An imprint of Punctum Books. Titles in the Immediations series previously published with Open Humanities press can be found here.
Philosophy begins in wonder. And, at the end,
when philosophic thought has done its best,
the wonder remains. – A.N. Whitehead
The aim of the Immediations book series is to prolong the wonder sustaining philosophic thought into transdisciplinary encounters. Its premise is that concepts are for the enacting: they must be experienced. Thought is lived, else it expires. It is most intensely lived at the crossroads of practices, and in the in-between of individuals and their singular endeavors: enlivened in the weave of a relational fabric. Co-composition.
“The smile spreads over the face, as the face fits itself onto the smile” (A. N. Whitehead)
Which practices enter into co-composition will be left an open question, to be answered by the Series authors. Art practice, aesthetic theory, political theory, movement practice, media theory, maker culture, science studies, architecture, philosophy … the range is free. We invite you to roam it.
Alongside single-author monographs, we are keen to encourage experiments in collective writing and new forms of co-composition. Co-composition is an intercession, not a mediation. Begin in the middle. Catch a thinking in the midst and compose with it. Curate thought in the thinking-doing. Reinvent the book.
La philosophie commence dans l’étonnement. Et, au terme,
quand la pensée philosophique a fait de son mieux,
l’étonnement persiste. – Alfred N. Whitehead
La collection Immédiations a pour but de prolonger l’étonnement qui anime l’esprit philosophique au carrefour de ses rencontres pluri-disciplinaires. Elle affirme l’idée selon laquelle les concepts n’ont de vie que dans la dramatisation : ils n’ont de sens qu’expérimentés. La pensée est vécue, faute de quoi elle expire. Vécue d’autant mieux à la croisée des pratiques, dans l’entre-deux des individus et de leurs efforts singuliers : enthousiasmée par ce qui se noue dans le tissu relationnel. Co-composition.
“Le sourire s’étend sur le visage, de la même manière que le visage s’adapte au sourire” (A. N. Whitehead)
Quant à savoir quelles pratiques entreront en co-composition, c’est une question que nous laissons délibérément ouverte, et dont la réponse est à la discrétion de chaque auteur. Pratiques artistiques, théorie esthétique, théorie politique, arts de la performance, théorie des média, études scientifiques, mouvements d’autodétermination, architecture, philosophie… l’éventail est large. Nous vous invitons à zigzaguer entre les modes de penser-faire.
Outre les monographies individuelles, nous tenons à encourager les projets collaboratifs, ainsi que les nouvelles formes de co-composition. Nous insistons sur le fait que l’acte de co-composition est synonyme d’intercession, et non de médiation. Commencer par le milieu. Saisir au vol une pensée-en-acte et faire prise avec elle. Exposer la pensée alors même qu’elle s’active, alors même qu’elle pense et ensemence. Réinventer le livre.
Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: A Novelty
by Sher Doruff
Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: A Novelty is the first in a series of novellas emerging from a writing practice that taps the cusp of consciousness between dreaming and waking. A storyline, or genealogy, tinted a shade of RGB blue, is fashioned by thinking through the felt unthought of this between space. A fabulation, an anarchive of what passes through. Lucid dreaming of this type is rife with allusions to conceptual and material goings-on, manifesting in awkward imaginaries. The dream personas are rendered as complex character amalgams with nomadic ages, sexes, genders and phenotypes. Occurrences of lived “fact” elide with a hallucinatory real as speculation.
In A Novelty, Bette B, an ageing quasi-academic artist researcher, and BØB, attuned urban rodent, are palindromic variants of a generic cast of Betty’s and Bob’s. The happenstance of their meeting on the super slick POMOC (PostOffice MotionCorridor) affects a trans-special contagion. These are the facts of the matter. The matters that come to concern both B’s are more slippery and elusive.
Read the rest of the trilogy: Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: An Adventure (Vol. 2) + Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: An Actual Occasion (Vol. 3)
Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: An Adventure
by Sher Doruff
Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: An Adventure is the second in a series of three novellas emerging from a writing practice that taps the cusp of consciousness between dreaming and waking. A storyline, or genealogy, tinted a shade of RGB red, is fashioned by thinking through the felt unthought of this between space — a fabulation, an anarchive of what passes through. Lucid dreaming of this type is rife with allusions to conceptual and material goings-on, manifesting in awkward imaginaries. The dream personas are rendered as complex character amalgams with nomadic ages, sexes, genders, and phenotypes. Occurrences of lived “fact” elide with a hallucinatory real as speculation.
In An Adventure, a feral feminist artist collective, The Bettys, inhabit a timeless Arcades Project. This is their experiment in wild hypo-consumerism. The event of Red Betty’s fall generates the advent of a turn. A cleaving. The intra-play of personal politics and activist artistic practices is surreally suffused with attention to color, to life and death, to lightness and heaviness.
Read the rest of the trilogy: Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: A Novelty (Vol. 1) + Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: An Actual Occasion (Vol. 3)
No Archive Will Restore You
by Julietta Singh
At once memoir, theory, poetic prose, and fragment, No Archive Will Restore You is a feverish meditation on the body. Departing from Antonio Gramsci’s summons to compile an inventory of the historical traces left in each of us, Singh engages with both the impossibility and urgent necessity of crafting an archive of the body. Through reveries on the enduring legacies of pain, desire, sexuality, race, and identity, she asks us to sense and feel what we have been trained to disavow, to re-member the body as more than itself.
The Perfect Mango
by Erin Manning
In 1994, at the age of twenty-five, when the “terrible brokenness that comes with sexual assault” was folded deep within her body and thoughts of suicide were always close by, Erin Manning wrote The Perfect Mango at an almost feverish pitch: nineteen chapters in nineteen days, a sort of self-rescue operation, where writing became a form of making (and feeling) life otherwise. Throughout those nineteen days, and although not able to fully articulate it to herself at the time, Manning wrote her way into a “composition that asks how else life might be lived.” And in the rhythms of that composition, which was also a living, Manning was, and is, able to refuse the category and norm and stillness of “victim” (while still understanding the inheritances of violence) in order to follow instead the more-than-I as well as the joy of the “more-than of experience in the making.”
