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Beyond Columbine

School Violence and the Virtual


Julie A. Webber


School violence has become our new American horror story, but it also has its roots in the way it comments on western values with respect to violence, shame, mental illness, suicide, humanity, and the virtual. Beyond Columbine: School Violence and the Virtual offers a series of readings of school shooting episodes in the United States as well as similar cases in Finland, Germany, and Norway, among others and their relatedness.

The book expands the author’s central premise from her earlier book Failure to Hold, which explores the hidden curriculum of American culture that is rooted in perceived inequality and the shame, rage, and violence that it provokes. In doing so, it goes further to explore the United States' outdated perceptual apparatus based on a reflective liberal ideology and presents a new argument about proprioception: the combined effect of a sustained lack of thought (non-cognitive) in action that is engendered by digital media and virtual culture. The present interpretation of the virtual is not limited to video games but encompasses the entire perceptual field of information sharing and media stylization (e.g., social networking, television, and branding). More specifically, American culture has immersed itself so thoroughly in a digital world that its violence and responses to violence lack reflection to the point where it confuses data with certainty. School-related violence is presented as a dramatic series of events with Columbine as its pilot episode.

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Chapter 6: Remote Projection and Militarized Subjectivity: A Different Iteration


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This chapter examines the transformation in civilian subjectivity brought about by U.S. participation in virtual war. Many theorists have noted the similarities between war and other national pastimes such as sports and business. Still others have examined the role that a modality of war plays in promoting certain kinds of subjectivities that reinforce the necessary citizenship behavior to support war efforts or rationalize the failure to meet military and political objectives (Boose 1993). Usually, but not always, these subjectivities are transformed through preferred gendered and racialized norms that leave imperial ambitions of war-makers unchallenged, if not supported. By looking at how subjectivity, social control and citizenship are transformed through the remote projection of force displayed in U.S. technologies (war gaming, simulation, disinformation, satellite surveillance, etc.) this chapter presents a new thesis on ego formation using recent interventions in political theory that highlight the role of proprioception in the “posthuman” or age of the “automaton” (Hayles 2002; Massumi 2002, respectively). What current technologies target are neither discursive normative strategies nor identitarian positions but the body’s compulsive and habit-driven capacities to assume risk in uncertain physical environments against odds. ← 161 | 162 →

Remote Projection

In hunting the long process of universal history coils up and bites its own tail.

—Ortega (1972, 136)

The enemy we’re fighting is a bit different than the one we war-gamed against, because of these paramilitary forces.

—General Wallace to the New York Times, qtd. in...

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