Machinic Rhetoric, Highways and Interpellating Motions

Kevin Kuswa

[1] This brief argument moves through a framework of the nation, the state, and capitalism in order to better understand the highway machine and its effects. In many ways, it is a theoretical discourse stemming from the highway machine in the United States. As a backdrop, it is important to note that the highway machine does a number of things from the middle of the 20th Century to the present, including the transformation and generation of new subjects (road tourists, global suburbanites, and gentrified pedestrians), new places (the edge city, gated communities, blue highways), and new motions (energy security, cross-country touring, globalization, and border formation). We have come a long way from the driver, the rural access road, and troop movement as national security. Or have we? Are these effects simply different shades of the same thing? Is the historical progression of these changes artificially linear, gradual, and evolutionary? Does this project not create its own infallible map-isolating the rhetoric and subjectivities of the highway as neat and clean events?

[2] But, then again, is the highway distinct from the things circulating through and alongside it? How are the motions and movements of regimes of signs distinct from and similar to the motions and movements of the highway? These questions must be bracketed both by history and by the organizing theme of a transportation revolution in America during the last century. Highway identities, territories, and energies have occupied molecular lines in America, retaining a sense of haunting, a phantasm of the past that holds presence through its absence. What makes this historical narrative distinct in terms of its practice? How can we deploy the map of machinic rhetoric to talk about certain clusters of subjects, places, and motions? The primary answer to these methodological inquiries is that machinic rhetoric is a way to account for the materiality of the highway without globalizing rhetoric's domain or falling prey to the politics of representation. Rhetoric is both the manifestation of competing realities and one of the generators of these realities. The key to this practice, however, is specificity-in this case the specificity of the highway.

[3] To link rhetoric to the highway machine requires a journey through three sections, hitchhiking primarily with Deleuze and Guattari to augment our vocabularies of circulation. Section one starts with a re-thinking of capitalism and the nation-state in order to position the highway and highway rhetoric in an interconnected context. From that abstract discussion, Section two offers the specifics of interpellation to mark how the highway constitutes identities and their circulation. Interpellation attaches rhetoric to the process of identity-production associated with Fordism, globalization, and late-capitalism. Section three returns to the abstract as a means to add elements of "time" to subjectivity-a unique way in which the highway constitutes specific effects. The primary angles on time produced by the highway are both circulation and its absence; namely, the accident. Fatal bodies are produced through accidents as an effect of the highway machine operating in tandem with the circulation of goods and services. As speed, rate, exposure, duration, and circulation operate, to borrow from Paul Virilio, so too do changes (stops and starts) in our fragmented subjectivities.

I. Capture, Subjection, and Enslavement

[4] Beginning with the highway machine's movement, Deleuze and Guattari (1987) intervene with a diagram that is indispensable to any discussion of circulation and modernity. They plot the state's shift from "machinic enslavement" to "social subjection" as the components of the nation are captured by an organizing apparatus working through capitalism. As Fordism and the energy crisis demonstrated, machines are tied to nations and states-in this case the highway machine intertwines with America and the United States government. Capitalism, likewise, is effectuated by a law of states that offers the possibility of a "free" flow of labor and capital for a group of producers.

More generally, we must take into account a 'materialist' determination of the modern State or nation-state; a group of producers in which labor and capital circulate freely, in other words, in which the homogeneity and competition of capital is effectuated, in principle without external obstacles. In order to be effectuated, capitalism has always required there to be a new force and a new law of States, on the level of the flow of labor as on the level of the flow of independent capital. (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, p455)

A state, then, is a nation that has been realized through the flow of capital (land) and the flow of labor (people). When the land and the people are deterritorialized or overcoded through flows of labor and capital, the nation becomes "the very operation of a collective subjectification, to which the modern State corresponds as a process of subjection" (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p456). This does not mean that nations are simply appearances or the consequences of a dominant ideology. Instead, nations "are the passional and living forms in which the qualitative homogeneity and the quantitative competition of abstract capital are first realized" (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p456).