Twenty-five years later, Manning allows these earlier writings to find their way back into the world, which is also a way of giving “voice to those moments of messy survival” while also asking us, who share in (and help to bear) those moments as readers, to consider “other ways of listening to the urgency that is living.” To (re)publish the book now is to give it a place in the world in a way that honors its force as something that is always beyond anyone’s claim to it, even Manning’s. In this sense, The Perfect Mango invites us, with Manning, to be in excess of ourselves, and also to consider, in Manning’s words, “how to create conditions for living beyond humanism’s fierce belief that we, the privileged, the neurotypicals, the as-yet-unscathed, the able-bodied, hold the key to all perspectives in the theatre of living.” Ultimately, The Perfect Mango and Manning’s reflections on its composition ask us to consider living “in the fierce celebration of a world invented by those modes of life which tear at the colonial, white, neurotypical fabric of life as we know it.”
Also available in Portuguese.
The Unnaming of Aliass
by Karin Bolender
The Unnaming of Aliass performs a paradoxical quest for wildly “untold” stories in the company of one special donkey companion, a femammal of the species Equus asinus and, significantly, a registered “American Spotted Ass.” Beast of burden that she is, this inscrutable companion helped carry a ridiculous load of human longings and quandaries into a maze of hot, harrowing miles, across the US South from Mississippi to Virginia, in the summer of 2002 – all the while carrying her own onerous and unreckoned burdens and histories.
Over two decades, the original journey evolved – from the cracking-open of a quasi-Western novel-that-never-was by an implosive pun, into an ongoing philosophical and assthetic adventure: a hybrid roadside- and barnyard-based living-art practice, wherein “Aliass” un/names something much harder to grasp than the body of a lovely little ass: protagonist, setting, and traditional Western narratives turn inside-out around this “name-that-ain’t.” Through a deeply dug-in questioning of its own authorial assumptions, The Unnaming of Aliass makes space for untold autobiographies and bright dusty lacunae, tracing ineffable tales through the tangled shapes and shadows that interweave in any environment.
Some Ways of Making Nothing: Apophatic Apparatuses in Contemporary Art
by Curt Cloninger
What if all works of art were better understood as functioning apparatuses, entangling their human audiences in experiences of becoming? What if certain works of art were even able to throw the brakes on becoming altogether, making nothings rather than somethings? What would be the ethical value of making nothing, of stalling becoming; and how might such nothings even be made?
Some Ways of Making Nothing: Apophatic Apparatuses in Contemporary Art borrows its understanding of apparatuses from quantum mechanics and the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, and its understanding of nothing from apophatic (negative) theology. It then proposes a new way of understanding art, applying this understanding to artworks by Arakawa and Gins, Robert Fludd, David Crawford, Joshua Citarella, William Pope.L, and Haim Steinbach. Philosophy, physics, theology, and media theory are traversed and involved in order to understand art differently so that it might be made to matter more.
Testing Knowledge: Toward an Ecology of Diagnosis, Preceded by the Dingdingdong Manifesto
by Katrin Solhdju and Alice Rivières
This volume presents the collective adventure of Dingdingdong, the Institute for the Co-production of Knowledge about Huntington’s Disease, founded in 2012 between Paris and Brussels.
Katrin Solhdju’s Testing Knowledge: Toward an Ecology of Diagnosis pursues the question of taming the violence of the new species of medical foreknowledge represented by genetic testing. Adopting historical and epistemological perspectives on diagnostic situations, including observations from anthropological field research, speculative storytelling, and ancient oracles, Testing Knowledge proposes a new ecology of predictive diagnostic gestures, which potentially concern us all.
Testing Knowledge is preceded by the Dingdingdong collective’s Manifesto (2013), which tells the story of the young Alice Rivières, who in 2006 took the presymptomatic, genetic test, foretelling her that she will eventually develop Huntington’s. Her first-person account of the revelation of her test results, which she experienced as an act of poisoning or cursing, pulls the reader into the manifold ethical, psychological, and existential issues inherent to medical predictions.
Testing Knowledge is also preceded by a foreword from Alice Wexler, author of Mapping Fate: A Memoir of Family, Risk, and Genetic Research, and is followed by an afterword by philosopher Isabelle Stengers.
Teaching Myself to See
by Tito Mukhopadhyay
Teaching Myself to See deals with Tito’s struggles to participate in a world full of visual details. As a person with autism, Tito is visually selective, processing the myriad of details seeping in through the eye rather than the whole. Tracing Tito’s experiences to learn to see in his own, “hyper-visual” way, through art, through magazines, through everyday life, Teaching Myself to See is a work of auto-anthropology, capturing in words, sentences, paragraphs, poems, a way of seeing that might seem so bewildering that doctors and psychologists told his mother he wouldn’t be able to think. This book proves otherwise. By teaching us to look through his eyes, Tito shows us the miracle and immense complexity of sight, of neuro-atypicals and neuro-typicals alike.
Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: An Actual Occasion
by Sher Doruff
Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: An Actual Occasion is the third in a series of three novellas emerging from a writing practice that taps the cusp of consciousness between dreaming and waking.
An Actual Occasion revisits the viral transitioning of the becoming rat-woman from Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: A Novelty (vol. 1 in the trilogy). The adventure focuses on the Gritta’s, a gang of artists on retreat in the Dolomite Mountains, as they engage with the idiosyncratic, keeper of the keys, Roberta. Her other-worldly Café Arcadia, a magical cathedral of voluminous aphorism, is an archival refuge and durational homage to Benjaminian storytelling. This futurist fairy-tale is tinged with a curious mix of 19th-century feminist idioms and a queer, post-pandemic sanguinity.
Read the rest of the trilogy: Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: A Novelty (Vol. 1) + Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: An Adventure (Vol. 2)
Sweet Spots: Writing the Connective Tissue of Relation
by Mattie-Martha Sempert
Sweet Spots thinks transversally across language and body, and between text and tissue. This assemblage of essays collectively proposes that words—that is, language that lands as written text—are more-than-human material. And, these materials, composed of forces and flows and tendencies, are capable of generating text-flesh that grows into a thinking in the making. The practice of acupuncture—and its relational thinking—often makes its presence felt to twirl the text-tissue of the bodying essays. Ficto-critical thinking is threaded through to activate concepts from process philosophy and use the work of other thinkers (William James, Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze, Baruch Spinoza, and Virginia Woolf, to name a few) to forge imaginative connections.
