I am co-organizing with Dimitrina Sevova a symposium entitled The Diagrammatic Practice of the Micropolitical – the Spatio-temporal Expression of Play between Power, Knowledge and the Aesthetics of Existence at Zurich University of the Arts.

Here are all the infos:

International Public Symposium at Pfingstweidstrasse 6, 8005 Zurich, ZHdK, 14/15/16 November 2013, around the notion of play, its processual (diagrammatic) and political and aesthetic potential in times of cognitive capitalism and its mechanisms of control over life and the urban environment.

Left: "The Playground, a Vacant Lot," Hale House, Boston, Mass., c1903, Social Museum Collection, Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museum.  Middle: Seattle Potlatch Parade showing float, 1912. Right: Nuria Vila + Marcelo Expósito, Tactical Frivolity + Rhythms of Resistance, video still, 2007.

Left: "The Playground, a Vacant Lot," Hale House, Boston, Mass., c1903, Social Museum Collection, Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museum. Middle: Seattle Potlatch Parade showing float, 1912. Right: Nuria Vila + Marcelo Expósito, Tactical Frivolity + Rhythms of Resistance, video still, 2007.

SPEAKERS: Paolo Caffoni, Giusy Checola, Binna Choi, discoteca flaming star (Cristina Gómez Barrio & Wolfgang Mayer), David Dibosa, Anja Kanngieser, Maurizio Lazzarato, Isabell Lorey, m-a-u-s-e-r (Mona Mahall & Aslı Serbest), Carmen Mörsch, Daniel Morgenthaler, Roberto Nigro, Susanna Perin (S.M.U.R.), Gerald Raunig, Adrian Rifkin, Kerstin Schroedinger, Marco Scotini, Diego Segatto, Joshua Simon, Kuba Szreder, Axel Wieder, Espace Temporaire (Magdalena Ybarguen).

RESPONDENTS: Jens Badura, Christoph Brunner, Karmen Franinović, Roberto Nigro, Romy Rüegger, Dimitrina Sevova.

PERFORMANCES: Chiara Fumai, T. Melih Görgün, Michael Hiltbrunner, Franziska Koch, David Maroto.

SCREENINGS: Marcelo Expósito, Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson, RELAX (chiarenza & hauser & co).

MICROPOLITICAL WORKSHOP: Wiktoria Furrer & Sebastian Dieterich in cooperation with Elke Bippus.


Throughout three intense days the symposium will be an experimental space for expressing and sharing ideas – a place for intervening, investigating and provoking collective discussions on how to re-activate play’s potentiality in urban space, considered as a playground of deskilled, affective and precarious labor.

The symposium aims at relocating the notion of play from the outdoor to the outside as an ecology and extended space for experimentation and micropolitics beyond spatial confinement. We ask how such an outside emerges through practices unfolding and altering dominant diagrams of power in urban environments. Here, playing-together involves the capacity of forces of resistance to create situations as intensive fields of affection through the micropolitics of diagrammatic practices. Both, playing bodies and the process of learning as a common, a self-productive and living knowledge, perpetuate new forms of social subjectivity and its immanent growth between power, knowledge and an aesthetics of existence.

Bringing together artists, curators, activists and thinkers from the fields of performance, art, aesthetic theory, philosophy, architecture and design, the symposium comprises talks, artistic interventions, performances and screenings.

Curated by Dimitrina Sevova and Christoph Brunner in cooperation with the Bachelor Media & Art, specialization Fine Arts of the Zurich University of the Arts, Elke Bippus, Franziska Koch.

A cooperation with Z+ ‹ http://www.zhdk.ch/zplus ›.

In conjunction with the a-disciplinary project consisting of a platform of irregular non-serial events, screenings, public readings, performances, talks, urban interventions and other ephemera, on the theme of Opportunities for Outdoor Play? Playgrounds – New Spaces of Liberty (The Question of Form) outdoorplay.tumblr.com ›, curated by Dimitrina Sevova at Kunsthof Zürich between March and October 2013 in cooperation with Elke Bippus, Franziska Koch and the Bachelor Media & Art, specialization Fine Arts of the Zurich University of the Arts.

