30.9.13

Horror Vacui: Berlusconi Breaking Bad @ Series Finale by Quitthedoner and R.Tubaro

André Vida : Score and Seek @ Project Space



As part of Eyebeam's mission to support risk-taking new works, composer, artist, technologist and Honorary Fellow André Vida will be testing his latest interactive musical installation from September 19th- September 30th in the Project Space. Score and Seek projects animated musical notations that respond to the performers as they move and perform in the space. Creative musicians from backgrounds ranging from classical training to live improvisation, of all ages, are invited to drop by the Project Space to experiment and explore Vida's interactive score. Daily performances will take place at 5:00PM. Read more @ Eyebeam
Vida is seeking creative musicians from backgrounds ranging from classical training to live improvising, of all ages, to drop by or schedule visits to experiment and explore the artist's interactive score
 The artist is seeking the following:
  • Any kind of musician who is interested to work with deconstructed notation
  • Spontaneous composers / improvisers
  • Classically trained musicians
  • Hobbyists
  • Students
If you would like to participate in the testing of Score and Seek please send your name and times you would like to perform to marbles@vidatone.com.
Score and Seek is supported by Cycling '74 and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

28.9.13

Tony Sampson's interview on Crowd, Power and Post-democracy in the 21st Century @ Obsolete Capitalism


Tony D. Sampson's interview on digital populism and recent European political phenomena, held on 14th June 2013 with the author of this blog and of Obsolete Capitalism. The next interview with Simon Choat will be published Saturday 5th October 2013. The previous interviews were held with Jussi Parikka on 14 September and Saul Newman on 21 September.


 EDIT: We collected Sampson's interview in PDF fileAll interviews on digital populism - in English language - are collected into a single file HERE.

Crowd,Power and Post-democracy in the 21st Century

Rural
fascism and city or neighborhood fascism, youth fascism and war veteran's fascism... fascism of the couple, family, school, and office. Only the micro-fascism can answer the global question: 'Why does desire long for its repression? how can it desires its very own repression?'
— Gilles Deleuze, Fèlix Guattari, A thousand plateaus, pg.271
    On the micro-fascism
    OC Let us start from the analysis Wu Ming set out in their brief essay Grillismo: Yet another right-wing cult coming from Italy and which interprets Grillo’s Five Star Movement as a new authoritarian right-wing faction. Why did the desire for change of much of the electorate long once again for its very repression? We seem to witness the re-affirmation of Wilhelm Reich’s thought: at a given moment in history the masses wanted fascism. The masses have not been deceived: they have understood very well the danger of authoritarianism; but they have voted it anyway. Even more worrying is that the authoritarian Berlusconi's Freedom People (PDL) and Grillo’s Five Star Movement (M5S) conquer more than half of the Italian electorate together. A very similar situation arose in the UK in May 2013, with the UKIP’s exploit in the latest local elections. Why and in what measure are the toxins of authoritarianism and micro-fascism present in contemporary European society?

TS I'd like to think this through using Tarde’s somnambulist as the situation seems to lend itself to a theory of sleepwalking subjects, but this approach should also have a UK political context. So yes, once again, we are faced with a surge in rightwing popularism, particularly here in my home county of Essex: a much maligned county east of London along the Thames Estuary. Across the UK the rise of the right should not really be a surprise. The working poor and unemployed have been hit hard by the Tory cuts. They need someone to blame and political forces like UKIP, BNP and EDL (English Defence League) have just the (one) policy to do that: they blame the “Others”. Moreover though, many of these people have completely turned their backs on the left. This is partly due to the Thatcher-Murdoch demonizations in the 1980s, but it’s also due to the failure of the kind of bourgeois democracy they experienced under New Labour. Blair’s “third way” decimated left thinking in the middle ground. He moved the centre left further to the right than the Tories with his public-private initiatives and laissez-faire approach to banking and communications. Now we have the coalition and their insulting mantra of “we’re all in this together.” Unemployment is on the increase, along with mini-jobs and their derisory contracts. The Liberals used to soak up the popular protest vote. No one believed they could ever really get into power. But they did! The illusion of bourgeois democracy is now exposed, which is a good thing, but this could also mean that many people in Essex turn even further to the right. 

This broad macropolitical failure does not however explain it all. At the microsocial level of the “people” we are, it seems, seeing the continuance of fascistic political unconscious. In Essex the people have voted Tory for years. Indeed, the question the left have been asking for a long time now is why people in this neglected London overspill support a political class of expensively educated, career politicians whose policies contradict their own interests? Is this a people who seek their own repression? So yes Reich’s question is pertinent once again. We need to try to rethink what seemed to him to be the perverse impulses of the fascist unconscious; a desire for repression that seeps through the layers into conscious rational choices. Why do so many people desire this kind of popular fascism? They are aware. They are not deceived. The fascist brain is caught up in a mixture of rebellious emotions and reactionary ideas against the putrid centre ground. But it is not democracy they desire. They are in need of a religion to protect them from the chaos. They crave authority, as Reich argued. They desire belief. 

While Reich’s binary thinking may have famously helped him to mistake the desire to be repressed for an irrational perversion of an otherwise rational state, he did point out that Marxist sociology offers an equally binary perspective of the desiring machine. They had it wrong about mass psychology. Contrary to how we perceive the masses through the lenses of Marxist thinking, they do not perceive themselves as a hard done by proletariat pitched against the bourgeoisie elite. Desire does not have a class distinction hidden inside. As Reich points out, the Marxist ideal of abolishing private property seems to clash with the people’s desire for all kinds of commodities. He mentioned shirts, pants, typewriters, toilet paper, books etc, but today we can add iphones and flat screen TVs. They also seem not the least concerned if it is the state or the private sector that appropriates their surplus labour. No surprise then that the promises of a return to the student protests of 1968 all but fizzled out in the winter of 2011. Indeed, it was the English summer riots that emerged as a much greater force. But this was no Arab Spring. Nobody took over Trafalgar Square. They went straight to the shopping mall. Perhaps the rioter’s desire to loot needs to be grasped as a kind of perversion of the desire to shop.