Entangled in the text-tissue are an assortment of entities, such as bickering body parts, quivering jellyfish, heart pacemaker cells, a narwhal tooth, Taoist parables…. Always with ubiquitous, stretchy connective tissue—from gooey interstitial fluid to thick planes of fascia—ever present to ensure that the essaying bodies become, what Alfred North Whitehead calls the one-which-includes-the-many-includes-the-one.
The essaying bodies orient towards the sweetest sweet spot which is found, not in the center, but slightly askew, felt in the reverbing more-than that carries their potential. Crucially, this produces a shift in perspective away from self-enclosed bodies and experts toward a care for the connective tissue of relation.
THOUGHT IN THE ACT
A New Series Edited by Erin Manning and Brian Massumi
Thought in the Act: where the speculative meets the pragmatic; where thought is on the move, and the movement is thinking on the run; where the stakes are real and present, and the destination is to be invented. This series seeks projects that gear philosophical thinking into practices of research and creation in other domains; and conversely, that see philosophy itself as a searching practice of creative concept-making. Thinking in action: experimental thinking-across, toward parts as yet unknown. Speculative pragmatism: like having a word at the tip of the tongue – when it could just as easily be an act.
A Minor Gesture
by Erin Manning
In this wide-ranging and probing book Erin Manning extends her previous inquiries into the politics of movement to the concept of the minor gesture. The minor gesture, although it may pass almost unperceived, transforms the field of relations. More than a chance variation, less than a volition, it requires rethinking common assumptions about human agency and political action. To embrace the minor gesture’s power to fashion relations, its capacity to open new modes of experience and manners of expression, is to challenge the ways in which the neurotypical image of the human devalues alternative ways of being moved by and moving through the world—in particular what Manning terms “autistic perception.” Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari’s schizoanalysis and Whitehead’s speculative pragmatism, Manning’s far-reaching analyses range from fashion to depression to the writings of autistics, in each case affirming the neurodiversity of the minor and the alternative politics it gestures toward.
by Melanie Yergeau
In Authoring Autism Melanie Yergeau defines neurodivergence as an identity—neuroqueerness—rather than an impairment. Using a queer theory framework, Yergeau notes the stereotypes that deny autistic people their humanity and the chance to define themselves while also challenging cognitive studies scholarship and its reification of the neurological passivity of autistics. She also critiques early intensive behavioral interventions—which have much in common with gay conversion therapy—and questions the ableist privileging of intentionality and diplomacy in rhetorical traditions. Using storying as her method, she presents an alternative view of autistic rhetoricity by foregrounding the cunning rhetorical abilities of autistics and by framing autism as a narrative condition wherein autistics are the best-equipped people to define their experience. Contending that autism represents a queer way of being that simultaneously embraces and rejects the rhetorical, Yergeau shows how autistic people queer the lines of rhetoric, humanity, and agency. In so doing, she demonstrates how an autistic rhetoric requires the reconceptualization of rhetoric’s very essence.
Nature as Event: The Lure of the Possible
by Didier Debaise
We have entered a new era of nature. What remains of the frontiers of modern thought that divided the living from the inert, subjectivity from objectivity, the apparent from the real, value from fact, and the human from the nonhuman? Can the great oppositions that presided over the modern invention of nature still claim any cogency? In Nature as Event, Didier Debaise shows how new narratives and cosmologies are necessary to rearticulate that which until now had been separated. Following William James and Alfred North Whitehead, Debaise presents a pluralistic approach to nature. What would happen if we attributed subjectivity and potential to all beings, human and nonhuman? Why should we not consider aesthetics and affect as the fabric that binds all existence? And what if the senses of importance and value were no longer understood to be exclusively limited to the human?
See It Feelingly: Classic Novels, Autistic Readers, and the Schooling of a No-Good English Professor
by Ralph James Savarese
Since the 1940s researchers have been repeating claims about autistic people’s limited ability to understand language, to partake in imaginative play, and to generate the complex theory of mind necessary to appreciate literature. In See It Feelingly Ralph James Savarese, an English professor whose son is one of the first nonspeaking autistics to graduate from college, challenges this view.
Discussing fictional works over a period of years with readers from across the autism spectrum, Savarese was stunned by the readers’ ability to expand his understanding of texts he knew intimately. Their startling insights emerged not only from the way their different bodies and brains lined up with a story but also from their experiences of stigma and exclusion.
For Mukhopadhyay Moby-Dick is an allegory of revenge against autism, the frantic quest for a cure. The white whale represents the autist’s baffling, because wordless, immersion in the sensory. Computer programmer and cyberpunk author Dora Raymaker skewers the empathetic failings of the bounty hunters in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Autistics, some studies suggest, offer instruction in embracing the nonhuman. Encountering a short story about a lonely marine biologist in Antarctica, Temple Grandin remembers her past with an uncharacteristic emotional intensity, and she reminds the reader of the myriad ways in which people can relate to fiction. Why must there be a norm?
Mixing memoir with current research in autism and cognitive literary studies, Savarese celebrates how literature springs to life through the contrasting responses of unique individuals, while helping people both on and off the spectrum to engage more richly with the world.
The Political Sublime
by Michael J. Shapiro
In The Political Sublime Michael J. Shapiro formulates an original politics of aesthetics through an analysis of the experience of the sublime. Turning away from Kant’s analysis of the sublime experience as a validation of the existence of a universal common sense, Shapiro draws on Deleuze, Lyotard, and Rancière to show how incomprehensible events and dilemmas provide openings for new political formations. He approaches the sublime through a range of artistic and cultural texts that address social crises and natural disasters, from the writing of James Baldwin and Ta-Nehisi Coates to the films of Ingmar Bergman and Spike Lee; these works suggest ways to channel the disruptive effects of the sublime into resistance to authority and innovative political initiative. Whether stemming from the threat of nuclear annihilation or the aftermath of an earthquake, the violence of racism and terrorism or the devastation of industrialism, sublime experience, Shapiro contends, allows for a rethinking of events in ways that reveal, redistribute, and create conditions of possibility for alternative communities of sense.
