Upcoming Talk: April in NYC

“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.”

This event addresses a fundamental problem for contemporary theory: How can we think the darkness? On one side of this darkness is a regression and slippage back to gothic-romanticism, a state of mind, and thinking that FWJ Schelling alluded to when he said that: “History as a whole is a progressive, gradually self-disclosing revelation of the Absolute”. On the other side, is the scientific-realist perception of and about the darkness, as it overwhelms us, and encourages immersion in absolute [nothingness-strangeness-the alien]: i.e. it performs as the nature of the universe.

We begin from a consolidated position of darkness: >No hope, no future, no humanity, no way out, no limitations to thinking the darkness …

From this start-point spring 3 perspectives:
Dark Anthropocene = geology folding back into a singularity <
Afropessimism = contemporary methodology for destroying the world <
Non-standard animism = a politics of indivisible extra-terran non/humanity <

The three perspectives are material experiments in working with and in the darkness. The stakes of these experiments are multiple — they constitute finding something when one is blind. The risks are high, the rewards potentially immense. This is not theory by any other name than an encounter on a dark horizon …

Task: Destroy Worlds (Not Create Conceptions)

Skull Matchbook

The conspiracy against this world will be known through its war machines. A war machine is itself “a pure form of exteriority” that “explains nothing,” but there are plenty of stories to tell about them.[1] They are the heroes of A Thousand Plateaus – Kleist’s skull-crushing war machine;[2] the migratory war machine that the Vandals used to sack Rome;[3] the gun that Black Panther George Jackson grabs on the run,[4] and the queer war machine that excretes a thousand tiny sexes.[5] “Each time there is an operation against the state – insubordination, rioting, guerilla warfare, or revolution as an act – it can be said that a war machine has revived.”[6] War machines are also the greatest villains of the book, making all other dangers “pale by comparison”[7] – there is the constant state appropriation of the war machine that subordinates war to its own aims,[8] the folly of the commercial war machine,[9] the paranoia of the fascist war machine (not the state army of totalitarianism),[10] and worst of them all, the “worldwide war machine” of capitalism “whose organization exceeds the State apparatus and passes into energy, military-industrial, and multinational complexes” that wages peace on the whole world.[11] Continue reading “Task: Destroy Worlds (Not Create Conceptions)”

Chapter 1 – The Archaic State & The Priestly State


The Archaic State of Conquest
They were on the run. As they made their hurried escape through the fields, neither of them wanted to look back. Everyone traded tales about life in the mountains but they were the ones daring enough to seek it out. On more than one occasion during their getaway, fatigue threatened to consume them. And even though they were cloaked in the dark cover of night, they thought for sure that they would be seen. But dread provided more than enough fuel for their flight. Both of them had heard frightening stories about the catchers – cruel, bloodthirsty men said to taunt and toy with runaways just for fun. And so they amputated the burn in their legs and the ache in their bellies with the searing horrors of being caught.

Then, right as they caught of a glimpse of a campfire in the hills, their exodus came to an abrupt halt. The frightening figure of their captor stood out against the pale, moonlit clearing. The opaline glow of his toothy grin alone made them freeze, stupefied. But right above his devilish smirk were his sickening eyes, or really, where they should been – for the one that was still there smoldered like fire while the other was simply a dark crater pouring out venom. This was no usual catcher but an emissary from the sovereign himself, for his clothing was too ostentatious and his weaponry too ornate, which made his presence that much more awesome. As the terror took hold, they dropped to their knees. Whether it was thoughtful or just reflex, they timidly demonstrated subservience in a bid for mercy…

And then he awoke. (Where was the other?) Alone and feverish, he heard the slow advance of an overseer. Knowing that it meant he would soon be set to work in the throbbing heat, no matter his delirious state, he lay there for just a moment longer, contemplating his misery.