[5] In the United States, the nation was partially incorporated into the state apparatus (and its subjection of labor and capital) by organizing the land and its citizens through the highway machine. The land and the people, beginning with horses and then through the railroad, also pushed for their own notions of "space"-a desire for specific places to live that necessitated new means of circulation and transportation. The Secretary of the Treasury in 1955, George Humphrey, stated: "America lives on wheels, and we have to keep America living on wheels and keep the kind and form of life that we want" (Rose, 1990, p33). What would the American nation be without the possibility of realizing the dream of space? How does the nation realize its aspirations for space in appropriating and organizing ways? Lewis Mumford (1938, p168) expresses the potency of the American drive for space:

The necessity for increasing the amount of housing, for expanding the space, for multiplying the equipment, for providing communal facilities, was far more revolutionary in its demands than any trifling expropriation of the quarters of the rich would be. The former notion was merely an impotent gesture of revenge: the latter demanded a revolutionary reconstruction of the entire social environment-such a reconstruction as we are on the brink of today.

As Mumford aptly notes, the reconstruction that swept through America was both enabling for middle-class expansion outside the city and constraining for those groups stuck in the run-down and vacated inner-city. These shifts accelerated much faster after World War II and the ubiquitous status of highways. In the meantime, as the highway machine approached during the beginning of the 20th Century, a national solidification of America became the assumed legacy of coast-to-coast highway circulation.

[6] Returning to the abstract plane, we can trace how the highway links into a statist conception of people and territory. Likewise, two types of machines are implicated and consolidated by the state's process of subjection. The human machine conceives of subjects as constituent parts of larger machines composed of humans and perhaps other components such as animals or tools. In short, the human machine brings inhumanity along for the ride in the form of machinic enslavement. On one hand, the human machine is the body and its full array of experiences-a combination of circulating and resistant parts, "each specialized in function, operating under human control to transmit motion and perform work" (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p457). On the other hand, machinic enslavement tortures and erases the human body as a means of dehumanizing the person. The person becomes a small (and replaceable) part within a larger exterior. In the extreme, a human (machine) may be enslaved to the highway or even the television such that the driver/viewer "is no longer a consumer or user, nor even a subject, but intrinsic component pieces, 'input' and 'output,' feedback or recurrences that are no longer connected to the machine in such a way as to produce or use it" (Deleuze & Guattari, p458).

[7] Alongside the machinic enslavement and embodied circulation of the human machine, the technical machine acts as a coexisting pole. This is not to speak exclusively about metaphor because machines are concrete and physical arrangements. Being machinic, the highway is about macadam, medians, asphalt, ramps, bridges, tar, rubber, and paint just as much as it is abstract or idealized. The important factor is the temporary condensing of the machine into a single line or "a certain simplicity in the non-uniform material" (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, p344) for the purpose of further analysis. If the line or object is multiplied too many times, a scramble results full of static. Sound effects may offer depth and atmosphere once the machine is territorialized, but the first step requires "a pure and simple line accompanied by the idea of an object, and nothing more" (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, p.344). Harmonious and even ruptured lines constitute the effects of the machine, but the "richness of the Machine's effects" (p344) depends on the sobriety of assemblages, a simple figure in motion, and a "plane that is itself mobile" (p344).

[8] Recognizing that machines are not merely metaphors, but also concrete and physical assemblages, the technical machine works to transform machinic enslavement into social subjection. The technical machine distributes humans as subservient to, and determined by, the machines around them. In other words, "one is not enslaved by the technical machine but rather subjected to it" (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, p457). In many ways, the state has substituted technical machines for machinic enslavement through technological development. Within the state's coding of the nation, capitalism arises as an axiom or "as a worldwide enterprise of subjectification" (p457). These technical machines function as a governing apparatus by subjecting people to a scheme of wage labor, thereby holding human capital hostage to the goals of production and capital accumulation.

[9] Through these machines, "the human being is no longer a component of the machine, but a worker, a user" (Deleuze & Guattari, p457). Instead of just being enslaved by the machine, people are also subjected to it. The highway follows both trajectories, enslaving drivers and workers as constituted parts of the machine, but also subjecting the nation to the ever-expanding needs of infrastructure and circulation. Because these two processes (machinic enslavement and social subjection) constitute two coexistent poles, the aggregate includes subjection and enslavement "as two simultaneous parts that constantly reinforce and nourish each other" (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p458). The effects of capitalism and the highway machine are bumper-to-bumper throughout America, often becoming "central to the history of the advanced capitalist countries in the twentieth century, and explaining an especially large part of the history of the American people" (Flink, 1988, pvii).

