Ours is a century of fear. Governments and mass media bombard us with words and images: desert radicals, “rogue states,” jihadists, WMDs, existential enemies of freedom. We labor beneath myths that neither address nor describe the present situation, monstrous deceptions produced by a sound bite society. There is no reckoning of actuality, no understanding of the individual lives that inaugurated this echo chamber.
Historical conflict no longer opposes two massive molar heaps, two classes—the exploited and the exploiters, the dominant and dominated, managers and workers—between which, in each individual case, it would be possible to differentiate. The front line no longer cuts through the middle of society; it now runs through each one of us. . . “—from This Is Not a ProgramTraditional lines of revolutionary struggle no longer hold. Rather, it is ubiquitous cybernetics, surveillance, and terror that create the illusion of difference within hegemony.
The idea of the Jewish nation was conceived before the organization of the Zionist movement in the nineteenth century and continued long after the creation of the state of Israel. In The Words and the Land, post-Zionist Israeli historian Shlomo Sand examines how both Jewish and Israeli intellectuals contributed to this process. One by one, he identifies and calls into question the foundation myths of the Israeli state, beginning with the myth of a people forcibly uprooted, a people-race that began to wander the world in search of a land of asylum.
Peter Sloterdijk first became known in this country for his late 1980s Critique of Cynical Reason, which confronted headlong the “enlightened false consciousness” of Habermasian critical theory. Two decades later, after spending seven years in India studying Eastern philosophy, he is now attracting renewed interest for his writings on politics and globalization and for his magnum opus Spheres, a three-volume archaeology of the human attempt to dwell within spaces, from womb to globe: Bubbles, 1998; Globes, 1999; Foam, 2004, all forthcoming from Semiotext(e).
The 2010 English-language edition of Christian Marazzi’s The Violence of Financial Capitalism made a groundbreaking work on the global financial crisis available to an expanded readership. This new edition has been updated to reflect recent events, up to and including the G20 summit in July 2010 and the broad consensus to reduce government spending that emerged from it.
We certainly have the unconscious that we deserve, an unconscious for specialists, ready-made for an institutionalized discourse. I would rather see it as something that wraps itself around us in everyday objects, something that is involved with day-to-day problems, with the world outside. It would be the possible itself, open to the socius, to the cosmos . .
History that repeats itself turns to farce. But a farce that repeats itself ends up making a history.--from The Agony of PowerIn these previously unpublished manuscripts written just before his death in 2007, Jean Baudrillard takes a last crack at the bewildering situation currently facing us as we exit the system of “domination” (based on alienation, revolt, revolution) and enter a world of generalized “hegemony” in which everyone becomes both hostage and accomplice of the global market.
Before publishing his celebrated first novel, Horse Crazy, in 1987, Gary Indiana wrote and directed twelve plays for an informal company whose performers included the painter Bill Rice, composer Evan Lurie, the poet George-Therese Dickenson, writer and film actress Cookie Mueller, Warhol superstar and painter Viva, writer Victoria Pedersen, singer/actress Sharon Niesp, photographer Allen Frame, the legendary Taylor Mead, novelist Larry Mitchell, and others. Performed at the Mudd Club, Club 57, The Performing Garage, and Bill Rice’s E.
The war machine is the motor of the social machine; the primitive social being relies entirely on war, primitive society cannot survive without war. The more war there is, the less unification there is, and the best enemy of the State is war. Primitive society is society against the State in that it is society-for-war.--from The Archeology of ViolenceAnthropologist and ethnographer Pierre Clastres was a major influence on Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, and his writings formed an essential chapter in the discipline of political anthropology.
I’d find it amusing if, in a few centuries, the only thing that our descendents condescend to retain of our artistic production, the only thing in which they’ll see worlds to admire, to penetrate, the only thing that they’ll show off as precious in immense museums after having flushed down the toilet all our acknowledged masterpieces, the only thing that will give them nostalgia and love for us will be our porn.--from Diary of an InnocentExiled from the prestigious French literary circles that had adored him in the 1970s, novelist Tony Duvert’s life ended in anonymity.
