Le Merle

vol.1 no.1, Spring 2012

This issue explores the relationship between the work and the act, sensitive to what (dis)orders life and confounds the binary opposition between code and errancy. Faithful to what is garbled, excessive, crooked, or just “off”—and led by the uncertain outlines of the work and the verticality of the act—it offers up ways of doing and words that break open. It was compiled by François Lemieux.

Anarchism: What It Really Stands For (Today)

Heather Davis

Anarchism is not, as some may suppose, a theory of the future to be realized through divine inspiration. It is a living force in the affairs of our life, constantly creating new conditions. The methods of Anarchism therefore do not comprise an iron-clad program to be carried out under all circumstances. Methods must grow out of the economic needs of each place and clime, and of the intellectual and temperamental requirements of the individual. The things every new generation has to fight, and which it can least overcome, are the burdens of the past, which holds us all as in a net. Anarchism leaves posterity free to develop its own particular systems, in harmony with its needs. Our most vivid imagination cannot foresee the potentialities of a race set free from external restraint. How, then, can anyone assume to map out a line of conduct for those to come? We, who pay dearly for every breath of pure, fresh air, must guard against the tendency to fetter the future.




It is generally conceded that unless the returns of any business venture exceed the cost, bankruptcy is inevitable. But those engaged in the business of producing wealth have not yet learned even this simple lesson. Every year the cost of production in human life is growing larger, the returns to the masses, who help to create wealth, are ever getting smaller. Yet America continues to be blind to the inevitable bankruptcy of our business of production. Man is being robbed not merely of the products of his labor, but of the power of free initiative, of originality, and the interest in, or desire for, the things he is making. Real wealth consists in things of utility and beauty, in things that help to create strong beautiful bodies and surroundings inspiring to live in. But if man is doomed to wind cotton around a spool, or dig coal, or build roads for thirty years of his life, there can be no talk of wealth. What he gives to the world is only gray and hideous things, reflecting a dull and hideous existence,–too weak to live, too cowardly to die.

Order derived through submission and maintained by terror is not much of a safe guarantee; yet that is the only ‘order’ that governments have ever maintained. True social harmony grows naturally out of solidarity of interests. In a society where those who always work never have anything, while those who never work enjoy everything, solidarity of interests is non-existent; hence social harmony is but a myth.




Trade-unionism, the economic arena of the modern gladiator, owes its existence to direct action. It is but recently that law and government have attempted to crush the trade-union movement, and condemned the exponents of man’s right to organize as conspirators, crushing the movement before it has a chance to start by declaring the strike ‘illegal’ and mandating workers back to work. Had they sought to assert their cause through begging, pleading and compromise, trade-unionism would today be a negligible quantity. In Greece, in Spain, in England, nay even in America, direct, revolutionary, economic action is again becoming so strong a force in the battle for liberty as to make the world realize the tremendous importance of labor’s power. The General Strike, the supreme expression of the economic consciousness of the workers, was ridiculed in America but a short time ago. Today every great strike, in order to win, must realize the importance of the general protest.

Direct action, having proven effective along economic lines, is equally potent in the environment of the individual. There a hundred forces encroach upon her being, and only persistent resistance to them will finally set her free. Direct action against the authority in the shop, direct action against the authority of the law, direct action against the invasive, meddlesome authority of our moral code, is the logical, consistent method of Anarchism.

You might say that this is impossible, entirely impractical to dream in this way. But the true criterion of the practical is not whether the latter can keep intact the wrong or foolish; rather it is whether the scheme has vitality enough to leave the stagnant waters of the old, and build, as well as sustain, new life. In the light of this conception, Anarchism is indeed practical. More than any other idea, it is helping to do away with the wrong and foolish; more than any other idea, it is building and sustaining new life.

Revolution is but thought carried into action1.

Emma Goldman’s words resonate with a frequency that requires little modification to make them immediately applicable to our current political climate. Neither in the future nor the past, but as multiply existing presents, she infringes upon us. Whether we recognize her or not, she is there speaking in a voice that is remarkably current. Her present has become ours. Her methods, actions, ways of speaking will become ours.
  1. from Emma Goldman’ “Anarchism: What It Really Stands For,” 1917.

The Geometry of Chance

Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens

There are two reasons why keeping an extensive record of chance events is a relatively recent practice:

The first one is logical necessity. The simple fact is that prior to the xvith century, there was no such thing as a chance event. What we now refer to as events with no discernable cause would then have been interpreted as signs from some divine force.

The second reason is lack of interest. Even if a comprehensive list of unique cases did exist, no one prior to the xvith century could have ever imagined that poring over it would reveal patterns that were so regular that they could be used to predict future events. Indeed, even Pascal believed there was something paradoxical about attempting to construct, what he called, “une géométrie du hazard.”

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru

During the month of October, I visited the National Library of Wales every morning to view photographs from collections I had randomly requested the night before. It was an exercise in serendipity.

Seated at a long table, often next to an academic or an individual trying to plot his or her family tree, I would pick-up a photograph and stare at it for a long time; long enough to find signs, and when there were no signs to be found, I would invent them. In this manner, hour after hour, day after day, like those beside me prying the doors to their newly found past, I always managed to find what I was looking for.

Then one morning, after several weeks at taking meticulous notes concerning people and places I knew nothing about, I opened box 4373-b and I discovered 163 photographs of Welsh boxers. It is difficult to say exactly, but most of them appeared to have been taken sometime during the first decades of the xxth century.

As I examined each image, one at a time, I saw that great care was taken to cultivate a unique persona, one which differentiated itself from the tradition that also served as its model. It was an exercise in seduction.

Then I picked up a hand-sized stack and shuffled through them quickly. Viewed one after the other like that, the repetition in the way they stood, dressed, and shadow-boxed with the camera, gave me the impression of a visual probabilities, a statistics without numbers.

Wibold de Cambrai

In the tenth century, a bishop, Wibold of Cambrai, invented a game called Alearegularis contra alea secularis, which stands as one of the earliest examples of probabilistic thinking. Having identified each of the 56 possible combinations three dice may be thrown, the game consists of rolling a die three times, or rolling three dice one time, and then practicing, for a twenty-four hour period, the virtue associated with the particular outcome. So, for example, if a cleric were to roll 5-3-6, he would have to practice chastity (for example) for a whole one day.

This elementary exercise in working out permutations initiated a long process of mathematizing chance events, to which we owe the following: the end of the plague, Pascal’s wager, the concept of life expectancy, the normal curve, the weather forecast, insurance policies, and economics as we know it today.


