Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Next year

This what I am currently scheduled to do next year, of course thanks to the cuts I could end up with a lot more time and far less money... I'm also trying to write a review of Blanchot's Political Writings, planning to write an essay on Debord's cinema, specifically In Girum, and working on the spaghetti western paper.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Conjunctural Dilemmas

If one believes that Agamben's notion of the reversibility of 'bare life', abandoned by the state, into stateless potentiality is magical (as I do)...

But one also believes the capitalist tendencies of the present are to produce an abandoned/surplus humanity that at once figures something like the classical (negative) definition of the proletariat but incapacitates politics (Balakrishnan, Endnotes)

Then isn't one back to Agamben, but vectored via the tendency and w/o political hope (doh!)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Concrete Problems

I must say that this refusal of abstraction and defense of the concrete seemed essentially abstract to us and of a more dangerous abstraction than the kind we were reproached with, because it is idealizing and, in the end, ethical in nature. (To say: "One must stop being abstract, one must be concrete" without worrying whether such a slogan has the least meaning in the state of exploitation of our societies is what I call pure idealism.)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Mute Launch event - 9 December

Further details here
9 December 2010

Monday, 29 November 2010

Godard on Foucault

I'm not so fond of Foucault, it's because he's always saying, "During this period, people thought 'A,B,C,'; but, after such and such a precise date, it was thought, rather, that '1,2,3'." Fine but can you really be so sure? That's precisely why we're trying to make movies so that future Foucaults won't be able to make such assertions with quite such assurance. Sartre can't escape this reproach, either.
Godard, 1967

Thursday, 25 November 2010

French Jacobins Influence UK Student Protests

In an update to the influence of 'French Communists' on the UK student protests it has now been revealed by the office in charge of monitoring 'domestic extremism' that French Jacobins, using a revolutionary Tachyon-burst carrier wave designed by a M. Lavoisier, counterfactually reprieved after it was decided the republic did have a need for scientists, have transmitted their pernicious doctrine of abstract equality to UK protesters.

A reported image of the 'Lavoisier' Tachyon transmitter

Messages intercepted by the security services include those from a M. Saint-Just, reportedly a 'violent young radical', who stated 'those who make half a revolution dig their own grave', and asked UK student protestors to look to the 5,000 workers of Sheffield who celebrated the victory of the French army at Valmy in 1792. A M. Robespierre, known as the 'incorruptible', also sent messages of encouragment, stating 'To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is barbarity.' It is thought other 'revolutionary' propoganda was transmitted, including a cryptic message from a M. Danton, ''The world is chaos. It will give birth to a god called “Nothingness”', that has left police 'baffled'.

A dangerous German Radical in a Library

Despite the widespread agreement of historians that there were no English Jacobins police were taking seriously the threat of 'unactuated revolutionary possibilities' as a new tactic by radicals, and were especially interested in interviewing 'Walter Benjamin', a German radical who may have had a role in transmitting the carrier wave from his desk in the Bibliotheque Nationale in the 1930s.

In a counter-move David Cameron held a late night seance in which he contacted Edmund Burke, who denounced yesterday's protests as demanding an equality which is a 'monstrous fiction which, by inspiring false ideas and vain expectations into men destined to travel in the obscure walk of laborious life, serves only to aggravate and embitter that real inequality which it never can remove, and which the order of civil life establishes as much for the benefit of those whom it must leave in a humble state as those whom it is able to exalt to a condition more splendid, but not more happy.'
Mr Burke also took time to target Goldsmiths lecturers' support for the protests, arguing that: 'These philosophers are fanaticks; independent of any interest, which if it operated alone would make them much more tractable, they are carried with such an headlong rage towards every desperate trial, that they would sacrifice the whole human race to the slightest of their experiments.'

Friday, 19 November 2010

Political Vitalism

For some reason much of my current reading seems to be converging around problems of vitalism, so thanks to Federico for this link, which has much material (and much I can't read thanks to unforgiveable linguistic incompetence), including texts by Federico himself. I'm also hoping to make it to the Zagreb conference on vitalism next year ('To Have Done with Life'), which is looking more and more like a crucial event.

My paper for HM is currently being re-drafted, 'worsened' (a la Beckett), for the JCGS, if it doesn't get turned down. Caught in the 'grief' of completing the book (thanks to Michael Holroyd's excellent talk at our University for this formulation), but if I can only combine current interests (Kierkegaard, Lefebvre (on dialectics), Rousseau on political economy) then perhaps something will emerge from that, after writing a piece on 'Debord's Time-Image' and editing the communization collection.
Other, better, people on grading protest, on nothing changes but everything gets worse, on the British misery, hostile objects, Greece as crucible of protest, the Italian misery (pdf), and, courtesy of the Institute, Marcuse on student protest.

Monday, 1 November 2010

You must choose...

‘There are two ways of rescuing the Idea of communism in philosophy today: either by abandoning Hegel, not without regret, incidentally, and only after repeated considerations of his writings (which is what I do), or by putting forward a different Hegel, an unknown Hegel, and that is what Zizek does, based on Lacan (who was a magnificent Hegelian - or so Zizek would claim at first explicitly and later secretly, all along the way).
Alain Badiou, The Communist Hypothesis, trans. David Macey and Steve Corcoran (London and New York: Verso, 2010).
Note 6 pp.237-8

I've been listening to Alexander Galloway's lectures on contemporary French thought, although still waiting for the one on Laruelle, and he offers an interesting mapping of the current 'moment'. He distinguishes between those in search of the absolute versus a re-articulation of historical materialism. Broadly, I'd say, he follows Peter Hallward's articulation of contemporary French philosophy as dominated by 'singular' orientations, although Galloway splits this into quasi-Hegelian/Idealists of the absolute (roughly Malabou/Zizek) and realists of the absolute (Meillassoux and the speculative realists). Badiou's probably falls slightly uncomfortably here, and it would be interesting to hear Alexander's reflections on the 'broker' of many of these currents.

Also, I'd say that these figurations of the 'absolute', although often opposed to the Derridean/post-structuralist disenchantment with metaphysics, are definitely post-Derridean in quite a strong sense. Explicitly so in the case of Malabou, but also implicitly in Zizek (Zizek's Hegel is post-Derridean, whether Zizek likes that or not), and we could also say in terms of Badiou's ontology of sets, or Meillassoux as well. These 'absolutes' are not the usual forms/substances of so-called 'trad metaphysics'.

Galloway's own alternative 'historical materialism' is articulated through a Deleuzian/Marxian mix, with a little Stiegler, to reformulate the confluence of thought and control as the condition of thinking liberation. In terms of 'camps' I find myself in his, in that I'm more concerned with the immanent political forms of resistance, rather than some metaphysical or post-metaphysical absolute. It was interesting to hear the quote from Heidegger (presumably the 'Letter on Humanism'), in which Heidegger opposes his own engagement with the truth of Being to Sartre's engagement on behalf of beings. I'm for the ontic in this case...and so, I guess is Alexander (also interesting to think Badiou's project, especially in Being and Event (his most Heideggerean book) as the squaring of this circle).

