Saturday, 30 August 2008

Panta Rei: My Grandpa's Rags-to-Socialist Glory Tale of War and Peace

My grandpa was an economist. He was recently mentioned by a former student - now a middle-aged magazine columnist - in a piece for Dani, a popular political weekly in Bosnia; this inspired me to write a few words about him. The above photo is of him and my grandma - my mom's parents - in Bosnia circa '68.

My grandpa was born in Donje Selo, a small village near Konjic, in Herzegovina, the southern bit of Bosnia-Herzegovina. This is a region known for its rugged, craggy landscape of rocky mountains and wild deciduous and evergreen forests dotted with limestone plateaus - and some very stubborn people.

Konjic, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Back in those days (between the world wars) and in that social milieu, education was not valued very highly; my great-grandpa preferred to have his children tending the sheep and goats rather than studying and doing homework, so my grandpa had to just take a book along when doing his chores around the pasture. Sometimes the goats chewed up his books, or the odd greasy page of homework.

As the village school only had two grades, education typically ended around age 9, and this was the fate of my grandpa's brothers and sisters. It was the village teacher who convinced my great-grandpa to send my grandpa to the city to be schooled further. This was initially arranged with some cousins in Mostar, who provided him with room and board in exchange for chores around the house; later he got his own place and supported himself by tutoring younger children in mathematics.

He graduated from the gymnasium (high school) in Mostar in 1942, and promptly joined Tito's communist partisans.

People from Herzegovina, as I said - and Bosnians in general - are known to be very stubborn, or 'hard-headed' (literally and figuratively); so it is no surprise that almost all the key battles on the Yugoslav front in WWII took place in and around this area. It is also notable that Yugoslavia was liberated with little or no direct British, American, or Soviet involvement and spawned the first, largest, and most successful resistance movement in WWII - a ragtag multi-ethnic band of Serbs, Croats, Muslims, Jews, men and women, unified under the command of Marshal Tito. By the end of the war they numbered around 650,000 combatants, of which around 100,000 were women (impressive representation for any army, even by today's standards).

"Death to fascism-freedom for the people."

They won in spite of seven major German offensives, over 1 million civilian and military casualties (the second-highest in Europe, after Poland), mass executions, ruthless Nazi 'anti-terrorist' tactics, and the combined anti-Partisan efforts of the Wehrmacht, the SS, fascist Italy, Croatian nationalist Ustaše, Serbian nationalist-royalist Chetniks, as well as Hungarian and Bulgarian collaborationist forces. Phew!

According to historians, the partisans' ideological appeal - which cut across ethnic and gender lines - was a key competitive advantage in terms of morale and popular support for the struggle.

My grandpa was wounded in the Battle of Neretva, the 4th Anti-Partisan Offensive. There is an Oscar-nominated feature film about it, starring Yul Brynner and featuring an original poster by Picasso. In the battle, the far-outnumbered, under-nourished and ill-equipped partisans manage to thwart the Nazis' aims by an elaborate and very clever ruse. It is a true modern-day David and Goliath story.

My grandpa carried to his grave (at age 82) several pieces of shrapnel in his chest from the injury. During the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, which we both spent mostly under siege in Sarajevo, my mom teased him saying he must be bulletproof, what with all that metal in his body... It never gave him trouble though, and he never had any health problems until prostate cancer hit him in his late 70s. (That should make you wonder about all the chemicals generations since have ingested that our grandparents weren't exposed to.)

After WWII he was appointed president of an administrative court in Konjic, although he had no legal training, or any kind of post-secondary education for that matter; the Party just didn't have enough qualified personnel.

It was there that he met my grandma, Olga, who was a middle class city girl from Trebinje and had also taken part in the underground resistance during the war, as part of a SKOJ unit in Mostar. SKOJ (pronounced SKOY) was the youth wing of the partisans, and stands for Savez komunističke omladine Jugoslavije, or Communist Youth League of Yugoslavia.

My grandma Olga (right) with a friend and fellow resistance member in Mostar, 1942. The Nazi Scourge had never yet encountered such a tough nut.

She was the court secretary, and according to my grandpa, regularly paid secret home visits to the pre-war judge whom my grandpa had replaced - a trained professional from the Kingdom of Yugoslavia - to get tips on handling cases, which she passed on to my grandpa. It would have been a disaster had the Party got wind of their scheme.

