Reviews

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Review of Gary Genesko’s Félix Guattari: A Critical Introduction
Isabelle Ruelland

Félix Guattari, A Critical Introduction is Gary Genosko’s third book on this radical French thinker. In this volume, Genosko first addresses a contextual portrait of facts that mark Félix Guattari’s life as an intellectual and militant. He outlines the different forms of social and political practices he engaged in, his theoretical and conceptual creativity, as well as the social movements and a variety of personalities whom he often opposed or was inspired by. Through chapters organized around key dimensions of his life and thought, Genosko delivers contextual material, explanations of concepts, and how the concepts are still relevant. According to the author, “the question of reading Guattari today is embedded in a longstanding problem within the secondary literature of Deleuze studies” (p.13). While the contribution of Genosko work is that it demonstrates Guattari was not an eccentric post-humanist or simply a minor theorist in Deleuze’s shadow, it is a work that assumes extensive knowledge of the poststructuralist epistemology he worked in.

Scott McLemee Reviews Richard Wolin's "Wind From the East"
The National

The Chinese revolution's influence on French thinking

"The Wind from the East" examines the effect on the Chinese Cultural
Revolution on French political and philosophical discourse, writes Scott
McLemee

The Wind from the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution,
and the Legacy of the 1960s

Richard Wolin, Princeton University Press

During even the coldest years of the Cold War, there were small circles,
far to the left of the communists, who warmed themselves with the
thought of revolutionary socialism. To be sure, they meant by this
something bearing no resemblance to the monstrosity embodied in those
regimes where May Day was celebrated with tanks and choreographed
expressions of obligatory mass cheer. Their egalitarianism was
essentially libertarian, and vice versa. In France, one such group was
led by Cornelius Castoriadis, who had, in the 1940s and 1950s, analysed
the Stalinist system as a form of what he called “bureaucratic
capitalism” – fit only to be abolished by revolts from below.

More Lennon than Lenin
Armin Medosch, The Next Layer

Reviewing Imaginal Machines: Autonomy and Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Life
By Stevphen Shukaitis

It is not often that left-wing politics is associated with attributes such as humour and wit. Stevphen Shukaitis' book Imaginal Machines (2009) is not only abundant with it but shows that certain strands of imaginative revolutionary politics in the 20th century were also endowed with those precious qualities. This journey through the radical imagination of the left, written in a compelling and entertaining style, is definitely worth a read for everybody interested in radical and antagonistic politics.

Imaginal Machines: Autonomy and Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Life by Stevphen Shukaitis is just out on Autonomedia (see event recommendation below). The book deals with the problems and difficulties of the radical imagination as a source for political transformation. Thereby, Stevphen Shukaitis walks a tightrope, avoiding the two-sided abyss of either outdated notions of revolution as "seizing state power" and the more recent 'tradition' which knows only cultural politics and has thereby absented itself from the larger question of the transformation of the political economy. The 'balance' that Stevphen Shukaitis finds is not so much in between those opposites but by intelligently weaving together a narration which shows different types of 'imaginal machines' in their historic specificity.

I am not suggesting that Morgenson and Rosner pull their punches. To
the contrary, the authors deliver enough knockouts to be contenders with
Taibbi as world champions in exposing the reckless fraud that the US
financial sector and its regulators now epitomize.

The financial crisis, which is very much still with us, did not result
from accident or miscalculation; neither did it result because of a flaw
in Alan Greenspan's theory, as he told Congress when a feeble effort was
made to hold him accountable. It was the intentional result of people

Paul Goodman: Recounting Forgotten Man on the Attack
Richard B. Woodward

Even by the obstreperous standards of other New York intellectuals, Paul
Goodman (1911-72) was a special kind of troublemaker.

Anarchist, utopian, World War II pacifist, pied piper of the '60s youth
revolt, urban planner, Gestalt therapist, uncloseted bisexual and
crusader for gay rights, advocate of sustainable farming, gifted poet
and novelist, he exhibited a wayward independence that made him a party
of one in the American political arena but that also earned him the wary
respect of his peers. Susan Sontag called him one of her heroes. Alfred
Kazin and Lionel Trilling, neither one a fan of Goodman's theoretical
writings, confessed to a secret envy over his "scandalous reputation."

On "Critical Strategies in Art and Media"
Adam Trowbridge and Jessica Westbrook

Hello All,

After asking [Nettime] permission to publish our book review in May 2011 and being slightly rebuked, we wondered if it even made any difference to share our hope for a contemporary approach to insurrection. We had taken our own surrender to heart and decided to wait. Recent events have shown our skepticism to be unfounded and we are sharing this now only to support those in the Occupy*, especially Occupy Wall Street, who have thus far refrained from naming demands — from, as Foucault put it, "demand[ing] of politics that it restore the ‘rights’ of the individual, as philosophy has defined them." No demands, no checklist, no politics as usual. "The group must not be the organic bond uniting hierarchized individuals, but a constant generator of de-individualization." Occupy EVERYTHING. No demands. Occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy,
occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy...