Burn Baby Burn

A process of deterioration in the human race cannot go on indefinitely, for mankind would wear itself out after a certain point had been reached. Consequently, when enormities go on piling up and the evils they produce continue to increase, we say: "It can't get much worse now." It seems that the day of judgment is at hand, and the pious zealot already dreams of the rebirth of everything and of a world created anew after the present world has been destroyed by fire.
Kant, Conflict of the Faculties
(Thanks to Jessica)

Monday, 25 October 2010

Dying on our feet

Evan on disease as class struggle. Not so much 'They want to kill us, but we're already dead', as 'We're already dead, and we want to kill them'; the cold embrace of class hatred, Samson Agonistes - revolution as nihilism; bring it all down...

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

'transferring cadres to lower levels'

[Poster from May 7 Cadre school movement - 'the university takes care of our mountain village'

The Browne report sees a nice return to 'Thatcherism in its Maoist phase', but this time the re-education of the intellectuals will take place without any manual labour to do either. Of course no exceptions made for cadre from 'lower levels' either, let them go first as they know the way.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Two New Collective Blogs

Carl's on the 1970s, to which I hope to be contributing sometime in the next couple of weeks, and Evan's on British horror, obviously 'Carl' and 'Evan' are mere signifiers for assemblages of social negativity...

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Dependants Hired by the State

This is Rakesh Bhandari on the pioneering work of Jairus Banaji on waged labour, and seems to speak to the Browne review and the incipient privatisation of my own job: from hired dependant to confronting the despotism of capital (although the 'social factory' provides its own series of contexts for that despotism in forms of consumption). Perhaps this social position accounts for some of the modelling of capitalism as exteriority by such hired dependants? It might also account for the accelerationist faith in capital as the desire for subsumption ('in the destructive element immerse', to quote Conrad (fuller quote below). I've highlighted the last line as the resistance to this move - privatisation is sharpening contradictions on their terms.

Capital, for its part, fights to eliminate labour paid out of revenue to the extent that such activities interfere with capital using such opportunities for the valorisation of capital. It does this, for example, by closing down a public hospital or school paid for out of tax revenue or a public utility so that a capitalist can take its business. Of course, some of the workers paid out of expended revenue may also carry out operations that speed up (and may in fact be necessary for) the rotation of capital (for instance, building and repairing a public roads system out of tax money), but these activities are not themselves aimed at profit and thus the workers do not come under the terroristic discipline of profit as do workers in the banking and commerce sectors. Whenever they can, capitalists strive to replace dependents hired by the state with wage-labourers exploited by capital. Hence the mania for privatisation which has been a hallmark of capitalist development for the last twenty-five years, and has been more important for the growth of the capitalist system, through the vent provided for surplus-capital, than the reduction of the putative deductions from surplus-value by the commercial and banking capitalists in the bourgeois fraternity. Writing in 2006, Andrew Glyn underlined that privatisation has ‘reduced the contribution of government owned companies from 12% of UK GDP in 1979 to less than 2% today’. It goes without saying that the working class, composed of wage-labourers and hired dependents alike, should resist privatisation. The analytical distinction, in other words, is in the first place not a political distinction.
(From Historical Materialism 16 (2008): 71-99).

"'Yes! Very funny this terrible thing is. A man that is born falls into a dream like a man who falls into the sea. If he tries to climb out into the air as inexperienced people endeavour to do, he drowns - nicht wahr?... No! I tell you! The way is to the destructive element submit yourself, and with the exertions of your hands and feet in the water make the deep, deep sea keep you up. So if you ask me - how to be?' "His voice leaped up extraordinarily strong, as though away there in the dusk he had been inspired by some whisper of knowledge. 'I will tell you! For that, too, there is only one way.'

'And yet it is true it is true. In the destructive element immerse.'... He spoke in a subdued tone, without looking at me, one hand on each side of his face. 'That was the way. To follow the dream, and again to follow the dream- and so - ewig - usque ad finem....'

Friday, 8 October 2010

Elliott on Hobsbawm

New Gregory Elliott book from Pluto, at a good price as well, always worth reading GE.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Speculative Aesthetics / Drifting Seminar

This seminar is running at Duke on 'speculative aesthetics', and usefully has some of the text available should you wish to engage from afar. I'd quite like to have been included in the reading for accelerationism... oh well

Also, bearing in mind the weather, I'm tempted to attend this 'drifting seminar' in Brighton, organised by the publishers of our communization collection, Minor Compositions. Again reading available. Hopefully more politically attuned than my last 'psychogeographic' outing in Brighton, to see Iain Sinclair and Aidan Dun (who was publicising Vale Royal, so that must make it 1992?) years ago, when the 'discussion' descended into recriminations of a King Cross squat and off-key remarks about the 'spiritual desolation' of the estates (like Moulsecomb) that surround Brighton - psychogeographic snobbery.

Friday, 1 October 2010

cloacal critique

That which is communist is not “violence” in itself, nor “distribution” of the shit that we inherit from class society, nor “collectivisation” of surplus-value sucking machines: it is the nature of the movement which connects these actions, underlies them, renders them the moments of a process which can only communise ever further, or be crushed.
Theorie Communiste

In lieu of anything useful, another quote from TC on the nature of communisation and a minor reflection, that I'd somehow like to work into my HM paper, on the usual adoption of the negative value of excrement. Thinking of Brecht's 'bad new', Freud's equation of money and excrement, and Bataille's reversal with his (non-)concept of heterology, perhaps we might re-think a 'cloacal critique', although with an awareness that metaphoric reversals of valence seem pretty cheap when, as Mike Davis points out, so much of humanity does live in excrement (and has done). Perhaps there would be someway to connect to Owen's Socialist Lavatory League, and the inadvertently apocalyptic visions in the CiF posters' revelations of apocalyptic waste burning in suburban Britain? Or, of course, and as mentioned by Owen, Evan's salvage punk re-tooling of debris. After all, to return to Marx's point that history advances by the bad side and Olson's Kingfishers, 'on some rejectamenta' is where change takes place.

completed his doctorate in 1841

For some reason I find the Verso author's description for Marx inexplicably amusing, and where's the author's photo? Shabby promotion Marx.

Karl Marx studied law and philosophy at the universities of Bonn and Berlin, completing his doctorate in 1841. Expelled from Prussia in 1844, he took up residence first in Paris and then in London where, in 1867, he published his magnum opus Capital. A co- founder of the International Workingmen’s Association in 1864, Marx died in London in 1883.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Undead class struggle (for Evan)

'They want to kill us, but we're already dead'.
According to TC the 'spirit' of the struggles of the 1980s, in which the violence of struggle never led to a formalisation or demand for autonomy; strikes without demands in the extinction of the affirmation of the liberation of labour, and in which class definition only results from capital as antagonist and not 'in itself'.

