Issues
Issue #38
“Structural Violence”
With: Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle, Sven Lütticken, Jon Rich, Bilal Khbeiz, Hito Steyerl, Eyal Weizman, Pelin Tan, Metahaven, and Cuauhtémoc Medina
To get rid of violence, you have to get rid of people, Tariq Ramadan once said in an interview. Of course, Ramadan meant this as an impossibility and a warning against overzealous idealism. But what an idea! By getting rid of people completely, we could have totally frictionless surfaces for exchange. Removing the human factor would effectively erase the difference between ethical and unethical behavior, visible and invisible infrastructure, finally relieving the increasingly tedious...
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9 Essays October 2012
Inside Abstraction
Sven Lütticken
Writing in the German weekly Die Zeit , a novelist and entrepreneur diagnosed the Occupy protests as a “revolt against abstraction,” a revolt that he considered irrational and misguided precisely to the extent that it aimed at abstraction as such. 1 But is it really, fundamentally? It is true that the dizzying complexity of contemporary financial “products” and transactions creates a craving for tools to understand and attack this rarefied sphere. A brochure called Demystifying the...
A Lebanese friend who happens to be a writer was telling me recently that he didn’t appreciate the comments posted in response to some of his articles on the internet. He happens to work at a well-known journalistic institution whose website has been suspended in a 1990s internet vortex due to some bureaucratic complications. Although his colleagues often complain about the woeful obscurity of their writing on this website compared to other less serious yet more influential media outlets, he...
People these days lament young people’s disdain for reading and, by extension, writing. Quite a few of today’s young people secretly indulge in writing poetry that will never be published, probably because they seek distraction elsewhere. It seems that in the West, and especially in America, all the best-selling authors are retired celebrities. The list of retirees who write is long, starting with politicians and continuing with businessmen, economists, and the wives of famous baseball...
X. In 1935, Erwin Schrödinger devised an insidious thought experiment. He imagined a box with a cat inside, which could be killed at any moment by a deadly mixture of radiation and poison. Or it might not be killed at all. Both outcomes were equally probable. But the consequence of thinking through this situation was much more shocking than the initial setup. According to quantum theory, there wasn’t just one cat inside the box, dead or alive. There were actually two cats: one...
The preemptive logic of the “lesser evil” is often invoked to justify the use of a lesser violence to prevent a supposedly greater, projected one. The argument conjures a cold calculus of differentials, one in which good and evil are seen as commodities that are exchanged, transferred, speculated upon and in constant circulation. But, as in our contemporary financial economy, the Leibnitzian theodicy of “the best of all possible worlds” is in crisis, and out of its ruins emerges its...
Pelin Tan: In Infinitely Demanding , you describe a distinction between active and passive nihilism. As I understand it, this description has a theological basis. You offer Al-Qaeda as an example of active nihilism. However, I have my doubts about this distinction. I think active nihilism cannot be explained in terms of local and specific conditions, since its meaning is based in Western epistemology. Do you think Western thought is capable of explaining oppositional radical movements...
Continued from “Captives of the Cloud: Part I” Is the future of the world the future of the internet? —Julian Assange 1 The cloud is the informational equivalent to the container terminal. It has a higher degree of standardization and scalability than most earlier forms of networked information and communication technology. From social networking to retail, from financial transactions to e-mail and telephone, these and many other services end up in the cloud....
1. Moving Titles An animated sequence at the beginning of Raqs Media Collective’s two-screen film The Capital of Accumulation (2010) performs the title of the work’s reversal of the most important of Rosa Luxemburg’s economic studies, The Accumulation of Capital (1913). 1 What can this mean as a reflection on the legacy, the corpse, and the spirit of Rosa Luxemburg? In her 1913 book, Luxemburg boldly exposed the shortcomings of Karl Marx’s understanding of the process of the...
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