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Archive for the ‘English’ Category

Commoniser moved!

In Dansk, English, Svensk on June 6, 2010 at 8:25 pm

New domain, new form. Please change your RSS-feeds and read on at http://commoniser.dk

First new blog posted too, in swedish. Första nya blogg postad också, om varför folk kommer för sent.

Love for the biopolitical economy: Wasps & Orchids

In copy-remix, English on May 7, 2010 at 7:14 am

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This blog will talk about love. Yes, love! But first…

A DISCLAIMER FOR THE THICK-SKINNED AND THE HARD-BOILED

Love is not just a matter for the sentimental fool. Love produces subjectivities, affective networks, and schemes of cooperation. In this sense, love is an economic and political power. Love is not just a matter for the romantic either. Love is not merely, as it is often characterized, spontaneous or passive. It does not simply happen to us, as if it were an event that mystically arrives from nowhere. Instead it is an action, a biopolitical event, which, in order to be created in its benign form, also requires training. A boot camp of love for everyday life.

Love can fascinate us, but it should also interest us, since love provides a path for investigating the power and productivity of the common.

Corrupt forms of love

We often think of love as a means to escape the solitude and isolation of individualism. But in our contemporary ideology we end up getting isolated again in the private life of the couple or the family. To arrive at a political concept of love that recognizes it as centered on the production of common life, we have to break free from the contemporary corruptions of the term. After that, we’ll explore their antidotes.

  1. Identitarian love, or “love of the same”. Identitarian love can be based, for example, on a narrow interpretation of the mandate to love thy neighbor, understanding it as a call to love those most proximate, those most like you. Family love, race love, nation love or patriotism, all exemplify the pressure to love most those most like you and hence less those who are different. From this perspective we might way that populisms, nationalisms, fascisms, and various religious fundamentalisms are based not so much on hatred as on love – but a horribly corrupted form of identitarian love. Love of the stranger, love of the farthest, and love of alterity can function as an antidote against the poison of identitarian love, which hinders and distorts love’s productivity by forcing it constantly to repeat the same.
  2. Unifying love, or “love of becoming the same”. The contemporary dominant notion of romantic love in our culture, which Hollywood sells every day, its stock in trade, requires that the couple merge in unity. Individuals thus find each other with the promise of becoming the same. The mandatory sequence of this corrupted romantic love – couple–marriage–family – imagines people finding their match, like lost puzzle pieces, that now together make (or restore) a whole. Of course, no single other makes anyone whole. Contrary to this, some say that “you are already whole”. While this notion rings more true, it is also too simple. Rather, wholeness emerges from the inside as an internalized secure base, only through love’s inclusion of others. Discovering the uniqueness and singularity of our encounters and relations, can function as an antidote against the poison of unifying love, which handicaps and encloses love’s expansion by forcing it to merge into the one.

To summarize, these corrupt forms of love aim at the same goal: making the many into one, making the different into the same. Sameness and unity involve no creation but mere repetition without difference. Similarly, various forms of patriotism, nationalism or loyalty to the party, share this notion of setting (or pushing) aside differences and alterity in order to form a united people, a united identity.

Wasps & orchids

To discover a way out of the corruptions of live, let’s turn to the classic metaphor of insects and flowers. Certain orchids give off the odour of the sex pheromone of female wasps, and their flowers are shaped like the female wasp sex organs. Pollination is thus achieved by pseudocopulation as male wasps move from one orchid to the next, sinking their genital members into each flower and rubbing off pollen on their bodies in the process.

So wasps fuck flowers! Wasps do their work just like that, for nothing, but for the fun of it. Our delight at this example is due in part to the fact that it undercuts the industriousness and “productivism” usually attributed to nature. These wasps aren’t your dutiful worker bees; on the surface they aren’t driven to produce anything, at least not in the traditional sense. Seemingly, they just want to have fun.

A second point of interest is undoubtedly the way this pollination story reinforces the diatribe against the corruptions of love in the monogamous couple and the family, as told above. Wasps and orchids do not suggest any morality tale of marriage and stable union, as bees and flowers do, but rather evoke scenarios of cruising and serial sex common to some gay male practices and communities of non-monogamy.

This is not to say that cruising and anonymous sex serve as a model of love to emulate, but rather that they provide an antidote to the corruptions of love in the couple and the family, opening love up to the encounter of singularities.

