acceleration, becoming, control, Deleuze, machine, Nietzsche, subjectivity, virtual

Technoscience and Expressionism

Alfred Muller -- Plaza Juarez, Mexico City 2006

Alfred Muller — Plaza Juarez, Mexico City 2006

Technology and Control

The technocrat is the natural friend of the dictator—computers and dictatorship; but the revolutionary lives in the gap which separates technical progress from social totality, and inscribed there his dream of permanent revolution. This dream, therefore, is itself action, reality, and an effective menace to all established order; it renders possible what it dreams about (Gilles Deleuze, Logic of Sense)

Gilles Deleuze’s indication of a certain affinity between technocrats and dictators seems prescient. By Postscript on Control Societies the new realities resonating between society and its machines, in the middle of technological acceleration and social upheaval, have become so intense that every interior is in crisis, and the entirety of society has to be organized to resist the eruption of these dreams into reality.

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automation, capitalism, control, desire, exchange, immanence


Bomberg, The Mud Bath

Bomberg, The Mud Bath

Twins. Capitalism is nihilism, an endless betrayal of production in favor of an infinite — imaginary — debt or Void, which implies the transcendental equivalence of all processes, their essential or characteristic meaninglessness. Indeed the hostility towards life evinced in the machinations of capitalism are strictly correlate to the heterogeneous means by which nihilism achieves its destructive victory: through a generalized deterritorialization which can barely halt before its radically external, schizophrenic limit.

Firestorm. Heidegger reminds us that despite our apparent control over the machines we create, that in fact we do not even control the desire within us which causes us to create, to use them, or to extend our control over the world through the conception and production of new machines. To this problem, indeed, there is no solution, and very likely there will never be any solutions. The mystery, the secret truth of desire, lies within the machine.

being, control, energy, essence, flux, function, ground, heidegger, machine, order, power, revolution, technology

Who’s in Control?


Who’s in Control?

Heidegger and Technology

We have for a very long time presumed to be in control of machines. We have claimed to be the masters, and pretended to “govern” technology. So Heidegger is more poignant than usual when he reminds us (in the 1969 Der Spiegel interview) that we do not even control that within us which drives us towards technicity. We are not masters of the secret desire which compels us to encircle more and more of the world within our productive networks.

For better or for worse, Heidegger is one of the first to honestly assess the strangeness of this phenomena — the machinic turn in our relationship to the earth and to being. In the ’69 interview, he was asked what the problem with technology was — after all, aren’t we better off than ever? Heidegger declared it was precisely the pure functionality of the machine which terrified him. The machine is problematic as such; but even more so is the static regime of inhuman operativity which the development of modern technology inaugurates.

In this absolute functioning of the machine we discover a surprising, pure and uncanny kind of nothingness. Heidegger reminds us of this in order to pose a challenge about our relation to the earth. Is it possibility that behind the beneficent face of advanced technology is the same noise and turbulence revealed and concealed at once by the ancients as pure ideas — a nonsensical self-annihilation co-extensive with an absolute determination of beings — a “reality” where all life, all possibility, all energy is merely (or finally) standing-reserve for “our” use? But who are we? Continue reading

algorithm, apparatus of capture, authority, biopolitics, call for papers, code, control, cybernetics, desiring machines, einstein, ethics, humanity, language, media, metaphysics, technology

Thinking Cybernetics

(Matt Dixon)

Thinking Cybernetics:
Mapping the Intersections between Metaphysics, Technology, Biopolitics

(abstract for panel)

The purpose of this panel is to gather together ideas, perspectives, and questions from a diverse variety of thinkers and disciplines relating to the theory and practice of cybernetics. Our goal is to raise a series of critical questions concerning the intersection between biopolitics, metaphysics, and technology.

