Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oh yeah, We made a book

The Institute for Experimental Freedom (IEF) is proud to release the little book: Politics is not a Banana: The Journal of Vulgar Discourse, What are you Doing After the Orgy or Insurrection or Whatever?

From the introduction:

The insurrection has not transformed our rotting teeth into pure indestructible diamond grills. The orgy only spreads our combined STDs, unless we cover our filthy used bodies in saran wrap—which is pretty cool. Whatever; we made more than $6.50 plus tips but then blew it all on wine, cigarettes, rope, and ceiling hooks. The insurrection gives us this opportunity though, to forget, to practice, and even to run up on some doctor and force his medicalizing ass to nurse our irrevocable rot; to re-imagine our relationships with our stupid dying bodies. It makes us become attentive to the force of our little deaths and the inexhaustible desire we can embody.

The book is a collection of texts, images, and design sensibilities which combine insurrectional theory, critical theory, and post-structuralist inquiries about power and subjectivization with experimental fiction, flarf poetry, Brechtian pornography, and Swiss-influenced post-ironic typographic design.

Following a strange popularity of the '07 printing of Politics is Not a Banana 7x7 journal, the IEF put out a call for submissions for another issue. Contributions were overwhelming, and resulted in our decision to print this beautiful magenta 4.25x6 book/textual war-machine.

Contributions range from the IEF's own Liam Sionnach and Maxamillion Stihl, to new English translations from the collectively written French journal Tiqqun, to a lesser known French group “The Enlightened Avant-Garde” (aka The Movement for the Apocalypse of Montpelier) to Parser's Magazine's Robert Farr flarf poetry to Wax Poetic's own Idris Intifada.

Distributors and Bookstores Get in touch for wholesale prices or use the order form at the bottom of the post.

Politics is Not a Banana is currently available in the US at:

Firestorm cafe and books in Asheville, NC

Internationalist Books in Chapel Hill, NC

Blue Stockings in NYC

Book Thug Nation in Brooklyn, NY

Spoonbill and Sugartown in Brooklyn, NY

The Cream City Collective via Burntbookmobile, in Milwaukee, WI

Sporeprint Infoshop in Columbus, OH

City Light Books in San Francisco, CA

Modern Times Books in San Francisco, CA

Needles and Pens in San Francisco, CA

Bound Together Books in San Francisco, CA

Online Distributors:

Little Black Cart

Last Earth Distro

(this post will be kept up, and updated as new locations come in)

Order the damn book!!!!!1!

Politics is Not a Banana | What are you doing?...
Email for media mail options

Also, who likes reading books online and printing terrible bootlegs?
[aka: readable Politics is Not a Banana | What are you doing...? PDF on issuu]

Oh and by the way, in part because our absurd negligence, and in part because of riseup.net's low file space, some contributors may not have received a copy of PNB in mail, please email us if you contributed and have not received a book. We'll totally make it up to you, if you know what I mean.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Get Paid | Wil' Out | Push the University to Crisis

Here's a recent post on infoshop which touched us in the most charming lumpen-bourgeoisie ways. Although ruining the University financially through a sort of self-abolition of the student is quite a good start, we'd like to point out there are other means with which to elaborate this practice, and other ways which a university is occupied.

From infoshop news
Bankrupt the System, Exploit The University

The recent student struggles in California to transform their universities have been inspiring examples of what people can do when they come together, and begin to collectively believe in the future rather than fearing the threats issued in the present. Social wars need money, as Alfredo Bonanno (a 74-year old anarchist recently arrested in Greece for bank robbery) can attest to, and the university has put the gun in your hands. All you need to do is pull the trigger. Max out your credit cards, max out your student loans. Bankrupt the system that is bankrupting us!

All my life, I've been washing dishes, delivering pizza, bagging groceries, and hustling to make enough to pay rent. I've always been a working class, Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher kinda guy. You betcha!

In the past, I've dumpster dived, telling myself it was because I wanted to. But really, I would've preferred to eat the fresh food in the store. I did it because I didn't want to waste away my entire life in that hot, wet, greasy dishwashing room. I did it to be able to save up money so I could quit my job and travel before I became a shriveled up old prune with arthritis, whose only way to see the world was using an RV, something that I would probably never be able to afford.

Anyway, I got into some shit with the law, you know the deal. The cops love to make their quotas. It was military, prison, or college and some time on probation for me. I applied to college solely to save my own ass, not for some stupid degree that I can present to a potential boss for the "opportunity" to spend the next decade kissing his ass.

