Saturday, October 08, 2016

Philosophy at Work: A Few Notes on Agamben

In Agamben's The Use of Bodies we find the following passage:

The anthropology that we have inherited from classical philosophy is modeled on the free man. Aristotle developed his idea of the human being starting from the paradigm of the free man, even if this latter implies the slave as his condition of possibility. One can imagine that he could have developed an entirely other anthropology of he had taken account of the slave (whose "humanity" he never intended to negate). This means that, in Western culture, the slave is something like the repressed. The reemergence of the figure of the slave in the modern worker thus appears, according to the Freudian scheme as a return of the repressed in a pathological form.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

SignsTaken For Desires: Capitalism and Representation

Illustration of The Penal Colony

In the recently published Dans la Disruption Bernard Stiegler writes,

"An epoch is always a specific configuration of libidinal economy around which is constitute as an ensemble of tertiary retentions (that is to say technical support of collective retentions) formed by their apparatus a new technical system which is also a retentional apparatus." 

Friday, September 02, 2016

The Western In Reverse: On Hell or High Water

Gilles Deleuze writes of the western “…the American cinema constantly shoots and re-shoots a single fundamental film, which is the birth of a nation-civilization…” Placed in the terminology of a different philosopher, we could say that this "birth" is the moment where the Repressive State Apparatus, or violence, is supplemented and supplanted by the order of ideology, by the Ideological State Apparatuses. Such philosophical embellishments do not tell us anything new. That the Western is about the transformation from violence to order is one the same interpretive register as the common wisdom that the monster of the horror film stands in for some actually existing horror, it is so integral to the genre it is barely an interpretation at all. Everyone knows that "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend" and that the gunslinger must, at the end ride off into the sunset, because the world he has created, a world of law and order, has no place for the violence that is its midwife. 

Monday, August 08, 2016

Ideology Interpellates Subjects as Individuals: on Dean's Crowds and Party

Image from The Crowd, King Vidor 

Jodi Dean's Crowds and Party can be understood to have two objects, each identified by the words in its title. First, it is an argument against the individual, the individual form, arguing that the individual is the kernel of contemporary of contemporary ideology, resurfacing even in those practices that would escape it. Second, it is an argument for the party, for a revival of the party form. The party is Dean's answer to the question that runs through several of Verso's books this fall, how to reproduce,  sustain, and maximize the occupations and protests that have become part of social space. Dean's party then takes its place alongside Clover's commune and Jameson's universal army of dual power. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Point of Heresy: Balibar on Foucault

In a remarkable interview published in 2012, but which I happened to discover recently, Balibar credits Foucault for the concept of what he calls a "point of heresy." He defines the concept, or rather practice as follows, drawing points of intersection, or perhaps heresy, between it, Althusser's symptomatic reading, and Derrida's deconstruction as practices of reading.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Modality of Necessity: On Clover's Riot. Strike. Riot

The reference in the title Riot. Strike. Riot will be abundantly clear to readers of Marx. It is reference to the formulas that open volume one of Capital, C-M-C and more importantly M-C-M' or Money. Commodity. Money Prime. It is the latter which provides the book's structuring formulation, even if it is more interested in Volume Three than One, in value theory, specifically the tendency of the rate of profit to fall as the latter has become the general ether from which to grab the present in the works of Endnotes and Theorie Communiste. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Reading Deleuze and Guattari as Marxist/Spinozists: On Guillaume Sibertin-Blanc's State and Politics

Guillaume Sibertin-Blanc's Politique et État chez Deleuze et Guattari: Essai sur le matérialism historico-machinic has been translated into English as State and Politics: Deleuze and Guattari on Marx. In the past twenty years since I first discovered Deleuze and Guattri I have gone from avidly reading everything that came out on them, at first it was a slow trickle, but as the trickle gave way to a gusher of canonization, I have become much more selective, even falling behind on some of the better books. I have a longer review of Sibertin-Blanc's book coming out with Historical Materialism, but I thought that I would post one of my responses to the book in order to mark its translation, just to suggest that it is definitely not one to skip.  

Friday, July 01, 2016

Kingdom within Kingdoms: Anthropological Turns in/to Spinoza

One could describe the trajectory of Marxist/Spinozism in the twentieth century as a trajectory that passes from epistemology through ontology to anthropology. With Althusser the focus was on the break between the first and second kind of knowledge, with the passage from ideological imagination to adequate scientific knowledge. As much as Althusser introduced immanent causality to Marxism it was primarily an epistemological matter, of grasping the cause in and through its various effects. Negri turned to ontology, or as he often put it, metaphysics, understanding immanence as the immanence of potentia, of power. The autonomist hypothesis becomes not just a way to make sense of capital, but all of reality. Everywhere Potestas, God's power or transcendence is asserted, we must find potentia, the immanent power of social relations and the human imagination. The last, and most recent turn, found in the works of Lordon, Citton, and, in a certain sense, Jaquet could be called "anthropological." The focus is less on the problem of inadequate and adequate ideas, understood as the problem of ideology, or the self organization of power, but on desire, affects, and imagination. 

Thursday, June 09, 2016

We Get Vacations? On The Americans

When I first wrote about The Americans I saw its premise as yet another variant on the sociopathic anti-hero that has become the mainstay of popular culture. The lies and deception seemed no different than the double lives of drug dealers, serial killers, or adulterous ad men. However, I now think that I was wrong about this, or at least the show had moved in that direction. It has the same deceptions, murders, and betrayals that make up the rogues gallery of prestige television, but unlike many of the shows that it is compared to, Elizabeth and Philip feel the effects of what they have done. The do not, like Walter White, Don Draper, and others, float above it all. They feel and struggle with every loss, with every life destroyed. 

Friday, June 03, 2016

Our Thoughts Are With Capital: Strategy as Subjection

Image from George Souvlis' Facebook 

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro's Cannibal Metaphysics has, as one of its many charms, one of the best polemical lines of recent memory. I am referring to the following:"Even if capital does not always act with reason, one nonetheless gets the impression that reason always delights in letting itself be roughly be taken by capital.”