Johnny Basham, also known as ‘The Happy Wanderer’. He had a distinguished career as a prizefighter. He won several titles, including the newly established Lonsdale belt, which he is wearing in the image. In 1913, he became famous for killing Harry Price in the ring. He was acquitted when the judge concluded that the fight had been conducted “fairly and sportingly”.


Slogger Jones. Only two of his bouts are on record, both against Herbie Nurse. He lost both.


Fred Carpenter, from Merthyr. For a long time, Merthyr was the most important coal mining area in Wales.


Bryn Edwards. Out of his five fights on record, he won one, lost four, and one was a draw.


Ben Hardwick. He fought Jimmy Wilde in 1913. It was a draw.


Frederick Hall Thomas, otherwise known as Freddie Welsh. Uncommonly for a boxer, Freddie Welsh came from a wealthy family. At 16 years old, he left home for America. His first bout was in Philadelphia, where thousands of Welsh coal miners had emigrated to work the mines of Pennsylvania. When he returned to Wales, he had a new name and an American accent. In 1914, he was crowned lightweight champion of the world, a title which he held until 1917. Welsh once said that for him prizefighting was a business, not a game, and certainly not a pleasure.


Danny O’Connor, from Pontypridd. At the beginning of the xxth century, Pontypridd was the hub of the Welsh boxing universe.


Jack Moody, also from Pontypridd. He had six brothers, all of whom became boxers.


I haven’t been able to find out who this is.


Jimmy Wilde. At the time when he started to work in the mines, at age 12 or 13, the Rhondda Valley was producing about one third of the world’s coal exports. He quit mining at 21, during a strike when he realized he could earn more money fighting than working full-time at the pit. He never weighed much more than 100 pounds and many consider Wilde to be the greatest boxer of all time.


I don’t know who this is either.


Daï Roberts, from Cardiff. He fought a recorded 77 bouts in the 1910s. This was the golden age of boxing in Wales, and the peak of the coal industry. By 1913, Cardiff was the largest coal exporting port in the world.

Girolamo Cardano

One of the earliest mathematical attempts to analyse chance stumbled over the problem of distribution. Girolamo Cardano, the 16th century Italian physician, mathematician and hardened gambler, was compelled to admit that each face of a die occurs once in every six rolls. Yet his calculation contradicted what he was able to observe at the gambling tables. In order to explain this discrepancy, Cardano stated that the necessary connection between the probability of an event occurring and its actual occurrence was disrupted by the intervention of luck.

So when Cardano was able to successfully predict the date of his own death, observers must have thought that he just got lucky. Though the somewhat less credulous claimed that even in death he cheated, by committing, what we might call, a ‘probable’ suicide.

Cartesian space

Also while doing research in Wales, I came across a graph drawn by the hand of British political economist and statistician, William Stanley Jevons.1

In it, a series of numbers climb the left margin, one on top of the other.

Another series, less dense, just long enough to establish scale and direction, appears at the bottom of the page, from left to right.

More numbers, and an equal quantity of dots, have been placed around the centre of the grid. Unlike the first two series, they are irregularly distributed.

The numbers on the left represent quantities. At the bottom are prices. The unruly ones, years.

Perhaps, the whole graph represents the demand for coal.

This is the year 1858.

This is 1863.

This is 1862.

And this is 1865.

Later, almost as an afterthought, a dashed line is drawn.

It does not represent anything, yet its focus and regularity appears to call the dots to order, to a regular function. Suddenly, the isolated dots look confused, disorganised, almost stupid.

As the Cartesian space populated with statistical data came to serve as a test bed for theories, it completely changed the relevant domain of discourse in political economy. From that point on, political economists wanted to be knownsimply as economists – and those who did not fit the practice of testing their theories against statistics were dismissed as “armchair theorists”.


Box 4373-b contained a total of 163 photographs of Welsh boxers. There are approximately 800,000 photographs housed at the National Library of Wales. The odds of finding a photo of a Welsh boxer at the Library are 4,908 to 1.
At any moment, if every outcome has a chance or a likelihood of taking place, odds are simply an interpretation of that likelihood.


1865 is the year William Stanley Jevons published The Coal Question: An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal Mines, a paradigmatic study on the depletion of a strategic resource and its impact on the glory of Britain.

It is the very same year that John Graham Chambers, a Welshman, drafted the Marquess of Queensbury rules, a code designed to elevate prizefighting, banned since 1750 for its barbarism and underworld associations, to a spectacle more palpable to the growing middle classes.

But it is more than the year 1865 that links these two works. For, if The Coal Question explored the explosion of the demand for coal which led to the rapid industrialisation of South Wales, it is precisely out of the violence of this industrialisation that boxing emerged as an important stage in Welsh society, producing a prolific stream of champions and the emergence of local working-class heroes. The geometry of supply and demand.

The fly

The concept of ‘space’ can denote the physical or temporal absence that exists between two objects or events, like the distance between two people, or the silence between two words. It may also denote the everythingness that surrounds us, like when we look up and appreciate the vastness of the sky.

When fragmented into smaller bits, space has the capacity to retain the inherent spaceness of the original: erecting a wall gets you two spaces where before there was one. In this way, space behaves more like a monad than an atom: it has no parts (although we may speak of part of a space). By placing an object in space, it is possible to create an indefinite number of new spaces: the space of the object, behind the object, under the object, and so on. Space defies arithmetic: by adding something to space, it multiplies.

Lying in bed one morning, Descartes purportedly invented coordinate space while imagining how to communicate the movements of a fly he watched ambulating on the ceiling. His solution, to describe the fly’s position relative to its distance from the walls of the room, amounted to reducing the total space occupied by the insect to a single dot. What he gained in precision, he lost in accuracy. He also lost the fly.

  1. Image caption: Details of graph by William Stanley Jevons, item  JA/48/89. Reproduced by courtesy of the University Librarian and director, the John Rylands University Library, The University of Manchester.

The Time of the Work, the Time of the Act

Bernard Aspe

Bernard Aspe is one of the most interesting figures emerging from contemporary French political philosophy. Born in 1970, agrégé in philosophy, he is the author of L’instant d’après. Projectiles pour une politique à l’état naissant (La Fabrique, 2006) and more recently, Les mots et les actes (Nous, 2011). He has written in various magazines such as Alice, Persistances, Chimères and Multitudes and published influential articles on the work of Gilbert Simondon. His thesis, La pensée de l’individuation et la subjectivation politique (2001), was supervised by Jacques Rancière.