For further information please see ‹ outdoorplay.tumblr.com › or ‹ www.kunsthof.ch .

No registration required. Admission free. Seats limited. Please be on time for each thematic bloc, performance or screening.

[The curatorial text by Dimitrina Sevova and Christoph Brunner, and all other materials, can be found on the project blog, outdoorplay.tumblr.com. And in printable layout as PDF: programabstracts and bioscuratorial text.]

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I will be participating in a one-day conference at UCL London on March 2nd, 2013. The conference is based on the latest issue of Third Text (see antecedent post). The format is going to be a kind of open discussion/forum without paper presentations and more conversational developments of collective thinking around the theme of art and ecologies.

Conference abstract:

The Eco-Aesthetics conference marks the release of Third Text no. 120 (January 2013), dedicated to the subject of “Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology,” guest-edited by TJ Demos. The event will include numerous contributors to the special issue, which investigates eco-aesthetics in a postcolonial framework—from global warming in the arctic to oil industry environmental damage in Nigeria’s delta, from conflicts between mining corporations and tribals in rural India to the ecological effects of industrial development in the port of Bahia Blanca, Argentina, from urban farming in Detroit to the Occupy movement’s development of a post-media social ecology. The special issue and conference seek to link international and interdisciplinary researchers, artists, and critical theorists in order to consider the questions of how such politico-ecological developments have been recently analyzed, mediated, and negotiated within the visual cultural of art and activism.

Link

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A bit later than thought, I am positing some images from the collaboration between Martina Fritschy and myself for the dOCUMENTA 13 readers circle we participated in on June 26, 2012. We picked Brian Holmes‘ essay “Profanity and the Financial Markets: A User’s Guide to Closing Down the Casino” from the 100 Notes/100 Thoughts Series. Our idea was not only to read and discuss the text but to change the affective tonality of such a situation toward a less hierarchical and more mutually engaging manner. We started off by facilitating drinks and inviting the members of the Occupy camp outside the Fredericianum to be our guests (thus bypassing entry-ticket checks). After approximately 30 minutes of reading 15 pizzas have been delivered to the main entrance of the gallery allowing all of us to enjoy some food while talking about the text. After about an hour we were asked to vacate the space leading us to continue our exchange occupying the stairs in front of the building.

Questions coming from our experience remain: How can we undo the appropriation of philosophy and political theory by a constantly hollowed out art dispositif? What are the techniques at hand beyond bringing together signifiers and signs? Which vocabulary can we develop for a more gestural approach through “a-signifying processes of existential singularization” (Guattari “Entering the Post-Media Era”)? And how can we move from figures such as analysis and debate toward more open-ended formations of collective aesthetic practices?

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In solidarity with the Québec student strike I interviewed Christian Marazzi, Silvia Federici and Georges Caffentzis on the question of student debt. The whole interview is below and can also be accessed at: http://eipcp.net/

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Debt, Affect and Self-Reproducing Movements

Zurich, May 25, 2012

In the wake of the 100th day of the general student strike in Québec and in the aftermath of passing the so-called Special Law 78, the global rupture these events evoked cannot be overlooked. In solidarity with Québec, its students, activists and the Quebecois people reminding us of the rights for free education, the right for peaceful assembly and political expression, this interview has been prompted spontaneously during a workshop at Zurich University of the Arts. Based on discussions in the work of Christian Marazzi on the shift from real production to what he calls financialization and Silvia Federici’s and George Caffentzis’ conceptual, activist and feminist involvement in the Occupy movement in New York and Maine this interview hopes to put emphasis on the problem of debt at the core of current movements around the globe. Aspects concerning the role of affect and the problem of continuity in these movements are inseparable from the social, political and economic circumstances usually foregrounded in the public media.

