comments 10
culture / machine / ontology / Politics / work

“untitled (structure)”, 2007. Jim Kazanjian

Markets effect the generalized dispersion and annihilation of collective power.  Along with the material inputs to industrial production, labor is brutally dismantled by the process, decrypted, dissolved; we sink into the soil or melt into the sky (to become plague-vector of planetary toxicity.) Creation disappears beneath commerce, enfolded within the commodity, its tiny molecular flux occluded by continuous and irruptive exchange. Work in every sense today is turned by the market against itself, against people, psychically, socially, physiologically, and especially and urgently ecologically, against the future of the world.

When knowledge-work predominates, this violent dynamic becomes vertical: ideas themselves weaken and dissolve in the madness of generalized commerciality, they lose their way in the darkness, or are simply reprogrammed. Infected by the plague-core of the commodity. Integrated world capitalism is equivalent with the annihilation of the Ideas; the dismemberment of production; the deliberate dispersion of thinking and feeling; the universalization of a certain narrowly-scoped image of thought.

Infinite bandwidth with nothing to transmit; and at any rate no people, or nobody listening, or none who would have any hope of successful decryption. –Not that anyone should ever hope for the certain decipherment of an encrypted signal…

Universal solvent, the commodity approaches asymptotically the limits of involution. Capital plays the relative and absolute thresholds against one another, unlocking the alien lines of intensive organization and inorganic development which alone could take the commodity-form to its highest power and glory. As negative image of the concept of the concept, the commodity traverses differential systems along torturous, many-dimensional lines of descent into amnesiac darkness (establishing preparatory resonances…) The commodity is developmental toxicity deified, judgment refracted, the extension of the dark workshop to the cosmos.

The cultural technology of communication unfolds into a generalized simulation. Ideation neutralized, constrained to an internal, aporetic horizon, conditions total cultural eclipse, accelerates descent into the endless voidic depths of the hyper-real. Planetary lines of development and organization are incidentally transcoded, reformatted on behalf of the outside…

At the limit exchange mutates into pure alienation, achieves the parasitic simulation of infernal materiality, effecting invasion of the intensive depths by radical exteriority, reconfiguring fragmenting reality along alien ontological continua. The commodity, or vortex-vector? At any rate, welcome to the desert, whose sun is the infinite brightness at the right end of time. There are no signs in this glare; or rather all signs point to zero intensity: immanent voidic invasion. Cosmic horror, or rather, body-horror on a cosmic scale.

Beyond endless shifting sands scorched by a violent sun, the desert at the end of the world contains only a strange series of machines constituting a new dark workshop — apparatus of capture for universes…

The Author

mostly noise and glare


  1. “Beyond endless shifting sands scorched by a violent sun, the desert at the end of the world contains only a strange series of machines constituting a new dark workshop — apparatus of capture for universes…”

    I thought I was reading Bataille or Land. Stimulating post….

  2. “When knowledge-work predominates, this violent dynamic becomes vertical: ideas themselves weaken and dissolve in the madness of generalized commerciality, they lose their way in the darkness, or are simply reprogrammed. Infected by the plague-core of the commodity. Integrated world capitalism is equivalent with the annihilation of the Ideas”

    Joseph, could you please clarify what integrated world capitalism means to you?

    • I’m not sure I’m likely to have any more facility here than proper philosophers — but that said, I’d definitely point you to Deleuze and Guattari on this; if you hadn’t come across it yet, Brian Dooley actually provides a spectacular introduction which should at least indicate some good starting-places for study. (As far as IWC, this is Guattari; at its most fundamental the insight is simply that capital is reorganizing itself on a global scale. This itself was something of a scandal in the 60s, if you can imagine. But the idea is taken much further: IWC, or more simply “post-industrial capitalism” moves away from structures producing goods and services towards structures producing syntaxes, signifiers, subjectivities. His Three Ecologies is definitely the place where this is most explicitly elaborated.)

