Posts Tagged ‘TAZ’

blind signifiers in the new age

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
No More Potlucks 17

No More Potlucks 17

The seventeeth issue of the illustrious No More Potlucks, edited by Sophie Le Phat Ho, is dedicated to inducting its readers into magic — magie no. 17 | no more potlucks.

The choice of ‘magic’ as a topic came out of a concern – une préoccupation qui semble être partagée, vu la richesse des contributions présentées dans ce numéro – for what we are up against… En effet, la magie relève de la technique, de la pratique, du procédé, de l’art, de l’action. Elle est donc intimement liée à une analyse de la réalité, de l’environnement, et ne serait être de l’ordre du divertissement, de la fantasmagorie… Bref, this is serious. [Sophie Le Phat Ho, editor]

This issue features a brief piece I writ entitled Blind Signifiers in the New Age, introduced by a recent communication sent to Hakim Bey.

Blind Signifers is a condensed text on magick as the art of the slippage between signifers, the minimum distance of which constitutes consensual reality. Magick in this respect is a force in the sense that it generates effects wrought from symbolic subterfuge. Magick traverses the realms of the illusionary and the imaginary; it is precisely that viscosity that allows us to conceive of that which would puncture reality with its surreality or irreality. In this sense, magick (a) is generative through effects of signifying systems and (b) is not to be trifled with. Its underlying principle is that CHAOS NEVER DIED.

on the plains / Hakim Bey postcard

on the plains / Hakim Bey postcard

The principle point is that magick is very much in use all around us: it connects the surface of things; it is especially engaged to ensure consistency of action/reaction in systems of capitalist desire, notably consumerism. It is not magic at work here, not the mere trickery of an illusion, but magick, the technics of signifier slippage, the art of symbolic subterfuge. These be the darker arts when used to deceive.

Any such concept of magick as a praxis of symbols follows from the work of Hakim Bey, whose creative work with chaos theory (and the Mandelbrot Set), connecting anarcho-politics to the folds of physics and geography as well as the deconstruction of semiotics and philosophy some 25 odd years ago is, I would argue, indispensible to grasping semiocapitalism. Yet like all texts, including this one, it is writ with a cleaved-edge. Beware the folds.

There are many good essays in this collection (do read them) but relevant to my own work is Magic, Strategy and Capitalism: An interview with aladin by Anja Kanngieser and Leila, who pose the question “what happens to magic once it is embedded in the languages of business and industry?”. Indeed; this is the fundamental question that founds the dark art of advertising and second order cybernetics. However this question ought to be reinscribed: how is it that magick is the basis of capital? How is it that magick constitutes the language of capital itself?

To this end, I would suggest a deeper reading into the “tradition” of magick, as well as that of Marx. Perhaps magic has always been about entertainment and tricks, but magick operates at ways far more embedded into the technics of perception, which is to say, the way in which value is inscribed and perceived.

In this sense—which needs qualifying—the language of magic has been, as the article suggests, “put into use for capital,” but only as a secondary effect or diversion from the magick of capital itself.  Reading Marx, magick is that operation which derives exchange value from use value. Capital operates by way of magick. It is that which makes the “commodity stand on its head” in Das Kapital. Marx often discusses capital as “phenomena” and “illusion,” as a “phantom,” but none of these are terms meant in the tradition of cheap tricks: a social relation is masked behind the relations of capital. Violent, dark magick, in other words, the magick of turning quality into quantity, humanity into slavery, world into resource, is at the heart of capital. Capital is no cheap trick; its cost is Faustian.

