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A Letter to Bifo
Sandy's Sister

Dear Bifo,

What are we welcoming you to in post-Sandy New York? How to welcome a friend to a disaster site, especially when the disaster is surpassing our capacity to see it, yet alone bear witness, or act up to it, in response or relation to it.

What is the context here in New York, you and many other comrades must be wondering?

The storms came and went, and we are living in their wake. The city is what you would expect after a very intensive period of resistance, the energies have dispersed but remain tethered. The struggles have coalesced around a few more focused initiatives. What exploded last Fall here in the city is clearly not finished. A lot of people remain involved on an almost daily basis and at this moment, a lot of the work of the last year has translated into organizing relief efforts from the grounds of the most devastated parts of the city.

Culture and Crisis
Paul Werner

I] Whew! that was close! I had planned to give this lecture in French; fortunately, the organizers contacted me and asked me to lecture in English instead; and there's no equivalent for "Big Bird" in French. So. Welcome, Everybody! Hello! Hello!... Hey, kids! Can you say PRODROMIC? Prodromic: It's a historian's term, as well as medical. It means that certain events can give a sense of how later events are going to unfold, without necessarily suggesting a cause-and-effect relationship. A prodrome is purely heuristic… never mind.

An Enclosure Called Politics. Surrealism and Electoral Politics
Bernard Marszalek

The quadrennial abuse visited upon us by the boosters of the State, and their supplicants, grows worse. This electoral circus (to be clear, I am not limiting my scorn to that baroque institution, the Electoral College, ridiculed by all, even those, worldwide, who genuflect to what they perceive to be more sophisticated governing structures), this circus, I repeat, solidified after years of debate in the United States at the end of the 18th Century, when the assumption that control of unruly social forces belonged to wealthy white men (who, alone, had the franchise), was imposed, though not necessarily obeyed (rebellions repeatedly threatened the new rulers of the former colonies), and amounts to nothing more than a counter-revolutionary culmination of a bloody uprising – erroneously termed The American Revolution – that, itself, foreclosed Thomas Paine’s revolutionary vision.

Preoccupying
Alan Moore

[Alan Moore is a writer and anarchist, and the author of Watchmen and V for Vendetta. Having written for the Occupied Times back in January, he returns to OT to discuss anarchy, war, and the roots of the modern education system.]

OT: Having previously suggested that many of the problems humanity faces flow from a tiny number of “leaders” and the current political and economic system they maintain, what do you identify as the main problems in the political and commercial makeup of our society?

AM: I think that with the inevitable erosion of those false certainties which shored up the reality of previous generations, we have seen a subsequent collapse in our sense of societal significance and, not entirely unconnected, in our sense of personal identity. We are no longer certain what the social structures we inhabit mean, and therefore cannot gauge our own value or meaning in relation to those structures. Lacking previously-existing templates such as blind patriotism or religion, it would seem that many people mistake status for significance, building their sense of self on what they earn or on how many people know of their existence. This appears to lead to a fragmented and anxiety-fuelled personality as the most readily-adopted option, which it may be imagined is a desirable condition for those seeking to herd large populations in accordance with their own often-depraved agendas.

Another World
Michelle Kuo talks with David Graeber

[David Graeber talks with the Editor-in-Chief of Artforum about philosophy, totalities, insurrectionism, baseline communism, and his book Debt.]

MICHELLE KUO: Many artists and critics have been reading your work on everything from the long history of debt, to anarchism, to culture as “creative refusal.” That interest seems to be a reflection of how the art world, at this moment, sees itself in parallel to politics and economics. Why does the art world want to call on economic theories of immaterial labor, for instance, or strategies of resistance tied to such theories and worldviews? We love to import terms from outside our discipline and, frankly, our comprehension. The misprision can often be productive, but it can also be very frustrating.

DAVID GRAEBER: Yes, it’s similar to the relation between anthropology and philosophy—as seen by anyone who actually knows anything about philosophy.

"Open Letter to Critics Writing About Political Art"
Stephen Duncombe & Steve Lambert

Last weekend Creative Time held their fourth annual summit on the current
state of artistic activism. Over two days, scores of political artists from
around the world gave short presentations and organized longer workshops. Hundreds of people participated.

