Franco "Bifo" Berardi

Franco Berardi, aka “Bifo,” founder of the famous “Radio Alice” in Bologna and an important figure of the Italian Autonomia Movement, is a writer, media theorist, and media activist. He currently teaches Social History of the Media at the Accademia di Brera, Milan.

  • Breathing

    Breathing

    Chaos and Poetry

    Franco "Bifo" Berardi

    The increasingly chaotic rhythm of our respiration, and the sense of suffocation that grows everywhere: an essay on poetical therapy.

    Since the hopeful days of the Occupy movement, many things have changed in the respiration of the world, and we have entered a cycle of spasm, despair, and chaos. Breathing is a book about the increasingly chaotic rhythm of our respiration, about the sense of suffocation that grows everywhere.“I can't breathe.” These words panted by Eric Garner before dying, strangled by a police officer on the streets of  Staten Island, capture perfectly catching the overall sentiment of our time. In Breathing, Franco "Bifo" Berardi comes back to the subject that was the core of his 2011 book, The Uprising: the place of poetry in the relations between language, capital, and possibility. In The Uprising, he focuses on poetry as an anticipation of the trend toward abstraction that led to the present form of financial capitalism. In Breathing, he tries to envision poetry as the excess of the field of signification, as the premonition of a possible harmony inscribed in the present chaos.            The Uprising was a genealogical diagnosis. Breathing is an essay on poetical therapy. How we deal with chaos, as we know that those who fight against chaos will be defeated, because chaos feeds upon war? How do we deal with suffocation? Is there a way out from the corpse of financial capitalism?

    • Paperback $13.95 £10.99
  • And

    And

    Phenomenology of the End

    Franco "Bifo" Berardi

    The changes taking place in our aesthetic and emotional sensibility: a deep mutation in the psychosphere, caused by semio-capitalism.

    Franco “Bifo” Berardi's newest book analyzes the contemporary changes taking place in our aesthetic and emotional sensibility—changes the author claims are the result of semio-capitalism's capturing of the inner resources of the subjective process: our experience of time, our sensibility, the way we relate to each other, and our ability to imagine a future. Precarization and fractalization of labor have provoked a deep mutation in the psychosphere, and this can be seen in the rise of psychopathologies such as post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, panic, and attention deficit disorder. Sketching out an aesthetic genealogy of capitalist globalization, Berardi shows how we have arrived at a point of such complexity in the semiotic flows of capital that we can no longer process its excessive currents of information. A swarm effect now rules: it has become impossible to say “no.” Social behavior is trapped in inescapable patterns of interaction coded by techno-linguistic machines, smartphones, screens of every size, and all of these sensory and emotional devices end up destroying our organism's sensibility by submitting it to the stress of competition and acceleration.

    Arguing for disentanglement rather than resistance, Berardi concludes by evoking the myth of La Malinche, the daughter of a noble Aztec family. It is a tale of a translator and traitor who betrayed her own people, yet what the myth portends is the rebirth of the world from the collapse of the old.

    • Paperback $17.95 £13.99
  • The Uprising

    The Uprising

    On Poetry and Finance

    Franco "Bifo" Berardi

    A manifesto against the concepts of growth and debt, and a call for a reinvestment in the social body.

    The Uprising is an Autonomist manifesto for today's precarious times, and a rallying cry in the face of the catastrophic and irreversible crisis that neoliberalism and the financial sphere have established over the globe. In his newest book, Franco “Bifo” Berardi argues that the notion of economic recovery is complete mythology. The coming years will inevitably see new surges of protest and violence, but the old models of resistance no longer apply. Society can either stick with the prescriptions and “rescues” that the economic and financial sectors have demanded at the expense of social happiness, culture, and the public good; or it can formulate an alternative. For Berardi, this alternative lies in understanding the current crisis as something more fundamental than an economic crisis: it is a crisis of the social imagination, and demands a new language by which to address it.

    This is a manifesto against the idea of growth, and against the concept of debt, the financial sector's two primary linguistic means of manipulating society. It is a call for exhaustion, and for resistance to the cult of energy on which today's economic free-floating market depends. To this end, Berardi introduces an unexpected linguistic political weapon—poetry: poetry as the insolvency of language, as the sensuous birth of meaning and desire, as that which cannot be reduced to information and exchanged like currency. If the protests now stirring about the world are to take shape and direction, then the revolution will be neither peaceful nor violent—it will be linguistic, or will not be at all.

