unframed knowledge but knowledge framed provisionally in unstable data structures. James Clerk Maxwell had seen information as a way of establishing order against what he saw as the inevitable entropic degradation of ordered structures. H.G.Wells equated information with entropy rather than opposing them, and in doing so accurately anticipated, as he so often did, later developments in science, notably Claude Shannon's 1949 theory of communication.(8) Thomas Pynchon speeds up the rate at which information becomes entropic to such an extent that, in effect, he displays the power of entropic obsolescence to mutate new technologies of control at a rapid rate. In Gravity's Rainbow the menas of partial control fall apart only to be replaced by new stopgap measures of further partial control. What is controlled is of course information, and in his novel this control is completely imaginary. Indeed the control of information is so much of a fantasy that only someone afflicted with paranoia could possibly believe in it. Pynchon sees paranoia as perhaps the final response to information out of control. In Gravity's Rainbow paranoia is not a delusion, not a measure of the distorting capacity of an individual human mind. Paranoia is rather the belief that all information, far from continually breaking apart into disjoint fragments of fact, has an invisible center and a true meaning. Paranoia is the modern sequel to Victorian fantasies of a world united by information. Paranoia reverses the degradation of knowledge into information. In paranoia all information becomes knowledge again, knowledge which coheres as conspiracy. In themind of the paranoid beholder, the project of positive knowledge, forever pushing facts into disunion and breaking them apart into particles of information, rejoins the project of comprehensive knowledge, this time not as fatansy, as in the imperial archive, but as delusion. The lineage of this delusion is the subject of the next chapter.
The Archive and its Double
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea sets up an equation between epistemology and technology, between knowledge and security, between the archive and the weapons system. Verne's novel appeared at the foundational moment of modern logistics in warfare, and it introduces a new and parallel logistics of the archive. The architectonics of museums and armies had long been related: in the eighteenth century, when standing armies occupied fortresses,museums resembled magazines; during the first half of the nineteenth century, when the predatory tactics of Napoleon governed the conduct of war, museums became predators, often relying on armies for acquisitions (as in the case of the Elgin marbles) and often turning to tempestuous Napoleonic figures for leadership (as in the case of Panizzi). In the late Victorian period the logistics of the archives came to be marked by a system of continuous supply linking base with base, and bases with metropole. In 1871 the German forces under von Moltke invading France had constructed a comprehensive system of supply that enabled them to overcome what Clausewitz had called the "friction" of war, attaining a high mobility and realizing their maximum theoretical speed as determined by the technological means then available.(7) In a parallel way Verne's novel constructs a complete logistics of comprehensive knowledge. The archive gradually comes forward in the course of the novel in a variety of specifically modern logistical capacities and attributes. It appears as raw data, as classification systems able to absorb the artifacts of the material world into its own internal order, as arsenal, as military structures of rank and precedence, and most importantly, as the central chamber of a mobile andmalleable new weapons system, the submarine. The novel takes the form of a series of incidents that foreground the fatal economy of force that inheres in the Victorian archive, and it places an archival logistics at the center of an invasion narrative that transforms the sea into the site of a new Imperium.
Our initial impression is that Nemo's underwater empire consists solely of raw data. Fully half of the novel is devoted to listing phenomena observed. Though these inventories are often highly individuated (Aronnax tends to order things by sight, Ned by taste, Conseuil by taxonomy, Nemo by temporal sequence), Verne presents them as unimpeachably positive knowledge. But the fact is that this raw data has already been, as statisticians say, "cooked". Unawares, the archival gaze has combined the triple register of inquiry, measure and examination to prepare data to be acted upon by the variable modalities of power. The novel works to transform its central ideological project, the conquest of energy sources, into a phenomenology of the archival gaze trained on seemingly undifferentiated information presented at random. Verne never takes an inventory of anything that has clearly been manufactured by human beings; the novel includes no figures on the number of ballast tanks in the submarine, its maximum crew, its capacity for provisions. Instead Verne supplies us with lists of materials awaiting transformation. As formulated by Kelvin, the first law of thermodynamics posited that matter and energy can be transformed but not destroyed.(8) Verne very selectively interprets this law to mean that matter and evergy exist in a state of latency awaiting a certain kind of productive transformation. Raw data, then, means raw materials. The inventoried contents of Nemo's ocean are a vision of an empire of energy soruces, a combined mine and plantation that offers him an endless source of supply without confronting him with the labor troubles that usually plague mining conglomerates and cash-crop cartels. In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the ocean is a depopulated Ceylon, bolivia, South Africa, India.