[10] So, how do we traverse from this diagram of the machine to the production of subjectivities by and through the machine? The starting point, and the topic of the next section, is rhetoric. Ironically, we arrive at rhetoric by rethinking the auto-mobile as a form of interpellation. Flink (1988, p1) provides the transition when he defines the automotive idea: "The combination of a light, sprung, wheeled vehicle; a compact, efficient power unit; and hard-surfaced roads." The three central parts are the vehicle, the source of energy, and the surface to cover. These three parts are the same basic elements in machinic rhetoric, whether the "vehicle" is a car or language, whether the "power" is energy or discourse, and whether the "surface" is the road or a rhetorical effect. In one sense, it is hard to discover many stakes that are not tied up with the intersection between the circulation of highways in America and the production of subjectivity.

II. Re-Exit Ramps: Interpellation and Circulation

[11] Interpellation is a critical outline of the material and constitutive properties of rhetoric and becomes the key term linking the highway machine to various subjects, places, and motions. Greene (1998a) and Butler (1997), most significantly, read Althusser's notion of interpellation as a way to re-position rhetoric's precarious balancing act between institutions and individuals. The point is to rescue rhetoric from its superficial or descriptive status, for rhetorical events are not predetermined by the people or institutions that enact those events. We cannot really talk about the subject or the individual without locating specific instances of rhetorical expression and legitimation/rejection. Expanding the scope of interpellation opens up the stakes of the rhetorical project.

[12] The movement is bi-directional, meaning that interpellation constitutes certain effects and that certain elements constitute interpellation [1]. So, we are always pretending that the bystander in Althusser's model is actually the matrix of effects (places, people, motions, etc.) generated by the officer. Likewise, specific subjects, places, and motions are always being imagined and constituted by the highway machine. Adding concreteness to the model is not about adding complexity to interpellation, but about mapping the genealogy of the machine in as many contexts as possible. Entities other than subjects engage in interpellation and effects are generated by interpellation that include more than just subjects.

[13] A different way for rhetoric emerges through machinic rhetoric as a methodology outside the dichotomizing realm of representation or globalization. Arguing that the term comes to mean more than this, Tsing (2000, p331) argues: "globalization came to mean an endorsement of international free trade and the outlawing of protected or public domestic economies." As a metaphor for globalization, then, the highway machine expanded through the promise of unrestricted mobility and free access, paving over local "highway markets" and toll-ways in favor of a national (global) machine. Anna Tsing talks about globalization in terms of planetary interconnections, linkages that can further exploitation and inequality as well as linkages that can open up possibilities of globalist wishes and fantasies. For Tsing (2000, p331), the process of invoking the global turn "is to call attention to the speed and density of interconnections among people and places." Exactly, for to isolate the driver, the traffic manager, the suburb, or the American imaginary without diagramming the movements and rates of those people and places is to project an artificial condition of stasis on top of very transitory events.

[14] Circulation itself must share the stage with temporality and spatiality. McKenzie Wark helps to tie together the motions of the highway machine by defining our terrain as the "place where we sleep, work, or hang-out" (1994, p1). Similar to Morse's (1990) idea of distraction and "distractedness" as ontology for everyday life, Wark traces events such as the highway machine to various forms of circulation, but also to the directed movement of people, places, ideas, institutions, and forces. The drive-ins, quickie marts, truck-stops, and other roadside hang-outs are only one plane of the terrain. Those places are now being forced to share terrain with the flow and timing of images:

We live every day in another terrain, equally familiar: the terrain created by the television, the telephone, the telecommunications networks crisscrossing the globe...This virtual geography is no more or less 'real." It is a different kind of perception, of things not bounded by rules of proximity, of "being there." (Wark, 1994, p1)

The highway machine and machinic rhetoric contribute two angles to Wark's distinction between the real and the virtual. First, the separation is only partial, for any light of flight (site of virtual experience) must be grounded or located. Second, the virtual is limited by access and the restriction of particular flows (energy, transport, etc.). As with the highway machine, the motion of freely circulating people or products is always mediating by competing motions of state security and economic exchange.

