March 30, 2011


The Capsule and the Network

Within the essay ‘The Capsule and the network’ Lieven De Cauter writes about the manner in which human beings, over a period of time, and due to a number of circumstances, have built a series of false environments in order to protect ourselves from the exterior world. These capsules become a series of skins between ourselves and our exteriority, and we, the inhabitants of these skins, become voluntary prisoners of them.Within these capsules we create an environment of inclusion, and thus, an exterior of exclusion; the more we live within this environment, the greater the fear of its exteriority. As De Cauter writes, “When fear and the mechanism of defensible space take over, the result might be another sort or ironclad rule: fear leads to capsularisation, and capsularisation enhances fear”.
The further we encapsulate ourselves within our own artificially created realities, the more the exterior of this reality becomes an aspect of life which we no longer understand. This fear of the unknown, combined with our capsular reality, forces us to exclude that which we do not understand. La Cauter writes, “The rise of migration, legal and illegal, and the exponential growth of the refugee problem, will mean the rise of biopolitics: the crude inclusion and exclusion of unwanted bodies as mere animal life”. Within our capsular reality we create the camp, the space of exclusion of all those which we do not understand. While we do not necessarily create the homosacer, we do operate within our own reality in a manner which disregards the welfare and life of those outside of it. Through the creation of our capsular reality we relegate those within its exterior to naked life through disregard of their zoe’.
This archipelago of hyperealities which is created by our capsular civilization becomes a series of deeply internalized spaces, which operate with disregard for the exterior. The hope, however, is that the concept of the capsule is one which is local; its exterior will always be greater than the interior and therefore the capsular reality is in fact the minority. The question which is posed is that of whether the network is a more dominant reality than the capsule? Is our individual segregation greater than that of our fear of the exterior, our fear of the network, and those within it? Georgio Agamben writes within his essay ‘Theory out of bounds’, “Man is a social animal and life is not easy for him when social ties are cut off… very few individuals have the strength to conserve their own integrity if their social, political, and legal status is completely confused”. Man is a predominantly social creature, and cannot for the most part, live a life of separation from our context, and therefore the network. While man is still a social creature and the creator of this capsule society, this interior environment cannot dominate over the network within its exteriority.
Luke Flanagan


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