Bifo: “In the solitary cabin of our lives: on Andreas Lubitz”

My Desiring-Machines

In the solitary cabin of our lives: on Andreas Lubitz
By Franco (“Bifo” ) Berardi
Translated from the Spanish at El Diario:

It seems that Andreas Lubitz, the young pilot who crashed himself along with an airplane full of passengers, into a rocky mountain hid a medical certificate that diagnosed his pathological depression from his company, Lufthansa. This was wrong, without a doubt, but totally understandable: turbo-capitalism does not like workers who take time off for health reasons, and much less for depression.

Am I depressed? Don’t mention it! I feel fine: I am perfectly efficient, happy, dynamic, energetic and, above all, competitive. I am going to run every morning and always be available to work extra hours. This is the philosophy of the low-cost airlines, isn’t it? And it is also the philosophy of the perfectly deregulated market, where everyone is constantly asking us to give the best…

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AAG 2014 CFP: Assembling life at the “margin”: Critical assemblage thinking and urban marginality

My Desiring-Machines

Michele presented a great paper in our panel last year at the AAG so I’m really looking forward to this panel he’s organizing:
Call for Papers: Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting 2014, Tampa, Florida, April 8-12th
Organised by Michele Lancione (UTS, Sydney; Cambridge University from Feb. 2013)
Assembling life at the “margin”: Critical assemblage thinking and urban marginality
Ethnographers, sociologists and urban geographers have mainly looked at the city as the inanimate backdrop against which social, cultural, and economical marginality takes place. Although the literature provides examples of fine-grained and situated accounts of urban poverty and marginality (e.g. Desjarlais 1997; Gowan 2010), it still falls short in taking the urban machinery fully into consideration in the instantiation of life at the margin (Lancione 2013). What role does the urban play in the daily processes of marginalisation? How do more-than-human agencies (Farías and Bender 2010), affective atmospheres (Anderson…

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Political Affect

My Desiring-Machines

Over at becoming poor (our UW-based reading group) & nomad scholarship (our shared blog with the outside world, which began as a collaboration with one of Eugene Holland’s seminars at OSU) we are beginning to ramp up for another quarter of reading after a summer hiatus. One group will be reading A Thousand Plateaus and another (with some crossover) will be reading Protevi’s Political Affect.* I’ve been engaging with Protevi’s work a lot recently so I’m really excited about this move. So, while I’m waiting for my book to arrive, I’ve been keeping an eye on his posts at New APPS, like this one on political affect and football.

* If you’re interested in reading either of these books and posting thoughts on nomad scholarship, please get in touch!!

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The Down-Deep Delight of Democracy

The Rolling Blackout

This is an older post, I forgot to publish…

I received my copy of Mark Purcell’s newest book today and I immediately read it cover to cover. What follows is some first thoughts and a synopsis, and I imagine that as time passes I will be able to understand more fully the profundity of this work.

The book is decidedly about cultivating the “virtual object” of democracy, such that we are always on a path to it, never fully reaching it, but always becoming. Democracy is not some ideal utopia or endpoint, it is a process of continual realization of the power and potential of people to not only govern themselves, but to assure the fullest possibility of their potential, of their creativity, and of there productive ability. Democracy is something which has been continually assaulted and co-opted, but something that still lurks in places, in people, who practice governance of themselves…

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Spanish Henry Miller

Does anyone know of a Spanish essayist that might be thought of as that fine country’s Henry Miller? A Latin American Henry Miller would work too. I’m in Madrid and want to read a little in the native tongue while I’m here…

So far I think I might like Terenci Moix or Francisco Umbral, though I’m also considering reading Ortega y Gasset for the first time, but any and all recommendations would be appreciated. Familiarity with Nietzsche would, of course, be a plus.

Eric Mazur and the Suppression of a Utopian Past

Jon Beasley-Murray on flexible education; the short version: “The radical educational proposals of the 1960s and 1970s are being rediscovered, now that their promise is finally realizable thanks to technological innovation. But their utopian thrust has been lost, their politics have been gutted, and everything has to be “monetized” as part of a massive round of enclosures in which for-profit start-ups and mega-corporations colonize the captive educational market.”