The critical response, so far, has been underwhelming: few critics
attended and those that did had little substantive to say. It would be easy
to account for the overall silence and dismiss the surface commentary with
some snarky criticism of our own about a bullshit art world with their
head up their ass who can't recognize that something important is
happening right in front of them. And while this may be self-righteously
satisfying, it is not very helpful. We want to help.

WikiLeaks and the Anarchistic Roots of Global Uprising
Nozomi Hayase

There has been increasing interest in anarchism, with people around the
globe writing and talking about it. A whole new generation is beginning
to discover anarchists from the past like Emma Goldman and Alexeyevich
Kropotkin and a new documentary is in the works. The word anarchy is
swimming through twitter feeds and Facebook shares, coursing through
avenues of the public mind. Ideas of mutual aid and voluntary
association are becoming more and more relevant as the world stands in
dire need of solutions to the current ballooning crisis of economic and
political corruption.

Fusion Arts Manifesto
Shalom Neuman

“There is nothing new under the sun,” goes the old adage. What does change, however, is configuration. That change, as another well-known adage has it, “is constant”; in human terms, it is often the agent of modification, of perception.

Resulting technologies emerge, creating opportunities for broader methodologies of utilization: illumination, sonics, motion, communication, architectonics. Hand-in-hand with science - the imperative of which is the observation and manipulation of phenomena - is the artist who sits at the center of this shifting maelstrom of perception. The artist is part magician and part town-crier, busy with the invention and employment of tools meant to facilitate various modes of articulation.

Fusion arts, in the tradition of artists of the Bauhaus, seeks a closer relationship with science as well. Its manifesto is as follows:

"There Is No Information, Only Transformation"
An Interview with Bruno Latour
By Geert Lovink and Pit Schultz

[From Hybrid Workspace, Documenta X, Kassel, August 16, 1997]

Bruno Latour (Paris) is a philosopher, specialized in the anthropology of
science and technology. He is a professor at the Centre of the Sociology
of Innovation at the l'Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines de Paris.
He is called "one of today's most acute, if idiosyncratic, thinkers about
science and society." Amongst his books, published by Harvard University
Press, one can find "We have never been modern", "Aramis, or the love of
technology" and "The Pasteurization of France". His Documenta lecture can
be seen or heard at: http://www.mediaweb-tv.de/dx/0816/gaeste_frame.html

Geert Lovink: At the moment there are two concepts of the computer: an
abstract, computational machine, based on mathematics and language.
Opposed to this we have the future computer as an image processing device,
an interactive television set. How do look at this distinction between the
language based machine versus the image based medium?

Bruno Latour: I do not believe that computers are abstract. There is a very interesting article, 'On the Origin of Objects' by a computer philosopher called Brian Cantwell-Smith, in a book about digital print.

He made the comment that the fact that there is (either) 0 and (or) 1
has absolutely no connection with the abstractness. It is actually
very concrete, never 0 and 1 (at the same time). The distinction you
suggested is slightly misleading. The origin of this (distinction) is
lying in the notion of information. There is only transformation.
Information as something which will be carried through space and time,
without deformation, is a complete myth. People who deal with the
technology will actually use the practical notion of transformation. From
the same bytes, in terms of 'abstract encoding', the output you get is
entirely different, depending on the medium you use. Down with
information. It is a bad view on science and a bad rendering of
contemporary critique of images, all this fight against the
naturalization.

“We Are Witnessing the End of an Era”
Interview with Silvia Federici by Max Henninger

[A conversation about pauperization and the Occupy movement in the USA]

Max Henninger: According to figures published by the US Census Bureau in September 2011, 46.2 million US citizens were living below the poverty line in 2010 – the highest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published. How visible is the increase in poverty and how do those affected respond to their situation?

Silvia Federici: Undoubtedly the figures are correct, but it is not just poverty that is in question. What is happening is a dramatic policy shift whereby the rights and entitlements the US working class has fought for and come to expect are now declared to be, for the foreseeable future, unreachable and unjustified. To put it in media terms, it is “the end of the American dream,” signifying the historic severance of US capital from the US working class, in the sense that US capitalism is becoming completely de-territorialized and is now refusing any commitment to the reproduction of the US workforce.