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Metropolitan Strategies, Psychogeographic Investigations

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Categories: Events

Metropolitan Strategies, Psychogeographic Investigations
:: A Drifting Seminar :: Brighton, October 26th, 2010 ::
Starting @ the Cowley Club, 2PM

The notion of psychogeography (as well as many other ideas of the Situationists) appears frequently within political and artistic discussions. Indeed, they circulate to the point of cliché, in the process becoming almost completely emptied of content. The derive is reduced to a leisurely stroll, perhaps accompanied with some secondary musings about the nature of the spectacle, a dash of literary activity, or perhaps some local history. This is a hollowing out of the concept. Psychogeography for the Situationists was primarily not an aesthetic activity, but more than anything a strategic approach to understanding the forces shaping the city and from those finding points of intervention in it. At times it verged on a nearly military framework, working to gain an intuitive understanding of the territory and its layering of images, affects, and circuits of capitalist valorization.

Today we find ourselves in a condition of ever intensified spectacular sociability: all of life put to work in webs of biopolitical production, overwhelming communicative and media flows, and the reshaping of the metropolis through culture led gentrification. More than ever well-developed psychogeographic investigations are needed to comprehend the shaping of the metropolis and the possibilities this offers for political action. But this is not a task for the carefree wanderings of the flaneur, but perhaps better suited for what Ian Sinclair has described as the superseding figure of the stalker, the one who knows where he is going, but not why or how. Continue reading →

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Immanent Singularities

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Categories: Interventions

Immanent Singularities: A Minor Compositions Interview with Bruno Gulli

As a philosopher and academic worker, Bruno Gulli is nothing if not untimely. In an era when the labor of thought, the work that creates new concepts, finds itself squeezed by an ever-increasing array of restrictions (from journal and publisher limitations to lack of time from overwork and precarious employment), Gulli bucks these trends in a spectacular fashion. Rather than composing 8000 word chunks of pabulum, simply recycling tired clichés or niceties, Gulli has embarked on composing a three-volume inquiry into the relation between ethics, labor, and ontology. Such an approach might not have seemed all that remarkable fifty years ago, but today to carry out such a fundamental rethinking of our categories of political thought and discourse is paradoxically no longer appreciated, and therefore all the more necessary. Gulli’s first book, The Labor of Fire (2005, Temple University Press) led Michael Hardt to comment that the work of Gulli, along with others carrying out similar work, will renew the Marxist tradition. This renewal, he claims, will not be of a scientific, structuralist, or humanist Marxism, but rather a philosophical approach to Marx centered on the concept of labor its power of social transformation. High words of praise indeed. This interview was conducted shortly after the publication of his most recent book Earthly Plenitudes: A Study on Sovereignty and Labor(2010, Temple University Press). Continue reading →

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Discipline & the Moving Image

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Categories: Events

Discipline & the Moving Image
Presented by Zoe Beloff

June 11th, 2010 @ 6:30 PM
Birkbeck Cinema
43 Gordon Square
London WC1H 0PD

Obedience, Stanley Milgram, 16mm, 1962, 45 mins
Folie à Deux, National Film Board of Canada, 16mm, 1952, 15 mins
Motion Studies Application, 16mm, ca. 1950, 15 mins

Obedience documents the infamous “Milgram experiment” conducted at Yale University in 1962, created to evaluate an everyday person’s deference to authority within institutional structures. Psychologist Stanley Milgram designed a scenario in which individuals were made to think they were administering electric shocks to an unseen subject, with a researcher asking them to increase the voltage levels despite the loud cries of pain that seemed to come from the other room. Milgram saw his test, conducted mere months after Adolf Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem, as a way to understand the environments that made genocide possible.

Tonight, artist Zoe Beloff pairs Obedience with two earlier works dealing with psycho-social control: Folie à Deux and Motion Studies Application. The former, one of a series of films on various psychological maladies produced by the National Film Board of Canada in the 1950s, presents an interview with a young woman and her immigrant mother afflicted by shared delusions that manifest when the two are together. The latter is an industrial film purporting to present ways to increase efficiency in the workplace: explaining, for instance, a means to fold cardboard boxes more quickly. In stark contrast to the nostalgic whimsy typically associated with old educational films, Folie à Deux and Motion Studies Application play as infernal dreams of systemic power and sources of surprising, unintended pathos. Continue reading →