Figures of Time: Affect and the Television of Preemption
by Toni Pape
Many contemporary television series from Modern Family to How to Get Away with Murder open an episode or season with a conflict and then go back in time to show how that conflict came to be. In Figures of Time Toni Pape examines these narratives, showing how these leaps in time create aesthetic experiences of time that attune their audiences to the political doctrine of preemption—a logic that justifies preemptive action to nullify a perceived future threat. Examining questions of temporality in Life on Mars, the political ramifications of living under the auspices of a catastrophic future in FlashForward, and how Damages disrupts the logic of preemption, Pape shows how television helps shift political culture away from a model of rational deliberation and representation toward a politics of preemption and conformity. Exposing the mechanisms through which television supports a fear-based politics, Pape contends, will allow for the rechanneling of television’s affective force into building a more productive and positive politics.
William James: Empiricism and Pragmatism
by David Lapoujade
Originally published in French in 1997 and appearing here in English for the first time, David Lapoujade’s William James: Empiricism and Pragmatism is both an accessible and rigorous introduction to James’s thought and a pioneering rereading of it. Examining pragmatism’s fundamental questions through a Deleuzian framework, Lapoujade outlines how James’s pragmatism and radical empiricism encompass the study of experience and the making of reality, and he reopens the speculative side of pragmatist thought and the role of experience in it. The book includes an extensive afterword by translator Thomas Lamarre, who illustrates how James’s interventions are becoming increasingly central to the contemporary debates about materialist ontology, affect, and epistemology that strive to bridge the gaps among science studies, media studies, and religious studies.
Animate Literacies: Literature, Affect, and the Politics of Humanism
by Nathan Snaza
In Animate Literacies Nathan Snaza proposes a new theory of literature and literacy in which he outlines how literacy is both constitutive of the social and used as a means to define the human. Weaving new materialism with feminist, queer, and decolonial thought, Snaza theorizes literacy as a contact zone in which humans, nonhuman animals, and nonvital objects such as chairs and paper all become active participants. In readings of classic literature by Kate Chopin, Frederick Douglass, James Joyce, Toni Morrison, Mary Shelley, and others, Snaza emphasizes the key roles that affect and sensory experiences play in literacy. Snaza upends common conceptions of literacy and its relation to print media, showing instead how such understandings reinforce dehumanizations linked to dominant imperialist, heterosexist, and capitalist definitions of the human. The path toward disrupting such exclusionary, humanist frameworks, Snaza contends, lies in formulating alternative practices of literacy and literary study that escape disciplined knowledge production.
For a Pragmatics of the Useless
by Erin Manning
What has a use in the future, unforeseeably, is radically useless now. What has an effect now is not necessarily useful if it falls through the gaps. In For a Pragmatics of the Useless Erin Manning examines what falls outside the purview of already-known functions and established standards of value, not for want of potential but for carrying an excess of it. The figures are various: the infrathin, the artful, proprioceptive tactility, neurodiversity, black life. It is around the latter two that a central refrain echoes: “All black life is neurodiverse life.” This is not an equation, but an “approximation of proximity.” Manning shows how neurotypicality and whiteness combine to form a normative baseline for existence. Blackness and neurodiversity “schizz” around the baseline, uselessly, pragmatically, figuring a more-than of life living. Manning, in dialogue with Félix Guattari and drawing on the black radical tradition’s accounts of black life and the aesthetics of black sociality, proposes a “schizoanalysis” of the more-than, charting a panoply of techniques for other ways of living and learning.
Radiation and Revolution
by Sabu Kohso
In Radiation and Revolution political theorist and anticapitalist activist Sabu Kohso uses the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster to illuminate the relationship between nuclear power, capitalism, and the nation-state. Combining an activist’s commitment to changing the world with a theorist’s determination to grasp the world in its complexity, Kohso outlines how the disaster is not just a pivotal event in postwar Japan; it represents the epitome of the capitalist-state mode of development that continues to devastate the planet’s environment. Throughout, he captures the lived experiences of the disaster’s victims, shows how the Japanese government’s insistence on nuclear power embodies the constitution of its regime under the influence of US global strategy, and considers the future of a radioactive planet driven by nuclearized capitalism. As Kohso demonstrates, nuclear power is not a mere source of energy—it has become the organizing principle of the global order and the most effective way to simultaneously accumulate profit and govern the populace. For those who aspire to a world free from domination by capitalist nation-states, Kohso argues, the abolition of nuclear energy and weaponry is imperative.
Around the Day in Eighty Worlds: Politics of the Pluriverse
by Martin Savransky
In Around the Day in Eighty Worlds Martin Savransky calls for a radical politics of the pluriverse amid the ongoing devastation of the present. Responding to an epoch marked by the history of colonialism and ecological devastation, Savransky draws on the pragmatic pluralism of William James to develop what Savransky calls a “pluralistic realism”—an understanding of the world as simultaneously one and many, ongoing and unfinished, underway and yet to be made. Savransky explores the radical multifariousness of reality by weaving key aspects of James’s thought together with divergent worlds and stories: of Magellan’s circumnavigation, sorcery in Mozambique, God’s felt presence among a group of evangelicals in California, visible spirits in Zambia, and ghosts in the wake of the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Throughout, he experiments with these storied worlds to dramatize new ways of approaching the politics of radical difference and the possibility of transforming reality. By exploring and constructing relations between James’s pluralism and the ontological turn in anthropology, Savransky offers a new conceptualization of the pluriverse that fosters modes of thinking and living otherwise.
