Interregnum Week 4-5

New Interregnum now available. A major highlight is Susan Stryker’s trans- history in the US.


Interregnum Week 4 and 5

These two weeks of podcasts finished the trans-disciplinarily conference and continued with talks by prominent transgender thinkers.

David Cunningham talks about Derrida’s writing about the university. His engagement with Derrida is absolutely stunning, and showcases the skills of a close thinker who can draw on a deep philosophy catalogue. The highlight for me was a discussion about Derrida’s suggestion that philosophy should no longer be considered autonomous, which is a refreshing contrast with the disappointing series on French Theory currently being run by the Brooklyn Rail.

Simon Morgan Wortham’s response to Cunningham is brief, but once again a careful consideration of Derrida. Moreover, I like how Wortham reiterates a previous comment that “a responder is one who responds by taking responsibility for the paper.”

The trans-disciplinary and anti-humanism talks continue with a second session on gender. There are two incredibly standout talks from Tuija Pulkkinen…

View original post 415 more words

Interregnum: Week 3

Interregnum Week 3 now available. Subscribe to Interregnum at or on Apple iTunes at


Interregnum Week 3
This week and the following week have less content. There are two reasons: first, I commuted fewer times, and second, I used some commutes to read comparative mythology for a paper on Prometheanism. Most important so far has been Jean-Pierre Vernant’s writing on Hesiod.
The first lectures are from a session on socialist feminism and utopia. Their most provocative claim is that socialists should turn away from Marx toward figures like Robert Owen, Henri Saint-Simon, and Charles Fourier. And from those figures, they drew concrete lessons about making socialism into a way of life. As one speaker puts it, they see socialist feminism as a radical form of social work.
The second lectures are part of a series on transdisciplinarity and anti-humanism. Peter Osborne’s introduction to transdisciplinarity is refreshingly open-ended, and it resonates with earlier reading that I have done on Félix Guattari’s concept of “transdisciplinary meta-modelling.”…

View original post 49 more words

Non-constitutive Rhetoric: Or the Banality of Control

I prepared this paper for the forthcoming National Communication Association conference for a panel on affect. As with a much academic writing, I followed fairly strict disciplinary constraints; in this case, I am bridging rhetorical theory and advances in affect studies from other fields. The argument is not terribly original, though I make a few important distinctions that weed out inadequate interpretations of affect and establish the political stakes of affect theory (from a Marxist perspective). I will cut out roughly 3/4 of the material (to about 1200 words) to reduce it to a 10 minute talk.

My purpose today is to update the rhetorical studies theory of subjectivity. I argue that ‘affect theory’ should replace the older psychoanalytic model of interpellation. To concretize my argument, I analyze banal rhetoric; namely, the cybernetic subjectivity produced by “stock listings, currencies, corporate accounting, national budgets, computer languages, mathematics, scientific functions, [and] equations” (Lazzarato, Signs and Machines, 80).

Before I dive in, let provide you with a short preview of my argument. I begin by considering an essential axiom of critical rhetoric theory: “rhetoric produces subjectivity.” The prevailing theory is that subjectivity is an ideological effect of an implied audience (Charland, “Québécois”; Delgado, “Chicano Movement”). The most popular explanatory mechanism is interpellation, which draws on Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic theory of symbolic mediation (Althusser, “ISA,” 162). I argue that this model is no longer appropriate, for as Eugene Holland argues, “what Althusser actually describes is not the ideological constitution of the Subject, but only of the citizen” (“Schizoanalytic Critique”). The consequence of my argument is that rhetoricians explaining subjectivity through interpellation limited their focus to the State and relations of obedience/disobedience.

Second, I explain how banal rhetoric reveals modes of subjectivity beyond the citizen-subject. My claim is that rhetorical power now “speaks, communicates, and acts ‘assisted’ by all kinds of mechanical, thermodynamic, cybernetic, and computer machines” (Lazzarato, Signs and Machines, 29). I analyze “the language of infrastructures” to show how rhetoric solicits subjectivity without constituting a people or even addressing a subject (Pasolini, Heretical Empiricism, 63; Lazzarato, Signs and Machines, 61). As such, I do not celebrate affects as a challenge to abusive power; rather, I follow in the footsteps of Frédéric Lordon, who argues in Willing Slaves of Capital that joyous affects are the very means of our contemporary exploitation.