    1919, 1933, 2013. On the crisis
    OC In 2008 Slavoj Zizek said that when the normal run of things is traumatically interrupted, the field is open for a ‘discursive’ ideological competition. In Germany in the early 1930s Hitler won the competition to determine which narrative would explain the reasons for the crisis of the Weimar Republic — the Jewish conspiracy and the corruption of political parties. Zizek ends his reflection by stating that the expectations of the radical left to get scope for action and gain consent may be deceptive as populist or racist formations will prevail: the Greek Golden Dawn, the Hungarian Fidesz, the French Front National, the UK Independence Party are examples. Italy has had farcical groups such as the Lega Nord or the recent Five Star Movement, a bizarre rassemblement that seems to combine Reverend Jones People's Temple with Syriza, or ‘revolutionary boyscoutism’ with the disciplinarism of the societies of control. How can one escape the crisis? What discursive, possibly-winning narratives should be developed? Are the typically Anglo-Saxon neo-Keynesian politics an answer or, on the countrary, is it the new authoritarian populism that will prevail?

TS Perhaps I need to begin by realizing the limits of a my philosophical approach in this context. I cannot provide a discursive formation. It’s about relational concepts rather than a series of logical propositions. This will not lead to that. We need to approach discursive formations by exposing the nondiscursive relations of encounter with events. For example, we can ask how the microsocial encounters macrolevel politics. What are the new layers of experience that succeed Reich? What is it that viscerally appeals to the “people” of Essex?  Perhaps it is fear! There is the Eastern European conspiracy/contagion here (they are coming for our jobs and benefits). They blame it on the Muslims too (they want to kill us all). What escape do we have from these formations? What kind of intervention could clear away the fog of populism that obscures affirmative felt relations: the empathy all repressed people should have in common with each other. 

    On the missing people
    OC Mario Tronti states that ‘there is populism because there is no people.’ That of the people is an enduring theme which Tronti disclaims in a very Italian way: ‘the great political forces use to stand firmly on the popular components of the social history: the Catholic populism, the socialist tradition, the diversity in communism. Since there was the people, there was no populism.’ Paul Klee often complained that even in historical artistic avant-gardes ‘it was people who lacked.’ However the radical critique to populism has led to important results: the birth of a mature democracy in America; the rise of the theory and the practice of revolution in the Tsarist Empire, a country plagued by the contradictions of a capitalist development in an underdeveloped territory (Lenin and the bolshevism). Tronti carries on in his tranchant analysis of the Italian and European backgrounds: ‘In today's populism, there is no people and there is no prince. It is necessary to beat populism because it obscures the relations of power.’ Through its economic-mediatic-judicial apparatuses, neopopulism constantly shapes “trust-worthy people” similar to the "customers portfolio" of the branded world of neoliberal economy: Berlusconi’s “people” have been following the deeds of Arcore’s Sultan for twenty years; Grillo’s followers are adopting similar all-encompassing identifying processes, giving birth to the more confused impulses of the Italian social strata. With institutional fragility, fluctuating sovereignties and the oblivion of left-wing dogmas (class, status, conflict, solidarity, equality) how can we form people today? Is it possible to reinvent anti-authoritarian people? Is it only the people or also the politics itself to lack?

TS One source of the fog of populism is the seemingly reciprocal relation between the people and the media. While some coverage of the protests in Turkey are appearing at the backend of BBC news reports, top of the most watched/listened to list on the news website have been items relating to the price of the new PS4, interest in Apple’s new look for iOS 7; and live video coverage from Westminster Abbey of a special service to mark the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The media has also perpetuated the rise of the loveable rightwing buffoon: UKIP’s Nigel Farage and the Tories’ Boris Johnson.  These rightwing conceptual personae help to obscure power relations in the UK, which are rapidly sinking back to a people dominated by those “born to rule” Bullingdon bullies.1 So yes, I agree with Tronti’s point that you raise, about the people being missing from populism, or at least, to put it another way, they are difficult to make out in all this fog. A new people need to be found.
    On Control
    OC In Postscript on the Societies of Control, published in 1990, Gilles Deleuze states that, thanks to the illuminating analyses of Michel Foucault, a new diagnosis of contemporary Western society emerges. Deleuze's analysis is as follows: control societies have replaced disciplinary societies at the beginning of the twentieth century. He writes that ‘marketing is now the instrument of social control and it forms the impudent breed of our masters.’ Let us evaluate who stands beyond two very successful electoral adventures such as Forza Italia (Berlusconi’s first party) and M5S: respectively Publitalia 80 owned by Marcello Dell'Utri and Casaleggio Asssociati owned by Gianroberto Casaleggio. The incontrovertible fact that two marketing companies stand out reinforces Deleuze’s analysis. Mechanisms of control, media events such as exit polls and infinite surveys, im/penetrable databases, data as commodities, continuous spin doctoring, influencers that lead consensus on the net, opaque bots, digital squads, dominant echo-chambering. Evil media. These are the determinations of post-ideological (post-democratic?) neoliberalism. The misery of the new control techniques competes only with that of the glass house of gri%ina transparency (web-control, of course). Jacques Ranciere says we live in the epoch of post- politics: how can we get out of the neo-liberal cage and free ourselves from the ideological consensus of its electoral products? What will the reconfiguration of left-wing politics be after the exhaustion of Marxist hegemony?

TS We not only need to find the people, but also better grasp what their desires might be. With this in mind, it is perhaps interesting to look at the rhetoric of contagion deployed by the Tories. They do not want to defend their privilege, they say; they want to spread it!2
 This is the sort of hollow discourse that is easy to see through, but a little harder to resist. Not simply because the relations of power are dominated by the privileged, but because the “people” desire the inventions of privilege. The somnambulist subject is lead by example so much so that the examples he desires become incarnated in him. He desires to become the example that is copied. In Essex the sleepwalkers are caught up in their passionate interest in becoming rich businessmen, footballers, celebrities, soldiers, gangsters. Of course most people never get anywhere near to what they aspire to be, but are forever striving for it. So if you cannot become what you aspire to be, the next best option is to continue to follow the example. Where else is there to go? Desire needs somewhere to go.