From the failed zombie re-training of Day of the Dead (casting an ironic light on The Full Monty) to the post-Fordist breakout of the remake of Dawn of the Dead, the reserve army of (un)dead labour figures real subsumption the age of coming devalorisation. Not alive, not dead, not-value; the 'fructifying vitality' (Marx) of living labour recoded as death drive.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Verso debates

As already noted by IT, Verso have a new website. I'd be interested to follow the reponses to this debate:

Against his friend and comrade Alain Badiou, Slavoj Zizek has been arguing strongly for the need for a return to Marx's critique of political economy—as borne out by his engagement with value theory and Moishe Postone's work in Living in the End Times. But what are we to make of Zizek's own understanding of value theory, when he claims that, strictly speaking from a Marxist perpective, Chavez's Venezuela is “exploiting” the US through oil rents?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Sad Economy Pig

This image is part of the cover of this free ebook from L&W on Britain's Broken Economy. I feel sorry for the poor pig - is this supposed to be the broken economy (metaphorically , of course), or a representation of greed? Leave the pig alone I say, why always blame the animals?
Of course the book might be great, I don't know...

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


The book is here, thank god (or whatever). Very pleased. Obviously in expensive hardback, but anyone who is interested in reviewing let me know, or who doesn't receive a review copy soon who has already agreed.
Available to review for HM

Friday, 17 September 2010

Fall out from accelerationism

The shards of a debate that just didn't happen fortunately continue, although it would have been so good if it had taken place at the time (see below), with another interesting post on accelerationism, I particularly like this amusing characterisation of yours truly:

Noys at the conference presented a curious figure, a man who had come to speak but primarily to savage any favourable reading or support of Accelerationism. Land was wrong, quite frankly, and Noys argued repeatedly that all Accelerationism was a capitalist fallacy, with a dangerous nostalgia for the very recent past (1990s cyberpunk, Nick Land, Jungle music etc), for a kind of Sino-Capitalism with full biopower and “no Judeo-Christian hang-ups”.

Thanks also for the kind comments on my Bataille book. The description of the audience reaction was a little depressing, although chimed with my sense that a conversation that could have taken place didn't. I doubt people will or should have much sympathy, but it's not that enjoyable being 'on stage' so to speak in such a situation. Perhaps the 'decelerationist' cold I've now acquired is true testament to the whole experience...

Btw (a), (b) (40/41), and (d) (only now, not in origin) apply to myself.


I've just ordered it, via amazon uk, but I'd suggest purchasing in any fashion you choose

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Big Society Exhibition - Your Chance to Exhibit

For all you artistic / creative types [I wish I could contribute something good, the moment I see these invitations I have the feeling 'I could do that', followed immediately by the draining of my already limited mental powers - perhaps some concrete poetry referring to vampire squid...or a photomontage somehow based on the image of Wilhelm Ropke:

Looks harmless doesn't he?]

Open invitation, please forward widely:

There is still time for you to send submissions for Big Society A window exhibition, viewed from the street4/08/10 – 28/10/10

Closing Event Friday 29th October 6.30-8.30


The earlier you send us something the longer it will be displayed for. The window is being re-hung each week. Contributors selected so far include: Julian Stallabrass, Mark Pawson, Robin Smart, Cathie Pilkington, Rosalie Schweiker, Mike Chavez-Dawson, Ann Robinson, Andrew Cooper, Andy Bowman, Arnaud Desjardin, Brendan McIntyre, Cathy Wade, D Rosier, Daniel Manning, Danielle Drainey, Dominic Thackray, Eli-Rose Sanford, Emma MacKinnon, Martin Hand, Niall McCullough, Patrick Galway, Rosalie Woods, Sara Willett, Sophie Eade, Stephen Hodgkins.

Space Station Sixty-Five invites you to respond to the notion of Big Society.
What is the 'big society' if not arts for everyone? Tiny grants already stretch far into communities, making music, dancing and art, engaging with history and heritage, drawing people together in shared emotions and experiences. Civic pride, quality of life, pleasure and endeavour (and art for arts sake) is cheap for its rich returns, but it's not free.
Polly Toynbee, Arts for everyone is cheap considering its rich returns, The Guardian, Wednesday 28th July 2010

Your contributions may be selected to make an evolving window exhibition at Space Station Sixty-Five.
To take part please email us a Word, RTF or Pages document or a jpeg with an image at 300dpi.

You may also post contributions, no larger that A4, to Space Station Sixty-Five, 65 North Cross Road, London SE22 9ET

We are sorry, original artwork will not be returned, copies are preferred. If selected, your work will be attached to the inside of the Space Station Sixty-Five window and viewed from the street. We look forward to receiving your emails and postal contributions; the exhibition will develop as they arrive.Space Station Sixty-Five65 North Cross Road, London SE22 9ET020 8299 5036

Buses: 40, 176, 185, 37, 12, P13, 484.

Rail: East Dulwich (from London Bridge) (check for engineering works at weekends)

Tube: Elephant & Castle or Oval (then bus)


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

'everything that moves is not red'

'In the serenity of the concept, let us say that everything that changes is not an event, and that suprise, velocity, disorder, may only be simulacra of the event, not its promise of truth.
Badiou 'Of an Obscure Disaster'

In the concession from an 'absolute accelerationism', which seems incoherent by definition for the usual reasons (incarnation of absolute presence, equivalence of absolute speed with stasis), to a 'relative' or 'strategic' accelerationism we confront the simulacral, and the retention of the tendency to always still insist on the acceleration of capitalism as liberation rather than the liberation of socialism/communism. Accelerationism become abstract in the pseudo-concrete.
Postscript to accelerationism
For more polemic see here and also see Tom's excellent point in the comments
Notes on the first session here
This is where the talks will appear:

Accelerationism paper

The less polemical version of the paper I gave at the accelerationism event is now available here. On the day I cut the first part on Foucault and made some more direct remarks to the arguments of Mark and Ray, I guess that can be found on the recorded version when it goes up. Thanks to Mark for organising and everyone who made up the large audience in a small hot room, I felt I would have liked the opportunity to chat more, especially with the audience.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Accelerationism tomorrow

Looking forward to it, although wish I wasn't quite so tired after Maastricht (my own Katzenjammer - see below)... One thing that I was thinking on (again) was the relation of Marxism and accelerationism (prompted by a train conversation with Ray Brassier). While I always argued accelerationism is a Marxist heresy, and conforms to the tendency of Marxism to embrace capitalism as the condition of communism, I still don't think that we have to correlate that with absolutisation of capitalism or absolute acceptance of the conditions capitalism 'offers'. After all, the replacement of accumulation as key value(form), might led to 'enrichment'/acceleration in different forms, but I do think it would have to lead to a certain slowing down as well, in terms, to take one key example, of preservation of planetary resources (although the last thing we want is a 'barracks socialism' introduced merely to save capitalism). Therefore, we might imagine a future temporality of socialism/communism along the lines of Marx's comment from the 18th Brumaire:

