Political Physiology in High School: Columbine and After

In this paper I investigate the mechanics of killing, brining together neuroscience, military history, and the work of the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari. Investigating the Columbine killers and the way they negotiate with the intensity of the act of killing allows me to construct a concept of “political physiology,” defined as “interlocking intensive processes that articulate the patterns, thresholds, and triggers of emergent bodies, forming assemblages linking the social and the somatic, with sometimes the subjective as intermediary.” While most people must be in a blind rage to kill at close range, the Columbine killers raised the threshold at which an evolutionarily inherited non-subjective “rage agent” kicks in, thus allowing themselves to be subjects in the act of killing. Yet they were not “cold-blooded killers,” either, those who lower the intensity of the act of killing below the threshold that prevents most interpersonal violence from reaching lethal proportions, since they committed suicide soon after their killing spree from burning out. The success of the Columbine killing machine warns us of a “machinic phylum” whose singularities are virtually available for incorporation into bodies by subjects willing to undergo extreme experiments in political physiology.
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