I had the pleasure of speaking at the University of Alberta in the Lectures on Ahuman Pedagogy series organized by jessie beier + jan jagodzinski. The talk I gave includes material from my recently-completed book on The Politics of the Unseen, including some situating work that may not appear in the book itself. Moreover, we had a wonderful conversation afterwords that prompted me to rewrite the section on “mobilization” to clarify its relationship to arche-conservative Ernst Jünger, the insurrectionary politics of Tiqqun, and our contemporary reticular society.
Fall 2019 Speaking Engagements
September 13th, University of Alberta, Ahuman Pedagogies lecture series
October 3rd, University of California, Los Angeles, Information School graduate colloquium series
October 7th, Texas A&M, Global Studies lecture series
October 12th, Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts, The Post-human Network roundtable on “Haunted by Cybernetics”
November 8th, American Studies Association, panel on “Costuming Resistance”
Late November, University of Buenos Aires, Deleuze Practical Ontology (unconfirmed)
I am also running Fall 2019 West Hollywood Aesthetics and Politics! lecture series, which is free an open to the public for Friday evening lectures at 7:30 at the West Hollywood Public Library.
Our lineup is:
Continue reading “Fall 2019 Speaking Engagements”
The Russian publication New Literary Review (Новое литературное обозрение) recently published issue 159, which grew out of a conference on science and technology hosted by the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences on the campus of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in April, 2018. The event included a number of incredibly exciting presentations by scholars working on Meillassoux, Simondon, Machines, the Human-Animal, and labor.
The issue further expands on these themes, including important works such as a translation of Félix Guattari’s essential essay on machine and structure, complemented with new themes such as a section on Game Studies.
My own contribution is an essay on Anthropocene discourse titled “Anthropocene, Exhausted: Three Possible Endings” (Антропоцен исчерпан: три возможные концовки)
Continue reading “New Publication: Антропоцен исчерпан: три возможные концовки (Anthropocene, Exhausted: Three Possible Endings)”
A new issue of the Russian journal Stasis was recently released. Its title, “For Deleuze.” The issues includes a piece by me in which I argue that the third chapter of Anti-Oedipus on philosophical anthropology is Deleuze and Guattari’s most enduring contribution to Marxism. I bookend my argument with a discussion of Marx’s mode of presentation in Capital, which I theorize through Marxist Feminism and a critique of various political positions their proponents attributed to D&G (social democrats, Braudelian markets, non-capitalism). Furthermore, I include a very substantial chart of AO that may be one of the more important contributions of the article.
Stasis is a significant venue for me. It is run by scholars at the European University, St. Petersburg, a shining star of radical theory and critique in Russia. Their radicalism has met serious state repression, such as having their teaching accreditation revoked for a time and being forced out of their facilities. In spite of this, they continue to publish pathbreaking work like Stasis. Also significant is how the journal expands on the country’s long tradition of thinking while remaining independent from a wider intellectual environment awash in scientistic positivism (both surging neo-liberal social sciences and older Soviet orthodoxy).
All issues of Stasis remain free, accessible, and bi-lingual with simultaneous English and Russian texts for every article. Their rich cross-pollination of what American scholars came to call “theory” and the post-Soviet archive is uniquely rich. For one, there is significant working reading the Russian archive back into scholarly conversations (such as so-called Western Marxism) that tended to have a one-dimensional depiction of Soviet-era thought as it was prismatically refracted through massive state propaganda. Of particular significance are pre-Stalinist materials from workers journals, speculative philosophy, and political experiments prove that the Soviets had much more to contribute than what many had been led to believe. Moreover, their scope is not merely historical but brutally contemporary. Post-Soviet reckoning with the putative constitutional republicanism of liberal capitalist democracy helps break out of the Euro-American obsession of treating their own experiments as models for the rest of the world. Continue reading “New Publication: A Method to the Madness: The Revolutionary Marxist Method of Deleuze and Guattari”
Last week, I completed the draft for a new book tentatively titled “Imperceptibility: The Politics of the Unseen.” This is the first time in years that I’ve been able to take a step back. My immediate world has calmed after having been a sea of shifting sand for the many years I was searching for a permanent post. It has also been a very prolific time for my writing, which I have not consistently reported. From now on, I will be announcing here recent publication and presentations.