Long ago, in childhood, when Summer reverberates and feels and throbs all over, it begins to circumscribe my body along with my self, and my body gives it shape in turn: the “joy” of living, of experiencing, of already foreseeing dismembers it, this entire body explodes, neurons rush toward what attracts them, zones of sensation break off almost in blocks that come to rest at the four corners of the landscape, at the four corners of Creation.
Society no longer exists, at least in the sense of a differentiated whole. There is only a tangle of norms and mechanisms through which THEY hold together the scattered tatters of the global biopolitical fabric, through which THEY prevent its violent disintegration. Empire is the administrator of this desolation, the supreme manager of a process of listless implosion.--from Introduction to Civil War Society is not in crisis, society is at an end. The things we used to take for granted have all been vaporized.
Crisis in the Global Economy is the latest and most innovative collective reflection on the state of global capitalism, developed in the mobile “multiversity” of the UniNomade network of international researchers and activists during the months immediately following the first signals of the current financial and economic crisis.
In this “concise philosophy of the machine,” Gerald Raunig provides a historical and critical backdrop to a concept proposed forty years ago by the French philosophers Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze: the machine, not as a technical device and apparatus, but as a social composition and concatenation. This conception of the machine as an arrangement of technical, bodily, intellectual, and social components subverts the opposition between man and machine, organism and mechanism, individual and community.
Alone in his forest dwelling, an ogre had spent years building machines to force his visitors to make love to one another: machines with pulleys, chains, clocks, collars, leather leggings, metal breastplates, oscillatory, pendular, or rotating dildos. One day, some adolescents who had lost their way, seven or eight brothers, entered the ogre’s house...—From The Screwball Asses
Our asshole is revolutionary.—Guy Hocquenghem
Workers of the world, masturbate!—Front Homosexuel d'Action Revolutionnaire slogan
A reform-school runaway at thirteen, a performer in the legendary New York City Playhouse of the Ridiculous at seventeen, and an escapee from Andy Warhol’s Factory scene at nineteen, Penny Arcade (born Susanna Ventura) emerged in the 1980s as a primal force on the New York art scene and an originator of what came to be called performance art. Arcade’s brand of high camp and street-smart, punk-rock cabaret showmanship has been winning over international audiences ever since.
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
The German Issue (1982) was originally conceived as a follow-up to Semiotext(e)’s Autonomia/Italy issue, published two years earlier. Although ideological terrorism was still a major issue in Germany, what ultimately emerged from these pages was an investigation of two outlaw cities, Berlin and New York, which embodied all the tensions and contradictions of the world at the time. The German Issue is the Tale of Two Cities, then, with each city separated from its own country by an invisible wall of suspicion or even hatred.
I gazed out my window on the sea of dark clouds as my shaking seat jiggled the image into double vision; and I pictured the flat, geometrically divided western landscapes below, wondering why anyone still bothered to travel in this cookie-cutter country. What was the use of visiting identical reproductions of the same Wal-Mart or adding new encounters of equally streamlined mentality to the roster? As far as I was concerned, everything had been shorn from the same cloth, woven for years in the drab bungalows of suburban North America.
Thirty years of “crisis,” mass unemployment, and flagging growth, and they still want us to believe in the economy. . . . We have to see that the economy is itself the crisis. It’s not that there’s not enough work, it’s that there is too much of it.--from The Coming InsurrectionThe Coming Insurrection is an eloquent call to arms arising from the recent waves of social contestation in France and Europe.
Poet and post-punk heroine Eileen Myles has always operated in the art, writing, and queer performance scenes as a kind of observant flaneur. Like Baudelaire’s gentleman stroller, Myles travels the city--wandering on garbage-strewn New York streets in the heat of summer, drifting though the antiseptic malls of La Jolla, and riding in the van with Sister Spit--seeing it with a poet’s eye for detail and with the consciousness that writing about art and culture has always been a social gesture.
This new edition of Soft Subversions expands, reorganizes, and develops the original 1996 publication, offering a carefully organized arrangement of essays, interviews, and short texts that present a fuller scope to Guattari’s thinking from 1977 to 1985.