[15] Providing a transition back to machinic rhetoric, the motion of circulation creates interconnections and "interconnection is everything in the new globalisms" (Tsing, 2000, p336). Rhetoric assists in the meeting points on either end of circulation, in both coercive and liberating ways. Thus, we can map the ways that globalization itself enters modes of circulation. The motions of globalization, for Tsing (2000, p336), are rhetorical because "global rhetoric" relies on circulation in the same way capitalism relies on penetration: "the way powerful institutions and ideas spread geographically and come to have an influence in distant places." This means that machinic rhetoric can uniquely point to the boundaries of rhetoric's circulation by diagramming the object of a flow as well as the social conditions "that allow or encourage that flow" (Tsing, 2000, p337). Certainly by linking globalization and circulation, machinic rhetoric can add the angle of penetration, not to mention the critique of "the use of the rhetoric of circulation as a ruling image for global interconnections" (Tsing, 2000, p337). If we do want to trace the highway machine to the globalization of rhetoric and the globalization of capital, the arresting and releasing sides of circulation fashion a middle-ground that must be negotiated in any effort to talk about how rhetoric works. At the very least, the three assemblages (subject, place, motion) prepare machinic rhetoric for its role as a living entity, a collection of particle-signs occupying a place and preventing an occupation of that same place by other entities, and a circulating process of (ex)change.

III. An Accelerating U-Turn

[16] We return to the notion of driver-subjectivity here in the last section of this paper, for now it is sufficient to see this figure as an embodied vehicle in motion, an extension and transportation of the self, and a body enslaved to the machine and its potentially catastrophic (mal)function. Widening the intersection of the highway machine to incorporate the movement of communication and the generation of subjectivity, the specifics of a Deleuzian reconceptualization cannot be exhausted. Before equating lines with subjectivity, territory with movement, minority with discourse, and becomings with minor; however, we should idle briefly on the unifying intersection of communication. What is communication? How does it relate to other descriptors such as language, discourse, or rhetoric? Fortunately, Chen occupies himself with the same types of questions. Chen goes back to Deleuze & Guattari to assert the idea that communication can be reconceived as a flow of forces or the circulation of desire. More directly, Chen contends that the notions of "lines of subjectivity," "territorialization," "minor discourse," and "becoming-minor" demonstrate the valuable and untapped potential of Deleuze and Guattari's work in communication and critical rhetoric. Chen preserves an abstract and a concrete role for rhetoric because he does not stop at the discovery of circulation as desire as does Vivian (2000). Completing the circle, it is here where subjectivity and circulation come back into focus. Chen (1989, p56) brings it together in a concise way:

From Deleuze and Guattari's point of view, communication cannot be conceptualized as transmission of information, encoding/decoding, intersubjective sharing, or dialogue between the subjects or between subject and object. Instead, communication has to be reconceptualized as a flow of forces, the circulation of desire, power as well as the representable. It is within the social network and its established trajectories that communication takes place; it is in the moment of communication and discommunication that partial subjects are formed and transformed.

Subjects are constantly forming and reforming themselves in partial (or schizophrenic) lines generated by communication. This means communication plays a role in the constitution of subjectivity materiality and their change, even when communication is theorized as a process other than transmission, intersubjectivity, message encryption, or dialogue.

[17] Thus, an additional series of questions arises: What concrete traits make up our identities as we participate in the highway machine? What are the effects of America's addiction to cars and speed? What do cars and speed mean for American individualism? What does the emerging notion of the driver do to our communities, our families, or our bodies? How does the motor vehicle take over our lives so quickly and so pervasively? What types of people fall into (and out of) place through the discourse of the driver's seat? And, interlocking all of these questions: What makes a machine distinct from a horse or even from the human body? Is the driver distinct from the machine being driven? Driving no longer necessarily involves building or assembling. Marking this transition and helping to offer an approach to these questions, Dunbar (1915) positioned the human race on the cusp of a technological revolution in transportation-the edge of an era where a majority of Americans would ride in cars every day, yet not have a solid idea what made the vehicle move (nor want such knowledge). Human "auto" agency became possible, but always contained by the mechanism of circulation and the availability of roads.

