Culture

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"Star Trek, Marx and Time Travel"
Alan Shapiro

[As a software specialist, Alan Shapiro would like to set the digital
world on a new footing. As a philosopher, he wants to introduce new
thinking into the world. And as an "anarchist reader of Marx" (self-
description), he not only steers Marx's critique of capitalism in a
new direction, he also believes that alienation and exploitation can
be dragged and dropped to the trash of history. Shapiro, who at one
time worked at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT), has been active for 20 years as a software developer and media
studies scholar, especially in Germany. In February, he will be a
signature speaker at the 2012 Berlin Transmediale media and art festival.]

Neues Deutschland: You want to develop a completely new kind of
computer, and found a New Computer Science. How are we to understand
that?

Existing computers are based on the scientific norms of the 17th
century. They go back to the mechanistic philosophy of Rene Descartes.
Their goal is to reduce complexity. A problem is broken down into
smaller, more manageable units. This works for a kind of machine-like
software. There is no holistic relationship between the parts and the
whole. The parts and the whole are related to each other like the
parts of a car. In 20th and 21st century philosophy, by contrast, a
lot of emphasis is placed on an integral perspective. I am thinking
above all of the French thinkers like Deleuze, Baudrillard and
Foucault. The New Medicine and the New Biology are also characterized
by an integral approach.

An Esoteric Interpretation of the I.W.W. Preamble
Hakim Bey

People who think that they know our politics, who know that we are
individualists (or even worse, "neo-individualists"), will no doubt be
shocked to discover us taking an interest in the IWW. They'll be even
more flabbergasted to hear that Mark Sullivan & I joined the NY Artists
& Writers Job Branch of the IWW this January at the urging of Mel Most
(who subsequently went & died on us!). Actually, we're a bit shocked
ourselves. "Never complain, never explain" ......; but perhaps this time
we'll relax the rule a bit --- hence the apologia.

In Conversation with Hakim Bey
Hans Ulrich Obrist

Hans Ulrich Obrist: To begin at the beginning, how did you start writing?

Hakim Bey: I always wanted to be a writer, an artist, or possibly a cartoonist. Or a pirate. Those were my ambitions. But I didn’t have enough talent for cartooning. And I’ve discovered that art is very hard to do when you’re not sitting in one place. I don’t know if everybody finds this to be true. But when I took up a life of travel in the 1960s, I gave up art because writing is so much easier to do when you’re traveling. But I always felt equally called to all of these things. It’s a question of fate. Fate made me a writer more than anything else.HUO: And how did you begin traveling?

In Conversation with Julian Assange, Part I
Hans Ulrich Obrist

When I first met Julian Assange—thanks to lawyer and Chair of the Contemporary Art Society Mark Stephens and curator/lawyer Daniel McClean, both of the law firm Finers Stephens Innocent—we discussed ideas for various interview formats. Anton Vidokle and I had discussed the idea to conduct an interview with Assange in which questions would be posed not only by me, but also by a number of artists. This seemed only natural considering the extent to which so many artists have been interested in WikiLeaks, and we then invited seven artists and collectives to ask questions over video for the second part of the interview.

A Choice of Contemplations
John Michael Greer

Last week's post on the problematic nature of binary thinking went out
of its way to sidestep the most explosive of the binaries in
contemporary industrial culture. That was a necessary evasion; those of
my readers who are following the argument I've been developing over most
of the last two months have now had a week to mull over the point I've
raised in that post, to consider its pitfalls and possibilities, and to
get ready for a hard look the most sacrosanct binary of our time: the
binary between society as it is and society as we want it to become.

The Situationists and the Occupation Movements (1968/2011)
Ken Knabb

One of the most notable characteristics of the “Occupy” movement is that it is just what it claims to be: leaderless and antihierarchical. Certain people have of course played significant roles in laying the groundwork for Occupy Wall Street and the other occupations, and others may have ended up playing significant roles in dealing with various tasks in committees or in coming up with ideas that are good enough to be adopted by the assemblies. But as far as I can tell, none of these people have claimed that such slightly disproportionate contributions mean that they should have any greater say than anyone else. Certain famous people have rallied to the movement and some of them have been invited to speak to the assemblies, but they have generally been quite aware that the participants are in charge and that nobody is telling them what to do.