      • Some additional notes here, in the hopes of further orienting a reading and maybe to mark some points for further exploration. IWC, through its “excession” of simulacra, proliferates alien continua, which subvert the human security system; as I dramatize above: the time-travelling advance guard of machinic singularity. (The most direct inspirations for this mode of speculative-libidinal materialism, that permits the universal history of collapse or “transhistorical” analysis of disaster, would be Land and Negarestani; although D+G, Serres and Nietzsche are clear models/predecessors here.)

      • I have a lot of Deleuze & Guattaris’ work on Capitalism, yet I found it unclear. I am not sure what the ‘break-flows’ and their pleasures mean? Also I am not clear as to their attack on psychoanalysis as an outgrowth of capitalism? Interesting when you say,

        “through its “excession” of simulacra, proliferates alien continua, which subvert the human security system;”

        Donna Haraway’s work seems more relevant for ‘out times’ than the philosophers you mentioned. Do you agree?

      • Probably not… I’m not entirely sure why you might be bringing her up, since you don’t indicate any particular connection; and while I definitely appreciate the work for what it is, it doesn’t really strike me as anywhere near as urgent/important. But since we seem to be on the subject, I might note that her reading/critique of D+G in particular often seems to me to be very narrow (I would recommend taking with it one or several grain(s) of salt!)

  3. I agree with you Joe…I never posted on it, but I typed up notes on Harraway’s terrible reading of becoming-animal in When Species Meet…I’ll just say that it boils down to missing the point and to a straw-man argument, two logical fallacies that lead to making seemingly ‘stronger’ arguments…I’ll give an example from my notes, which basically refers to Harraway’s main argument against D+G, namely that they ‘talk shit’ about a poodle in the Becoming-Animal plateau:

    “Her relation seems ambivalent: she credits Deleuze and Guattari for their usage of ‘assemblage’; she seems to indicate that she likes other books by Deleuze (not necessarily Guattari); she also claims that D+G wouldn’t be aware of some of the beneficial usages of domestic(ated) animals, like seeing-eye dogs (this seems highly questionable); and she wants to say that Margulis should turn to D+G and away from autopoiesis (note how Guattari radically transforms this term in his last book).
    But what are her main grovels? Let us mention briefly that Harraway’s tone towards ATP or D+G in general is rather snarky; it takes too many easy opportunities to be witty, and just plain silly almost. But her main problems are twofold (at least): first, that D+G miss the ordinary, the slime, the everyday; that their conception of becoming is too far removed from the ordinary (it is sublime, etc.). This means for Harraway that it does not come close to being relevant for ordinary individual animals. Furthermore, this also seems to be read very aggressively in relation to the ‘poodle’, and to the old lady with her cat…Thus it is misogynstic, anti-aging, blah blah…
    How do we retort?
    First, it should be noted that Harraway is aware of the Spinozistic role of affect/intensity in relation to what a body can do; therefore, she takes into account stratification, but does not necessarily see how D+G are not railing against the poodle qua poodle, but against the assemblages into which it is forced, i.e. the way in which the organism is stratified.”

    Cf. pages 27-30 of her Species book. Her other main contention is that D+G work with a binary of the wild/domesticated, playing off the wolf/dog split (cf. plateau two on One or Several Wolves in ATP) in a reductive way…but, she ignores the fact that D+G argue that any animal can be treated as ‘my pet’, i.e. in a psychoanalytically regressive way. D+G wouldn’t argue in essence against, however, a pack of poodles wildly deterritorializing…

    Her main attack is against pg. 240 of A Thousand Plateaus…She not only gets wrong that they make an abstract opposition between individual animals vs. animals in a pack, but she also takes a line from them out of context and then goes aggro. She quotes: “Anyone who likes cats or dogs is a fool” (italics in original).