Bourgeois revolutions, like those of the eighteenth century, storm more swiftly from success to success, their dramatic effects outdo each other, men and things seem set in sparkling diamonds, ecstasy is the order of the day – but they are short-lived, soon they have reached their zenith, and a long Katzenjammer [cat’s wail] takes hold of society before it learns to assimilate the results of its storm-and-stress period soberly. On the other hand, proletarian revolutions, like those of the nineteenth century, constantly criticize themselves, constantly interrupt themselves in their own course, return to the apparently accomplished, in order to begin anew; they deride with cruel thoroughness the half-measures, weaknesses, and paltriness of their first attempts, seem to throw down their opponents only so the latter may draw new strength from the earth and rise before them again more gigantic than ever, recoil constantly from the indefinite colossalness of their own goals – until a situation is created which makes all turning back impossible, and the conditions themselves call out:
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!

Negativity II

My contribution to 'Cutting the 'Not'' now up here.

Catherine Malabou "Negativity and the Body in the Phenomenology of Spirit"

[Below are my notes (w/o critical commentary) taken from Catherine Malabou's paper at the conference Cutting the 'Not', more details on the conference to follow. Catherine also indicated that after the 'detour' of neurobiology she will be returning to thinking the philosophy of time 'as such', in particular with Heidegger.]
The paper concerns the body in the Phenomenology, and particularly in the 'Lordship and Bondage' section.

1. The traditional interpretation is that the body is absent from Hegel's philosophy and especially from the Phenomenology. 'Spirit' either has no body, or seeks to renounce the body, and so the body is negativity present or present as negativity.

2. Kojeve, Foucault, and Derrida argue that the body is sacrificed as a 'negative presence'. The body incarnates negativity and so the body must be sacrificed.
Hence the body is a 'crossing-point' or convergence for dialectics and anti-Hegelian thought, which agrees on the negativity of the body.

Attachment / Detachment
We can translate Lordship and Bondage into the conceptual names of detachment and attachment, respectively. The lord detaches himself from the body by risking its death, he is not knotted to life and the body. On the contrary, the slave or bondsman is attached to the body. The question then is:

What is negativity? It is to detach, cut, or dissolve, or is it to attach? Is it to live or die?

Hegel doesn't believe in detachment, fundamentally. Attachment to negativity is the truth incarnated in the slaves labour. The master's detachment is only a moment, and is sustained only in and through the attachment of the slave. In this 'economy', life always wins, at least according to Kojeve, Derrida and Foucault. Now we turn to their analyses.

1. Kojeve
It is animality that disappears, and not the body. The master disavows or risks his animality, his biological life, through acceptance on non-biological desire, and so accedes to the spiritual body, which is the speaking body. We move from an inauthentic animal body to an authentic spiritual or conceptual body. While the animal body is located and finite, the spiritual body, by acceding to language, is decontextualised and infinite.

2. Derrida
In Hegel there is no real risk, dialectical 'death' is actually the ruse of life. Death is always denied and amortised, and so absolute detachment is impossible. The master/slave dialectic should be a tragedy, but is (as Bataille argues), really a comedy, where nothing is really at stake.
In contrast to this we can figure an absolute detachment, a detachment from dialectics, a 'blind spot' in which we are 'attached to nothing' and so do not maintain ourselves. Life is expenditure, a body qua excess, and the sign of this negativity or absence is the trace as 'sign' of erasure.

3. Foucault
(via Butler's reading in The Psychic Life of Power)
Absolute deatchment is impossible and instead we can see, via Foucault, a need for attachment as the means to achieve freedom. The repression of the body is the condition of the body of pleasure, and repressions generate proliferating pleasures.
In this model, according to Butler, we are faced with the dual impossibility of being Hegelian and being non-Hegelian, we are mired, in a way, in attachment/detachment.

Conclusion: Hegel on the body
Detachment comes first. There is no personal identity, no auto-affection, and death is only the confirmation of our initial detachment (our plasticity). The subject is plastic: both shaping itself and being given shape. There is this originary plasticity, missed by Kojeve, Foucault, and Derrida, which means the 'self' is empty detachment that then has to work to attach itself to itself, as a guard against this originary madness. Negativity is the milieu of this originary detachment.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

out and about

In Maastricht from tomorrow to Sunday at 'Cutting the 'Not'', should anyone be in the 'area'... I'll put up my paper on and perhaps post a report when I return. I don't actually have a portable laptop so can't do any on-the-spot reporting.

After a day's recovery, off then to Accelerationism at Goldsmiths on Tuesday 14th, which Mark updates here with further news (currently downloading the mix). I have to say being anti-accelerationist doesn't make me anti-drum n' bass / (detroit) techno - two of my absolute favourite forms of music.
Chillaxing after that, ie working, although launching my book at Chichester on October 14th 4pm with an early evening soiree, before gearing up for HM in November.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Prims and Anti-Civs

Courtesy of radicalarchives, via the anarchist academics mailing list, comes the 'Origins of Primitivism' documents from Fifth Estate (1977-1988). Of course 'primitivism' is not something I agree with, although I did kind of admire its gung-ho anti-everything elan, especially when it came to language (after all Barthes did say the language-system was structurally fascist). It's strangely reminiscent of Douglas Adams's Hitchiker's Guide:
'Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.'
You may wish to consult this, on Zerzan, as a rather devastating critique.
That said, easy point scoring is just that and some of the questions raised about 'civilisational' forms and experiences of alternative modes of organisation had resonances for my old hippie soul (Hugh Brody's Maps and Dreams has some remarkable passages on the 'non-organisation' 'organisation' of a hunting trip by Beaver indians in British Columbia that made me realise just how capitalist in time-habits I really am...)

Monday, 6 September 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

"There are two kinds of people in the world, those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig.”

Reading G.M. Tamas's article 'The Truth About Class' (pdf here), for whom there are two kinds of communists: Roussean socialists, who believe in the intrinsic goodness of the people (including in these are the unlikely bedfellows of EP Thompson, Mauss, Bataille, and Polanyi), and actual communists, who believe in the self-abolition of the proletariat as only a class of capitalism. Tamas himself is a rare case of a dissident from neo-liberalism to communism, and brings a robust clarity to his rare apostasy.
Now I should be type 2, but find myself often falling into type 1... (perhaps especially in my (non)-participation in the debate over the right to work slogan.