This interview began in the summer of 2011, in the Brittany countryside, and was then continued by electronic means. Between his account of Rennes’ political occupations of the early 2000s, his critique of the neurotic time of capital, his confrontation with speculative constructivism and his remarks on the question of the soul and the transindividual in Simondon’s work, Aspe develops a coherent and original philosophy or way of thinking articulated around a fundamental question: what is a political act?12 — lm

The need for action

le merle

By way of introduction, could you sketch out a brief overview of the course your thinking has taken: what are the questions that have carried you through your philosophical journey? How has your relationship to the academic world unfolded? And above all: how did politics impose itself in your life?

Bernard Aspe

Politics imposed itself to me (to us, I should say, because at the time we were two, inseparable) as it did for many others, that is to say through the need for action, the necessity of intervention in the real world. It was by meeting, in the mid-1990s, activists close to Toni Negri who at the time were working on the idea of guaranteed income, that we found this ultimately very singular (to a point we hadn’t measured before) type of activity that is revolutionary politics. Fifteen years ago, the term “revolutionary” made everyone smile. Today, it is starting to be taken seriously again: let’s say it is becoming clear to many that the idea of a revolutionary disruption is in no way more delusional than having to prolong the existing state of affairs and its suicidal tendencies.

Until then we had been students of philosophy very focused on study, focused on the promises that a philosophical life seemed to hold. Like many others at that time, we wanted to see how one could “overcome” phenomenological and deconstructivist postures, this could be understood as a desire to get back to the point of view of the absolute. Of course, this rediscovery of the absolute had been at the heart of the post-Kantian thinkers’ attempts, and it seemed that a similar operation was underway with the work of Deleuze and Badiou, the two thinkers of “infinity”, the two great metaphysicians of our time (that’s what we thought then, as many did). And that it was also underway with the re-readings of Spinoza, as Deleuze then suggested, of course, but also Alexandre Matheron and Pierre Macherey especially, whose book Hegel ou Spinoza was seminal to us. Spinoza was the paradigm of an affirmative thought that did not need to go through the workings of negativity and mediation to adopt the standpoint of the absolute.

For years, the discovery of politics went alongside such philosophical work, for which the reference to Simondon had become central. It is only later, after our PhD work ended, in the early 2000s, that the incompatibility between the pursuit of this philosophical project and the discovery of what a political life requires became clear. We thought we could easily reconcile this project and this requirement, but we soon realized that we were in denial of the incompatibility between the two.

Indeed, we could no longer go on participating in the deception that says that doing metaphysics – albeit positive, affirmative, pure presentation of singularities as singularities – is working for political revolution. Therefore, we firstly had to criticize this deception. (It is also at about this time that we both had to relearn how to not exclusively say “I”.)

The words and the acts, or the embodiment of what is true


The title of your latest book is very suggestive and shows its colours clearly: it is about “marking the heterogeneity of saying and doing”, to experience (in acts) the chasm separating words and things. As both Foucault and Wittgenstein (to which you appear to be very close) would say, you stand for the necessity of a “friction” with reality, through holding a “discourse of truth”. You go so far as to say that in the current economic regime of our societies, which you define as the triumph of “generalized skepticism”, it is impossible for words and acts to be congruent. Is that to say that outside of the political, there cannot be coherence between what we say and what we do?


To hold together words and acts – to hold them together no matter what, that is to say despite the fact that there actually is an abyss between them – is not only about coherence between what we say and what we do. It is above all about not covering up the difficulty that lies in the existential leap that makes us go from one another. In this sense, one might almost say the opposite of what the question seems to indicate: it is politics, against the economy, that restores the hiatus, the impossible coherence between saying and doing. But this is the very thing, of course, that allows us to speak of “truth”. In this sense, the subjects of the economy are less incoherent beings than beings deprived of truth (political truth, at least) – and that’s why their speech is constitutively floating. There is truth, there is truth-speaking only where it is not sufficient to say, and where it requires to be established in an inscription in the real, not by being “applied” to it but by extending it by means that speech itself cannot anticipate or prescribe. How is the passage from speech to existence being made: that is unsayable proper, it has to be shown (here I paraphrase Wittgenstein); we cannot “theorize” this passage. And for this to occur, one living must make of his very existence (and not what he recollects of it in his speech) the paradigm of such an inscription. The “literal” inscription of speech is always a transposition of it, a radical move. The speech of truth-speaking always becomes something else when it is experienced and embodied.

There is truth only where there is incarnation of what’s true, being understood that it can never be reduced to an “application” of what will have been said or thought. From this point of view, I can only follow the view developed by Foucault in Les Mots et les choses on the state of “modern” thought: it does not get its ethical content from prescribing rules of action; it has irremediably lost this prescriptive ability. It is “from the start”, Foucault says, that thought “hurts or reconciles”, it is from the start that it has ethical content. It does not add up like a set of precepts that would result from “theory”. Modern thought implies subjective positions that are implemented as such by the deployment of thought (for example, here one can think of the text “Mon corps, ce papier, ce feu” that Foucault wrote in 1971 in response Derrida). These subjective positions are not activated after the fact by the application of what would function as “precepts”, they are rather the immediate effect of subjective movements inherent to the route of the thought as thought. The problem is to conclude from this that the question of the act, of the action in existence, therefore dissolves. If Foucault rightly mocks the innumerable entanglements the famous question of “the relationship between theory and practice” gives way to, he also considers, perhaps less rightly (at least at the time he wrote Les Mots et les choses), any questioning of the relationship between thought and existence as irremediably outdated.


In the fifth and last chapter of your book, entitled “works and acts”, you write: “The plinth of any speculative thought, as ‘critical’ it wishes to be, or is perceived, is nowadays a choice siding with the economy, that is to say the choice to not make the choice of politics.” Would you then say, in stride with Peter Hallward or Jacques Rancière, that there cannot be a Deleuze-inspired politics?


Peter Hallward recently defended this thesis: politics deals with the contemporaneousness of the world. A thought that defines itself in keeping “actuality” at bay to free the pure consistency of the virtual as virtual is constitutively a thought that is hostile towards politics. Indeed, from this viewpoint, we can’t see what a “Deleuze-inspired” politics could be. I quite agree with this; I would nuance only by saying that the “politics of minorities” has been able to claim the becoming-minorities as they are thematized in Mille plateaux. It seems to me that, quite rapidly, this politics has showed its limitations. At no point was it able to substitute itself to revolutionary politics, which was still attached to the “worker” referent until the beginning of the seventies. The figure of the worker can no longer be a focus for the crystallization of revolutionary enunciation, but this in no way signifies that we would have moved from the One (the working class) to the Multiple (minorities or becoming-minoritarians). Today it is about knowing what are the ways of unification that can exist, that are not the crushing of singularities but that are able to trace a parting line enabling us to spot the positions of the enemy. As Tronti says, there is politics only where there are two camps. Politics is not the One or the Multiple, it is Two. But two is not “the contradiction”(another error, that of Maoist rhetoric); it is separation, the parting line demarcating an enemy position.


