Brian Massumi

Brian Massumi is Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences at the University of Montréal. He is the author of Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation and A User's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari (MIT Press).

  • Semblance and Event

    Semblance and Event

    Activist Philosophy and the Occurrent Arts

    Brian Massumi

    An investigation of the “occurrent arts” through the concepts of the “semblance” and “lived abstraction.”

    Events are always passing; to experience an event is to experience the passing. But how do we perceive an experience that encompasses the just-was and the is-about-to-be as much as what is actually present? In Semblance and Event, Brian Massumi, drawing on the work of William James, Alfred North Whitehead, Gilles Deleuze, and others, develops the concept of “semblance” as a way to approach this question.

    It is, he argues, a question of abstraction, not as the opposite of the concrete but as a dimension of it: “lived abstraction.” A semblance is a lived abstraction. Massumi uses the category of the semblance to investigate practices of art that are relational and event-oriented—variously known as interactive art, ephemeral art, performance art, art intervention—which he refers to collectively as the “occurrent arts.” Each art practice invents its own kinds of relational events of lived abstraction, to produce a signature species of semblance. The artwork's relational engagement, Massumi continues, gives it a political valence just as necessary and immediate as the aesthetic dimension.

    • Hardcover $30.00
    • Paperback $20.00
  • A User's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia

    A User's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia

    Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari

    Brian Massumi

    A User's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia is a playful and emphatically practical elaboration of the major collaborative work of the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. When read along with its rigorous textual notes, the book also becomes the richest scholarly treatment of Deleuze's entire philosophical oeuvre available in any language. Finally, the dozens of explicit examples that Brian Massumi furnishes from contemporary artistic, scientific, and popular urban culture make the book an important, perhaps even central text within current debates on postmodern culture and politics.Capitalism and Schizophrenia is the general title for two books published a decade apart. The first, Anti-Oedipus, was a reaction to the events of May/June 1968; it is a critique of "state-happy" Marxism and "school-building" strains of psychoanalysis. The second, A Thousand Plateaus, is an attempt at a positive statement of the sort of nomad philosophy Deleuze and Guattari propose as an alternative to state philosophy.

    • Hardcover $40.00
    • Paperback $27.95

Contributor

  • Experimental Politics

    Experimental Politics

    Work, Welfare, and Creativity in the Neoliberal Age

    Maurizio Lazzarato

    A celebrated theorist examines the conditions of work, employment, and unemployment in neoliberalism's flexible and precarious labor market.

    In Experimental Politics, Maurizio Lazzarato examines the conditions of work, employment, and unemployment in neoliberalism's flexible and precarious labor market. This is the first book of Lazzarato's in English that fully exemplifies the unique synthesis of sociology, activist research, and theoretical innovation that has generated his best-known concepts, such as “immaterial labor.” The book (published in France in 2009) is also groundbreaking in the way it brings Foucault, Deleuze, and Guattari to bear on the analysis of concrete political situations and real social struggles, while making a significant theoretical contribution in its own right.

    Lazzarato draws on the experiences of casual workers in the French entertainment industry during a dispute over the reorganization (“reform”) of their unemployment insurance in 2004 and 2005. He sees this conflict as the first testing ground of a political program of social reconstruction. The payment of unemployment insurance would become the principal instrument for control over the mobility and behavior of the workers. The flexible and precarious workforce of the entertainment industry prefigured what the entire workforce in contemporary societies is in the process of becoming: in Foucault's words, a “floating population” in “security societies.” Lazzarato argues further that parallel to economic impoverishment, neoliberalism has produced an impoverishment of subjectivity—a reduction in existential intensity. A substantial introduction by Jeremy Gilbert situates Lazzarato's analysis in a broader context.

    • Hardcover $30.00
  • The Rhythmic Event

    The Rhythmic Event

    Art, Media, and the Sonic

    Eleni Ikoniadou

    An investigation into the affective modes of perception, temporality, and experience enabled by experimental new media sonic art.

