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« February 2017 »
Speech at Franco Berardi’s PhD Defence
Being a decade younger, I heard for the first time from him and his activities around 1980, when stories about Radio Alice were spreading throughout Europe. True, the Amsterdam free radio scene, operating out of the squatters movement of the time, had a multitude of (local) roots but Radio Alice was certainly one of them. The Bologna uprising of 1977, in which Bifo played a crucial role, predated our most tumultuous year, 1980, and was thus a an important source of inspiration for the revolts in Amsterdam, Zurich and Berlin. What we shared was our common desire to find out what ‘autonomy’ could look like in different parts of Western Europe which lacked any trace of its own ‘operaist’ workers movement.
Part punk and new wave, part rainbow coalition (feminism, anti-nuclear eco protests, anti-racism), part post-industrial turning techno, the sense of ‘no future’ in this late Cold War period was widely spread. The march into the institutions was over and doors were closing. Even the Situationists had closed shop. Being aware that well-meaning alternative proposals were no longer effective, we set up temporary encampments for anger & beauty. In these dark times of mass youth unemployment, the common language was one of refusal. After the lived utopia of the late 1960s with its failed experiments, my generation grew up in the shadow of armed struggles of others. Slowly but steadily we said goodbye to solidarity with the post-colonial national projects. After our own movements started to disintegrate, even our own militants went on a self-marginalising path (however, without taking other with them in their misery). By the second part of the eighties we were on our own, in a harsh neo-liberal technological world that inevitably forced the Media Question and the Globalization Question upon us. The ‘slow cancellation of the future’ (as Mark Fisher calls it in Ghosts of my Life) happened under our very eyes, leaving head space to dream how computer-aided social networking should look like.
I cannot but think strategically, in a political sense, about Berardi’s timely mapping exercise that he performed here. Every insight breathes the sense of intense debate and collective consideration, set in 1975, 1996, 2011, 2020 and beyond. Suffice to say, this PhD thesis has neither become a hermetic Hegelian Magnus Opus, nor a boring academic residue of an author’s wild years. Quoted sources are treated like equals. There are zero traces of a plagued genius or arrogant theory celebrity that suffers from melancholy. The tone remains urgent. We may or may not be depressed, but at least we’ve made the quantum jump to start studying depression. This is not become we indulge in our collective defeat, but we want to unlock the general sensibility. Let’s make our vulnerability unmanageable.
Sol Yurick Memorial
Brooklyn, NY, May 4, 2014
11AM to 4PM
at The Commons
388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
This will be a memorial for Sol Yurick, one of the best novelists of the 60s and 70s, who died in January 2013. Come and share in our collective remembering of his life and work.
For more information contact George Caffentzis
The Solitude of Latin America
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
[Nobel Prize Lecture, 8 December 1982.]
Antonio Pigafetta, the Florentine navigator who accompanied Magellan on the
first circumnavigation around the world, kept a meticulous log of his
journey through our South American continent, which, nevertheless, also
seems to be an adventure into the imagination. He related that he had seen
pigs with their umbilicus on their backs and birds without feet, the female
of the species of which would brood their eggs on the backs of the males,
as well as others like gannets without tongues, whose beak looked like a
spoon. He wrote that he had seen a monstrosity of an animal with the head
and ears of a mule, the body of a camel, the hooves of a deer and the neigh
of a horse. He related they had put a mirror in front of the first native
they met in Patagonia and how that overexcited giant lost the use of his
reason out of fear of his own image.
This short and fascinating book, in which we can perceive the gems of our
contemporary novels, is not, by any means, the most surprising testimony of
our reality at that time. The Chroniclers of the Indies have left us
innumerable others. Eldorado, our illusory land which was much sought
after, appeared on numerous maps over a long period, changing in situation
and extent according to the whim of the cartographers. The mythical Alvar
Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, in search of the fount of Eternal Youth, spent eight
years exploring the north of Mexico in a crazy expedition whose members ate
one another; only five of the six hundred who set out returned home. One of
the many mysteries which was never unravelled is that of the eleven
thousand mules, each loaded with one hundred pounds weight of gold, which
left Cuzco one day to pay the ransom of Atahualpa and which never arrived
at their destination. Later on, during the colonial period, they used to
sell in Cartagena de India chickens raised on alluvial soils in whose
gizzards were found gold nuggets. This delirium for gold among our founding
fathers has been a bane upon us until very recent times. Why, only in the
last century, the German mission appointed to study the construction of a
railway line between the oceans across the Panamanian isthmus concluded
that the project was a viable one on the condition that the rails should be
not of iron, a scarce metal in the region, but of gold.