How are political acts such as you conceive them different from the infinite divergence of “practices”, in the strong sense Isabelle Stengers gives to this term?


Stengers’s position remains the one of the speculative philosopher: it is about knowing how the differences are composed as differences, or singularities as singularities (therefore once the speculative scheme is rid? of the idea of “totalization”). It is not about taking sides inside of these differences, these singularities. “For her and, in this perspective, as for Bruno Latour, the problem is to find ways for compossibility. The problem we inherited from Kierkegaard is exactly the opposite: it is about finding the ways through which our intolerance can be expressed. This is not enough to formulate a critique of the term ‘tolerance’, as justified as it may be.(…)” (I think of “To be Done withTolerance”, in Cosmopolitics II, University of Minnesota Press, 2011).


You set up a radical separation between the work and the act. But there is another way of asking the question of the act, in relation to the idea of magic (see Stengers, Sloterdijk or Tiqqun for example), which implies thinking our presence in a continuum with the world. How would you place yourself in relation to this way of thinking about the act?


There are two main types of thought: enveloping thought and cutting thought. The first deploys an imaginary space that we can inhabit only with those who share the existential disposition that consists in admitting that this space exists and that it matters. The latter is primarily concerned with taking us back to the point where thought can no longer be contemplation of its own space, and has to figure out a way to designate what is not an outside (one could very well have a speculative approach of the Outside immanent to thought), but a leap. To me, this Kierkegaardian term seems irreducible here. In Tiqqun’s perspective, there is an attempt to synthesize these two types of thought. This attempt appears to me to be constitutively bound to fail, even if the term “magic” is solicited.

It seems obvious to me, to put it differently, that politics requires a thought of cuts that cannot be reconciled with the gesture “of thinking our presence in a continuum with the world.” There are many points of unseparation, between beings, or between beings and a given section of world. I agree with the idea that we need to begin from such points of unseparation to grasp what a transindividual relationship can be. But politics calls for discontinuity. The mistake would be to believe that this discontinuity necessarily summons the schema of the “anthropological break” that Badiou, for example, solicits to the extreme with his concept of the “empty”. The discontinuity is not between the world and what belongs to “man proper”, it is not between the objective world and the perceiving or thinking subject. It is in the real of time: the instant (Kierkegaard).


At the beginning of your book, you clearly indicate that you are not speaking to those considered to be caught in the web of the society of the spectacle, but to the enlightened intellectuals and other “men of culture”, of whom you say that they have forgotten the difference between what you call the “works” [œuvre] and the acts themselves. How is this requirement of the act laid down in the context of the “cultural economy”? Or, without wanting to put salt in a wound which, I close to home: to write a book like yours, is it a work or an act?


On this point, there is no ambiguity: to write a book is not to act: it is laying a milestone in the construction of a work (regardless of its value). One could retort rightly that in some situations, the writing and publishing of a book or text is strictly inseparable from an action: for example, in places where a certain kind of writing is prohibited and such disclosure requires a concentration between people who are, nevertheless, setting up a strategy to disseminate these writings, etc. This is quite true, but in this case the act lies not in having thought, suggested, or exposed one’s thinking: that should never be confused with an act. An act imposes a choice on at least one other than he who made this choice. This is what happens in any relation that involves the effectuation of a transmission, or a healing, or a romantic relationship. So there are, in fact, acts outside of politics, but it could be said that politics presents the paradigmatic form of the act: a choice that imposes itself on he who did not choose it, and more so on those who had explicitly refused it. Where there is political action, there are 1) people who don’t want anything to do with it, and 2) enemies who would like to see it disappear (as a political force, at least), those who set it in motion; and there is the necessity to impose the effects of this action to the first and the second.

What is cultural economy? Let’s say it’s the alleviating space of the side-effects that can be attached to the exposure or making public of a work. Side effects, because once again, a work exhibiting itself as a work is never an act as such: it is at best a proposition of existence, it is never the imposition of a bifurcation on a trajectory of existence. There may be, however, side effects to this exhibition: you can never know in what ways, nor how far, the influence of a work can go. But the cultural economy is there to channel them, that is to say literally to describe the channels through which these effects will be able to flow. Seminars, conferences and journals all are examples of the space where this flow is collected.

There is political act only where you are not, or are no more, in cultural economy. My book is in no way a political action. No book can be, unless it constitutes a proposed arrangement to carry an action, or to amplify it; and yet, even then, it itself is not action, it is becoming it by what was involved in the event of its elaboration or of its exhibition (when such a book has the status of political “manifesto”, for example).

The neurotic temporality of capital


One last question, on the theme of cultural economy: your book is full of shrewd characterizations of the modes of subjectivation required by capitalism. For example, you say that “economy is the dispersion of pathways of existence that became profitable”, or that “the source of valorization, in cognitive capitalism, is the work that individuals have to operate on themselves, struggling with their structural inconsistencies, in order to fit their suffering and depression to their creative abilities, so to ‘stay in the race’”. Finally, you conclude by saying that “the temporality of capital is nothing but neurotic temporality”. Does the conversion to politics appear, ultimately, to be the only real therapy against the anxieties produced by globalized capitalism?


I do believe that there is no real therapy in the world of capital outside of the one that goes through politics. It does not confuse itself with a therapeutic practice; but a therapeutic practice that excludes politics is bound to maintain properly pathogenic illusions. What I say now was obvious to many in the 1960s and 1970s. We can only observe all of what has been lost since this obviousness has left.