CB       –            Christoph Brunner
GC       -            George Caffentzis
SF        -            Silvia Federici
CM       -            Christian Marazzi

CB: The genealogy of student loans and fees in the United States is dating back to the 1960s and 1970s. From the introduction of tuition fees an unraveling process of debt has been taking off. Current conservative opinions concerning the circumstances in Québec often refer to the modest increase of fees proposed by the Charest government and the general acceptance of fees as a legitimate contribution to society. These inappropriate and anachronistic perspectives lack any resonance with the current unfolding of a biopolitics tied to debt as a central part of human existence. Could you shed light on the relation between this process of financialization and its biopolitical development?

CM: What came out of the 1970s in response to a general crisis of the Fordist mode of production is a number of counter-tendencies, like the attack on wages, de-localization, international investments and financialization which have become chronic to the extend of not being counter-tendencies anymore. It is a kind of permanent counter-revolution to the extend that financialization has really changed the relationship between the sphere of production and the sphere of reproduction. Both at the level of modes of production: the post-fordist enterprise is something that has to do very much with the capturing of value outside the direct process of production – outsourcing, crowdsourcing and so on. But also at the level of forcing labor power to assume a number of risks which were circumscribed by the capitalist sphere before the crisis. In this respect Foucault in La naissance de la biopolitique is very interesting because of the passages on neoliberalism where labor power is concerned as an entrepreneurial in itself. This idea that each of us has to behave like an entrepreneur. That’s when the debt-economy comes in because of the double-crisis: First of all the dismantling of the welfare state as a dispositif of creation of additional demand through deficit spending. And at the same time the privatization of this same mechanism through private indebtedness. Every household, every person has become a center of creation of additional demand by means of debts. The financialization has been the way by which profits have been able to be realized thanks to this growing volume of private debts allowing to turn surplus value into money. I think by now the process has reached a point where it is legitimate to talk of neoliberalism as a huge factory of the indebted man. In this respect Maurizio Lazzarato got the point addressing indebtedness as a sort of social condition which functions on the same level as the wage relation and at the same time reminding us of the fact of being wage earners as the general condition throughout the history of capitalism. This poses a number of serious political questions because to be indebted does not only mean to be financially trapped. At the same time, debt in German like Nietzsche said is Schuld meaning debt and guilt which complicates the whole issue: How do we get out of this moral trap? Debt is not anymore what it used to be, that is a way of bridging the present with the future in Keynesian terms. In capitalism debt always had a positive function; debt being a sort of investment into the future. Today debts are accumulating because on the one hand you invest into the future but on the other hand the future is investing in you so that you will never be able to pay back and you will always be trapped in this dispositif. I think here is where you guys come in because you have been with the Occupy movement and what is happening precisely in Québec is a demonstration of the importance of a sensitivity for those phenomena. The only thing that I would also like to add, concerns the fact that this process is similar to what is happening in Greece at the moment: Greece is a laboratory where all the levels, individual, collective, public, political and so on are gathered together. Maybe speaking about struggles and the difficulties that you mention can also be referred to a very concrete situation on a national level like the one in Greece.

CB: One important aspect in the current events in Quebec concerns the question of the production of subjectivity as an indebted man in relation to governance and how governance is responding to these events. Particularly in Québec concerning the special law 78 that they just passed. I am very surprised that a state or rather a province in its governance reacts by imposing a law. It seems very outdated for me and still they believe it’s the kind of means to stop what they call “crisis.” What is going on in this bi-directional mode of governance?

GC: Well, I mean this is not very new compared to what has happened in response to the Occupy movement in the United States which has been tremendously repressive in response to a movement that has been systematically and pragmatically nonviolent. New York city is full of windows and as far as I know not one window has been busted in the long period of the occupation of Zuccotti Park. These laws and the response have been quite clearly very violent and brutal responses both physically and as well in terms of the legal status that has been attributed to it.