The ordering frame within which Verne places raw but regulated data is the museum. The Nautilus's on-board museum contains fixed glass cases displaying unusual specimens, rare paintings and manuscript scores, but the facility's most interesting feature is an observation deck which allows the observer to supplement the collection with an endless phenomenal procession of raw data. As at the Crystal Palace of the 1851 Great Exhibition, the wonder of the Nautilus museum is not its contents but the special effects devised to illuminate them. More than anything elses, the museum equips the submarine with an aesthetic system for processing information. From the observatio ndeck of the museum, Aronnax, himself a museum curator in Paris, practices a kind of underwater urbanism. He views the ocean as the flaneur views the street, continually experiencing the direct or indirect side effects of movement among moving bodies and objects. "The scenery seemed to change for our own pleasure", says Aronnax at one point.(9) This mobile museum furnishes him with rapid information so rapid that it has not entered into or passed through the median stages of transmission or transportation set up by nineteenth-century technologies such as telegraph or freight. The motto of the Nautilus, "mobilis in mobile", perfectly expresses the new geostrategic capability of the museum to offer a continuous interface between words and things. That is to say, the museum constructs an imperceptible order in which perception (of things) and interpretation (via words) coincide in space and tiem.(10) In the Nautilus the museum has become what Andre Malraux would later call the "museum without walls", a space in which the ocean must be regarded as nothing more than a vast aquarium. This same attention to the uniquity of the archive recurs when Verne returns to the submarine and to its paramilitary organization. Nero's sailors wear uniforms and speak an artificial language that no one but a crew member can understand (a premonition of the closed speech of a specialist jargon). Today's submarines, however are weapons of pure war which can devastate continents, while Verne's Nautilus is an archival facilty for capturing and processing data. Though torpedoes had long been imagined, Verne does not equipe the Nautilus with them. He regards the submarine not as a war-machine but as an achive-machine.The distinction is crucial. To Verne, firepower is less important than knowledge-power, which consists not in destroying an object but in locating it and keeping it in cosant sight as a target of knowledge. Nemo's continuos electro-optical surveillance of the sea (using Bunsen cells, Krupp engines and Rouquayrol diving apparatus) exhibits an archival construction of power based not on the instant power of sensors, interceptors, and remote elctronic detectors. His intention is to take aim along a given line of sight, to fix a subject of knowledge as an object of perception. He yearns to collect "more accurate figures"(124). As much as possible Nemo refrains from participating in events, and he captivates Aronnax not with gymanistic coastguard rescues of sinking ships but with the idea of detailed observations without intervention, "the idea of actually witnessing a sinking and, in a sense, being able to photograph its final moments" (128).(11) Nemo's Nautilus is not a gung but a camera, the forerunner not of modern ballistics (with its emphasis on payload and throw-weight) but of the very military analysis that superintends the automated perception of territory. Nemo and his submarine epitomize the moment in history when, as Merleau-Ponty has written, "the problem of knowing who is the subject of the state and war [becomes] exactly the same kind as the problem of knowing who is the subject of perception."(12)