College is a social structure full of the privileges the state gives to the middle class. No one ever explained this dope ass scam to me before! My parents didn't go to college, they didn't know what the deal was. No wonder you middle class students are so content, I'd think to myself. No wonder you didn't want a revolution.

Well, now that some of you do, or at least you know there needs to be some serious changes because the system is breaking down, it's up to you to pull those triggers.

This is a call for all students to take full advantage of the benefits the middle class is offered through the university. To bet on the future and not on the present: to take out as much money in student loans and credit cards as you can, with no intention to pay it back.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

We're only partially responsible for the Apocaplyse

New text Regarding Social War and Climate Change: Introduction to The Apocalypse

The Institute for Experimental Freedom's European appendages and friends are pleased to announce the completed layout for a new text in preparation for the Cop15 summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. Introduction to The Apocalypse gives a concise and critical analysis of the current ecological catastrophe, the climate change movement and its limitations, and the real existing potential for an immediate reversal of the future. Copy and distribute freely.

(8.5x11) Letter imposed for print PDF

(A4) Imposed for print PDF

(A4) Readable PDF

From the introduction:

All of us secretly desire for this world to end. The future lasts forever. Or at least, it used to. The grand illusion of Western civilisation has always been the myth of progress, namely that the flow of history would beneficently extend into an infinite future. To our parents, civilisation offered houses in the suburbs, computers, and automobiles. And civilisation delivered. To the children of these workers, civilisation offered life on the moon, artificial intelligence, endless peace. All of which have failed to emerge. While our parents cling to the belief that someday the mortgage will be repaid and they can retire in happiness, their lost children know this is a lie. This world offers nothing to us: no meaningful work, no rest, no future – only fear. Over and over again, we find ourselves conditioned like rats by the images of not just our own death, but of total destruction. From the collapse of the World Trade Centre to the alien invasion, from the spectre of nuclear war to the hole in the ozone layer – and now the melting glaciers – these images ingrain themselves in our very being. These images are nothing more than modern projections of the deep-set fantasy of all religions: the apocalypse.

Today, catastrophic climate change is the image of the apocalypse. Nothing has escaped the touch of humanity, from the deepest oceans to the atmosphere itself. There is little doubt that carbon emissions caused by human activity may bring about the end of the world as we know it. It’s just a matter of listening to the ticking of the doomsday clock as it counts down to a climactic apocalypse. Never before in recorded history has the question of the earth’s survival been so starkly posed, and never before has such news been greeted with such indifference.

What is to be done in the face of a crisis so large it dwarfs the imagination? We are left with nothing but a sense of impending doom, a strange depression that keeps us oscillating between hysterical hedonism and sad loneliness, and in the end both responses are merely the two faces of the selfsame despair. Those self-appointed to “save” us from this crisis – the governments, scientists, activists –seem incapable of anything but sloganeering: clean development, carbon markets, sustainable development, climate justice, ecological reparations, green capitalism. We know in our heart of hearts that these fantasies give any sensible person as much cold comfort as a stiff drink. Confronted with the real possibility of the apocalypse, the world becomes inverted: to continue as if everything is normal in the present moment is the most refined act of nihilism.

This generalised delirium, formerly confined to only a handful of activists, has spread over the last few years to the population at large, and even the state seems a sincere believer in catastrophic climate change. Observe the reaction of the nation-states who, while in endless summits to “solve” the climate crisis, such as the COP15, continue to build airport after airport, highway after highway, giving industries the remit to emit ever-more carbon. The nation-states continue to act as if everything is normal, while at the same time lying through their gritted teeth that “we are solving the climate crisis.” No-one today, even the children, believe them. Their summits and pledges are mere fiddling while Rome burns. The absurd plots hatched by scientists to avert this coming apocalypse, from putting mirrors into space to pumping water from the bottom of the ocean, have only the virtue of being at least mildly entertaining. There is a distinct air of madness about our rulers, a madness that reminds us only too much of the monarchs of the ancien regime shortly before their beheading. Yet, what can a single person do? The despair felt when confronted by the reality of climate change is an honest appraisal of a disaster where there is no easy escape. Let us hold this despair close, let it nurture us. Honesty is always the best policy for survival.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Two New Speaking Dates & Thoughts on Intellectual Production

Social Justice or Social War?*

Other means of War in the Time of Depoliticized Life

Monday, October 19, 8PM at New York University, New York, NY

Kimmel Center Room 912 (60 Washington Square South)

Monday, November 2, 7:30PM at Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Hagerty Hall room 180 (1775 College Rd)

*“Social Justice or Social War?” defines a rudimentary theory of social war. It posits civil war as an underlining condition to life and the modern state as a development intended to police and conceal this. In the time where all states have lost their imaginary force of attraction, we propose that social justice is an auxiliary mechanism to “defend society.” Social war, on the other hand, is opposed to social justice as a different discourse of revolutionary change—one which has a different concept of history.