In solidarity,
Adam Trowbridge and Jessica Westbrook

“Originally published by Theory in Action, Vol. 4, No.2, April 2011 (©2011) DOI:10.3798/tia.1937-0237.11017 www.transformativestudies.org”
(The text below is pre-editor copy, apologies for errors)
Thanks to Eva Swidler, Book Review Editor, for requesting our review and John Asimakopoulos, Editor in Chief, for publishing it.

Critical Strategies in Art and Media.
Edited by Konrad Becker and Jim Fleming. New York: Autonomedia, 2009. 182 pp. Paperback $12.95. ISBN 978-1570272141.

Eleven years into the new century, it may be time to discuss terms of surrender. Not a surrender to any civilization but the surrender of civilization to those in control who would use any political participation as a crutch for their failure. The question is not if but when giving up on civilization will be seen as the only rational political stance. Currently, the critical strategy of removing oneself from a failed situation and ceasing participation in a bankrupt enterprise is rarely given serious thought1. Giving up is constantly under attack from politicians and those who benefit from the current situation. Activists remain in the service of an imagined future that only extends the crisis, unable to wean themselves from strategies already four decades old. This is the case in the discussion documented in Critical Strategies in Art and Media, a new book from Autonomedia that documents a conference of the same name. From the predictable return to 1968 as a vague yet singular moment to the insistence on optimism — recuperating even hopelessness and pessimism for continued production and activity — the most common strategies discussed are pragmatic approaches to working with those who fund art projects. Little discussion occurs concerning critical art practice beyond hopeful slogans that parallel Nike’s “Just do It”.

Critique of Creativity: Precarity, Subjectivity and Resistance in the ‘Creative Industries’
Gerald Raunig, Gene Ray and Ulf Wuggenig (eds)
London: mayfly 2011, 234 pages

Creativity is astir: reborn, re-conjured, re-branded, resurgent. The old myths of creation and creators – the hallowed labors and privileged agencies of demiurges and prime movers, of Biblical world-makers and self-fashioning artist-geniuses – are back underway, producing effects, circulating appeals. Much as the Catholic Church dresses the old creationism in the new gowns of ‘intelligent design’, the Creative Industries sound the clarion call to the Cultural Entrepreneurs. In the hype of the ‘creative class’ and the high flights of the digital bohemians, the renaissance of ‘the creatives’ is visibly enacted. The essays collected in this book analyze this complex resurgence of creation myths and formulate a contemporary critique of creativity.

"Eric Hobsbawm's Marx"
Terry Eagleton

How to Change the World: Marx and Marxism 1840-2011
by Eric Hobsbawm
Little, Brown, 470 pp, £25.00, January 2011, ISBN 978 1 4087 0287 1

In 1976, a good many people in the West thought that Marxism had a reasonable case to argue. By 1986, most of them no longer felt that way. What had happened in the meanwhile? Were these people now buried under a pile of toddlers? Had Marxism been unmasked as bogus by some world-shaking new research? Had someone stumbled on a lost manuscript by Marx confessing that it was all a joke?

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune Film Review by John Pietaro PHIL OCHS: THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE Directed by Ken Bowser (www.philochsthemovie.com). Released, January 2011. Documentarian Ken Bowser walked up the aisle to the front of the IFC Center in Greenwich Village for the premiere of 'Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune' and explained that this film was some twenty years in the making. Twenty years for a documentary about a folksinger of a time that now seems far into the past, one who never lived to know of his place in the annals of topical music. Citing that Ochs' brief life and briefer still career fell far short of the popular acclaim he struggled for, Bowser reminded the audience that, "it's important that we who love Phil Ochs and understand his relevance let others know". It was never supposed to be a closed society of the initiated, so spread the news—all the news that's fit to sing. The protest singer's vibrancy in performance, the visceral stir in his voice and the earnest plead on his face are back. The music's depth, the urgency of the day and the living movements that Ochs was so central to are visible for all to see. Leaning awkwardly over a microphone while cradling his Gibson 6-string, James Dean haircut spilling over his forehead, cocked eyebrow revealing sardonic wit while the mouth produces an earnest portal for songs of pride and revolution, Ochs erupts onto the screen, something of a celluloid hero. Within the cinema that was once the legendary Waverly Theatre—a site frequented by Phil in the '60s, walking distance from his Bleeker Street apartment—it was easy to feel transported. And necessary. These times, too, need Phil Ochs.
"Desire Was Everywhere" Adam Shatz Reviewing Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari: Intersecting Lives By François Dosse, translated by Deborah Glassman [Columbia, 651 pp, £26.00, August 2010, ISBN 978 0 231 14560 2] The ‘philosophy of desire’ was born in 1969, Serge Gainsbourg’s année érotique, when the radical psychoanalyst Félix Guattari met the philosopher Gilles Deleuze. Today, it’s hard to imagine them not knowing each other, and easy to forget how unlikely their partnership was. François Dosse begins his biography of the two men with their first encounter, a year after the ‘events’ of 1968, which, more than anything, inspired their collaboration.
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