My ability to complete the manuscript is the result of a realization: that my previous project “Escape,” is actually two different constellations of ideas. They are not inconsistent, which is to say, they share common notions that do not conflict. But there are two core insights that each result in their own concept. I found myself struggling to unify them under a single title, a single argument, a single phrase, a single breath. Once I separated them, both began to flourish.
The first concept: that a distinctive feature of our current cycle of struggle is an anti-politics that refuses to pose demands, wants nothing to do with consciousness raising, and rejects collaboration of any kind. Even more interesting it tends to emphasize engagement instead of reverting to escapism, radical passivity, or pure silence. Once refocusing the project on this insight, I was able to write a new introduction and the book immediately took shape.
The second concept: combining insights across all of the major fields of structuralism to reconstruct an aesthetic theory of power centered on the state. After writing significant sections including comparative mythology in the Greeks and Romans, an anthropology of the hunt, an analysis of fishing nets, sociological analysis of sacrifice, an anthropology of bondage, aesthetic criticism of the Roman games, a personal history of Columbus’s violence, a visual analysis of Louis XIV’s great spectacles, and a history of the early European police, I knew that the project had a different trajectory.
Society and Space has recently published an article-length interview by Thomas Dekeyser. Below is Thomas’s brief description.
When I first read Andrew Culp’s Dark Deleuze, I was deeply overwhelmed. I had not been ‘touched’ on such visceral register by critical theory probably since I read Michel Serres’ Malfeasance: Appropriation through Pollution? four years ago. The work the latter did for me is almost ungraspable: it gave me the final courage I required to flee the advertising industry. Dark Deleuze sparked something different, but of equal intensity: it passionately set ablaze the ideas of ‘affirmative politics’ that I had been unconformable with for awhile. Affirmative politics felt and sounded still too much like the supposed ‘creative ethos’ that reverberates in the offices of the contemporary advertising industry. With Dark Deleuze, I found tools for exploring anarchy and anarchism. To sharpen these tools, I interviewed Andrew Culp for Society and Space. You can read it here.
I propose something not dissimilar to Foucault’s methodological suggestion…
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Audio available here: https://soundcloud.com/cca-wattis-institute/andrew-culp-on-aesthetics-of-refusal (Soundcloud embed not currently functional.)
“I’m against it.” (The Ramones, Road to Ruin, 1978)
Punk is dead, long live punk. In his book The No Texts, the painter Steven Parrino wrote about the ruthless pursuit of freedom via destruction. He tried to save painting by blacking it out, by canceling its image. He saw the job of the artist as that of being an exposed nerve—a mirror to a world that has become the site of endless distortions. FTW.
Andrew Culp extends that anarchism into politics: the lesson to be drawn is that negation is finding a way to say “no” to those who tell us to take the world as it is. Today, he tells us,that world is dominated by communication, connection, transmission, and translation. And those who determine how that works and who that benefits are committing acts of violence and information warfare. The only way to fight them is not to contradict or even to accelerate, but to contaminate and interrupt. Creation and destruction go hand in hand—it all depends on what side you’re on.
In this lecture, Culp uses Jean–Luc Godard and Jean–Henri Roger’s 1969 Dziga Vertov Group agitprop film British Sounds (aka See You at Mao) as a way to think about what agitprop might look like today.Would it be enough to replace the film’s famous 10–minute tracking shot of an automobile assembly line with a similar shot at an Amazon Fulfillment Center? Or maybe the whole repertoire of jump cuts,didactic monologue, and striking color are no longer techniques of agitation in our world of pervasive advertising, informatized production, sprawling commodity chains, increasingly–synthetic life,and digital communication networks. If so, how far must we go to maintain an avant–garde orientation toward the present?