    The sonic has come to occupy center stage in the arts and humanities. In the age of computational media, sound and its subcultures can offer more dynamic ways of accounting for bodies, movements, and events. In The Rhythmic Event, Eleni Ikoniadou explores traces and potentialities prompted by the sonic but leading to contingent and unknowable forces outside the periphery of sound. She investigates the ways in which recent digital art experiments that mostly engage with the virtual dimensions of sound suggest alternate modes of perception, temporality, and experience. Ikoniadou draws on media theory, digital art, and philosophical and technoscientific ideas to work toward the articulation of a media philosophy that rethinks the media event as abstract and affective.

    The Rhythmic Event seeks to define the digital media artwork as an assemblage of sensations that outlive the space, time, and bodies that constitute and experience it. Ikoniadou proposes that the notion of rhythm—detached, however, from the idea of counting and regularity—can unlock the imperceptible, aesthetic potential enveloping the artwork. She speculates that addressing the event on the level of rhythm affords us a glimpse into the nonhuman modalities of thought proper to the digital and hidden in the gaps between strict definitions (e.g., human/sonic/digital) and false dichotomies (e.g., virtual/real). Operating at the margins of perception, the rhythmic artwork summons an obscure zone of sonic thought, which considers the event according to its power to become.

    • Hardcover $30.00
  • An Aesthesia of Networks

    An Aesthesia of Networks

    Conjunctive Experience in Art and Technology

    Anna Munster

    The experience of networks as the immediate sensing of relations between humans and nonhuman technical elements in assemblages such as viral media and databases.

    Today almost every aspect of life for which data exists can be rendered as a network. Financial data, social networks, biological ecologies: all are visualized in links and nodes, lines connecting dots. A network visualization of a corporate infrastructure could look remarkably similar to that of a terrorist organization. In An Aesthesia of Networks, Anna Munster argues that this uniformity has flattened our experience of networks as active and relational processes and assemblages. She counters the “network anaesthesia” that results from this pervasive mimesis by reinserting the question of experience, or aesthesia, into networked culture and aesthetics.

    Rather than asking how humans experience computers and networks, Munster asks how networks experience—what operations they perform and undergo to change and produce new forms of experience. Drawing on William James's radical empiricism, she asserts that networked experience is assembled first and foremost through relations, which make up its most immediately sensed and perceived aspect. Munster critically considers a range of contemporary artistic and cultural practices that engage with network technologies and techniques, including databases and data mining, the domination of search in online activity, and the proliferation of viral media through YouTube. These practices—from artists who “undermine” data to musicians and VJs who use intranetworked audio and video software environments—are concerned with the relationality at the core of today's network experience.

    • Hardcover $36.00
  • Moving without a Body

    Moving without a Body

    Digital Philosophy and Choreographic Thoughts

    Stamatia Portanova

    A radically empirical exploration of movement and technology and the transformations of choreography in a digital realm.

    Digital technologies offer the possibility of capturing, storing, and manipulating movement, abstracting it from the body and transforming it into numerical information. In Moving without a Body, Stamatia Portanova considers what really happens when the physicality of movement is translated into a numerical code by a technological system. Drawing on the radical empiricism of Gilles Deleuze and Alfred North Whitehead, she argues that this does not amount to a technical assessment of software's capacity to record motion but requires a philosophical rethinking of what movement itself is, or can become.

    Discussing the development of different audiovisual tools and the shift from analog to digital, she focuses on some choreographic realizations of this evolution, including works by Loie Fuller and Merce Cunningham. Throughout, Portanova considers these technologies and dances as ways to think—rather than just perform or perceive—movement. She distinguishes the choreographic thought from the performance: a body performs a movement, and a mind thinks or choreographs a dance. Similarly, she sees the move from analog to digital as a shift in conception rather than simply in technical realization. Analyzing choreographic technologies for their capacity to redesign the way movement is thought, Moving without a Body offers an ambitiously conceived reflection on the ontological implications of the encounter between movement and technological systems.

    • Hardcover $34.00
  • Contagious Architecture

    Contagious Architecture

    Computation, Aesthetics, and Space

    Luciana Parisi

    A proposal that algorithms are not simply instructions to be performed but thinking entities that construct digital spatio-temporalities.

    In Contagious Architecture, Luciana Parisi offers a philosophical inquiry into the status of the algorithm in architectural and interaction design. Her thesis is that algorithmic computation is not simply an abstract mathematical tool but constitutes a mode of thought in its own right, in that its operation extends into forms of abstraction that lie beyond direct human cognition and control. These include modes of infinity, contingency, and indeterminacy, as well as incomputable quantities underlying the iterative process of algorithmic processing.

