eyal weizman's blog

Gilles Deleuze: "Postscript on the Societies of Control"

1. Historical

Foucault located the _disciplinary societies_ in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; they reach their height at the outset of the twentieth. They initiate the organization of vast spaces of enclosure. The individual never ceases passing from one closed environment to another, each having its own laws: first the family; then the school ("you are no longer in your family"); then the barracks ("you are no longer at school"); then the factory; from time to time the hospital; possibly the prison, the preeminent instance of the enclosed environment. It's the prison that serves as the analogical model: at the sight of some laborers, the heroine of Rossellini's _Europa '51_ could exclaim, "I thought I was seeing convicts."

Felicity Scott: Involuntary Prisoners of Architecture

The recent swell of public discourse on contemporary architecture seems to
have taken the discipline somewhat by surprise; the unremitting scrutiny and visibil-
ity cast upon it on account of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation
(LMDC) competition for the World Trade Center site was met by an uncanny (or
disquieting) silence of ideas.1 Following a tragic and traumatic violation of

Deleuze: Foucault

in Deleuze reading of Foucault "theory does not express, translate, or serve to apply practice: it is practice" similarly political practice could be used as an intensifier of thought, and analysis as a multiplier of the forms and domains for the intervention of political action. The chapter is a reference to Foucault's "Displine and Punish" (so it would be good to look at it again as well) but shoots off rather tangentially. "Foucault shows that power...is less a property than a strategy, and its effects cannot be attributed to an appropriation 'but to dispositions, manoeuvres, tactics, techniques, functionings.'"(p.25)...

Simon O'Sullivan: Academy: The Production of Subjectivity

In a world variously called postmodern, late capitalist, or simply Empire, a world in which power has been decentred, virtual centres of power exist everywhere. We might say that these virtual centres of power are our own subjectivities, and thus that the battle ground against this power is in some sense ourselves. Hence the importance in understanding politics - and political art practice - as not just being about institutional and ideological critique, but as involving the active production of our own subjectivity. Hence also the importance of creative pedagogy; teaching practices that involve student participation, workshops, ‘laboratories’, and other teaching models that do not mimic the top down structures in existence elsewhere. Such pedagogical practices can contribute to the active and practical involvement of individuals in determining their own intellectual and creative projects, and indeed their wider lives.

Jacques Ranciere: The politics of aesthetics

I shall start from a little fact borrowed from the actuality of art life. A Belgian foundation, the Evens Foundation, created a prize called Community art collaboration. The prize is aimed at supporting artistic projects encouraging " the invention of new social coherence based on diversity of identities ". Last year, the laureate project was presented by a French group of artists called Urban Campment. The project, called "I and us" proposed to create, in a poor and stigmatized suburb of Paris a special place, "extremely useless, fragile and non-productive", a place at remove, available to all but than can be used only by one person at once.

Keller Easterling: Enduring Innocence (intro)

In Enduring Innocence, Keller Easterling tells the stories of outlaw "spatial products" -- resorts, information technology campuses, retail chains, golf courses, ports, and other hybrid spaces that exist outside normal constituencies and jurisdictions -- in difficult political situations around the world. These spaces -- familiar commercial formulas of retail, business, and trade -- aspire to be worlds unto themselves, self-reflexive and innocent of politics. But as Easterling shows, in reality these enclaves can become political pawns and objects of contention. Jurisdictionally ambiguous, they are imbued with myths, desires, and symbolic capital.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: Righting Wrongs

Colonialism was committed to the education of a certain class. It was interested in the seemingly permanent operation of an altered normality. Paradoxically, human rights and ‘‘development’’ work today cannot claim this self-empowerment that high colonialism could. Yet, some of the best products of high colonialism, descendants of the colonial middle class, become human rights advocates in the countries of the South. I will explain throughananalogy.

Eyal Weizman: Lethal Theory

The fact that most contemporary military operations are staged in cities suggests an urgent need to reflect on an emergent relationship between armed conflicts and the built environment. Contemporary urban warfare plays itself out within a constructed, real or imaginary architecture, and through the destruction, construction, reorganization, and subversion of space.

The image in p.72 of this essay, attributed to Nir Kafri, was mistakenly changed from the original, it was removed in this version.