Art as Information Ecology: Artworks, Artworlds, and Complex Systems Aesthetics
by Jason A. Hoelscher
In Art as Information Ecology, Jason A. Hoelscher offers not only an information theory of art but an aesthetic theory of information. Applying close readings of the information theories of Claude Shannon and Gilbert Simondon to 1960s American art, Hoelscher proposes that art is information in its aesthetic or indeterminate mode—information oriented less toward answers and resolvability than toward questions, irresolvability, and sustained difference. These irresolvable differences, Hoelscher demonstrates, fuel the richness of aesthetic experience by which viewers glean new information and insight from each encounter with an artwork. In this way, art constitutes information that remains in formation—a difference that makes a difference that keeps on differencing. Considering the works of Frank Stella, Robert Morris, Adrian Piper, the Drop City commune, Eva Hesse, and others, Hoelscher finds that art exists within an information ecology of complex feedback between artwork and artworld that is driven by the unfolding of difference. By charting how information in its aesthetic mode can exist beyond today’s strictly quantifiable and monetizable forms, Hoelscher reconceives our understanding of how artworks work and how information operates.
The World Computer: Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism
by Jonathan Beller
In The World Computer Jonathan Beller forcefully demonstrates that the history of commodification generates information itself. Out of the omnipresent calculus imposed by commodification, information emerges historically as a new money form. Investigating its subsequent financialization of daily life and colonization of semiotics, Beller situates the development of myriad systems for quantifying the value of people, objects, and affects as endemic to racial capitalism and computation. Built on oppression and genocide, capital and its technical result as computation manifest as racial formations, as do the machines and software of social mediation that feed racial capitalism and run on social difference. Algorithms, derived from for-profit management strategies, conscript all forms of expression—language, image, music, communication—into the calculus of capital such that even protest may turn a profit. Computational media function for the purpose of extraction rather than ameliorating global crises, and financialize every expressive act, converting each utterance into a wager. Repairing this ecology of exploitation, Beller contends, requires decolonizing information and money, and the scripting of futures wagered by the cultural legacies and claims of those in struggle.
Couplets: Travels in Speculative Pragmatism
by Brian Massumi
In Couplets, Brian Massumi presents twenty-four essays that represent the full spectrum of his work during the past thirty years. Conceived as a companion volume to Parables for the Virtual, Couplets addresses the key concepts of Parables from different angles and contextualizes them, allowing their stakes to be more fully felt. Rather than organizing the essays chronologically or by topic, Massumi pairs them into couplets to encourage readers to make connections across conventional subject matter categories, to encounter disjunctions, and to link different phases in the evolution of his work. In his analyses of topics ranging from art, affect, and architecture to media theory, political theory, and the philosophy of experience, Massumi charts a field on which a family of conceptual problems plays out in ways that bear on the potentials for acting and perceiving the world. As an essential guide to Massumi’s oeuvre, Couplets is both a primer for his new readers and a supplemental resource for those already engaged with his thought.
Listening in the Afterlife of Data: Aesthetics, Pragmatics, and Incommunication
by David Cecchetto
(forthcoming February 2022)
In Listening in the Afterlife of Data, David Cecchetto theorizes sound, communication, and data by analyzing them in the contexts of practical workings of specific technologies, situations, and artworks. He shows how in a time he calls the afterlife of data—the cultural context in which data’s hegemony persists even in the absence of any belief in its validity—data is repositioned as the latest in a long line of concepts that are at once constitutive of communication and suggestive of its limit. Cecchetto points to the failures and excesses of communication by focusing on the power of listening—whether through wearable technology, internet-based artworks, or the ways in which computers process sound—to pragmatically comprehend the representational excesses that data produces. Writing at a cultural moment in which data has never been more ubiquitous or less convincing, Cecchetto elucidates the paradoxes that are constitutive of computation and communication more broadly, demonstrating that data is never quite what it seems.
Earworm and Event: Music, Daydreams, and Other Imaginary Refrains
by Eldritch Priest
(forthcoming March 2022)
In Earworm and Event Eldritch Priest questions the nature of the imagination in contemporary culture through the phenomenon of the earworm: those reveries that hijack our attention, the shivers that run down our spines, and the songs that stick in our heads. Through a series of meditations on music, animal mentality, abstraction, and metaphor, Priest uses the earworm and the states of daydreaming, mind-wandering, and delusion it can produce to outline how music is something that is felt as thought rather than listened to. Priest presents Earworm and Event as a tête-bêche—two books bound together with each end meeting in the middle. Where “Earworm” theorizes the entanglement of thought and feeling, “Event” performs it. Throughout, Priest conceptualizes the earworm as an event that offers insight not only into the way human brains process musical experiences, but how abstractions and the imagination play key roles in the composition and expression of our contemporary social environments and more-than-human milieus. Unconventional and ambitious, Earworm and Event offers new ways to interrogate the convergence of thought, sound, and affect.
Dreadful Desires: The Uses of Love in Neoliberal China
by Charlie Yi Zhang
(forthcoming March 2022)
IMMEDIATIONS BOOK SERIES
With Open Humanities Press. The Immediations series is now continuing under the the 3Ecologies Books imprint at Punctum.
edited by Erin Manning, Anna Munster and Bodil Marie Stavning Thomsen
A shudder instantly runs down the spine, calling each vertebrae to attention! Would ‘immediation’ not return us right away to direct perception of the world; what is given in experience; the simplicity of the present and all the attendant (historical) problems? It is necessary to revisit the notion of “mediation,” enshrined in the very term “the media”, which is everywhere today. All “media-tion” stages and distributes real, embodied – that is, immediate, events. The concept of immediation entails that cultural, technical, aesthetic objects, subjects, and events can no longer be abstracted from the ways in which they contribute to and are changed by broader ecologies. This book seeks to engage the entwined questions of relation, event and ecology from outside already claimed territories, nomenclature and calls to action. Immediation I and II ask otherwise: what are the thinking-feeling imperceptibilities that colour, contour and condition relational experience today? All 25 contributors explore qualities of relationality, spacetimes of the event and transversal fields of thinking-making through expanded research. Together and apart, they generate novel concepts for immediating.
Nocturnal Fabulations: Ecology, Vitality and Opacity in the Cinema of Apichatpong Weerasethakul
by Érik Bordeleau, Toni Pape, Ronald Rose-Antoinette and Adam Szymanski
Nocturnal Fabulations is an essay in intercessing. This is not a book that is simply ‘about’ Apichatpong Weerasethakul, though it does engage his work in detail. It is a book that deeply questions what else might be at stake in setting up the conditions for collaboration across two genres: cinema and writing.