As Marx writes, capital’s effects are phantomic; it is precisely this haunting effect, this “specter” of capital which, according to Marx, needs to be exorcised. Over a century later, in 1994, Derrida argued in Specters of Marx that the phantom in general—hauntology—cannot be exorcised. In short, the revolutionary magick proposed by Marx (which was famously unthought) against the magick of capital cannot eradicate the fundamental principles (of magick) upon which capital is based. Why? For the principles of capital—magick—are also those of its antithesis. Any possible antithesis. One cannot eradicate the simulacra; for at base, there is only a doubling of simulacra. Or to put it another way: to attempt to exorcize capital would obliterate the very principle of revolutionary communism, the imaginative magick of a collective ideal. To attempt to practice absolute exorcisim only unleashes the violence at the core of all magicks claiming to unveil or obliterate the true origin or the true illusion (the two being equivalent in force). One cannot exorcise ghosts nor dark magick in toto or ex nihilio. The principle of magick is always thus always doubled: (1) magick never comes from nothing; it always draws from another power and (2) thus it always produces unintended effects and consequences that remain in excess to its intentions. As Derrida thoughtfully explored—in a way few have—one has to learn to live with ghosts. To speak with them. Speak to it, Horatio. Learn to speak the language of magick. One does not exorcise magick; one seeks to practice it as the art of samizdat and containment. Infiltration. And other creative arts that destabilize the easy yet dangerous magick of commodification.

Likewise, when Marx wrote that “All that is solid melts into air” as effect of capitalism, he had in mind the magick of substantial transmutation, not as trick or hoax but as the slippage of signs in which an object of use value (the table) is stood on its head, begins to walk, and becomes the commodity of exchange value—out of which evolves further signs:

But, so soon as it [the wooden table] steps forth as a commodity, it is changed into something transcendent. It not only stands with its feet on the ground, but, in relation to all other commodities, it stands on its head, and evolves out of its wooden brain grotesque ideas, far more wonderful than ‘table-turning’ ever was. (Marx, “The Fetishism of Commodities” in Capital Vol 1)

Magick breeds magick; we are deep now in the realm of these wooden, grotesque ideas of semiocapitalism. In the 21st century, magick has revealed itself as operative mechanism of capital in-itself; this is the meaning of the 2008 financial crisis. This is a crisis of the system of signifiers which determines valuation, a crisis of completely speculative levels of capital which are completely estranged from what Marx called “use value.” It is the beautifully complex world where negative effects (debt) are valued as positive on a completely speculative basis of future returns—returns which, as the various complex operations of debt transfer and futures demonstrate, are expended infinitely until “all that is solid melts into air,” completely suspended, and crashes. And the effects of this crash are disastrous.

Herein lies the “trickle down” effect of capitalism: all the debt culled from below and profited from above returns with a vengeance, as it does not trickle but torrents down and pools in the trenches. At the bottom, those impoverished drown in debt. This is what smiling Reagan meant when he sold trickle-down capitalism to the masses. Shit runs downhill. While all shall inherit the debts of the financial crash, those at the bottom, unable to dodge the wreckage, will reap its total effects, as all of semiocapitalism, as all that dark magick and uncollected emptiness, trickles down into a whirlpool of poverty. This is the lesson of trickle down capitalism: those above, unless clinging to the burning hulk as it splits apart, never even have to open an umbrella. The metaphors are pushed here, but you get the point.

A keyword missing from this discussion with aladin would be afrofuturism, where the dark arts of magick take on another dimension, that of the transmutation of concepts such as race. Perhaps more on this soon.

double p/androgyne: s/he is (still) her/e

double p/androgyne: s/he is (still) her/e

I would also highly recommend the evocative Sex Magic in One Act: Exploring the Properties of Extensional Sex by Lolix. The reversal of inside to outside using sex magick’s gendered body from female to male is here rendered explicit in creative sex work. Pan/drogyne, in short. Lolix explores a shift that takes us beyond -x to +x, presence of the phallus/absence of the vaginal interiority, and into the  z/y axes to a third-eye dimensional sense of the chiasmus. This text and its images work on many layers. It brings to mind the latest incarnation of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, as s/he becomes neither male nor female, yet both, as the physical incarnation of Genesis’ now deceased partner. The signifying magick be: S/HE IS (STILL) HER/E, the permutations of which continue to unfold in the flesh.


technics & decrepit democracy

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011


Will the 41st Canadian Election see the return of the youth vote? The previous election in 2008 saw the lowest voter turnout in the nation’s history, especially among youth.