It seems to me that more than ever, the subject of the capitalist economy is subject to a contradictory injunction: we expect him or her to live the time of his life as the time its accomplishment (the only one given to him, the “remaining time” in this sense) and at the same time, to submit to the generalized acceleration that characterizes the present state of world of capital (I am thinking of an important book by Hartmut Rosa, Accélération. Une critique sociale du temps, La découverte, 2010) that relentlessly thwarts this accomplishment by delaying it indefinitely. An acceleration that simultaneously obstructs all dimensions of time: the future must not be welcomed in his own unthinkability, but managed; relationship with the past is no longer maintained by an art of memory (which could for example restore their absent presence to those that Simondon called “the living of the past”), but an object of a commemoration (or a repression); and the present, which seems more privileged than ever (sociologists even speak of “presentism” to describe the inability of the subject to refer to a horizon that exceeds the experience of the moment), is actually dodged, bypassed, averted. For there is no present without a resolution (I know this is a Heideggerian motif, but we find its origin in the Schelling-Kierkegaard lineage) that makes us to be exactly where we are, fully there [sans réserve]. Yet the subject of economy cannot “enjoy the present”, as he continues to proclaim, if he doesn’t at the same time keep many life possibilities in reserve, maintaining several open doors – insofar as he knows that what he experiences might some day not suit him anymore. He needs to reassure himself by saying that the life he has is not the only possible one, that he can always “change”. Thus he trusts what he has yet to experience, like others in other times placed their faith in another world which they had yet to experience. The world has become fully immanent, the false transcendence remained: now it is hardly “otherworldly”, but rather that of the life experiences that remain to be explored. Being somewhere –to be situated in the world– is an object of panic for our contemporary subject.

Let’s just say that the subject of economy has misread Spinoza: he believes he should let himself be driven by the question “what do I desire?” If necessary, he goes to a psychoanalyst for advice. But he did not understand that the question of what he desires could not lend itself to being resolved except from the understanding of a necessity. It is when I’m in adequacy with what could be called a subjective necessity (because here I am not talking about necessities that would be imposed by the “order of things”) that I can finally find my way through what I call “my desire”.

  1. Thank you to T. for making this interview possible
  2. Translated by Patrick-Guy Desjardins

Vestiges préemptifs (excerpt), 2012

Simon Brown

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Vestiges préemptifs (excerpt), Sainte-Cécile-de-Milton, 2012

Simon Brown

    Our Literal Speed

    Abbey Shaine Dubin

    Abbey Shaine Dubin, an artist, approaches a podium and begins to speak.1

    Abbey Shaine Dubin: In 2006, as an undergrad studying art history, I found myself in attendance at something called a theory installation at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. This installation was a collaborative work between the Jackson Pollock Bar, a theater-cum-art collective based in Freiburg Germany and Art and Language, the British conceptual art group that’s been around since the 1960s, comprised of Michael Baldwin, Mel Ramsden, and Charles Harrison. I had no idea what to expect, but something stodgy and vaguely educational seemed likely.

    The piece was entitled “Theses on Feuerbach.” The San Diego Freeway hummed dully in the distance, as I settled into the back row of a trapezoidal room, the sun still high behind rows of mechanized blinds. This was the Getty Research Institute’s main conference space, a Bauhausy construction joined to the main museum building by a dirty white travertine walkway. In theory, the theory installation was open to the general public. It could have been attended by any one of the Los Angeles Metro Area’s eighteen million souls, but only about thirty chairs were filled. At the front of the room stood a table with three name cards bearing the names of Baldwin, Ramsden, and Harrison perched before microphones.

    When the three men took their seats it was immediately clear that they were not Art and Language; too young, too Hollywood looking.

    A conversation ensued, or rather a pre-recorded track played over loud speakers while the three men lip-synched into the un-amped mics before them. The content covered the conditions of production and reception in the contemporary art world.

    Later, the men at the conference table were interrupted by an aggressive female questioner in the audience, who also lip-synched her lines. What is more, Jackson Pollock Bar performed the “theory installation” while the real members of Art & Language looked on from the audience.

    Among other things, in the theory installation, the actors said: “The theories of theoreticians, and indeed the theoreticians themselves, no longer form a neutral abstract background to the aesthetic. They have developed so as to constitute its material. The “aesthetic” has become discursive and “discourse” has become aesthetic.” The statement itself openly echoes Marx’s “Theses on Feuerbach” which lament an “idealism that does not know real, sensuous activity as such…but regards the theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude…”

    Upon the theory installation’s conclusion, the Jackson Pollock Bar and Art & Language launched another panel discussion that fielded questions from the audience about the just “performed” panel discussion. At the conclusion of the event, I was left with the uncanny feeling of having watched culture performed, rather than having watched yet another cultural performance. The event was artful and arresting, even captivating, yet extremely difficult to describe in the terms of art.

    There are some atmospheres in which one must literally describe one’s experience to oneself in order to try to understand it. I believe this process leads to greater self-knowledge. This is not easy. And this is my stake in the project of Our Literals Speed: to produce psychological environments in which no one, not the producer, nor the spectator can colonize the experience readily with words.

    In 2006, Our Literal Speed began as a collective in earnest and I adopted three injunctions that have guided my art-making:


    1. Work with what made you who you already are.
    2. Everything starts with words. Even art. So concentrate first on words, then on art.
    3. Stuff near art that is not art, which is treated as if it were art, is now the substance of most serious art.

    So, we worked within the pedagogical arena of academic conferences and roundtable discussions, as a student of art history working in collaboration with art historians, it’s what we had access to. And, importantly, they are formats for which there already existed prevailing expectations. Our Literal Speed composed scenarios that were close to, but not identical to, the prescribed formats; they had to embody what one might call “a strong nearness.” Like the uncanny valley: not quite the thing itself, but near enough to the real that one would not be discomforted. We realized that we had to produce minor deviations from the normal format; a series of speed-bumps; small things, things that generally go unarticulated. It’s a deductive structure: we focus on activities that already exist near art that are not themselves art. This tends to yield a low budget discursive atmosphere with few hard edges and little room for hard ideology.

    The first major Our Literal Speed conference/event was held at the Zentrum für Kunst und Mediatechnolodge in Karlsruhe Germany in 2008. At the ZKM, a collaborator and myself delivered the first of what has since become the core of this practice; a performance script. One could even say that the entire structure of the three–day conference at the ZKM was composed solely to create a framework for this performance script. We delivered the address to a room full of tenured, mid-career, academics who didn’t know us from Adam and Eve. What were our credentials? Why were we so young? The questions at the end of our presentation came fast and furious like so many bullets from a firing squad. We had sufficiently alienated and antagonized them and they were retaliating with vigor. But none of the questions addressed the content of the talk; they were entirely concerned with the presentation and determining the relationship between the words and the bodies behind the podium. Everyone involved felt harassed and disquieted. That is, it was a success and the performance script has endured.

