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. 

Saturday, October 03, 2015

What the Shopkeeper Knows: Reading Contemporary Capitalism

Whilst in ordinary life every shopkeeper is very well able to distinguish between what somebody professes to be and what he really is, our historians have not yet won even this trivial insight. They take every epoch at its word and believe that everything it says imagines about itself is true. 
--Marx and Engels, The German Ideology
One of the persistent themes in Peter Fleming's The Mythology of Work: How Capitalism Persists Despite Itself is a critique of Lordon's Willing Slaves of Capital. What is criticized is not the particular synthesis of Marx and Spinoza, but how Lordon reads management literature. Fleming criticizes Lordon for taking management discourse at its word, for seeing motivation and the various demands to "love one's job" as something other than smokescreens for a strategy of fear and anxiety. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Genysis of a New Film Form: Reflections after Watching Several Hollywood Films on a Long Flight

Top: Terminator, Bottom Terminator Genysis

The repetition that defines Hollywood is not without its difference. It constantly mutates in response to new conditions. This transformation has gone from the sequel to the prequel, from the remake to the reboot. Following this summer's Mad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World, and Terminator Genysis it is possible to chart yet another mutation, not a remake or a reboot but a "callback."

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Conceptually Barking Dogs: Between Spinoza and the Frankfurt School

This post will be illustrated by pictures of my 
dog, Bento. *
(This picture was not staged. He stole this book)

"The concept of the dog doesn't bark" --Spinoza 

Idit Dobbs-Weinstein's Spinoza's Critique of Religion and its Heirs: Marx, Benjamin, and Adorno is a book that challenges many commonly held conceptions. The first is in the title itself, which suggests a strong relation where many, myself included saw at best a non-relation and at worst a repudiation of Spinoza by the Frankfurt School. Spinoza often appears less as a precursor for the Frankfurt School than as part of what the latter consider to be the dark side of the Enlightenment. I am thinking specifically of the passage of the Dialectic of the Enlightenment which states, "Spinoza's proposition: 'the endeavor of preserving oneself is the first and only basis of virtue," contains the true maxim of all Western civilization, in which the religious and philosophical differences of the bourgeoisie are laid to rest." It is thus somewhat surprising to see Dobbs-Weinstein recast a line of descent moving from Spinoza through Marx to Benjamin and Adorno. This reordering of the various philosophical precursors follows Dobbs-Weinstein's argument larger argument for the repressed materialist (islamic and judaic) Aristoltean tradition. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Liminal For Life: On It Follows

At first glance it is possible to consider It Follows to be a kind of meta-horror, a film which makes the rules of the genre explicit to the narrative itself. In this case the rule in question would be the one in which sex is instantly followed by death in slasher films. The sex/death connection becomes the film's central mythos, and only explanation for the "it." However, It Follows is not a knowing wink at the horror genre, as in the case of the Scream films, nor is it a film like Cabin in the Woods, which explains genre conventions by displacing them into another genre.