So far the “youth” I’ve heard interviewed by the CBC—university students all—appear somewhat clueless. Is the uneducated, unengaged, uncaring countenance portrayed by national media an accurate sign of general malaise amongst the under-25 crowd? Or does it merely show that reporters still don’t know who to talk to on campus, avoiding the radicals hanging around the campus and community radio station, passing by the scribes at the student newspaper, ignoring the offices of student politicians, all in the vain hope for some kind of “average student” as somehow synonymous with the general (which is to say, non-voting) populace?

Such strategies only serve to reinforce the narrow perspectives of ageism. Yet something nags at the contemporary image of Canadian youth—a striking absence from the landscape, as if youth had once and for all become the niche-market consumers they were programmed to be since birth. A lack of rebellion pervades a youth generation that appears completely infatuated by the technics of consumerism and always-on communication. A pastiche of postmodern style has stagnated into over a decade of hipsterism that drags on & on without reinvention nor cultural innovation. Music regurgitates itself without push nor force. Meanwhile, this cultural merry-go-round—a kind of cyclism of rehashed styles—rotates around an absent pillar: that of youth displeasure and rebellion against the controlling interests of the nation-state. In the ’90s Naomi Klein and Adbusters writ about rebellion as bought & sold as an advertising strategy. Today we talk about the absence of even such strategies. It is as if an election and the workings of democracy are a disposable communicative fragment that, moreover, is denigrated as one particle stream amongst all others. The election, like a text message from a nagging parent, is easily deleted, without even the dignity of a NO LIKE button.

Cryptofascism & the Uncitizenry

Indeed, it is tempting to argue that no rebellion can exist in such a fragmented existence wherein the nation-state and its democratic apparatus are reduced to hollow signs that have no virtual presence on social networks. There is no rebellion not because youth don’t care; there is no rebellion because youth live in a world created and catered through info-filtering mechanisms tailored so precisely to predict and provide for their consumer and erotic impulses that the practice of democratic choice has no place within it. One can LIKE but one cannot not like; there is no choice per se, only the metrics of one-way desire. Two questions:

(1) Are youth inculcated in a new form of choice that negates choice—which is to say a nonchoice—in which decision-making can only form either a favourable mark  (LIKE) but not its expressed DISLIKE? Moreover, is this merely a “youth” phenomenon? Is this not simply the one-way directive of desire that has become pronounced in social networks?

(2) There is no VOTE app on Facebook nor for the iPhone. Mediated existence, though it registers the metrics of LIKE that appear seemingly everywhere, does not contain a voting sphere. There is no choice in this patterning towards a one-way metrics of desire. Everything appears just for you, me, them: this is how Facebook works with its pyramidal-style News Filter, where that which is LIKED is repeated, reiterated, regurgitated. The new falls by the wayside, the repetition of the same LIKE becomes the horizon of mediated existence of LIKE-LIKE discourse. One never encounters the Other…. is voting now foreign to the discourse engendered by social networks?

This perceptive difference of what the world is—not only its being but its discourse of desire in relation to it, its ontology of technics and urgency—and how it appears for me—its perceptive alignment with implanted consumer desire, what might be called the cryptofascism of corporate perception—suggests a near impasse in engaging any 21st century technological citizen with the centuries-old processes of democratic involvement that require movement, thought and a mark. There is no rebellion because the world itself appears appetizing, as if all communication is geared solely toward un/conscious appetites and ego. It is tailored and remade to appear as-such. All the time. And it is. Desire is an App. An App is an expression of controlling desire. I LIKE the App. I LIKE what is desired (for me).