Not that every example is unobtainable. It is fairly easy to become a soldier in Essex or at least pretend to be one by lining up in support of “our” boys through thick and thin, through legal and illegal wars. This is the threat posed by the EDL. Tarde would have described these people as somnambulists; not merely unconscious beings, but unconscious by association. 

The Tory think tanks grasp this thing about examples well, I think. They employed an aspirational Essex man to become their voice in the popular press. Andy Coulson (now charged with phone hacking) worked his way up from a local Essex newspaper to become the editor of Murdoch’s poisonous tabloids. He was introduced to counter the Eton accents with the voice of working class aspiration. They needn’t have bothered because the working class in Essex have long been in love with the posh. The recent rise of rightwing buffoonery has arrived via a long held passion for inventions like Saatchi’s Thatcher and the much older Royal brand that seems to continue to soak up the desire to be repressed. 

As Reich said, the working classes do not see themselves as a struggling proletariat. They see themselves in mixture with the middle classes. That’s not a bad thing. Any modicum of change would require the involvement of all. However, unlike Turkey at this moment where it is the young middle classes who are willing to be on the streets in the protests, the left leaning middle classes here in Essex are hiding in their cosy enclaves. They have too much to lose. Even the growing instability of their jobs in the City is not enough (yet) to get them out on the streets or anywhere near their poorer neighbours. So what would it take to shake them out of their neoliberal cages? 

    On the Googlization of politics; the financial side of digi-populism
    OC The first decade of the 21st century has been characterized by the rise of neo-capitalism, referred to as cognitive; in this context a company like Google has established itself as the perfect synthesis of web-business as it does not compensate, if not in a small part, the content-carriers it lists. In Italy, following the electoral success of the Five Stars Movement we witnessed a mutation of the typical prosumer of social networks: the new figure of the “prosumer-voter” was in fact born on Grillo’s blog - being essentially the one and only channel of information of the movement. The blog is a commercial activity and the high number of contacts and daily access has steadily increased in the last year. This digital militancy produces incomes both in the form of advertising and online sales of products such as DVDs, books and other material associated with the movement. All of this leads to the risk of googlization of politic whereby the modes of financing political activity radically change because of the "network surplus-value" - an expression coined by the researcher Matteo Pasquinelli to define that portion of incomes extracted from the practices of the web prosumers. Having said this, are we about to witness a shift of the financial paradigm applied to politics? Will the fundings from powerful lobbies or the general public be replaced by micro-donations via web (in the style of Obama’s) and by the exploitation of the prosumer-voters? And if so, will the dominant 'googlization of politics' involve any particular risks?
TS In many ways this is a second front. The fear contagions perpetuated by the mainstream media only go so far. They need to be accompanied by the intimacy of something like Obama’s campaign. This is just the tip of a much bigger effort to tap into, to nudge, and to steer feelings via networks. This is a different kind of propaganda model though. The networking of Obama love has at its heart a user experience designer. The risk is that the contagion will be so well designed that we’ll be distracted enough and miss it. The best user experiences are invisible. 

    On digital populism, on affective capitalism
    OC James Ballard once said that after the religions of the Book we should expect those of the Web. Some claim that, in fact, a first techno-religion already exists in the form of Affective Capitalism whose technological and communicative characteristics mirror those of network cultures. This notion of a secularized cult can be traced back to Walter Benjamin's thought but is enriched by a very contemporary mix of affective manipulation techniques, politics of neo-liberalism and political practices 2.0. The rise of the Five Star Movement is the first successful example of italian digital populism; Obama’s campaign in the U.S.A. has witnessed an evolution of micro-targeting techniques - customized political offers via the web. The new frontier of both medical and economic research is producing a disturbing convergence of evolving ‘fields of knowledges’: control theories, neuro-economics and neuro-marketing. In 1976, in the optic of the ‘war-repression’ schema, Foucault entitled his course at the Collège de France ‘Society must be defended’. Now, faced with the general friability of all of us, how can we defend ourselves from the impact of affective capitalism and its digital practices? Can we put forward a differential, local knowledge which, as Foucault said, ‘owes its force only to the harshness with which it is opposed by everything surrounding it’?

TS The politics of Tarde’s somnambulist can be found in two places. The first is in the capricious force of imitative encounter; in the affective contagions that spread through the fog. Rightwing ideas and emotions can sometimes spread like wild fire. In the wake of the Woolwich murder we expect to see much more of this. The second requires an intervention into the vital forces that link example to example. What is perhaps needed is interference; not a counterimitation, but a nonimitation that breaks down the flow of certain fascist inventions: a deterritorialization. In effect, the somnambulist needs to wake up!

Many have seen both kinds of politics manifested in network cultures. Social media encourages both intervention and sleepwalking. To this extent, I am concerned that the to and fro of e-petitions on Facebook and Twitter can also have an entropic effect on protest. Again, it seems to soak up desire rather than deterritorializing it. I wonder therefore if Tarde’s vitalist imitation can replace Reich’s Orgone as an anti-entropic force. Unlike Reich, Tarde was not a binary thinker. He positioned the irrationality of biological desires and seemingly rational in an inseparable in-between space. Microsociology becomes a mixture of visceral experiences, mechanical habits, and an illusion of self that is not locked away, but vividly etched with the suggestibility of the Other. It is in this multilayered culture that desires become appropriated by social invention. Quite often, it seems, these inventions take on a fascistic dimension: rural, city, youth, family, as Deleuze saw microfascism everywhere! So we still need to focus on resisting all forms of fascism, but trying out nonimitative interferences rather than taking counter positions. 