    This leads to one of Our Literal Speed’s crucial assumptions: Modernism never ended, rather its artists were superseded by modernist art historians and art critics. These figures, one could say, gradually converted their medium, art writing, into an activity that bordered on art practice, although it was not art itself. We would argue that “discourse performance” in the visual arts, much like poststructuralist theory in the literary world, became a crucial zone for experimentation over the last thirty years. If as Rosalind Krauss wrote, “Barthes and Derrida are the writers, not the critics, that students now read,” then is it not also true that the “discourse performer,” not the art writer, became the model for a younger generation of critics and artists? None of this is new. This is the para-artistic space of late/post modernism; an environment in which the lecture, the panel discussion, and the public event were transformed into the gestural vocabulary that we now encounter in Walid Raad’s PowerPoints and Andrea Fraser’s institutional acts. Deliberately experimental, Our Literal Speed, attempts to re-think the forms (objects, lectures, essays, reviews, performances, and general art talk) that make contemporary art contemporary.

    In particular, our performance scripts ask: what does it mean for an artist to be working in the age of social networking?

    Mediated sociality means that your professional activity most often turns you into a cast of characters, extravagant avatars, and now playing the role of the talkative schizophrenic just demonstrates that you are a well-adjusted, with-it kind of person. As an artist one is expected to avoid being associated with any overly defined set of skills. As an artist, you are expected to float in the flow of events, be ready to become anonymous, and then abandon that anonymity at the right time. Frankly, these are not positive developments to me, but realities nonetheless that one must accept. In this way, we in the artworld provide an atmosphere of high-end humanistic quality, a kind of neo-traditional, psychological décor for the ruling class. I mean, we’re all working on the intellectual and creative side of the hospitality industry, which is a very strange place to be. We serve as essentially decorative entities within the Mansion of Global Capitalism… and art is at the highest high end of the hospitality industry, fetishizing the ideal of the free and freaky artist. But, functionally speaking, any random cat video on YouTube will have a lot more cultural impact than anything I’m doing here, today in the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Building or if you are reading this, then on the pages of Le Merle. The distinctive creative idiom of our time is maturing elsewhere.

    And this is the crux of Our Literal Speed. We want to find where that distinctive creative idiom might be. It’s not to be found in the mainstream of the artworld, at the corporately-sponsored DJ parties during Art Basel, not that there’s anything wrong with those things, or in the mainstream of academia, in the bland lecture halls of CAA—not that there’s anything particularly egregious about CAA either. I believe that one must look in neglected spaces. Peripheral experiences. It’s as if today, all confident statements made in appropriate places by appropriate people at appropriate times, all gestures that affirm: “As an important communicator, I am communicating this important information to you…” those kinds of gestures seem somehow empty…superfluous.”

    It seems that the future of art might belong to gestures that, for all intents and purposes, have never been made. Only if we are unsure who did it, what they did, where they did it, why they did it, and how they managed to do it, only then do our minds really become constructively engaged. That is, we have so much information today, so much cultural conditioning, that only a deficit of information and cultural framing can yield something genuinely compelling. It’s kind of like the Impressionists ditching the expected “realist” rendering of the world to manifest their surroundings’ ephemeral qualities through light or color.

    Something very much like that is happening with art and art writing today. We just get bombarded with so many opinions, so much data, so many facts, so fast, that only something that makes us think, “What is a fact? What is an opinion? What is informative?” Only that sort of stuff causes our descriptive energies to kick in, get the interpretive juices flowing. So, it’s the instability, the inscrutability of the gesture, its lack of appropriateness mixed with the gesture’s seeming ambition to be completely appropriate that gives it resonance. That’s what grabs us. Or maybe I can put it like this: if the twentieth century was defined by the Readymade, then the twenty-first century may belong to the Nevermade.

    Talking about Our Literal Speed is still a very new mode of engagement for me, as opposed to performing or writing content for the project. With that in mind I am still very much trying to explain a project that, in some regards, has very few enduring parameters, no set cast of players, and no singular site. So, for the sake of this presentation I’ll start from the beginning.

    I think art is different from most other things because we’re never really sure what art is. To me, this is visual art’s motivating paradox, the thing that makes art baffling, even antagonizing. Some would argue that art is “an ontologically unstable category of cultural production,” but maybe we should just say that art is like a trinket that we’ve surreptitiously stuffed into our pocket on our way to civilization. It’s a remnant of believing in magic and the incantatory power of mumbo jumbo. Art has its roots in desire and fear made over into stuff. So I think if you look back, nearly every important artwork, every “masterpiece,” nearly every one of them was once hard to even see as good art, much less as GREAT art, from Rembrandt to Manet to Kaprow. Our Literal Speed is currently engaged in writing a book about the feelings that happen near these kinds of thoughts.

    As I said, Our Literal Speed began in 2006 in correspondence with seeing the Jackson Pollock Bar’s performance at the Getty and my first solo-art show in a storefront in Beverly Hills.

    The installation was called A Real Allegory of a Seven-Year Phase in My Artistic (and Moral) Life. This installation, referring to the full title of Courbet’s painting The Artist’s Studio is a self-reflective recapitulation of the previous seven years of my existence as a fashion model. It consisted of three California King beds, gowns from the just performed runway shows in London, and a cadre of gentleman sex workers. However, upon its installation it was clear that the piece aptly and allegorically gestured toward the art world, fashion, and, notably, to our contemporary professional subjectivities, whether you are a professor, a curator, an artist, or a fashion model.

    As a model, you’re always hustled into the back scenes of a fashion show. Then you’re poked in the eyes with pencils and your hair is aggressively tugged at—it’s an assault. Your clothes are pealed off you by one person, while a second squeezes you into, and more often than not, sews you into, some designer’s creation, whilst some sleazy diminutive male photographer hides amongst the racks of clothing, lens angling for the perfect “behind the scenes accidental nudity shot.” You are then attached to high heels that place you closer to seven feet tall than to six. And before you have a chance to scream “Not in your life!” someone more accustomed to yelling slaps you on the back and barks: “Avanti!”

    You are pushed out, music pumping, heart rattling, ankles twisting, to find a world bathed in total blinding light, an endless tunnel of light, with more lights, smaller flashing ones, in the far distance. This is the only indication of where to go—just walk into the light. This is the model’s experience of a fashion show.

    Immediately after one show you’re grabbed by a driver and delivered to the next to perform the whole “walk into the light” act all over again. With each additional runway show you are closer to believing that you cannot dress yourself, that if you do not look like a drag queen then you’ve made a terrible mistake, and that walking should be done exclusively on a pay-by-step basis.

    Entirely enmeshed in the product, the model is never privy to the experience of the consumer or audience. You are literally always blinded by production.

