Friday, November 30, 2007


Here's an inteview with Stephen Duncombe, author of Dream: Re-imagining progressive politics in an age of fantasy.

It's at 11.05.07

Mon 11.05.07| Playing the Game

Much of the Left ignores or denigrates things like celebrity media, violent video games, and slick advertising. But according to Stephen Duncombe, there's much progressives can learn from commercial culture and popular fantasies. In this follow-up interview, the author of Dream reveals what the Left can learn from the best-selling video game Grand Theft Auto.

From banlieues to South Bronx via Watts

First here's a short text by Baudrillard on the 2005 riots in France.

Second a text by the Situationists on the 1965 Watts Riots.

Third a Percee P video featuring footage from the film 80 Blocks from Tiffany's, which I'm going to try to get a bootleg copy of over the break. Email if interested.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lonely Planet and Iraq

I haven't gotten a chance to watch this documentary yet myself, but apparently it's the first to reveal that the American officials responsible for reconstructing Iraq were consulting a Lonely Planet guide from 1994 for key information. Thought it might be interesting for those of you writing or interested in issues surrounding tourism.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sex and Capitalism

This interview sounds relevant as a follow up to the discussion around Fortunati's text yesterday.

Mon 11.19.07| Liberating Sex
What does capitalism do to sex and sexuality? And what does socialist theory have to say about sexual desire and sexual arrangements? In his essay in Toward a New Socialism, Michael Hames-Garcia reviews various socialist perspectives on gender and sexuality, with an emphasis on same-sex desire. He also comments on certain trends in gay and lesbian organizing since the 1970s.

Against the Grain is often quite good and it's worth subscribing to the podcast if one does that sort of thing.

Burroughs and Century of the Self

Thanks for Marc for sending a link to this feature-length Burroughs documentary.

I also noticed a link on the Google video site to Adam Curtis' Century of the Self. This is definitely worth watching, as is his documentary The Power of Nightmares. I don't know how much they have to do with each other but would could perhaps think about them in terms of control. Here's a link to Deleuze's short, readable text 'Postscript on Control Societies'.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rowdy Roddy Piper and Ideology Critique

From Zizek's lecture at Historical Materialism:
John Carpenter’s They Live (1988) is one of the neglected masterpieces of the Hollywood Left. In its most memorable scene, the hero, an unemployed construction-worker who lives in an LA shanty-town, puts on a pair of glasses he found in an abandoned church, and notices that a billboard in front of him now simply displays the word "OBEY," while another billboard urges the viewer to "MARRY AND REPRODUCE." He also sees that paper money bears the words "THIS IS YOUR GOD," etc.- a beautifully-na├»ve mise-en-scene of ideology: through the critico-ideological glasses, we directly see the Master-Signifier beneath the chain of knowledge – we learn to see dictatorship IN democracy. When the hero tries to convince his friend to put the glasses on, the friend resists, and a long violent fight follows, worthy of Fight Club (another masterpiece of the Hollywood Left). The violence staged here is a positive violence, a condition of liberation – the lesson is that our liberation from ideology is not a spontaneous act, an act of discovering our true Self. We learn in the film that, when one looks for too long at reality through critico-ideological glasses, one gets a strong headache: it is very painful to be deprived of the ideological surplus-enjoyment. To see the true nature of things, we need the glasses: it is not that we should put ideological glasses off to see directly reality as it is”: we are “naturally” in ideology, our natural sight is ideological.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sean Eisenstein

Here is some commentary by Darren:

Heidegger says "Thus, where Enframing reigns, there is /danger/ in the highest sense." Then he quotes Holderlin, "But where danger is, grows the saving power also."

As the 'beings of light' erupt through the mechanical video frame, we suggest that the salvation might literally manifest itself visually.