"Pluto's Republic"
John Michael Greer

The Archdruid Report (October 12 2011)

Last week's Archdruid Report post ended with what might, without too
much exaggeration, be called a cliffhanger. Talk about magic, as we've
been doing for the last few weeks, and point out that using magic to
help people think more clearly has to be done one at a time with the
active cooperation of the person in question, and it's a safe bet that
very quickly someone's going to ask, if people en masse can't be made to
understand, might it be possible at least to make them behave?

That's the question I posed last week. It's a common notion, and unlike
most common notions about magic these days, it has some relation to the
actual possibilities of magic. To answer the question, though, it's
going to be necessary to start with a corpse in a bathroom.

The bathroom in question was on the University of Chicago campus, on an
otherwise pleasant spring day in 1991. The corpse belonged to Ioan
Culianu, a Romanian emigre who had a stellar reputation in academic
circles as a brilliant historian of religions, and a quieter but no less
impressive reputation in certain other circles as a modern practitioner
of Renaissance magic. Culianu had been shot once in the back of the head
by an unknown assailant. It's been suggested that his murder had a good
deal to do with his involvement in Romanian politics, as one of the most
vocal opponents of the regime that succeeded the Communists in that
country, but the case remains unsolved to this day.

Tags:

Friedrich Kittler, RIP, 1943-2011

German media theorist Friedrich Kittler died today. He was sixty-eight years old. Kittler was born in East Germany in 1943 and his family fled to West Germany in 1958. He attended the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg where he was heavily influenced by the work of Jacques Lacan and Michel Foucault. After receiving his doctorate in philosophy—his thesis was on the poet Conrad Ferdinand Meyer—he taught as a visiting professor at variety of colleges in the United States, including the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University.

Cognitive Capitalism and the University
Enda Brophy

[Foreword to “The Production of Living Knowledge: The Crisis of the University and the Transformation of Labor in Europe and North America” (Gigi Roggero, Temple University Press, 2011), http://www.temple.edu/tempress/titles/2134_reg.html ]

What is the status of the university in an era when knowledge, communication, culture, and affect have been “put to work” with unprecedented intensity? This is the question that Gigi Roggero’s text confronts, beginning with the premise that it is impossible to grasp the contemporary transformation of the university without considering the equally seismic shifts that are occurring in the condition of labor. The Production of Living Knowledge offers us the first extended analysis of the transformation of the university as read against the hypothesized emergence of cognitive capitalism and the forms of labor sustaining it. As such this book adds itself to a growing body of post-operaista (“post-workerist,” or autonomist) research that has been inquiring into this planetary, knowledge-intensive, and deeply unstable paradigm of capital accumulation over the last decade. Roggero’s critique of the contemporary university is a valuable contribution to the debates surrounding the politics of knowledge production within cognitive capitalism, and this introduction aims to offer the reader some context for his challenging book and the perspective that animates it.

The privatisation of stress
Mark Fisher
KAFCA

The numerous pathologies generated by neoliberalism can only be cured within a revivified public sphere.

Ivor Southwood tells the story of how, at a time when was living in a condition of underemployment - relying on short-term contracts given to him at the last minute by employment agencies - he one morning made the mistake of going to the supermarket. [1] When he returned home he found that an agency had left him a message offering him work for the day. But when he called the agency he was told that the vacancy was already filled - and upbraided for his slackness. As he comments ‘ten minutes is a luxury the day-labourer cannot afford’. Such labourers are expected to be waiting outside the metaphorical factory gates with their boots on, every morning (p72). In such conditions:

daily life becomes precarious. Planning ahead becomes difficult, routines are impossible to establish. Work, of whatever sort, might begin or end anywhere at a moment’s notice, and the burden is always on the worker to create the next opportunity and to surf between roles. The individual must exist in a state of constant readiness. Predictable income, savings, the fixed category of ‘occupation’: all belong to another historical world (p15).

It is hardly surprising that people who live in such conditions - where their hours and pay can always be increased or decreased, and their terms of employment are extremely tenuous - should experience anxiety, depression and hopelessness. And it may at first seem remarkable that so many workers have been persuaded to except such deteriorating conditions as ‘natural’, and to look inward - into their brain chemistry or into their personal history - for the sources of any stress they may be feeling. But in the ideological field that Southwood describes from the inside, this privatisation of stress has become just one more taken-for-granted dimension of a seemingly depoliticised world. ‘Capitalist realism’ is the term I have used to describe this ideological field; and the privatisation of stress has played a crucial role in its emergence. [2]

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