    The main philosophical source for the project is Alfred North Whitehead, whose process philosophy is specifically designed to provide a vocabulary for “modes of thought” exhibiting various degrees of autonomy from human agency even as they are mobilized by it. Because algorithmic processing lies at the heart of the design practices now reshaping our world—from the physical spaces of our built environment to the networked spaces of digital culture—the nature of algorithmic thought is a topic of pressing importance that reraises questions of control and, ultimately, power. Contagious Architecture revisits cybernetic theories of control and information theory's notion of the incomputable in light of this rethinking of the role of algorithmic thought. Informed by recent debates in political and cultural theory around the changing landscape of power, it links the nature of abstraction to a new theory of power adequate to the complexities of the digital world.

    • Hardcover $53.00
  • Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual

    Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual

    Muriel Combes

    An accessible yet rigorous introduction to the influential French philosopher Gilbert Simondon's philosophy of individuation.

    Gilbert Simondon (1924–1989), one of the most influential contemporary French philosophers, published only three works: L'individu et sa genèse physico-biologique (The individual and its physico-biological genesis, 1964) and L'individuation psychique et collective (Psychic and collective individuation, 1989), both drawn from his doctoral thesis, and Du mode d'existence des objets techniques (On the mode of existence of technical objects, 1958). It is this last work that brought Simondon into the public eye; as a consequence, he has been considered a “thinker of technics” and cited often in pedagogical reports on teaching technology. Yet Simondon was a philosopher whose ambitions lay in an in-depth renewal of ontology as a process of individuation—that is, how individuals come into being, persist, and transform. In this accessible yet rigorous introduction to Simondon's work, Muriel Combes helps to bridge the gap between Simondon's account of technics and his philosophy of individuation.

    Some thinkers have found inspiration in Simondon's philosophy of individuation, notably Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Combes's account, first published in French in 1999, is one of the only studies of Simondon to appear in English. Combes breaks new ground, exploring an ethics and politics adequate to Simondon's hypothesis of preindividual being, considering through the lens of transindividual philosophy what form a nonservile relation to technology might take today. Her book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Simondon's work.

    • Hardcover $35.00
  • Sonic Warfare

    Sonic Warfare

    Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear

    Steve Goodman

    An exploration of the production, transmission, and mutation of affective tonality—when sound helps produce a bad vibe.

    Sound can be deployed to produce discomfort, express a threat, or create an ambience of fear or dread—to produce a bad vibe. Sonic weapons of this sort include the “psychoacoustic correction” aimed at Panama strongman Manuel Noriega by the U.S. Army and at the Branch Davidians in Waco by the FBI, sonic booms (or “sound bombs”) over the Gaza Strip, and high-frequency rat repellants used against teenagers in malls. At the same time, artists and musicians generate intense frequencies in the search for new aesthetic experiences and new ways of mobilizing bodies in rhythm. In Sonic Warfare, Steve Goodman explores these uses of acoustic force and how they affect populations.

    Traversing philosophy, science, fiction, aesthetics, and popular culture, he maps a (dis)continuum of vibrational force, encompassing police and military research into acoustic means of crowd control, the corporate deployment of sonic branding, and the intense sonic encounters of sound art and music culture.

    Goodman concludes with speculations on the not yet heard—the concept of unsound, which relates to both the peripheries of auditory perception and the unactualized nexus of rhythms and frequencies within audible bandwidths.

    • Hardcover $39.00
    • Paperback $25.00
  • Without Criteria

    Without Criteria

    Kant, Whitehead, Deleuze, and Aesthetics

    Steven Shaviro

    A Deleuzian reading of Whitehead and a Whiteheadian reading of Deleuze open the possibility of a critical aesthetics of contemporary culture.

