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This essay is a provocation, which seeks to determine the potential for lyric in the drone age. Prison and flight have long been important tropes for establishing the polarities of aesthetic constraint and liberty, but they also influence writing in more practical ways, as sites of literary production and ways of seeing. The airplane was particularly important in altering spatial perspectives and had far-reaching consequences for the visual arts. Gertrude Stein suggested that cubist landscapes approximated the view from an airplane. (1) Paul Virilio has written provocatively about the intimacy between aerial bombing and cinematic technique. (2) Planes are also an important influence on literary perspective (Time and Space, pp242-7). (3) Filippo Marinetti describes how:
   as I looked at objects from a new point of view, no longer head on
   or from behind, but straight down, foreshortened, that is, I was
   able to break apart the old shackles of logic and the plumb lines
   of the ancient way of thinking. (4)

The airplane produces a new vantage which leads Marinetti to fantasise about bombing language, seeking to 'destroy syntax and scatter one's nouns at random'. Planes are mythologised by Proust and Kafka as a form of the technological sublime, (5) or (in the famous skywriting scene in Woolf 's Mrs Dalloway) regarded by Mr Bentley as 'a symbol ... of man's soul; of his determination ... to get outside his body, beyond his house, by means of thought, Einstein, speculation, mathematics ...' (6) George Oppen worked as a tool and die maker for Grumman aircraft--later the company merged to form Northrup Grumman, producers of the Global Hawk drone. (7)

Since approximately 2010, many poets have engaged with drones in their lyrics, making use of drone operators' chatter, personifying drones (or robotising humans), and offering critiques of the destruction and alienation that drones produce. I will discuss a few of these projects, but the intention of this essay is not to offer a synopsis of poems about drones. Rather, it is to test what effect drones might have on the practice of committed lyric in a time of 'everywhere' war. To do this, I will summarise six ways in which drones are revolutionising perspective and relation, and suggest how they might be applied to the theorisation of contemporary poetry. My aim is not to sublimate the actual experience of assassination into an aesthetic topos; rather, I want to consider the limits of committed lyric through a detailed, materialist examination of the forms of warfare in which it is grounded.

Drones are an epochal technology, the consequence and drivers of profound changes to politics, law and warfare. They alter the way we see and relate to others, the way we conceive space and time. While drones continue to be scotomised by the US public, around the world they are a powerful symbol of US aggression. (8) Drones are the most conspicuous mechanism of American necropolitics, which Achille Mbembe defines as the sovereign power to dictate who may live and who must die. (9) They are also specifically related to carcerality, which has been a crucial metaphor for and site of poetic production for centuries. Although US prison populations have become grotesquely swollen since the early 1980s, in respect of foreign counterinsurgency operations, the US has moved to replace incarceration with assassination. Many historians have argued that the huge expansion of drone strikes under the Obama administration can be attributed to Obama's campaign pledge to close Guantanamo Bay and other US 'black sites'. Though rendition, military commissions and indefinite detention were preserved, Obama and his counterterrorism chief John Brennan pursued a policy of 'kill rather than capture' for suspected militants because--it is alleged --they did not want conspicuously to add to the numbers in Guantanamo. (10) (At the time of writing, Trump has tweeted his enthusiasm for expanding those numbers; his express aim to 'bomb the hell out of Isis' and kill the families of suspected 'terrorists' also makes him unlikely to scale back Obama's drone operations). (11)

This is not to say that drone executions have displaced the prison as the primary instrument of American and British aggression. Rather, drones have made whole territories in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan into open-air prisons. A Waziri man from Datta Khel says that many people there 'have lost their mental balance ... are just locked in a room. Just like you lock people in prison, they are locked in a room'. (12) Drones are a technology of carceral surveillance and punishment, and like the prison they manufacture self-policing subjects. They also resemble prisons in other ways, including their production of constant, inescapable noise. George Jackson described the clamour of an American prison as psychological torture:
   It destroys the logical processes of the mind, a man's thoughts
   become completely disorganised. The noise, madness streaming from
   every throat, frustrated sounds from the bars, metallic sounds from
   the walls, the steel trays, the iron beds bolted to the wall, the
   hollow sounds from a cast-iron sink or toilet. (13)

Similarly, many informants describe the ceaseless buzzing of drones overhead as a direct cause of mental suffering. A worker in Pakistan told the Atlantic:
   I can't sleep at night because when the drones are there ... I hear
   them making that sound, that noise. The drones are all over my
   brain, I can't sleep. When I hear the drones making that drone
   sound, I just turn on the light and sit there looking at the light.

Drones are an apparatus of visual surveillance whose threatening presence is conveyed sonically. Noting that drone videos on YouTube focus on the explosion (the money-shot), Nasser Hussain argues that 'the experience of drone strikes from the ground cannot be understood as a singular moment but as a structuring reality' of constant sound. (15) While the victim can only hear and not see the drone, for the drone operators the visual feed is silent. This 'lack of synchronic sound renders it a ghostly world in which the figures seem unalive, even before they are killed. The gaze hovers above in silence'. This silence, combined with the ubiquitous 'overhead shot' which prohibits an exchange of the gaze inhibits empathy and encourages the use of force.

Like prisons, drones also modify their inmates' behaviour. Parents keep their children home from school; people avoid praying together or shopping at markets; they stop going to funerals, having meals together, or offering hospitality. As 'signature strikes' often target people not because of their identity, but because they exhibit 'patterns of life' which are considered suspect (these include praying, or standing to urinate) (16) people have changed their habits of moving and socialising to avoid showing a lethal signature (Kill Chain, p225). (17) Drones thus devastate traditional cultures where political, religious and social life revolves around gathering, producing atomised units of besieged and paranoid individuals. (18)


Polls regularly affirm that the majority of Americans approve of drone use, and substantial outcries about their use are confined to invasions of privacy and threats to civilian airspace by hobby drones. Drones deliver pizzas, dry cleaning and engagement rings, and one day will drop Amazon purchases on your doorstep. Drones are ubiquitous in feature films, (19) documentaries (Kill/Capture [2011]; Tonje Schei's Drone [2014]; Unmanned: America's Drone Wars [2015]); and even an astonishing 'black comedy' called 'Bugsplat' which briefly aired on Channel 4 in 2015. Drone performance and visual art has also proliferated since 2010. Visual art projects include Axel Brechensbuaer's Peace Drone, designed to administer OxyContin in rural areas from a creepy, clown-faced drone which plays music, like an ice cream truck; Baden Pailthorpe's MQ-9 Reaper series animations; Adam Harvey's stealthware; James Bridle's 'Drone Shadows' and 'The Light of God' projects; Tomas van Houtryve's 'Blue Sky Days' project; ESSAM's NYPD Drone Campaign posters; Lisa Barnard's 'Whiplash Transition' films and photographs; video artist George Barber's 'The Freestone Drone'; Mona Kamal's 'Drones in Waziristan' rugs; Trevor Paglen's relational and performative photographic projects; Omer Fast's film Five Thousand Feet Is Best; and Jananne Al-Ani's video series 'Shadow Sites'. (20) ANOHNI's 2016 album Hopelessness included a track called 'Drone Bomb Me'; in the video, Naomi Campbell (dressed in a swimming costume and military gear) sits weeping on an execution chair.