As the voice of pop radio, Auto-Tune is there for the confusing identity siege that is junior high. Faheem Rasheed is T-Pain. T-Pain is Auto-Tune. Auto-Tune is a vocoder. (T-Pain said so.) I am T-Pain is an App. You are T-Pain. T-Pain is a brand. No sooner did Jay-Z call for Auto-Tune’s head after seeing Wendy’s use it to sell a Frosty, than Apple made the I Am T-Pain app available for $2.99. As demonstrated on the Champion DJ track, “Baako,” babies can now be Auto-Tuned before reaching intelligibility (Dave Tompkins, How To Wreck A Nice Beach: The Vocoder from World War II to Hip-Hop @ 302).

Do I, LIKE? This App? Instead of being ignored, youth—a category no longer of age but of consumer uncitizenry, which is to say, humans who only participate in collective processes through consumption and discourse with corporatized social networks—feel that with social networks and mobile communications that they, each and every one, are the centre of all attention. Uncitizens command and demand—not from their nation-states, but from their corporations, and what they demand is the short-term satisfaction of their pleasures. Nothing is easier to deliver. And when it goes wrong, there is no recourse. One cannot UNLIKE anything. As for voting? This unlikely process might be dismantled in time too.

The State Without Desire

The tactics of consumption, the ingenious ways in which the weak make use of the strong, thus lend a political dimension to everyday practices (Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life @ xvii)

At the limit, what do today’s uncitizens expect from the nation-state? Nothing; it does not exist as-such—which is to say as a metric of consumer desire—for them. The nation-state passes into the realm of the hyponoumenal or unsensible. Thus its dismantling appears favourable; why keep what is not an object of desire?

Competing interests to democratic governance play this absence of desire with astute aim: utilising communications media, the absence of desire toward the participatory democracy (neither LIKE nor anything otherwise) is re-presented—advertised, talked up, played out; tweeted, linked, screamed—as an object of DISLIKE. If one’s existence is constellated within online social networks, being presented with democracy as an object of DISLIKE offers the first significant chance to render choice as-such through the expression of concrete negativity. Yet desire here is rendered by proxy: I express DISLIKE, and a “real choice,” only to dismantle its mechanism as-such. The first expression of democratic engagement is self-defeating. DISLIKE is voted through as the dismantling of the system that perpetuates and organises the benefits to be derived from voting.

This is how normative politics emphasizes—and for lack of a better word, pronounces hysterical—the glut of bureaucracy, engaging in a shrill and strident discourse that reiterates tirelessly that hand-outs must stop, that everything from arts grants to education and health care must be reduced or eliminated outright in order to allow the play of the “free market.”

Such normative political interests—which are, at their worst, organised expressions against democratic governance—build not upon an engaged citizenry seeking libertarian governance and a minimalist State, but merely run with the absence of any such desire concerning the State. Such an absence of desire one way or the other allows corporate systems of production to occupy the role once previously held by the State, yet without any such safeguards nor protections offered under democratic governance. Several factors come into play here. Consumerism perpetuates the myth that the “market” provides for all desires (which is to say, it fails to provide what remains necessary , and certainly it does not ensure the equitable benefits of the common wealth). Meanwhile, the technics of perception in which uncitizens engage with the social network aligns desire with socially networked consumerism. Desire is directed toward a ceaseless flow of objects and data (either LIKED or absented in response). The nation-state and its apparatuses do not exist in this realm; they are negated a priori. Is it any surprise that their political expression is thus one of outright negation of the infrastructure of democratic engagement?

We are dealing with borderline technological determinism and worst-case scenarios evidently of the speculative sort. Yet the traces are evident.

A party wishing to capitalize upon this corporatized technics of perception only has to shape a negative platform which satisfies this urge to ignore (if not eliminate) democratic governance completely. At the same time, this grants free reign to the controlling interests of a cryptofascist party (corporate funded) that would capitalize upon the new blindness of an uncitizenry that quite literally has its head down, eyes locked to the mobile screen, while everywhere (and yet oddly, for this perspective, nowhere), the beneficial conditions of collective existence are dismantled (elimination, defunding, privatization).