    • Paperback $13.95 £10.99
  • The Soul at Work

    The Soul at Work

    From Alienation to Autonomy

    Franco "Bifo" Berardi

    An examination of new forms of alienation in our never-off, plugged-in culture—and a clarion call for a “conspiracy of estranged people.”

    We can reach every point in the world but, more importantly, we can be reached from any point in the world. Privacy and its possibilities are abolished. Attention is under siege everywhere. Not silence but uninterrupted noise, not the red desert, but a cognitive space overcharged with nervous incentives to act: this is the alienation of our times... —from The Soul at Work

    Capital has managed to overcome the dualism of body and soul by establishing a workforce in which everything we mean by the Soul—language, creativity, affects—is mobilized for its own benefit. Industrial production put to work bodies, muscles, and arms. Now, in the sphere of digital technology and cyberculture, exploitation involves the mind, language, and emotions in order to generate value—while our bodies disappear in front of our computer screens.

    In this, his newest book, Franco “Bifo” Berardi—key member of the Italian Autonomist movement and a close associate of Félix Guattari—addresses these new forms of estrangement. In the philosophical landscape of the 1960s and 1970s, the Hegelian concept of alienation was used to define the harnessing of subjectivity. The estrangement of workers from their labor, the feeling of alienation they experienced, and their refusal to submit to it became the bases for a human community that remained autonomous from capital. But today a new condition of alienation has taken root in which workers commonly and voluntarily work overtime, the population is tethered to cell phones and Blackberries, debt has become a postmodern form of slavery, and antidepressants are commonly used to meet the unending pressure of production. As a result, the conditions for community have run aground and new philosophical categories are needed. The Soul at Work is a clarion call for a new collective effort to reclaim happiness.

    The Soul at Work is Bifo's long overdue introduction to English-speaking readers. This Semiotext(e) edition is also the book's first appearance in any language.

    • Paperback $17.95 £13.99

Contributor

  • Art without Death

    Art without Death

    Conversations on Russian Cosmism

    e-flux journal

    According to the nineteenth-century teachings of Nikolai Fedorov—librarian, religious philosopher, and progenitor of Russian cosmism—our ethical obligation to use reason and knowledge to care for the sick extends to curing the dead of their terminal status. The dead must be brought back to life using means of advanced technology—resurrected not as souls in heaven, but in material form, in this world, with all their memories and knowledge. 

    Fedorov's call to redistribute vital forces is wildly imaginative in emancipatory ambition. Today, it might appear arcane in its mystical panpsychism or eccentric in its embrace of realities that exist only in science fiction or certain diabolical strains of Silicon Valley techno-utopian ideology. It can be difficult to grasp how it ended up influencing the thinking behind a generation of young revolutionary anarchists and Marxists who incorporated Fedorov's ideas under their own brand of biocosmism before the 1917 Russian Revolution, even giving rise to the origins of the Soviet space program.    

    This book of interviews and conversations with today's most compelling living and resurrected artists and thinkers seeks to address the relevance of Russian cosmism and biocosmism in light of its influence on the Russian artistic and political vanguard as well as on today's art-historical apparatuses, weird materialisms, extinction narratives, and historical and temporal politics. This unprecedented collection of exchanges on cosmism asks how such an encompassing and imaginative, unapologetically humanist and anthropocentric strain of thinking could have been so historically and politically influential, especially when placed alongside the politically inconsequential—but in some sense equally encompassing—apocalypticism of contemporary realist imaginaries.

    Contributors Bart De Baere, Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Boris Groys, Elena Shaposhnikova, Marina Simakova, Hito Steyerl, Anton Vidokle, Brian Kuan Wood, Arseny Zhilyaev, Esther Zonsheim

    Published in parallel with the eponymous exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.

