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PS: Let’s first talk about Negri and Hardt’s success: They have managed to give the current desire for radicality a novum organum, an accomplishment that deserves admiration. At the same time, I suspect that the secret behind the book’s great success can be ascribed to its thinly veiled religious tones. At first one doesn’t easily recognize the good old-left radicalism when Saint Francis takes the stage next to Marx and Deleuze. But this new alliance with the saints is instructive for the position of left radicalism in the post-Marxist situation. Whoever wants to practice fundamental opposition today needs allies who are not entirely of this world. In order to grasp the awkward situation of left radicalism, one should recall Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance. According to Festinger, ideologies that no longer match circumstances are reinterpreted by their believers until they appear to match them again�with the unavoidable result that theories become increasingly bizarre. Gershom Scholem clarified something similar in relation to the fate of Jewish prophetism. The gist of what he says is this: When prophetism fails, apocalypticism emerges; when apocalypticism fails, gnosis emerges. An analogous escalation can be observed in the political opposition movements since 1789: When the bourgeois revolution fails or is insufficient, left radicalism emerges; when left radicalism fails or is insufficient, the mystique of protest emerges. It seems to me that Negri has arrived at exactly this point. His “multitude” calls forth a community of angry saints in which the fire of pure opposition burns�yet it no longer offers a revolutionary project, instead testifying by its mere existence to a world counter to universal capitalism. Thus one cannot simply say that Negri’s framework failed�it has already incorporated his failure. Perhaps it would be more accurate to claim that the political revolutionary has become transformed into a spiritual teacher. This is the price to be paid by anyone who seriously tries to develop a language of the left beyond resentment.

As the essayist William Deresiewicz has written, “Citizens do more than express a preference every other year. Citizens don’t just look after themselves, they take responsibility for the collective good—or rather, they look after themselves by taking responsibility for the collective good.” Consumers, on the other hand, just “use stuff up.

Freeman said we had paused here for a reason: if we visualized the city as a series of street intersections, we were now standing at the center of New York. In other words, if the city was a giant cookie tray and you put a tiny weight on every intersection, the tray would balance on this point. (Intersections aren’t evenly distributed across the boroughs, which is why this centroid is different from the one at the start of the walk.) It was a very Freeman moment: you focus on a place not because it’s inherently interesting but because it has some significance in a larger mathematical system, then you find what’s interesting afterward.

There isn’t, in other words, a clear line between “irony” and “homage” in Krafft’s work, and it’s a mistake to assume, as many members of the art world apparently have, that an ironic artistic appropriation of Nazi symbols safely amounts to an anti-Nazi critique. As Susan Sontag pointed out in her 1975 New York Review of Books essay “Fascinating Fascism,” one of the consequences of the kitsch or campy use of Nazi imagery, even if it is intended critically, is that it can normalize those images, desensitizing us to their power by mingling them with more banal ones. “Shocking people…also means inuring them,” she wrote of the famous poster of Robert Morris half-naked wearing a Nazi helmet, “as Nazi material enters the vast repertory of popular iconography usable for the ironic commentaries of Pop Art.

En un mundo regido por los valores de la ciencia, es de especial relevancia el papel insurgente que Žižek le atribuye aún a la creación cultural. Si la ciencia supone por definición una deriva implacable hacia el conocimiento y la cultura representa una voluntad inconsciente de (auto)engaño, es tiempo de reclamar un intercambio de actitudes, de modo que el arte se vuelva desafiante en este período crítico de la historia y se atreva a mostrar ante los ojos del público la verdad intolerable de la situación y la ciencia asimile de una vez su complicidad servil con las ficciones y sueños del poder.

Como señala Slavoj Žižek, lo paradójico de nuestro mundo capitalista es que nos cuesta menos fantasear con su terminación espectacular que imaginar una alternativa a su cínico sistema de organización.

This from a letter written in 1880 to a not-so-little girl of nineteen: “I have a letter from you … asking me ‘Why don’t you explain the Snark?’, a question I ought to have answered long ago. Let me answer it now — ‘because I can’t.’ Are you able to explain things which you don’t yourself understand?

In our correspondence about the illustrations, the coherence and consistency of the nonsense on its own nonsensical understanding often became prominent. One of the first three I had to do was the disappearance of the Baker, and I not unnaturally invented a Boojum. Mr. Dodgson wrote that it was a delightful monster, but that it was inadmissible. All his descriptions of the Boojum were quite unimaginable, and he wanted the creature to remain so. I assented, of course, though reluctant to dismiss what I am still confident is an accurate representation. I hope that some future Darwin, in a new Beagle, will find the beast, or its remains; if he does, I know he will confirm my drawing.

The Annotated The Hunting of the Snark

Anyone who doesn’t read Cortázar is doomed. Not to read him is a grave invisible disease which in time can have terrible consequences. Something similar to a man who had never tasted peaches. He would be quietly getting sadder, noticeably paler, and probably little by little, he would lose his hair. I don’t want those things to happen to me, and so I greedily devour all the fabrications, myths, contradictions, and mortal games of the great Julio Cortázar.” —Pablo Neruda

The Grassroots Mapping project began in the summer of 2010 when a group of activists, educators, and technologists known as the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS) began documenting the BP oil spill on the American Gulf Coast using balloon mapping – an accessible and low-cost alternative to satellite imaging. Recognizing the power of “community satellites” to subvert the power dynamics associated with cartography, the project has since expanded to nine environmentally compromised sites across the country. Their website includes how-to instructions for balloon and kite mapping as well as other low-cost DIY environmental sensing devices. Awarded a $500,000 grant last year by Knight News, PLOTS is expanding its work to support community action through locally produced environmental and civic data.

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