    So, “being blinded by production” then is another way of saying that your actions are always already so codified, so conventionalized, so obviously appropriate, that they become completely self-obscuring—that is, if you are thinking about what you are doing as a model, then you are already doing it wrong.  And I’ve come to think that something like this holds true for cultural experience too. When it becomes a walk into the tunnel of light; when all of this important stuff [gestures around]—all of this well-compensated and happy ambition to impress and inspire with words and ideas—when all of this starts to feel less like the inner workings of a Habermasian public sphere and something a lot more like an intelligentsia’s fashion show—then we all become cultural producers walking down a very long and blinding runway, thrusting ourselves again and again into the artistic and discursive light.

    To be more prosaic, in the standard version of art practice, the Power Point lecture, the editorial meeting, the question and answer period, the studio visit, the critique, the hallway conversation, the academic introduction, the gallery exhibition, and the après opening dinner receptions… that is, all the LITERAL conditions around art that make it functionally available to the public—are NEVER the real message. All of the meaningful stuff of art and academia supposedly exists within an extremely narrow, artificially homogenized interpretive framework; yet, it seems that it is only a matter of time before these activities will cease to be viewed as abstract, neutral backdrops. Logically, they will soon become historical, even ripe to become the content of a book.

    This is, in fact, the book that I am working on at this moment. It is called Our Literal Speed, though it is not so much ABOUT our art project, as it is itself a project in its own right.

    It works like this: In January 2006, immediately after the Beverly Hills art installation and that Jackson Pollock Bar theory thing that I described, I decided that I would spend the next seven years of my life not trying to BE a professional artist, even though I did eventually receive a MFA from UCLA; instead, I decided that I would allow Our Literal Speed to become my primary art endeavor and that I would simultaneously write a book about the process of what it means to try to become a professional female artist today. This was my one work of art during this seven-year period.

    The Our Literal Speed book project is a character-driven, narrative account of the project’s formation and development; however, the book exists not merely as a document about itself but also as an art/discursive project in its own right. The book concludes with the founding of the Our Literal Speed art space in Selma, Alabama and the invitation to the reader to visit this real world site. We view the book as the narrative prologue to our Selma-based “media opera” (i.e., an eclectic mix of developing events), a kind of post-postmodern academic and artworld variation on the soap opera. And like the soap opera itself (another fading relic from the twentieth century), OLS has no obvious reason to exist and no preordained endpoint. Ironically, these two features have allowed our undertaking to enjoy great dexterity and freedom as an art project.

    OLS has performed at MoMA in front of hundreds and in Selma in front of a half dozen, yet such events carry equal importance for us. Acquiring more spectators and more publicity are not our goals; rather, we seek to understand spectatorship and publicity themselves as materials for art-making and art-thinking. We wish to treat them in the same way one treats canvas or marble. In the process, we aim to carve out zones of unexpected contemplation, places in which we can ask ourselves and our audience: What is the psycho-material character of art in our age of social-media, the dawning of all-encompassing virtual reality, and mass avatarization? The answers to such questions, we assume, must be complex and no doubt can only meaningfully unfold over space and time.

    The Our Literal Speed book project and Selma “media opera” grow out of these convictions and concerns.

    The social and aesthetic atmosphere of Selma contributed directly to one of the greatest progressive achievements of the twentieth century: the political enfranchisement of one tenth of the American population. However, we see Selma not only as a site of mass political action, but also as a place where the tremendous artfulness and formal inventiveness of the civil rights movement made themselves manifest. Today Selma borders the most conservative congressional district in the United States (widest McCain over Obama margin nationally) within a state that is enacting the nation’s most repressive immigration laws. In Selma, we are attempting to discover the structures for an alternative art-world and academic-world; one that does not yet exist; one that will not revolve around seminar rooms or DJ-ed parties. The book is the narrative back-story; the media opera, the unfolding future.
    In January 2013, this book project will come to a close, though Our Literal Speed will go on.

    1. This event took place in the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Building at the Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada, 16 February 2012

    Institutional Critique Flair Button

    Charles Gute

    In corporate culture, “flair” refers to the buttons and badges that employees on the front lines of retail or foodservice are often encouraged to wear as part of their working attire. Typically the mandate to wear flair will be couched in the rhetoric of “employee self-expression”—despite the fact that such seemingly good-humored adornments are explicitly designed to promote fixed corporate agendas.

    Institutional Critique Flair Button (2011) is a freely distributed button that democratizes art discourse while playfully suggesting the co-optation of critique through scripted marketing. It was originally produced as a public art intervention by Invisible Venue for Southern Exposure during a San Francisco conference hosted by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and subsequently as part of the exhibition “Scripts for Art” presented at Walden Affairs in The Hague.

    This artist’s edition will accompany the first 50 copies of the spring 2012 issue of Le Merle. For more on the artist’s work go to charlesgute.com

      To Make One’s Soul Anonymous: Practical Itinerary

      Erik Bordeleau

      You will have wanted to open up. You will have wanted to feel. You will have wanted to experience the other. Its nearby orient. Its distant diversity. But did you experience yourself? This is a spiritual problem. A practical problem.

      We will play a game. The game of wander. I’ll be the one who’s lost. You will vaguely try to find me. I will arch myself in the future. You will curl into a ball of past. There. Let’s not move. Here we are. Transparent. A Friction of present.

      To open up, and thus experience the subtle alchemy of the outside, is like having a soul – it is not about you only.1





      exercise: Imagine you are as transparent as glass, and that everything that is inside of you can be is visible. You do not need to offer words or thoughts or change anything, just imagine that everything that is inside of you can be seen by whatever is outside of you. This is an offering and that which is being offered is your soul.2


      exercise: The care for opacity. 知其百, 守其黑, 为天下式 (zhi qi bai, shou qui hei, wei tian xia shi). «Know the white, keep the black, and become the model of the world». Taoist exercise at the end of which the practitioner can disappear and multiply. To be practiced at dusk, in touch with your shadow.


      exercise: The Kafka method. It is not necessary that you leave the house. Remain at your table and listen. Do not even listen, only wait. Do not even wait, be wholly still and alone. The world will present itself to you for its unmasking, it can do no other, in ecstasy it will writhe at your feet.


      exercise: the islamo-apocalyptic or cyclonopedic way. Very risky. Lock yourself in a strategic alignment with the outside in such a way to achieve complicity with the anonymous materials and other dark and highly inflammable matters that make up the universe. Farthest from any desire to open up to the world, bury methodically yourself in yourself in order to obtain a hollow. Then arouse capture by outside forces and make yourself a lure for them. You shall be flesh, prey, flame and spirit. Wide open.


      exercise: To practice the chiaroscuro of love:  To live in intimacy with a stranger, not in order to draw him closer, or to make him known, but rather to keep him strange, remote: unapparent – so unapparent that his name contains him entirely. And, even in discomfort, to be nothing else, day after day, than the ever open place, the unwaning light in which that one being, that thing, remains forever exposed and sealed off.3




      At the heart of Zoo 2011, we do not find individuals, but practices: heterogeneous, singular, divergent practices; practices of subsistence, of resistance, practices that draw planes of consistency. Each practice puts the subject accomplishing it under tension, opening a possibility to go beyond oneself – a life in exercise. And you, viewer, you are also, at this very moment, in practice. Can you feel it? Remember: we are touching each other.




