Maybe we have to ask, ‘how does capitalism organize us so that it can recognize us?’ This question takes us to the realm of production and maintenance of identities under conditions of domination and control. It appears that who we are and what we become is determined. A new book, Anti-Oculus, studies the technologies of production of our selves or identity. This book names the practices that materially construct, produce and police the limits of embodied identities and potentialities of social becoming as ocularity. Ocularity is a practice of capture. It captures what one can be and what one cannot be in the eyes of recognition and recognizing power.
One practices ocularity by enclosing its subjects into ocular spaces. Ocular spaces are spaces that keep its subjects under the gaze of recognizing power. Foucault has identified, family, school, church, hospital and prison as ocular spaces of disciplinary societies. Ocular spaces are constructed and maintained by power and practices that sustains its boundaries, divisions and contours. An ocular space is a space of closed possibilities of identification. Such a space predetermines the practices of making our self. We are classified and categorized by ocular apparatus. Thus, we are recognized by it too. The web, artificial intelligence as well as the internet of things has produced several ocular spaces.
Ocular spaces do not welcome any deviation from them. It is its recognition mechanism that polices the boundaries of our self. They are forms of social recognition that police our bodies, thoughts and imagination. When ocularity operates optimally, these forms are proliferated and reinforced. Thus, we cannot easily rebel against the recognizing ocular practices that shape the making of our selves. This means counter-ocularity is difficult though not impossible. Non-ocular spaces, therefore, become threat to the societies of control.
The eye of ocularity is not passive. It does not simply see us as we are. It sees us in accordance to the pre-established standards of observation. It operates like the gaze of panopticon which prevents those under is visual scope from deviation. It sees us in the image and likeness of pre-established ways of seeing. This means it is blind to other things cannot read anything about us that it is untrained to see. In other words, it constitutes us as it captures us. Thus, it limits what bodies can do and what bodies are recognized as being able to do. In short, it polices what one can desire to be or become. Therefore, we have the challenge to be imperceptible to the eye of ocularity. This may enable us to withdraw from the eye of ocularity. It is not easy to escape the ocular eye. We keep our residue or traces of withdrawal or foot prints which are then analyzed by Big Data Analytics and directed back at us to manipulate us. This means we are put into a symopticon. We are put together and recognized as being hackable thought recognitive categories of Data Analytics and sold to the highest bidder.
Counter-ocular practices do not conform but transgress predeterminations of the ocular space. Such practices make us anti-Oculus. Anti-Oculus rejects the ocularity prescribed self-making. Anti-Oculus is one who choose good ocular practices that in turn dismantle the pre-established ocular practices. It occludes the established ocular practices. We have to embrace nomadic morality that become insurgent and refuses to conform to the modes of ocular self-creation imposed on us even without us knowing. We have to reject the recognitive compulsion for conformity as well as exclusivity of the ocular spaces. To do this we have to understand the recognitive categories and their modes operating on us in the ocular spaces. To be recognized is to be sized and given a place in the ocular space. Anti-Oculus does not accept this subject position given to him or her and embraces other possibilities of being in the world. When we see power non- hierarchically and non-linearly in Foucaultian sense of power as force relations can enable us to resist the power of ocularity.
The ocular spaces are smart spaces they have multiple categories to recognize us. When ocular practices loosely categorize people into broad categories of recognition such as people and rebels, such ocular practices are bound to fail. In contrast, high intensity ocular practices embody well defined recognitive categories that assist in the identification of the insurgents or rebels. Thus, high intensity ocular practices do a deep policing job. They make it extremely difficult to self-produce outside the ocular space This is because ocular practices do not just try to see into the heads of people but also stive to influence and organize their head into which ocularity recognizes a neurological instance of ocular categories.
Contemporary neurology exhibits neuro-plasticity (brains natural adaptiveness) and hence, it is possible therefore to speculate how recognitive forms can be cognitively and physically implanted. This means we have somatic markers that can be ocularly remolded to suit ocular -compliant schemas which thus enable the Big Data Analytics to recognize and hack individuals to serve business and political interest. The ocular culture with its high intensity ocular practices is interested in shaping the self-making of the individual even before the individual is born. This introduces the unborn individual into the ocular field that builds a narrative of life in which the said individual finds himself or herself.
This is why we have to resist ocularizing of our life by choosing to become an anti-Oculus in line with Deleuzean Anti-Oedipus. This resistance almost amounts to removal of one’s eyes. It means we have to embrace anti-ocular practices. These practices open us the possibilities of going outside the ocular play field. We need to embrace micro-political models of daily activism. We need endurance to resist the ocular invasion into our life. It leads us to embrace life as zoe (life force) and not bios (intelligent life or bio-logical). Intelligent and cultured life is already in the ocular space. It is highly anthropocentric. Zoe is non-anthropocentric life force. Embracing zoe can assist us to become imperceptible to the eye of ocularism. It is Nietzschean affirmation of ife. It lead us to affirmation of the plasticity of our brains which in its turn will help us to embrace life of an anti-Oculus.