Sadly, my grandma died when I was about seven years old, so my memories of her are very vague and infused with an aura of childhood ethereality. I do know that throughout their marriage she teased my grandpa mercilessly for his peasant ways, on account of certain habits he just never could shake, I guess. "Peasant!" she cried. (Or, "Seljak!" in Bosnian/Serbo-Croatian.)

Olga and Momir circa 1947, near Konjic, with my aunt Dubravka as a baby.

As a public official in charge of the Jablanica dam construction project, my grandpa was responsible for the flooding of the Neretva valley, including the orchard that my dad grew up in with his aunt. (I'm not kidding) This is about twenty years before my parents met while they were both studying philosophy at the University of Sarajevo; they only later discovered the coincidence. And yes, it's the same river on which my grandpa was wounded in battle.

Prior to the flooding my great-aunt, Danica - we called her 'grandma' because my dad was an orphan and she pretty much raised him - made a living selling the apples and pears in her orchard. Every year she loaded the produce on a truck and took it to the market in Dubrovnik, on the Croatian coast. My dad talked about evenings spent reading or just hanging out in her attic, laying on a bed of apples.

When they evacuated the valley, she was given a cramped flat in Konjic as compensation. The rest of her working life she spent as a waitress, which certainly didn't help the varicose veins she ceaselessly complained about in old age. (Before she died, though, she passed on to yours truly her best-kept secret - her recipe for šape, the tastiest mold-baked walnut cookies ever.)

After a couple of years working for the court, my grandpa enrolled in classes at the Faculty of Law, University of Belgrade. The Party considered this a bourgeois move, and reprimanded him. Despite this he continued his studies, because he figured the Stalinist mood wouldn't last, and that the country would need a trained professional cadre. He was soon proved right when Tito broke with the Soviet Union in 1948.

As the kind of work he eventually did in government mostly had to do with the economy, at some point he completed a PhD in economics and became a full-blown economist. He later worked at the UN for a few years, in Iran and Indonesia, before taking up a teaching post at the university of Sarajevo. My mother claims that somewhere she has a photograph of him meeting Indian president Jawaharlal Nehru on a state visit, however I have yet to see it. (Yugoslavia became part of the non-aligned movement during the Cold War - the only European country to do so - and had strong ties to other non-aligned countries)

Among many crazy stories from that time that come to mind, one that my mom once told me was of the two of them driving through the desert to Tehran when she was about 18. My grandpa hadn't slept and the journey was long; my mom couldn't drive. Nonetheless, since the road through the desert was pretty much straight for hundreds of miles, he put her at the wheel and fell asleep. Hours later, the city emerged from the dunes like a mirage...

Once, while on a Ford Foundation fellowship lecture tour in the US, extolling the virtues of Yugoslav self-management, my grandpa was blacklisted and later barred from entering the United States. He eventually cleared that up with the help of his friend, the American Ambassador in Jakarta. Yugoslavia wasn't part of the Soviet bloc, but it was a socialist country...

The McCarthyite censors must have gotten spooked when they realized the idea of workers councils voting on management decisions in non-state but socially-owned and run enterprises - something between workplace democracy and institutionalized/constitutional unionism - might actually sound kind of nice to populist American ears. You can't really dismiss that as 'evil empire' stuff. At the same time, I can think of no better real-world embodiment of Marx's 'factories to the workers' premise. (The fact that it was screwed up reflects more than anything the incompetence of generations since who inherited this great idea...)

One summer at the seaside, my grandpa gave me a swimming lesson. He pushed me off into the deep water with my inflatable, which he had first unplugged, so that the air would slowly escape as I got further and further out. Needless to say my parents were horrified, as I struggled to stay afloat kicking and screaming, but looking back on it I kind of like the guy for that.

At other times, us kids climbed on his back and rode him like a donkey, so it wasn't all that one-sided.

From left to right: grandpa, my brother Igor, me, and my cousin Jelena.

One long-time colleague of his referred to him as 'Moby Dick' - because he "swam alone". I wonder what it must have been like for him to see another war at home, having lived through WWII already and having grown up in the aftermath of WWI. I never got to ask him that, or at least I don't remember him ever talking much about it. (Though he was quite keen on reminiscing about a lot of other things, in particular our family history.)

