tear it down: The Undercommons

Amidst growing protests against systemic and state-administered premature death, and beyond #hashtagactivism, calls for a new black radicalism are resounding.  In The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study, Stefano Harney and Fred Moten advocate for “the undercommons” as a subject of such radicalism, “the prophetic organization that works for the red and black abolition…not so much the abolition of prisons but the abolition of a society that could have prisons, that could have slavery, that couple have the wage, and therefore not abolition as the elimination of anything but abolition as the founding of a new society.”

Join InterCcECT for a reading group on The UnderCommons, chapters 0-6, on Thursday 9 July, 4pm (purchase the text or follow the link to a free version made available by the publisher).

We are delighted to partner with Filmfront, a new community arts space.   See you at 1748 W 18th Street (Pink line: 18th)!

InterCcECT: The Order of Things

Our session on Foucault’s The Order of Things proved rousing; we’re going to continue with chapters 4 and 5 (“Speaking”; “Classifying”).  Join us again next Monday, 8 June, at 4pm, at Moody’s Pub (in the garden, weather permitting).  As always, InterCcECT welcomes proposals for summer projects; find us on Facebook or send us an email.

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words and things

After his critique of the clinic, and as a prolegomena to his theory of power, Michel Foucault outlined a distinct regime of knowledge that pivoted upon a new concept of “representation” – a Kantian sense of the limits of mental representations and the promise of formal representations.  Modern knowledge, for the archaeological Foucault of Les Mots et Les Choses (translated as The Order of Things), is distinguished not only by its representational ethos, but by its agency in generating and congealing worldly relations: once words are thinkable as representation rather than as coincident with things, “discourse” is thinkable as a force of ordering things.

InterCcECT kicks off summer with a multi-session reading group on this crucial moment in Foucault’s thought.  Join us Monday June 1st at 4pm, in the garden at Moody’s Pub (red line: Thorndale).  We’ll be starting with the first three chapters from Part 1 of The Order of Things (Las Meninas, The Prose of the World, & Representing).  Contact us for the readings.

What are your summer ambitions?  As always, we welcome proposals and initiatives for events ranging from reading groups to field trips, works-in-progress sessions to pub afternoons.

In our sights:

Elizabeth Grosz, Nietzsche and Amor Fati May 6

Lee Edelman, with Lauren Berlant and Michelle Wright, May 7 & 8

Elizabeth Grosz, Deleuze and the Plane of Immanence May 8

Jon McKenzie, Remaking the Liberal Arts, May 12

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Expelling the Demos

If dramatic inequality and profound immiseration are the phenomenological appearance of the manifold contemporary economic technologies for extracting surplus value and enacting surplus populations, these ever more primitive accumulations require thinking beyond the usual terms of “injustice” and “poverty.”  Saskia Sassen has recently proposed the paradigm of “expulsion” to understand today’s plutocratic brutality. In the domain of politics, Wendy Brown has similarly suggested that “the demos” has been expelled from democracy.  What are the interrelations of these dynamics?  InterCcECT is delighted to host a mini-seminar on these questions with Professor Ignacio Sanchez Prado, who will guide us through the first chapters of Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution and Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy.

4pm, 4 May, Institute for the Humanities, UIC

request readings from interccect at gmail dot com

While he’s in town, Professor Sanchez Prado will also give a talk at the University of Chicago on 5 May, “The Golden Age Otherwise: Cosmopolitanism and Mexican Cinema, circa 1950″

Notes on the Magritte exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago

Magritte, La Clairvoyance
Yesterday, The Girlfriend and I went to the special exhibit on Magritte at the Art Institute. During our trip to Brussels, we had visited the Magritte Museum there, which unfortunately seemed to be a holding place for second-tier pieces and first drafts that other museums didn’t want. The quality of the exhibit in Chicago was much higher, but what it really brought home to me was the inherent limits to what Magritte is trying to do.

First of all, Magritte is technically proficient but indifferent as a painter. However interesting his pieces are as images, they are rarely interesting as paintings — it’s as though he chose painting as a medium simply for convenience. Once you get what he’s trying to do, which is often to make the very simplistic point that words and images are not the things themselves, there’s very little to hold one’s attention. I’m also not sure that the sheer existence of repeated motifs (such as the bowler cap) automatically makes them interesting or productive.

In the end, the only pieces that wound up really compelling me were the ones that were elaborate meta-commentaries on the act of painting itself. The Human Condition and Attempting the Impossible were two of my favorites, but for me the best was La Clairvoyance (also pictured above). I was already very familiar with this piece, as a former roommate had a print of it, but beyond the initial visual gag, I noticed a detail I had previously overlooked — the colors on the palette don’t match the black-and-white painting of the bird, but the colors of the surrounding painting itself.

The exhibition space itself was often awkward and unwieldy. Sometimes it seemed purposeful, above all in the room filled with displays of Magritte’s advertising and print work or the seemingly endless sequence of paintings hung on isolated partial walls, but often it just made it difficult to navigate and get a good look at the paintings. And to me, some of the literature surrounding it was patronizing and embarrassing — filled with quotes about how awesome it is that there’s “no right answer” when it comes to interpreting a Magritte painting.

If only it were so! But sadly, for a good 80% of the paintings on display, the “right answer” was immediately evident, and if you didn’t get it, it was pedantically repeated in five other canvases in the same room. I know that Magritte is a crowd-pleaser, but he’s also one of the roots of the contemporary “concept-heavy” art that middle-class audiences, bored with needing to read the description cards before responding, instinctively regard with such scorn.

Posted in art, Chicago. 1 Comment »

InterCcECT Summer Reading Group

Totalizing, teleologizing, triadic: standard readings of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit are monotone. In The Hegel Variations, Fredric Jameson re-encounters the rhythm and dynamism of the text, reprising the fluidity of the negative. Come tune your dialectic with InterCcECT at our first reading group of the summer, Wednesday 25 June, 12noon, Bucktown-Wicker Park Public Library Study Room.

What’s on your reading/talking/writing/making list? Email interccect at gmail to propose summer collaborations, or to request the texts.

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radical alternatives to radical empiricism: an InterCcECT mini seminar with Joshua Kates

From systems theory to object oriented ontology, the post-human to the multitude, empiricism and its latent historicism underlie the most orthodox (and most contentious) questions and methods in the humanities today. In Historicity and Holism,  Joshua Kates plumbs the depths of this radical empiricism, proffering an experimental absolutism as its most resourceful alternative. InterCcECT is delighted to host a mini-seminar with Professor Kates, focusing on “Radical Empiricism Revisited,” an excerpt from that project.

Join us Friday 22 November, 3pm, at our frequent host The Newberry Library, room B-91.

Contact us to request the reading.
Abstract:
“Radical Empiricism Revisited” stages a major invention in contemporary theory, by grouping together work around Deleuze, Latour, Luhmann and others as a form of empiricism inflected by Kant, and contrasting this to a more innovative and experimental relation to the absolute found in Derrida and the early Foucault. My treatment is an outgrowth of possibilities opened up by my current project, Historicity and Holism (parts of which have appeared or about to appear in differences and diacritics), as well as those I explored in my previous two books on Derrida and phenomenology, history of science, and philosophy of language.

As always, write us to propose or announce events, check out our calendar for recommendations like Hegel’s Critique of Kant,  and connect with us on Facebook for frequent links and commentary.

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