At their most peaceful, all States dreams of capture. Yet one State-form is nothing but unbridled conquest: the Archaic State. In a recent work, The Art of Not Being Governed, anarchist academic James C Scott describes the advent of such a State. Setting the scene, Scott details the alluvial plains of Southeast Asia where he says that the simplest states formed in fertile valleys. The key to Scott’s account is his political economy of their emergence, which emphasizes the mass cultivation of rice. Further dramatizing the centrality of rice for these states, Scott calls them ‘padi states.’ Among the many aspects of the padi state particular to Southeast Asia, there are two more general characteristics of padi states that are crystallized in the Archaic State: first, a heavy reliance on slave labor, which is secured through raiding and trading to produce the rice; and second, an inability to span elevation, which results in State power leaving a non-contiguous footprint. Abstracting these characteristics from what is historically specific to padi states in Southeast Asia, it becomes clear that the basic process of the Archaic State is not cultivation but conquest.

Raiding and Trading
A Burmese proverb, “Yes, a soil, but no people. A soil without people is but a wilderness,” exemplifies the first relevant characteristic of the padi state (Scott, Art of Not Being Governed, 70). Dispelling a common misunderstanding, this adage clarifies that manpower is the basic element of padi state political order, and not arable land. Of course land must be conquered and controlled, but labor-power is the source of power for two essential functions for the padi state: wealth, as the fruit of laborer’s work is taken as tribute, and security, as the workers are made to defend the resource intensive infrastructure needed for rice cultivation. And for this reason, the foremost indicator of a padi state’s power is its ability to capture and maintain slaves, which eventually leads to slave majorities or super-majorities in many padi states, as well as to slavery being such a common commodity that it serves as the medium of exchange. Yet this labor-power does not come voluntarily from workers hired or invited but is bled from slaves captured through war or trading and therefore requires a constant application of force, else the source of its power disappears back into the hills. State conquest thus avoids salt-the-earth wars of annihilation because humans are the State’s most precious resource and their lives should be preserved not wasted. But while labor-power fuels padi states, its power grows and recedes with the forces of capture and escape and not innovations in production. Because the padi state’s hunger for slaves is never satisfied, wars are not rare bloody events locked away deep in the annals of the State but myriad moments in a never-ending campaign compelled by the endless need for new labor. Continue reading “Chapter 1 – The Archaic State & The Priestly State”

“Who are our nomads today, our real Nietzscheans’?”


In a difficult to find essay published in a 1977 collection on Nietzsche, Deleuze ends his piece “Nomadic Thought” (an argument against Kant, neo-Kantianism, and the dialectic) with this wonderful point on nomads:

One final point remains to be made. Let us go back to that grand passage in The Genealogy of Morals about the founders of empires. There we encounter men of Asiatic production, so to speak. On a base of primitive rural communities, these despots construct their imperial machines that codify everything to excess. With an administrative bureaucracy that organizes huge projects, they feed off an overabundance of labor (“Wherever they appear something new soon arises, a ruling structure that fives, in which parts and functions are delimited and coordinated, in which nothing whatever finds a place that has not first been assigned and coordinated, in which nothing whatever finds a place that has not first been assigned a ‘meaning’ in relation to the whole”‘). It is questionable, however, whether this text does not tie together two forces that in other respects would be held apart – two forces that Kafka distinguished, even opposed, in The Great Wall of China. For, when one tries to discover how primitive segmented communities give rise to other forms of sovereignty – a question Nietzsche raises in the second part of The Genealogy – one sees that two entirely different yet strictly related phenomena occur. Continue reading ““Who are our nomads today, our real Nietzscheans’?””

References to Time in Lefebvre’s Production of Space


***– nietzsche: 22
— abstract space: 49
— passivity of time: 50
— rediscover time through space: 91
— time thru space: 95
— expulsion of time thru modernity: 96
— reducing time to variable: 108
— genesis: space v time: 130
— bergsonian/neitzschean coconstitution bs: 181
***– spatial control of time: 218-219
— ritual time “orienting” or “punctuating” space: 267-268
— industrialization of time: 277-278
— critique of hegelianism, which sees state as master of space: 279-285
— dialectics = time: 292
— reduction of time to space: 296-300
— Marx’s reduction of time in political economy: 322-326
— echoes of Marx’s reduction: 331, 333
***– capital’s visualization of time through commodities: 337-340
— appropriation as time: 356
— time as resistance: 393
— finitude: 409
— temporality of knowledge: 414
— time’s “trial by space”: 416-418
Continue reading “References to Time in Lefebvre’s Production of Space”

Empire and The Metropolis, long

This post contained an draft version of a dissertation section. A more recent version is now available on the works page.