We left Sarajevo together two years into the siege, in 1994. Although there was a ceasefire, only those too old or too young to join the army were allowed to leave. After being delayed just outside of Sarajevo in the town of Visoko for two days, we spent another 2 days on the bus to Zagreb, usually a 10-hour journey. I vomited a lot by the end of it.

After a couple of weeks staying with friends in Zagreb, my sister and I joined him at his house in Orebić, on the Dalmatian coast.

It was a welcome change for all of us, except when he and I argued; we were all pretty stressed out and traumatised by the war, I suppose.

One day, he took me out fig-picking. There were some figs in our yard and some neighbours also kindly offered theirs. I climbed trees and picked the figs and handed them to him, and he put them in a basket. We took them home and he made a horrible jam out of them - so hard you could stick a knife into it and it would stand up straight. It was practically sugar candy, and the taste was awful. He made us eat it for breakfast - there were jars and jars of it - until even he couldn't handle it any more and agreed to buy some decent jam from the shop. He was just no good at cooking, and he finally had to accept it.

Anyway, so there was this piece in Dani by the columnist Svetlana Cenić, a former student of his. In the column she recounts an anecdote that might get you, the odd reader, to appreciate my grandpa - and the note of socialist self-criticism - even more than you already do (my translation):

"I remembered my professors who even in those days debunked the demagoguery of power...I remember well what Momir Ćećez once told a colleague of mine, who during an oral exam stood on all fours to unreservedly sing the praises of the economic system of SFRJ [Socialist Yugoslavia]... Professor Ćećez then asked her what her mother says when she comes back from the market. Confused, my colleague replied that her mother curses, swears, moans about high prices, and so forth; at this the professor, handing back her indeks [a marking booklet], simply informed my colleague that while mother would most certainly have passed the exam, her daughter, at least in this term, would not."

Yep, that sounds like grandpa. A hard-nosed old bastard he was, but we loved him. And he had a point - he wanted critique. You kiss ass, you fail. Here's to you, grandpa. I hope that the socialist dream you took all that shrapnel for isn't totally dead, yet.

In Pittsburgh, USA, 1961.Momir Ćećez (10 December 1923-4 June 2006)

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The Ideological Mediation of (Feminine) Desire: Sex and the City of God

As I haven't had time to write much lately on account of moving house and other real world annoyances, here is a piece culled from some comments I contributed recently to a discussion on women, cinema, and mediation on Infinite Thought(henceforth known as IT). It started with this post concerning the absence of women talking in mainstream cinema - about anything other than men, babies, and marriage, that is. Does Sex and the City represent some kind of liberation or is it just the same old patriarchal crap, only repackaged for a modern liberal consumerist audience? One recurring theme in the discussion seems to be the search for 'the one' and the theological underpinnings of this notion...

1. 'The One' and for All

IT:...There is something strange about the weird absence of women talking from cinema. Aren't women supposed to always be talking? Of course, they're not meant to be talking about anything important, which is presumably why the camera only turns to them when men are mentioned.

Films that appear to be 'all about women', such as Sex and the City are paeans to a curious combination of ultra-mediation and a post-religious obsession with 'the one'. You go to the City in search of 'labels and love'; the one mediating the other – the nicest thing your boyfriend can do for you is have a giant wardrobe installed for all your 'labels'. Drinks with 'the girls' are dominated by discussions about whether he is 'the one' or not. What does this obsession with 'the one' mean? The bourgeoisie may have 'drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation', as Marx and Engels observed, but certain religious motifs are harder to shake than others. The 'one' as the transcendent culmination of an entire romantic destiny demonstrates a curious melange of the sentimental ('we were always meant to be together!') and the cynical (if there's a 'one' then the 'non-ones' don't count; the sex with them is of no importance, there is no need to behave even moderately pleasantly towards them).

There is no emancipation here, if all effort is ultimately retotalised onto the project of 'the one'; if all discussions with 'friends' are merely mediating stepping-stones in the eschatological fulfillment of romantic purpose. Contemporary cinema is profoundly conservative in this regard; and the fact that it both reflects and dictates modes of current behaviour is depressingly effective, and effectively depressing.