CB: Isn’t it a prolongation of debt because of the fines you get which put you even more in dept because of this continuous spiral indebting you and creating guilt?

GC: Yes, the fines are huge!

SF: And now in many states they are considering reinstituting the prisoners. They want to bring back imprisonment. In Illinois it is already in place. In a number of states they found ways or ways of wording the bills so that they can actually put you in prison for that. It is imputing some sort of fraud. A fraudulent way in which you are left taking the loans. That puts prisons back on the agenda.

CB: And of course the capitalist production machine of the university is involved. The highest fines you get are for preventing other students wanting to go to class. So the question of what kind of production does this system seek and what the deployment of that law aims at is the increase of debt because they continue to study because there is no term taken out of the students’ accounts which could happen if students assert that they were not able to go to class. Which would be a catastrophe on the side of the university or the state. How did we come to this point of fees being put in operation in the first place and why are they continuously rising?

SF: To me I read the process of financialization in general but in particular applied to education also as a response to the student movements of the 1960s and 1970s. It is a political response that tries in fact to bring a new form of discipline in order to kill the movement. I think the student movement basically dissolved the idea that has been very dominant in the 1950s and 1960s that motivated big investments of the state into the educational system – certainly in the United states but not only there. The idea for example in the US that inspired investment in mass education was that mass education would pay the investment back, that the workforce would be much more productive and also education would function as a lesson of democracy making you identify with the system. The student movement in a sense was a major disappointment in terms of this objective. I think the capitalist class came to the conclusion that this investment will not pan out. So, you have financialization beginning to provide the mechanism for this major transformation. In fact there is a reversal of the ideology of these optics resulting in the imposition of fees. By the end of late 1970s open admission was eliminated. The introduction of fees first started on a small scale and then continuously increases and outplays all measures of inflation. The way the change has operated is based on the assumption that investment in education will not pay back in the future. Accordingly, education is transformed into an immediate point of accumulation. This is one function of the introduction of fees: to make education pay right away. Instead of the state investing, giving the student the resources to educate themselves now you force them to perform accumulation, to produce profit immediately, to produce surplus immediately. The other objective is of course the discipline imposed on students while they are in the university. When you have to pay these very high fees you have to find a way of getting out of the university as quickly as possible. You don’t have the time to socialize, you don’t have the time to read the extra book that does the political work. In a sense all your time has to be consumed by getting out of the university as quick as possible to find a job. I have students that even had three jobs. They come to school, they fall asleep and they tell me, ‘don’t take it personally but I had to work until 12 a.m. last night. The discipline is actually a disciplinary mechanism that extends throughout your work time because immediately after you finish classes you have to figure out how to find a job. You don’t have the luxury to decide which kind of job you are going to choose but you have to find out what allows you to pay the debt. What happens of course is that many students have put a lot of investment in the time to go to get this or that certificate to provide them with the good job and at the end they find out they can’t get the good job anyway. Sure enough they realize that the bank will triple the interest rate if you don’t pay your installment in time. Very soon they find themselves in a situation when they cannot pay the debt. And then your life begins to unravel because particularly the private banks have collectors who persecute you, call you, call your mother, call your family. There have been cases of students who have to go underground. I actually know some students who left the country as they did during the war in Vietnam. Because they found themselves in front of an amount they will never be able to pay and confronted with an immense amount of pressure.
The question of debt is extremely important in relation to its transformative impact on social relations.  The ideology of debt rules out any form of entitlement. The ideology of the 1960s was in a way that you as a student contributed to the wellbeing of society and that the university has made an investment in you. This was functional toward your future contribution to society. It was a social contract between you as a social figure and the state. Now things are different. Now we are told that in this neoliberal ideology you are the only person who benefits from these investments. You want to have a better job? You want to have a better life? Well, that’s your business. You are a micro-entrepreneur.  You are a micro-investor. Why should the state pay for you to have higher wages? It is the same kind of ideology that they are now imposing on us in relation to health-care and in relation to pensions. If you want to have a pension, you will have to invest in it. They are telling us as soon as you have a child we have to put aside money for it to go to university.
Everything has become a private matter. This ideology is very perverse because it percolates into the consciousness and the subjectivity of people. It creates people who are consumed by a feeling of guilt that they shouldn’t have allowed themselves to take so much money out of their accounts, etc. Once they leave university they are already outside of a social relation. They take the debt on campus but they confront the payment in a situation of isolation when this ideology can be more effective. The sensation of failure is a very paralyzing feeling.
Fortunately there is a struggle that is taking place on many levels. Canada now is really leading the way. It is very important what is happening there. The students are saying: No! – even to smaller increases in tuition fees because they have seen what has happened across the border. You start with small fees and once you begin that road soon the fees escalate beyond control. In the United States too there is a movement that is growing and it is a movement that has many sources. For example the organization is taking a kind of consumer perspective, saying: ‘what we should fight for is a kind of private bankruptcy.’ Another strategy says: ‘what we should fight for is the cancellation of the debt because this will stimulate the economy.’ Now there is a third movement growing which has been stimulated by the Occupy movement, saying: we are not going to pay the debt because this debt is not legitimate. ‘We have to pay for the right to have a certificate and the right to work. We have to pay in order to be exploited.’ This is a movement that is both by students and teachers. It is a movement that is working through the pledge stating: ‘if another million students are not going to pay their debt I am not going to pay.’ This movement also has pledges for teachers because many like us do not any longer want to be accomplices for an educational system that turns students into slaves.
We don’t find it politically acceptable anymore to teach as if this was purely a matter of transmitting cultural ideas while we are involved in this machine which is basically working on the students’ lives. It is very good that the movement has made a space for that as well.