A small, but perhaps significant interference that we have seen recently is the Railway pub in Southend in Essex. It was once known as the BNP (British National Party) pub. They used to meet there I’m told.3 The pub has certainly become Other. We recently saw a bouncer threaten to eject someone for a racist comment. Now it is a haunt for local artists, musicians and one would hope a shadow of a different kind of Essex people. It plays host to leftwing film nights and union meetings. What is more interesting is that the pub is not a middle class comfort zone by any means, but the middle classes are beginning to visit. Whether or not this or any other cultural hub can really grow into something that can intervene in the kind of popularist somnambulism we see in Essex is of course circumspect, but as a site of nonimitation the removal of the BNP it seems like an interesting place to explore. What kinds of deterritorialization occur in these places? What new people might emerge?


1 The Bullingdon Club is a secret society dining club exclusive to students at Oxford University. The club has no permanent rooms and is notorious for its members’ wealth and destructive binges. Membership is by invitation only, and prohibitively expensive for most, given the need to pay for the uniform, dinners and damages. PM Cameron, London Mayor Johnson and Chancellor George Osborne were all members, as well as the financer Nathaniel Philip Rothschild.
2 In a speech to the Tory party conference on Wednesday Oct 10th 2012, British PM David Cameron promised to ‘spread privilege’ of the kind he enjoyed growing up as he vowed to make the country one of aspiration.
3 There is currently an EDL pub in the town.



Tony D. Sampson is Reader in Digital Culture and Communication at the School of Art and Digital Industries of the University of East London. His research work focuses upon the 'dark intersection' in between sociology, marketing, digital culture and neuroscience, with a specific interest for phenomena of virality and infection. He likes to experiment with audiovisual techniques and has done so in a few live events and talks. Sampson is co-editor (with Jussi Parikka) of the 'Spam Book: On Viruses, Porn, and Other Anomalies From the Dark Side of Digital Culture' (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2009). His latest book 'Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks' (University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis) published in June 2012 builds upon notions of Gabriel Tarde's microsociology and Deleuze's philosophy of the event. He blogs at Virality.

Painting: Stelios Faitakis

27.9.13

Japanese masters

For the occasion of their latest event at BFI Southbank with audiovisual artist Ryoichi Kurokawa, Alpha-ville has compiled a list of Japanese masters of sound, design, art performance, etc. The list focuses on Japanese artists we feautured on the blog before and illustrates a generation of creators 'who have the ability to unlock imagination and take you on a journey of discovery.'

➝ Ryoichi Kurokawa
For the past 10 years internationally acclaimed Japanese multimedia artist Ryoichi Kurokawa has mixed video images, audio recordings, graphics and animations to produce stunning audio-visual installations, presentations and live performances. Kurokawa was born in 1978 in Osaka and currently lives in Berlin. Recently Kurokawa won the prestigious Golden Nica 2010 – Prix Ars Electronica (Linz) in the category of Digital Music & Sound Art with his latest pentaptych audiovisual installation ‘rheo: 5 horizons’ produced by Cimatics.



➝ Ryoji Ikeda
Born in 1966 in Gifu, Japan, Ikeda lives and works in Paris, France. His work is described as focusing on 'the essential characteristics of sound itself and that of visuals as light, by means of both mathematical precision and mathematical aesthetics. Ikeda elaborately orchestrates sound, visuals, materials, physical phenomena and mathematical notions into immersive live performances and installations.'



➝ Hiroaki Umeda
Multidisciplinary solo artist Hiroaki Umeda commands all elements of his unique spectacle: choreography, dance, lights and computerized sound and video images. Minimal and radical, subtle and provocative, Umeda’s extraordinary butoh/street dance-inspired choreography appears within an environment of sparse, dramatic lighting, flashing cyber-imagery, electronic beats and crackling digital soundscapes. Based in Tokyo, Umeda studied photography and began dancing at the age of 20, delving into his own extraordinary original movement and refining a powerful sensuality in his work. Umeda founded his company S20 in 2000 and has since created numerous works that have been presented at dance festivals and theaters throughout Asia, Europe, South America and the U.S.



➝ Daito Manabe
Born in 1976. Graduated from the Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science, and Dynamic Sensory Programming Course at International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences (IAMAS). He participated in various projects that made use of his programming skills, across a range of genres and fields. His face performance “Face visualizer, instrument and copy” has been invited by about 30 music/art/film festivals, such as at Sonar Festival and Transmediale. He also devotes his energies to educational activities such as workshops in various countries, including at MIT Media Lab and Fabrica. In addition, he has participated as a presenter in the openFrameworks Developer Meeting and at cycling ’74 Expo. He served as a member of the judging panel for the 2009 Prix Ars Electronica in the Digital Music category, and received the 2011 Award of Distinction in the Interactive Art category. He has won the Japan Media Arts Festival Excellence Prize twice and has been recommended by the jury on seven occasions.



➝ Ryuichi Sakamoto
Ryuichi Sakamoto is a Japanese musician and composer. Sakamoto studied at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, where he graduated with a BA in composition, and a Master’s degree with special emphasis electronic and ethnic music. Sakamoto began his career in the late 1970s, working as a composer, arranger and producer with some of Japan’s most popular rock, jazz and classical artists. He won the Academy Award for his score to the 1987 Bernardo Bertolucci film The Last Emperor. He has also written soundtracks for Pedro Almodovar’s film High Heels, and Oliver Stone’s Wild Palms.



➝ Keita Onishi
Japanese visual artist Keita Onishi completed his postgraduate studies at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 2006. He is the mastermind behind the music, visuals, and stage presence of Haisuinonasa. In his work, Keita is interested in exploring how image and music coexist.



Born in 1963, Shiro Takatani graduated from the department of Environmental Design, Faculty of Fine Arts, Kyoto City University of Arts. He joined Dumb Type as a founding member in 1984 and since then has been involved in the production of Dumb Type performances and installations, working in video, lighting, graphic design, stage design and as a photographer. Takatani has collaborated with a number of artists such as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Fujiko Nakaya, Gisèle Vienne.


