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Semiotext(e)

foucault1.jpgIn 1784, the German newspaper Berlinische Monatsschrift asked its audience to reply to the question "What is Enlightenment?" Immanuel Kant took the opportunity to investigate the purported truths and assumptions of his age. Two hundred years later, Michel Foucault wrote a response to Kant's initial essay, positioning Kant as the initiator of the discourse and critique of modernity.

baudrillard1.jpgIn 1976, Jean Baudrillard sent this essay to the French magazine Critique, where Michel Foucault was an editor. Foucault was asked to reply, but remained silent. Forget Foucault (1977) made Baudrillard instantly infamous in France. It was a devastating revisitation of Foucault's recent History of Sexuality—and of his entire oeuvre—and also an attack on those philosophers, like Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, who believed that desire could be revolutionary.

"I understand that you regard the film Schindler's List as a total lie, as Zionist propaganda."
Zundel clears his throat, preparing the posture of his body to pontificate, to deliver a speech he has obviously memorized for use at a hate rally: "Spielberg's movie is a perfect example of Hollywood hate propaganda . . . ."

—from Lost Between the Edges

Perverting Perversions

with a new introduction by the author and an additional chapter

Do you ever get aroused by your patient's fantasies? Do you discover through them something about your own sexuality?
—About my sexuality?
You are exposed to a lot of fantasies.
—Oh yes. Quite frankly, I think it has a satiation effect on me. I've been a sex researcher for ten years, and sometimes I get fed up with it, you know. I talk to people about sex all day long, and it does get to be a drag.

—from Overexposed

masha_tupitsyn1.jpgMasha Tupitsyn's Beauty Talk & Monsters is a debut collection of stories told through the movies. Equally influenced by Brian De Palma and Kathy Acker, Tupitsyn revisits the ruins of a childhood and youth nurtured on the fringe of the glittering lower Manhattan art world and the Atlantic haven of Provincetown in the 1980s. Moving fluidly through space, time, and a range of cinematic frameworks, Tupitsyn cuts through the cynical glamour and illusion of Hollywood to a soft, secret heart.

A Definitive History of Five or Six Years on the Lower East Side

In February 1991, the artist David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) and the philosopher Sylvère Lotringer met in a borrowed East Village apartment to conduct a long-awaited dialogue on Wojnarowicz's work. Wojnarowicz was then at the peak of his notoriety as the fiercest antagonist of morals crusader Senator Jesse Helms—a notoriety that Wojnarowicz alternately embraced and rejected. Already suffering the last stages of AIDS, David saw his dialogue with Lotringer as a chance to set the record straight on his aspirations, his personal history, and his political views.

virilio1.jpgSpeed and Politics (first published in France in 1977) is the matrix of Virilio's entire work. Building on the works of Morand, Marinetti, and McLuhan, Virilio presents a vision more radically political than that of any of his French contemporaries: speed as the engine of destruction. Speed and Politics presents a topological account of the entire history of humanity, honing in on the technological advances made possible through the militarization of society.

An American Joyride on Multiple Tracks

In this second "living novel" by Heather Woodbury, 50 years of New York and Los Angeles history collide in a live mix spun by Manny, a young DJ, in his dead grandmother's Echo Park apartment. Flashing back to 1957, when Brooklyn lost its home-team and LA's Chavez Ravine was razed to build the Dodgers a new stadium, Woodbury enacts a séance among three generations of interwoven characters on both coasts whose lives were changed forever by this single act of urban redevelopment.

Writings from Utopie (1967–1978)

The Utopie group was born in 1966 at Henri Lefebvre's house in the Pyrenees. The eponymous journal edited by Hubert Tonka brought together sociologists Jean Baudrillard, René Lourau, and Catherine Cot, architects Jean Aubert, Jean-Paul Jungmann, Antoine Stinco, and landscape architect Isabelle Auricoste. Over the next decade, both in theory and in practice, the group articulated a radical ultra-leftist critique of architecture, urbanism, and everyday life.

In I Love Dick, published in 1997, Chris Kraus, author of Aliens & Anorexia, Torpor, and Video Green, boldly tore away the veil that separates fiction from reality and privacy from self-expression. It's no wonder that I Love Dick instantly elicited violent controversies and attracted a host of passionate admirers.

"The unconscious is not a theatre, but a factory," wrote Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in Anti-Oedipus (1972), instigating one of the most daring intellectual adventures of the last half-century. Together, the well-known philosopher and the activist-psychiatrist were updating both psychoanalysis and Marxism in light of a more radical and "constructivist" vision of capitalism: "Capitalism is the exterior limit of all societies because it has no exterior limit itself. It works well as long as it keeps breaking down."

Sylvie wanted to believe that misery could simply be replaced with happiness. Time was a straight line, stretching out before you. If you could create a golden kind of time and lay it right beside the other time, the time of horror, Bad History could just recede into the distance without ever having to be resolved.
—from Torpor

A cult novel in France, this sci-fi thriller is now being made into a movie by Mathieu Kassovitz. Set in the hidden "flesh and chip" breeding grounds of the first cyborg communities and peopled by Serbian Mafiosi, Babylon Babies has as its hero a hard-boiled leatherneck veteran of Sarajevo named Thoorop who is hired by a mysterious source to escort a young woman named Marie Zorn from Russia to Canada. A garden variety job, he figures. But when Thoorop is offered an even higher fee by another organization, he realizes Marie is no ordinary girl.