Andrew Culp teaches Media History and Theory at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. His most recent book is Dark Deleuze (University of Minnesota Press, 2016).
The suggestion to invite Andrew Culp came from both Alexander Galloway and Seth Price.
This is the fifth event in our year–long season about and around the work of Seth Price.
Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to talk about Dark Deleuze with Joe from the Theory Talk podcast and the blog Fractal Ontology. We talk about my bio, the motivations behind Dark Deleuze, and quick thoughts on recent post-Deleuzian trends (Land, neo-rationalism).
Because WordPress does not allow Stitcher embedding, click through here.
|taproot or dichotomous roots||proliferation of secondary roots||subterranean stems, bulb or tuber, burrow|
|Hierarchy||cutting of the taproot causes the destruction of all other parts||unity of the root maintained in supplementary dimension||autonomous. Loosely interconnected parts|
|Operation||imitation of the world||Is it working? How is it working (for me)? Is something coming through?|
|Unity||Linear: everything turns around a single axis||Cyclical: unity within the supplementary dimension (e.g. dimension of knowledge or of sentence)||Unitary idea is missing|
|Multiplicity||missing: it has been eliminated by dualism||rules of combination reduce the growth of multiplicity||multiplicity is achieved by subtracting the one from the existent: n-1|
I found this diagram in 2005 in a web article about architecture. What struck me about the chart was that through a close reading of the rhizome plateau, its creator identified the third structure of books suggested by Deleuze and Guattari. And in introducing the third term, which is often left out, the chart serves as a powerful argument for my theory of “contrasts” and against the all-too-easy slide into the golden mean performed by thinkers like DeLanda.
(Excerpt from an unpublished manuscript, “Militancy and the Spatialization of Power: Rethinking Intellectual Labor, Relocating the University,” co-written with a friend in 2014.)
[Call and Response]
Ten years from now…
The thing that’s going to be written about Seattle…
Is not what tear gas bomb went off on what street corner…
But that the WTO in 1999…
Was the birth…
—This Is What Democracy Looks Like
Looking at the climbing heights of university buildings, the permanent grace of great lecture halls, and the largess of administration buildings, one quickly understands how power finds profound expression in space. While symbols of power are spread through language, written in signatures, displayed on emblems, attached to commencement robes, and stamped on letterhead, these signs can be easily reversed, replaced, or just plain pushed aside. The meaning of buildings is open to interpretation, dispute, and amendment, which is something made obvious in battles over memorials, architectural objects made almost exclusively for their symbolic value.[i] But such struggles are not reducible to conflicts over meaning, as the production of space holds unique influence over how society is perceived, conceived, and lived.[ii]
Given the gravitational power of monumentalizing space, it is no wonder that social movements have supplemented state-built projects with their own memorials. In the ’60s and ’70s, black students demanded Black Studies programs; many occupied buildings, christening them with names such as ‘Malcolm X Hall.’[iii] In Buenos Aires, political discontents that were silently kidnapped, tortured, and executed are remembered with painted silhouettes on sidewalks and walls.[iv] And during the Iraq War, peace groups set up model cemeteries that brought the war home.[v]
Yet monuments, whether giving form to state power or challenging it, use space in the same way: they fend off the future by preserving either the present or the past.[vi] Monumentalization slows down the infinite speed of thought by introducing space, which submits it to the geologic time-scale of rock, sand, and paint.[vii] And with those mineralized monuments, architects construct temples to power that appear as permanent as the mountains they are built from.[viii]
But one need not conquer the earth by moving mountains. Consider the basic element of architecture: the frame.[ix] The frame distinguishes between an inside and outside, and it is with these slices of the world that the built environment is made. A floor carves out a home from the earth. A window lets a little bit of the earth back in. And furthermore, a monument freezes a frame to preserve what it has captured inside itself while blocking out the outside.[x]
Bricks and mortar are not wrong; in fact they are absolutely necessary, as all life depends on a minimal amount of preservation. But the spatialization of power often interferes with the capacity to temporalize finitude, which would make preservation selective rather than an imperative.[xi] Monumentalized space therefore defines the dead zones on our map –places to be subverted or simply avoided. When power is slowed enough to stand tall and be easily seen, it stops tapping into the power of indiscernibility.[xii] We therefore map fossils of power to see where things went wrong and living knowledge was sent to die.