Born in Hyogo Prefecture, 1980. He studied visual image at Osaka Kyoiku University, Image Forum Institute of Moving Image and the Graduate School of Film and New Media, Tokyo University of the Arts. He started producing animation works on his own since 2002, and released HANA NO HI (DAY OF NOSE), SOU IU MEGANE (WELL, THAT’S GLASSES), and more. IN A PIG’S EYE won the Best Film Award at the Fantoche International Animation Film Festival in 2010 as well as the Best Animated Film at Curtas Vila do Conde Film Festival the same year, and his work, HARU NO SKIKUMI (THE MECHANISM OF SPRING), was screened at the Venice International Film Festival. His latest work, THE GREAT RABBIT (GUREHTO RABITTO) won the silver bear in the Berlinale International Film Festival 2012. —festival scope.

Dynamics of the Subway / Haisuinonasa



Quite impressive video on many levels. Directed by Keita Onishi,
onishikeita.com

Novi_sad + Ryoichi Kurokawa - Sirens @ de:sonanz festival 2012

26.9.13

Deleuze and Guattari's 'A Thousand Plateaus' A Reader's Guide by Eugene W. Holland - Bloomsbury Academic; 1 edition (10 Oct 2013)


About Deleuze and Guattari's 'A Thousand Plateaus'


A Thousand Plateaus is the engaging and influential second part of Capitalism andSchizophrenia, the remarkable collaborative project written by the philosopher Gilles Deleuze and the psychoanalyst Félix Guattari. This hugely important text is a work of staggering complexity that made a major contribution to contemporary Continental philosophy, yet remains distinctly challenging for readers in a number of disciplines.

Deleuze and Guattari's 'A Thousand Plateaus': A Reader's Guide offers a concise and accessible introduction to this extremely important and yet challenging work. Written specifically to meet the needs of students coming to Deleuze and Guattari for the first time, the book offers guidance on: 

- Philosophical and historical context 
- Key themes 
- Reading the text 
- Reception and influence 
- Further reading

Table of Contents
1. A Thousand Plateaus in Context
2. Overview of Themes
3. Reading the Text
4. Reception and Influence
5. Further Reading
Endnotes
Bibliography

Reviews
“Eugene Holland provides an extraordinarily lucid guide to central themes of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus. The proliferation of novel concepts and thickets of unfamiliar terminology in this immensely rich but sometimes difficult book pose unique challenges to the reader. Following the advice of the authors, Holland charts a path through the book which makes key concepts accessible. Thanks to his clear explanations of key concepts and well chosen examples, access to Deleuze and Guattari’s magnum opus will be so much easier.” –  Paul Patton, Scientia Professor, The University of New South Wales, Australia,
“14 years from the publication of his Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, Eugene Holland releases his reading of the second volume of Capitalism and Schizophrenia. The virtues we have come to expect from his writing—which offer a richly informed and meticulous analysis of their subjects and forgo dazzling their readers in favor of giving them real and lucid insights and inspiration—once again emerge in this exceptional reading of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus. By selecting and regrouping 14 of the plateaus on the basis of the problems they raise—epistemological, ontological, anthropological, ethical and political—his original approach shows clearly the extent to which “a book of political philosophy” is also able to contain the entire Deleuzo-Guattarian “theory” in all its breadth and articulations. By contextualizing ATP in terms of time, themes, indebtedness and the influence it exercised on texts that came after it, Holland’s book will be of immense value to students and professionals alike, becoming an indispensable guide to those who dare cross the challenging plateaus of the second volume of Capitalism and Schizophrenia.” –  Constantin V. Boundas, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Trent University, Ontario, Canada,
“Eugene Holland’s superb book is less a commentary on A Thousand Plateaus than a kind of cartography—a map that will allow readers to orient themselves in Deleuze and Guattari's most complex and wide-ranging work, and to start tracing their own paths through the complex terrains of the plateaus. Highly recommended.” –  Daniel W. Smith, Associate Professor, Purdue University, USA



24.9.13

Shirin Neshat - Viennale 2013

Gli occhi della ragazza guardano lontano, il suo volto appare all'improvviso, dopo le onde. Sguardo inquieto, teso verso un punto dell'orizzonte lungo il filo del mare. Sulla spiaggia bianca compare un'altra figura, la ragazza inizia a correre ... É una silhouette inafferabile, una sagoma appena accennate, che si diluisce nelle sfumature del tempo. L'altra sagoma corre, la ragazza la insegue, entra in bosco, il tono del grigio diventa scuro, ci porta in un altrove, nel buio, il suono si fa impercettibile: un attimo e torniamo al rumore delle onde ... Lei è Nathalie Portman, le immagini sono Illusions &Mirrors, due minuti, pensati come un frammento di un progetto più ampio, (che la regista girerà nei prossimi giorni con il supporto di Dior) realizzati da Shirin Neshat per il trailer della prossima Viennale (24 ottobre-6 novembre), il festival austriaco tra i più sperimentali oggi. Filmato in bianco e nero, Illusions&Mirrors, si immerge in un'atmosfera allucinata, quasi un vagare sonnambulo che spinge la giovane donna protagonista. Direttore della fotografia è Darius Khondji, origini iraniane come Neshat, che ha illuminato tra gli altri anche Amour di Haneke. «Illusions&Mirrors - racconta l'artista iraniana - è un lavoro sul tentativo impossibile di catturare le ombre che appaiono sulle dune di una spiaggia deserta. Quando infine la ragazza arriva vicino a loro, in una casa vuota, vivrà un'esperienza sorprendente e molto disturbante». Aggiunge Shirin Neshat: «Questo piccolo film vuole anche essere un omaggio al bianco e nero del cinema muto dei surrealisti come Man Ray, Jean Cocteau, Luis Bunuel, e più tardi di filmmaker sperimentali straordinarie come Maya Deren. Dal punto di vista tematico rappresenta per per un punto di partenza molto importante, visto che si allontana dai miei soggetti socio-politici del passato, legati all' Iran e all'islam, per entrare in una dimensione universale e senza tempo».

