What does capital sound like? Do we hear it in the grinding gears of industry? The rustling papers of bureaucracy? The idle chatter of company spokesmen? The business maxims of a boss?
Though deceptively simple, the question is not an innocent one. How people listen for capitalism has major implications for public address, rhetorical theory, and Deleuze studies. As far as scholars of public address still rely on Aristotle’s two-fold definition of humans (“man is the only animal to possess language,” and “man is a political animal”), politics is central to the field. The rapport between capitalism and orality is far less certain. This ambiguity raises an important theoretical question: is rhetoric even important for the study of capitalism? And if rhetorical theory does have a role in critiquing capital, what is role of Marxist linguistics?
Today, I explore French Marxists Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s suggestion that capitalism speaks in a voice even more nefarious than the ideological speech of politicians. According to them, capitalism acts through the inhuman code of asignifying semiotics.
I set the context through the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. I show how capitalism operates through “semiotic operators,” such as “stock market indices, currency, mathematical equations, diagrams, computer languages, national and corporate accounting” (Lazzarato, Signs and Machines, 39). I draw two implications from this finding: first, that there is a regime of signs distinct to capital, and second, that they draw on categories of rhetoric beyond those established in rhetorical theory. Continue Reading »
Posted in papers | Tagged capitalism, D&G, guattari, infrastructure, linguistics, power, public address, rhetoric, semiotics | 1 Comment »
This is the abstract for the paper I’m giving on Monday. If you find yourself in Spokane, let me know.
Every word is a death sentence; or so argue Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus. While previous work in public address has drawn on their work to remark on how communication constitutes a people or a territory (Roberts 2008; Brighenti 2010), I consider a darker Deleuze: his theory of how rhetoric inaudibly cuts, maims, and kills.
In the paper, I analyze financial reports, labor statistics, and corporate press conferences as a form of public address. I find that capital is itself a rhetorical agent that produces discursive events, but it communicates in a silent language. Theoretically, I use the concepts of ‘sign-operators’ and ‘incorporeal transformation’ from Deleuze (Deleuze 1990; Deleuze and Guattari 1984). The first extends recent work on how capitalist signs intervene directly in material flows (Lazzarato 2014). The second builds from other rhetorical work on ‘incorporeal transformation,’ especially as it describes the ability of the State to enact violence (Cooper 1988; Buchanan 2007). Continue Reading »
Posted in papers | Tagged capitalism, communication studies, D&G, discourse, lazzarato, order word, public address, rhetoric, rhetorical theory | Leave a Comment »
Chapter three of Anti-Oedipus is perhaps the most under-valued section of the book. Not only does it provide a concrete typology for working through social formations, but it also demonstrates the working out Deleuze and Guattari’s promise of turning Freud (“the Adam Smith of psychology”) on his head. Just as Althusser noted that Hegel was turned on his by Marx, a move that restored the role of material constitution to the questions of German Idealist philosophy, D&G are interested in how anthropology identifies the ground from which the unconscious springs. The recently published English translation of Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s Cannibal Metaphysics is a helpful reminder of the lost legacy of a Deleuzian anthropology. D&G’s work was largely taken up in the anglophone anthropologies going through the reflexive turn – their theories were used in the rather narrow methodological introspection of the Western self. Viveiro de Castro instead draws on the Lévi-Straussian tradition from which D&G themselves built their own anthropological argument in Anti-Oedipus.
Reproduced here is the list of anthropological texts in Viveiro de Castro’s Cannibal Metaphysics with publication dates from the years 2000-2008. They should serve as a helpful points of orientation for someone looking to see how Anti-Oedipus could be “updated” with more recent anthropology.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Reading Notes | Tagged anthropology, bibliography, D&G, deleuze and guattari, french, levi-strauss, power | Leave a Comment »
Our journal ‘Hostis’ is now available via Little Black Cart. Thanks to our publisher Ardent Press. The first 100 copies of this journal have been printed with sandpaper covers (they couldn’t do more because it was chewing up the equipment).
Hostis is a negation. It emerges devoid of ethics, lacking any sense of democracy, and without a care for pre-figuring anything. Fed up with the search for a social solution to the present crisis, it aspires to be attacked wildly and painted as utterly black without a single virtue.
In thought, Hostis is the construction of incommensurability that figures politics in formal asymmetry to the powers that be.
In action, Hostis is an exercise in partisanship – speaking in a tongue made only for those that it wants to listen. This partisanship is neither the work of fascists, who look for fights to give their limp lives temporary jolts of excitement, nor martyrs, who take hopeless stands to live the righteousness of loss. Hostis is the struggle to be dangerous in a time when antagonism is dissipated.
This is all because Hostis is the enemy.
Table of contents
1 A Short Introduction to the Politics of Cruelty
33 Nice Shit for Everybody, Global Shade
37 An Enduring Passion for Criminality, Tom Nomad and Gallus Stanig Mag
57 ¿Ulrike?, Daniel Gutiérrez
67 There Is a Third Thing taken from O Globo translated by Pepe Rojo
73 Interlude III, Cassandra Troyan
Posted in papers | Tagged anarchism, anti-politics, ardent press, communism, cruelty, hostis | 7 Comments »
Here is the expanded version of a co-written talk presented at the 2015 MLA Subconference. Thanks to the organizers, my wonderful co-panelists, and the incredibly vibrant follow-up conversation.
“What was once the factory is now the university.” This is the premise the opens the Edu-factory Collective’s Towards a Global Autonomous University–it is also the premise upon which the collective was formed. Co-founded by Gigi Roggero, the collective’s work functions as a road-block to the demands of academic labor. It critiques the foundations upon which academic labor is organized and opposes the hierarchy that commands academic publication. The collective’s conceptual work, forefronted by Roggero’s thought in particular, explains the importance of these interventions.
The number of ways in which in the university is now the factory are perhaps too many to list: increased demand for productivity, an increase in working hours without an increase in pay, the rapid proliferation of contingent positions, and the production of a highly skilled but also an under/unemployed population of workers are perhaps the most recognizable in this list. These and more are addressed in Towards a Global Autonomous University, but they are also enduring sites of struggle. Especially in the US, academics have yet to recognize and mobilize against these issues en masse. Continue Reading »
Posted in papers | Tagged adjunct, antagonism, autonomism, edu-factory, hardt and negri, labor, marx, marxism, micropolitics, militancy, mla, mlasubcon, modern language association, politics, power | 2 Comments »
re: “The MLA in the World: How Should the MLA Engage With Controversial Issues?”
The Modern Language Association cannot shy away from controversy, it can only legislate away politics.
In January, the MLA will consider how to “deal with controversial issues.” That such a discussion is even taking place is an effect of post-politics – the fantasy that public institutions can rise ‘above the fray’ to maintain a universal consensus.
Sidelining ‘controversy’ is part of the post-political agenda. It draws a public/private distinction through a limited vision of professional life. Public culture is reduced to career advancement, while issues of social inequality are considered matters of private concern. Continue Reading »
Posted in Ideas | Tagged bds, blacklivesmatter, blm, critical race theory, ferguson2mla, mla, modern language association, politics, post-politics, professionalism, whiteness | Leave a Comment »