Deleuzer: The notion of 'the one' on a broader level in its basic religious coordinates (as you suggest) I think provides the link between the different levels on which ideology operates (economy, sex, familial relations) - this is what has always irritated me about the Matrix and its pretense to cult status in the geek/techno/alternative cultural milieu. Aside from Keanu Reeves being better suited to roles like Ted in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, I found the amount of fetishistic reification of his status as 'the one' (who decides these things?) debilitatingly mind-numblingly appalling. The messianic overtone by a kind of short circuit puts it in close proximity to the notion of 'the one' in Sex and the City. (It would be interesting to splice the two together in a montage of sorts, with perhaps some clips of Mel Gibson's crucifixion movie as a possible third...I can just imagine Sarah Jessica Parker in one of those slow-motion fight scenes a la Matrix, karate kicking for a handbag...)

Foucault was right, if we can read him to mean this: that the 'sexual revolution' never took place, or that it wasn't so much a revolution as a repackaging of the same old paradigm for a new era. Two or three thousand bloodyfucking years later, and the mainstream of our culture still revolves around some abstract mass-produced figure of the saviour or messiah, the only original contribution of our post-Fordist age being its reproducibility for personal consumption. (I cannot help but think of the assembly line bread-dough christs in The Holy Mountain, being devoured by a Christ lookalike...)

The absence of women talking (about anything other than men, babies, etc) in mainstream cinema is perhaps not so much an absence as a positive incarnation of what Foucault calls the 'incitement to discourse' - the camera being, for the moment, not an attempt (even a skewed one) at reproducing reality but rather creating it - a directly ideological tool that opens up the space and sets the coordinates within which reality is to take place.

I think the really pressing question is not so much 'does reality pass the test?' but rather 'how do we, or can we, collectively escape from the grip of the incitement to discourse embedded in the cultural output we are daily bombarded with?

2. The (Formula) One of Desire and the Purple Rose of Surplus Value

IT: Dave sent me some comments and a question with regard to the women/cinema debate:

I think it is wrong to assume that, whilst almost certainly an index of unfreedom, women "talking about men" is unambiguously flattering to men. Many men would likely tell you that they find women-talking-about-men-type conversations alienating, in much the same way, perhaps, as they feel alienated and frustrated by an hour or so of Sex and the City.

Perhaps this sense of alienation comes from the fact that "talking about men" points, in a paradoxical way, to the lack of "the one", its eternally elusive character, as if all this Sex and the City-type talk is 'motored' by an absence, by an impossibility of fulfilment. That's perhaps why, watching Sex and the City, it was difficult to imagine how it might be concluded without a catastrophic change in the construction of love relations, or else some 'betrayal' of the 'search', which at its heart is designed to be gratifyingly infinite. To talk about men in the context of "the one" is to talk about no man in particular, just a mirage concealing a no-man-land (sorry).

In short, my question would be: how much "talking about men" really is talking about men?'

It's true - perhaps the only thing worse than wondering about what women are talking about is seeing them actually do it, at least as far as SATC goes. If cinema tends to show women talking to each other only about men (or marriage, or babies) perhaps the most important aspect of this is brevity. An entire film given over to such things would be obscene according to the logic of mainstream cinema, which can barely tolerate a few minutes of such footage, even in its 'unambiguously flattering' mode. I think this is indicated by Dave's comment above that '[men] feel alienated and frustrated by an hour or so of Sex and the City'. A winsome few moments of love-lorn anguish shared between two friends is ok, lengthy discussions of fellatio are not.

Deleuzer: I think it would equally be wrong to assume - if that is being assumed - that because some men find an hour of SATC alienating, this points to some subversive or liberating aspect in SATC. Such an assumption is just one of the pitfalls of the negative in thought...("any enemy of a friend of mine", etc)

And it is certainly not my assumption that "women talking about men" is unambiguously flattering to men, of course - many conversations I have witnessed in reality, at least, are definitely not, but that's not the point, because the issue is simply the choice of subject matter; nor am I suggesting that talk about "the one" is about any particular man. The reason why the Matrix and the adjective 'messianic' (in the mystical/cabbalistic sense) came to mind is precisely because of the impersonal, fetishistic and continually displaced or postponed character of 'the one'. (I like the characterization 'no-man-land'; could this be what Dylan means when he writes/sings: "Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands/where the sad-eyed prophets say that no man comes..." ?)