Although the talk will contribute to a refining of these terms and their deployment, it will ultimately lack a specific conclusive direction. It will hastily engage with far too many concepts but has been said to be “surprisingly coherent.” Its surprising coherence is more than likely the result of the length of the talk and/or the performativity, which was inseparable from the talk given at the University of Wisconsin on September 11. Rather, “Social Justice or Social War?” will engage with concepts, figures, historical events as devices which we will put to use to compose atonal rhythms. These rhythms, when examined, will help us collectively write a strategy. Everything before this is conjecture—of which the IEF willfully contributes.

A few more notes regarding the IEF's intellectual exercises in impotence

The gesture of the lecture cannot be separated from the discourse it happens within. Whereas the IEF has located this gesture's site of taking-place in the university, it must be noted that many of us who are taken by the IEF and by the practices of insurrection are not the loyal subjects of academia. Our less than scholarly practices follow suit. On the other hand, the gesture of the lecture, because it is the taking-place of a discourse, reveals a world within which partisans take the practice of thought and its exposition seriously (even if that means we take being irresponsible incredibly seriously). Which means: performativity can communicate thus as thus, not just thus as that. We're like, being the communism/violence we want to see in the world, or whatever.

What is concealed by the gesture of the lecture? Because it happens within multiple discourses, the grammar of critical theory may conceal the fact of civil war. Someone in Wisconsin asked, “How, after we have sort of exploded, do we not return to normal? I mean, after the chairs which caught flight have landed; and after this room, which has been torn apart, is no longer becoming torn apart; and our bodies are not encountering each others with a joyful violence. We seem to return to performing our normal roles: You as the speaker, and I among my peers as the listener? How can we stretch it out?” Can the lecture ever be profaned in such a way that is no longer recognizable as such? The lecture, the study group, the journal of strategy always also occupy a position in the economic production of intellect. Willfully practicing stupidity, and attempting to wash our hands clean of this, will not contest that position. Likewise, occupying that position—even the wrong-ass way—may do little to contest it. Like other positions one can have within capitalism, intellectual production is work. The lecture, through the framework of the speaker/listeners, conceals the way in which voyeurs are engaged in this collective process of intellectual production. However, only a practice which leaves none of these roles intact could collectively generate intellect without value. Which is to say, only once thought's potentiality for a consistency of practices is revealed (not necessarily, “realized”) can intellectual value be attacked at the point of production.

In the past, marxists had posed the process of “socialization” as a way making labor a social entity. Such a process occurs in conjunction with a progressive concept of history where the proletariat becoming a dictatorship of its class makes private entities social. The anti-globalization movement's avant-garde sought to achieve such a process within the intellectual and artistic spheres of the economy through its emphasis on reclaiming social space. At its more honest moments it would speak of “autonomy,” but there is no autonomy within global capitalism, as the self-managed factories of Argentina demonstrate. If such spheres of the economy are going to be profaned, they must become unrecognizable and be redeemed of re-semblance. Communization in this regard immediately imposes a destruction of the faculties to generate value. It is no coincidence that the university, a factory of intellectual production, refers to its material spaces and its authoritative positions as “faculties.”

Aggressive survival practices cannot be discounted. Whereas our backsides are caressed firmly by the specters of the past generating an urgent need for negation of the present, the IEF in its erotic practices and its practices of war understands the virtues of privation. We are delighted by all the headlines which make the bourgeoisie tremble and all the events where shit goes to pieces. However, we also understand the need to extend our practices by holding positions which translate into being able to share material solidarities. If any of the colleges we speak at do not immediately become occupied in that New School sort of way, no matter. We're also occupying them in another sort of way.

We'll see you on the many roads of impotenza.

The IEF does not fight*, nor do we argue, we simply hit that person with a bottle

*Well, actually...