Many of these projects are critical of the militarisation of perspective and the barbarity of targeted killing. Some also seek to intervene in drone operations themselves: for example, a collective of artist-activists printed vast images of victims of drone strikes and set them out in fields in the areas susceptible to drone surveillance (the project was called '#notabugsplat'). However, some movements such as the 'New Aesthetic' regard drones as a potentially radical technology which can inspire new artistic practices. A panel at South by Southwest in March 2012 introduced The New Aesthetic as part of a discussion of 'Seeing Like Digital Devices', which focussed on how digital vision, including drones, represent an irreversible and potentially positive aesthetic development. As Joanne McNeil puts it in her notes for her talk, 'Technology creates new ways of seeing--with every advance we move closer to understanding what the world is about. With progress come new points-of-view, new perspectives, new possibilities'. (21)

One artist who has engaged extensively with the filmic implications of drone technology, and its role in state surveillance, is Laura Poitras. Her 2016 'Astral Noise' show at the Whitney in New York included a work called 'Bed Down Location' (military jargon for the places where targets sleep). (22) It consists of a platform on which viewers lie back and look up at a ceiling-mounted screen where footage of skies above Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia is displayed. Reclining and looking at the heavens recalls the pastoralism of one of Poitras's collaborators, Trevor Paglen, who (in Julian Stallabrass's estimation):
   evoke[s] both the mathematical and the dynamic sublime in your
   satellite imagery, particularly in images of the night sky and of
   trails over pristine landscapes that evoke nineteenth-century
   landscape photographs of the American West. (23)

The sublimity of the pristine skyscapes is undermined however by the chatter of drone operators, quietly broadcast in the background of Poitras's installation. This noise, and a single overpass by a Predator drone in the video, warn the viewer of a baleful presence in the otherwise clear skies. The work temporarily positions the viewer on the side of those living under drones, rather than replicating the perspective of the operators which has been represented fulsomely on YouTube. It invites us to identify with the victims of drone warfare, allowing us to see with those who are normally seen, but at the same time aligning us with the operators we can hear (and whose voices are normally unheard). Poitras's exhibition concludes with a coup de theatre called 'Last Seen', a screen just near the exit which visualises current viewers of 'Bed Down Location' using heat-sensing cameras, alongside a screen which uses Sniffer software to pick up and broadcast the location and type of visitors' mobile devices.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the majority of artworks which respond to drone technology are visual. These works examine drones' radicalisation of viewing, seeing and being seen, and continue to register the effects of aerial technology on visual arts which began with Modernism. But there are also many textual engagements with drones and their ideology. Several poets have written drone poems to commemorate Barack Obama's 2012 inauguration, including 'To the Drone Vaguely Realising Eastward' by Michael Robbins, and Paul Muldoon's 'For Barack Obama, His Second Inauguration'. Teju Cole's Seven Short Stories about Drones is a twitter sequence which detournes literary texts by inserting drones into their narratives (e.g. 'Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was killed by a Predator drone'). (24) Harry Giles developed a collaborative performance poem with sound artist Neil Simpson called 'Drone', which tells 'the fragmented story of a military drone's lives and fears', personifying the aircraft 'as part weapons system, part office worker, part tense background hum'. (25) Maxine Chernoff 's poem 'Drones', which imagines the drone operator's overhead perspective to argue instead that 'the land has no boundaries, countries no borders. Objects of interest move on a grid'. (26) Chernoff 's poem annotates 'the ache of the past', a time when 'Fear was small and hovered on lips', whereas in the present age 'Surgeons of excision, men enact death's plans'. She suggests that the work of the poem is to remember and set limits to the perpetuity and pervasion of war, a 'small' gesture which can restore the bodies to the washed out grids across which 'objects' (men, women, animals) move as targets.

Catherine Taylor's prose-poem sequence 'Inanimate Subjects' depicts an anthropomorphised drone whose 'bulging head with its swivelling eye' may be looking at you, or you looking through it. (27) The latter perspective is provided by the speaker's brother, a drone pilot, whose disembodied experience of piloting the aircraft is held in tension with the embodiment of the drone, and the overhead perspective of the poet herself. Taylor uses the figure of the puppet to comment on the relation between the drone operator and 'his' aircraft, as well as the relation of citizens to their governments. She writes that the pleasure of puppets lies in the paradox that 'they seem to act on their own. Autonomous. Alive. Once we glimpse the master, the puppet becomes merely an object' (Inanimate Subjects, p45). She questions whether drone technology is itself an ethical problem, or merely a symptom of 'an autonomous state run amok' (p55). Sketching scenes of children watching puppet shows of varying malevolence, Taylor considers the emotional effects on viewers of these fictions of autonomy. Though much of the poem draws on substantial research into the legality and technology of automised warfare, the pleasures of watching require a more precise examination, as I will argue later in this essay.

Taylor's poem also reproduces some troubling, if familiar, justifications of drone war: war has always been unfair, and relied on technological advantages and camouflage; drones don't cause more 'collateral damage' than ordinary bombing. These culminate in the astonishing claim that:

perhaps one of the most significant things about drones isn't how they hide, but how they reveal our distaste for killing, or at least the killing of innocents. In this way, we might see drones as an ironically effective tool for peace-making if they can disclose that what their opponents oppose is not drones per se but unjust war. (Inanimate Subjects, p50).

This position is the consequence of considering drones not as a technology which creates intrinsic ethical problems, but simply as an indifferent tool. Taylor's text hopes that although not everyone will care about 'collateral damage' inflicted abroad, Americans might be moved to a selfish recognition that drones could pose a domestic threat: 'everyone can share the fear that the kill chain will end with us' (p56). The poem does not in itself work to overcome this indifference to foreign death. Instead, it concludes with a fantasy of
   put[ting] away the plaything of this metaphor in favor of a more
   active one, something that reminds us of the ways in which we are
   not puppets and that drones are not our masters, but we theirs.
   Maybe I'll cut the strings and turn all these puppets into
   effigies. Effigies are puppets that burn. (p59)

But this revolutionary fantasy is based on an overestimation of the poem's own capacity for surrogacy or metaphoric substitution. In a poem, drones can easily become puppets:
   You can substitute a text for puppet.
   You can substitute a bomb for a text.
   You can substitute a swarm for a self (p51).

But who is this 'you' who can make these substitutions? Anyone with an imagination? Or, the privileged producer or reader of committed Anglophone lyric poetry? It is hard to imagine how such capacities for poetic substitution might be meaningful to the people targeted by drones. Rather, the fantasy of unlimited autonomous creative power in the derided field of poetic operations is consistent with the ideology which underpins drones: the poet, safe from harm, can perform her prosthetic acts of viewing and intervention, contemplating their consequences and ethics in the abstract, far from any actual encounter with her objects. The substitution of 'a bomb for a text' is anyway quite a specialised act of displacement, a form of cunning which may be essential to turning puppets into revolutionary things that burn, but in which the poem itself does not instruct us.

Taylor's poem attempts to engage with the legal and ethical complexities of drone operations, but it is limited by its failure to acknowledge that its perspective replicates that of the object of its critique. Jena Osman's book Public Figures is more successful in challenging imperialist warfare, specifically by problematising surveillance in the drone age through an artistic intervention in an American city. (28) Osman's text integrates found text from drone operators' chatrooms with photographs taken by a camera rigged up to replicate the perspective of statues of war heroes around Philadelphia. The text works to resist the heroic gaze and our habituation as citizens to the ubiquity of armed icons. Recognising the near-impossibility for Anglo-American poets of representing the perspective of people targeted by drones, Osman instead reveals how Philadelphians are both symbolically and actually the objects of a historical, militarised gaze.

