Monday, June 25, 2012

Corporate Imaginations: In Praise of Weyland-Yutani

The films Alien, Aliens, Bladerunner, Terminator, They Live and Robocop were, in varying degrees, all formative films for me. This is in part their timing, all of the films were produced and released in the late 70s and 80s, and readily available in the decade of the VHS player. They are the films of my adolescence and thus helped me transition from my youthful love of robots and Star Wars into more sophisticated ideas of what science fiction was capable of. These films were gateway drugs to Philip K Dick and Frederick Pohl (and, much later, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ken Macleod, and China Mieville). In some sense this period was a kind of renaissance of sci-fi film, situated between the rise of special effects and the decline of the globalized film into sequels, prequels, and remakes, and I was at the perfect age to enjoy it. Beyond timing, these films all have one thing in common, they all deal with the corporation as something of an antagonist Weyland-Yutani, The Tyrell Corporation, Cyberdine Systems, and Omni Consumer Corp are as much the villains as the aliens, androids, and robots. My enjoyment of them was also a shift in my understanding of the world. They were my transition from evil empires to exploitation, from Star Wars to class war. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Centaurs and Bloodworms: Multitude and Nature in del Lucchese and Sharp’s Studies of Spinoza

We must be living in a renaissance of Spinoza studies. The “dead dog” of past generations has becoming a thriving pack. I refer not just to the often cited studies of Matheron, Macherey, Negri, Balibar, and Morfino, but the new books that appear every year. What does this turn to Spinoza mean for philosophy? Or, what does it mean to be a Spinozist today? I ask this question to interrupt the unstated stakes of nearly interpretation of a philosophy, which is often nothing other than a battle for “intellectual hegemony.” This battle takes two forms: first, one argues for the superiority of a specific philosopher, Spinoza, Hegel, Heidegger, or whoever, then one argues as to why their particular interpretation of the philosopher in question is the correct one. It is game with diminishing returns, one might gain a few new acolytes but the audience gets smaller and smaller. Despite the diminishing returns, this remains the primary business model for philosophical work.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Sing Me Spanish Techno: Spinoza and Stiegler on the Politics and Semiotics of Disindividuation

Spinoza and Stiegler are both transindividual thinkers. In the first case this is avant la lettre, Spinoza innovative conceptualization of desire, affects, and individuation preceded Simondon’s particular conceptual neologism. In contrast to this, Stiegler announces his debt to Simondon’s concept on practically every page, transindividuality remains a central conceptual point of theoretical reference, remaining constant in the readings of Husserl, Heidegger, Freud, and Leroi-Gourhan.