CB: The question of affect and aesthetics interests me in relation to these movements. Now everyone talks about the new movement and the embrace of difference and radical inclusion as well as the refusal of naming clear demands. They are very important steps to be taken. But also the questions of aesthetic strategies being deployed are of relevance. There is a politics of aesthetics happening through the movements, an affective politics. For me this question pertains much more to the question of affect itself than a mere discussion of affective labor which deals with reproductive forms of labor and the problems coming out of that. What I am interested in is the affective level of something that is felt and through that feeling there is a different sense of collectivity happening which is not just the grouping of people under an ideology or an idea but a felt intensity of something happening. Through this process new modes of expression come to the fore. You mentioned in an earlier conversation that the question of technology should not be undervalued in these kinds of practices. How does that relate to the aesthetic and affective level of these movements?

SF: The way I like to put it if you speak of aesthetics and affective levels is that we have a movement now – whatever its objective and organizational form – representing something new because it brought to the fore this whole issue of reproducing in itself at the center of political organizing. We have seen even before the Occupy movement  – but the Occupy movement has made it visible – the need and desire for a kind of politics that recalls something of a feminist politics: the refusal to separate the political and the personal, the affective and the political. We used to discuss in New York particularly with people of the younger generation of activists the idea of creating a self-reproducing movement. We conceptualize this as a movement that would not continuously surge and collapse, surge and collapse but would actually have a continuity through all its transformations. This continuity would be precisely the ability to also place the needs of people and the relationship of people at the center of the organizing. This is also what you are referring to by affectivity as a sharing of space, the sharing of reproductivity, like the preparing of food, the conversations in the nights or the sleeping together under the tents, of making a sign together, of bringing together this creativity as being an extremely important aspect of this movement. For many people it has been really a transformative experience inseparable from the specific demands, which I wouldn’t actually call demands. Demands imply a passive relationship to the donors weather this is the state of capital or the employer. Whereas if we speak of objectives we speak of something that has an effect in the way it brings people together. An objective maps a terrain on which people can come together rather than mapping a relation of dependence. The way that the movement has insisted on not following the politics of demand and refusing a politics of representation has been extremely important.