    In Without Criteria, Steven Shaviro proposes and explores a philosophical fantasy: imagine a world in which Alfred North Whitehead takes the place of Martin Heidegger. What if Whitehead, instead of Heidegger, had set the agenda for postmodern thought? Heidegger asks, “Why is there something, rather than nothing?” Whitehead asks, “How is it that there is always something new?” In a world where everything from popular music to DNA is being sampled and recombined, argues Shaviro, Whitehead's question is the truly urgent one. Without Criteria is Shaviro's experiment in rethinking postmodern theory, especially the theory of aesthetics, from a point of view that hearkens back to Whitehead rather than Heidegger. In working through the ideas of Whitehead and Deleuze, Shaviro also appeals to Kant, arguing that certain aspects of Kant's thought pave the way for the philosophical “constructivism” embraced by both Whitehead and Deleuze.

    Kant, Whitehead, and Deleuze are not commonly grouped together, but the juxtaposition of them in Without Criteria helps to shed light on a variety of issues that are of concern to contemporary art and media practices.

    • Hardcover $6.75
    • Paperback $25.00
  • Relationscapes

    Relationscapes

    Movement, Art, Philosophy

    Erin Manning

    A new philosophy of movement that explores the active relation between sensation and thought through the prisms of dance, cinema, art, and new media.

    With Relationscapes, Erin Manning offers a new philosophy of movement challenging the idea that movement is simple displacement in space, knowable only in terms of the actual. Exploring the relation between sensation and thought through the prisms of dance, cinema, art, and new media, Manning argues for the intensity of movement. From this idea of intensity—the incipiency at the heart of movement—Manning develops the concept of preacceleration, which makes palpable how movement creates relational intervals out of which displacements take form.

    Discussing her theory of incipient movement in terms of dance and relational movement, Manning describes choreographic practices that work to develop with a body in movement rather than simply stabilizing that body into patterns of displacement. She examines the movement-images of Leni Riefenstahl, Étienne-Jules Marey, and Norman McLaren (drawing on Bergson's idea of duration), and explores the dot-paintings of contemporary Australian Aboriginal artists. Turning to language, Manning proposes a theory of prearticulation claiming that language's affective force depends on a concept of thought in motion.

    Relationscapes takes a “Whiteheadian perspective,” recognizing Whitehead's importance and his influence on process philosophers of the late twentieth century—Deleuze and Guattari in particular. It will be of special interest to scholars in new media, philosophy, dance studies, film theory, and art history.

    • Hardcover $7.75
    • Paperback $25.00
  • Foucault / Blanchot

    Foucault / Blanchot

    Maurice Blanchot: The Thought from Outside and Michel Foucault as I Imagine Him

    Michel Foucault and Maurice Blanchot

    In these two essays, two of the most important French thinkers of our time reflect on each other's work. In so doing, novelist/essayist Maurice Blanchot and philosopher Michel Foucault develop a new perspective on the relationship between subjectivity, fiction, and the will to truth. The two texts present reflections on writing, language, and representation which question the status of the author/subject and explore the notion of a "neutral" voice that arises from the realm of the "outside." This book is crucial not only to an understanding of these two thinkers, but also to any overview of recent French thought.Michel Foucault (1927-1984) was the holder of a chair at the College de France. Among his works are Madness and Civilization, The Order of Things, Discipline and Punish, and The History of Sexuality Maurice Blanchot, born in 1907, is a novelist and critic. His works include Death Sentence, Thomas the Obscure, and The Space of Literature.

    • Hardcover $34.95
    • Paperback $18.95
  • Nomadology

    Nomadology

    The War Machine

    Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari

    Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari redefine the relation between the state and its war machine. Far from being a part of the state, warriers (the army) are nomads who always come from the outside and keep threatening the authority of the state.

    In this daring essay inspired by Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari redefine the relation between the state and its war machine. Far from being a part of the state, warriers (the army) are nomads who always come from the outside and keep threatening the authority of the state. In the same vein, nomadic science keeps infiltrating royal science, undermining its axioms and principles. Nomadology is a speedy, pocket-sized treatise that refuses to be pinned down. Theorizing a dynamic relationship between sedentary power and "schizophrenic lines of flight," this volume is meant to be read in transit, smuggled into urban nightclubs, offices, and subways. Deleuze and Guattari propose a creative and resistant ethics of becoming-imperceptible, strategizing a continuous invention of weapons on the run. An anarchic bricolage of ideas uprooted from anthropology, aesthetics, history, and military strategy, Nomadology carries out Deleuze's desire to "leave philosophy, but to leave it as a philosopher."

    • Paperback $12.95