One must consider the darkest of strategies—that the cryptofascist core is centralizing its power and mobilizing control over resources to ensure its survival as the planet’s environment becomes increasingly unsustainable. This is social Darwinism. These controlling interests have done so by utilising the nonengagement of stagnant democracy to perpetuate the latter’s destruction, thereby catapulting the narrow-sphere of the self-interested to power.

If one were to look for the new collectivism, it only appears in two places:

(1) In that of cryptofascism. The “unite the right” slogan is indeed a crafty strategy to ensure an insider-outsider urge to join those who are successful in attaining power through whatever means possible. The majority of such hangers-on are seekign entry into the corridors of power, and do not realise that they will forever be denied (witness Harper’s controlled campaign appearances). In short, centre-right Liberals voted Conservative so as to “get in on a good thing.” Time to cash in & forget the others. Yet this is only one part of the strategy; the second part is amassing votes from those who believe in positions that are, in fact, executed in their obverse. That neoConservatives spend more than their “socialist” competitors—usually on militarization and imprisonment—is a fact oft ignored by those voting neoConservative so as to support fiscal conservatism. Likewise, “lower” taxes are designated for corporations, not the lower-middle class (and “ethnic”) voters who swing Conservative. A basic failure to grasp actual factual conditions prevails; at its worst, this is the rise of the New Dumb.

(2) As for the second collectivism, it forms as counterposition to the Right. In Canada this polarization has collectivized around the NDP, which has formed the Official Opposition in Parliament. In itself, the rise of a declared Leftist party signals hope—for those seeking democratic engagement—and yet, also concern over an American-style polarization of the spectrum in which both sides descend into a politics of the very worst. The centre has fallen out, and its contents spilled out in two directions. Most of its contents spilled Left; the NDP gained 65 seats while the Conservatives gained 24. Yet can the collectivist action behind the NDP sustain itself in Canada’s volatile political landscape? In a situation where still-separatist Quebec holds the trump card with its NDP “orange crush”? In a mediasphere where the probable axing of the CBC will result in further attack ads and tarnishing of the NDP as the Conservatives strive for absolute power by ushering in Harper’s Media Centre?

We are here again speaking of the engaged and those who voted—only about 61.4% of the eligible voters. Unless mobilization occurs in the voting sphere, it will be a shock indeed when the uncitizen pokes his or her head up and realises there is nothing left for them. That all which is for me is now merely a waste of words. That the world itself has been sold off….

Millenial Malaise and the Resurgence of Generations X & Y

One cannot rebel against that which is nonsignifying, which is to say, against that which is not only imperceptible, but quite simply off the radar of desire. The Green Party experienced this precisely this election. Off-the-radar, out-of-the-debate. Unrepresented. A non-object. The nation-state is not an App. It has no status update. The psychosocial dimension of this malaise is the persistence of boredom in an always-on environment. Or rather, teenage-era forms of rebellion have solidified as technico-ontological frameworks of perception amongst young “adults”: pronounced boredom through ceaseless consumption—until debt do us a part; general malaise of the uncitizen as precarious part-time work provides a deadening of stimulation; distracted nonattention as competing virtual environments promise the collectivity which is everywhere destroyed in the concrete; and a lack of engagement becoming a performative lifeworld of “not caring cool.”

Too bad that’s the formula for getting fucked over by the big bulge of the population. The boomers, who increasingly vote for their own aging interests, privatize health care and dismantle social services, all in an effort to keep their own taxes low, and all at the expense of future generations, a.k.a. today’s youth vote.

Do Millenials even realise how badly they’re getting screwed by their own parents and grandparents? Apparently not; it’s not a tweet meme, hashtag, nor status update. VICE magazine covered it years ago, but that’s Gen-X & Y critique circa 2005. The Millenials missed it.