    She then turns to their interest in the Unique, the pack and singularity, typified by Moby Dick around pg. 244. This leads her to get snarky again, but she boils it down to this: Since they privilege becoming (becoming-animal), they abase the ordinary. She writes:

    “Little house dogs and the people who love them are the ultimate figure of abjection for D+G, especially if those people are elderly women, the very type of the sentimental. ‘Ahab’s Moby Dick is not like the little cat or dog owned by an elderly woman who honors and cherishes it. Lawrence’s becoming-tortoise has nothing to do with a sentimental or domestic relation…But the objection is raised against Lawrence: “Your tortoises are not real!” And he answers: “Possibly, but my becoming is,…even and especially if you have no way of judging it, because you’re just little house dogs”‘ (244). ‘My becoming’ seems awfully important in a theory opposed to the strictures of individuation and subject. The old, female, small, dog- and cat-loving: these are who and what must be vomited out by those who will become-animal. Despite the keen competition, I am not sure I can find in philosophy a clearer display of misogyny, fear of aging, incuriosity about animals, and horror at the ordinariness of flesh, here covered by the alibi of an anti-Oedipal and anticapitalist project. It took some nerve for D&G to write about becoming-woman just a few pages later! It is almost enough to make me go out and get a toy poodle for my next agility dog; I know a remarkable one playing with her human for the World Cup these days…” (30)

    I had to quote all of that, which to me sums up the essence of her resistance…I have already said above that I don’t agree with her reading. She is reacting viscerally to what I see in context as a rhetorical use of epithets, not as a denunciation of the ordinary. And she misses the main point and the main argument that they make before they start ‘talking trash’ about ordinary dogs, cats, old ladies, whatever you might want to highlight in order to make the point that they are misogynist anarchists who think domesticity is a lame exemplar of capitalism, etc. etc. That’s not the point whatsoever.
    I won’t do a rereading of plateau 10, but the distilled essence of why her reading is not only wrong but bad, and I would argue purposefully so (yes, I’m arguing that she willfully chooses to do this reading to make a splash):

    “The man of war has an entire becoming that implies multiplicity, celerity, ubiquity, metamorphosis and treason, the power of affect. Wolf-men, bear-men, wildcat-men, men of every animality, secret brotherhoods, animate the battlefields. But so do the animal packs used by men in battle, or which trail the battles and take advantage of them. And together they spread contagion. There is a complex aggregate: the becoming-animal of men, packs of animals, elephants and rats, winds and tempests, bacteria sowing contagion. A single Furor. War contained zoological sequences before it became bacteriological. It is in war, famine and epidemic that werewolves and vampires proliferate. Any animal can be swept up in these packs and the corresponding becomings; cats have been seen on the battlefield, and even in armies. That is why the distinction we must make is less between kinds of animals than between the different states according to which they are integrated into family institutions, State apparatuses, war machines, etc. (and what is the relation of the writing machine and the musical machine to becomings-animal?) (243)”

    I could quote other statements, but that one does a pretty good job of summing up why Harraway picks and chooses her lines to read instead of sticking with a point in order to connect it up to the larger framework of what’s going on. That’s why I think Harraway’s critique is not only wrong, but unhelpful.

    Joe, great post. I would suggest that at the end where you conjoin signs and zero intensities that perhaps what you underplay is the other side of the signs-particles equation…in other words, the virtual dimension, the hyper-deterritorialized side of this concept…By focusing on the actual cut off from it, this would indeed point to a darker or bleaker appropriation of forces, your dark workshop. I’m wondering in this context if what you have described in terms of exchange and capital isn’t the very form of World-thought that philosophy is…in other words, the dark workshop in its appropriation of universe is philosophy-form qua World-thought, and that science (not its essence but its practical application) becomes caught in this vortex in what Laruelle calls its endless turning and returning of its capital into World-research…hence the call for generic science(s).

    Eilif, I would question how many times you have tried to read Anti-Oedipus, which would be essential for answering your questions. But please do not think that this implies I think that you are stupid, because that is not the case. What I mean by ‘how many times’ is the fact that I did not understand virtually anything of their work until I had read Anti-Oedipus over and over and over again….it’s a work for rumination.

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