A few points disputing the clean lines of Tamas's division. First, the idea that type 1 (Roussean) involves a return to 'simpler and transparent' relations wouldn't hold up, for anthropological reasons, in the case of Mauss and Bataille. Gift economies are at least as complex, if not more, than capitalist economies, and perhaps one of the attractions of capitalist economies is that they remove all the 'messy' temporal negotiations of gift economies, gratitude, charity etc. (which often take malignant 'caste' forms of condescension - Maria Edgeworth's remarks on the need for gratitude get caught up in this very unpleasant 'economy', when it comes to servants and slaves - and Edgeworth is by no means the worst example of such problems).

Second I think Tamas lines up too clear a division of piling class malignancy onto 'pre-capitalist' caste relations. While I wouldn't want to defend the intrinsic 'goodness' of the people, nor deny the imbrication of the working class as class of capitalism, I do think he underestimates how capitalism parasites on and generates a new discourse of 'canailles'. To defend equality, to defend the fact that the working class aren't stupid, etc., may not be 'Marxist' per se but it a necessary task.
This leads to the major problem of the assumption of the emergence of a 'pure capitalism' that throws workerism/Roussean socialism into crisis and paves the way for true Marxism. This of course makes sense in terms of the crisis of social democracy, the affirmation of the worker etc. (and chimes with Theorie Communiste's theorisation that such affirmations belong to the stage of formal subsumption / 'programmatism' in the stage of real subsumption, and are now obsolete in true real subsumption). I think the question here lies on the 'purity' of that 'pure capitalism', to repeat/iterate the point above. If social democracy is dead, for example, it doesn't seem to be dead for the banks, and the assumption that the ground is clear for true Marxism doesn't seem to be yielding the results one would suppose, as Tamas, being a clear-sighted and logical thinker, concedes.
Therefore, perhaps especially in the case of crisis, I think a necessary tense and contradictory inhabiting of these two tendencies might be possible: a defence of past gains, without seeing these as Marxist, rather 'true socialism', and a re-tooling of the self-abolition thesis that does not conform to capitalism's current round of devalorisation.
On the ground then, a defence of job security, and work as possibility against devalorisation / attacks / neo-liberal re-organisation, coupled with taking the opportunity, as Nina rightly suggests, to re-think work/value/accumulation.
A fudge then...

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Really free working

Really free working, e.g. composing, is at the same time precisely the most damned seriousness, the most intense extertion.
Marx, Grundrisse

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

California here we come

A new website for the UCLA Program in Experimental Critical Theory (I wonder if there is an alternative program in firmly-established Critical Theory...). One of the great things, even if you aren't on/can't make the programme is that all the texts are available (and videos) if one should one to create or follow one's own 'program' (now I have a vision in my head of some poor lone person in a bedsit staging imaginary seminars with various transitional objects a la Stewie in Family Guy).

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Paint it Grey

When philosophy paints its grey in grey, a shape of life has grown old, and it cannot be rejuvenated, but only recognized, by the grey in grey of philosophy; the owl of Minerva begins its flight only with the onset of dusk. Hegel

The grey of the concept over the grey of the world reveals, with the end of the coloured figures in which it was given, the restoration to existence of the task of thinking itself, by itself, beyond all consistency of the figure.
Jean-Luc Nancy

SR in Spanish

Thanks to Jonatham F. Morich we have the first appearance of an SR text in Spanish here. It's a translation from Planomenology of this post.

Cutting the "Not"

Cutting the “Not”: Workshop on Negativity and Reflexivity
September 10-12, 2010
Jan Van Eyck Academie
Maastricht, Netherlands

Organizers: Mladen Dolar, Avigail Moss, Eli Noé, Kerstin Stakemeier and Tzuchien Tho
Please see our website for schedule and updates.

Cutting the “Not”
The question of the negative has been one of the fundamental concerns, if not the central problem, of modern and postmodern philosophy. If, since Descartes (and more explicitly since Kant), philosophy is understood as an inherently self-reflexive practice - no longer an inquiry into the essence of things, but the reflection of thought onto its own conditions and limitations - the question of the negative has risen as the necessary counterpoint to this self-reflexivity: negativity as the non-identity between subject and object, the differential correlation between thought and what is external to (and yet conditioned by) thought.

Perhaps the strongest historical example of the coincidence between the problem of reflexivity and negation is the Hegelian concept of negativity, the dynamic process of self-differentiation as self-identity. No doubt, its tremendous impact on contemporary thought can be seen as itself a negative one. In various ways, much of contemporary philosophy ranging from the work of Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida and Badiou has been posed in specific opposition, modification or reinvention of this negative/reflexive dynamic. By inventing forms of negativity that do not involve dialectic reversals and over-comings, by rejecting the fundamental structure of contradiction outright, or by de-globalizing the scope of any dialectic system, contemporary forms of thought have either rejected negativity outright or have re-inscribed or readjusted the power of negativity in local, that is, non-totalizing functions.

In this context of "thinking beyond the negative", the concept of negativity is often treated as a theoretical shibboleth, a conceptual "password" that serves to divide conflicting doctrinal tendencies, separating allies from foes. In so far as this logic involves the demarcation of a homogeneous theoretical field to be rejected (e.g. Deleuze's critique of "post-Kantian Hegelianism"), it not only involves a rude simplification, presupposing a unambiguous dividing line where there is in fact a complex knot, but also attests to the fact that in polemically opposing the negative, one inevitably takes part in it. Hence, a fresh, actualized take on negativity does not only involve new ways of affirming the negative, but also has to take note of the "persistence of the negative" (B. Noys) in any thought and practice that claims to have surpassed negativity.

The aim of this workshop is to cut the (k)not of the negative, not to offer any easy way out of the problem, but to reconsider, with the polemical strings cut, the question in its complexity. This means, above all, to appreciate the field of negativity as a "garden of forking paths", a tissue of folded and interwoven philosophical lineages, with branches extending to extra-philosophical domains. We propose to investigate the problem both forwards and backwards, both looking at the origins of the problem in modern (transcendental and dialectical) philosophy, as well as to the vicissitudes of the negative in contemporary thinking. Our focus will also extend "laterally", by directing the attention to figures of negativity in art, politics, psychoanalysis and science.

Participants include: (alphabetically)
Mark Van Atten
Jean-Yves Beziau
Ray Brassier
Mladen Dolar
Sven Lüttiken
Catherine Malabou
Gregor Moder
Avigail Moss
Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt
Eli Noé
Benjamin Noys
Frank Ruda
Kerstin Stakemeier
Tzuchien Tho
Jan Völker
Susanne M Winterling

Monday, 23 August 2010

Determinate Negation

But when, on the other hand, the result is conceived as it is in truth, namely, as a determinate negation, a new form has thereby immediately arisen, and in the negation the transition is made through which the progress through the complete series of forms comes about of itself.
Hegel, Preface to The Phenomenology of Spirit

It Makes Sense

The whole run of Common Sense is now available here. Somewhere I have some print copies buried in the piles of material I've collected. Issues 13/14 have work by Sergio Bologna on money and crisis which I plan to read first.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Funeral in Berlin

To make the most obvious point a trip to Berlin certainly makes evident that the failure of the German revolution is the event of the 20th century for Europe and perhaps globally (documented here). If it had succeeded then one can't help feel many of the 'other' appalling events wouldn't have happened and we wouldn't need the following.

