Precarious Rhapsody: Semiocapitalism and the pathologies of post-alpha generation
by Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi
Edited by Erik Empson & Stevphen Shukaitis
Translated by Arianna Bove, Michael Goddard, Giuseppina Mecchia, Antonella Schintu, and Steve Wright
An infinite series of bifurcations: this is how we can tell the story of our life, of our loves, but also the history of revolts, defeats and restorations of order. At any given moment different paths open up in front of us, and we are continually presented with the alternative of going here or going there. Then we decide, we cut out from a set of infinite possibilities and choose a single path. But do we really choose? Is it really a question of a choice, when we go here rather than there? Is it really a choice, when masses go to shopping centers, when revolutions are transformed into massacres, when nations enter into war? It is not we who decide but the concatenations: machines for the liberation of desires and mechanisms of control over the imaginary. The fundamental bifurcation is always this one: between machines for liberating desire and mechanisms of control over the imaginary. In our time of digital mutation, technical automatisms are taking control of the social psyche.
Franco Berardi Bifo is a contemporary writer, media-theorist and media-activist. He founded the magazine A/traverso (1975-1981) and was part of the staff of Radio Alice, the first free pirate radio station in Italy (1976-1978). He is author of numerous books, including Cyberpunk, The Panther and the Rhizome, Politics of Mutation, Philosophy and Politics in the Twilight of Modernity, and The Factory of Unhappiness. He is currently collaborating on the magazine Derive Approdi as well as teaching social history of communication at the Accademia di belle Arti in Milano.
US: $18 / UK: 12 pounds / £10 from this site
154 pages, 6” x 9”
Release date July 24, 2009
“Precarious Rhapsody is an unusual, even eccentric work… it takes various different tacks through the present conjuncture while burrowing, when necessary, into the past and following a strategy of repetition and variation rather than linear development. Because of rather than despite these anomalies, it provides the fullest introduction to Bifo’s thought” – Mute Magazine
“[Precarious Rhapsody] engaged me, enraptured me, and for good reason – every line appeared as a reflection of my own fractured experience, not only in the past year working the shop floor, but in my life of working within realms aptly described under the banner of cognitive labor.” – Fugitive Philosophy
““This book is great fun; a genuinely enjoyable work of theory. Bifo has a certain reputation as the wild man of post-Workerist, given to wild bouts of enthusiasm and troughs of utter despair – but somehow, often overlapping in his own unique signature way, whereby he can announce that revolutionary hope is dead, that the only possible remaining radical gesture is self-mutilation, but do so in such a cheerful, playful, charming fashion that one can’t help but feel invigorated by the experience anyway.” – David Graeber