Conventional wisdom says that engaged youth primarily vote on social issues, with a strong tendency to vote NDP. Keeping down the youth vote has been a strategy of the neoConservatives since day one—as witnessed with the brownshirt tactic of disrupting advance polling (as was the case at the University of Guelph).

Yet survey data shows that the NDP surge in Quebec has little to do with the youth vote. If correct, this data tosses the conventional wisdom that once you “grow up and start paying taxes,” you vote only for your narrow self-interest, and thus brainlessly throw your vote in with any party that promises a lowering of taxes. It also demonstrates the increasing power—and here I hedge a thetic guess—of Generation X & Y.

The return of the rave generation & post-punk politics

Generation X, whether bitter ex-punks or Douglas Coupland’s cocaine-fuelled cubicle kids, have long been ignored under the heel of the boomers. Gen Y, the rave generation, has seen its entire musico-cultural expression criminalized and erased from the history books. Both generations were the last vestiges of inspired rebellion from the ’60s; these are the generations of the APEC and Quebec City protests, of Clayoquot Sound, of mass rave culture and its collectivist pursuits. It was Generation Ecstasy that brought the dark rebellion of rave culture into the light, organising Reclaim The Streets, the rise of “carnivals against capitalism,” providing the organisational capacity and infrastructure for the alterglobalization movement that brought down Seattle and Genoa. Gen X & Y are the generations of hackers, hacktivists, DiY-zine producers and internet utopians, Burning Man freaks, DJs and musicians, artists who fled to Montréal (and Berlin), the generation of mass energy throughout the ’80s and ’90s that, in a word, connected Lollapalooza to Woodstock, alterglobalization anticapitalist carnival to May ’68, rave culture to the Happening & Be-In.

Is this generation beginning to find itself? Its rave-era participants possess an uncanny organisational capacity—could it be directed toward reinvigorating the institutional Left? Overtaking it entirely? Are these generations beginning to vote en masse? Will new forms of party politics arise from these much more complex political landscapes of late-night bohemians that nonetheless have tasted the freedom of the TAZ?

Evidently there are splits within the boomer demographic as well. The incumbent party that supposedly stands for fiscal conservatism—Canada’s delightful neoConservatives—has pursued a massive increase in military expenditure, including 30 billion dollars over 30 years on fighter jets (and without cost-saving measures of competitive contracts). The Conservatives have racked up the largest deficit in Canadian history, some 55.6 billion. Harper’s promise of fiscal conservatism is, moreover, encoded within a right-wing moral conservatism based upon fundamentalist Christian beliefs, including Stephen Harper’s involvement as a founding member of the pro-apartheid, pro-South Africa, pro-white Northern Foundation in the late 1980s (see more research on these connections here). The signs are everywhere of increasing neoConservative strategies: Conservative defunding of Planned Parenthood, and other indications of religious fundamentalists being placed in positions of power over, say, the portfolio of science and technology.

Like, the Youth?

As for the youth? A good point is made here, that winning the youth vote begins with respect. According to blogger AW Reeves, political parties need to

talk about urban issues and green infrastructure; building better public transportation and supporting the arts; the importance of local and healthy food; of civic engagement, political participation, and the importance of taking pride in where you live (AW Reeves).

In short, the issues of youth are, perhaps, more progressive and varied than those of mere education. I agree. I would’ve said the same in the mid-1990s when Generation Y came into the age of majority, but hey, we were too busy organising on cultural and political levels an entire collectivist movement of alterglobalization and electroniculture. And still, many voted. Or loudly protested its lack of options. However, it is worth noting that education is always defunded in proportion to the neoConservative increase in prisons. Education is a broader issue than just youth; it has to do with creating and sustaining an enlightened citizenry. Without it, we usher in the Tea Party mentality of the New Dumb. Is this not a neoConservative strategy?