Communisation is Go!

The collection Communisation and Its Discontents is happening, with a load of excellent people and an excellent publisher, further details to follow...

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

And more accelerationism reading...

The relevant section of Anti-Oedipus is posted here (as a pdf), for another (very interesting) project (as well as lots of other goodies).

Courtesy of Alberto, links to The High-Speed Society, slightly dubious but perhaps interesting collection of readings on speed/acceleration.

Here is a slightly difficult to hear video with one of the editors:

And a review in French of his work by Anselm Jappe.

In terms of fiction China's Iron Council takes the revolution = train equation literally to explore the temporality of failed revolution (acceleration or brake (Benjamin). As Joshua Clover reminds us (pdf) Neuromancer is the book of the pre-crisis period (do people still read it?), of, of course, return to Gravity's Rainbow.

Monday, 9 August 2010

English Crisis

Just to maintain my record for topical political comment, here's Lukacs on Wilson:

Wilson is doubtless one of the most astute and opportunist bourgeois politicians anywhere today—yet his government has been the most utter and disastrous fiasco. That too is a sign of the depth and intractability of the English crisis.

More accelerationism reading

In advance of the event more reading than I haven't yet got round to... Bichler and Nitzan's Capital as Power - article here, and intro/chapter one available on their website here.

As usual Nina was first (or second, via Jared), Elie Ayache's The Blank Swan.

In literary terms, beyond Ligotti, James Trafford recommended Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon as the novel of 're-sleeving' complementary to Metzinger/Ray's work.
There's a new (or new to me) 'Hyperstition engineering' blog, Simon Reynold's on the CCRU, btw I didn't go to Warwick...

Friday, 6 August 2010

Grand Opportunism

Despite being anti-accelerationist I do have a soft spot for Massimo Cacciari's 'negative accelerationism' - as I've previously posted (now, sign of age, repeating myself...). Unlike the pathos of the Landian tendency to 'love' one's own dismantling at the (metaphoric) hands of capitalism, an embrace of liquid flows and extinction, Cacciari's 'unpolitical' version of completed nihilism encompasses a breathtaking cynicism. Here's a position statement from his essay 'Nietzsche and the Unpolitical' (in the new collection from Fordham The Unpolitical):

'they see their own operations as alienation - not in the banal and servile sense, that this alienation is simply imposed on them, that they are subject to it in messianic expectation of the dialectical synthesis, but in the sense that, within the irrevocable dimension of alienation, they can build their own political interest, can determine their own separateness and division as grand politics... There is no synthesis for workers' alienation.'

As capital nullifies all values far from embracing capitalism own deterritorialised flows we embrace a political intelligence that can organise a counter-plan, manipulating evacuated 'values' for our own 'unpolitical' projects. Of course, that turned out to be the PCI and the historic compromise, so not so 'intelligent'... Fedrico Luisetti has some fascinating work updating Cacciari to the present misery (pdf).
Cacciari's collection Architecture and Nihilism is available here, with a kind plug for my earlier post.

Neo-liberalism and the 'society of litigation'

Whereas economic regulation takes place spontaneously, through the formal properties of competition, the social regulation of conflicts, irregularities of behavior, nuisance caused by some to others, and so forth, calls for a judicial interventionism which has to operate as arbitration within the framework of the rules of the game. If you multiply enterprises, you multiply frictions, environmental effects, and consequently, to the extent that you free economic subjects and allow them to play their game, then at the same time the more you detach them from their status as virtual functionaries of a plan, and you inevitably multiply judges. The reduction of the number of functionaries, or rather, the de-functionarization of the economic action of plans, together with the increased dynamic of enterprises, produces the need for an ever-increasing number of judicial instances, or anyway of instances of arbitration.
Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, p.175


First, I will be presenting at the JVE (Maastricht) at the Versus Laboratory event 'Cutting the 'Not': Negativity and Reflexivity', with Ray Brassier, Catherine Malabou, and others (including people who actually understand paraconsistent logics and intuitionism) on 10-12 September.

Kindly arranged by Mark, we have the Accelerationism event, on 14th September at Goldsmiths where, no doubt, I'll be the odd one out, but it should be fascinating.

For the pithiest definition, here is Nick Land:
Machinic revolution must therefore go in the opposite direction to socialistic regulation; pressing towards ever more uninhibited marketization of the pro­cesses that are tearing down the social field, ‘still further’ with ‘the movement of the market, of decoding and deterritorialization’ and ‘one can never go far enough in the direction of deterritori­alization: you haven’t seen anything yet’.

I will post my papers for each post festum, probably here/ or on

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Big Society - the origin?

I've been reading Foucault's fascinating The Birth of Biopolitics, at the recommendation of Jess, which is an excellent genealogy of neo-liberalism. As I will be liberally ripping it off when I talk at the Accelerationism event I will save substantial comments until then, however as I was reading I came across this:

in 1950 Ropke wrote a text entitled The Orientation of German Economic Policy, which was published with a preface by Adenauer. What does Ropke identify in this text, this charter, as the object, the final aim, the ultimate objective of governmental action? I will list the objectives he fixes: first, to enable as far as possible everyone to have access to private property; second, the reduction of huge urban sprawls and the replacement oflarge suburbs with a policy of medium-sized towns, the replacement of the policy and economics of large housing blocks with a policy and economics of private houses, the encouragement of small farms in the countryside, and the development of what he calls non-proletarian industries, that is to say, craft industries and small businesses; third, decentralization of places of residence, production, and management, correction of the effects of specialization·and the: division of labor; and the organic reconstruction of society on the basis of natural communities, families, and neighborhoods; finally, generally organizing, developing, and controlling possible effects of the environment arising either from people living together or through the development of enterprises and centers of production.

You will recognize this text; it has been repeated 25,000 times for the last 25 years.

As Foucault goes on to remark 'I think this multiplication of the "enterprise" form within the social body is what is at stake in neo-liberal policy. It is a matter of making the market, competition, and so the enterprise, into what could be called the formative power of society.'

So perhaps not Chesterton/Belloc, but a re-tooled neo-liberalism German style? Frankly the whole 'big society' fills me with horror so I can't check how closely the proposals match the above, confirmation / refutation appreciated (let's move into a Popperian / Lakatos space).