Training in love of becoming-other

We should be careful to not just see the orchid as imitating the wasp or trying to deceive it, as botanists often do. Rather, the orchid is a becoming-wasp (becoming the wasp’s sexual organ) and the wasp is a becoming-orchid (becoming part of the orchid’s system of reproduction). What is central is the encounter and interaction between these two becomings, which together form a new assemblage, a wasp-orchid machine. The fable is devoid of intentions and interests: the wasps and orchids are not paragons of virtue in their mutual aid, nor are they models of egoistic self-love. We should avoid reducing the activities through questions like “What does it really mean?” or “What do they really want?”. Instead, this machinic language allows one to ask questions like “How does it work?”, “What happens in the process?” or “What comes to matter?”

The fable thus tells the story of wasp-orchid love, a love based on the encounter of alterity but also on a process of becoming different. The conspicuous variety of orchids, with their fascinating shapes and colours, tells us something of the power of wasp-orchid-love. A truly polymorphous love! Furthermore, beyond the serial and anonymous quality of cruising love, these becomings seem to continue their encounters, and thereby instituting lasting relations of becoming-other. By turning wasps and orchids into machines of becomings, we discover the parallel and open relationships of polyamorus love, where both serial encounters and relations of continuity can take place. Love does not just happen spontaneously, so a process of training in love becomes necessary in maintaining these forms of polyamorus love. Training in love does not reduce the multiplicity of singularities, making everyone the same or merging the many into one. In avoiding the corrupt forms of love and enhancing the benign ones, training in love creates contexts for the singularities to manage their encounters and relations: to avoid the negative encounters and relations, which diminish their strength, and prolong and repeat the joyful ones, which increase it.

The biopolitical production of love

Wasps who loves orchids point toward the conditions of the biopolitical economy. But how could these wasps be a model for economic production, you might ask, when they don’t produce anything? The bees and the flowers produce honey and fruit, but the wasps and orchids are just hedonists and aesthetes, merely creating pleasure and beauty! It is true that the interaction of wasps and orchids does not result primarily in goods, but one should not discount their biopolitical production, ie. the making of forms of life. In the encounter of singularities of their love, a new assemblage is created, marked by the continual metamorphosis of each singularity in the common. Wasp-orchid love, in other words, is a model of the production of subjectivity that animates the biopolitical economy. Let’s have done with worker bees, then, and focus on the singularities and becomings of wasp-orchid love!

Stereo Total – L’amour á trois

c’est sexy, extatique
crazy, excentrique
animal, romantique
c’est communiste

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I copy-remixed this text from a number of passages in Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri‘s Common Wealth (pdf on a.aaarg.org), in particular p. 186-188 from the chapter “De Singularitate 1: Of Love Possessed”. Consequently, the “we” speaking in the text is a combination of these writers, their own copied writers, me, and anyone feeling the urge to inhabit this open text.

Notes on “Oh Dearism”, distant suffering and shame-based activism

In English, video on May 4, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Adam Curtis explores the phenomenon of distant suffering and its impact on contemporary politics and media. The points is: suffering in media leaves us apathetic and unable to act on the problems we are exposed of. It does not fulfil its promise of awakening indignation and mobilizing political change. Instead, it dulls our political affects, and naturalizes suffering. Distant suffering is precisely this, that we experience suffering from a distance, mediated through TVs, newspapers and other channels. Suffering usually provokes a feeling of pity in the other and, on a good day, even indignation, but since our reactions to the exposure of distant suffering never gets reinforced through political action – what is one to do? – the affects are gradually dulled and lose their intensity. In the end, we merely mobilize a lax state of worry, only able to produce the reaction: “Oh, dear”.

In a similar way, activist consciousness raising has for many years channelled their indignation through a production of shame and self-contempt in other people. People are horrible, with their bourgeois racist tendencies, holding animals in cage to experiment with and eat them, they only think about money, their car, or flat-screen TV. The solution is therefore to raise consciousness through protests and mockery, ie. raise shame. Where does this leave the TV-watching and shame-ridden citizen? Like apathy, shame and self-contempt are inhibiting affects: they shut down behaviour, and leaves the person in a depressed state, unable to act differently. The person only stops doing the horrible bourgeois activities for a moment, while in a state of shame, but have no new behavioural repertoire to replace the shameful behaviour with. Having no idea what to do puts the person in a state of cognitive dissonance. To reduce dissonance, a person usually finds changing their belief easier (“My behaviour is not so bad after all”) than changing their behaviour beyond inhibition, ie. creating a new kind of behaviour to replace it (“I have learned I can do this instead”). What the dissonance reduction produces instead is a construction of justification for the former shameful behaviour. In the process of justifying and constructing valid reasons for continuing to do the activity, the person strengthens the reasons and affective base of it. Thus, the dynamic of shame-producing activism and a shame-ridden person without a new behavioural repertoire, is unable to create a political event. Paradoxically, it often does the opposite, strengthening the existing behaviour.