Lastly, I suggest two consequences from studying banal rhetoric: one, artifact selection need not be tied to rhetoric that hails “the people,” invokes an identity, or provides a symbolic program of action (McGee, “The People”; Charland, “Peuple Québécois”; Delgado, “Chicano Movement”); and two, the political search for rhetorical resistance need not emerge from distinct counter-publics or out-law discourses (Warner, Publics and Counter-Publics; Sloop and Ono, “Out-Law Discourse”).

Briefly restating my roadmap: I begin by discussing interpellation, continue with a discussion of affect, and end with the consequence an affect theory of subjectivity for future scholarship. Continue reading “Non-constitutive Rhetoric: Or the Banality of Control”

Public Talk: Dark Deleuze


You are cordially invited to a public talk, “Dark Deleuze,” on Thursday, June 25th at 11am in Gould Hall 442. The event is hosted by the University of Washington Department of Urban Design & Planning’s Built Environment Reading Group.

Deleuze once told a friend that a “worthwhile book” performs at least three functions: polemics, recovery, and creativity. In writing the book, one must reveal that (1) other scholarship commits an error; (2) an essential insight has been missed; and (3) a new concept can be created.[1] My task is to present all three. First, I argue against the ‘canon of joy’ that celebrates Deleuze as a naively affirmative thinker of connectivity. Second, I rehabilitate to the destructive force of negativity that pervades his work. Third, I argue for learning a ‘hatred for this world.’

Emerging from scholars concerned with the intolerable condition of the present, the darkness refashions a revolutionary Deleuze; revolutionary negativity in a world characterized by compulsory happiness, decentralized control, and overexposure.[5] The ultimate task of this approach is not the creation of concepts, and to the extent that it does, Dark Deleuze creates concepts only to write apocalyptic science fiction.[6]

Continue reading “Public Talk: Dark Deleuze”

Hostis, Issue 2, Call for Papers: Beyond Recognition


Seeking recognition is always servile. We have little interest in visibility, consciousness raising, or populist pandering. Recognition always treats power as a give-and-take. On the one hand, the dispossessed use recognition as respite from exploitation; while on the other, the State expects its authority to be recognized as the first and final say. According to this logic: for the dispossessed to even get a step up, they must first acknowledge a higher power than themselves.

The particulars of our own time are even more obscene. Following the spread of economic rationality on a global scale, it is clear that the flow of forces has reversed. The State pornographically exposes its long-protected interior for others to abuse while lasciviously grooming what is beyond its regular reach. Recognition chastely reassures the State of its powers. All the while, the most banal State functions are farmed out to the highest bidder. So when their parking ticket is authored by a private corporation, those who seek recognition fall back on the State dictum that nothing good comes from the outside. Continue reading “Hostis, Issue 2, Call for Papers: Beyond Recognition”

Lazzarato, Signs and Machines Outline, Intro-Chp 2

money is just paperHere is an outline of Maurizio Lazzarato’s Signs and Machines that includes his Intro, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2. It is here that he develops his essential distinction between signifying/asignifying linguistics and their subsequent subjectivites of social subjection/machinic enslavement. A better formatted version is available in the downloads section of this blog. Enjoy!




23 – 1. Social subjection and machinic enslavement

29 – 2. Human/machine vs humans/machinies

32 – 3. Egyptian megamachine

34 – 4. The functions of subjection

39 – Capital as a semiotic operator

43 – 1. The concept of “production”

49 – 2. Desire and production

52 – 3. The failure of “human capital”


57 – 1. The remains of structuralism: language without structure

66 – 2. Signifying semiologies

68 – i. The Political Function of Semiologies of Signification

72 – ii. Reference, Signification, Representation

80 – 3. Asignifying semiotics Continue reading “Lazzarato, Signs and Machines Outline, Intro-Chp 2”