“Pokémon by nature are friendly creatures and prefer cooperation to confrontation” (Professor Oak in "Pikachu's Vacation," Pokémon: the First Movie)  
  [1]In Pokémon: the First Movie, a situation develops in which the elusive, ancient, and powerful pokémon, Mew, is cloned from DNA found in a fossil. The result of this operation is the creation of Mewtwo, a flawed and evil version of the original. Driven by a crisis of identity, Mewtwo agonizes over his status as a clone, melodramatically wondering aloud, “Am I only a copy!?” And then goes on to declare a war upon humanity, striving to pave the way for a New World Order of pokémon clones. This, of course, doesn’t happen. But the set of relationships that this storyline enumerates is can be read as a rather sophisticated allegory for contemporary geopolitics.  
[2] Key to this discussion is the linguistic capacity of Mewtwo. His ability to express his motives is necessary to an understanding of the plot, which in itself supports claims I have made elsewhere that poke-speak’s lack of variation and untranslatability/only-translatability is characteristic of their status as an “Other.” The presumption is that its motives need to be expressed because its desires generate the conflict and drive the plot; the effect is that Mewtwo’s motives resemble our own closely enough that they cease to be so radically “Other”—even if they are judged to be morally reprehensible. To clarify, the poke-speaking pokémon cannot be understood because their motives are unimportant and alien. The trainer is freed to translate and produce satisfactory meanings. Mewtwo cannot be trained, but can negotiate with humanity because its mode of thinking is consistent with our own—he is driven by a personal quest for identity.
[3]Mewtwo’s dual citizenship (human/pokémon) is the product of the technological/industrial relationship between first and third worlds. Following the logic of what has prompted some scholars to prefer the term “developing world” for the third world, Mewtwo is a pokémon in development, the product of an exploitative technical advancement. The vaguely identified scientists (emblems of a militarized technoscience) involved in Mewtwo’s creation churn Mew’s DNA (seized from the tropics) through their machine in order to create a westernized version of the original. But rather than produce a useful subject, they create something else entirely. This Frankenstein’s monster story is described by Deleuze and Guattari: “On the contrary, central capitalism needs the periphery constituted by the Third World, where it locates a large part of its most modern industries; it does not just invest capital in these industries, but is also furnished capital by them” (465).
  [4] Interestingly, it is not the State which arises to battle the menace of Mewtwo, it is the loose network of children—the pokémon trainers—who unite to fight the threat with the help of non-cloned pokémon. It is the nomad that rises to fight the marginal figure of Mewtwo and its army of clones. Aside from the wandering nature of the pokémon trainer, some definition of the nomadism and its relation to the war machine, may clarify the terms of this battle. Deleuze and Guattari offer an interpretation of Virilio as a definition:
As Virilio says, war in no way appears when man applies to man the relation of the hunter to the animal, but on the contrary when he captures the force of the hunted animal and enters an entirely new relation to man, that of was (enemy no longer prey). It is therefore not surprising that the war machine was the invention of animal-raising nomads: animal breeding and training are not to be confused with either the primitive hunt or with sedentary domestication, but are in fact the discovery of a projecting and projectile system. Rather than operating by blow-by-blow violence, or constituting a violence ‘once and for all,’ the war machine, with breeding and training, institutes an entire economy of violence, in other words, a way of making violence durable, even limited. (396)
In addition to wandering and capturing pokémon, the trainer’s application of the pokémon’s force to battle has clear parallels to the nomadic invention of the “man-animal-weapon” or “man-horse-bow assemblage” (D+G 404). Furthermore, the nature of the existence of the pokémon trainer as a way of life and the way this way of life is expressed through the succession of quick contests between trainers clearly illustrates the “economy” of violence over the war-to-end-all-wars logic of total annihilation.
  [5] This positioning of the trainer (as nomad) in opposition to the totalitarian and statist mentality of Mewtwo is problematized by two factors; Mewtwo is a pokémon (and a third-world subject by analogy), and the war machine (trainer tribe) rises up in defense of humanity (the First-world, characterized traditionally as States”). Another factor which complicates and reconciles this difficulty is the appeal to non-violence and non-exploitation which turns Mewtwo away from its plans for global domination. Deleuze and Guatarri define the State in opposition to the nomad’s war machine described as follows:
It will be noted that war is not contained within this apparatus. Either the State has at its disposal a violence that is not channeled through war—either it uses police officers and jailers in place of warriors, has no arms and no need of them, operates by immediate, magical capture, “seizes” and “binds,” preventing all combat—or, the State acquires an army, but in a way that presupposes a juridical integration of war and the organization of military function. (352)
In this system, the State’s capacity for violence is enacted in the absence of war through instruments of social repression and in the presence of war through the organized structure of a military institution. In either case, the violence of the State is structured and thus operates with a motive of stasis or end—two ready examples being the internal repression of Nazi Germany which employed violence for the creation of a stable and centralized notion of racial purity, the other being the United States who employed the total annihilation of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in pursuit of an end—both employing the logic of the “final solution” in two different directions.
  [6] This opposition between the war machine and the State does not preclude an intersection of the two, but as Deleuze and Guattari define it, the combination is necessarily an appropriation by which the war machine is filtered through the State’s logic of finality, centrality, and stability. At the core of this theory is a theory of capitalism:
The factors that make State war total war are closely connected to capitalism: it has to do with the investment of constant capital and equipment, industry, and the war economy, and the investment of variable capital in the population in its physical and mental aspects (both as warmaker and as victim of war). Total war is not only a war of annihilation but arises when annihilation takes as its ‘center’ not only the enemy army, or the enemy State, but the entire population and its economy. (D+G 421)
Because of capitalism, the State-appropriated war machine becomes functional, taking on “war as its object” (D+G 418), it becomes a tool to be employed when needed.
