It has always been the conquerors who were fond of peace. What greater joy than to waltz into enemy territory without a squeak of resistance; to see one’s opponents put down their weapons and become one’s subjects; to have one’s will recodified as law. Peace has always been the conqueror’s dream of absolute submission: for peace is nothing other than the successful imposition of a structure of domination.
Timothée Calame’s ‘Of Common Interest’ gives a partial response to the question that must continually be posed: whose peace? The response is necessarily incomplete because merely formal, that is, with an indifferent or vanishing content (Calame’s book is above all a book of abstractions). From the perspective of its content, ‘Of Common Interest’ has as much pertinence as a map of the world or a globe whose shifting boundaries must continually be redrawn. Its form (which draws on dystopian and conspiratorial discourses) seeks, on the contrary, to tease out more general mechanisms of power.
The world leaders (here, mere placeholders for power), ordered alphabetically and identifiable by means of a convenient number system, are punctuated by a series of advertisements which illustrate the complex relation between abstract power and the forming of concrete reality. These advertisements, pulling obscurely on the strings of fear and desire, have no real objects, or rather, have objects which exist only insofar as fear and desire distort reality—like how heavy masses deform space and bend light. Such is abstract power; such is structural domination—a shaping of concrete reality that is ontologically false (existentially inauthentic) but effectively and emotionally real.
The deployment of the codes of the science fiction genre might let one think that ‘Of Common Interest’ speaks of elsewhere, of another reality, of some parallel universe, but it is here, or rather, as with all real (actual) abstractions, it is an elsewhere which is also here.
— Nathaniel Wooding