23.9.13

21.9.13

Saul Newman's interview on Crowd, Power and Post-Democracy in the 21st Century @ Obsolete Capitalism


Saul Newman's interview on digital populism and recent European political phenomena, held on 5th June 2013 with the author of this blog and of Obsolete CapitalismThe next interview with Tony D. Sampson will be published Saturday 28th September 2013.
The previous interview with Jussi Parikka was published last week.




 EDIT: We collected Newman's interview in PDF fileAll interviews on digital populism - in English language - are collected into a single file HERE.

Crowd,Power and Post-democracy in the 21st Century

'Rural fascism and city or neighborhood fascism, youth fascism and war veteran's fascism... fascism of the couple, family, school, and office. Only the micro-fascism can answer the global question: "why does desire long for its repression? how can it desires its very own repression?"'
— Gilles Deleuze, Fèlix Guattari, A thousand plateaus, pg.271
    On the micro-fascism
    OC Let us start from the analysis Wu Ming set out in their brief essay Grillismo: Yet another right-wing cult coming from Italy and which interprets Grillo’s Five Star Movement as a new authoritarian right-wing faction. Why did the desire for change of much of the electorate long once again for its very repression? We seem to witness the re-affirmation of Wilhelm Reich’s thought: at a given moment in history the masses wanted fascism. The masses have not been deceived: they have understood very well the danger of authoritarianism; but they have voted it anyway. Even more worrying is that the authoritarian Berlusconi's Freedom People (PDL) and Grillo’s Five Star Movement (M5S) conquer more than half of the Italian electorate together. A very similar situation arose in the UK in May 2013, with the UKIP’s exploit in the latest local elections. Why and in what measure are the toxins of authoritarianism and micro-fascism present in contemporary European society?
SN I’m not sure I entirely agree with the Wu Ming analysis of Grillo and the 5SM. I wouldn’t say it is necessarily a form of fascism, neo-fascism or even right-wing authoritarianism. It is certainly populist, and behind populism and the figure of the People always lies the obscure spectre of a potential fascism. But, at least in its current form, Grillo and 5SM strike me as a more enigmatic phenomenon, which is difficult to classify according to traditional political and ideological categories. It is what I would describe as postmodern populism; a form of anti-politics which seeks to create a kind of interruption in the normal political process and thereby destabilize established modes of political representation. It tries to create a symbolically empty space in the political process, to expose – or so it claims – the corruption and degradation of the political class. This is not quite the same as the fascist or authoritarian project of seeking power – a genuine fascist movement would jump at the opportunity of forming government, which Grillo and 5SM has been resistant to. Also, 5SM is an odd and at times incoherent jumble of policies and programs, both progressive and regressive, left-wing and right-wing, libertarian and populist. Many of their themes – to the extent their pronouncements can be taken seriously – are actually quite appealing: participatory democracy, social justice, ecological protection, etc. 5SM is politics or rather anti-politics as spectacle – an anti-spectacle spectacle. It serves as an empty signifier or blank screen upon which people project their frustration and anger at the political establishment. It is as much Occupy as it is UKIP – an odd, paradoxical, at times confused, and heretical movement. There is a carnivalesque aspect to it; the figure of Grillo here is less like the fascist master and more like the Pope of Fools.

Of course, this does not mean that we should not be wary of all populisms – they can always become fascist. Deleuze and Guattari, after all, talk about the micro-fascisms immanent in the left and the right. It is also the case that we are seeing the emergence all around us of real and dangerous right-wing populisms which take the guise of anti-establishment protest politics. As the economic crisis deepens, as the unemployment situation worsens across Europe, there is little surprise that real fascisms and anti-immigrant racisms are on the rise. One only needs to look at Greece and Golden Dawn, as well as the resurgence of far-right forces in France. This is the perfect breeding ground for new fascisms. I fear a coming barbarism.. Reich’s analysis here has lost none of its validity. People, at certain moments and given certain conditions, desire fascism. It is not a question of false consciousness; there is a fascist desiring machine at work the shadow of The People.

    1919, 1933, 2013. On the crisis
    OC In 2008 Slavoj Zizek said that when the normal run of things is traumatically interrupted, the field is open for a ‘discursive’ ideological competition. In Germany in the early 1930s Hitler won the competition to determine which narrative would explain the reasons for the crisis of the Weimar Republic — the Jewish conspiracy and the corruption of political parties. Zizek ends his reflection by stating that the expectations of the radical left to get scope for action and gain consent may be deceptive as populist or racist formations will prevail: the Greek Golden Dawn, the Hungarian Fidesz, the French Front National, the UK Independence Party are examples. Italy has had farcical groups such as the Lega Nord or the recent Five Star Movement, a bizarre rassemblement that seems to combine Reverend Jones People's Temple with Syriza, or ‘revolutionary boyscoutism’ with the disciplinarism of the societies of control. How can one escape the crisis? What discursive, possibly-winning narratives should be developed? Are the typically Anglo-Saxon neo-Keynesian politics an answer or, on the countrary, is it the new authoritarian populism that will prevail?

SN As signalled in what I have said above, I largely agree with Zizek’s point here. The ideological field is wide open, and we are seeing all kinds of strange permutations and configurations which try to articulate the anger, anxieties and paranoia of the People. I’m not sure that neo-Keynesianism can provide an answer to this – and in any case, the economic policies pursued by the UK (although not in the US) at least are not Keynesian or neo-Keynesian by any measure. No, what we see with austerity cuts is simply the latest guise of neoliberalism, which most governments, of both the left and right, can’t seem to imagine any alternative to. And clearly this is making the situation much worse. But I’m not sure we should see the situation as presenting a clear choise between either neo-Keynesianism or authoritarian populism. These are not the only possibilities. To confront the problem of an emergent fascism clearly requires new collective forms of politics and struggle; we saw something like this in the square occupations and movements in Europe. We are seeing interesting mobilizations of people in Turkey right now. It is difficult to know what can come out of these various movements and occupations, but it seems to me to be the only way to provide an alternative figure or space for collective political formations. Perhaps the People can only be confronted with the Multitude. 