[7] The appropriation of the war machine by the State, however, brings about a hidden crisis in addition to the possibility of total war. By employing the war machine as a tool, the State itself enters into the assemblage, bringing about its own becoming-“, the becoming-“war machine” of the Pokémon trainer. Thus, bringing about the following situation: “Wars...become a part of peace. More than that, the States no longer [appropriate] the war machine; they [reconstitute] a war machine of which they themselves [are] only the parts.” (D+G 467) The State itself may become deterritorialized.
  [8] With this in mind, it is easy to see the conflict between Mewtwo and humanity as more than the mere expressions of competing Statist ideologies. Mewtwo’s position as a humanized and transformed third-world subject, armed with first-world technoscience reflects a hybridity that can be seen in the geopolitical conflicts that we see today. Slobodan Milosevich or Saddam Hussein, for example, embody this sort of hybridity, in which the formerly subjugated seek to establish strong, centralized States under the classic Modernist tropes. The first-world nations resist the strong impetus towards nationalism which many independence-seeking regimes would need in order to build strong economies and to shrug off the exploitation that the current system of “free trade” enables. But because national independence is such a strongly Modernist, and hence centralizing, concept, it will always take on totalitarian shades—and the resistance to these regimes will always be clothed in the language of ideology. However, the real reason is an issue of radically different and incompatible systems of economics—one ideological, the other post-ideological. Under an ideological system of economics, a system (communism, socialism, capitalism) is yoked to a narrative of human values and human worth. Under a post-ideological system, nomadic capitalism relentlessly shreds ideology through the international nature of global business and media. There can be no governing State for a capitalism that has already exceeded the boundaries of the State. Nomadic capitalism is not opposed to the existence of ideologies within States, it only objects when these ideologies leaks outwards and attempt to centralize beyond their boundaries.  
  [9] It is this development in capitalism which has brought about the war against Mewtwo. Mewtwo’s mobilization of the Poke-proletariat in pursuit of a centralized and coherent poke-utopia is resisted by the trainers on explicitly ideological grounds. Ash ultimately ends the battle of total annihilation by pointing out that pokémon shouldn’t be made to fight. His self-sacrifice, and subsequent resurrection through the magic of pokémon tears, leads Mewtwo to the realization that pokémon should never battle. Mewtwo ceases his aggression and pledges himself to peace. The crisis is successfully averted. But why do the trainers engage in combat with Mewtwo’s totalitarian army in the first place? To protect the sanctity of their nomadic lifestyle which consists of making pokémon fight each other. The war machine is mobilized on ideological grounds for post-ideological ends. Fortunately, the realization that leads them to victory is wiped away for their own good by Mewtwo’s grand telepathic deus ex machina. The result is a preservation of the nomadic way of life and of the entire social system.  
  [10] It is important to remember that the nomad, in this case, is also a capitalist, enmeshed in a system of accumulation of capital, trade, and speculation. Although the economy of Pokémon may resemble a pre-capitalist system of barter, it important that the needs represented by the pokémon themselves are purely spectacular. They reflect no sort of vital nourishment or necessity beyond their use-value as signs. At all levels of play, pokémon exist as fetishized commodities which rely upon simulated combat (on the part of the trainer/player) via biotechnical machines. Under a system of electronic and plastic commerce, dollars become only vague abstractions. Value still trickles through the cash nexus, but cash itself loses its value as a constant or universal signifier in a system in which exchange rates can grow and recede based on belief and consumer confidence. Money, as a nomad itself, creates a situation in which capitalism is no longer the ideology it was once thought to be, instead it is the substance of a new materialism.  
  [11] The consequences of this messy reconfiguration of capitalism are radical shifts in economics, government, and the social. Deleuze and Guattari define the aesthetics of the nomadic experience, “In short, we will say by convention that only nomads have absolute movement, in other words, speed; vortical or swirling movement is an essential feature of their war machine” (381). This characteristic motion, evident in the life of the pokémon trainer as well as global capital, has as its essence “speed.” What this reconfiguration, however seeks to bring about, rather than mere “absolute movement,” is absolute speed itself. To reconfigure their statement, only-nomads have absolute speed. The goal, rather than to find smooth space through which only nomads can move, is to create a “smooth space” that is itself only-nomad, in which speed usurps mere movement as the absolute.4 Deleuze and Guattari anticipate this partially, claiming, “if it is the modern State that gives capitalism its models of realization, what is thus realized is an independent, worldwide axiomatic that is like a single City, megalopolis, or ‘megamachine’ of which the states are parts, or neighborhoods” (434-35). But rather than the consolidation of all states into a sort of megalopolis, it may be better to think towards a proliferation of urban centers as envisioned by Virilio:
Home shopping, working from home, online apartments and buildings: ‘cocooning’, as they say. The urbanization of real space is thus being overtaken by this urbanization of real time which is, at the end of the day, the urbanization of the actual body of the city dweller, this citizen-terminal soon to be decked out to the eyeballs with interactive prostheses based on the pathological model of the ‘spastic’, wired to his/her domestic environment without having physically to stir: the catastrophic figure of an individual who has lost motricity and who abandons himself for want of anything better, to the capabilities of captors, sensors and other remote control scanners that turn him into a being controlled by the machine with which, they say, he talks. (Open Sky 20)
It is here that the world of Pokémon finds its clearest expression in a new capitalist axiom. The increasingly atomized individual him or herself becomes the terminal through which speed is realized. Through technology, the city itself is at home within each individual, and armed with this technology, the individual acts consistently through proxy—reduced ultimately to an expression of pure informational speed.







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