-Liam Sionnach | IEF | Oct. 09 | The Dirty

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

DOOM$DAY WAR MACHINEZ | a Quip from a lil' Wildness in the Midwest

Thanks to MKE comrades for this charming report back

On September 11th 2009, a slew of miscreants from all corners of the insurrectional constellation descended on the University of Milwaukee campus for a lovely evening with the IEF's own Liam Sionnach. While being fed grapes and smoking indoors (naughty, naughty) The Institute got differently-abled on profanation, the end of time and the human strikes of our disease ridden bodies. The room may have gotten wrecked a bit, chairs may have gained flight, everyone may have shared a lick, and a speaker may have been pied. It is all a blur by this point. What is certain: some folks in Milwaukee definitely got a stern-talking-to by their landlords, we practiced a trans-geographic sharing of complicities and bodily fluids, offered the gift of enmity (served cold in bottles) to some frat boys, and of course articulated our favorite gesture; sadomasochism. Oh, and we're also probably never allowed back at a certain luxury hotel in downtown Milwaukee.

come for the commodities, stay for the strip-searches.

1. How does it feel to be never alone, every-so-often?

Last week in the Midwest we continued a process which can only be called “beginning again”. Either because we occupy the position of being an active minority of proletarianized life, or a profoundly bored minority of proletarianized life. We are captivated with finding, and sharing each other. Perhaps a certain textual promiscuity, and a certain seductive distance brings us together. Perhaps an invisible voice acted on us collectively, and perhaps we simply like the similar clothes, music, and inside jokes. Either way, let's not reduce what could grow and become stronger by claiming to be the insurrectional queer, power-hungry, bro'd out, mean bitchez, that we also are. But let's hold on—without forgetting where the boundaries of exclusion are, which we are setting out—and keep losing ourselves in the thresholds.

2. The Other Means of War

What would it mean to engage in methods of conflict and even combat which reveal how it is done? And yet, how could this be invisible? These are some of the challenges which face the contemporary insurrectional project. The intimate event appropriates us—makes us the technologies of whatever force it may wield. How an event is populated and practiced gives it its form. If the content of insurrectional events is defined only by the intimacy between a small group, then it is far more likely that the specialized division of labor relation which alienates us daily will be replicated. On the other hand, if we engage in an open discourse of conflict, a certain potency which is located in becoming sensitized to each other's shared desire can be lost.

Of course there is a tension between experiencing hostility (unknown, outside) with new people and place, and experiencing friendships. We are not trying to become secure, or reject the hostis—which is the foundation of all relations. However, the construction of a partisan war-machine of insurrection requires that we face, and practically answer these questions. How is the rhythm of our shared-time—the history of social war—felt beyond the confines of what happens between our bodies (communication), how is is felt as what affects us—what we are taken by? How is this achieved without a protest-media strategy? Are there voyeurs within the immediate vicinity of a given gesture of insurrection who will be seduced by our gifts? If the answer is “no,” then we must either face the fact of singularities, which happen as mere representations with affective faculties (the one-off event which sucks everything into its vortex) , and/or seek out, occupy and if we have the capacity impose new topographies which we are better suited to populate with affects (the consistency of ungovernable terrains—occupied workplaces, schools, and social spaces which generate material solidarity and portals into our worlds).

3. Dispossessed are Turning to Communism/Violence

If we are turning to communism in a world without it, it means we are immediately getting organized, collectively to improve our conditions. It means we will, one way or the other, find ourselves in combat. A crass provocation: get money and power by all means. Some still want to continue their projects which help others. Cool. Others want to be able to live and fight. Both need money, and positions which we will defend.

On the other hand, how is violence shared? How are the spaces which we inhabit combustible? This week proved two weaknesses: 1.) We are not currently positioned to attack those whose bodies have been structured as military-machines. 2.) We are still afraid to start shit (perhaps, reasonably). Quite literally, the man with dog tags is better at manning-up than we who perform tough. Perhaps reclaiming force will have to take place a different level. Other material forces who perform being tough and mean are better situated to start shit and bully. Perhaps if we are going to locate a biopolitical sadism, it must happen along side a biopolitical masochism. But who wants to get hit first? Or rather, how will we hit first?

For those of you coming to get B-A-N-A-N-A-S in PGH, we'll see you in the Thug Section. Others, perhaps we'll continue to find out if we've reached our expiration date in the Spring.

Whats another word for "The partisan War Machine of insurrection?"

Doom$Day” —or was it “Doomsgay?”