GF: My sense of the experience of being in the encampments that developed not only in New York but also in Maine. The Occupy movement there showed me that is was by the ability of people to stay at the encampments. When the temperatures went down below freezing and they spent the night there to go to the general assemblies in the middle of snow it was a physically and bodily measure of how fed up these people were in an affective way. People facing tremendous assaults and lots of criticism for demanding to be able to stay together against their own health showed to me that something is happening. It is like the temperature check in the assembly showing that something is really happening, that it’s really hot.

SF: And the joy and the resonance of these tactics, of these bodily tactics, like the mike-check is a symbol of the affectivity you are referring to. The way people speak of mike-check is so powerful. Mike-check has become a kind of statement for saying: “we are together! And we are going to do what we desire weather the others are going to allow it or not.” It has become this emotional solidarity pledge or solidarity expression.

CB: On the expressive level mike-check is interesting because it is not an order-word anymore, it’s a proposition. It is very moving for instance how the “casseroladas” are taking place now every evening in Montréal as such a mode of expression.

SF: Exactly, and how they moved from Argentina to Madrid and now to Montréal. Something that began in Latin America is now circulating through different languages defining a common notion.

CB: And isn’t that part of the continuity you described earlier? Since the 1970s there has been a continuous struggle in Argentina, ceaselessly reproducing and reinventing itself and steadily inspiring similar techniques for struggles around the globe?

SF: Exactly!

George Caffentzis is a political philosopher and atunomist Marxis teaching at the University of Sothern Maine.

Silvia Federici is a feminist theorist and activist living in New York. She is professor emeritus teaching at Hofstra University.

Christian Marazzi is an economist and autonmist. He is the director of Socio-Economic Research at the Scuola Universitaria della Svizzera Italiana

Christoph Brunner is a research at Zurich University of the Arts and PhD candidate at Concordia University Montréal.

March 7, 2012  - I have been invited to have a public conversation with artist Ralo Mayer who is currently showing his latest exhibition Obviously a major malfunction/KAGO KAGO KAGO BE at the Kunsthaus Baselland. The work deals with topics of fiction, narrative and science generating a hybrid mix of objects, tales, imaginative stories and actual historical facts, interlacing into each other generating a mesh of dense relational networks between “things.” Informed by projects like the Biosphere 2, the two major space shuttle catastrophes of the Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003 and events such as Tchernobyl, the fall of the iron curtain or global protest movements the exhibition highlights the dense entanglement between historical facts and their contingent recurrence in actual techno-social situations. References to Latour’s actor-netowrk-theory and Graham Harman’s strand of Object Oriented Ontology make their presence as much as Jon McKenzie’s work on performance and performativity. All of this comes into resonance through assemblages of objects and images in different installation clusters. Through fictionlaizations and an interest in science fiction the exhibition avoids an educative gesture and provides the sensing of a semblance of events rather than clear forms and representations.

I am keen on discussing questions of representation, the role of narrative and time as much as concerns with OOO’s heralding of the objective in contrast with a more process philosophy oriented reconsideration of objective and subjective. Time rather than space appears to me as the pertinent force moving through the exhibition. The self-abstracting dimension of matter in movement becomes part of time as a memory ready for pure recollection in the actual re-assembling of situated experiences in the exhibition spaces. Let’s see how we mange to break this down into actual modes of conversion with each other an through the work. I guess we will have to tweak the environment towards sensible transductions.

Here just a quick overview concerning the upcoming Interdisciplinary Dialogues Series I am organizing this year. Session II deals with the theme of Research, Ethics, Politics. A short description of the session outline:

A PhD project in its research and content often touches upon topics of critical importance and ethical encounters. The research we deploy bears a plethora of political and ethical decision we make and are confronted with. This immediate layer of a politico-ethical encounter in the practice of research is reflected onto the modes of creating and composing the content of our papers, presentations, shows, performances, and finally the PhD thesis. What critical considerations of the politics embedded in research might foreground are new practices and techniques of dealing with such issues beyond the well-considered modes of representation. Maybe through an awareness of the multifaceted politics in research we can re-invent modes of creating content and expression.