This collective project is animated by a shared curiosity in the pragmatics of fabulation and its speculative gesture of bringing forth a people to come. In an encounter with Apichatpong’s cinematic dreamscape, the concepts of ecology, vitality and opacity emerge to articulate an ethos of fabulation that deframes experience, recomposes subjectivity and unfixes time.
Also available in French.
The Principle of Unrest
by Brian Massumi
There is no such thing as rest. The world is always on the move. It is made of movement. We find ourselves always in the midst of it, in transformations under way. The basic category for understanding is activity – and only derivatively subject, object, rule, order. What is called for is an ‘activist’ philosophy based on these premises. The Principle of Unrest explores the contemporary implications of an activist philosophy, pivoting on the issue of movement. Movement is understood not simply in spatial terms but as qualitative transformation: becoming, emergence, event. Neoliberal capitalism’s special relation to movement is of central concern. Its powers of mobilization now descend to the emergent level of just-forming potential. This carries them beyond power-over to powers-to-bring-to-be, or what the book terms ‘ontopower’. It is necessary to track capitalist power throughout its expanding field of emergence in order to understand how counter-powers can resist its capture and rival it on its own immanent ground. At the emergent level, at the eventful first flush of their arising, counter-powers are always collective. This even applies to movements of thought. Thought in the making is collective expression. How can we think this transindividuality of thought? What practices can address it? How, politically, can we understand the concept of the event to emergently include events of thought? Only by attuning to the creative unrest always agitating at the infra-individual level, in direct connection with the transindividual level, bypassing the mid-level of what was traditionally taken for a sovereign subject: by embracing our ‘dividuality’.
Plankton Dreams What I Learned in Special Ed,
by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay
In Plankton Dreams, Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay crafts a proud, satiric style: the special ed student as literary troublemaker. ‘Mother had always taught me to learn from circumstance,’ he writes. ‘Here, the circumstance was humiliation, a particularly instructive teacher.’ ‘But I’m not complaining,’ he continues. ‘Humiliation, after all, made me a philosopher.’
For all of its comic effects, the book alerts readers to an alternative understanding of autism, an understanding that autistics themselves have been promoting for years. Frustrated by how most scientists investigate autism, Mukhopadhyay decides to investigate neurotypicality, treating his research subjects the way he himself was treated. Why shouldn’t the autist study the neurotypical? This artful parody of scientific endeavor salvages dignity from a dark place. It also reveals a very talented writer. It is most certainly time to study the neurotypical—his or her relentless assumptions. Perhaps by doing so we may devise a more humble and hospitable society.
Thought in the Act
by Erin Manning & Brian Massumi
Thought in the Act explores the intimate connections between thinking and creative practice
Combining philosophy and aesthetics, Thought in the Act is a unique exploration of creative practice as a form of thinking. Challenging the common opposition between the conceptual and the aesthetic, Erin Manning and Brian Massumi “think through” a wide range of creative practices in the process of their making, revealing how thinking and artfulness are intimately, creatively, and inseparably intertwined.
TECHNOLOGIES OF LIVED ABSTRACTION (MIT PRESS)
edited by Erin Manning and Brian Massumi
Proposal for Book Series (PDF)
“What moves as a body, returns as the movement of thought.”
Of subjectivity (in its nascent state)
Of the social (in its mutant state)
Of the environment (at the point it can be reinvented)
“A process set up anywhere reverberates everywhere.”
* * *
The Technologies of Lived Abstraction book series is dedicated to work of transdisciplinary reach inquiring critically but especially creatively into processes of subjective, social, and ethical-political emergence abroad in the world today. Thought and body, abstract and concrete, local and global, individual and collective: the works presented are not content to rest with the habitual divisions. They explore how these facets come formatively, reverberatively together, if only to form the movement by which they come again to differ.
Possible paradigms are many: autonomization, relation; emergence, complexity, process; individuation, (auto)poiesis; direct perception, embodied perception, perception-as-action; speculative pragmatism, speculative realism, radical empiricism; mediation, virtualization; ecology of practices, media ecology; technicity; micropolitics, biopolitics, ontopower. Yet there will be a common aim: to catch new thought and action dawning, at a creative crossing. Technologies of Lived Abstraction orients to the creativity at this crossing, in virtue of which life everywhere can be considered germinally aesthetic, and the aesthetic anywhere already political.
* * *
“Concepts must be experienced. They are lived.”
Manning, E. & Massumi, B. ed. Technologies of Lived Abstraction. (MIT Press)
Steven Shaviro. Without Criteria: Whitehead, Kant, Deleuze (2009)
Manning, Erin. Relationscapes: Movement, Art, Philosophy (2009)
Massumi, Brian. Semblance and Event (2011)
Combes, Muriel. Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual. Trans. Thomas Lamarre (2012)
Munster, Anna. An Aesthesia of Networks (2013)
Portanova, Stamatia. Moving Without a Body (2013)
Parisi, Luciana. Contagious Architectures (2013)
Lazzarato, Maurizio. Expériementations Politiques. Trans. Jeremy Gilbert: Expérimentations Politiques
Andrew Goffey (forthcoming 2013).
COLLECTION TECHNOLOGIES D’EXPÉRIENCE VÉCUE(MIT PRESS)
dirigée par Erin Manning et Brian Massumi
Proposition pour la Collection – en anglais (PDF)
“Ce qui se meut comme un corps, revient comme un mouvement de pensée.”
De la subjectivité (à l’état naissant)
Du social (en mutation)
De l’environnement (au point où il peut être réinventé)
“Un processus généré en quelque endroit réverbère en tous lieux.”