My neck, my back, my hipbones, and my crack, still ache so much, but at least I still have my shoes. How's your ass doing?
-Liam Sionnach | IEF | '09

If anyone was there and would really like a copy of the text, feel free to beg ief-southeast(at)riseup(dot)net.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

IEF wil'n out in the Midwest on big words

Yes, there's rumors. Not all of them have been proven true.
What we do know is that an IEF posse is gonna be getting retarded on theory and sizurp on Milwaukee, WI and making everything just a bit more terrible—even with the lack of some people. I mean we're not naming names, but a certain Max, will not be stealing millions in WI and that's a fucking shame. Just saying.

On the other hand, what's better than the late '90s hardcore scene and early '00s anti-globalization activists traveling through your town and eating all the garbage at your so-called collective house?
IEF insurrectuals making it fucking rain.

“Social Justice or Social War?”
Friday | September 11 | 7pm
UWM Union | room 280
*PDF of 11x17 poster here

The Institute for Experimental Freedom was an inside job.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Politics is Not a Banana | "What are you doing...?" & new website, coming extremely soon (let's say September)

What are you doing after the orgy or the insurrection or whatever?

Politics is Not a Banana is at the printer. After some practical gestures to expose a plane of consistency for theory and practice, a few old questions posed from a different angle, a bit too much smoking inside, and an excessive use of typography, Politics is Not a Banana: “What are you doing...” has reached its threshold. Some 168 pages of content, color covers, off-set printing and 2-color-pantone insides as a perfect bound 4.25x7in assemblage will make up the machine of PNB. Around a thousand copies will be printed for the first run. Seriously, we don't even know a thousand people, much less a thousand people who will want to read this fucking thing.

“Politics is Not a Banana: What are you doing...” is not “Politics is Not a Banana 2.” While it is certain that the Politics is Not a Banana that has been floating around since spring of '08 was the first of many issues we have, it was not “Politics is Not a Banana 1.” This project is not intended for progress or development. If by chance we get worse over time, it is because we will have given in to the seduction of becoming a better commodity or a more terrible practice of print—which are temptations that are felt at every corner. If the former is the case, it would behoove you to not merely denounce us. If the latter is the case, may god have mercy on the anarchist milieu.

“Blablabla form blablabla content”

We believe that we can get what we want. Its difficult perhaps; we have to become sensitive to each other in order to really be expositional, rather than merely performative[1]. However, with a meaningful practice of doing relationships how we want to, we may accidentally stumble upon something a bit better than just a different form of terrible. It is this logic that motivates the experiment with the commodity known as Politics is Not a Banana.

The Institute for Experimental Freedom would like to congratulate itself. We engage in projects with a certain lightness and prefer the form of the experiment, which serves to prove—to give experience—to a what we believe to be sensible. If the 7x7 issue of Politics is Not a Banana proved anything, it was that the practice of DIY print (zines) could be reappropriated. Solidarities between service workers felt as inclinations were made material, and whatever force of seduction was afforded to Politics is Not Banana translated into crews across the US figuring out their own shit and printing a few copies. The theft and use of the hookup network between various metropolitan service workers made the initial 300 copies of Politics is Not a Banana possible. The use of the information super highway and the PDF form accounts for the other immaterial conditions which gave Politics is Not a Banana its strangely vast distribution. The practice of so called DIY print is not dead, it is merely refined.


Despite the fact that Politics is Not a Banana “What are you doing...” was professionally printed, it should not to be understood as form in favor of content. Rather, it is an elaboration of the methods employed to produce the glossy pages and the design decisions of the first issue that tormented Anarchy Magazine. Should we pay from our own pockets to produce beautiful things that will be captured as commodities? Never. Although, sometimes we do. This time, however, like the last, is a testament to what is possible through a profaned use of class antagonisms, friends, sadomasochism, a few hoops to jump through, and, of course, material solidarities. Although currently we shamefully practice doing the commodity ethically or whatever, perhaps soon we'll give the purists a real reason to hate us.

Don't mistake cohesion and rhythm for a coherent political program. Although some readers will applaud a more easy to follow amalgamation of texts, Politics is Not a Banana “What are you doing...” is not the result of ideological unity between contributors. After carefully reading the proofs, the editors of Politics is Not a Banana turned to each other and shared the tiniest single tear for the undoubtedly stupid readings of our so-called work of art. Yes, we could have more effectively splayed aphorisms and nonsensical maxims across the page; we could have interrupted the reader with more confusing pornography, with more experimental fictions, but then again we, so charitably, decided to cut a lot of our own writing. Perhaps we can all learn a valuable lesson: there is more to the practice of radical discourse than propaganda and discipline. Make no mistake, we could give a fuck, and we certainly do give fucks, but our perversity cannot be contained in any one literary singularity. We take whatever seriously.