Scott Lash: Intensive Capitalism

Contemporary capitalism is becoming increasingly metaphysical. The paper contrasts a ‘physical’ capitalism – of the national and manufacturing age – with a ‘metaphysical capitalism’ of the global information society. It describes physical capitalism in terms of 1) extensity, 2) equivalence, 3) equilibrium and 4) the phenomenal, which stands in contrast to metaphysical capitalism’s 1) intensity, 2) inequivalence (or difference), 3) disequilibrium and 4) the noumenal. Most centrally: if use-value or the gift in pre-capitalist society is grounded in concrete inequivalence, and exchange-value in physical capitalism presumes abstract equivalence, then value in contemporary society presumes abstract inequivalence. The paper argues that the predominantly physical causation of the earlier epoch is being superseded by a more metaphysical causation. This is discussed in terms of the four Aristotelian causes. Thus there is a shift in efficient cause from abstract homogenous labour to abstract heterogeneous life. Material cause changes from the commodity’s units of equivalence to consist of informational units of inequivalence. Formal cause takes place through the preservation of form as a disequilibriate system through operations of closure. These operations are at the same time information interchanges with a form’s environment. Final (and first) cause becomes the deep-structural generation of information from a compressed virtual substrate. This may have implications for method in the social and human sciences. The paper illustrates this shift with a brief discussion of global finance.

Scott Lash: Intensive Language - Media and Religion in the Work of Walter Benjamin

There is a certain lineage from Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz to Walter Benjamin. Benjamin does notably use the idea of the monad. There is a section on Monadology in his Origin of German Tragic Drama (Trauerspiel) fairly universally hailed as Benjamin’s most sustained and original work. Further in the Passagenwerk he treated the arcades as a monad to the extent that they were closed, and to which there were no windows or doors for anything to get in (Gunn 2003). The monad for Benjamin is the idea, the pure idea, or ideas that form what he calls ‘constellations’. Here ideas are purely mental, purely geistlich, they are totally immaterial. They cannot be communicated to, nor can they communicate. Ideas and God for Benjamin are pure intensity. But whereas the monad is at centre stage for Leibniz, for Benjamin at centre stage is language.

Jacques Rancière: The Politics of Aesthetics

For Rancière, any domain of experience involves a specific configuration of the visible and the sensible, an order of possible or available actions, appropriate situations, and so forth. To put it otherwise, the distribution of the sensible defines a system of visible proofs or evidence which allows both to perceive the existence of something held in common and the cuts and torsions that apportion places and parts within it (inclusions, exclusions, hierarchies, topologies, potential dynamics, etc.). This position entails that there is both a politics immanent to artistic practices (in the devising and selection of modalities of partage or distribution) and that there exists no political configuration which is not founded on a decision regarding the visibility of its ingredients and spatio-temporal dynamisms, to borrow a term from Deleuze.

Jacques Rancière: The Aesthetic Revolution And Its Outcomes

At the end of the fifteenth of his Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Mankind Schiller states a paradox and makes a promise. He declares that ‘Man is only completely human when he plays’, and assures us that this paradox is capable ‘of bearing the whole edifice of the art of the beautiful and of the still more difficult art of living’. We could reformulate this thought as follows: there exists a specific sensory experience—the aesthetic—that holds the promise of both a new world of Art and a new life for individuals and the community. There are different ways of coming to terms with this statement and this promise.

Alberto Toscano: Pedagogic Note on Jacques Rancière

Whilst by no means exhausting the myriad tasks and problems facing those who wish to tackle the link between politics and art, Rancière’s brief essay-interview, together with his more recent writings on this topic, has the signal advantage of attempting to provide the ‘epistemic’ conditions of intelligibility for the resurgence of the aesthetic in contemporary thought, as well as some of the means to rearticulate the relation of philosophy, politics and art.
Two notions he has introduced are fundamental to a reconsideration, both systematic and nuanced, of such a tripartite nexus: the idea of a division, distribution or partition of the sensible (le partage du sensible), on the one hand, and that of an aesthetic regime of art, on the other. Together, they provide a synchronic and diachronic grid for approaching the aforementioned nexus.

J.L. Austin: Performative Utterances

You are more than entitled not to know what the word ‘performative’ means. It is a new word and an ugly word, and perhaps it does not mean anything very much. But at any rate there is one thing in its favor, it is not a profound word.

Jacques Derrida: Signature, Event, Context [Excerpt]

Is it certain that there corresponds to the word communication a unique, univocalconcept, a concept that can be rigorously grasped and transmitted: a communicable concept? Following a strange figure of discourse, one first must ask whether the word or signifier "communication" communicates a determined content, an identifiable meaning, a describable value. But in order to articulate and to propose this question, I already had to anticipate the meaning of the word communication: I have had to predetermine communication as the vehicle, transport, or site of passage of a meaning, and of a meaning that is one. If communication had several meanings, and if this plurality could not be reduced, then from the outset it would not be justified to define communication itself as the transmission of a meaning, assuming that we are capable of understanding one another as concerns each of these words (transmission, meaning, etc.).


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