* * *
La collection Technologies d’Abstraction Vécue est dédiée aux œuvres d’aventure transdisciplinaire donnant de façon critique et plus particulièrement créative avec les processus d’émergence subjective, sociale, et éthico-politique dans le monde contemporain. Corps et pensée, abstrait et concret, local et global, individu et collectif: les œuvres ainsi publiées ne s’accommodent jamais des divisions habituelles. Que du contraire. Elles font enquête sur les modes à travers lesquels ces diverses facettes se font écho, et ce, dans l’exacte mesure où elles donnent vie au mouvement par lequel elles diffèrent… une fois de plus.
Quelques pistes ou propositions d’exploration: autonomisation, relation; émergence, complexité, processus; individuation, (auto)poiesis; perception directe, perception incarnée, perception-action; pragmatisme spéculatif, réalisme spéculatif, empirisme radical; médiation, virtualisation; écologie des pratiques, écologie des média; technicité; micropolitique, biopolitique, onto-pouvoir. Cela étant, un objectif fait front: percevoir de nouvelles pensées, saisir de nouvelles actions à l’aube de leurs existences, sur un plan de transversalité. Technologies d’Abstraction Vécue se tourne vers la créativité œuvrée sur ce plan d’entrelacements, et en vertu de laquelle la vie, à son niveau germinal, et quelle que soit sa forme, peut être perçue comme esthétique, et l’esthétique comme faisant pli avec le politique.
* * *
“Les concepts doivent être expérimentés. Ils sont vécus.”
BOOKS via MIT PRESS
AN AESTHESIA OF NETWORKS: CONJUNCTIVE EXPERIENCE IN ART AND TECHNOLOGY
By Anna Munster
Today almost every aspect of life for which data exists can be rendered as a network. Financial data, social networks, biological ecologies: all are visualized in links and nodes, lines connecting dots. A network visualization of a corporate infrastructure could look remarkably similar to that of a terrorist organization. In An Aesthesia of Networks, Anna Munster argues that this uniformity has flattened our experience of networks as active and relational processes and assemblages. She counters the “network anaesthesia” that results from this pervasive mimesis by reinserting the question of experience, or aesthesia, into networked culture and aesthetics.
Rather than asking how humans experience computers and networks, Munster asks how networksexperience—what operations they perform and undergo to change and produce new forms of experience. Drawing on William James’s radical empiricism, she asserts that networked experience is assembled first and foremost through relations, which make up its most immediately sensed and perceived aspect. Munster critically considers a range of contemporary artistic and cultural practices that engage with network technologies and techniques, including databases and data mining, the domination of search in online activity, and the proliferation of viral media through YouTube. These practices—from artists who “undermine” data to musicians and VJs who use intranetworked audio and video software environments—are concerned with the relationality at the core of today’s network experience.
MOVING WITHOUT A BODY: DIGITAL PHILOSOPHY AND CHOREOGRAPHIC THOUGHTS
By Stamatia Portanova
Digital technologies offer the possibility of capturing, storing, and manipulating movement, abstracting it from the body and transforming it into numerical information. In Moving without a Body, Stamatia Portanova considers what really happens when the physicality of movement is translated into a numerical code by a technological system. Drawing on the radical empiricism of Gilles Deleuze and Alfred North Whitehead, she argues that this does not amount to a technical assessment of software’s capacity to record motion but requires a philosophical rethinking of what movement itself is, or can become.
Discussing the development of different audiovisual tools and the shift from analog to digital, she focuses on some choreographic realizations of this evolution, including works by Loie Fuller and Merce Cunningham. Throughout, Portanova considers these technologies and dances as ways to think—rather than just perform or perceive—movement. She distinguishes the choreographic thought from the performance: a body performs a movement, and a mind thinks or choreographs a dance. Similarly, she sees the move from analog to digital as a shift in conception rather than simply in technical realization. Analyzing choreographic technologies for their capacity to redesign the way movement is thought,Moving without a Body offers an ambitiously conceived reflection on the ontological implications of the encounter between movement and technological systems.
SEMBLANCE AND EVENT: ACTIVIST PHILOSOPHY AND THE OCCURRENT ARTS
By Brian Massumi
Events are always passing; to experience an event is to experience the passing. But how do we perceive an experience that encompasses the just-was and the is-about-to-be as much as what is actually present? In Semblance and Event, Brian Massumi, drawing on the work of William James, Alfred North Whitehead, Gilles Deleuze, and others, develops the concept of “semblance” as a way to approach this question.
It is, he argues, a question of abstraction, not as the opposite of the concrete but as a dimension of it: “lived abstraction.” A semblance is a lived abstraction. Massumi uses the category of the semblance toinvestigate practices of art that are relational and event-oriented–variously known as interactive art, ephemeral art, performance art, art intervention–which he refers to collectively as the “occurrent arts.” Massumi argues that traditional art practices, including perspective painting, conventionally considered to be object-oriented freeze frames, also organize events of perception, and must be considered occurrent arts in their own way. Each art practice invents its own kinds of relational events of lived abstraction, to produce a signature species of semblance.
The artwork’s relational engagement, Massumi continues, gives it a political valence just as necessary and immediate as the aesthetic dimension. Massumi investigates occurrent art practices in order to examine, on the broadest level, how the aesthetic and the political are always intertwined in any creative activity.
SONIC WARFARE: SOUND, AFFECT, AND THE ECOLOGY OF FEAR
By Steve Goodman
Sound can be deployed to produce discomfort, express a threat, or create an ambiance of fear or dread—to produce a bad vibe. Sonic weapons of this sort include the “psychoacoustic correction” aimed at Panama strongman Manuel Noriega by the U.S. Army and at the Branch Davidians in Waco by the FBI, sonic booms (or “sound bombs”) over the Gaza Strip, and high-frequency rat repellents used against teenagers in malls. At the same time, artists and musicians generate intense frequencies in the search for new aesthetic experiences and new ways of mobilizing bodies in rhythm. In Sonic Warfare, Steve Goodman explores these uses of acoustic force and how they affect populations.
Most theoretical discussions of sound and music cultures in relationship to power, Goodman argues, have a missing dimension: the politics of frequency. Goodman supplies this by drawing a speculative diagram of sonic forces, investigating the deployment of sound systems in the modulation of affect. Traversing philosophy, science, fiction, aesthetics, and popular culture, he maps a (dis)continuum of vibrational force, encompassing police and military research into acoustic means of crowd control, the corporate deployment of sonic branding, and the intense sonic encounters of sound art and music culture.