That Reeve’s optimism is tempered by his observation that seniors are a better bet strategically for enterprising political parties—”seniors have a stronger sense of the importance of voting, and more time on their hands typically”—only suggests yet more reasons to ignore the youth vote. Youth are the future of democracy, and always will be. In the ’60s the boomers understood their strength in numbers, which was repressed, it would seem, only through sheer violence (Kent State, COINTELPRO, assassination and imprisonment of activists) and over-indulgence (the excesses of the ’60s drug culture). While the Millenials do not exist as strength in sheer numbers, they can tip the scales if they vote.

But is it feasible to expect an engagement with the papertrails and processes of democracy by a generation only connected through its disconnection, otherwise untouched by the concrete? The infiltration of existence by technical means of capture, screens & devices that effectively “capture consciousness,” has meant that an entirely new sphere of bubble-world existence is the new technico-ontological state of Millenial desire. And the highly powerful yet seemingly invisible nation-state does not appear within this social radar of the captured consumer kids—at least not until the VOTE APP.

The Black Box of Control

Indeed, why not a VOTE APP? The answer remains resoundingly negative for all the reasons the white hat hackers of 2600 have exposed concerning the control mechanisms contained within electronic voting machines (which probably delivered Florida on a few occasions for Bush) as well as the lack of security, transparency and accountability once information is rendered digital.

This suggests that, quite profoundly, democracy is a fleshy and breast-to-breast encounter, if even with the ballot slip. Its effort of engagement underscores its significance to the collective capacity of discourse and organisation that sustains the nation-state. Like, dude, one cannot VOTE by hitting the LIKE button.

../…. .


Monday, August 2nd, 2010

the gonzo academics of soniculture return

Without too much further ado I would like to point you toward issue 1.2 of Dancecult, which features – among other gonzo academic explorations of soniculture and the rave underground – “Technics, Precarity and Exodus in Rave Culture.” This piece of mine, under works in various forms for approximately a decade, explores rave culture from the perspective of political theory of autonomia, the political economy of contemporary labour, and philosophy of technology, proposing that rave culture – which I consider deceased as of 2000 – be considered one of the 20th century’s greater movements of exodus from the constraints of consumer capitalist monoculture, by way of precarity of labour and the technics of its soniculture. Undoubtedly this thesis requires all the more exegesis. La lutte continue.

edition 1.2



Making a Noise – Making a Difference:
Techno-Punk and Terra-ism

*Graham St John

Technics, Precarity and Exodus in Rave Culture
*tobias c. van Veen

The Aesthetics of Protest in UK Rave
*Ramzy Alwakeel

Memory and Nostalgia in Youth Music Cultures:
Finding the Vibe in the San Francisco Bay Area Rave Scene, 2002-2004

*Eileen M Wu


the Myth of the Underground

Monday, May 24th, 2010

in the darkness the shapes of the light (thx to JBurke for this photo)

Excerpt from an unpublished missive — the mythus of the underground.

The outsider, insubordinate, and risk-laden character of dance, legitimated in this sense through its criminalization, provides participants with an outlaw or rebel identity forged in an ambiguous relationship with the law. — Graham St John, Technomad@20

The underground resonates with flights from the drudgery of everyday life into realms of secrecy and substance, where liberated encampments of rebel fugitives revel in the immediatism of autonomous existence…


Cities of Rhythm & Revolution

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Voilà.! Some 5 years in the making, Circulation & the City.

With appropriate fanfare & deep bows, Will Straw & Alexandra Boutro’s edited volume entitled Circulation and the City: Essays on Urban Culture (McGill Queen’s UP, 2010) now graces the shelves. This book has been quite a few years in the works. The earliest drafts I have of work for the volume date back to 2005, and by the time we went to press, the final chapter I submitted on Henri Lefebre, rhythm, and revolution in the city had been transformed entirely from the words originally writ on rave culture and rhythm (funny thing: the new article I am finishing for Dancecult picks up on these earlier themes  – sometimes work must encounter different sets of theoretical concepts, and years of reflection, for the excavation of the intellect to yield its bounty). The book forms the third in a trilogy of publications from the Culture of Cities Project, a multi-university research endeavour that sought to unearth “the mix of universal and local influences in the everyday life of cities,” with research concentrated in Toronto, Berlin, Dublin and Montréal, and with researchers across Canada and the Continent. So, with the intent of lurking y’all into picking this up (or perhaps unwittingly scaring you off), I offer the introduction to my chapter “Cities of Rhythm & Revolution.”