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Operaist Freedom

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Categories: Interventions

Operaist Freedom
By Gigi Roggero
Translation by Silvia Federici

“Look, you went to the wrong floor” Romano Alquati would answer at the beginning of the 1990s to a leftist student who wanted to write a dissertation on (factory) workers. If you want to write a dissertation on (factory) workers you should go to the second floor, to “Archeology.” Like the “rude pagan race” [Tronti’s description of the mass worker], Alquati had no gods and refused myths. The cult of the past is a wretched thing. When he arrived in Torino in 1960, after growing up in Cremona and having lived in Milano in the commune of via Sirtori 2 (a true cultural and intellectual crucible of the 1950s and ‘60s, meeting point of Phenomenology and Marxism, international crossroad of philosophers and revolutionaries), Romano, like the politically and humanly exceptional generation that would give life to operaism, was not in search of a metaphysical, disembodied subject, heroic custodian of the general interest. “There have been and there are still a populist and welfarist operaism (of Christian origin), a trade-unionist operaism, a combination of both, whose characteristic was considering (factory) workers “the weak section” of the population, thus in need of help. These operaists love (factory) workers, the very condition of being a factory worker. The ‘political’ operaists, instead, were interested in proletarian workers because, against all universalisms, they saw them as strong, a power.” Continue reading →

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This is Forever: A Exploration of Contemporary Autonomist Politics

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This is Forever: A Exploration of Contemporary Autonomist Politics
An evening with Minor Compositions and the Team Colors Collective.
Thursday, 25 March, 7pm
Red & Black Cafe – 400 SE 12th avenue (at Oak) Portland, OR

Join us for an evening with two autonomist authors and organizers from Portland and London in exploring contemporary politics, the continued imposition of work, current struggles in the University and elsewhere, militant and co-research, and in celebrating the release of their recent books.  In the U.S. and across the planet struggles against enclosures, the dismantling of the University, for public and community space, against “the endless imposition of work,” and against a form of life that is increasingly precarious – are currently taking place.  By “reading” these and neighboring struggles we seek to create a world in which many worlds fit. A discussion on these issues and other topics will follow short talks. Continue reading →

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Autonomism, Class Composition, and Cultural Studies

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Autonomism, Class Composition, and Cultural Studies
Berkeley, CA – March 18th (as part of the Cultural Studies Association conference)
Organized by Stevphen Shukaitis & Jack Z. Bratich

How do cultural studies and autonomism converge and diverge over matters of power, the state, and subjectivity? Come join us for a series of  panels (organized by Stevphen Shukaitis and Jack Bratich)  planned as part of the annual Cultural Studies Association conference. They will explore the future behind our backs, focusing on how autonomist politics and analysis can inform cultural analysis and vice versa.

Autonomist political analysis involves something very much like a form of cultural studies, exploring how the grounds for radical politics are constantly shifting in response to how capital and the state utilize social insurgencies and movements against themselves. For instance, the concept of class composition, or the ways in which class formations emerge from social contestation, and the primacy and determining role of social resistance, shares much in common with various strains of thought in cultural studies. Similarly, workers’ inquiry as a method of investigating into the conditions of working class life to rethinking its ongoing subversive political potentiality, functions in similar ways to how early cultural studies shifted to an analysis of the everyday based on renewing and deepening radical politics. Continue reading →

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Provo, Autonomy, and Ludic Politics

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Provo, Autonomy, and Ludic Politics
:: December 10th :: The Foundry, 7pm ::
:: Foundry, London :: 86 Great Eastern Street ::

The legendary Dutch anarchist movement Provo staged political and cultural interventions into the symbolic and everyday spaces of Holland from 1965 – 1967. The rise and fall of Provo stretches from early Dutch “happenings” staged in 1962 to the “Death of Provo” in 1967. Although a small group they cast a disproportionately large shadow on the events of the time due to their skillful analysis of social unrest among Dutch youth. By tying their political program to the rich magical heritage of Amsterdam’s bohemian subculture they created political street theater that captured the pulse of Amsterdam’s population.

