Saturday, 26 September 2009

BMW and the distribution of the sensible

"The close integration of all workers is facilitated by the overall transparency of the internal organisation. The mixing of functions avoids the traditional segregation into status groups that is no longer conducive for a modern workplace. A whole series of engineering and administrative functions is located within the trajectory of the manual workforce coming in to work or moving in and out of their lunch break. White collar functions are located both on the ground and on the first floor. Equally some of the blue collar spaces (lockers and social spaces) are located on the first floor. Especially those internal reserve spaces that are waiting for full use in Phase 2 are allocated as social communication spaces to mix blue and white collar workers. This way the establishment of exclusive domain is prevented."

"Zaha Hadid has been allowed to bend building regulations to ensure office workers in her latest project for BMW in Germany experience the same heat and lack of daylight as workers in the new car factory next door.

"The car factory in Leipzig will begin producing BMWs next week and 700 staff have moved into Hadid’s new office building next door in preparation.

"But the white-collar workers could experience temperatures of up to 32ºC because the building has no air conditioning and in some instances office workers will be up to 30m from a window. The World Health Organisation recommends 24ºC as a maximum temperature for working in comfort. The design was only allowed after the local authority decided to take a liberal approach to its building regulations.

"The office, which sits between a new car paint-shop and an assembly factory, was built in accordance with BMW’s policy that its office workers should be subjected to the same conditions as factory staff.

" 'If the workers sweat in 35ºC in the factories during the summer, then the office workers should sweat as well,' said Lars Teichmann, project architect at Zaha Hadid Architects.'

" 'If the factory workers have no link to the outside world, then neither have the office workers.'

" 'The office will reach 32 degrees in the summer. This is not acceptable for regulations, but BMW said it had to happen.'

"The link between the office spaces and the factory floor is further strengthened by a production line that runs above the white-collar workers taking cars from one end of the facility to the other.

"The unusual working conditions, designed in Hadid’s usual angular style, have attracted complaints from staff.

"'There are a lot of complaints from people moving in from other offices. They were afraid of the noise of the production line overhead or the smell. That is what concerned them, not the light or lack of air conditioning,' Teichmann said. 'The client had a certain vision of how the working conditions should be.'

"If the lighting, high temperatures and the noise of the production line do not distract BMW staff, then snagging work being undertaken at the moment might, according to Teichmann. This includes new concrete floors being laid because cracks appeared in the original floor.

"A spokesman at BMW’s Munich headquarters said: 'We want everybody under one roof. It is not a question of air conditioning or the size of windows, it is about better connections.'"

Zaha makes BMW office staff sweat

"In another well-known statement Plato says that artisans have no time to be elsewhere outside of their work. Obviously this 'lack of time' is not an empirical
matter, it is the mere naturalization of a symbolical separation. Politics precisely begins when they who have 'no time' to do anything else than their work take that time that they have not in order to make themselves visible as sharing in a common world and prove that their mouth indeed emits common speech instead of merely voicing pleasure or pain. That distribution and re-distribution of times and spaces, places and identities, that way of framing and re-framing the visible and the invisible, of telling speech from noise and so on, is what I call the partition of the sensible. Politics consist in reconfigurating the partition of the sensible, in bringing on the stage new objects and subjects, in making visible that which was not visible, audible as speaking beings they who were merely heard as noisy animals. To the extent that it sets up such scenes of dissensus, politics can be characterized as an 'aesthetic' activity, in a way that has nothing to do with that adornment of power that Benjamin called 'aestheticization of politics'.

"The issue 'aesthetics and politics' can thus be rephrased as follows: there is an
'aesthetics of politics' in the sense that I tried to explain. Correspondingly, there is a 'politics of aesthetics'. This means that the artistic practices take part in the partition of the perceptible insofar as they suspend the ordinary coordinates of sensory experience and reframe the network of relationships between spaces and times, subjects and objects,the common and the singular. There is not always politics, though there always are forms of power. Nor is there always art, though there always are poetry, painting, music, theatre, dance, sculpture and so on. Politics and art are not two separate and permanent realities about which one should ask whether they have to be connected or not. Each of them is a conditional reality, that exists or not according to a specific partition of the sensible."

Jacques Ranciere

Control yourself / Take only what you need from it / A family of trees wantin' / To be haunted

My response to this

Monday, 21 September 2009


Capitalism will be there at the end, to profit from you being put in your grave. And graves will have to be found for all of you...