Old, forgotten men in statuesque poses haunt most university quads; long departed from the flow of life, they keep vigil over the schools they helped build. Few serve as sites of conflict or points of contention. While near Wall Street, an enraged bull stands with its head down and horns up, as if frozen in the middle of an angry charge. Similar bulls, though ‘younger’ and ‘stronger,’ have been placed in Amsterdam, the early home of capitalism, and Shanghai, which is perhaps its next.
If these former living beings are the product of their environments, just as organisms emerge as ‘solutions’ to the ‘problem’ of their milieu, then they express the dead life of each place.[xiii] Both are the art of work, labor captured and permanently restrained, yet the dead labor they perform differs substantially. The great men of the University of Great Ideas are forms of life long passed and remain only as beautiful souls offering a gentle reminder of a time where reason or even national culture drove university life.[xiv] In contrast, the bulls are locked in mid-motion with their muscles tense, eyes directed at an invisible target, stopped right before they released their violent energy.
If an intellectual is to embody antagonism, they must oppose both of these calcified forms. Living knowledge betrays the great men of reason and the deadly bulls of capitalism. Yet the power of the university does not lie in its bricks and mortar, though its walls often stand as barricades to the encroaching interests of capital, but its power comes from deterritorializing living labor and releasing its antagonistic force into the world. Such an operation subtracts itself from the spatialization of power and circulates within cycles of struggle.
[i] Erika Doss, Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).
[ii] Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (Maiden, MA: Blackwell Press, 1991), 38-9.
[iii] Eric Simmons, “UCSB Black Studies Dept. Built From 1968 Black Student Union Protest,“ The Daily Nexus, 12 Feb 2001, http://dailynexus.com/2001-02-12/ucsb-black-studies-dept-built-from-1968-black-student-union-protest/ (accessed 4 Mar 2013).
[iv] Diana Taylor, “’You are Here’: H.I.J.O.S. and the DNA of Performance,” The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), 161-189.
[v] Ken MacLeish, “The Tense Present History of the Second Gulf War: Revelation and Repression in Memorialization,” Text, Practice, Performance VI (2006): 69-84.
[vi] Lefebvre has an extended consideration of monuments and monumentalization in The Production of Space, 220-228.
[vii] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, “Geophilosophy,” in What is Philosophy?, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 85-113.
[viii] Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 377, 402.
[ix] Deleuze and Guattari, What is Philosophy?, 183.
[x] Elizabeth Grosz, Chaos, Territory Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth (New York: Columbia University Press), 10-17.
[xi] Guy Debord argues that capitalism alienates time through space, and ultimately proposes liberating space through noncapitalist time. A summation of his point of this general argument in found in his The Society of the Spectacle, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (New York: Zone Books, 1994), especially in thesis 170, where he writes that “the requirement of capitalism that is met by urbanism in the form of a freezing of life might be described, in Hegelian terms, as an absolute predominance of ‘tranquil side-by-sideness’ in space over ‘restless becoming in the progression of time.’”.
[xii] Deleuze and Guattari speak of becoming-indiscernible in relation to linguistics, segmentarity, and animality. This is not a fading away, as in a ghost who leaves only a trace of life, but a guerilla operation. Once in the zone of indiscernible, the power of a form of life is derived not from itself but from its milieu.
[xiii] George Canuilhem, “The Living and its Milieu,” trans. John Savage, in Grey Room, No. 3 (Spring, 2001): 6-31.
[xiv] The critical reference here is Bill Reading’s The University in Ruins (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997).