The average mind already shrinks from efforts to assimilate what eyes behold and hands use, and so, hereafter, we must accept much of what is done for us without understanding, content to let a few work in regions not for us, while we casually employ what they bestow. Those who hereafter become benefactors of the race through invention and discovery in the fields of physical and mechanical science are destined to find their large reward within their own thoughts....Thus it has always been, and much more often will it be so in the future. It is not because we are thoughtless, or ungrateful. It is because we have so many other things to think about, and to do. (Dunbar, 1915, p1366)

[18] When have now arrived at the point, following Dunbar, where the highway machine is partly machinic because of its continual series of explosions. Harnessing energy also promises its leakage [2]. Road accidents and the enormity of tragedy and destruction associated with the highway machine are the flip side of the practices of circulation. Humans move along the highway, but when that movement is suddenly and terminally halted, the need has been demonstrated for more security or a higher level of safety. Time also implies its interruption. The life of circulation is also the lethality of excess speed. The unexpected shock of the accident and the danger of fatality mark a line of flight in an otherwise consistent subject. The line of flight is also called a "quantum dimension of power" by Thomas Dumm (1994), a moment in the constitution of subjectivity that transforms fear into disgust. The struggle between fear and disgust establishes the impact of the fatal driver: driving means death. Thomas Dumm (1994, p139) elaborates on the impact of the dissolution of the subject:

The politics of danger is ubiquitous in modern life. Danger may be conceived as a line that serves to create and delimit others. It is a technique at work in the processes by which the modern subject is constituted. Yet it also intrudes into what Deleuze and Guattari refer to as the quantum dimension of power, the area of flows and powers that cannot be contained by segmentations and lines. In discussing the dangers of the line, they argue, 'The more rigid the segmentarity, the more reassuring it is for us. That is what fear is, and how it makes us retreat into the first line' (Thousand Plateaus, p227). The trajectory that overcoming fear takes is first clarity, then power, then disgust. And disgust concerns the lines of flight that might be anxiously pursued once one overcomes fear.

A danger such as the car accident that is simultaneously an elimination of thousands of people puts another angle on Dumm's deployment of the "modern subject." If danger is a technique in the constitution of the modern subject, than the highway machine has embedded itself in the subjectivity of American culture since the early decades of the 20th Century as a "subject-erasing" form of subjectivity. Dumm's comments make immense strides. His articulation of danger as a process in the constitution of subjectivity connects to Baudrillard's triad of inertia, silence, and the fatal. The modern body begins to merge with the fatal body.

[19] The modern is fraught with dangers and their politics, but it is also a backdrop for the resolution of those dangers. Resolution of danger in the context of the highway accident is on going. The end point of motion, a body catapulting through the air, new nodes of gravity, and a fleeting transcendence are some of this figure's lines of flight. The snapshot of the accident, a body frozen in place immediately prior to contact, gives us an image of the accident(al) subject. Unlike almost any other subject, this body is a line of flight, yet also a material entity with organs capable of experiencing injury or death. The "body-in-accidental-motion" is both the extreme and the limit of the human driver as subject. In Jean Baudrillard's terms (1987, p101), the fatal is the void produced by inertia and a response to acceleration:

To counter the acceleration of networks and circuits the world will seek slowness, inertia. In the same movement, however, it will seek something more rapid than communication: the challenge, the duel. On the one side, inertia and silence. On the other, challenge and the duel. The fatal, the obscene, the reversible, the symbolic, are not concepts, since nothing distinguishes the hypotheses from the assertion. The enunciation of the fatal is also fatal, or it is not at all. In this sense it is indeed a discourse where truth has withdrawn (just as one pulls a chair out from under a person about to sit down).

Baudrillard's depiction of a battle between acceleration and inertia speaks directly to the highway machine and the accident, offering a final impact to this section.

[20] One ramification of the highway is the perpetual event of the accident-the highway machine is always pulling the chair out from under its users. Jolts in the machine are violent and sudden. Society has always found ways to negotiate accidents and large-scale warfare, but nothing has had the monumental impact that the automobile and the road have had in terms of the destruction of human lives. The destruction is also pronounced because it is a result of technology and modes of transport that humans have built themselves. These are not earthquakes or diseases, but colliding vehicles that were intended to "speed up" the process of circulation. Even guns and other weapons are distinct from cars and highways because guns have the express purpose of either injuring another human or scaring that human into submission. How has the subject of the fatal body of the accident victim assumed significant but acceptable status in the United States?

[21] To answer, we must return to speed and the accident. Paul Virilio aligns the event of the accident with inertia, forming a link between society and the specificity of automotive motion. The accident-which is the halting of movement in a sudden way-is capable of producing the fatal subject as an effect of highway inertia. Virilio's (1989, p111) contention is that motion and the absence of motion are tied together through the mutation of the automobile and the shrinking of distance:

Spatial distance suddenly makes way for mere temporal distance. The longest journeys are scarcely more than mere intermissions. But if, as already shown, the nineteenth century and a large part of the twentieth really experienced the rise of the automotive vehicle in all of its forms, this mutation of it is by no means completed. As before, except now more rapidly, it will make the transition from the itinerancy of nomadic life to inertia, to the ultimate sedentariness of society. In this frame, the accident is the malaria of the Panama Canal: the inertia of highway fatalities. The subject of the driver is now always tied up with the risks and realities of the highway fatality. Again, driving means death.