    On the missing people
    OC Mario Tronti states that ‘there is populism because there is no people.’ That of the people is an enduring theme which Tronti disclaims in a very Italian way: ‘the great political forces use to stand firmly on the popular components of the social history: the Catholic populism, the socialist tradition, the diversity in communism. Since there was the people, there was no populism.’ Paul Klee often complained that even in historical artistic avant-gardes ‘it was people who lacked.’ However the radical critique to populism has led to important results: the birth of a mature democracy in America; the rise of the theory and the practice of revolution in the Tsarist Empire, a country plagued by the contradictions of a capitalist development in an underdeveloped territory (Lenin and the bolshevism). Tronti carries on in his tranchant analysis of the Italian and European backgrounds: ‘In today's populism, there is no people and there is no prince. It is necessary to beat populism because it obscures the relations of power.’ Through its economic-mediatic-judicial apparatuses, neopopulism constantly shapes “trust-worthy people” similar to the "customers portfolio" of the branded world of neoliberal economy: Berlusconi’s “people” have been following the deeds of Arcore’s Sultan for twenty years; Grillo’s followers are adopting similar all-encompassing identifying processes, giving birth to the more confused impulses of the Italian social strata. With institutional fragility, fluctuating sovereignties and the oblivion of left-wing dogmas (class, status, conflict, solidarity, equality) how can we form people today? Is it possible to reinvent anti-authoritarian people? Is it only the people or also the politics itself to lack?
SN It seems to me that we have to radically re-think the figure of the People. We have to ask whether it continues to have any emancipatory or whether it is what it always was in political thought – the imagined totality out of which state power emerges; the body-politic that legitimises the sovereign. And we have already discussed the dangerous, violent, totalitarian and fascist potentiality of the People. So is there a genuine People - a really democratic People - beyond media and political manipulations? Or have we now reached the point where this idea is completely exhausted and we have to think political collectivity in new ways? My sense is the we have indeed reached this limit, and that the democratic and emancipatory energies once seen to be imbued in the People, have now completely dissipated. And it is perhaps as a symptom of this that we see the shadow of the People re-appearing in uncanny, violent and reactionary forms today. Despite the difficulties I have with the concept, the notion of the multitude in autonomist and post-autonomist thought – where difference or singularity are thought together with collectivity in such a way that one does dot subsume the other – sets out an alternative terrain for radical politics. Where the People - even in its democratic form – is associated with totality, identity and sovereignty, the multitude invokes heterogeneity, singularity and a rhizomatic organisation. Other theoretical figures allow us to think through the same limit in a similar way. For instance, I am interested in Max Stirner’s largely neglected (or unfairly derided) notion of the ‘union of egos’ – in which individual singularities can work together on collective projects without being sacrificed to sacred ideals, how they can collaborate without being incorporated into a totalitarian and transcendent body. It is something that allows us to think about the contingent openness of the political field in a different way.
    On Control
    OC In Postscript on the Societies of Control, published in 1990, Gilles Deleuze states that, thanks to the illuminating analyses of Michel Foucault, a new diagnosis of contemporary Western society emerges. Deleuze's analysis is as follows: control societies have replaced disciplinary societies at the beginning of the twentieth century. He writes that ‘marketing is now the instrument of social control and it forms the impudent breed of our masters.’ Let us evaluate who stands beyond two very successful electoral adventures such as Forza Italia (Berlusconi’s first party) and M5S: respectively Publitalia 80 owned by Marcello Dell'Utri and Casaleggio Asssociati owned by Gianroberto Casaleggio. The incontrovertible fact that two marketing companies stand out reinforces Deleuze’s analysis. Mechanisms of control, media events such as exit polls and infinite surveys, im/penetrable databases, data as commodities, continuous spin doctoring, influencers that lead consensus on the net, opaque bots, digital squads, dominant echo-chambering. Evil media. These are the determinations of post-ideological (post-democratic?) neoliberalism. The misery of the new control techniques competes only with that of the glass house of gri%ina transparency (web-control, of course). Jacques Ranciere says we live in the epoch of post- politics: how can we get out of the neo-liberal cage and free ourselves from the ideological consensus of its electoral products? What will the reconfiguration of left-wing politics be after the exhaustion of Marxist hegemony?

SN There is no question that democratic politics, as practiced under the neoliberal hegemony, has been utterly corrupted and degraded in the ways you describe. The transparency and accountability that these mediated forms of democracy supposedly enable, only produce a different opacity; politics as an impenetrable mediatic spectacle, a gigantic ‘reality TV’ show. And of course, there is the proliferation of these modes of neoliberal control and subjectification through the internet and social media, in which, in the narcissistic mirror of the blog or Facebook page, we construct ourselves and our relations with others in highly commodified and normalised ways, while sustaining the illusion that we are both expressing our individuality and directly changing the world. This is not to deny the importance of such networks as a tool of communication, organising and mobilizing, but there is a much broader problem with this that we need to be aware of. In an interview with Toni Negri, Deleuze says: 
‘You ask whether control or communication societies will lead to forms of resistance that might open the way for a communism understood as a “transversal organisation of free individuals”. Maybe, I don’t know. But it would be nothing to do with minorities speaking out. Maybe speech and communication have been corrupted. They’re thoroughly permeated by money – and not by accident but by their very nature. We’ve got to hijack speech. Creating has always been different from communicating. They key thing may be to create vacuoles of noncommunication, circuit-breakers, so we can elude control.’
So if communication has been corrupted – and we see this today particularly with the ubiquitous technologies of communication where instantaneous connection becomes something like a categorical imperative – then we need to think of how these circuits can be reconstituted, how circuit-breakers can be introduced. Anonymity and invisibility – found in anonymous hackers’ collectives, for instance - is an important element in the disruption of circuits of surveillance and control that operate through modern communication. 

