November 22, 2012

The Intervention Will Not Be Televised

"In the sphere of the current bio-economic totalitarianism, the incorporation of techno-linguistic automatisms produced by semio-capital has produced a form that is not an external domination that acts on the body, but a mutation of the social organism itself [...]

"How can we think of a process of subjectivation when precarity is jeopardizing social solidarity and when the social body is wired by techno-linguistic automatisms which reduce its activity to a repetition of embedded patterns of behavior?" — from Franco "Bifo" Berardi's "The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance", Semiotext(e) 2012, bought (inevitably) at Moe's a few weeks ago.
How, indeed? It's the sort of question that occupies me every day…

This sort of writing — untethered to any sort of notion of reading, mesmerized by the glamourous sound of its conceptual jargon, inflated by an enormous sense of self-importance, deadened by earnest attempts at "playfulness", strewn about with breathless assertions about current events backed up by gnomic reference to the stars of a very small and distant universe of late 20th Century European thinkers — this sort of writing is an easy target, and I've done it before, for sure. Par for the course, of course.

But what really got my amused attention is that it's one of a series of self-identified "interventions" from Semiotext(e). Talk about self-importance….  It reminds me of the old SWP posters in London advertising their annual "Preparing For Power" workshops and theoretical interventions: what if they gave an intervention and no one noticed? Does an intervention make a sound if it falls and no one's around to hear it? The Intervention Will Not Be Televised (it might not even get tweeted).

(All of which is a shame in this particular case — I actually enjoyed reading the book (I usually think there's something horribly wrong with my brain when I can stroll through stretches of prose like those above and actually get some sort of meaning from them, but I can, and do), and it's full of the sort of seeds of good ideas about the thrall of "irreversibility" (and much else) in modern culture and politics; if only it weren't so desperate to couple itself to the latest trends and glamourous-sounding metaphors from the world of technology and science and pop culture, without ever quite understanding the context of those metaphors. And if only it weren't so hard to write a paragraph like this without sounding so bloody Pooterish…).

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