Watching this video and reading these notes, you might find yourself in a meta-level state of Oh Dearism, since it has given you no other clues for what to do instead than keep watching troubling documentaries, reading about catastrophes in the newspaper, and seeing a worrying unveiling of a political scandal in the news, while feeling you have done a political act by attending with your mind to the trouble, but also feeling apathetic. The answer is, keep reading this blog, because it will give you all the answers and help you out of your apathy. Have a good day.

Video: Harvey, Zizek & Callinicos

In English, video on February 19, 2010 at 1:54 am

Fuck. Snak om at tage bladet fra munden.

David HarveyThe Crisis Now

Slavoj ZizekWhat does it mean to be a revolutionary today? (Debate with Callinicos, beneath)

Alex Callinicos What does it mean to be a revolutionary today? (Debate with Zizek).

Let the Dead Bury their Dead

In copy-remix, English on February 15, 2010 at 1:05 am

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Welcome, dead or alive! Behold, our most and singular obscure text. We will explain less at this point, deadlies and alivelymen, to instead let intuition go wild, to return later for matters of instituting it. Come back later ye dead or alive, if thee cannot cope with thy bewilderment. Come back later, and see the instituting of our intuitions in its becoming. Become back again we tell thee, now!

Becoming common

For what will come of this place, two words provide a way of organizing: becoming common. What could that mean? First, we do not speaking of the noun being, as in a standpoint or position, but the verb becoming, as a movement or making of something. Do not ask us what we are, or where we stand. We are not anything, but will become. We do not stand, but move. Second, we do not speak of common as in sameness or oneness, but common as in that which we share: our common knowledges, common affects, ideas, notions, narratives, relations, practices. The common in all the life forms that overflow the restrictions of property. That which cannot be contained or controlled, unless handicapped and corrupted.

Encircling a method of our laboratory (metaphoric version)

We will write in many ways here, but will have as a guiding principle to circle around the expression of becoming common. Circling around it to see it from as many sides as possible, even making larger circles to see it from the distance, or shaping new circles to see their intersections with other circles. As we go by, this multitude of rings will increasingly create such confusing patterns of entanglement, that the center of our study will seize to be a center, and instead diffuse into the whole plane of encirclement. Becoming common will become common to our entire study.

Our starting point

For our coming stream of texts, or circles if you will, our laboratory of insurrectional knowledges will takes it’s starting point in Exodus. We will wait with our becoming common, and first establish a flight from that which we will spend no time on later on. We are alive in the land of the dead and seek new landscapes. While we are fleeing the decay and corruption of the dead, we do not look back over our shoulders. We do not waste precious time struggling with that which is already dying.

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LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR DEAD

Let the dead go bury their dead
don’t help them.
Let the dead look after the dead
leave them to one another,
don’t serve them.

The dead in their nasty dead hands
have heaps of money,
don’t take it.

The dead in their seething minds
have phosphorescent teeming white words
of putrescent wisdom and sapience that subtly stinks;
don’t ever believe them.

The dead are in myriads, they seem mighty.
They make our metros rush, brain factories buzz, cities grow, selves evolve and unfold,
and keep us in millions to our selves, sightless pale slaves, pretending these are selves of life.

It is the great lie of the dead.
The selves of industry are not the selves of life.
And the selves of life unfold otherwise, with the wilds of the common to self-create.
Trust the selves of life, though they unfold exceeding small.
But as for the self industry of men
don’t be harnessed to them.

The dead give cars and clothes, cinema, TV and Spotify,
they send aeroplanes across the sky,
and they say: Now, behold, you are living the great life!
While you listen in, while you watch the film, while you drive the car,
while you read about the space craft crossing the Martian atmosphere
behold, you are living the great life, the stupendous life!

As you know, it is a complete lie.
You are all going dead and corpse-pale
listening to the lie.
Spit it out.

O cease to listen to the living dead.
They are only greedy for your life!
O cease to labour for the gold-toothed dead,
they are so greedy, yet so helpless if not worked for.
Don’t ever be kind to the smiling, tooth-mouthed dead
don’t ever be kind to the dead
it is pandering to corpses,
the repulsive, living slim dead.

Bury a man gently if he has lain down and died.
But with the walking and talking and conventionally persuasive dead
with commodities and intellectual properties
don’t sympathise, or you taint the unborn babies

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Pansies (1929) by D.H. Lawrence