The independence from Spanish domination did not save us from this madness.
General Antonio Lopez de Santana, thrice dictator of Mexico, had the right
leg he lost in the so-called War of the Cakes buried with all funeral pomp.
General Garcia Moreno governed Ecuador for sixteen years as an absolute
monarch and his dead body, dressed in full-dress uniform and his cuirass
with its medals, sat in state upon the presidential throne. General
Maximilian Hernandez Martinez, the theosophical despot of El Salvador who
had thirty thousand peasants exterminated in a savage orgy of killing,
invented a pendulum to discover whether food was poisoned, and had the
street lamps covered with red paper to combat an epidemic of scarlet fever.
The monument to General Francisco Morazan, raised up in the main square of
Tegucigalpa is, in reality, a statue of Marshal Ney which was bought in
repository of second-hand statues in Paris.
Fred Ho, Saxophonist, Composer and Radical Activist, Dies at 56
The baritone saxophonist Fred Ho died on April 12th after a years-long battle with cancer. Mr. Ho’s music is known for straddling the line between classical and jazz.
Fred Ho, a composer, saxophonist, writer and radical activist who wrote politically charged operas, suites, oratorios and ballets that mixed jazz with popular and traditional elements of what he called Afro-Asian culture, died on Saturday at his home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He was 56.
The cause was complications of colorectal cancer, his student and friend Benjamin Barson said. In books, essays, speeches and interviews, Mr. Ho said he had been at war with the disease, his preferred metaphor, since 2006.
Mr. Ho, who was of Chinese descent, called himself a “popular avant-gardist.” He was inspired by the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and by the ambitious, powerful music of African-American bandleaders, including Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Sun Ra and especially Charles Mingus. But he rejected the word jazz, which he considered a pejorative term imposed by Europeans.
Living Labor: Marxism and Performance Studies
New York City, April 11–13, 2014
NYU Dept. of Performance Studies
721 Broadway, 6th Floor
Keynotes by Fred Moten and Sianne Ngai
To live labor is to negotiate the extended processes of reproducing ourselves and others. To live labor is to engage the material conditions that traverse personhood and thinghood. To live labor is to attend to the forces, resonances, and energies that intertwine in the affects and objects of everyday life. "Living Labor: Marxism and Performance Studies" is a three day interdisciplinary symposium that convenes around these themes, exploring intersections of performance studies and Marxist philosophies.
This event is free and open to the public.
Check back for updates or visit livinglaborconference.tumblr.com
Bonny Finberg, "Kali’s Day," and Jill Rapaport, "Duchamp et Moi," Reading
Bluestockings, 172 Allen Street, New York City, 7 PM, March 28, 2014
New Fiction from NYC Downtown Voices
With Bonny Finberg and Jill S. Rapaport
Join Bluestockings for an evening of fiction traversing the literary stomping grounds from New York City to Paris, Kathmandu, and beyond, with two of New York’s sharpest, funniest, and most evocative downtown writers, Bonny Finberg and Jill S. Rapaport, each reading from their new books. In Kali’s Day, a dysfunctional Manhattan family–cross-dressing father, pot-dealing stepmother, and thrill-seeking, graffiti-artist daughter–go on a trip to Nepal, where they take different spiritual paths, some leading to insanity and prison, others to sainthood. Jill S. Rapaport’s debut collection, Duchamp et Moi and Other Stories, a tour-de-force of short fiction, dealing with subjects from jobs (held and hated as well as sought and fantasized about) to the varieties of affection, figuring among them the complexities of the family and those of relationships with men.
Los Angeles Poverty Department Events
Queens Museum, New York City, Jan. 31–May 11, 2014
The Queens Museum is pleased to announce Do you want the cosmetic version or do you want the real deal? Los Angeles Poverty Department, 1985-2014, the first museum survey of the Los Angeles-based performance group Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD). Founded in 1985 on Los Angeles’s Skid Row by performance artist, director, and activist John Malpede, LAPD is made up principally of homeless or formerly homeless people and has been an uncompromising force in performance and urban advocacy for almost 30 years. The exhibition at the Queens Museum will include documentation of works since their first in 1986 and live performances of two critically acclaimed works: State of Incarceration (2010-ongoing) in its East Coast premiere and Agentes & Activos, the North American premiere of the Spanish language version of Agents and Assets (2001-ongoing). In addition, during a five-week residency starting in January 2014, LAPD will engage Drogadictos Anonimos (DA), a Corona, Queens-based recovery group, in a unique partnership in which DA will perform in Agentes & Activos, and LAPD will serve as artistic mentors for the group’s street theater initiatives.