Though Nemo assembles all the components of a perceptual logistics of warfare, he lacks one central feature identified by Merleau-Ponty: he is a perceiver without a state. It bothers Arronax that Nemo does not submit his findings to any agency of state control, command or intelligence. Nemo has no juridicial or political identity; in the eyes of the state, any state, he is a nonentity, legally nobody (as his name implies). Aronnax does not care to which state Nemo belongs. What matters is that Nemo does not designate the state as the necessary end result assigned to all social and technological development. Like most of Verne's characters. Aronnax subscribes to the most basic presupposition of the ideology of progress, namely that progress means that history is a one-way progression toward the state.(13) In literary history the ship at sea had often served as a working model of civil society, the ship of state. But Aronnax simply does not understand that Nero has assembled a working model not of civil society but of general diaspora. Nemo's procedures of appearance and disappearance have a prospective character for populations: his situation looks ahead to the governments in exile of the twentieth century, not just the temporarily dislocated "Free French" directed by De Gaulle from his submarine during World War II (vividly realized in Pynchon's portrait of the Argentinian polity-as-submarine in Gravity's Rainbow), but the permanently disocated polities dissolved into a state of precarious survival, the Poles in 1940s London, the ships of passportless Jews unable to dock anywhere in the Nazi-controlled Meditarannean. The forerunner of today's Palestinians, Nemo has no nationality but lives in the world at large. He is a legal inhabitant not of a specific territory but of the globabl media, which monitors his every move with great interest, treats his every action as the unfolding of a sensation novel, and acts as a kind of United nations superintending the international police action that ends up depositing Aronnax on board the Nautilus. Watching the spectacle of the sea unfold from his protected position on the museum observation deck, Aronnax also regards Nemo as the undisputed master of a new kind of audiovisual empire. If in the nineteenth cenutry Ratzel had claimed that "war consists in extending one's frontiers across the boundaries of others", one can say that Nemo has extended his in the form of information across the entire world. (14)
But this supression of national frontiers, this hypercommunicability of information, does not succeed in enlarging the space of movement or in remaining external to the exercise of state power. Rather it signals the collapse and disappearance of the unknown and the unknowable before the expansion of a very tangible totalitarian power, an ever more refined and rapid technical control of comprehensive knowledge, knowledge here is not of the land but of the sea. For Nemo is not only a refugee but an invader. He does not invade the sea to pursue a political end, as Clausewitz said, "by any other means"; if he has an ideology (beyond the resolute positivism that actuates all Verne's characters), he refuses to articulate it. He abducts three Frenchmen without attempting to ransom them to the French government. And he entirely eschews the question that preoccupies most states, the question of legitimation. Rather than articulating strategy, he practices tactics, choosing to concentrate on perfecting a logistics for dominating the sea epistemologically. Like Phileas Fogg in Around the world in Eighty days (1872), Nemo makes a global circuit, but unlike Fogg, his circuit aims at amassing comprehensive knowledge through invasion and occupation. All over the world Nemo sets up imperial institutions and channels of communication. He hunts fish in forests, excavates minerals in mines, establishes supply depots, measures depths and distances, speaks an administrative vernacular, even plants his flag to demarcate territory. This recapitulation of state geographical perogatives what can be called an aquagraphy can be seen most clearly in the chapter where the Nautilus passes thorugh the underwater double to De Lessep's Suez Canal. Considered at first to be a physical impossibility, the construction of labor, the use of dynamite, and a total expenditure of half a billion francs. The canal opened in 1869, but it took until 1888 for the major European powers to sign the Suez Canal Convention, which stipulated that the canal should "always be free and open, in time of war as in time of peace, to every vessel of commerce or of war, without distinction of flag".(15) Passing directly under the Suez Canal, Nemo becomes the state's liminal double: whether he likes it or not, his route striates the sea in tacit conformity with an order of movement ratified by international convention.