As Osman's poem shows, the committed poet must acknowledge her complicity in the exclusion of the people most directly affected by drone warfare from the 'distribution of the sensible', which Jacques Ranciere calls 'this distribution and redistribution of places and identities, this apportioning and reapportioning of spaces and times, of the visible and the invisible, of noise and speech'. Ranciere has repeatedly insisted that 'the whole question' of politics is 'to know who possesses speech and who merely possesses voice':
   Politics occurs when those who 'have no' time take the time
   necessary to front up as inhabitants of a common space and
   demonstrate that their mouths really do emit speech capable of
   making pronouncements on the common which cannot be reduced to
   voices signalling pain. (29)

Drone poetics extend beyond the products of individuals who can lay claim to the leisure required to produce aesthetic objects and imagine metaphoric substitutions, and a media context in which the voices of the victims are translated as untranslatable trauma. Drone poetics must take into account what Gil Hochberg calls 'hypervisibility'. Describing the subjection of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories to Israeli surveillance, and the visualisation of their suffering by the global news media as 'an instrument meant to facilitate the ethical responses of others,' Hochberg argues that the problem for committed artists is how to challenge
   the dominant modes of representations through which the very
   visibility of others' suffering remains nothing but a spectacle,
   providing at best a momentary source of ethical speculation and, at
   worst, a source of voyeuristic pleasure. (30)

This challenge requires an examination of the specific nature of the voyeuristic pleasure which drones liberate. But it also requires a recognition that the privileged artist in many ways replicates the perspectives and prosthetic violence which characterise drone operations, and that this relation between the artist and her objects cannot be simply inverted or wished away through acts of imperialising empathy.

This recognition is at the heart of my final example of a drone text, a sequence of poems which draws on the Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms for its vocabulary, and on both surveillance and family photographs for its imagery: Solmaz Sharif 's Look. (31) In that dictionary, a 'look' is not a form of the gaze which constitutes an ethics of engaging with the Other, but 'a period during which a mine circuit is receptive of an influence'. Sharif draws on her own Iranian heritage, and juxtaposes the destructive militarised gaze with less remote acts of looking: at family photographs of an uncle peeling apples in a military camp during the Iran-Iraq wars (Look, p79), at a video of her father (p39), at the demolished houses of the 'martyrs' (p63) and the scattered effects of the dead. These visualisations are however entirely permeated by the military language, signalled in the book as a literal capitalisation of what seem like ordinary words that have been transmuted into much more sinister meanings as military jargon. This device shows how militarisation permeates ordinary speech: as Sharif writes about the disappearance of 'drone' from a later version of the Dictionary, 'the military definition is no longer a supplement to the English language, but the English language itself ' (p95). This penetration of reality by the diction of war is also the inverse of the erasure of terms of intimacy from censored letters to prisoners of war in 'Reaching Guantanamo' (pp 49-51).

The mutation of intimacy in the presence of the military gaze is one of the book's major themes. In the opening poem, 'Look', the tender conversations of lovers are interspersed with references to drone operations:

Whereas years after they LOOK down from their jets and declare my mother's Abadan block PROBABLY DESTROYED, we walked by the villas, the faces of buildings torn off into dioramas, and recorded it on a handheld camcorder;

Whereas it could take as long as 16 seconds between the trigger pulled in Las Vegas and the Hellfire missile landing in Mazar-e-Sharif, after which they will ask themselves Did we hit a child? No. A Dog. they will answer themselves; [...]

Whereas the lover made my heat rise, rise so that if heat sensors were trained on me, they could read my THERMAL SHADOW through the roof and through the wardrobe; (Look, p3)

This reading of the body's erotic heat is not a poetic fiction, but (as I'll explain in a moment) an actual aspect of the perverse intimacy of drone operations. The poem concludes with the wish: 'Let it be the exquisite face for at least 16 seconds. / Let me LOOK at you. / Let me LOOK at you in a light that takes years to get here' (p5). The poem carves out the briefest of interludes for the exchange of gazes, a moment which is expanded both by being bathed in the slow time of starlight, and as the pause before impact.

Sharif's book does not only stage the exquisite intensities of victimhood; the speaker is elsewhere also a perpetrator ('You begin to appreciate / the heft of your boot soles, / [...] how they can kick in / a face--', (p60), or capable of exchanging gazes with power:
   peepholes without a lens

   so when the GUARD comes to inspect me,
   I inspect him.

   Touch me, you said.

   And through that opening

   I did. (p29)

Here, the 'you' is both an intimate interlocutor--a lover or family member --and the guard; the 'opening' is both the portal in a cell door, a camera aperture, and an opening in the body. (Lisa Guenther has written about the cuffport as both a mouth and an anus, a site of interchange for prisoner whose full participation in intercorporeality has been blocked). (32) The poem neither wholly circumvents, nor wholly surrenders, this desire to be touched, physically or emotionally, to this mediating carceral structure of surveillance.

Look makes use of military diction in order to challenge the technologies of perception and tyranny which are epitomised by drones. It carves out spaces for poetic reflection and memory in both the position of the object and subject of the militarised gaze, making trauma visible without turning it into spectacle. The remainder of this essay outlines a drone poetics which engages with the perceptual, legal and phenomenological specificities of drones and brings them to bear on a reconceptualisation of lyric form and relation. This essay does not allege that the aporias of the committed lyric can be fixed by a more empathetic (but still ventriloquized) representation of the voices of the victims, or only written by those--like Sharif--whose personal or familial histories are marked by a direct engagement with military violence. Rather, it contends that drones are a historic development which demonstrate the limits of lyric as a technology for imagining and relating to those others whose suppression is part of the general economy in which poetry can be written.


The drone operator's target is called an Object, and given a code name, a carceral procedure which replaces the person's individuality with an institutional identity. Targeted killing is a kind of lethal retrospective interpellation: simply by virtue of being a military-age male, or having been killed, the object is convicted as a combatant. The targeting process also produces a legal innovation, in which war is regarded not as aggression against enemies as a corporate body but as individuals--putting 'warheads on foreheads'. Samuel Issacharoff and Richard Pildesi argue that this individuation of guilt makes targeted killing more like an extrajudicial execution or police action than an act of war. Whereas traditionally the enemy was defined:
   not because of any specific actions he himself engaged in, but
   because he was a member of an opposing army--we are instead now
   moving to a world which implicitly or explicitly requires the
   individuation of personal responsibility of specific 'enemy'
   persons before the use of military force is considered justified,
   at least as a moral and political matter. (33)

For this reason, the use of the AUMF (Authorisation for Use of Military Force) as a legal justification for continuing US drone attacks has been widely criticised. (34) Derek Gregory also notes the paradox that while the enemy is individuated, the targeters and drone operators retain the traditional corporate status (and anonymity) accorded by the nation-state which has declared war. (35) For victims of drone attacks, there is also no trace of accountability. (36) This lack of accountability is typical of the U.S'.s refusal to make reparations for war crimes or hold its service personnel accountable for their crimes or mistakes. It also means that victims and their families cannot prove their innocence, having been convicted retrospectively by the mere fact of being killed.

The remoteness of areas where drones strike also inhibit reporting of their effects on people on the ground. The British Ministry of Defence argued that it could not estimate casualties 'because of the immense difficulty and risks that would be involved in collecting robust data' (Drone Warfare, p27).