Obviously elections as the previously dominant mode of political communication and representation have reached their limit. They are a sort of quasi-religious ritual aimed at the symbolic legitimation of power. It might, from time to time, and in specific circumstances, be strategically useful to participate in local and regional elections; I wouldn’t want to discount their importance entirely. But electoral politics should not be fetishised, and it cannot be the horizon of radical political struggles today. While some commentators might see the decline in interest and participation in electoral politics as a sign of a post-political malaise, I am not quite so pessimistic. It could be the beginning rather than the end of politics. At any rate, we should not mourn the breakdown of the electoral model of democracy or imagine that this is the only genuine site of politics. 

    On the Googlization of politics; the financial side of digi-populism
    OC The first decade of the 21st century has been characterized by the rise of neo-capitalism, referred to as cognitive; in this context a company like Google has established itself as the perfect synthesis of web-business as it does not compensate, if not in a small part, the content-carriers it lists. In Italy, following the electoral success of the Five Stars Movement we witnessed a mutation of the typical prosumer of social networks: the new figure of the “prosumer-voter” was in fact born on Grillo’s blog - being essentially the one and only channel of information of the movement. The blog is a commercial activity and the high number of contacts and daily access has steadily increased in the last year. This digital militancy produces incomes both in the form of advertising and online sales of products such as DVDs, books and other material associated with the movement. All of this leads to the risk of googlization of politic whereby the modes of financing political activity radically change because of the "network surplus-value" - an expression coined by the researcher Matteo Pasquinelli to define that portion of incomes extracted from the practices of the web prosumers. Having said this, are we about to witness a shift of the financial paradigm applied to politics? Will the fundings from powerful lobbies or the general public be replaced by micro-donations via web (in the style of Obama’s) and by the exploitation of the prosumer-voters? And if so, will the dominant 'googlization of politics' involve any particular risks?

SN As I have suggested above, the proliferation of these new technologies of democratic communication and transparency have not made politics any more democratic. Far from it. And the new forms of blog-ocracy, micro-donations via the web, and other seemingly horizontal and participatory practices - while in some ways interesting phenomena – might be seen as a new form of neoliberal democratic technology. They are democratic fetishes, encouraging the illusion that we are genuinely participating in the political process in an unprecedented way, beyond the control of political elites. We have to be extremely sceptical about all this. The problem is that it entrenches the market model of democracy, reproducing the subject as a citizen-consumer, a political rational chooser. It is really, as you allude to, a form of political activity completely modelled around neoliberalism, which, after all, and in a perverse sort of way, is also a form of horizontalism in which we can all become self-entrepreneurs. Clearly, what is needed is an alternative horizontal politics in which this neoliberal governing rationality – which only reproduces the domination of Capital over political and social life – is directly challenged. Again, it seems to me, the solution is not to return to some imagined social democratic ideal, but to invent genuinely autonomous forms of political, social and economic life.

    On digital populism, on affective capitalism
    OC James Ballard once said that after the religions of the Book we should expect those of the Web. Some claim that, in fact, a first techno-religion already exists in the form of Affective Capitalism whose technological and communicative characteristics mirror those of network cultures. This notion of a secularized cult can be traced back to Walter Benjamin's thought but is enriched by a very contemporary mix of affective manipulation techniques, politics of neo-liberalism and political practices 2.0. The rise of the Five Star Movement is the first successful example of italian digital populism; Obama’s campaign in the U.S.A. has witnessed an evolution of micro-targeting techniques - customized political offers via the web. The new frontier of both medical and economic research is producing a disturbing convergence of evolving ‘fields of knowledges’: control theories, neuro-economics and neuro-marketing. In 1976, in the optic of the ‘war-repression’ schema, Foucault entitled his course at the Collège de France ‘Society must be defended’. Now, faced with the general friability of all of us, how can we defend ourselves from the impact of affective capitalism and its digital practices? Can we put forward a differential, local knowledge which, as Foucault said, ‘owes its force only to the harshness with which it is opposed by everything surrounding it’?

SN The reference you make to Foucault is interesting, and perhaps it speaks to the way that behind neoliberalism and the networks of regulation and control, there is war; war on social life, war on the environment, war on any last vestiges of the commons; a war being fought against all of us. How do we defend ourselves against this onslaught? Part of the answer is, as Foucault would put it, an insurrection of marginalised knowledges and discourses, adopting a partisan perspective in which neutrality and universalism is rejected in favour of revealing and intensifying this field of combat. It is also a question of recognising that, paradoxically, all power, even that which seems insurmountable and to bear down upon us with such force, is only our power in an alienated form. It is a power that we sustain and reproduce, at the level of our daily practices. They are the bonds we renew daily. This is La Boëtie’s thesis of voluntary servitude, in which he claimed that we willingly comply with our own domination, largely out of habit. The solution to this - what produces a radical reversal in relations of power - is thus a recognition that we had the power all along, that we are always already free, and that all we need to do strip power of its illusions and abstractions is to no longer recognise it and participate in it. This would translate into changing our habits, or learning, as Sorel put it, ‘habits of liberty’. 


Saul Newman, Australian, lives and works in London. He is Professor of Political Theory at Goldsmiths College, University of London (UK). He specialises in - and has even coined the term - "post-anarchism". Post-anarchism generally indicates those philosophies that filter anarchist thought of the nineteenth century through the lens of continental post-structuralism of the twentieth century. In this context, the founding text of the post-anarchist thought is his 2001 book 'From Bakunin to Lacan. Anti-Authoritarianism and the Dislocation of Power' (Lanham MD: Lexington Books 2001).
Among the books published are also 'Power and Politics in poststructuralist Thought: New Theories of the Political' (London: Routledge, 2005); 'Unstable Universalities: Postmodernity and Radical Politics' (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007); 'Politics Most Unusual: Violence, Sovereignty and Democracy in the 'War on Terror' - Co-authored with Michael Levine and Damian Cox-(New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2009). 'The Politics of Post Anarchism' (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press: 2010);  'Max Stirner' (Palgrave 2011) and 'Agamben and the Politics of Human Rights' (co-authored with John Lechte) (Edinburgh University Press, 2013).

Painting: Stelios Faitakis