Manifestos, Interviews, Essays

The images from Abu Ghraib are as murderous for America as those of the World Trade Center in flames. The whole West is contained in the burst of sadistic laughter of the American soldiers, as it is behind the construction of the Israeli wall. This is where the truth of these images lies. Truth, but not veracity. As virtual as the war itself, their specific violence adds to the specific violence of the war.

There is a catastrophe within contemporary art. What I call the "optically correct" is at stake. The vision machine and the motor have triggered it, but the visual arts haven't learned from it. Instead, they've masked this failure with commercial success. This "accident" is provoking a reversal of values. In my view, this is positive: the accident reveals something important we would not otherwise know how to perceive.
—Paul Virilio, The Accident of Art

Primitive literacy is redundant. Mere words are expelled. We inaugurate a world of pure presence. The mind, that intrudes itself between ourselves and those memories too terrible to know, must keep us moving beyond the grasp of their claw. To control the flow, it will be necessary that political order be imposed always temporarily. The state shall enjoy direct, creative access to the real.

Set in post-9/11 New York City, Reena Spaulings was written by a large collective of writers and artists that bills itself as The Bernadette Corporation. Like most contemporary fiction, Reena Spaulings is about a female twenty-something. Reena is discovered while working as a museum guard and becomes a rich international supermodel.

Los Angeles Art and the Triumph of Nothingness

Video Green examines the explosion of late 1990s Los Angeles art driven by high-profile graduate programs. Probing the surface of art-critical buzzwords, Chris Kraus brilliantly chronicles how the City of Angels has suddenly become the epicenter of the international art world and a microcosm of the larger culture. Why is Los Angeles so completely divorced from other realities of the city? Shrewd, analytic and witty, Video Green is to the Los Angeles art world what Roland Barthes' Mythologies were to the society of the spectacle: the live autopsy of a ghost city.

For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life

Globalization is forcing us to rethink some of the categories—such as "the people"—that traditionally have been associated with the now eroding state. Italian political thinker Paolo Virno argues that the category of "multitude," elaborated by Spinoza and for the most part left fallow since the seventeenth century, is a far better tool to analyze contemporary issues than the Hobbesian concept of "people," favored by classical political philosophy.

and Other Texts, 1953–1974

"One day, perhaps, this century will be Deleuzian," Michel Foucault once wrote. This book anthologizes 40 texts and interviews written over 20 years by renowned French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, who died in 1995. The early texts, from 1953-1966 (on Rousseau, Kafka, Jarry, etc.), belong to literary criticism and announce Deleuze's last book, Critique and Clinic (1993). But philosophy clearly predominates in the rest of the book, with sharp appraisals of the thinkers he always felt indebted to: Spinoza, Bergson.

An Israeli Journalist in an Occupied Land

The only Israelis this generation of Palestinians know are soldiers and settlers. For them, Israel is no more than a subsidiary of an army that knows no limits and settlements that know no borders.

Recipient of the UNESCO Guillermo Camo World Press Freedom Prize in 2003, Amira Hass is the only Jewish Israeli correspondent on Palestinian affairs to live among the people about whom she reports. The child of Holocaust survivors, Hass prefers the title "expert in Israeli occupation," and, as such, is relentless in her quest for both truth and justice.

The accident is a new form of warfare. It is replacing revolution and war. Sarajevo triggered the First World War. New York is what Sarajevo was. September 11th opened Pandora's box. The first war of globalization will be the global accident, the total accident, including the accident of science. And it is on the way.

In 1968, Virilio abandoned his work in oblique architecture, believing that time had replaced space as the most important point of reflection because of the dominance of speed.

In The Empire of Disorder, Alain Joxe offers the first truly comprehensive analysis of the new world disorder of the twenty-first century. The contemporary world, claims Joxe, is dominated by the American empire but not ordered by it. This "leadership through chaos," based on maintaining a "creeping peace," is at the root of the present organization of violence and barbary on a global scale. At the same time, national governments—including that of the United States—are declining in influence as the imperial system fosters transnational mafias, corporations, and markets.

May '68 in France expressed a fundamental version of freedom: not freedom to succeed, but freedom to revolt. Political revolutions ultimately betray revolt because they cease to question themselves. Revolt, as I understand it -- psychic revolt, analytic revolt, artistic revolt -- refers to a permanent state of questioning, of transformations, an endless probing of appearances.In this book, Julia Kristeva extends the definition of revolt beyond politics per se.

No more jobs, no more taxes, no more checkbook, no more bills, no more credit cards, no more credit, no more money, no more mortgages, no more rent, no more savings, no more junk mail, no more junk, no more mail, no more phones, no more faxes, no more busy signals, no more computers, no more cars, no more drivers' licenses, no more traffic lights, no more airports, no more flying, no more tickets, no more packing, no more luggage, no more supermarkets, no more health clubs...

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