Another film that comes to mind - which I think provides a very effective and sublimely comic and touching critique here - is Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo. It makes the very same point (made by Dave) about the search being 'gratifyingly infinite' and 'the one' being a mirage concealing a 'no-man land'. The male lead in the film is split precisely between the fictional, 'perfect man', who literally steps out of the screen, and the real-world actor who plays him. At the end (spoiler alert!), she dumps the fictional guy (who is 'really' in love with her) and goes off with the real guy (who has only seduced her so that they could get the fictional character back into the screen), who subsequently dumps her... When dumping the fictional guy she even says something along the lines of "I'm a real person...I have to live in the real world." The fictional mirage, in other words, is the Lacanian objet petit a. He cannot be the 'messiah' because the messiah is forever-to-come.

But there's a great deal more one could mine out of this, I think very telling cinematic critique, one question for instance being, where does this absence/mirage come from, and whom does it really serve? What I think Woody suggests is that the patriarchal figure of the real-world male asshole nevertheless carries a trace of the idealistic mirage (played by the same actor) - 'the one' - as a kind of lure to trap the woman within the confines of the 'real world'...(Her real-world relationship to the asshole who dumps her is, in spite of everything, mediated by the idealistic mirage of his fictional screen persona who is 'really' in love with her and whom she dumps.)

Or more to the point, in anti-oedipal terms, the notion of 'the one' perhaps serves to trap desire in general (male and female) within the Freudian/capitalist logic of 'desire as lack' by situating us within the matrix of a search whose fulfillment is by definition continually postponed. (And The Purple Rose of Cairo being set in Depression-era US certainly hints at this dimension...)

IT: It's surprisingly difficult to break with the logic of the one, even if everything has been secularised to bits. It keeps coming back.

Deleuzer: It must be that dialectical bent. Bloody Hegel...

IT: I wonder if we could do for the one of love what Badiou does to the one of mathematics. Hmm....

Deleuzer: Brilliant idea! So we simply say: there is no one, only sets...I agree in principle, but how does one go about it, or what does this mean in practical terms? Hmm.... I suppose that perhaps the reason why Being from the Greeks onwards was singular is precisely as a consequence of having an ideal, the one (Being) against which everything else is an imperfect copy or simulacrum, marred by a lack - again that logic of the objet petit a.

The psychoanalytic answer is, of course, to formulate that remainder of the unconscious/real; but if the object petit a is as Zizek has it, a surplus meaning or a 'hole at the centre of the symbolic order', then 'plugging the hole' is no way out of the predicament. Going back to the analogy with Marx and surplus value on which Lacan draws, by formulating desire one still remains within the symbolic, within language: no revolutionary seizing control of the means of production there, for the process that generates the surplus in the psychoanalytic case transcends the symbolic order.

To break out of the dialectical/capitalist/theological cycle of production of the one/objet petit a, there must be a (revolutionary) disturbance to the ordinary process of production, a fundamental change in power relations. One must work not through language, but through the (desiring) body itself to grasp that there is no 'one'; or that, as Deleuze and Guattari claim, desire is a productive force; rather than searching for objects to fill a pre-existing lack, we encounter objects that as a result of specific couplings produce desire in us. As Leonard Cohen puts it, "I am not the one who loves...It's love that chooses me."

The object itself does not by definition fall short of some ideal ('the one' does not exist) or haunted by the spectre of a lack that by definition remains unfulfilled. The byproduct it generates, far from being a lack or an unfulfilled ideal is merely an excess of desire - an added value - that keeps the productive-desiring machinery in motion by maintaining a connection to the social body.

In Badiouian terms, if we imagine a set containing a single element(the real, physical object of desire), the surplus value or remainder (objet petit a) - the excess - is a term in the equation defining the set that leaves open the possibility of incorporating other objects and sets into that set. Which I think makes it even clearer why the transposition of this excess into 'the one' is a trompe l'oeil. It is precisely the opposite of 'the one' - it is what keeps the set open, connected to other sets, to the social body.