No (news) organisation wants to spend money on tribal journalists, and these people are living in conflicted zones. There are meagre resources. These areas are informational black holes. This is ilaqa ghair [out-of-bounds territory]. (37)

The informational black hole also recalls standard psychoanalytic theories of trauma. Drawing on Freud's account of war neurosis in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Hochberg has argued that traumatic witnessing is felt as a gap or a hole in experience, in part because the traumatic event produces a momentary shutdown of the senses, especially the eyes. (38) She contends that trauma is innately scopic, but that 'the traumatised individual appears to be caught in a vicious cycle of repeated failed witnessing' and attempt to overcome the failure to see (Trauma, p142).

Alongside this traumatic gap in witnessing, the 'black hole' where victims' testimony (and viewers' empathy) should be mirrors an emptiness in the viewing subject (the drone operator). Practically, this viewer is invisible; but in Lacanian terms, he vanishes when he is looked back at by the objects of his own gaze. This viewing subject projects his disappearance onto the ilaqa ghair, decrees it a terra nullius inhabited only by criminals and their spectres. Describing the Afghan landscape from his 'God's-eye view' three hundred miles up, drone operator Lt. Col. Mark McCurley waxes poetic:
   Deep valleys cut through the region like unhealed wounds. Small
   settlements spotted the terraced slopes at odd intervals. Dirt
   roads snaked through and around the ruined landscape, providing the
   only means of contact with the villages. (39)

The valley is an untreated, unhealed body; the landscape becomes a Kleinian array of primitive experiences of death-dealing and libidinal desire. Its emptiness also conveys a perspective which cannot find value in pre-capitalist landscapes and their inhabitants. As Moqbel Abdullah Ali al-Jarraah, a villager from Silat al-Jarraah, where a January 23, 2013 U.S. airstrike hit a civilian house, observed: 'I believe that America is testing its lethal inventions in our poor villages, because [it] cannot afford to do so at any place where human life has value. Here, we are without value'. (40)


At extreme distances, there is essentially no such thing as depth of field.--Trevor Paglen

McCurley's description epitomises what Nicholas Mirzoeff has analysed as the regime of 'visuality', a term which relates to the heroic leader's capacity to 'visualise history to sustain autocratic authority'. (41) Visuality collapses the complexities of the battlefield into a single domain which can be mastered by the commander. This permits the operator to experience the work of surveillance as a form of divine detachment and omniscience. In actuality, drone visuality is undermined by limited bandwidth, interruptions and delays in satellite transmission, 'latency' (not Freudian Nachtraglichkeit but the gap between real time and transmitted time), 'blinking' (when a drone needs to move and another one cannot replace it immediately), resource constraints, and the 'soda straw' effect (the drone camera's inability to visualise more than a small proportion of the total field).

Nasser Hussain, whose remarks on the silence of the drone's visual feed I cited earlier, describes the ethical consequences of drone visuality:
   The camera angle is always the same: the overhead shot. By
   definition, the overhead shot excludes the shot/reverse shot, the
   series of frontal angles and edits that make up face-to-face
   dialogue. With the overhead shot, there is no possibility of
   returning the gaze. (42)

Yet there is some evidence that the drone's panoptic visuality can be challenged. Tellingly, drone operators are trained to look for 'eyes' in the visual field, in order to find the places where improvised explosive devices have been buried:
   He saw an eye, a shape in the asphalt. "I knew the eye from the
   training," he says. To bury an improvised explosive device in the
   road, the enemy combatants place a tire on the road and burn it to
   soften the asphalt. Afterwards it looks like an eye from above.

McCurley also writes about the uncanny realisation that 'the face of your enemy was staring back at you in high-definition' (Hunter Killer, p134). On one mission, 'The pixels on the screen sharpened and I could make out the folds in his clothes.... In the HUD, it seemed like he was looking right at us. His gaze was locked in the targeting pod for a brief moment before he ran' (pp130-1). He complains of the psychic costs of such moments of visual intimacy: 'our targeting pods not only showed us everything, but also lingered over the carnage, searing the images into our brains' (p134). However, he argues that drone operators 'didn't lack humanity' because they 'took those images home' (p135), transgressing the split between the theatre of operations and civilian life which is supposed to insulate them against anxiety.


Drones enforce structures of splitting and compartmentalisation. On a practical level, flight control is managed through 'split operations', with local crews in places like Chabelley Air Field or Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti overseeing take-off and landing, before transferring flight control to remote bases, the most well-known of which is Creech Air Force base outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, where crews operate from small mobile units in modified shipping containers. There is also the splitting of the operator's presence which prosthetic violence entails. Gregoire Chamayou has explored the phenomenological implications of 'tele-presence', or working in two places at once:
   faced with mixed and overlapping experiences of presence that are
   both local and distant, their problem is to cope, in a coherent
   fashion, with the horizons of this experience of a mixed reality.
   They do not take one reality for the other but take the one
   together with and within the other. There is not so much confusion,
   but rather an embedding, a partial superimposition or a problematic
   interarticulation between the two. Their experience is not of being
   captured in a particular presence, but rather of having two
   presences, the one on top of the other. (44)

Chamayou suggests that this embedding is experienced by drone operators as a duplication of presence or self; but drone operators also repeatedly attest to the necessity of splitting as compensation for such doubling in their labour. Many pilots speak of the problem of rapidly crossing between their day-jobs at war and their home life. (45) One drone operator speaks of the 'strange sensation' of stepping out of the Ground Control Station and realising,

'Ok, I am not there'. I'll go meet my wife for lunch. I'll step out from doing a mission and go off to my child's soccer game. So, I am there and then I am not there and then I am there again, an adjustment which can take only ten minutes--'it's really that fast'. 'How do you operate in two different worlds? You compartmentalise'. (Drone Wars, p117)

Splitting is thus not only an operational mechanism; it is also a psychic adaptation.

Without alleging any equality between these situations, I would note that compartmentalisation is also intrinsic to colonial occupation. Frantz Fanon describes the colonial world as a 'world divided into compartments', its zones for settler and native occupation strictly policed. (46) The difference is that soldiers can freely cross between military and civilian zones. At the same time, the very fact of drones overhead erases any distinction between military and civilian zones in whole areas such as the FATA between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The privilege of containing harm within a split-off part of the psyche, or splitting the geography of war and home, is not universal.

The military faces significant challenges in recruiting and retaining drone operators, in part because remote operations are not considered as honourable as direct engagement in combat; drone pilots are even represented as 'castrated' fighter pilots. (46) The work's stresses include hours upon hours of unalleviated boredom, followed by momentary flashes of adrenaline. (47) They resemble what Sianne Ngai calls 'stuplimity': 'a state of emotional deficiency paradoxically invoked in tandem with the emotional excess of shock or intense astonishment', in which dysphoria mixes with dread or awe. (48) Increasingly, drone operators are said to be suffering from PTSD. Chamayou suggests that the risks of PTSD have been magnified in order to prove that this work is honourable because psychologically, if not physically, dangerous (Drone Theory, p107). It is on this basis that drone operators have lobbied for combat pay and bravery awards (Kill Chain, p7). Drone crews are also alleged to suffer from a controversial condition sometimes known as 'perpetrator's trauma', in which the person who commits a violent act suffers a 'moral injury' to their self-identity. (49)


Drone operations also distort conventional notions of time and space. The AUMF offers no temporal or spatial limits on executive's ability to target suspected terrorists. Moreover, whereas criminal law adjudicates on past events, targeted killings are largely oriented toward the elimination of risk in the future. The White House has said that it will use lethal force 'only to prevent or stop attacks against U.S. persons' and 'only against a target that poses a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons'. (50) As John Brennan admitted, 'We are finding increasing recognition in the international community that a more flexible understanding of "imminence" may be appropriate when dealing with terrorist groups'. (53) This extension of imminence into perpetuity--the expansion of the now--is matched by a distention of the spatial boundaries which conventionally define the theatre of operations, into what Gregory calls an 'everywhere war'. Andrew Cockburn quotes General Joseph Votel, commander of JSOC, who admitted that 'Since we can no longer draw a box on a map and say that's where the problem is, we must be everywhere, in the sense that we must be able to find the threat anywhere on the planet' (Kill Chain, p247): necropolitics expanded to a zone unbounded in time or space.