    Series edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Stephen Squibb, Anton VidokleDesign by Jeff Ramsey, front cover design by Liam Gillick

    • Paperback $24.00
  • The Wretched of the Screen

    The Wretched of the Screen

    Hito Steyerl

    In Hito Steyerl's writing we begin to see how, even if the hopes and desires for coherent collective political projects have been displaced onto images and screens, it is precisely here that we must look frankly at the technology that seals them in. The Wretched of the Screen collects a number of Steyerl's landmark essays from recent years in which she has steadily developed her very own politics of the image. Twisting the politics of representation around the representation of politics, these essays uncover a rich trove of information in the formal shifts and aberrant distortions of accelerated capitalism, of the art system as a vast mine of labor extraction and passionate commitment, of occupation and internship, of structural and literal violence, enchantment and fun, of hysterical, uncontrollable flight through the wreckage of postcolonial and modernist discourses and their unanticipated openings.

    e-flux journal Series edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle

    • Paperback $15.00
  • Speaking Code

    Speaking Code

    Coding as Aesthetic and Political Expression

    Geoff Cox and Alex McLean

    The aesthetic and political implications of working with code as procedure, expression, and action.

    Speaking Code begins by invoking the “Hello World” convention used by programmers when learning a new language, helping to establish the interplay of text and code that runs through the book. Interweaving the voice of critical writing from the humanities with the tradition of computing and software development, in Speaking Code Geoff Cox formulates an argument that aims to undermine the distinctions between criticism and practice and to emphasize the aesthetic and political implications of software studies.

    Not reducible to its functional aspects, program code mirrors the instability inherent in the relationship of speech to language; it is only interpretable in the context of its distribution and network of operations. Code is understood as both script and performance, Cox argues, and is in this sense like spoken language—always ready for action.

    Speaking Code examines the expressive and performative aspects of programming; alternatives to mainstream development, from performances of the live-coding scene to the organizational forms of peer production; the democratic promise of social media and their actual role in suppressing political expression; and the market's emptying out of possibilities for free expression in the public realm. Cox defends language against its invasion by economics, arguing that speech continues to underscore the human condition, however paradoxical this may seem in an era of pervasive computing.

    • Hardcover $40.00 £30.00
  • Autonomia, New Edition

    Autonomia, New Edition

    Post-Political Politics

    Sylvère Lotringer and Christian Marazzi

    The only first-hand document and contemporaneous analysis of the most innovative post-'68 radical movement in the West, the creative, futuristic, neo-anarchistic, postideological Autonomia.

    Most of the writers who contributed to the issue were locked up at the time in Italian jails.... I was trying to draw the attention of the American Left, which still believed in Eurocommunism, to the fate of Autonomia. The survival of the last politically creative movement in the West was at stake, but no one in the United States seemed to realize that, or be willing to listen. Put together as events in Italy were unfolding, the Autonomia issue—which has no equivalent in Italy, or anywhere for that matter—arrived too late, but it remains an energizing account of a movement that disappeared without bearing a trace, but with a big future still ahead of it.—Sylvère LotringerSemiotext(e) is reissuing in book form its legendary magazine issue Italy: Autonomia: Post-Political Politics, originally published in New York in 1980. Edited by Sylvère Lotringer and Christian Marazzi with the direct participation of the main leaders and theorists of the Autonomist movement (including Antonio Negri, Mario Tronti, Franco Piperno, Oreste Scalzone, Paolo Virno, Sergio Bologna, and Franco Berardi), this volume is the only first-hand document and contemporaneous analysis that exists of the most innovative post-'68 radical movement in the West. The movement itself was broken when Autonomia members were falsely accused of (and prosecuted for) being the intellectual masterminds of the Red Brigades; but even after the end of Autonomia, this book remains a crucial testimony of the way this creative, futuristic, neo-anarchistic, postideological, and nonrepresentative political movement of young workers and intellectuals anticipated issues that are now confronting us in the wake of Empire. In the next two years, Semiotext(e) will publish eight books by such Italian “Post-Fordist” intellectuals as Antonio Negri, Christian Marazzi, Paolo Virno, and Bifo, as they update the theories of Autonomia for the new century.

    Sylvère Lotringer, general editor of Semiotext(e), lives in New York and Baja California. He is the author of Overexposed: Perverting Perversions (Semiotext(e), 2007). Christian Marazzi, an Italian economist, lives in Switzerland. He is the author of Capital and Language: From the New Economy to the War Economy and Sock's Place, both forthcoming from Semiotext(e).

    • Hardcover $29.95 £24.00