Monday, 2 August 2010

Derrida as Vanishing Mediator

This post is largely prompted by several conversation with Jernej, met in Rotterdam, and reflections on the conference Derrida Today (which I did not attend), but also dates back to something that has been floating around in my head for a while. Simply stated this is that many 'anti-Derrida' moves, especially around the return to Hegel, could equally be said to have internalised and required Derrida. In a sense the 'new Hegel', who may have always been there, is actuated through Derrida - a la Borges's remark that every writer creates his precursor. That's to say some of the best readings of Hegel are directly indebted to Derrida (Malabou / Nancy) or traversed by Derrida in the mode of antagonism (Zizek, Rose, or to a lesser extent Jameson). In a recent article in Critical Inquiry Zizek returns with more sympathy to Derrida, noting a 'belated gesture of solidarity' around the materialist potential of 'differance'.
Much the same argument could be made as regards Lacan, which is to say a certain reading of Lacan becomes possible via and through Derrida, even if it should result in a critique of Derrida. In fact in this case one could even unpick a subterranean dialogue at the time, with Lacan taking on and reworking terms like 'writing' (Derrida notes that Blanchot went back to all his earlier work and replaced 'presence' with 'writing...), while Derrida appears heavily indebted to Lacan if one reads the seminars (a problem like circumcision, for example, turning up much earlier in Lacan than Derrida). Lacan after Derrida after Lacan... and we could also add Badiou here, when he integrates Derrida to a 'tracking of the inexistent', i.e. a kind of subset of Badiou's more encompassing 'system'.
We could even add Paul de Man enacting this on Derrida, but arguing Rousseau was more deconstructive than Derrida, all the while ignoring the fact no one seemed to have noticed this until Derrida...

Of course a great deal turns on the 'vanishing'; is it simply necessary to traverse Derrida, so, as in Badiou, where difference simply becomes the everyday 'stuff' from which we have to extract the same, or Derrida offering some refinements of Lacan's analysis of the phallus. Here Derrida functions in a Wittgensteinian way as a 'ladder' that can be kicked away, or therapeutic corrective. Or, as I'd guess Derrideans might feel, is this 'vanishing' an act of repression or disavowal, leading to the hallucinatory return to Derridean positions shorn of Derrida? Having 'personally' traversed Derrida, although he hasn't vanished from my work, which could lead to the accusation this is all my projection, I don't think either of these responses are quite adequate. It's neither the case Derrida requires to be 'vanished', pending a better and more finally critique of his work than has yet appeared (and I include my critical remarks in this set) that might convince on this ground, nor that Derrida out-trumps all and every thinker.

Perhaps, instead we could start a more patient close reading, in the style of Derrida, that might analyse and be sensitive to this peculiar effects of reading that problematise priority / security and might help us re-think 'philosophy' as a practice.

As an addendum Jernej informs me Geoff Bennington (my DPhil supervisor) already said this in Interrupting Derrida, nice to know I repeat the master's words...

OOP v Deleuze, or psychopathologies of philosophy

I came across this while reading Michael Balint's The Basic Fault:

In the ocnophilic world the primary cathexis, though mixed with a great deal of anxiety, seems to adhere to the emerging objects; these are felt to be safe and comforting while the spaces between them are threatening and horrid. In the philobatic world the objectless expanses retain the original primary cathexis and are experienced as safe and friendly, while the objects are felt as treacherous hazards. (68)

I won't go into the detail of Balint's theory, but bascially these two 'orientations' emerge out of the experience of primary love, and he argues that psychoanalysis itself, due to a focus on the analyst as object, as primarily been ocnophilic. Perhaps one could argue that philosophy, by contrast, tends to be philobatic, in its preference for objectless universals, way back to the presocratics, but also beyond?

Of course, I'm semi-joking but it would be interesting to fully turn psychoanalysis on philosophy, especially since aside from Freud's remark about philosophy's proximity to paranoia we haven't seem much of this. Usually philosophy spends its time regionally delimiting psychoanalysis.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Anthropology of Capitalism

Perhaps we have been too quick to celebrate the “disenchantment of the world” ushered in by the retreat of religion and the growth of naturalism since the seventeenth century. Rather, what actually happened was the enchantment of Western society by the world, by the imagined cultural values of the material rather than the spiritual. We live in a world enchanted by symbolically constituted, culturally relative “utilities” such as gold, oil, diamonds, Pinot Noir grapes, Mercedes cars, heirloom tomatoes, silk clothing, hamburgers from McDonald’s, and purses from Gucci. Here is a large construction of nature by particular cultural values whose symbolic qualities, however, are understood as purely material qualities, whose social sources are attributed rather to individual desires, and whose arbitrary satisfactions are mystified as universally rational choices.
Marshall Sahlins

Big in Poland

Thanks to Agata for noting this appearance of my work on Herzog's Grizzly Man in Polish, for the original English version see here (pdf). Would have been nice if they'd asked, but even so good to see the work getting out there.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Call of Joyce

Textual variant of the opening line of Finnegans Wake, begun by Joyce in Bognor Regis and found in Bognor Regis museum (fragment of text since stolen from a display case in an unsolved break-in):

riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to R'lyeh and Environs.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Conjunctural Cthulhu

There is absolutely no need for Marxist cultural criticism when the working of the geist provides riches like this.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Dictionary of Received Ideas

I'm no Flaubert, you'll be suprised to hear, but at various points I have toyed with the idea of writing a contemporary version of his 'Dictionary of Received Ideas'. I actually see there is a facebook group dedicated to this, but they don't seem to have got very far. I can't achieve Flaubert's devastating wit and ability to capture the true banality, but out of semi-annoyance I can't resist a couple of attempts.

, never live in the 'real world', don't understand business

, never an academic, involved in the real world

, neither autonomous nor propoganda. Always problematising, questioning, making one think. Provocative, but never be so vulgar as to be actually shocked.

, destroying our culture or giving birth to a new public sphere. When meeting a blog writer always express suprise they find time to write it, never visit.

, passe, but express admiration for Derrida

, see Same

, condemn in all forms

, misunderstood, admire tentatively

, always teleological, stagist, and reductivist. Express appreciation for the thought of Marx, but with the proviso it won't quite do today.

The Novel
, 'Dead', or 'In better health than ever (thanks to Coetzee)'

, always be writing one.

, better than trees, see Tree

, see Difference

, now liberated

Temporary Autonomous Space
, live in one

, worse than rhizomes, see Rhizome

, too popular, really a Stalinist, but always provocative

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


Images from Alberto of our tour of Rotterdam harbour on an icy Sunday in June... This is part of a new website for Alberto and Jeff Kinkle's forthcoming zero book Cartographies of the Absolute (thanks to Nina). Mine are on Facebook here.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Our Bloch

The perfect description of Evan's project, detourned from Adorno on Bloch:

'Like all thought worthy of the name, Evan's thrives on the edge of failure, in close proximity to sympathy for the occult.'