      Spectators see, feel and understand something in as much as they compose their own poem, as, in their way, do actors or playwrights, directors, dancers or performers. (…)
      The collective power shared by spectators does not stem from the fact that they are members of a collective body or from some specific form of interactivity. It is the power each of them has to translate what she perceives in her own way, to link it to the unique intellectual adventure that makes her similar to all the rest in as much as this adventure is not like any other.4




      At the heart of every practice, there is something that requires a particular care. Let’s call this thing, after Isabelle Stengers, the sedentary component of practices. Stengers emphasis on oikos, domus or sedentarity must be understood in its most literal sense, that is, as relative to ethos, a way of being through which one ‘in-habits’ and produces an existential territory. In this sense, each practice, in its irreducible difference, literally, matters. “The way a practice, a mode of life or a being diverge designates what is important to them, in a sense that is not subjective but constitutive – if what is important to them can’t be made important, they will be mutilated or destroyed.”5

      In the perspective of an ecology of practices that promotes transductive experiences of deterritorialisation, the sedentary component refers to the interiority of a fold, a minima of belonging, a threshold of territoriality, a differential vulnerability – that is, a soul – that constitutes itself as a practical limit against the destructiveness of generalized equivalence.  The affirmation of the sedentary component of a vital practice opposes the modernist and hegemonic understanding of economics: all things – all practices – are not equal! “Whoever is engaged in an activity such that all ways of doing are not equivalent” is, in this sense, a practitioner. This means of course that an economic order in which it is normal to “sell one’s own workforce” is an order dedicated to destroy practices.”6

      Where capitalism pretends to offer an enchanted and smooth economic rationality, it is important that we learn how to explicate the question of our vulnerability to that logic that isolates and neutralizes us. Here is why Stengers is so interested in the magical practices of contemporary witches: their first gesture consists in tracing a circle, an inner space in which to produce a collective immunity and thus “creating the closed space where the forces they have a vital need for can be convoked.” This praxis of existential catalysis highlights our own ways of preserving our capacities to hold on and act.




      Here it is difficult as it were to keep our heads up, — to see that we must stick to the subjects of our everyday thinking, and not go astray and imagine that we have to describe extreme subtleties, which in turn after all we are quite unable to describe with the means at our disposal. We feel as if we had to repair a torn spider’s web with our fingers.
      We have got on to slippery ice where there is no friction and so in a certain sense the conditions are ideal, but also, just because of that, we are unable to walk. We want to walk: so we need friction. Back to the rough ground!7




      Your soul is defined by the risk of losing it. It can be torn, forgotten, reduced. It can also be saved. The soul and its constant need for refocusing. But don’t forget: we are modern now. To have a soul obliges us to grapple with the problem of how to inhabit your present. In all eternity. “In your patience you shall possess your souls.” (Luke, 21 :19) In this regard, some practices are more conducive than others, as you well know.




      Most people take pride at being good at something specific, which happen through the accumulation of experience. Yet the flitting disposition is pressed upon workers from above by the current generation of management revolutionaries, for whom the ethics of craftsmanship is actually something to be rooted out from the workforce.  Craftsmanship means dwelling on a task for a long time and going deeply into it, because you want to get it right. In management speak, it is called “being ingrown”. The preferred role model is the management consultant, who swoops in and out and whose very pride lies in his lack of particular expertise. Like the ideal consumer, the management consultant presents an image of soaring freedom, in light of which the manual trades appear cramped and paltry: the plumber with his butt crack, peering under the sink.8




      The temporality of capital is nothing else than neurotic temporality: dodging the present, clogged past, predictable future; future conjured in the form of risk management, past conjured in the form of commemorations (compulsive rites, if any). But cognitive capitalism now corners each person in the double injunction of settling in a neurotic temporality that, as it is, makes life impossible, and to unfold for one’s sake the dimensions of time simultaneously, by which the accomplishment of life can only be experienced. Maybe the current “crisis” and those to come find, with this subjective tension related to time, their most profound resources.9




      We are now arrived at the threshold of communism. Communism understood not as another way of distributing wealth or to manage society, but as an ethical disposition. A disposition to let ourselves be touched, in our contact with other beings, by what is common to us. Disposition to share what we have in common.




      We get together again as whatever singularities. That is to say not on the basis of a common affiliation, but of a common presence. This is our need for communism. The need for nocturnal spaces, where we can get together beyond our predicates. Beyond the tyranny of recognition Which imposes recognition as a final distance between bodies. As an ineluctable separation.

      I make the experience of this slight displacement. The experience of my own desubjectivisation. I become a whatever singularity. My presence starts overflowing the whole apparatus of qualities that are usually associated with me.

      I need to become anonymous. In order to be present. The more anonymous I am, the more present I am.10

      1. This text was part of a theatrical performance entitled ZOO 2011, created by Rodrigue Jean and Gaétan Nadeau and held at Espace libre from October 11-29 2011. ZOO 2011 presented practitioners coming from a variety of horizons and invited them to simply “do their thing”; the public for its part could freely wander around in the space and think, among other things, about its own relation to the practice of spectatorship.
      2. Cooley Windsor, «Futurefarmers Rosary: A series of spiritual Exercises for Perceiving the Soul», 2011
      3. Giorgio Agamben, Idea of Prose, State University of New York Press, New York, 1995, p.61
      4. Jacques Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator, Verso, New York, 2009, p.13-16
      5. Isabelle Stengers, Au temps des catastrophes, La Découverte, Paris, 2009, p.146
      6. Isabelle Stengers, La vierge et le neutrino, Seuil, Paris, 2006
      7. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical investigations, Blackwell publisher, Oxford, 1997, p.46
      8. Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft, Penguin Books, New York, 2009
      9. Bernard Aspe, Les mots et les actes, Nous, Caen, 2011, p. 129
      10. Translated by Patrick-Guy Desjardins