Another spatial effect which has been developed by drone operations is the reconceptualisation of the traditional two-dimensional field of battle as a deterritorialised three-dimensional space of performance, a kill box, which corresponds to what Eyal Weitzman describes as the 'politics of verticality'. (51) The kill box is a specific tactical concept. The military defines it as a 'joint terrain reference system that may be used as a tool to facilitate rapid attacks'. (52) Its primary purpose 'is to allow lethal attack against surface targets without further coordination with the establishing commander and without terminal attack control' and to ensure 'maximum flexibility while preventing fratricide'. A kill box can be opened, activated, and closed without the restrictions of conventional warfare on engaging at 'fronts' or in legally delimited zones of conflict. Chamayou describes kill boxes as 'temporary lethal microcubes' which can be opened 'wherever an individual identified as a legitimate target has been located' (Kill Chain, p56). The body of the individual might itself become a kill box, he argues, a miniaturisation of the field of fire which is at the same time extended 'to take in whole world'.

   mon desir est la sur quoi je tire

   (Apollinaire, 'Lueurs des Tirs', Calligrammes)

The perpetuity and expansion of the war on terror is admitted in the metaphor, used by many counterterrorism experts, which equates killing 'bad guys' to 'mowing the lawn'. (53) As a former CIA analyst told the Washington Post, 'The problem with the drone is it's like your lawn mower. You've got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back'. (54) This image of constant, instinctive killing helps to counteract the intense libidinal exchange between operators and the visualisation of their targets which seems to be a regular consequence of drone surveillance. Operators refer to 'Pred porn' or 'Pred crack', reflecting the addictive nature of viewing 'Kill TV', the large plasma screens on office walls where video footage of air strikes and raiding parties streams. (55) These screens are watched by many members of the command hierarchy; lowly operators can feel their performances being scrutinised by (and enjoyed) by the military's big Other.

Another consequence of the drone's distortion of spatiality is that, despite their enormous distances from their targets, many operators speak of the space between themselves and the object as miniscule--18 inches, or the distance from face to screen. As Col. Pete Gersten told a reporter, 'You're 8000 miles away. What's the big deal? But it's not 8000 miles away. It's 18 inches away ...' (56) This artificial intimacy produces a feeling of exciting risk, even though the operator is safely segregated from the scene of violence. McCurley describes watching the video feed and feeling 'like a voyeur peeking through the curtain into another pilot's cockpit' (Hunter Killer, p59). In his famous anecdote of the keyhole, Jean-Paul Sartre stresses how it is the moment of being discovered which produces the 'irruption of the self' in a consciousness which, in the act of pure looking, is both unconstrained and lost in the world. (57) The shame, judgement and threat represented by this look--the look that catches me in the act--produces myself as an object for others, and reveals the Other's freedom 'across the uneasy determination of the being which I am for him' (p262). The existential consequences of becoming the object of the Other's gaze may be addressed in the context of drone warfare through the diagnosis of PTSD, but as I'll argue presently, they also return in the mythological names given to operations.

While the money shots of target obliteration may be most exciting for viewers, for most of the time these screens reveal nothing more than the mundane details of distant existences. The long duration of these operations allows time for reflection and familiarity with the target to develop. For military commanders, intimacy with the target is not an ethical opportunity but an operational obstacle. As Col. Hernando Ortega, who conducted a study on drone pilot stress, told the New York Times, 'You might gain a level of familiarity [through constant watching] that makes it a little difficult to pull the trigger'. (58) One commander testified:

Flying an RPA, you start to understand people in other countries based on their day-to-day patterns of life. A person wakes up, they do this, they greet their friends this way, etc. You become immersed in their life. You feel like you are a part of what they're doing every single day. So, even if you're not emotionally engaged with those individuals, you become a little bit attached. I have learned about Afghan culture this way (Drone Wars p116).

This pilot presumes that visuality conveys cultural understanding, and elides the top-down perspective of the drone camera with 'immersion' in local life. Operators also identify with their objects through the recognition of shared routines. They even witness the private sexual moments of their objects: one pilot described watching two heat signatures become one on his screen (Dreams).

The ambivalence of power achieved through invisible surveillance recalls Plato's fable of the ring of Gyges (Drone Warfare, pp109-12). As Ranciere reminds us, Plato modifies the fable originally told by Herodotus: in that version, Gyges was a captain of the guard who was invited by a king to spy on his beautiful wife as she undressed (Aesthetics, p92). The wife revenged herself on her husband by seducing Gyges and arming him against the sovereign. In the case of drone operations, there is so far little evidence, unfortunately, that their intimacy with their objects will lead US military crews to rebellion. But the fear that intimate surveillance might destroy the viewer is implicit in the mythologisation of drones.


Like the ring of Gyges, drones convey an almost magical power and aggrandise the egos of those who operate them. In some cases the technological advantage they represent makes men think of themselves as gods. Operators call the laser used to guide ground and local air support to a target 'the light of God'. Former JSOC commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal observed that victims are 'being shot at like thunderbolts from the sky by an entity that is acting as though they have omniscience and omnipotence' (Death by Drone, p7). Another pilot described himself as a quasi-divine figure:
   I knew people down there. Each day through my camera I snooped
   around and came to recognise the faces and figures of our soldiers
   and marines, unbeknownst to most of them ... I truly felt a bit
   like an omnipotent god with a god's seat above it all. (59)

Complementing the self-proclaimed divinity of drone visuality, the military has consistently drawn on mythology to advertise its technical innovations. An early precedent for drone warfare was Project Aphrodite, 'a scheme to fly remote-controlled B24 bombers packed with explosives into German submarine pens' during World War Two (Kill Chain, p24). The name invokes the goddess of love, who is trapped by her husband--the god of technology --in a net, while she trysts with Ares, the god of war.

Another myth which is well suited to the iconography of drone warfare is that of Actaeon and Diana. Artemis is a favoured icon for developers: there is the Artemis Drone Worx Project, 'a conglomeration of two Corporations who want to make a difference' who have developed aviation technology for the US Army, Air Force and Marines and the Ministry of the Interior of Saudi Arabia; (60) Airbus's Shadow M2 drone was rebaptised 'Artemis' when it was sold to the French military; (61) and there are various personal and agricultural drones also by that name. According to J-P Vernant, the myth of Artemis was invoked in initiation rituals which patrolled the boundaries between civic territory and wild or uncultivated lands. (62) The myth has powerful resonances with drone operations: Actaeon's secret surveillance of the goddess leads to his transformation into an animal which can be hunted down and destroyed; Artemis patrols the boundaries between the American imperium and the ilaqa ghair. Drone warfare is explicitly described as a form of hunting: in 2004 the US Air Force's commissioned new 'hunter/killer remotely operated aircraft'--terms adopted and still used today for its unmanned aerial systems programme. (63) Hunting is also implicit in an aide's disturbing comment about Obama, who oversaw two drone strikes just days after his inauguration: 'He's been blooded, just like you would a hunting dog' (Kill Chain, p225).