Exhibition & performance series connected w/ Queens Museum:
Do you want the cosmetic version or do you want the real deal? Los Angeles Poverty Department, 1985-2014
Jan 31 2014 – May 11 2014
. Exhibition opening celebration: Sunday February 2 fr/ 3:00 - 6:00 pm
. State of Incarceration
Fri. Jan. 31 & Sat. Feb. 1, 2014 at 7:30 pm; Sun. Feb. 2 at 5 pm
Location: Queens Museum
. Agentes & Activos (Agents & Assets): Spanish-language performance with English Supratitles
Sat. Mar. 1, 2:30 pm: Langston Hughes Library, 10001 Northern Blvd, Corona, NY 11368
Fri. Feb. 28 & Sun. Mar. 2: locations to be announced. There will be at least one performance at the Queens Museum.
Open A.I.R Professional Development Workshops
. Fri. Feb. 7 fr/ 4:30 - 7:00pm: Educator Workshop
. Sun. Feb. 23, 2:00 - 6:00pm: Artists & Advocates Workshop
The Reasonable “Madness” of Revolt
Fifth Estate Issue 390
In the existing world, largely governed by the logic of capital and the pathologies of accumulation, real madness is the absence of revolt. Wherever revolt is absent in the world today, we should worry about human health and sanity. A society that does not revolt against a social order that damages it with such escalating facility—psychologically, collectively, ecologically—is a society at the terminal stage. Revolt is the healthy expression of reasonable refusal.
For those who want to throw the existing world into question, the liberal political philosophy of John Rawls (1921 – 2002) is of little use. After the publication of his first major work, A Theory of Justice (1971), Rawls became the most influential liberal philosopher of the second half of the 20th century, receiving accolades and awards from scholars, and from politicians like Bill Clinton. He remains a touchstone intellectual for contemporary liberalism, and as one of its greatest advocates, Rawls is relevant to considerations of the disastrous limitations and contradictions of his own worldview.
Among Rawls’ many errors, the most fatal was his contention that “justice” and “fairness” could be satisfactorily realized within the limits of capitalist society. This same premise continues to ground the most fundamental liberal conceits, including that perplexingly unshakeable faith in “capitalist democracy.” Like most liberals, Rawls never took riot, revolt, or revolution seriously, since he viewed them as superfluous to the interests of the “least advantaged members of society,” as he frequently called them. Instead, Rawls devoted his life’s work to theorizing a “practical” way toward that greatest of all contradictions in terms, a fair capitalist society. Most liberals agree with these contentions, making it fair to conclude that they scarcely understand the logic of capital, and the countless catastrophes of capitalist society.
Video from the Third Futurological Symposium on Free Cultural
Spaces, Ruigoord, Amsterdam, Netherlands, July 2013
Hans Kup and Alan Dearling have produced a nine-minute video from the Third Futurological Symposium on Free Cultural Spaces held in Ruigoord, Amsterdam, Netherlands in July, 2013.
nanopolitics, exhaustion, biopolitics: an evening of bodies and books
London, October 9th 7pm @ no.w.here
Top Floor, 316-318 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 OAG
This evening will present an encounter of three lines of thought and practice relating to politics, bodies, life, the social and the common. Doing so, we attempt to think across conceptions and realities of micro, nano and biopolitics. Asking what it is that these dimensions may hold in common, what distinguishes them, and what they may learn from each other, we propose three short presentations followed by an open discussion.
First up is the handbook by the nanopolitics group from London, published with Minor Compositions this fall. Playfully sketching out the term ‘nanopolitics’, this handbook departs from bodies and their encounters in investigating the neoliberal city and workplace, the politics of crisis and austerity, precarity and collaboration. This book, packed with excercises and tools for action draws on social movements, grassroots organizing, dance, theatre and bodywork. As the hosts of this evening, the nanopolitics group will propose some ways of activating their handbook, which tries to think politics with and through the body.