"Officially authored by 'The Invisible Committee,' an anonymous group of activists and intellectuals, The Coming Insurrection is a slim manual that predicts the imminent collapse of capitalist culture and outlines a plan for the regeneration of collectivist values. Written in the wake of widespread riots that gripped French suburbs in 2005, the text is interpreted by some as an anarchist manifesto, a situationist-inspired call to arms. The French government sees it as a 'manual for terrorism.' The move against Coupat and the rest of the Tarnac 9 was intended as a preemptive strike against the burgeoning anti-capitalist movement in France. While the others were released with relative speed, Coupat was held under 'preventative arrest” until May of 2009 and labeled by the government as a 'pre-terrorist.'

"And there, buried within the idiom of conservative fear – leftist, anarcho, collectivist, commune – is the word that points to the real danger in this story: pre. Preemptive. Preventative. Pre-terrorist. The French government, fearing the societal upheaval that a mass rethink of capitalism would spawn, exercised the principles of preventive medicine as the doctrine of law. It suspected the presence of renegade cells, mutating into malignant tumors of dissent and threatening the health of the entire body politic, so the government acted preemptively by swiftly excising the tissue in question."

"The Coming Insurrection Revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination, but by resonance"

"Much of L’insurrection’s tableau of modern European (more specifically French, and even more specifically bourgeois Parisian) misery is compelling, especially when it heeds the situationist injunction that to ‘understand what sociology never understands, one need only envisage in terms of aggressivity what for sociology is neutral’.7 Like the Debord of In girum, it can even strike notes of dark comedy: ‘Europe is a penniless continent which secretly shops at Lidl and flies low cost so it can keep on travelling.’ At its core lies something like a social-psychological portrait of the micro-managed and multitasking subject of contemporary work, the function of which is regarded as fundamentally political: that of ‘biopolitically’ governing the entirety of social life and perpetuating a regime of exploitation that is increasingly superfluous. Though the insight is hardly novel, the Comité Invisible does succeed in pungently capturing the horror and imbecility of the current proliferation of disciplinary devices such as ‘personal development’, ‘human resources’, ‘social capital’ and other managerial monstrosities. L’insurrection encapsulates this under the aegis of what it calls the ‘ethics of mobilization’, the colonization, through work, of the very domain of possibility:

Mobilization is this slight detachment with regard to oneself … on the basis of which the Self [le Moi] can be taken as an object of work, on the basis of which it becomes possible to sell oneself, and not one’s labour-power, to be paid not for what one has done but for what one is. … This is the new norm of socialization.

"The war against pre-terrorism: The Tarnac 9 and The Coming Insurrection"

I'm feeling rough, I'm feeling raw, I'm in the prime of my life.
Let's make some music, make some money, find some models for wives.
I'll move to Paris, shoot some heroin, and fuck with the stars.
You man the island and the cocaine and the elegant cars.

This is our decision, to live fast and die young.
We've got the vision, now let's have some fun.
Yeah, it's overwhelming, but what else can we do.
Get jobs in offices, and wake up for the morning commute.

Forget about our mothers and our friends
We're fated to pretend
To pretend
We're fated to pretend
To pretend

Food Shelter Clothing Fuel by Chad McCail

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Bill O’Reilly Flips Out: The Dance Mix

Bill O'Reilly Goes Nuts

"Killing in the name of..."
Forever Wars

The Red Stripe"

300: This is Revisionism

Attention Prisoners of Gravity: The Polymath, Or The Life And Opinions Of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman

"The Polymath isn't about just [Delany's] sex life, but a good chunk of it is and it all relates to his writings. Take for example an early scene in which he is reading, to an audience, the opening paragraphs of his 1966 short story, 'Aye and Gomorrah' (which first appeared in fellow science fiction author Harlan Ellison's groundbreaking anthology, Dangerous Visions). The story begins in France in a pissoir and Delany describes this as 'an early attempt to deal, in a highly coded fashion, with homosexuality.' That it involves a public restroom invokes the obvious autobiographical element.

"This is also true for Times Square Red Times Square Blue. In this nonfiction opus, Delany argues that 'cleaning up' Times Square and turning it into Disneyland is not a good thing because, once upon a time, people from different races and classes, normally kept separate, met and interacted in the only social situation available to them and that was the porn theaters. Delany is one of the few writers alive who can explicitly describe the public sex, involving himself and others, that went on in these venues and work it into an essay about the infrastructure of cities.

"But all of his metaphors aren't carnal. The ruined and mostly abandoned city in Dhalgren (a book that is the science fiction equivalent of James Joyce's Ulysses) was inspired by the real burned out inner cities he knew from life. He explains that the reasons for making the gender of certain characters ambiguous in Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand (1984) was because he once lived in a hotel with several transsexuals and it drove him crazy, at first, when he couldn't discern the sex of some of the people in the elevator with him.

"Besides his writings, Delany also discusses his life and his family's history. His grandfather was a freed slave, a cousin was killed by the Klan, his two famous aunts (who both lived to be over 100) organized a picket line at a movie theater showing Birth Of A Nation in 1924. Chip has much to say on the subject of racism, comparing the attitudes of white students towards Paul Robeson at Columbia Law School to the skinheads who dragged James Bird Jr. to his death as he was chained to the back of their truck."

"Sexuality & Science Fiction 101" by Michael D. Klemm

"Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation has acquired the rights to The Forever War, an award-winning 1974 novel by science fiction author and MIT writing professor Joe Haldeman. The film will be directed by Ridley Scott, whose last science fiction films were Alien and Blade Runner. The producers are now searching for a writer.

"In Haldeman’s novel, a physicist is drafted into a long-fought war against an alien race, where distant battlegrounds are reached by faster-than-light travel. The battles are short, bleak affairs against an uncommunicative enemy, with frequent casualties. When he returns, the protagonist finds that the world has changed in his absence.

"Basically, The Forever War is 'all about Vietnam,' said Haldeman, a draftee who served in Vietnam’s Central Highlands in 1968. 'I didn’t sit down and make a chart or anything,' he said, 'but the [Vietnam] war was my model. The book won a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award, two of science fiction’s most coveted honors.

Prof. Haldeman’s Novel ‘Forever War’ Picked Up By 20th Century Fox Film
By Michael McGraw-Herdeg

Fat Guy shooting vs. Big Dog Boston Dynamics
Investment Opportunities

Health Care Scare USA and Fox News: The New Liberals C

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Health Care Reform Is the Matrix
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Protests

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Health Care Hell-Scare - Die-agnosis: Mur-DR
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Protests

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Barney Frank's Town Hall Snaps
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Fox News: The New Liberals
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

My heretical thoughts for today

I am a bonafide cat lover, and Zeus is in the veterinary hospital today, so in his absence I will pay tribute by dispelling a few misconceptions thanks to The Pinky Show:

Q: Is making animated episodes the only kind of work you cats do?
A: No, actually we do lots of other things too, thank you for asking! The Pinky Show is a multi-aspect educational project - our activities also include the production of site-specific art, collaborating on community-based education and media activism projects, maintaining a fact sheet library, organizing online cultural programming, blogging, and some other stuff. Contrary to popular misconceptions, cats are really hard working! The form is always changing, but our goals remain the same.

Q: What is The Pinky Show?
A: The Pinky Show is the original super lo-tech hand-drawn educational TV show. We focus on information & ideas that have been misrepresented, suppressed, ignored, or otherwise excluded from mainstream discussion. Pinky presents and analyzes the material in an informal, easy-to-understand way, with helpful illustrations that she draws herself. Episodes are available on the internet for free at

Derridata, thanks for the tip off about Mutually Occluded. I can't comment here on whether Pinky's reflections on institutionalization and productivity dovetail with that in any way, or are more exclusively along the lines of Ivan Illich and Andre Gorz. Here's an indicator though of why a search engine society may not be a happy alternative.

If you think that is difficult to work out, try getting your head around the choice of imagery by AIDS activists in Germany:

Unfortunately I can't find Juan Davila's Stupid As a Painter to do a comparison, but I have it on good authority that Kerry Stokes bought that particular work. Oh the irony, it is so appalling....

Friday, 4 September 2009

Das Netz

Brian Holmes offers a thought provoking take on some of the issues I'd previously come across in How We Became Posthuman and Adam Curtis' documentary The Trap. Holmes is discussing here the German documentary Das Netz:

The necessary inertia of philistine invention

I was looking back on my earlier "Melissa Gregg" post, and it got me thinking about possible positive connotations to the Foucauldian "technologies of the self" I had referenced there in only a fairly negative way. Suddenly I remembered Thomas Osborne. His work is highly attractive to me as it marks an escape from the cul de sac I see the aforementioned Harman and his defenders in the blogosphere trapped in, and the same might be said of their detractors, at least to the extent that they too play the game of subjectivism: i.e. this is at base a struggle to decide who has a monopoly on the creative energy needed to avoid disenchantment of the world. It logically follows, according to the fatuous standard of reasoning favoured by this select group of speculative realists, that those with the highest [sic] productive output have the requisite enthusiasm, meaning their opponents can only be parasites (or rather, "vampires").

Osborne in effect simply refuses these oppositions. Although the logic behind his argument is too complex to detail in full here, I can at least mention how Osborne speaks in terms of "philistine invention" rather than "creativity", and why the meaning and value of inertia, in his estimate, must also be rethought:

"One might observe at this point that not the least thing about the activity of inventiveness is that it is difficult, and that because of this one cannot necessarily see it happening at the time. Inventiveness is more often than not untimely –hence the critical import of the verdicts of posterity and, correspondingly, the necessity of a certain ‘negative’ aesthetics of creativity, the humility of acknowledging that even in acknowledging creativity itself we do not know what creativity is as such. What looks like inertia for some comes to a more objective, later generation as evidence of a breakthrough. And what might seem like a breakthrough can come to seem just like further inertia when viewed from a later more objective perspective. So, in the terms given currency by Stanley Cavell, it is precisely acknowledgement rather than knowledge that is the only orientation we can take towards inventiveness itself. In the light of history, in the light of reflection, the experts can tell us that Cezanne was a subject bearer of various powers of inventiveness. But was he a creative person? No matter. Such a question is an irrelevance, an effect only of our psychologism."

Suffice to say, this discussion becomes suffused with irony when speculative realists start to defend themselves by resorting to psychologism! Is a little methodological consistency simply too much to ask for? Speaking as someone who was trained as a sociologist, I can at least console myself with Osborne's observation that "sociologists make better philistines than most". I can't expect "philistine invention" to feature in the aforementioned epistemic wars. Part of the problem here is the medium of the blogosphere itself, the "clusterfuck" immediacy of which has proven especially receptive to that theoretical imbroglio known as "cultural studies"- an anti-discipline defined in part by consciously distancing itself from sociology.

But even in cultural studies circles there is growing recognition of the virtue of a sensibility somewhat comparable to "inertia", as Osborne defines it; in these rare cases it is acknowledged in all but name that Weberian disenchantment is a product of the increasing rationalization of academic labour. There is a difference though in the academy because the problem is not so much that academic journals are adapting to the shortened economies of attention that blogging and Google searching have accustomed readers to, but rather how academics are routinely expected to "multitask". Irrespective of the medium they engage with, (books, print journals or e-journals), what is greatly diminished is the reading time, (i.e. the inertia), required to evaluate and respond to the work of other scholars. To be sure, the fast food analogy Bowles uses to make her point is already familiar from Fuller's book on the transformation of universities by "knowledge management" principles, but it would go against the grain were a cultural studies scholar to cite a sociologist. In any case, her point still appears valid, and also further ratifies Ben Agger's argument that the "publish or perish" mentality is really a symptom of what he calls "fast capitalism".

I'm puzzled, however, why some bloggers (again, as referenced in my Melissa Gregg post) would attempt to present necessity as something of a virtue i.e. when you are destitute because of precarity you are obliged to keep moving, but this mentality merely engenders the dilemma Simmel once described:

"The frequent changes in fashion constitute a tremendous subjugation of the individual and in that respect form one of the necessary complements to social and political freedom."

There may be one final twist to this tale. By extension Osborne teaches us that a careful reading is necessary to understand that creativity is more than just an ideology. Indeed, this is his primary justification for rejecting the category of creativity and replacing it with the more inertia ridden idea of inventiveness. For an example of a contrasting perspective though, one need look no further than Ben Watson's rush to judgement:

"So I was forced to leap up and seize the microphone to voice my criticism of the way French philosophy, ever since Kojeve's lectures on Hegel, has hobbled along with a flawed dialectic; Sartre, Althusser, Foucault, Deleuze, Bourdieu, Badiou...they're compromised rubbish, and for very concrete reasons: France having had the most reactionary Communist Party on the planet...craven aspiration to bourgeois academic fame; the inability to think beyond the mind/body dualism of Descartes...which dualism immediately manifested in the conference as a stand-off between explanations of spectral music as a result of 'nature' or science'."