However, whereas in the myth it is the voyeur who is transformed into an animal and hunted down by the female goddess, drone mythology justifies watching and reclaims hunting as a masculine prerogative. It is the seductive other, simultaneously desired and castrated by the phallic aggression of the drone, who is destroyed by the gaze, not the viewer. Drone hunting also has the asymmetrical character of colonial warfare in which, Mbembe argues, 'savage life is just another form of animal life, a horrifying experience, something alien beyond imagination or comprehension' (p24). Drone victims are referred to as 'slants', bugs ('bugsplat'; 'It really is like swatting flies. We can do it forever easily and you feel nothing' (64); 'they infest urban areas and hide among the civilian populations' [cited in Kill Chain, p170]), and rats (Predator, p49). This military demotic also works to undercut the intimacy with the object which is an operational risk of drone surveillance.

The Medusa is another scopic myth which has been invoked by a high-profile drone project. Gorgon's Stare is a system of long-durational drone surveillance designed to overcome the problems of 'blinking'. It promises comprehensive coverage of entire towns (though early tests have not been promising), constructing a panopticon in which 'there will be no way for the adversary to know what we're looking at, and we can see everything'. (65) The Medusa, the only mortal sister among the Gorgons, turned people to stone with her gaze, and was defeated by Perseus who only looked at her through a reflection in his shield. Vernant contrasts the Gorgon with Artemis. While Artemis is a figure who presides over the horizontal boundaries of the wild and the cultivated, the Gorgon incarnates an opposing form of alterity which 'operates according to a vertical axis' (emphasis mine) within the city and 'wrenches humans away from their lives and themselves, [...] to cast them down into the confusion and horror of chaos' (Medusa Reader, p211). Noting that the Gorgon is always depicted frontally, Vernant argues that confronting the power of death which she represents entails a risk of becoming fascinated: 'To see the Gorgon is to look her in the eyes and, in the exchange of gazes, to cease to be oneself, a living being, and to become like her, a Power of death' (p220). This mythic reading of the 'violent separation from the self' initiated by a face-to-face confrontation with radical alterity which produces 'an utter disorientation in the midst of intimacy and contact' is also a consequence of drone operations, in which the operator becomes part of a prosthesis of death.

Freud famously interpreted the Medusa as a castrating figure whose face and snaky locks represented the female genitals. It was an interpretation he owed to Ferenczi, who argued that the serpents signified the absence of the penis (castration), and the 'fearful and alarming staring eyes of the Medusa head have also the secondary meaning of erection'. (66) Within the Oedipal dynamic, Freud argues, a glimpse of the maternal genitals turns the boy to stone--either paralysing him or eliciting an erection. Freud describes the erection as a 'consolation', an emblem of defiance which assures the spectator that 'he is still in possession of a penis'. To look at the Gorgon is to be petrified, but petrification in Freud's reading is not destruction, but rather the defiant assertion of masculinity. Of course, in the myth Perseus is not castrated, but triumphs over the Medusa by decapitating her. The boy's Oedipal violence and castration anxiety conclude with the splitting not of his psyche but of her body from her head, which the hero then weaponises.

Freud's reading of the Gorgon, despites its disturbing characterisation of the female genitals as horrifying (and its ludicrous erectile defiance), readily suits the drone contexts I have set out: the ambivalence of scopophilia, the fear that prosthetic violence implies a kind of castration, the libidinal attachment to the object of the gaze and the need to reassert a violent phallic dominance of that object. But its scopic elements require further elaboration. Drawing on Merleau-Ponty and Callois' Meduse et compagnie, Lacan distinguishes between the eye and the gaze. (67) Like Freud, Lacan notes that the Medusa's face was taken as an apotropaic symbol of conquest to cover the shield, deflecting blows and gazes from 'the eye filled with voracity, the evil eye'. (68) In typically Hegelian terms (but also drawing on Sartre's keyhole paradigm), he also depicts the dialectic of lordship and bondage as a visual contest, in which the struggle produces recognition of those aspects of the self which are materialised in the other, or those aspects of the other which are introjected into the self. Lacan argues that 'in the scopic field, everything is articulated between two terms that act in an antinomic way--on the side of things, there is the gaze, that is to say, things look at me, and yet I see them' (Four, p109). In these late essays Lacan returns to the grounds of his theory of the mirror stage, but emphasises the importance of the gaze which institutes us as 'beings that are looked at' (p75), by another, but also by the big Other and things. This gaze paradoxically entails not the creation of the subject, but his disappearance: 'From the moment that this gaze appears, the subject tries to adapt himself to it, he becomes that punctiform object, that point of vanishing being with which the subject confuses his own failure' (p83). Vanishing is not a consolation, but the initiation of the subject into the Symbolic as a castrated object, driven by desire for the objet a, the lack which constitutes him. Thus the gaze reproduces the split in the subject, drawing him into a violent visual conflict which for Lacan is signified by the evil eye, 'that which has the effect of arresting movement and, literally, of killing life' (p118).

In terms of this discussion, the fear of castration which many drone pilots associate with the loss of their status as fighters (and the potential struggle to the death of combat missions) is already implicit in their act of viewing--and being viewed by the military big Other, on Kill TV. Drone surveillance is a literalisation of the evil eye, the gaze which kills. It splits the subject into a person attempting to live honourably at home, and an operator of prosthetic violence abroad. He dwells simultaneously in two worlds: the world of the local military order, and the distant landscape peopled by pure aggression and desire. At the same time, the attempt to know the target through visual surveillance produces a false intimacy from which the object--the Afghani, Yemeni, or Pakistani person targeted, often for arbitrary reasons--constantly disappears, either through their inaccessibility as witness to their own trauma, or their obliteration by a Hellfire missile.


The six phenomenological particularities of drone operations which I have drawn out are intended to prompt a consideration of what the new cynegetic and carceral technology of the drone reveals about the committed lyric. They urge us to confront the possibility that our lyric poems are kill boxes: mobile spaces of predation in which relations of intimate force can be arbitrarily established while ensuring minimal damage to other friendlies; miniaturised states of exception which can be opened and closed at will. Lyric gives the impression that it can collapse spatial and temporal distances. The lyric allows us to zoom in on opportunistically selected objects from the safe containers of a 'radical' aesthetic. This liberatory power is both real, and a part of an economy of globalised domination by those nations which, according to Hegel, have achieved a certain stage of historical development, freeing their poets to 'accept the principle of particularisation and individualisation'. (69) Particularisation and individualisation are not just basic human rights, but also tactical concepts imposed on people who have the misfortune to become military 'Objects'. If we take our individuation for granted, we might reflect on how sheltering in the corporate identity of 'poetry' prevents us from being held accountable for how we use these objects. But the targets on which we alight in order to write our poems are not accidental and arbitrarily chosen, or rather, the right accidentally to choose an object is not arbitrary. If committed lyric attempts to make its critiques of capitalism and militarisation through the appropriation of objects who cannot see us, and who cannot assert their own identity against our projections of poetic power, then the relation we are establishing is not one of commonality but of domination.

Drone poetics tricks us into believing that we are omniscient beings, diviners, foreseers, and prophets, freely ranging within the zodiac of our own wits. It transgresses the conventional boundaries of space and time, filling history with the imminence of its 'now' and mapping every terrain as an opportunity for intervention. It presumes that a top-down perspective allows us to know everything: foreign cultures, personal interactions, internal spaces, and the whole of the past, present and future. At the same time, it privileges the notions of intimacy, immersion in daily life and erotic attachment so intensely that it projects these subjective experiences deep into spaces with which it has no actual familiarity. This is a regime of visuality, not immersion. From the ground, the drone is experienced not as an intimate participant in social life, but as a constant noise.