This is not quite the contradiction in terms that it may appear to be - the one/set, the unambiguous 'one' that contains the germ of a multiple. The point is simply that the excess of desire produced is necessary to keep the desiring machine moving; it is produced not because desire is never fulfilled, but precisely because it is fulfilled: object encountered, desire produced, fulfilled. Yet without the excess then produced, the machinery at this point would grind to a halt; it must always pump out that excess or surplus value (desire=object+x) in order to remain operational, to breathe. So although that excess is something more in relation to the given object (mistaken for 'the one'), it is neither a lack nor another object (a two), but simply a placeholder, an empty place in the set.

Blah blah blah. Well that's about the best I can do with two hours' sleep in oversimplifying D&G (Dolce & Gabbana or Deleuze & Guattari?) and Badiouizing the notion of desire as a productive force.

3. Objectively Fucked: Diamanda's Revenge and the Transmission of Ideology

IT: Mainstream cinema mediates the relationship between men through the odd woman, who rarely gets to mediate anything at all through anyone else. But in the 'real world' do women mediate their relationships through discussion of men? I think this is Dave's point when he asks 'how much "talking about men" really is talking about men?' One could ask a similar question about make-up and fashion. Prettifying for the boys or warning signs for the other ladies? Obviously the idea that straight women are constantly 'competing' for men is an awful one, but they are most definitely supposed to, according to the batshit crazy logic of scarcity that consumerism depends upon. He's the one! That handbag is the one! Hands off my bag/man!

Diamanda Galas has a fine solution to this problem, which acknowledges the issue of mediation but, ahem, subtly undermines it:

'I think women should have an "ideal": the only people you treat as equals are other women. And when you want subordinates, you can fuck a man in the ass! That basically is probably the future. Some men get angry because they think I view them just as sex objects. But I say, "You don't need to read to me - I can read. And conversation - I can get that from my friends. So you should feel lucky that you at least have this service you can offer me.' - from Angry Women, Re/Search #13, 1991.

Perhaps a little harsh, but it might definitely mean that straight women could talk to each other about things other than whether-they-should-ring-him-back-or-wait-for-him-to-call or-is-that-too-forward?'

Deleuzer: Is that a German word? Hm... Yet she is still the subject of mediation between two (or more) men. I mean, it is obvious that she is bitter because - like many women - she has been fucked over by men. So her answer is 'fuck a man in the ass'? Yet this means in effect that through her, the asshole(s) who fucked her over also fuck(s) over the (potentially) nice guy whom she 'fucks up the ass', turning him (potentially) into just another male asshole. (sic)

This is, needless to say, only another way of remaining within the service of dominant (male/chauvinist) ideology; or even more, ideologizing personal relations by turning what was initially subjective violence (getting fucked over by individual assholes) into systemic or objective violence (by/against all men...'if you want subordinates...fuck a man up the ass'). Through her, the dominant chauvinist ideology is communicated/propagated from one man to another. She becomes the incubating medium of ideological transmission, or even better, the ideological 'egg'.

This is why Nietzsche talks about breaking the cycle of revenge - it is precisely about the pitfalls of dialectical mediation. I am afraid that our dear Diamanda simply reverses the roles, replacing one form of domination with another, sublating one within the other in a dialectical reversal that hardly undermines the patriarchal order. Let's imagine that instead of her, we have a man writing the same..."If you want subordinates, fuck a woman up the ass..." etc. My question is, what's the difference? Because I see none. This is just how the initial propagator - the asshole who fucks over Diamanda in the first place - might have put it. So we come full circle.

In fact, by fully internalizing the logic of chauvinist domination, she is - perversely enough - perhaps the ultimate prototype of female subordination, insofar as this is precisely the kind of behaviour that male domination is meant to produce in the female as its dialectical counterpart under the conditions of late capitalism...

IT: I meant, she solves the problem of mediation between women by sidelining men to their sexual role. I don't agree with her, I just thought it was an interestingly aggressive point.

Deleuzer: I see...But you started out saying that mainstream cinema mediates the relationships between men through the 'odd woman'...Anyway, the point still holds - the price of this rediscovered immediacy in relationships between women is more alienation, more mediation (of another kind), deferral of the real struggle against the status quo...By sidelining men to their sexual role, she also sidelines the struggle itself, and any possibility of being truly subversive and effecting a change in sexual relations...This is simply an act of ineffectual subtraction.