Society and Space has recently published an article-length interview by Thomas Dekeyser. Below is Thomas’s brief description.
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.
Excited to announce that I will be the keynote speaker at Western University’s annual grad conference on “Toxic/Cities,” held March 2-4, presented by the Graduate Programs in Comparative Literature, Hispanic Studies, and Theory & Criticism.
Consider submitting! CFP below.
19th Annual Graduate Student Conference
March 2-4, 2017
Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
Deadline for submission of abstracts: December 2, 2017
Presented by the Graduate Programs in Comparative Literature, Hispanic Studies, and Theory & Criticism
Western University invites you to take up the topic: Toxic/cities
at the 19th Annual Graduate Student Conference, to be held from March 2-4, 2017 in London, Ontario, Canada.
Historically, the city has been considered a place of civilization, modernity, and opportunity; yet, for many the city is also a site of exploitation, excretion, and contamination. Millions of immigrants flocked to Ellis Island with the hopes of finding a better life in New York City; however, for many, the American Dream was shattered by the reality that the city can be monstrous and barbaric. Spanish author García Lorca wrote in his poem “The Dawn”: “The light is buried under chains and noises / in impudent challenge of rootless science. / Through the suburbs sleepless people stagger, / as though just delivered from a shipwreck of blood.” While some successfully navigate this darkness, many people encounter a place full of toxins and decay. A city that is both living and dead.
As Italo Calvino puts it in the last part of Invisible Cities, “The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.” The city, like an organism, is permeable and vulnerable to the very toxins it produces. People inhabiting toxic spaces can revel in this darkness or try to resist it. Decay itself can be revitalizing or lethal; dead communities can come alive. Conversely, the liveliest of communities can succumb to toxins and die.
This conference seeks to examine literary, historical, and theoretical investigations of toxicity in spaces, including but not limited to cities, suburbs, countrysides, or imaginary spaces. Topics for discussion include notions of abjection in literature and theory, contamination of language and degradation through translation, garbage art, indigenous eco-visions, rabid consumerism, scientific fallout, and disposable cultures. We encourage submissions from across these disciplines: literary, critical and cultural theory, cultural studies, philosophy, digital humanities, linguistics, film studies, visual arts, history, anthropology, and sociology. We invite submissions on:
- Authors, languages, theories, cultures, texts, films, and artworks that depict contamination or decay.
- Decay in communication caused by literary, linguistic and cultural barriers, silence, censorship, semantic ambiguity, practices and cultures of ineffective language acquisition.
- Toxic consequences of:
- language evolution and variation, dialect contact, language attrition.
- birth of monstrosity, mutation, madness, mad science.
- the pharmakon, dark vitalism/ecology, immunitary logics
- Recovery from periods of decline and decay (coming out of toxic environments).
- (Toxic) City
- Studies of spaces including but not limited to urban, suburban, rural, or imaginary spaces from a variety of approaches such as ecocriticism, sustainability, digital humanities, the Anthropocene, dystopian theory, etc.)
- The collapse or metamorphosis of religious institutions, political systems, social values, or economic policies that are in decay.
- Resistance to decay, ways of expressing resistance, autopoeisis as counter-discourse, immunization / inoculation, coping mechanisms, resolutions to toxic issues, positive visions of social cohesion.
- Decay as productive of underground networks of communication and speculative theory.
Related fields and topics may include:
|Queer studies||The post-human|
|Ethnic studies||Experimental arts|
|Indigenous studies||The DarkWeb|
|Creative Writing / Expressions|
We are asking those interested in delivering 15 to 20-minute presentations to submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 2, 2016. Please include your name, paper keywords, institutional affiliation, technical requirements, and a 50-word bio in your email. Abstracts and presentations in English, Spanish and French are welcome, and selected papers will be published in The Scattered Pelican, a peer-reviewed journal run by students of the comparative literature program, after the conference. *We are also accepting original artwork in the form of video, photography, visual arts, sound art and poetry. For more information, including submission guidelines for artworks, please visit www.uwotoxicityconference.wordpress.com
This is the longer version of a blog post I initially wrote for the University of Minnesota Press. You can find the shorter version on their blog here.
French philosopher Gilles Deleuze is usually characterized as a thinker of positivity. Consider two of his major contributions: the rhizome as an image for the tangled connections of networks, and the molecular revolution as transform spurred by unexpected quantum drift. These concepts catapulted the popularity of his thought as the digital age seemed to reflect social forms matching each form, namely the world wide web of the internet and the anti-globalization ‘movement of movements’ that lacked central coordination. Commentators marshaled his work to make sense of these developments, ultimately leading many to preach the joy of finding new connections to the material world (New Materialism), evolving the human at the bio-technical level (Post-Humanism), and searching out intensive affective encounters (Affect Studies).
In my new book Dark Deleuze, it is not my contention that such “affirmations” are incorrect. Rather, my argument is that Deleuze was ambivalent about their development, and later in life, became more a critic than proponent. In updating Deleuze for the digital age, I did more than restore a critical stance – I worked out how his lost negativity could be set loose on this world by destroying it.
Here I expanding on the Dark Deleuzian notion of “Death of This World,” a term I introduce as an image of negativity, by rendering it here as “the alien.” Instead of using well-worn digital examples, I instead explore the greatest looming question for the humanities: the Anthropocene.
Join me for a reading of Dark Deleuze at Left Bank Books, 92 Pike St, Seattle, WA on July 9 at 7:30pm.
Dark Deleuze, Rekindling Deleuze’s opposition to what is intolerable about this world
Gilles Deleuze is known as a thinker of joyous affirmation and rhizomatic assemblages. Andrew Culp argues that this once-radical canon of joy has lost its resistance to the present. Culp unearths an underground network of references to conspiracy, cruelty, the terror of the outside, and the shame of being human to rekindle Deleuze’s opposition to what is intolerable about this world.
Andrew Culp is a lifelong anarchist who has been involved in radical collectives in Kansas City, California, Ohio, and Washington State. Dark Deleuze is part of his work on revolutionary thought inspired by the recent circuit of struggle that poses no demands, resists labels, and refuses to engage in formal political systems.
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”
Identify and build the coincidence between an anti-fascist response to the Paris attacks and solidarity with black struggles against the American university.
On the one hand: the Paris attacks are obviously the work of a fascist ideology. Identifying it as fascism usefully illustrates the inadequacy of national responses, as they share the common cause of ethnic chauvinism. Digging deeper, it also reveals the hidden aporia of humanism, which harbors the liberal fascism of recognizing only those who believe in the project of univeralism as part of the universal.
Continue reading “Today’s Task, Nov 14, 2015”
“The Night of the Hunter” (1955) fits the bloody mold of a southern gothic family drama in which an eccentric cheat exploits a small West Virginia community stricken by the Great Depression. Self-anointed Reverend Harry Powell is a serial killer that goes town-to-town ‘doing God’s work.’ The film tells the story of Powell’s ill-fated attempt to insinuate himself into the family of an ex-cellmate to find the hidden loot from a bank robbery. On the one hand, Powell’s fiery public sermons win him the respect of the townsfolk, who are eager to be assured that they are on the righteous path. While on the other, young, fatherless John is an unrelenting critic of authority.