Come join us to celebrate the release of Provo: Amsterdm’s Anarchist Revolt by Richard Kempton, the first book length English history and analysis of Provo. We will be joined by several of the members of Provo including Hans Plomp, Auke Boersma, Luud Schimmelpennink and Nico van Apeldoorn. The evening will include appearances by members of Radio Joy as well as recently recovered and translated video footage from the period. We will explore the history and activities of Provo, tracing out their legacies and continuing influence in the realm of autonomist politics and ludic interventions in public space. Continue reading →

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The Atrocity Organization

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Categories: Events

The Atrocity Organization: JG Ballard & the Technologies of Psychopathology Management
:: Tuesday November 10th :: 5PM
:: Foundry, London :: 86 Great Eastern Street ::

The Atrocity Organization

A kind of waiting madness, like a state of undeclared war, haunted the office buildings of the business park. – J.G. Ballard, Super-Cannes

As a novelist and fiction SF writer, JG Ballard developed one of the most dynamic (and disturbing) exploration of collective psychopathology, excesses in organizational life, and the collapsing of the Western imaginary. From the fetish of the car crash to obscene hidden violence of the business park, internment camps to masochist fantasies directed through the mediated form of Ronald Reagan’s body, Ballard’s work ventures into territories that are disconcerting to explore, but from which one can learn a great deal. Rather than assuming that disorder and excess is a condition that management and organization must respond to, this event will explore the proposition that what might really be psychopathological is the desire to impose order upon an inherently ungovernable and excessive condition. Continue reading →

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Imaginal Machines

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Categories: Current Publications, Stevphen Shukaitis

Imaginal Machines: Autonomy & Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Life
by Stevphen Shukaitis

All power to the imagination? Over the past forty years to invoke the imagination as a basis for radical politics has become a cliché: a rhetorical utilization of ideas already in circulation, invoking the mythic unfolding of this self-institutionalizing process. But what exactly is radical imagination? Drawing from autonomist politics, class composition analysis, and avant-garde arts, Imaginal Machines explores the emergence, functioning, and constant breakdown of the embodied forms of radical imagination.

What does it mean to invoke the power of the imagination when it seems that the imagination has already seized power through the power of the spectacle? Does any subversive potentiality remain? Perhaps it is only honest to think in terms of a temporally-bounded subversive power. It might be that imaginal machines only work by breaking down. That is, their functioning is only possible, paradoxically, by their malfunctioning. By reopening the question of recuperation, the inevitable drive to integrate the power of social insurgency back into the working of capital and the state, we create possibilities for a politics continually reconstituted against and through the dynamics of recuperation: to keep open an antagonism without closure.

“Imaginal Machines explores with humor and wit the condition of art and politics in contemporary capitalism. It reviews the potentials and limits of liberatory art (from surrealism to Tom Waits) while charting the always-resurgent creations of the collective imagination. Shukaitis exhibits a remarkable theoretical breadth, bringing together the work of Castoriadis, the Situationists, and autonomous Marxism to define a new task for militant research: constructing imaginal machines that escape capitalism. Imaginal Machines is truly a book that makes a path by walking.” – Silvia Federici, author of Caliban and the Witch: Women the Body and Primitive Accumulation

“If you have ever had someone say to you, ‘okay it’s fine to criticize but what would you do?’ this is the book for you. Shukaitis takes us on a raucous ride through actually existing alternative organizations that are anarchic, loving, fun, and best of all they work.  We meet people and organizations who imagine a completely different way of being together in the world.  And we are never far from a sophisticated theoretical travelogue as we walk these roads with the author.  What would you do?  Try this, and this, and this!” – Stefano Harney, Chair in Strategy, Culture, and Organization, University of London Continue reading →

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Imperceptible Strategies, Unidentified Autonomous Organizations

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Categories: Events

Imperceptible Strategies, Unidentified Autonomous Organizations
:: A Drifting Seminar :: London, October 23rd,2009 ::

Anarchist and autonomous politics are often associated, in a kneejerk way, with a celebration of chaos and disorder: a rejection of all forms of organization. The reduction of radical politics to a cheap joke (‘anarchist organization, what’s that?’) comes to substitute for an actual understanding of autonomous organizational practices. Far from rejecting organization all together, the history of autonomous politics contains a wealth of different modes of organizing, from the formation of temporary autonomous zones to affinity group models, maroon communities to networks and collectives.

These are forms of organizing that not always acknowledged as being organizations because they do not conform to what it is assumed organizations necessarily are: durable, static, and hierarchical. This understanding of organization obscures and makes difficult an actual engagement with the merits and weaknesses of different forms of organizing. But what would be found if rather than working from a fixed and unchanging concept of organization, one that excludes temporary forms of organization from consideration, it was attempted to tease out the organizational dynamics from all the temporary alliances and alliances that appear and disappear?
Continue reading →

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