Film still from Alain Resnais’s 1968 movie Je t’aime, je t’aime.

Issue #89
With: Tam Donner, Dena Yago, Ben Davis, Marco Baravalle, Natalya Serkova, Anastasia Gacheva, Travis Diehl, Alexander R. Galloway
“The end justifies the means. But what if there never is an end? All we have is means.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven , 1971 In Ursula Le Guin’s 1971 novel The Lathe of Heaven , a seemingly unassuming young white male begins effective dreaming. Desperate to stop altering realities by night, George Orr borrows other people’s pharmacy cards (the world is overpopulated, resources heavily rationed) to obtain more than his share of dexedrine and barbiturates. Landing…
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9 Essays March 2018

Each user of the DHS website—grade-school teachers, businesswomen, DREAMers, cyberattack victims, job seekers, and me—is anonymous to one another. But together we users use, in MS Joanna Nova; I use it to determine how the intentions of the state are visualized. In the ICE section, I note thick hands and holsters acting out narratives of white chivalry upon a collateral body of characters specified as rapists and pimps. A border economy based on captives and captors is dependent on feminine victims, actual or conjured. The feminine victim as political commodity also articulates itself in other contemporary ways, oblique and direct, ranging from the reproduction and circulation of images of wasted but pure children as a fundraising tool, to more recent instrumentalizations of conflict-related sexual violence to justify invasions.

What is an artist to do? With an understanding of how our content, identities, and influence are valuable to and instrumentalized by brands and marketers, we can find space for resistance and refusal, or we can actively engage with existing models in an effort to ameliorate them. While it might seem like the only options are to ramp up your posting with accelerationist fervor, or delete your account, there are tactics to be learned from internet trolls, the alt-right, and institutional critique that can open space for effective critique and resistance.

As spatial segregation becomes almost complete in the twenty-first-century nation, the wealthy wall themselves off in hyper-policed gated zones. The lavish entertainment spectacles of Big Fun Art may provide more than enough on the entertainment level for both the tiny ruling class and its proximate servant class. But they do not fulfill the classical art object’s other remaining purpose: symbolizing, through its uniqueness, a ruling class’s unique status atop the social pyramid of society. The individual contemporary artist, therefore, lives on, but more in the mode of aesthetic lifestyle coaching and bespoke mythmaking.

These kinds of artistic practices invest in the creation of social relationships that are on the side of the commons and against neoliberal dictates and reactionary populism (which are only apparently in opposition). When art chooses this side, it doesn’t adhere to an ideology; rather, it questions emerging ideological tendencies and operates according to a materialistic logic in order to realize the common through the free distribution of knowledge and means of production, as well as through the creation of new algorithms and the reinvention of institutional infrastructures. Beyond neoliberal capture and against populist recruitment. 

The idea of the human body’s radical transformation and the barely perceptible doubt of cosmism itself in the humanity of transfigured beings are ubiquitously echoed a hundred years later, while the exceptionally creative nature of the cosmist movement has been intricately twisted in the mirror of a speculative present.

Cosmist thinkers founded the “organization of world-transformation”—an organization that was meant to encompass all the types of humanity’s creative activity, all spheres of its theoretical and practical application—on the creative principle found in art. Art opens before humanity an opportunity to move away from the present instrumental, technical progress, which acts upon nature only from outside, by use of mechanisms and machines, to a new, mature type of progress that would be organic, that would transform and spiritualize the world through a living, non-mediated touch.

Add this to Joyce’s famous passages detailing the sense of a frying kidney and, at the other end, a trip to the outhouse. Maharaj argues that Joyce offers information to all of the senses in a way that “cuts across” the mind/body dualism. Artistic research is located not in digestion itself but in an overlying wordplay; language turned against language. Such research is immanent in the artist, physically and abstractly, the way food is immanent within the body—and the way an artist like Raspet is immanent within a corporation like Soylent. Or the way art is immanent not in the can of shit but in the artist’s (say, Manzoni) signing such a can.

Twenty-One Paragraphs on Badiou
Alexander R. Galloway

Following in the spirit of book reviews written about books that do not exist, I offer here—no doubt at my own peril—a series of observations in anticipation of Alain Badiou’s forthcoming Being and Event 3: The Immanence of Truths, a book that does not yet exist but will exist at some point in the future. Already notorious for his defense of mathematics as ontology, Badiou has become a bit more evenhanded on the question of the matheme versus the poem, preferring instead to describe philosophy as poised “between” poetry and mathematics, not simply privileging the latter.


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