The deepest apologies for my extended absence. While I rarely use this platform to discuss anything personal, I imagine a few of you might be interested in why I haven’t been posting. In the last couple months I have:

1) Applied for and was awarded the most competitive fellowship at my university. Previously, I designed and taught 14 courses. Now, I have zero teaching or other work responsibilities for the next 12 months.

2) Submitted an interview with Claire Fontaine to Radical Philosophy that was accepted. The interview, with accompanying images, will be appear in stunning high resolution color in the September – October issue.

3) Submitted two papers for review. One is a Deleuzian critique of Schmitt’s ‘autonomy of the political’ and ‘decisionism’ based on D’s metaphysics of passive syntheses (w/ help from Clare Colebrook’s recent work). The other is a consideration of a variety of Deleuzian approaches to Virtual Communism.

4) Attended my third conference of 2012. I began the year with a Comp Lit conference at Binghamton, followed it up with Cultural Studies Association in San Diego, and most recently presented at Historical Materialism in Toronto.

5) Wrote abstracts for upcoming publications. Too soon to have anything to talk about.

6) Dissertation writing.

The next year:
1) I will apply for academic jobs beginning in the fall. This is frigthening, as all I heard is doom and gloom. Any kind words or help in the search are welcome.

2) I plan on finishing the first part of my dissertation (which is about 2/3 of the length of the diss) by the end of the calendar year.

3) I may travel a bit, given that I am free of site-specific teaching obligations. A friend has invited me to possibly teach a day of a seminar in San Francisco this fall. The first two tasks (job + writing) trump everything else, however. Yet, if you would like to invite me to your town/campus, please let me know and I’ll try to work something out.

Escape For Non-Experts

My dissertation charts the political imaginary of freedom by way of the problem of escape. The project begins with a question: how does escape remain a political concept in a world that has been hemmed in by modern distance-demolishing technologies (cars, planes, modern weapons, and now information technology like the internet and global positioning systems)? Specifically, I propose three major themes that show how changes in the way people escape foreshadow larger societal transformations. The first is how anonymity reshapes interaction in the overlap of digital media and urban living. The second is how sound metaphors explain new types of social action. And the third is the way recent subcultures entice their members to change identities, or even attempt to abandon labels altogether.

The methods I use in this study are drawn from philosophy, social science, and literature. In particular, I use the cultural philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, recent anthropologies of state formation, and twentieth-century literary theories of social action.

I advance Deleuze and Guattari’s provocative idea of drift, which enables me to pose hypotheses about potential societal transformations that do not require a bloody political revolution that seizes the government. For raw material to test the idea, I look to anthropologies of government for historical examples of actually existing people who ‘ran to the hills’ in order to escape abuses of state power. Lastly, I identify key literary and artistic texts that cover the theme of escape: from ‘drop outs,’ to runaways, to the criminal underground.

Ultimately, I consider if running to the hills has been replaced by burrowing deeper into urban centers. And, to fully understand the effects of the shift in escape from running away to a kind of internal exodus, I look to recent changes in modern life.

Continue reading “Escape For Non-Experts”

“Giving Shape to Painful Things”: An Interview with Claire Fontaine

Parisian artist Claire Fontaine is a fraud, a forgery, her name casually lifted from a generic brand of school notebooks, her existence only present in the art that bears her signature. She was first brought to life in 2004 by Fulvia Carnevale and James Thornhill, art-world refugees of a stripe that has become increasingly common these days. She resides now in the neon gas, the video pixels, the found objects, the paper, the ink and the many languages that constitute her work. Where an ordinary object, say a urinal or a bottle rack, can become a readymade piece of art simply on account of the artist’s saying it’s so, Claire functions as a “readymade artist” to render this very artistic subjectivity in a more critical light. Along the way, she subverts the totality of contemporary art by plagiarizing its most sacred styles and forms.

Claire is attuned chiefly to what appears possible, and to what impossibly appears, as cast against the heavily policed image of the present. When given the opportunity to work, Claire would “prefer not to,” which speaks less to her keeping her hands clean than to her potent desire to restore conditions for a general strike.

She has a long list of influences. Most directly, her inspiration springs from the radical feminization of the Italian Autonomist movement in the late 1970s. Her philosophical roots are planted firmly in the revolutionary political theories of Jacques Rancière, Giorgio Agamben, Walter Benjamin, and Michel Foucault. Her artistic allies include the ironically subversive Bernadette Corporation and the anti-political writing collective Tiqqun.

This interview began concurrently with Claire Fontaine’s visit to Columbus, Ohio in the Fall of 2009 for “Descent To Revolution,” a group exhibit combining urban installation with public demonstration, curated by James Voorhies for the Bureau for Open Culture. Claire had two major contributions. The first was a solar-powered neon sign installed in downtown Columbus that cycled between the words “WARM” and “WAR.” The second was a multimedia lecture-performance on libidinal economy and human strike that focused on the bodies of women as site of political, social, and aesthetic contestation in Berlusconi’s Italy. Continue reading ““Giving Shape to Painful Things”: An Interview with Claire Fontaine”