Issues
Issue #116
With: Fred Moten, Stefano Harney, Stevphen Shukaitis, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Erica Hunt, Nora Treatbaby, Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Sasha Litvintseva, Beny Wagner, Tyler Coburn, Soo Hwan Kim, Maria Lind, Boris Groys

We have never completely understood poetry. As a contemporary art publication, there’s no shortage of affection, admiration, or affinity for poetry, and e-flux journal has certainly published a few memorable poems over the years. But it always felt like a stroke of luck or a gift from the ether when someone brilliant would send us a poem. You won’t be surprised that this didn't happen often. But now is the time to change that, and we’re honored to welcome Simone White as e-flux journal’s first ever poetry editor. Simone is the author of the collections or, on being the other woman (forthcoming from Duke University Press), Dear Angel of Death, Of Being Dispersed, and House Envy of All the World, and lives in Brooklyn. We’re so glad that she’s joined us.

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11 Essays March 2021
Refusing Completion: A Conversation
Fred Moten, Stefano Harney, and Stevphen Shukaitis

We use the gaps and the pauses as ways to think more clearly and more effectively with one another and by way of one another and past the separation of one and another. There’s a rhythm. Definitely. But it’s an irregular rhythm. And not only irregular compared to some metronomic norm but irregular in being overpopulated. The beautiful thing about the polyrhythm is that even though it’s just the two of us, as Bill Withers and Grover Washington Jr. would say, it’s way more than that. Not only our parents, our families, our partners, and the various children in our lives, but also all these other people that we’re always working with and talking with and thinking with and reading with. There’s always a lot of sound in our head, and in our hands, too.

Three Poems
Tongo Eisen-Martin

Somewhere on the west coast, the third neighbor over doesn’t care about Maroon history… / and you’ve gone and forced his hand. This whole city started with an arranged strata / matrimony. Middleclass-ness, if the sky were to belong in a poem. The seat next to me is a place / of panic.

Smell of rubber returns tread to the road, where we expect open vistas and find the windshield fogs the road, breaks up—a preview of the next few years—a caravan of rescissioned expectations, crab walk of wish and detachment, inventories “looking to a future that wasn’t coming as expected.”

Three Poems
Nora Treatbaby

a word / is unlivable / just go out / and scream / the crisis / in each / sound / be gay

Freedom and Potency
Franco “Bifo” Berardi

How can we explain the fact that some anarchists and many other leftists are respecting health rules dictated by a “state of exception,” while fascists are the ones reclaiming their freedom to do whatever they like? There is a comedic exchange of roles, whereby fascists proclaim themselves as the “defenders of freedom” and progressives emerge as the defenders of the law.

One, two, three, four—and a plant framed in the middle of the shot is ripped out from the ground with its severed roots dangling in midair. The seeming oxymoron of a “taxonomy of monsters” can also be displaced and reencountered in the monstrousness of taxonomies as such; they sever specimens from the fluid integrity of the environments they inhabit, and which inhabit them, in order to monstrare: reveal, show, demonstrate. They cut apart the world, just as surgeons cut into the flesh. And what is more uniquely cinematic than the cut? What aspect of film more monstrous?

Counterfactuals
Tyler Coburn

I had seen the banner before; it was made by the former dean of the School of Military Design at Pratt. The SMD dates back to World War II when the institute, rising to meet the moment, ran an Industrial Camouflage Program and recruited students on campus. Five alumni of the time, including Ellsworth Kelly, became known for their service in the “Ghost Army,” a unit that employed creative tactics—inflatable tanks, phony radio transmissions, even fake generals—to deceive German forces. Pratt leveraged their success and built lasting ties with the military, creating a new model of art school.

1. Why did Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) and Sergei Eisenstein (1898–1948) never meet? 1 It may seem like an odd question, but there’s a reason behind asking such a thing. Benjamin visited Moscow in the winter of 1926 and stayed for two months. He didn’t see Eisenstein, but did get to see his “old teacher” Vsevolod Meyerhold. At least three other people were critical links in the chain that connected these two outstanding figures who shared an ideology and orientation during a...

Every time I hear the argument in politically engaged art circles that art-making as we know it—whether discrete art objects, research-based work, or more performative practices—cannot continue under the conditions imposed by the politics of hard-line right-wing governments, I am reminded of Refined Still Life #1. Because I disagree: now is the time to intensify our focus upon art as it has been practiced, in all its variety—perhaps with new distinctions.

The discourse of Marxism, on the contrary, produces not trust but distrust. Marxism is basically a critique of ideology. Marxism looks not for a “reality” to which a particular discourse allegedly refers but to the interests of the speakers who produce this discourse—primarily class interests. Here the main question is not what is said but why it is said.

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