The question of the relation between the individual psyche and social relations is a perennial question. This is largely due to the fact that we are so ill-prepared to understand it. The fields of psychology and sociology each claim one side of the relation as their domain pretty much ensuring that the question will not be properly posed, let alone answered. With the division of labor in academia is left to its own devices we have the world of film (and television) which gives us figures that are at once singular, reflecting their own neurosis, and general, expressing in their own way the cultural moment.
Thursday, January 16, 2020
Friday, January 10, 2020
I am eventually going to get to a point about obedience
and posses (multitudes)
The recently published Sagesse ou ignorance? La Question de Spinoza constitutes a return to Spinoza by Pierre Macherey, who after dedicating much of the 90s to a thorough study of the Ethics has spent the last decade or so writing on everything from "daily life," "utopias," "the university," to a general examination of subjection and subjectivity in contemporary philosophy. While it could be argue that all of these studies were undertaken in a "spinozist way" they where largely free of references to Spinoza. These books were driven less by names and figures in the history of philosophy than the perennial problems of political and social life. Macherey's return to Spinoza is not a simple retreat into scholarship for its own sake, but a return infused by the intersection of politics and philosophy.
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Frédéric Lordon's latest book, Vivre Sans? Institutions, Police, Travail, Argent... is a conversation with Félix Boggio Éwanjé-Épée (who among other things runs the great review Période), although one in which Lordon's responses to Éwanjé-Épée's questions. Lordon uses the reflection to situate his particular Spinozist/Marxism (perhaps more adequately grasped as a kind of left Spinozism) with respect to both traditions of radical thought, Badiou, Deleuze, Agamben, and Rancière, and the current radical movements, Gilet Jaunes, ZAD, and the invisible committee. In doing so Lordon not only begins to clarify his own conception of a politics of affects and institutions, but also continues to develop a Spinozist (rather than a Marxist-Spinozist) concept of politics.
Saturday, November 30, 2019
A common thread connects Parasite and Knives Out, two of the best films of the year. That thread is not just the representation of class, but more specifically the servant as kind of figure of class struggle. At first glance this is surprising, nothing seems more archaic, more out of touch with the existing labor relations than a household servant. In different and contradictory ways these films illustrate that in age of service jobs and emotional labor the servant has gone from being a remnant of feudal era to the closest one can get to a universal figure of alienation.
Saturday, November 02, 2019
Trump is not a dog person, or, for that matter, a cat person. He is supposedly the first president in a century to not have a pet. Past presidents have had dogs, cats, horses, even alligators. While many animal lovers breathe a sigh of relief at such news it has recently taken a strange turn. After a long history of resorting to dog as his favorite phrase of contempt, he tweeted praise of a Belgian Malinois named Conan used in the raid on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Even going so far as to retweet a doctored picture of him giving the medal of honor to the animal, adding that the real dog will be visiting the White House soon.
Thursday, October 24, 2019
An Earlier Draft of this paper was presented at the Libidinal Economies of Crisis Times Conference
Spinoza’s question of political thought, “why do the masses fight for their servitude as if it was salvation” has taken on a unanticipated economic and social relevance since the post-2008 economic recession.Displaced from its seventeenth century context, of taxes and bread, wars of glory, and despots, it is possible to see a struggle for servitude in the way in which the masses clamor for more jobs, more austerity, and more persecution of the disadvantaged in the name of fiscal discipline. The blog Splintering Bone Ashes has dubbed this particular struggle for servitude “Negative solidarity.” Negative solidarity is defined as “an aggressively enraged sense of injustice, committed to the idea that, because I must endure increasingly austere working conditions (wage freezes, loss of benefits, declining pension pot, erasure of job security and increasing precarity) then everyone else must too.”
Tuesday, October 01, 2019
The number of popular books on work, books aimed beyond the narrow confines of specific disciplines, outnumbers the numbers of academic books, or more to the point, the number of books in philosophy by a ratio of at least five to one. A quick browse of Amazon (more on that company later) reveals a surprising number of books on automation, uber, service economy, etc., and that is not even counting the books that are aimed less at understanding work than reinforcing its ideology, the Seven Habits of Thoroughly Intrepellated Subjects., etc. While there has been a rising number of books within the critique of work, Weeks, Fleming, etc., these books tend to be from the perspective of sociology, political theory, or even management studies rather than philosophy. (Extending the scope beyond the Anglo-American world does change things a bit, in France at least Philosophy of Work is more than an oxymoron).
Sunday, September 01, 2019
Spinoza and Bento
The different Marxist approaches to Spinoza can be viewed through the different aspects of Spinoza's thought they take up, often corresponding to different parts of the Ethics. For Althusser it is epistemology (and Part Two as well as the Appendix to Part One), for Negri it is ontology (roughly Parts Three and Four), and for Lordon it is Anthropology (and Part Three). Of course things do not always score so neatly, there are also those thinkers that traverse ontology, epistemology, and anthropology, an approach that is fitting for philosophers not animated by such scholastic distinctions. However, all of this is to introduce André Tosel's Du Materialisme de Spinoza.
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
This post is more on the spirit than the letter of Tronti but I thought that I would use
the image of this french translation now that it has been rendered obsolete by the English translation
In general it is bad form, not to mention questionable scholarship, to treat Marx like some kind of scripture, quoting specific passages rather than looking for the overall logic or idea. Despite this injunction I often find myself obsessed with a particular passage from Marx (hell, I wrote an entire book that is a commentary on one passage from the Grundrisse). In my defense this is because, as many readers of Marx will recognized, Marx's mature thought, from Capital onward, often crystalizes in incredibly provocative and polemical passages that stand as mountains above the arid plateaus where linen is exchange for coats. Speaking of arid plateaus the first passage that I have been obsessed with comes from Volume Three where Marx writes.
Friday, August 02, 2019
Susan Willis argues that post 9/11 America is haunted by its own contingency. The instillation of Bush into power via the Supreme Court gave is presidency an air of the unreal. The possibility of another timeline, that of the Gore presidency hung over everything like a shadow. This sense of contingency was doubled by 9/11 which despite its trauma always seemed like something that might not have happened. If this contingency was not enough there was The West Wing on television, a liberal fantasy of a different America. Different timelines become less an abstract possibility and more of a virtual reality.