An old article of mine makes some sense in this light:

"Quite a different (though no less curious) application of the Eisenstein feedback method is the experimental generation and observation of autonomous ‘beings of light.’ ... These orbs may remain stable for several days at a time. Those with a rich history of interaction may appear to be stable for minutes or hours at end before suddenly and unexpectedly erupting with flashes, self-generated ‘appendages’ or rapid changes in colour or size. It is curious to note that such complex behaviours are associated with many visually-comparable hallucinogenic phenomena including hypnagogic visuals and ‘earth lights.’ It seems fair to say that these strange properties of Eisenstein feedback warrant further investigation."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Heidegger on Marx

This seems to be the transcript (taken from the youtube site)...

Richard Wisser: ... Do you think philosophy has a social mission?

Heidegger: No! One can't speak of a social mission in that sense! To answer that question, we must first ask: "What is society?" We have to consider that today's society is only modern subjectivity made absolute. A philosophy that has overcome a position of subjectivity therefore has to say no in the matter.

Another question is to what extent we can speak of a change of society at all. The question of the demand for world change leads us back to Karl Marx's frequently quoted statement from his Theses on Feuerbach. I would like to quote it exactly and read out loud: "Philosophers have only interpreted the world differently; what matters is to change it." When this statement is cited and when it is followed, it is overlooked that changing the world presupposes a change in the conception of the world. A conception of the world can only be won by adequately interpreting the world.

That means: Marx's demand for a "change" is based upon on a very definite interpretation of the world, and therefore this statement is proved to be without foundation. It gives the impression that it speaks decisively against philosophy, whereas the second half of the statement presupposes, unspoken, a demand for philosophy.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Simpsons on Outsourcing

Thought I'd post this in the main blog so everyone definitely sees it. It's particularly relevant to the last 200 or so pages of Capital but worth looking at now regardless. Thanks to Claudia for posting it:

Friday, November 02, 2007

Must Crush Capitalism

Links galore

I'm trying to remember most of the books, films, and sites mentioned yesterday. Remind me if I forgot something:

Thanks Ban for the link to the Class Against Class library, featuring texts by Negri, Tronti, Panzieri, and Cornelius Castoriadis from the French group Socialisme Ou Barbarie (of which Lyotard was also a member).

The book I mentioned in class yesterday on the development of Taylorism in France is From Taylorism to Fordism: A Rational Madness by Bernard Doray. They've got it in the library. Gramsci has a key essay called 'Americanism and Fordism' in his Prison Notebooks. Anyone looking for a fictional representation should look at Jeffrey Eugenides' novel of incest and hermaphroditity (and Fordism) Middlesex (he also wrote The Virgin Suicides).

Call Centre Communism is available for download here...

...and is critiqued by Riff Raff here:

On a lighter note, the book I mentioned by Philip Willan, Puppetmasters: The use of political violence in Italy, is taken up in the context of 9.11:

'Willan turned up numerous indications that the famed Toni Negri was indeed involved with the Red Brigades, but most likely as an operative of the Italian secret services, run by the FBI (not the CIA; apparently there was a bit of a turf war going on between the two agencies. Just as the lie that the CIA does not operate within the U.S. has been exposed, so too has the notion that the FBI does not operate abroad). Although now considered a "martyr" by the Left, a victim of a frame-up by the Italian judicial system, the more likely fact is that Negri is still working for the integrated U.S./NATO/Italian secret services, as an informer and a "disinformation" agent. Isn't it amazing that Harvard University Press has published his "bestseller" Empire (co-authored with Michael Hardt) — Harvard publishes books by convicted terrorists? Well, yes, maybe, if the publication is part of a special operation to undermine the anticapitalist movement. The book has been ably dissected and exposed for the objectively reactionary obfuscation that it is. Among the crimes we know Negri is guilty of is successfully infecting Marxian critique with postmodernism. It is probably no coincidence that "autonomist Marxists"; refuse to see the real significance of September 11, and the coming globalization of the "strategy of mass terror through mass murder".'

Ullmer's film noir Detour (1945), one the cheapest and most profitable films ever made apparently: