categories: activism, politics
tags: , ,

occupy

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Below a video explaining the Political Equator, a concept I heard first of in the work of Teddy Cruz. There will be a conference June 3&4 in San Diego/Tijuana. Their website will provide full detailed information as of May 14.

Due to several observations throughout my (short) life at universities and all its registers, teaching, administration, research and so fort, I come to a strong disbelieve that thought is actually taken seriously in everyday modes of academic existence as ethical concern. I am using the notion of concern explicitly from Whitehead’s mediation on the Quaker concept of concern in Adventures of Ideas. For Whitehead the “occasion as a subject has a ‘concern’ for the object. And the ‘concern’ at once places the object as a component in the experience of the subject, with an affective tone drawn from this object and directed towards it” (WH (AoI) 1967, 176). A concern creates a relation in the midst of novelty emerging through a subjective form. Without concern, there would be no relation possible and without the possibility of relation as ontogenetic force there would be no event, no emergence and no becoming. This scheme of concern permeates the entire spectrum of existence, up to quantum level, and might be also thought of as that what gives experience the relevance of existence in an actual occasion.

Why do I need this notion of concern to make my point? In academia and particularly in the humanities and even more specific in fields where question of power (à la Foucault) are concerned, readers and writers try to grapple with institutional power by asking what constitutes power relations and what holds them in place. The attempt of a concern is given in the kernel of the question of power but the relevance of it is often not present. To give an example: A teacher introduces first year undergraduate students to Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. Questions of the relation between bodies, institutions, architecture and power are raised and disciplinary strategies are highlighted. The movement of thought that the text generates resonates with the students’ own experiences in a place that aims at disciplinary apparatuses, the means of correct training and the subjectiviation in institutional confinements. The teacher then employs techniques of control and discipline by means of examination, judgement and a strong believe on how to interpret the material properly. This is exactly the point where two modes of disciplinarity meet: 1) the disciplinary enclosure of proper interpretation according to a certain episteme; 2) the disciplinary practice of examination and subjugation as means of correct training. The concerns in such “teaching-machines” is not a concern of relevance. In other words, these concerns assume a certain kind of stable subjectivity of the teacher, who has acquired a certain kind of knowledge and joined a certain kind of power apparatus that supports the reproduction of monotonous interpretations. in Whiteheadian terminology, there is no opening for the incurrence of novel objects to become part of a subjective form of an actual occasion of experience . If there was a real concern that has relevance, one would have to make the modes of thought at stake come alive in the reading and writing of one’s own practice and in the presence of the others (e.g. the students, the concepts, the dead authors, the institution, appearing objects).

Similar problems occur in institutional settings. To navigate between the administrative monster, the desire and pleasure for and of research and the obligation of teaching can create moments of great despair. But what is at stake here is the continued concern to not stop thinking. If thinking is reduced to the fabrication of texts for the accurate positioning in designated fields targeted at the proliferation of one’s own personality, concerns are again without relevance. In relation to an occasion’s relevance in the future Whitehead writes: “The relevant future consists of those elements in the anticipated future which are felt with effective intensity by the present subject by reason of the real potentiality for them to be derived of themselves” (WH PR 1978, 27). This conception of relevance feeds the principle of creativity in Whitehead as the emergence of novelty (AoI 179/180). A concern that is relevant can only emerge through the intensive feeling of the subject for objects as part of their relevant future. In other words, a twofold process is underway for a relevant concern: the subject has to have the capacity to feel potentiality of the future elements of a concern and these elements need their potentiality expressed through their independence. Both parts belong to an ethics of the instant of creation by having a relevant concern. In the case of the institutional impasse the relevant concern arises from the subject’s feeling for the object’s potential - it might be a situation with students, a concept, a political event, a conversation, a thing - and the objects’ potential to become in a relevant future. This means for creative movements of thought to be relevant concerns, they have to constantly begin from the ethical plane in the midst of a feeling for and with potentiality. The genesis of the subject can never rest but has to constantly be concerned with the movement of thought in the very moment of one’s practice. The imposition of institutional power, the aspiration for status and the abuse of one’s position (as rank) create an immobile and uncreative suspension without measure. It is the the surrender of creative thought under the disguise of power imposition. The strange thing is that these sates of uncreative suspensions still create feeling and at some points these feelings might be lured into being concerned again in a relevant manner, glimpsing potentiality from afar. Hence, and this is the great danger of habitual inattention, suspension and immobility increase the decline of an ethical concern emerging from the middle of each occasion to think in the presence of the other.

A relevant concern as an ethical concern therefore requires a “believe in the world” as Deleuze mentions: “If you believe in the world you precipitate events, however inconspicuous, that elude control, you engender new space‐times, however small their surface or volume … Our ability to resist control, or our submission to it, has to be assessed at the level of our every move ” (Deleuze Negotiations 1995, 176). Disregarding to asses the ability to resist control at the level of every move, means to stop thinking and to give in to the standardization of everyday life. The desire for power and control lurks around every corner and the comfort to reproduce pre-given actions is daring. The question of concerns of relevance has to do with how the creative act of emergence is concerned as ethically relevant. It is the task of the subject to put itself at risk at the level of every move to be able to produce relevant concerns in a creative manner. Thought is in decline because anxiety reigns over risk and greed over generosity.

As a current resident of Switzerland I wonder why not leave one of the apparently most obviously racist countries in Europe? At least so, according to the world press after last Sunday’s referendum on the deportation of criminal delinquents that reside in Switzerland but are not Swiss citizens. What is internally known as “Ausschaffungsinitiative” is a proposal by the rightwing party SVP that aims to lower the threshold for deportation of criminal offenses for residents with immigrant background. That the proposal as it was propagated might transgress common values of human rights confines the main problem after the referendum has been accepted by 53% of the society.
The incongruence is striking between general self-relfection on the Swiss society the harmony between high percentages of foreigners in urban areas (e.g. Zurich up to 30% and Geneva up to 40%) and the sheer ignorance, xenophobia and idiocy in rural areas. There seems to exist a shared common sense amongst the few who might belong to a local urban intelligentsia that one lives in an open and multicultural society. From my point if view, such perspectives are based on highly bourgeoise values expressed mostly by members of the society with high incomes working for universities, banks and insurance companies.
The reason to stay though might be to seek out the grains of resistance that do exist and to see how they function and work. Another interesting aspect is the fortunate circumstance for me to work at an art school where for students precarity is omnipresent and where the intellectuals have to work outside the acclaimed institutions that are legitimized to produce ‘real’ knowledge or ‘real’ values. Hence, I am wondering why the grains of resistance have not found more poignant formats than the usual, still beloved, visual gestures of street art? One thing is for sure, the subaltern cannot speak, since this might be already considered as enough of a offense to be deported. Hence, I guess one has to find modes of creative intervention that do not speak but act, that use new modes of expression to make the public feel that things are developing in nasty ways. I guess it is time to re-instantiate struggles and to make the force of desire become palpable.

ausschaffung

This nice video shows what I would call an ethico-aeshtetic and ethico-political intervention into the crisis shaken British student body that is facing decades of dept for higher education that only privileged members of society will have access to [unless you buy into being in depth for the 20 years to follow the moment of your graduation] … or has anyone heard of a new massive scholarship program to be launched by major banks and the government? I guess not.