[22] The subject of the driver and the fatal body takes countless directions through the course of the highway machine. Even within one generalization-the subject propelled to death by a vehicle in a collision-multiple figures emerge such as the fatal bodies of the alcoholic, the soldier, and the consumer of safety. Whether or not we attach the figure of the mobile alcoholic to the death parade of the highway machine, the omnipresence of the fatal driver, and society's acceptance of these drivers as an allowable form of collateral damage, gestures toward circulating subjectivities. The driver-soldier, for example, marks the driver as a type of human cannon fodder, putting life on the line in the name of circulation and the highway machine. Defense and security take on new angles: "More than 2 million persons have died in auto accidents in the U.S. in this century or more than three times the 652,000 battle deaths the U.S. sustained in all the wars it ever fought" (McCombs, Aug. 7, 1977).

[23] By merging perspectives on traffic and accidents, we find ourselves approaching modernity from an odd direction: within. Traffic and commerce (the movement of people and goods) are typically signs of "health" for a community, yet too much traffic is often cited as an illness that has afflicted society. Too much traffic also risks accidents, spiraling into even greater traffic. The subject-position of the driver is potentially threatened by the accident, while the subject-position of the traffic manager is perpetually warding off the accident. Before and after the accident, the movement of bodies takes place in an attempt to govern the "event" itself. The accident may be an immutable rupture or interruption: a moment when the body can no longer deterritorialize itself through the micropolitics of highway identities. The human body and institutional bodies are thrust together through the everyday trauma surrounding road accidents and highway fatalities. Preceding a given accident, which is inevitable but randomly occurring, an entire assemblage exists to govern safety and security on the road-everything from license requirements (often a critical passage into maturity or adulthood) to vehicle innovations such as shoulder-belts or non-reflective windshields. Through the expansion of highways and the proliferation of the automobile, death and life in America have moved precariously close to the side of the road.

[24] The body is already ground-breaking in both everyday and revolutionary ways. The body is organic and machinic as it moves from one mode to another: by operating the speed and acceleration of a motorized vehicle, by strapping to a chair via a seat belt, and by obeying or breaking speed limit laws. In sum, we should take the body's relation to the road, the vehicle, and the accident as crucial sites of modernity's concentrations and movements. A few concepts related to speeds, rates, and modes of production and transportation will help to link together the highway machine in many ways. Appropriate for the study of speed, Virilio begins his 1993 article on the accident with an Einstein reference: "Events do not come, they are here" (Virilio, 1993).

[25] From Einstein, Virilio sprints through a chain reaction of the last 50 years of history, gesturing to Hiroshima, radioactivity, Three Mile Island, fusion, and fission to contend: "power is no longer a function of matter, element, but of immateriality, energetic performance." Virilio plots a cluster of issues in "The Primal Accident" that magnify the plane of consistency set up by our previous maps of subjectivity drawn by Deleuze & Guattari. Initially, Virilio reverses the opposition between the accident and substance. The accident-typically conceived as fleeting, temporary, relative, or contingent-has generally been contrasted with the absolute and universal connotations of substance. Looking at the Latin root accidens, Virilio notes how the unanticipated (the surprise) became part of the accident's mythology. In other words, the surprise failure that befalls a mechanism or product is an accidental destruction. The displacement of responsibility intrinsic in the use of accident allows the blame and the surprise to focus on the "mechanism that failed" and not the operation of the mechanism itself. Virilio's point is that the association of an accident with an unexpected misfortune should be questioned.