Nemo's archival construction of power, then, cannot be separated from his archival disposition of force. The novel opens as the Nautilus rams an American vessel under Commander Farragut, unfolds as the grand tour of an underwater empire, and records the experiences in captivity of its narrator, Aronnax. In essence the novel opens up a new space of armed conflict, the space of permanent undeclared war.(16) Undeclared war does not require a formal announcement of hostilities; because it has not been stated (quite literally, proclaimed by a state), it need not unfold over a given territory (Vietnams always shade into Cambodias); it does not even acknowledge a manifest enemy. With its nomadic submarine at war with the forces of land, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is the foundational fiction of the archival logistics of permanent war, which is always the war not of actual but of utopian invasions. Heir to a long string of utopias, or nowheres, the narrative of Nemo, or nobody, performs an incredibly influential operation: it figures invasion as utopia, and utopia as the condition, place and situation of personal and political paranoia.
Published in the same year as Verne's novel, The Battle of Dorking deployed fictional scare tactics to a particular end: it explicitly agitates for the social and technological reform of armies and navies and culminates in a one-dimensional military ideology. In the 1870s such ideology led to the formation of modern propaganda (a propaganda which only its critics took at face value) and the invention of a variety of military traditions such as regimental colors, banners, histories, ties and mascots. In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, however, this cardboard ideology has become a utopian epistemology, a disposition to knowledge and a will to power oriented around the military-archival capabilities of a presumed enemy. In Verne's novel this enemy archive, based as it is on the compilation of comprehensive positive knowledge, still retains a certain neutrality; despite his dislike of captivity, Aronnax cannot help respecting Nemo's abilities as engineer, explorer and navigator. But only a thin line divides extraterritorial from extraterrestrial, utopia from dystopia. In the final anlysis Nemo's invasion and occupation of the sea must be seen as a foundation not only of the invasion novel but of the divided invasion anrratives of modern science fiction, which alernate between seeing interstellar invaders as belligerent (as in H.G. Well's The War of the Worlds ) and benign (as in Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End ). Captain Nemo is the first in a long line of space invaders quite literally, invaders of territorial space who threaten to triumph because they control an archive of alien comprehensive knowledge.
Nemo, however, does not yet possess the capacity to produce panic or provoke general paranoia among the earth's populations.(17) in 20,000 Leagues Nemo is more fearing than feared: he is the one who dreads invasion, and despite the techno-archival rationality of his underwater empire, his paranoia regarding the land and its products entirely lacks rationale (he disappears without ever justifying himself). The narrative of the all-powerful and all-knowing alien presupposes an actual alienation, a Manichean aesthetics demarcating a very real enemy capable of provoking a justifiable paranoia. In mid-twentieth century America the representation of the UFO replicated the ideology of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. In late nineteenth-century Britain such an enemy had yet to be delimited. It is often forgotten that alliances in the nineteenth century were in a state of continuos flux. The Triple Entente and Central Powers alliances were not formed until 1903, and as late as 1894 a war scare broke out over the French annexation of Madagascar. "We spoke of nothing else", wrote Somerset Maugham in his diary. "There was a long discussion about the first movements of the war: we talked about what would happen if the French landed an army on the English Coast; where they would land; what would be their movements; and how they would be prevented from taking London."(18)
Like so many others, this scare took the form of a collective war game, an imagined violation of territory shared by an entire population and entailing the repeated superimposition of logistical grids over british territory. Though almost all of late Victorian invasion narratives work within the logistical configuration invented by the German army, the invading armies always had something of the orientalism of the science-fiction invader about them ( a lot of invasion narratives went so far as to feature polyglot mercentaries, pirates and mongol hoards). It would take until 1903 to bring these fictions into factual alignment with the archival capacity of an actual enemy who now emerged as the product of a stable configuration of alliances and counter-alliances. Aside from the project of comprehensive knowledge, Verne's Captain Nemo had lacked any overall plan or long-range design. In the Riddle of the Sands (1903), Erskine Childers better understood the crucial importance of the logistics of comprehensive knowledge. An admirer of Bismarck and von Moltke, Childers knew that the drive was on for a general system of intelligence that would allow everything to be seen and known, at every moment and in every place.