While each paper is devoted to a specific author or authors and is generally focused on a particular theme or aspect of cybernetics, all of us in some way are arguing for a larger transformation of philosophical, political, social, and technological categories. There are many urgent questions posed by cybernetics; and moreover, its development has so far tended to furnish many other fields of investigation with new tools for studying new problems. As St-Exupery wrote in 1939: “The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature, but plunges him more deeply into them.” What does philosophy have to tell us today about our relationship to technology? What does cybernetics imply for metaphysics, ethics and epistemology — or even for the future of writing?
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becoming, celerity, confinement, control, history, humanity, intensity, multiplicity, nature, Politics, power, production, spirit, swarm

Outline for a Philosophy of History

If we listen closely to the breath of the spirit as well as to the word of being, an entirely new kind of history may become possible.

Disclosing a lethal truth (into) power, organization trembles before the disorganized generativity of decentralized multiplicity.

Are we transmitting history backwards through time? Are languages transforming themselves through us?

Is it by nature that we are socially-oriented creatures? Or does “humanity” on the contrary mark with precision a moment of originary disarticulation of (biological) organization — is a “human” a swarm?

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automation, control, cybernetics, derrida, history, human, machine, metaphysics, nonhuman, system

Systems of Control: Derrida and Machines

(notes for an abstract)

If the theory of cybernetics is by itself to oust all metaphysical concepts — including the concepts of soul, of life, of value, of choice, of memory — which until recently served to separate the machine from man, it must conserve the notion of writing, trace, written mark, or grapheme, until its own historico-metaphysical character is also exposed.

[…[E]ven before being determined as human… or nonhuman, the gramme — or the grapheme — would thus name the element. An element without simplicity. An element, whether it is understood as the medium or irreducible atom, of the arche-synthesis in general, of what one must forbid oneself to define within the system of oppositions in metaphysics, of what consequently one should not even call experience in general, that is to say the origin of meaning in general.]

(Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology 9)

Norbert Weiner introduced the neologism ‘cybernetics’ — in connection with the ancient Greek root meaning ‘governance’ — to denote a new science of systems of control. Cybernetics studies real complex systems and their automatic management, but it is also a rigorous science of energetics and pure information. The most essential expression of cybernetics itself and its own working ontology can perhaps be traced to Von Neumann, who conceived of a swarm of networked machines which could also function together as a kind of generic factory, and so would be able to reproduce all of its own component elements (and hence itself.) In this image we perhaps witness a glimpse of an “adult” cybernetics — the closure of metaphysics, the end of writing, the convergence of biology and cybernetics — a “transubstantiation” of flesh into the virtual.

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becoming, control, empirical, fascism, freedom, health, history, liberalism, power, Science / Mathematics / Technology, tradition, transhuman

Empiricism and Power


The modern break with the authority of the past begins with critical history and the possibility of an empirical investigation into reality. A clinical eye belongs to the properly empirical, trans-historical observer — the one who is provocatively “unpersuaded” by traditional interpretations, metaphysical narratives of becoming, who is skeptical of all foundation myths. Through empirical investigation one discovers the curious historical double-articulation of religion and philosophy, i.e., spiritual or psychic forms and collective authority or wisdom. Truly historical science replaces past tradition with present custom as the proper object of study, and thus by thoughtful prediction, such an inquiry opens the possibility of a non-linear relation between history and the future.

In other words, what empiricism finally rediscovers is that the future is just as deep and infinite as the past. This symmetry is the flash-point of the unravelling of hierarchical social organizations, authority, tradition, religion, etc. In critical theory, that is to the clinical eye, all forms of social asymmetry are isomorphic, but none explain themselves, none are automatic. The past and future are neither absolute nor transcendent. What matters is the present, praxis, the transcendence of history through immediate activity. The project of critical liberation expresses itself through revolutionary social progress: (1) it undoes foundations in order to unfetter potential (singular) becomings, (2) it coordinates energy collectively to produce (new) subjectivities, and perhaps most importantly, (3) it socially plans (different) forms of society.
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