Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Necessity Passing As Contingency (and Vice Versa): On the Spinozist Distinction of the Economic and Political

Lordon speaking as part of the "Nuit Debout" protests to France's Labor Law

Earlier, when writing a brief blog review of Lordon's Imperium, I argued that what the book lacked was any account of the relationship between the economy and politics of affects, that Lordon had simply continued to think of politics, and political belonging, from the perspective of affects without considering the relation between politics and economics. 

Thursday, April 07, 2016

The Work Image: Montage in Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad




Gilles Deleuze stated that montage is an "indirect image of time," in Vince Gilligan's Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul it is an indirect image of work, or of a temporality dominated by work. I am primarily interested in the latter show, having blogged enough about the first. I just wanted to note that it is one of the stylistic points of continuity between the two shows; that and the odd close up and point of view shots. As much as the basic form remains the same the shifting tone and content of the two shows, from drug empire to the world of law firms, shifts the way the montages function, becoming less about the fantasy of accumulation and more about the particular frustrations and hopes of work.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Hobbes Versus Spinoza: This Time It's Anthropological


This morning I received an email that had the following sentence in it: "A demographic note for this week is that we have almost three times as many applicants to online programs as we did this time last year, confirming a trend we are all aware of --- that students want online degree offerings." Maybe it was the lack of coffee, or the fact that I was woken up in the night by a barfing dog (don't worry, Bento is fine. He just eats garbage sometimes), but I thought for a minute about responding to this email, pointing out that the premise did not support the conclusion. There are multiple reasons why people take online classes. They are ways of dealing with jobs that demand increased flexibility from employees, ways of finishing school around the demands of families and work. Negotiating these demands is not the same as wanting something, as desiring it or choosing it. 

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The Power of the False: On Fargo


 Fargo opens with a claim that the story the film tells is based on a true story. As is well know by now, this claim is a lie. What is less remarked upon, however, is the way in which much of the film is structured around a series of lies. These lies move beyond the ordinary receipts to become part of what Deleuze calls "the power of the false."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Be Social: Fischbach's Le Sense du Social


Franck Fischbach's Le Sens du Social: Les Puissances de la Coopération continues two of the threads of his recent writings. First, there is an examination of the "socio-political" as an orientation for political philosophy. This is directly opposed to the "ethico-political" in that the former places political economy, or specifically the division of labor at the center, rather than subjectivity or alterity. Second, there is an increasing turn away from Spinoza as a philosopher or theorist of the social and the political and towards Hegel and the return to Hegel in contemporary critical theory. (You can probably guess that I am for the latter and against the former, but such a "hot or not" list says little about why--or what is at stake). 

Monday, February 01, 2016

Trumped: The Ecology of Attention and Affects


Pitch for a sequel to They Live. The "ghouls" (as they are referred to in the script), or aliens, have been unmasked by Nada's (Roddy Piper) destruction of the signal in the first film. Some are hunted down, while it is rumored that others have gone into hiding, finding new ways to disguise their horrifying appearance and devious plans. The destruction of the ghouls does very little to change things, the wealthy still dominate and the poor still suffer. Then one day a ghoul emerges that does not conceal his appearance, or his intentions. He makes it clear that he plans to continue accumulating massive wealth. When people point out that his kind exploited and depleted the planet he freely admits it, pointing out that running a inter-dimensional conglomerate is no small task. It was a huge and impressive endeavor. As much as one might be critical of the ghoul's exploitation of the planet, no one can doubt that they got things done. This ghoul then states that he is running for president. Critics declare that he is a ghoul, but he makes no secret of it. No one can unmask him, for he is already unmasked; attempts to reveal his sinister motives are belied by his willingness to state them clearly. The ghoul eventually wins, and once again the country is under their thrall, only now openly so.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Mythocracy II: This Time It's Personal



What follows is unauthorized and semi-competent translation of the introduction of Yves Citton's Mythocratie: Storytelling et Imagninaire de Gauche. I did this for my own self-clarification and teaching, but I posted it in an attempt to increase interest in Citton in the English speaking world. 

No one has yet to determine what a story can do. Some are offended by the “mythes” that obscure;  others denounce “the histories” that we recount; others still believe in that it is enough to find the good story that would lead the donkeys to polls, the sheep to the market, and the ants to their work. More than these denunciations or formulas, this book proposes an interrogation of the power of stories, doubled by a narrative on the mythic nature of power: mythocracy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

L'Etat C'est Nous: Lordon on the Politics of Affects


After having published a book on the economic dimension of affects, followed by a book on the social nature of affects, it makes sense that Frédéric Lordon would write a book on the politics of affect. However, Imperium: Structures et affects des corps politiques is less about the classic questions of autonomy and determination, the relation of politics to economics, etc, than it is about how the affects redefine the very ground of the what is thought of as politics.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Not Even Gun Control Will Save Us Now: Notes on the Psycho-Sociology of Mass Killing



The events are both all too familiar, all too common, a mass shooting at some university, school, or public place, but at the same time they are each singular, a different person, a different town. (War might be the way history teaches American's geography, but mass shootings are the domestic version. Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Aurora, these are towns that are known for the horrors that have happened there). Always the seemingly interminable wait for the ethnicity and motives to be revealed. It takes only hours, but it is interminable because it determines the political fallout, will it be called terrorism, or will it fade into the generic terror of day to day life in America. The singularity of the events, of the different motives or malady determining the actions, would seem to preclude any general theory. Yet, the very fact that they have become so familiar, defining a particular phenomena of modern life, demands theorization. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Affective Reproduction: Thinking Transindividuality in an Age of Individualism

Paper Presented at the Affect Theory Conference


One of the many theoretical and practical promises of the so-called “affective turn” in social and political thought is that it makes it possible to conceptualize the social and political dimensions of the most intimate aspects of experience. Or, put differently, it makes it possible to think of the way in which political and economic structures can only exist, can only reproduce themselves, if they do so at the level of affects and desire. The reconceptualization that I am referring to here is not to be confused with a reduction of the individual to the mere effects of structural conditions and relations, in which individuals become simply bearers of economic and political functions, nor is it a reduction of politics and economics to individual experiences and intentions, a kind of intimate theatre of micro-politics that never becomes macro. It is a matter of thinking the mutual implication of the individual and the collective, or in a word, transindividuality.