Spring in Columbus, OH?

Just came across this course listing of Holland’s and thought I’d share:

CS 8888 Seminar in Critical Theory: Multitude, Anarchism, Occupy
Instructor: Eugene Holland and Brian Rotman
M  9:10am-12:25pm
Class# 13334

This seminar will explore the intersections and overlap among these three terms, particularly in light of recent theoretical and political developments around the globe.

Although its derivation goes back to Spinoza, the term “multitude” has in recent Franco-Italian political theory distinguished itself from allied terms such as the masses, the people, the crowd, and so forth.  Selected readings from and about the work of Paulo Virno, Toni Negri, Deleuze & Guattari, and Hardt & Negri will enable us to take the measure of the term in its current historical context as well as contrast it (briefly) with earlier treatments of “the crowd” by Gustave LeBon and Elias Canetti.  The core question will be what are the components—affective, proprioceptive, cognitive, material, and (if any) representational—that  make a group of individuals a multitude?

We will focus on the opposition between the multitude and the people; and given that a group of individuals has been at least since Hobbes understood to become a “people” by the existence and actions of a State, we will examine the relations among anarchism, theories of the multitude, and the Occupy movement.  David Graeber’s work—his Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, and selections from Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value and/or Revolutions in Reverse, and his important occasional pieces on Occupy—will provide a counterweight to mainstream knowledge and experience of the State as a mode of social organization, but will also be compared with the contemporary egalitarian political program of Jacques Rancière (selections from Dissensus), which represents yet another alternative model of a ‘mass’ of individuals becoming an effective group.

Essays by political theorists Benjamin Arditi and Slavoj Žižek will refocus questions of group-constitution on the Occupy movement itself as an alternative to State organization—but here we will count on the seminar group as a whole to propose and select the best additional perspectives on Occupy to complete the materials for the course.

Spectre(s) of Gould Hall

(reposted for the group from email)

Also, those of us who are to this point morally deficient have discussed righting our wrongs and reading D&G as a side project to catch up, as it were. Anyone is, of course, willing to join. I imagine we will begin in January. 


By the way, am I the only one who wants a pair of their glasses?

Next Reading

Maybe I have selective memory, but these are the books I remember us mentioning for what we’d like to read next.

Gibson-Graham: The End of Capitalism (as a segue to their Post-Capitalism?)

Nietzsche: The Birth of Tragedy or something else? Mark mentioned Beyond Good and Evil and The Genealogy of Morals. I mentioned Birth b/c Walter Kaufmann always insists that Nietzsche should be read in order.

Virno: A Grammar of the Multitude

I know there are more but I’m freezing up…let’s post them and other ideas in the comments.

NB: I’m becoming a proponent of trying to keep some sort of thematic momentum going and think it’s something to consider. For example, this summer when we moved from Agamben’s The Coming Community to Thrift, it felt like a pretty hard break, but then Thrift kept talking about Homo Sacer, and that made me think it would have been the perfect bridge between the two. Of course, I didn’t know Nigel was going to pick up on Agamben either…

With that in mind, I realize my selective memory has picked up on themes that apply to my research, and that I’d rather read “source material” like Nietzsche than other people trying to use it, but I’m also thinking about how we could at least move laterally from Holland. An obvious answer is to take up some of the readings on communism that Mark has suggested in the past. Another answer might be the minor marxism Althusser essay/book Holland mentioned (wink!) or Benjamin’s “On Violence.”

I guess, in the end, I’m becoming more interested in depth: I’m picturing it like we throw Eugene’s book into the middle of the table, stare at it, and decide what we have learned from it, where some of those ideas originated and where he went with them, then we either trace back over some of his steps (like Nietzsche preceding/inspiring D&G) or explore other things he mentioned that pique our collective interests. Anyway, just a few ideas. Let us autogest!

Path to the Possible


Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, my translation:

The inferno of the living is not something that will be. If there is one, it is that which is already here, the inferno that we inhabit every day, that we create by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for most: accept the inferno and become such a complete part of it that you no longer know it is there. The second is risky and requires vigilance and continuous attention: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, and help them endure, give them space.

David Foster Wallace in L. McCaffrey, Conversations with David Foster Wallace, p. 26:

Look man, we’d probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark…

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Article on web-based communities

Reading Holland’s section on Mary Parker Follett, Jane Jacobs, and the Internet (as examples of potentially immanent social organization), I was reminded of this NYTimes article from a couple months ago about the website Reddit.

And in case anyone’s interested, I previously posted a response to it here, shot from the hip (as you’ll quickly notice, I’m about as knowledgeable in this topic as I am in capoeira or rosemaling, which is to say, absolutely zero knowledge beyond name recognition).

My Holland thoughts, originally posted at the other place…

Path to the Possible

D&G's nomad chariot

It is quite a thing to run across someone who seems eerily connected to you in terms of their intellectual project.  That is the experience I had reading Andy Merrifield’s Magical Marxism, and I just had it again reading Eugene Holland’s Nomad Citizenship.  I tend to think in terms of the concept democracy, and Holland prefers citizenship, communism, markets, and general strike, but our overall projects are quite close.  We both draw on a similar stable of thinkers (Deleuze and Guattari, the Italians, the Invisible Committee, Marx) to imagine a politics that does not confront the state and capital, but rather seeks out the alternative forms of economic, political, and social life that are already being tried.  Our job (‘our’ meaning everyone) is not to create those new forms, or organize people and cause them to live those new forms, but to learn…

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