Dancecult: Journal of EDMC launches 1.1

Monday, September 28th, 2009
Dancecult: mixing theory @ the speed of sound

Dancecult: mixing theory @ the speed of sound

:: Fiends I am proud to present the first edition of ::


Including a piece of my own that recaps 10 years of MUTEK:

Convergence & Soniculture: 10 Years of MUTEK

| — > PDF < — | — > HTML < — |

Dancecult 1.1 2009 Contents:


music as an organisational principle: resonance

Thursday, August 20th, 2009
musikal resistance (2000) / dj.glim

musikal resistance (2000) / dj.glim

Revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination but by resonance. Something that is constituted here resonates with the shock wave emitted by something constituted over there. A body that resonates does so according to its own mode. An insurrection is not like a plague or a forest fire – a linear process which spreads from place to place after an initial spark. It rather takes the shape of a music, whose focal points, though dispersed in time and space, succeed in imposing the rhythm of their own vibrations, always taking on more density. To the point that any return to normal is no longer desirable or even imaginable. (The Coming Insurrection 13)

As of 2009, the suspected authors of this lively and at times satirically brilliant text – in the best tradition of insurrectionist French theory, a nod to Voltaire – are still facing charges, some released from prison, others being held & questioned. Any following critical comments are critical only insofar as they applaud the force of this text.

Yet – and there is a yet with this text – something of the darkly humorous & inventive tone is lost by the time the text announces, in a rather didactic fashion, its prescriptions for action as a way of closure. These prescriptives are a tad too prescriptive for me. And I think in this passage all of what invigorates me – yet frustrates me – can be heard.


the convergence towards alter-globalization

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
Los Angeles, 08.15.2000.

Los Angeles, 08.15.2000.

When searching for indications of the global multitude, it has become something of a commonplace for theorists such as Negri, Marazzi, Virno and other Italian Autonomists (but not limited to them) to point towards the “antiglobalization movement,” which is usually granted its worldwide stage debut at the WTO protests in Seattle (1999) with further economic summit gatherings making their mark as well as traditional political gatherings (DNC in LA, 2000; World Economic Forum in Davos, 2001; FTAA in Genoa, 2001; Summit of the Americas in Québec City, 2001). With 9/11, the “movement” is usually seen as dissipating into an antiwar focus; moreover the possibility of organised mass protest after 9/11 disintegrates in the wake of repressive “security” measures globally. The question is how this time of global, networked turbulent uprising has been represented & interpreted among theorists.

Commenting on Naomi Klein’s No Logo, Christian Marazzi writes (circa 2002) that:

The “no logo people” has been constituting itself with protest tactics against the privatization of public space, against the symbolic commodification effected by the multinational producers of consumer goods. The protests against the logo and against the world circuit of exploitation of the work force described by Klein have worked as a lever in the global growth of an “antiglobal” movement. (Capital and Language 138)

Marazzi’s summation remains limited in two respects. First, it is somewhat of a one-dimensional analysis insofar as it accepts without question the term “antiglobal” while overplaying the significance of the “no logo people.” Second, Klein’s No Logo, significant now as it was then in providing the framework for an analysis of the symbolic structures of global capital, remains theoretically and descriptively inadequate to encompass the diverse manifestations of what is not an antiglobalization movement, but an alterglobalization convergence. There remains a terribly incomplete perception of the alterglobalization convergence of the mid-’90s to 2001 among theories of the multitude (Marazzi goes on to write: “The global crisis of the logo, in other words, suggests that it is on the terrain of the political definition of the body of the multitude that the future of the protest movement will be played out”).