1. James Clerk Maxwell, "On Governors", Proceedings of the Royal Society, no.100 (1868), p. 106. Norbert Wiener characterizes Maxwell's article as a foundational text of cybernetics in Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (Cambridge, Mass.1989), pp.30-44. He also stresses the governor paradigm in The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society (New York 1988; orig.pub.1954), pp.136-62
2.Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (New York 1987; orig. pub.1973), p.363. Subsequent citations appear in the text.
3. Isaac Newton, Principia,Volume 1,The Motion of Bodies,p.7
4.Cybernetics, p. 132
5. These connections are anything but arbitrary; a historical logic of sense exists behind each of these fluctuations in the orders of knowledge. When in Gravity's Rainbow war becomes cinema and cinema becomes war, Pynchon traces a real dialectic of influence. See Paul Virilio, War and Cinema: the Logistics of Perception (London 1989)
6. Claude E. Shannon and Warren Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication (Urbana 1949)
7. The best study of the evolution of logistics is Martin Van Creveld, Supplying War: Logistics from Wallerstein to Patton (Cambridge 1977). Clausewitz speaks of the "friction" of war in On War,
8. For an account of how the postulates of Victorian thermodynamics influenced the development of modern information systems, see James R. Beniger, The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society (Cambridge, Mass. 1986), pp. 31-60
9. Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (New York 1986), p. 126. Further references appear in the text.
10. Once again, Eugenio Donato's view of the museum as failure (he reads the institution through the prism of Bouvard and Pecuchet) must be stood on its head. Donato believes that the museum failed to offer "an adequate continuous representation between "Words and Things". "The Museum's Furnace: Notes Toward a Contextual Reading of Bouvard and Pecuchet", in Josue V. Harari, ed., Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist Criticism (Ithaca 1979), p. 228. Compare Foucault's account of the successfully interlocking orders of nineteenth-century knowledge in The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York 1973), pp. 250-302. See also Andre Malraux, Museum Without Walls (1957), which is less a description of the postwar museum than a nostalgic look backwards at the Victorian museum
11. In Speak, MemoryNabokov describes a person with a modernized version of this interest: filming suicides
12. Quoted in Virilio, War and Cinema, p.2
13. This statist teleology pervaded nineteenth-century ethnography and still informs modern anthropological field work. See Pierre Clastres, Society Against the State (New York 1987)
14.Quoted in Paul Virilio, Speed and Politics
15.Quoted in "Suez Canal", Encyclopaedia Brittanica, 1911 edition
16. Britain waged undeclared wars throughout the nineteenth century; see Queen Victoria's Little Wars. Verne's novel, however introduces a new dynamics of shock into the conduct of undeclared warfare. At the beginning of the century undeclared wars were one-time acts of blow and recoil (as in Sudan in the 1880s); they then became wars of intermittent shocks (as in South Africa); finally they developed into spaces of continuous phenomenal assault (as in World War 1).
17. Verne's novel was a bestseller in England, and with good reason. In 20,000 LeaguesNemo may well be a paranoid universalization of France's traditional enemy, England. Virilio comments: "An English cartoon from the nineteenth century shows Bonaparte and Pitt cutting chunks out of an enormous globe-shaped pudding with their sabers, the Frenchman taking the continents while the Englishman claims the sea. This is another way of parcelling out the universe: rather than confronting each other on the same terrain, within the limits of the battlefield, the adversaries chose to create a fundamental physical struggle between two types of humanity, one populating the land, the other the oceans". Speed and Politics, p.37. Like the British, who possessed minimal land forces in 1870, Nemo restricts himself to controlling the sea and exploiting its resources. So thoroughly does Verne, here and in other novels, conform to the geography of the British Empire that many people, today as in the nineteenth-century, think of him as a British writer.
18. Somerset Maugham, A Writer's Notebook (Harmondsworth 1984), p.21back
This text is excerpted from the book of the same title, published by Verso, London, New York, 1993
p. 104-109 (chapter "Archive and Entropy") and p. 115-123 (chapter "The Archive and its Double").