Goodman concludes with speculations on the not yet heard—the concept of unsound, which relates to both the peripheries of auditory perception and the unactualized nexus of rhythms and frequencies within audible bandwidths.
WITHOUT CRITERIA: KANT, WHITEHEAD, DELEUZE, AND AESTHETICS
By Steven Shaviro
In Without Criteria, Steven Shaviro proposes and explores a philosophical fantasy: imagine a world in which Alfred North Whitehead takes the place of Martin Heidegger. What if Whitehead, instead of Heidegger, had set the agenda for postmodern thought? Heidegger asks, “Why is there something, rather than nothing?” Whitehead asks, “How is it that there is always something new?” In a world where everything from popular music to DNA is being sampled and recombined, argues Shaviro, Whitehead’s question is the truly urgent one. Without Criteria is Shaviro’s experiment in rethinking postmodern theory, especially the theory of aesthetics, from a point of view that hearkens back to Whitehead rather than Heidegger.
Shaviro does this largely by reading Whitehead in conjunction with Gilles Deleuze, finding important resonances and affinities between them, suggesting both a Deleuzian reading of Whitehead and a Whiteheadian reading of Deleuze. In working through the ideas of Whitehead and Deleuze, Shaviro also appeals to Kant, arguing that certain aspects of Kant’s thought pave the way for the philosophical “constructivism” embraced by both Whitehead and Deleuze.
Kant, Whitehead, and Deleuze are not commonly grouped together, but the juxtaposition of them inWithout Criteria helps to shed light on a variety of issues that are of concern to contemporary art and media practices (especially developments in digital film and video), and to controversies in cultural theory (including questions about commodity fetishism and about immanence and transcendence). Moreover, in his rereading of Whitehead (and in deliberate contrast to the “ethical turn” in much recent theoretical discourse), Shaviro opens the possibility of a critical aesthetics of contemporary culture.
RELATIONSCAPES: MOVEMENT, ART, PHILOSOPHY
By Erin Manning
With Relationscapes, Erin Manning offers a new philosophy of movement challenging the idea that movement is simple displacement in space, knowable only in terms of the actual. Exploring the relation between sensation and thought through the prisms of dance, cinema, art, and new media, Manning argues for the intensity of movement. From this idea of intensity—the incipiency at the heart of movement—Manning develops the concept of preacceleration, which makes palpable how movement creates relational intervals out of which displacements take form.
Discussing her theory of incipient movement in terms of dance and relational movement, Manning describes choreographic practices that work to develop with a body in movement rather than simply stabilizing that body into patterns of displacement. She examines the movement-images of Leni Riefenstahl, Étienne-Jules Marey, and Norman McLaren (drawing on Bergson’s idea of duration), and explores the dot-paintings of contemporary Australian Aboriginal artists. Turning to language, Manning proposes a theory of prearticulation claiming that language’s affective force depends on a concept of thought in motion.
Relationscapes is a radically empirical book, working directly out of examples and delving into the complexity of relations these examples suggest. It takes a “Whiteheadian perspective,” recognizing Whitehead’s importance and his influence on process philosophers of the late twentieth century—Deleuze and Guattari in particular. Relationscapes is truly a transdisciplinary book, not aiming to cover the ground of a particular discipline but making clear how the specificity of a particular inquiry can alter key questions that emerge in the interstices between disciplines. It will be of special interest to scholars in new media, philosophy, dance studies, film theory, and art history.
GILBERT SIMONDON AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE TRANSINDIVIDUAL
By Muriel Combes, Translated by Thomas LaMarre
Gilbert Simondon (1924–1989), one of the most influential contemporary French philosophers, published only three works: L’individu et sa genèse physico-biologique (The individual and its physico-biological genesis, 1964) and L’individuation psychique et collective (Psychic and collective individuation, 1989), both drawn from his doctoral thesis, and Du mode d’existence des objets techniques(On the mode of existence of technical objects, 1958). It is this last work that brought Simondon into the public eye; as a consequence, he has been considered a “thinker of technics” and cited often in pedagogical reports on teaching technology. Yet Simondon was a philosopher whose ambitions lay in an in-depth renewal of ontology as a process of individuation–that is, how individuals come into being, persist, and transform. In this accessible yet rigorous introduction to Simondon’s work, Muriel Combes helps to bridge the gap between Simondon’s account of technics and his philosophy of individuation.
Some thinkers have found inspiration in Simondon’s philosophy of individuation, notably Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Combes’s account, first published in French in 1999, is one of the only studies of Simondon to appear in English. Combes breaks new ground, exploring an ethics and politics adequate to Simondon’s hypothesis of preindividual being, considering through the lens of transindividual philosophy what form a nonservile relation to technology might take today. Her book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Simondon’s work.
CONTAGIOUS ARCHITECTURE: COMPUTATION, AESTHETICS AND SPACE
By Luciana Parisi
In Contagious Architecture, Luciana Parisi offers a philosophical inquiry into the status of the algorithm in architectural and interaction design. Her thesis is that algorithmic computation is not simply an abstract mathematical tool but constitutes a mode of thought in its own right, in that its operation extends into forms of abstraction that lie beyond direct human cognition and control. These include modes of infinity, contingency, and indeterminacy, as well as incomputable quantities underlying the iterative process of algorithmic processing.
The main philosophical source for the project is Alfred North Whitehead, whose process philosophy is specifically designed to provide a vocabulary for “modes of thought” exhibiting various degrees of autonomy from human agency even as they are mobilized by it. Because algorithmic processing lies at the heart of the design practices now reshaping our world—from the physical spaces of our built environment to the networked spaces of digital culture—the nature of algorithmic thought is a topic of pressing importance that reraises questions of control and, ultimately, power. Contagious Architecture revisits cybernetic theories of control and information theory’s notion of the incomputable in light of this rethinking of the role of algorithmic thought. Informed by recent debates in political and cultural theory around the changing landscape of power, it links the nature of abstraction to a new theory of power adequate to the complexities of the digital world.