Thursday, 10 June 2010

We come from the land of ice and snow

Evan, suggestive and perplexing on that neatly insane Nazi-adopted cosmogony of 'world ice theory'. This reminded me of Roger Callois's rather dubious 30s essay 'The Winter Wind', on which Benjamin commented:

His contribution, 'The Winter Wind', celebrates the "bitter wind," under whose frosty breath all the weak must die, and in which the fit will recognize each other by their red cheeks (not from shame) in order to unite in a caste of heroes ....
and this of course:

It's interesting to analyse, as this post does, the radicalised nihilism of such fascist/Nazi 'theories', or pseudo-theories, not least for the questions they raise about the attractions of nihilism more generally and question of active/passive/completed nihilism. In what forms do such nihilisms seem to allow/accept ther very hierarchisations and distinctions they (should) problematise? What questions does this raise for the contemporary valorisation of nihilism? Is a cosmogenic 'absolute nihilism', thinking here of Thomas Ligotti, an exit from such attractions or does it reproduce an elitism of the confrontation with meaninglessness?

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

smells like victory

In the wake of the move of CRMEP to Kingston the ironies keep on coming:

"Around 4/5th of Middlesex University’s research in RAE2008 was rated as of international standing. An important aspect of our strategy to build on this success is to strengthen our research student base. Consequently, we are funding several fully funded research studentships for an October 2010 start. Applications from suitably qualified candidates are invited in the following areas."

My personal feeling, reinforced by someone more sensible than I, is that under the conditions of the rigged game this was a victory. The rigidity of the academic job market, which once was a trade off with job security, now works to undermine academics. The obvious point was that Middlesex regarded their staff as disposable and now they have 'disposed' themselves en masse. Of course I feel real concern for those left behind, more than most as I feel strongly the need for struggles to increase job security. I'm deeply critical and sceptical about those 'radical' demands to exit philosophy from the university - living outside the university is living in other forms of wage labour, and I see nothing wrong with demanding state support for education (pending abolition of the state / value form / etc...).
The fantasy of the private university or certain forms of knowledge common seems to me to rest on a further entrepreneurialisation of knowledge. Here is where a thinking of the state and capital is required, rather than recycling anti-social democracy tropes in the guise of exodus style radicalism. 'Abolish the university', well wait around it's already being done by neo-liberal capitalism (isn't there a story that Jacques-Alain and Judith Miller where moved out of one Paris university by the French state (to another, but in the provinces!) in their haut Maoist destroy the university phase).

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Apocalypse Again

Another chance to read my piece on Eurozine; unremixed I'm afraid. Currently working on my paper for Rotterdam, which will focus on political disorientation as self-serving motif, the concrete v. the abstract, and the relation of politics and philosophy, all via Kant, Heidegger and Schmitt, with perhaps some Badiou/Jameson thrown in (as the bifurcation of 'political' Marxism and 'economist' Marxism). Then on to the planning for HM 2010 and, volcano willing, a holiday...

Saturday chairing a panel at this internal event if you're on the south coast and the weather isn't good... Starts at 1pm, registration shortly before

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Thursday, 6 May 2010

TRG event next week (x-advertised)

It's here, you are welcome, and if you don't know the place contact me via here.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

My Letter to Middlesex

Dear Professor Driscoll, Professor Ahmad, Professor House, and Professor Esche,

I am writing to protest at the decision to close the philosophy department at Middlesex University and to urge you to urgently reconsider. My reason for writing is my dismay at the threat to such a valuable and internationally recognised philosophy department, and to those who teach, research, and learn in the department. Working myself in the field of Continental philosophy I have regularly attended events organised by your philosophy department, I use and engage with work published by the staff, and have personally been in dialogue with Professor Peter Hallward. I also regularly read and cite material published by the journal Radical Philosophy, which is edited from Middlesex, and I know as friends and colleagues many who have attended and graduated from the philosophy programme at Middlesex. I can personally and professionally attest to the centrality and importance of the philosophy department at Middlesex to the field, and to Britain's cultural engagement with philosophy.

The philosophy department has made a sustained, innovative, and profound impact on the field, making Middlesex known as a university that encourages and develops teaching and research that has shaped contemporary culture. Middlesex is abandoning this reputation by closing the philosophy department and, once again, I would urge you to reconsider your decision.

Yours sincerely,
Dr Benjamin Noys
Reader in English, The University of Chichester

Sunday, 25 April 2010


01.05.10 > 16.05.10
PREVIEW: FRIDAY 30.04.10 6PM - 9PM
Be the revolution of you
- Nike Ad
The individual, in truth, is nothing ... the nothing that must be dissolved into a we-subject
- Alain Badiou

Metallurgy of the Subject is an attempt to present philosophical re-conceptions of community and communism allegorically as an alchemical process of sacrificial transmutation.

Animation. Accompanied by:
Kinetic rubber sculptures jerk and flap about. Spastic decor. A chorus of idiots.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Maussian-Messianic Salvage Punk

In lieu of what I had planned to do, which was actually post on Peter Worsley's The Trumpet Shall Sound (a reference gleaned from Alberto's book, and well worth tracking down, especially the 1970 Paladin edition with psychedelic cover I found in Hay-on-Wye), here is just a great quote and some scattered remarks:

For a long time, the Europeans were not regarded as all-powerful, but as rather pathetic, ignorant people who could be easily cheated or stolen from. Their ignorance of sorcery was lamentable. ‘These are not men, they are merely gods’ said the natives, judging the Whites to be beings whose lives were inferior to those of living men. Again, they spoke the indigenous tongues very badly; why should one bother trying to make out their uncouth speech? And if one did associate with them, was it not likely to provoke the wrath of the ancestral spirits? Surely the country of the White man must be a very bad place, or why would they leave it? Or were these, perhaps, refugees who had fled their country to escape some punishment? (218)

Worsley's book is concerned with cargo cults, and more particularly with seeing this messianic movements as actually pretty rational responses to the irrationality of capital, especially in colonial 'contact zones'. After all, if you work more and earn less, or if the colonialists seem to do no work and live pretty well, why not engage in some Maussian-messianic salvage punk by destroying all your goods and waiting for deliverance by the ships or planes of the whites? Kill all your pigs, the primary source of wealth in New Guinea, and await the great Pig. Worsley's point that 'rationality' in anthropology and sociology is often judged from the 'rationality' of the market is particularly astute, as are the colonised's remarks about how useless whites are because they keep having to send broken down vehicles back to the ancestors for repair. More disturbing, although perhaps accessible via Fanon, are the claims of the colonised to be the real ancestors, and really white. A great scene as well when one potential rebel leader is sent on a 'orientation'/ training course and finds out that the whites don't really believe in their God but instead claim descent from apes - well, as he notes, that was always our theory...
In fact bearing in mind the inexplicability of the financial crisis and its effects of 'creative destruction' / non-reproduction Worsley's book starts to look like a guide for strategy for the colonised of capitalism. Why not liquidate your property and await your rescue package? (Probably better to try this if you run a bank...)