[26] Assuming that failure is not built-in or programmed into the mechanism may be a mistake. We cannot separate life and death and we cannot separate the machine from the accident. For Virilio (1993, p212), the accident itself can be attached to "the product from the moment of its production or implementation." Production interpellates destruction. The mode of production cannot stand without the mode of destruction. The highway machine may generate traffic and the possibility of managing that traffic, but such production brings destruction: the decimation of the earth's ecology through rapid fossil fuel consumption as well as the demolition of vehicles and desolation of human bodies that arrive in an endless stream of road fatalities. Moving the modern away from structure and more toward vectors and trajectories, Virilio (1993, p212) inverts the substance of accidents:

Since the production of any 'substance' is simultaneously the production of a typical accident, breakdown or failure is less the deregulation of production than the production of a specific failure, or even a partial or total destruction....One could imagine a fundamental modification in the direction of research toward a prospective of the accident. Since the accident is invented at the moment the object is scientifically discovered or technically developed, perhaps we could reverse things and directly invent the accident in order to determine the nature of the renowned 'substance' of the implicitly discovered product or mechanism, thereby avoiding the development of certain supposedly accidental catastrophes.

From the idea that the accident precedes the invention, Virilio focuses on the rate of technological development. Through continual transformations, the changes in circulation borrow from each other just as they negate each other. In this sense, "the revolution of transport will coincide with a characteristic change of arrival, with the progressive negation of the time interval" (Virilio, 1989, p111).

[27] So, the time interval, or the space between moments, has been minimized as the immediacy of the arrival has intensified. How does this revolution of transport spread or circulate? In many ways, the subjectivity of the fatal body marks a motion-a motion of halting or sudden interruption. The accident draws a line between the subjects and the motions that the highway machine generates. Having noted Virilio's link between technologies and speed, an expansion of the motion-effects of the highway machine requires moving from the accident to movements of subjectivity through rhetoric.

Concluding Shifts

[28] This paper has initiated a map of some of the subjects associated with the highway machine. The constitution of the driver was ushered in by the individuality and personal mobility of the automobile. Highway construction ensured greater access and reliability for more and more drivers, setting up a marketing link between drivers and units of economic consumption. Concurrent with the arrival of the driver as a subject of the highway machine, the operator of a motor vehicle also faced the risk of an accident. Road accidents became such regular events that a subject position emerged that was tied to the unexpected arrest of motion in a potentially fatal fashion. Thus, the body-as-accident came to mark a subjectivity outside typical lines of identity-a perpetual line of flight caught between embodiment and the object of cultural trauma. The subjectivity emanating from this site of struggle is contingent, contorted, and often an imaginary for other subjects attempting to negotiate the inherent dangers of highway travel.

[29] In addition, the institutional motion evident after Fordism and during the mobilization of federal highway funds was the intertwining of military and statist machines. The state enacted a capture of the war machine and the military enacted a capture of the highway machine. Now, as a doubling motion, industrial forces in society started to join with, and mimic, government institutions. American modernity and its national manifestation seemed to fluctuate in a tripolar arrangement between the state, the military, and industry. Or, a slightly different tripolarity would site the nexus between labor, capital, and the state (the Fordist compromise) and the way that triangle captures the notion of militarism through the highway machine.

[30] Many dimensions of our experiences over the past century are evident in the movements from pre-highway arrangements to post-highway arrangements. No matter how the modern is defined, its circulation in America is intimately and inextricably interwoven with the highway. The most diverse conception of subjectivity or identity, the broadest conception of place or environment, and the most dynamic conception of motion or circulation become less abstract as they (are) run through the highway machine. All abstractions link themselves in some way to concrete machines of content and expression. The notions of person, place, and motion-no matter how those categories are drawn-are all shaken and molded in tangible ways by the arrival of the highway machine during the middle of the last century. The highway machine reminds us, though, that reality can take many paths, often jolting in unexpected directions. These lines of flight are both critical and fictional, bolting from segmented and molecular lines into new contexts.


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[1] What Butler wants us to recognize is that interpellation does not simply work through the voice--interpellation is more than just an auditory hailing. In addition to the "Hey, you!" shout of the officer (is it loud, angry, accusatory?), the officer's non-verbal behavior (gestures, movement, expressions), the various physical and imaginary objects near the scene (uniform, badge, lighting, place), memories of past occurrences (past arrests, stereotyping, expectations), surrounding subjects (crowds, other officers, a priest, a lawyer), and countless other factors (time of day, weather, possible escape routes, modes of transportation available) contribute to very unique forms of interpellation.

[2] The passive voice is purposeful, for health risks can be isolated within bodies (cancer), among bodies (murder), to bodies (electrocution), and outside bodies (lightening). The edges of these dangers change, of course, and the lines blur when the health risk is outside our bodies, yet constructed by bodies and essential to the circulation of bodies.