Interdisciplinary Dialogues II

interdisciplinary dialogues - what is research?

The Interdisciplinary Dialogues 2009/10 series I am organizing in the PhD in Humanities at Concordia Universty, took place for the first time this term with the opening session entitled “Art as Research.” The overall theme for this year focuses on the question of “What is Research?” As part of the annually curriculum the PhD in Humanities is having the Interdisciplinary Dialogues as a platform for PhD students in the program to share ideas with their peers and faculty and to get their work discussed in light of particular topics.

The emphasis of the conceptual framework lies in the notion of “dialogues.” From last year’s experience and due to a general discomfort with terms like panel or paper presentations, this year’s series aims at creating an environment of mutual exchange of ideas in relation to a specific theme. Thus, the PhD students were asked to give 10 minute insights into their work in conjunction with the session’s theme. Once the presentations are over, a discussion with the audience is generated by a faculty member. In our case Owen Chapman from Concordia’s Communication Department took on the role of the discussant.

What follows are some remarks that are based on the experience of this first panel and the experiment it comprised. The presentations were all exercised in perfect idiosyncratic and thoughtful ways. I think the audience received insights into five very different projects that have very different angles around the problematic field of art as research. From preceding discussions the presenters knew each other which turned out to be very beneficial for the session as such. Hence, the challenge of proposing a problematic field instead of a bold statement or a mere provocation played not really in favour of the creative collaboration I envisioned for the session. Once the floor was opened for the audience, people (in reference to one individual in the audience that unfolded the problematic in a more than determinstic mode of thought [à la art vs. science vs. philosophy]) often fell back in defending academic disciplines, their value for dialogues, and their strengths in adressing the issue of art as research.

During the course of the discussion it turned out that the setting of an interesting theme, great presentations, and a discussant, are not necessarily enough, if it is not possible to divert deterministic lines of thought in favour of more productive forces. The techniques at stake need to be more refined without cutting the proces of actual collaborative thought. Hence, and this is the curicial question here, what is needed for a collective thought to emerge? I actually think, that the potential for such a collective process was immanently present but did not actualize due to particular circumstances. This is in its core a very political problem. On the one hand, we have to warrant a certain openness for a process to freely develop in its unpredictability. On the other hand we need a political commitment that is able to cut creatively and therefore to generate new openings. The political act resides not in the selective mode of amplification of a preferred line over others (always the problem of a positioning such as “right” or “left”). On the contrary, the political act here lies in the very attentiveness towards a process that need to be maintained open for new modes of collective expression. In other words, not a strategy or tactic that provides a direction but a continuous critical re-posing of the problematic at stake and its creative productivity.

Once the session was in a certain mode oriented (or territorialized), the refrain, with which the territory appears, became so strong that it disabled any re-emergence of a creative collective process. Participants fell back into straight-forward and short-handed exercises of rehearsing the jargon of their accustomed and inscribed disciplinary modes of thought. What would have been necessary was a little cut to open up another line and therefore a new field of potentials. In that sense a discussant can take on such a job, an audience member as well or one of the presenters (ideally we might want to get to a point where these differentiations are somewhat obsolete). The question refers for me to a lack of intensity and resonance. Certainly a molar resonance developed according to a strong refrain - the deterministic statement according to molar blocks of thought. But there was another resonance immanent yet not activated. The discussion that the presenting students generated in the meetings before bore plenty of potential for a collective mode of thought. A group-intensity, a comfort and ground to work from were the immanent forces that could have been activated to generate a new shift towards a processual opening.

We have two more chances to experiment in the coming sessions. Let’s hope things get more often cut productively than they did this time.