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An Anthropology of the MachineTokyo's Commuter Train Network$
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Michael Fisch

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226558417

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226558691.001.0001

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Forty-Four Minutes

Forty-Four Minutes

(p.166) Five Forty-Four Minutes
An Anthropology of the Machine

Michael Fisch

University of Chicago Press

Chapter five embarks from within a forty-four minute gap opened within the margin of indeterminacy as a result of a commuter suicide. The central concern in the chapter is to understand how the commute collective attends to the challenge presented by the commuter suicide in general and, more specifically, the body on the tracks. While the former, it is shown, is treated within the collective as an event that threatens the network’s operational integrity, the latter resonates on far less explicit level as a disorder that challenges the collective’s ethical integrity. This ethical challenge is deferred, the chapter argues, through a logic of recognition that forecloses acknowledgment of the body on the tracks by reducing it to a mundane and meaningless repetition of salarymen death. The result is a collective that is functionally coherent but ethically impaired. The discussion in the chapter goes on to consider ways in which the body on the tracks stages a return as a material force demanding acknowledgment.

Keywords:   Suicide, Salaryman, Disorder

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