In military, pornographic or poetic contexts, the fantasy that we dominate the objects of our gaze actually recoils against us, revealing the emptiness or petrification of our subject positions. That recoil is existential and operational: a consequence of 'blinking', the failure to gather testimony, the latency of signal and trauma, and the capacity of the object to look at and derange the viewer. But these limits to the hypervisibility of the subaltern should also encompass what Edouard Glissant refers to as the 'right to opacity', 'the opacity of the diverse animating the imagined transparency of Relation'. (70) Transgressing against that right in the interests of a critique of capitalism or imperialism, the committed lyric produces its universalism by risking contributing to a regime which recognises others not as political agents but as beings whose mouths only emit cries of pain (and so whose sounds will benefit from being translated into the language of the poem). Attempts to co-ordinate our lamentations only at the level of content, while using forms of observance and address which reproduce the I-thou structure in which lyric has historically held its objects as erotic others whose absence or silence enables the production of the poem, of course do nothing to derange that regime.

Drone visuality interpellates its objects as criminals and animals in order to destroy them, and to hold at bay the fear that this regime of surveillance and domination also threatens to destroy the viewer the minute we stop 'mowing the lawn': or at the very least, that the little hole in the eye shows more than the fused heat signatures of others, that it 'Has exposed us naked / To the world', as one Grumman employee wrote. (71) This threat of destruction or castration urges us to obliterate the other before he can turn us to stone. But apart from a capacity to empathise, it is only the fact of this perpetual ability to destroy which tells us that we are not already ossified. We fear that our poems are nothing more than epitaphs. Finally the lyric poet who claims a heroic capacity to confront the gods of militarisation must recognise her empathy for the other also includes her symmetry with the power of death. The best she can do is not to attempt to police the boundary of civility and wilderness, but to demonstrate the confusion and horror which permeates her own city, a reality which the exercise of prosthetic violence brings out of virtuality into proximity and which contradicts the imperialist ideology which seeks to compartmentalise geographies and psyches, or to contain them in lethal boxes.

DOI: 10.3898/NEWF:89/90.07.2016

Andrea Brady is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Queen Mary University of London. Her publications include English Funerary Elegy in the Seventeenth Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), The Uses of the Future in Early Modern Europe (co-edited with Emily Butterworth, Routledge, 2009), and several books of poetry, including Cut from the Rushes (Reality Street, 2013), Mutability: Scripts for Infancy (Seagull, 2012), and Wildfire: A Verse Essay on Obscurity and Illumination (Krupskaya, 2010), as well as many articles on early modern and contemporary poetry, especially ritual, the intersection between poetry and politics, mourning, and women's writing.

(1.) Stephen Kern, The Culture of Time and Space, 1880-1918, Cambridge, Harvard UP, 2003, p245. (Hereafter Time and Space).

(2.) Paul Virilio, War and Cinema, The Logistics of Perception, (trans) Patrick Camiller, London and New York, Verso, 1989.

(3.) Laurence Goldstein, 'The Airplane and American Literature', in The Airplane in American Culture, Dominick Pisano (ed.), Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 2003; Anne Collins Goodyear, 'The Effect of Flight on Art in the Twentieth Century', Reconsidering a Century of Flight, Roger D. Launius and Janet R. Daly (eds), Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2003, pp223-41.

(4.) Filippo Marinetti, 'Technical Manifesto of Futurist Literature', Documents of Twentieth-Century Art: Futurist Manifestos, trans. Robert Brain, R.W. Flint, J.C. Higgitt, and Caroline Tisdall, New York, Viking Press, 1973, pp100-106.

(5.) Sara Danius, The Senses of Modernism: Technology, Perception, and Aesthetics, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2002, pp121-2.

(6.) Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway, London, Granada, 1976 [1982], pp26-7.

(7.) George Oppen, Selected Letters, ed. Rachel Blau Du Plessis, Durham, NC and London, Duke UP, 1990, xiv, p202.

(8.) Peter L. Bergen and Daniel Rothenberg (eds), Drone Wars: Transforming Conflict, Law, and Policy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015, p95.

(9.) Achille Mbembe, 'Necropolitics', trans. Libby Meintjes, Public Culture, 15.1, 2003, 11-40, p34.

(10.) The thesis that the CIA and the Pentagon engage in targeted killing because they have 'few options for detaining terror suspects, and little appetite for extensive ground operations' is explored in Mark Mazzetti, The CIA, a Secret Army and a War at the Ends of the Earth, New York and London, Penguin, 2013.

(11.) Tom F. A. Watts, 'If Donald Trump takes control of the US drone fleet, he's made plans to commit war crimes', The Independent, 21 September 2016.

(12.) International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic (Stanford Law School) and Global Justice Clinic (NYU School of Law), Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan, Sept. 2012, pp87-8, http://chrgj. org/wp-content/ uploads/2012/10/ Living-Under-Drones.pdf

(13.) George Jackson, Soledad Brother, The Prison Letters of George Jackson, Baltimore, MD and London, Penguin and Jonathan Cape, 1970, p45.

(14.) Conor Friedersdorf, '"Every Person Is Afraid of the Drones": The Strikes' Effect on Life in Pakistan', The Atlantic 25 Sept. 2012.

(15.) Nasser Hussain, 'The Sound of Terror, Phenomenology of a Drone Strike', Boston Review, 16 October 2013, https:// world/hussain-drone-phenomenology.

(16.) Andrew Cockburn, Kill Chain, Drones and the Rise of High-Tech Assassins, London and New York, Verso, 2015, p224. (Hereafter Kill Chain).

(17.) At the peak of drone operations in Pakistan in 2009 and 2010, half of all kills were classified as signature strikes (John Kaag and Sarah Kreps, Drone Warfare, Cambridge, Polity, 2014, p32). (Hereafter Drone Warfare).

(18.) The Civilian Impact of Drones, Unexamined Costs, Unanswered Questions, Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and the Center for Civilians in Conflict, 2012, http://web. sites/default/files/ microsites/human -rights-institute/files/ The%20Civilian%20 Impact%20of%20 Drones.pdf.

(19.) Henry Barnes, 'Kill shots, why cinema has drone warfare in its sights', The Guardian, 14 April 2016.

(20.) Some of these projects are discussed in Susanna Davies-Crook, 'Art in the Drone Age', Dazed, June 2013, http://www. artsandculture/ article/16183/1/ art-in-the-drone-age.

(21.) http://www. joannemcneil. com/new-aesthetic-at-sxsw/. On the way 'machinic vision' changes consciousness, see also John Johnston, 'Machinic Vision', Critical Inquiry 26.1, Autumn 1999, pp27-48, 45.

(22.) Shimrit Lee reviews this installation, 'Astro Noise, War on Terror as Virtual Reality', Warscapes Weekly, 18 February 2016, http://www. reviews/astro-noise -war-terror-virtual -reality.

(23.) Julian Stallabrass, 'Negative Dialectics in the Google Era', pp3-14.

(24.) http:// blogs/dtake/seven -short-stories-about -drones/

(25.) https:// portfolio/drone/.

(26.) Maxine Chernoff, 'Drones', Here, Denver, Counterpath Press, 2014, p35; https:// -corner/bio/maxine-chernoff.