Eric MazurThe past few days my institution has been hosting Eric Mazur, a Harvard physicist who has made a name for himself in the world of “flexible learning” for his tweaks to the university lecture format to create what is sometimes called a “flipped classroom.”

His visit was muchhyped by the university, and drew a large crowd. As he himself tells us, it was his fourth lecture in as many countries and as many days. Mazur is a big shot.

Essentially, his pedagogical tweaks involve the use of technology to incorporate student feedback and discussion. His technique is for the lecturer to introduce a concept, then pose a question. After responses to the question have been gathered, students discuss their answers among themselves before answering the question again; the lecturer goes over the correct answer and moves on. The point is that ideally students will have taught each…

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Factories of Knowledge, Industries of Creativity


I’m sitting in LAX after the AAG conference and my computer is about to die, but I wanted to get a post out there about the book I was reading on the plane flying down, the book I mentioned in both the panels I participated in. I’m only halfway through Gerald Raunig’s new Factories of Knowledge, Industries of Creativity, but I think it speaks to posts on this site by Amy and Gene.

Three of the primary points to which I’m currently connecting are as follows:

1) The idea of “gently striating” or “streaking” smooth space. In his elaborations on Kafka’s “Josephine the Singer, or The Mouse Folk,” Raunig tells us that in order to express some sort of solidarity, we need little reterritorializations (“never believe that a smooth space will suffice to save us”). In his telling of the story, the mouse folk are constantly on the move, generating smooth space, chattering away. But when meek Josephine sings, they all stop to listen: the chattering subsides, the flows coagulate and the mouse people are together, focused on her performance, temporarily. She is no figurehead, no despot, but rather one who is actualized out of the multitude through her performance. I undoubtedly see connections to Ranciere here (see my previous post), but in this context I’m even more interested in how this idea applies to both our Seattle-based reading group and this little experiment called Nomad Scholarship.

2) In the chapter entitled “In Modulation Mode: Factories of Knowledge,” Raunig discusses the edu-factory, a mailing list that started in 2006. The primary point I want to draw from this discussion is what he calls their central mission: “the struggle for autonomous free spaces in the university and simultaneously self-organization and auto-formazione beyond existing institutions” (49). I immediately turn to what we’re doing here as one instance of this sort of autonomy, and I immediately think of ways to “increase the number and complexity of connections” (I’d love to cite this, but I don’t remember if it’s D&G, Hardt, the Invisible Committee, or someone else?).

For example, one of the participants on the panel Cheryl and I organized told me about the D&G reading group in which he participates at University College London. I told him about this online experiment and he said they’d been struggling with their own sort of virtual home. Needless to say, I’m going to try to get them linked in to this site as well. Another example: our panel, I think, was very well-attended, and I mentioned at the end that people other than panelists who wanted to continue the conversation should send us an email, so we could try and cobble together a sort of D&G/Urban Theory email list. It would be a small step, but after seeing the growing pains through which urban theory is going this morning, I think it could lead to an incredibly rich dialogue.

3) Lastly, and again with similarities in Ranciere’s idea of the ignorant schoolmaster, I’d like to mention Raunig’s investigation of Foucault’s last College de France lecture series, The Courage of Truth. In this lecture, Foucault allegedly outlines three roles of the teacher w/r/t discourses of truth: the teacher as “expert,” “wise man,” and “prophet.” I won’t elaborate on the details here, but Foucault evidently sees a fourth role that goes beyond these three roles and it’s called parrhesia, or “truth-speaking.” Though their are multiple modes of parrhesia, Raunig (or perhaps Foucault) seems to be saying that “ethical truth-speaking as Socratic test and exercise leading to care for the self and others” (58). This, Raunig argues, is a form of teaching that “leads people to take of themselves” (59). Of course, this is much like Deleuze’s remarks about the swimming instructor teaching one not to move like the waves, but rather move as the instructor moves, in his motions that express the truth of swimming. Nevertheless, it’s a compelling argument and I think it speaks to the organization of these autonomous zones and experiments in which we are all participating: the democratic self-organization of the groups, the non-hierarchical organization of the discussions, and so on.