Text fragment from a work in progress

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In the face of the structuralization of things through evolving modelization, we must speak, as Guattari once did, of metamodels, interactive designs and representations of present, everyday systems that do not seek to control, but to unleash collective powers, human and nonhuman, organic and technical, by seeking out exit points and escape routes, places where the margins leak and holey spaces grow wider. Metamodelization is about those blind spots in control, about trying to find them and amplifying them in turn. Design, particularly when separated from the commodity circus, could contribute to the creation of just such a thing: design not as lifestyle enhancement, but as intervention, penetrating the smooth functioning of a system to create some sort of transformation. Design would thus operate as an imaginal machine, the coming-together of elements that appear as if coming from the outside (even if such a thing can longer be properly talked about), and by intervening in open-ended way to point towards a new outside by putting individual and collective imaginal machine into play. But before one could even approach the question of design, and its interrelated rhythms of aesthetics, architecture, and media, a designer-militant would have to go about overcoming the limits pushed upon the disciplines.

It may very well be that we can no longer say the word “revolution”; tinkering and mutation are far more equitable to an age when the anti-capitalism and utopian ambitions of the Old Left must be formally rejected. Processes of metamodelization intrinsically reject the concept of the totality, and giving up on totalities entails giving up utopias, those guideposts towards revolutionary territory. This isn’t to say that mutating systems will spontaneously create new orders; our time isn’t one with the space for naïve optimism. This means that agency, intent, and will must be renewed, and if we find them to be an impossibility, then let the myth of their existence be followed and perpetuated it. They must, however, be subsumed within the symbolic coordinates to be courted from within the everyday’s existential territories. If we are to have a new set of coordinates, let them be built around a radically innovative counter-knowledge, a knowledge bursting with emancipatory energies, one that rejects anthropocentrism, realizes our human limitations, and be of the earth and the cosmos. This is nothing short of a new ethics, an ethics for mutants with dimensions of disconnection. If this sounds like too grand of a program, and too close to the utopias of old, consider this: there is no exodus to be found, yet if the abstract machine continues its rhythmic evolution as it is, we will, at best, continue on to integrate into its circuitry, become utterly calculated and coordinated by cybernetic rationality. At worst we will be swept away as dust, along with the planet we have so coldly brutalized.

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4 Responses to Text fragment from a work in progress

  1. S.C. Hickman says:

    Have you ever read the discredited Belgium Paul DeMann’s Blindness and Insight? He was more than Derrida one of the ironic deconstructionists whose notions still hold in the sense of close reading of texts and culture.

  2. S.C. Hickman says:

    I know you’re coming out of your intensive reading of both Guattari and Deleuze of late, along with those precursors and followers, but have you read Zizek’s Less Than Nothing or Absolute Recoil. Of late I have finally shifted into his camp. I admit it. Once one realizes that he aligns well with Democritus, Epicurus, Lucretius, down the pipe… that there is at the core this sense of strife and antagonism, that emancipation is this tension in action, and continuous rather than finding some end or peace we see that – yes, no totality: only this battle between two vacuums. The struggle will never end, there will always be something trying and striving to fill in the gap: ideologies, Master-Signifiers, et. al. One does not replace the system with another fantasy, one lives in the tension between without the big Other filling the gap. Beyond Law is the tension of anarchy at play in the world.

    I think I’m coming back to this strange relation between dialectical materialism and pragmatic praxis or intervention in the social and cultural fantasy.

    • edmundberger says:

      Hi Steve! I’ve got “Less Than Nothing” sitting on the bookshelf but I haven’t taken the time to read it, aside from giving it cursory thumbing-throughs. Zizek is a thinker I’ve read off and on for years,but its been incredibly limited (his early essays on Laibach, “Welcome to the Desert of the Real,” “The Monstrosity of Christ, “First as Tragedy, Then As Farce, and the more recent prison letters are the only ones I’ve read cover-to-cover). I found the early stuff fantastic and full of food for thought, but there was something in the middle-period that turned me off. Was it the overtures to Lenin? His reflections on the necessity of the state? I’m not sure, but from my brief impressions of his current work it seems that he’s transitioned into a mode of thinking in flux, with a certain postcommunist anarchism filtering through. When work on the manuscript winds down I’ll settle in to read through “Less Than Nothing” and “Absolute Recoil” in full!

      I think part of my big attraction to Deleuze and Guattari is that I haven’t approached them from necessarily a philosophical register, but from the “tool-kit” perspective. Their works allowed me to really think through core issues in my project, which in retrospect I guess has been a sort of critical history of evolving systems technics over the last century; the constant slippages in their processes always reframed these questions towards their exit point – which is, ultimately, the remaking of social practices (fun fact: I began reading “Anti-Oedipus” for the first time about an hour after hearing Zizek speak in NYC back in 2011, as cops swarmed and beat protestors and everybody – myself included – was waxing poetically, and somewhat naively, about the possibilities of a new world). Gradually I realized that it wasn’t so much Deleuze, or Deleuze and Guattari together, but Guattari himself who intrigued me the most and gave me the most “intellectual fuel,” so to speak. At the same time, I realized the incredible limitations of their discourses. If one follows it step-by-step (which is surely a misapplication of schizoanalysis) one ends up with this sense of optimism, and a wonder at the powers of self-organization and spontaneity that resembles all too closely the current world’s idealistic face. Plus, the response to the birth of the network society (A Thousand Plateaus) is incredibly old, while Guattari’s writings ended right at the dawn of the internet. Its time for updated frameworks, theories, and gestures, rooted not in the affirmationism they generate (Hardt and Negri, take note!), but instead in the negative. Deleuze “Postscript of the Societies of Control” is an incredible text, and Andrew Culp’s “Dark Deleuze” project is fantastic, but we need to go much, much further. Perhaps our time isn’t for master thinkers, or even philosophy. Its time to break apart the rhizome.

      • S.C. Hickman says:

        For me it is just the opposite perhaps our time is for master thinkers, and philosophy. Its time to break the symmetry and return to the negative, to the negation of negation. Oppositional thinking in the sense of seeing the blind spots, the gaps in the philosophical enterprise. It is in the failures, the cuts, the gaps of a thinker that one discovers what resists conceptuality, what resists description or reduction; or, even elimination. For me its to return to the originals with new eyes, piercing the gaps that stuck, that keep sticking to us. Or, as Zizek says: “the Real is nothing but an impasse of formalization —there is dense reality “out there” because of the inconsistencies and gaps in the symbolic order.”

        Zizek, Slavoj (2012-04-30). Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism (Kindle Locations 14596-14597). Norton. Kindle Edition.

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