(27.) Catherine Taylor, 'Inanimate Subjects', Seneca Review, 43.1, Fall 2013, pp44-59, 44. http://www.hws. edu/academics/ senecareview/43_1/ taylor.pdf. (Hereafter Inanimate Subjects).

(28.) Jena Osman, Public Figures, Wesleyan, 2012.

(29.) Jacques Ranciere, Aesthetics and Its Discontents, trans. Steven Corcoran, London, Polity, 2009, pp24-5. (Hereafter Aesthetics).

(30.) Gil Z. Hochberg, Visual Occupations, Violence and Visibility in a Conflict Zone, Durham and London, Duke University Press, 2015, p120.

(31.) Solmaz Sharif, Look, Minneapolis, Graywolf, 2016. (Hereafter Look).

(32.) Lisa Guenther, Solitary Confinement: Social Death and Its Afterlives, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2013, p187.

(33.) Samuel Issacharoff and Richard Pildesi, 'Drones and the Dilemma of Modern Warfare', in Drones and the Promise of Law, ed. Peter Bergen and Daniel Rothenberg, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press 2013, p388.

(34.) See for example: 'US, Reassess War Model Against Al Qaeda; Apply Human Rights Law to End "Perpetual War"', Human Rights Watch https:// news/2013/07/31/ us-reassess-war-model -against-al-qaeda

(35.) 'The Individuation of Warfare?', Geographical Imaginations blog, 26 August 2013 https://geographical imaginations. com/2013/08/26/ the-individuation -of-warfare

(36.) The Civilian Impact of Drones, Unexamined Costs, Unanswered Questions, Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and the Center for Civilians in Conflict, 2012, http://web. sites/default/files/ microsites/human -rights-institute/files/ The%20Civilian%20 Impact%20of%20 Drones.pdf

(37.) Sarah Imtiaz, 'What Do Pakistanis Really Think About Drones?', Drone Wars, Transforming Conflict, Law, and Policy, Peter L. Bergen and Daniel Rothenberg (eds), Cambridge UP, 2015, 89-110, p102.

(38.) See also Ruth Leys, Trauma: A Genealogy, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 2000. (Hereafter Trauma).

(39.) Lt. Col. T. Mark McCurley with Kevin Maurer, Hunter Killer, Inside the World of Drone Warfare, London, Allen & Unwin, 2016, p107. (Hereafter Hunter Killer).

(40.) Death by Drone: Civilian Harm Caused by U. S. Targeted Killings in Yemen, Open Society Justice Initiative, p7. https:// www.opensociety sites/default/files/ death-drones-report -eng-20150413.pdf. (Hereafter Death by Drone).

(41.) Nicholas Mirzoeff, The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality, Durham and London, Duke University Press, 2011, p3.

(42.) Nasser Hussain, 'The Sound of Terror, Phenomenology of a Drone Strike', Boston Review, 16 October 2013, https:// world/hussain-drone -phenomenology.

(43.) Nicola Abe, 'Dreams in Infrared, The Woes of an American Drone Operator', Der Spiegel 14 Dec. 2012, de/international/ world/pain -continues-after-war -for-american-drone -pilot-a-872726-2. html.

(44.) Gregoire Chamayou, Drone Theory, London, Penguin, 2015, pp258-9, n. 23. (Hereafter Drone Theory).

(45.) Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, trans. Constance Farrington, New York, Grove Press, 1963, pp38-9.

(46.) See for example Mary Manjikian, 'Becoming Unmanned: The Gendering of Lethal Autonomous Warfare Technology', International Feminist Journal of Politics, 16, 1, 2014, pp48-65.

(47.) Pratap Chatterjee, 'Our Drone War Burnout', New York Times, 14 July 2015: http:// www.nytimes. com/2015/07/14/ opinion/our-drone -war-burnout. html?ref=topics.

(48.) Sianne Ngai, Ugly Feelings, Cambridge and London, Harvard University Press, 2005, p268.

(49.) Jonathan Shay, 'Moral Injury', Psychoanalytic Psychology, 31.2, 2014, pp182-91.

(50.) 'Fact Sheet, U.S. Policy Standards and Procedures for the Use of Force in Counterterrorism Operations Outside the United States and Areas of Active Hostilities', Office of the Press Secretary, 23 May 2013. https:// www.whitehouse. gov/the-press -office/2013/05/23/ fact-sheet-us-policy -standards-and-procedures -use-force-counterterrorism.

(51.) Eyal Weitzman, 'The Politics of Verticality', OpenDemocracy https://www. opendemocracy. net/ecology -politicsverticality/ article_801.jsp.

(52.) Maj. James W. MacGregor, Bringing the Box into Doctrine: Joint Doctrine and the Kill Box, School of Advanced Military Studies Monograph, 2004. http://www. GetTRDoc?AD= ADA429320.

(53.) Mattathias Schwartz, 'Like a Mosquito', LRB 35.13, 4 July 2013, pp13-15, http://www. mattathias-schwartz/ like-a-mosquito.

(54.) Greg Miller, 'Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists', Washington Post, 23 October 2012.

(55.) Richard Whittle, Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution, New York, Henry Holt, 2014, p101.

(56.) Megan McCloskey, 'The War Room: Daily Transition between Battle, Home Takes a Toll on Drone Operators', Stars and Stripes, 27 Oct. 2009.

(57.) Jean Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, (trans) Hazel E. Barnes, London, Routledge, [1958] 1993, pp259-60.

(58.) Elisabeth Bumiller, 'A Day Job Waiting for a Kill Shot a World Away', New York Times, 29 July 2012.

(59.) Matt J. Martin with Charles W. Sasser, Predator, The Remote-Control Air War over Iraq and Afghanistan, A Pilot's Story, Minneapolis, Zenith, 2010, p121.

(60.) http://www. artemisdroneworx. com/about.html.

(61.) http:// forcesoperations. com/en/frances-sdt -programme-update/

(62.) J-P Vernant, 'Death in the Eyes' and 'In the Mirror of Medusa', 1985, trans. Thomas Curley and Froma I. Zeitlin, The Medusa Reader, ed. Marjorie Garber and Nancy Vickers, New York and London, Routledge, 2003, p211. (Hereafter Medusa Reader).

(63.) Rich Tuttle, 'Fleet of "hunter/ killer" planes would see initial use in FY '07', Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, Aviation Week, 29 Jul 2004

(64.) Micah Zenko, 'Institutionalising America's Targeted Killing Program', Council on Foreign Relations blog, 24 October 2012, zenko/2012/10/24/ institutionalizing -americas-targeted -killing-program/

(65.) Ellen Nakashima and Craig Whitlock, 'With Air Force's Gorgon Drone 'we can see everything', Washington Post 2 January 2011: http:// www.washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/content/ article/2011/01/01/ AR2011010102690. html

(66.) Sigmund Freud, 'Medusa's Head', Writings on Art and Literature, in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, ed. James Strachey, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1997, pp264-5. (Hereafter Medusa).

(67.) An account of these topics is given in Martin Jay, Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century Thought, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1993, pp329-70.

(68.) Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, (trans) Alan Sheridan, London, Penguin, 1977, p115. (Hereafter Four).

(69.) G. W. F. Hegel, Hegel's Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, (trans) T. M. Knox, 2 vols., Oxford, Clarendon, 1975 [1988), vol. 2, p1132.

(70.) Edouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation, (trans) Betsy Wing, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1997, pp190, 192.

(71.) George Oppen, New Collected Poems, Michael Davidson (ed.), New York, New Directions 2002, p101.
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Author:Brady, Andrea
Publication:New Formations
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Date:Sep 22, 2016

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