So how will we distribute this? How will we share our shame and power? How will we write our ignoble desire on new generations?

We have no illusions about the class composition of our friends and comrades—we work stupid jobs and survive on coffee and theft, but we're pretty good at it. Likewise, we have no fucking idea what to do with a thousand copies of anything. When anarchists give us their newspaper advertisements for this or that protest, we are usually able to get rid of like twenty and then the rest usually sit around. Sometimes print is lucky enough to be used for kindling. Most times, it's near a toilet. “Politics is Not a Banana: What are you doing...” is useless as toilet paper. It is best as a sexual technology or fashion accessory.

It is from this knowledge that we pose the question to our comrades, to our vile territories of revolt-in-practice. We will be selling Politics is Not a Banana at a retail price (around $10-12) and a wholesale price (around $5-6). We ask that comrades buy fifty or so at wholesale and then sell it to make a reasonable amount of profit to benefit their projects; we ask that distributors get in touch too, but we're not super worried if Glenn Beck doesn't cry about us on Fox news. We ask also that comrades in university and comrades who work with social spaces would be so kind to get in touch with us, to prepare this year's IEF tour (SRSLY IEF T0URz 0MG!!!!1).

Nothing is too beautiful for the unwanted children of capital,

-IEF friends

from the dirty, and across the puddle '09

[1.] the poke at performance here is not meant as a denouncement of all things performative—in the world of lies, it is useless to tell the truth—rather it is meant to critique a vulgar logic of advertising that is applied in many contemporary radical projects. We want to become sensitive to each other in order to lie together.

PS: Our sincerest apologies to those who did not make the cut—you gotta want it more. To those who sent us an email saying, “Do with this what you want.” we must reply: this is neither submission nor cruelty, it is merely feigning indifference. Perhaps the shame you feel should motivate you to redeem yourself one way or the other?

PPS: www.politicsisnotabanana.com

Some gems from inside the typographic war-machine:

Public Sex and Social War

An examination of the orgy and public sex as a biopolitical strike aimed at dissolving the categories of “public” and “sex.”

I am a Bulging Tangle I am a Stringy Mass

A pornographic critique and analysis of anarchists election year strategy using Baudrillard and Antonio Negri (Oh, my!), featuring an Inhuman violation of Barack Obama.


An IEF Favorite. Two communiques from the Enlightened Avant-Guard regarding the “so-called anti-CPE struggle,” featuring their “politically coherent propositions” (PCP).

Taking Communion at The End of History

An elaboration of the theories of rupture, divine violence, and insurrection and a critique of the dual power revolutionary strategy using Agamben, Tiqqun, Miranda July, Walter Benjamin, and Pasolinis' Salo 120 days of Sodom.

The Revelation of St Narcissus, with annotations by an Yadira Lopez, and a tangled mess of IEF critiques.

A critique of the anarchist identity using a framework of the Situationist Internationale's critique of the image.

Biófilo Panclasta: Lover of Life, Destroyer of Everything

The first English language biography of the Colombian anarchist Biófilo and his misadventures, poorly translated.

Horrible Sound Objects

A critique of the music form and elaboration of Takeshi Kosugi's gesture, alongside some provocative images of pandas doing naughty things.

The Heart of War

An elaboration of the theory of social war and a tactical contribution to the theory of Human Strike using Clausewitz and everyone's favorite utopian fascist, Carl Schmitt.

Oh Good, The War!

An English translation of the 1999 Tiqqun piece which examines the concepts of war, spectacle, and a redemptive concept of revolutionary time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Something More Terrible Than Fight Club: The Girlfriend Experience and the Coming Human Strike

“In the early 1970s there was an advertisement shown in Paris movie theaters that promoted a well-known brand of stockings, “Dim” stockings... Anyone who watched even a few minutes of its images, however distractedly, would have a hard time forgetting the special impression of synchrony and dissonance, of confusion and singularity, of communication and estrangement from the bodies of the smiling dancers...Each dancer was filmed separately and later the single pieces were brought together over a single sound track. But the facile trick, that calculated asymetry of the movement of long legs sheathed in the same inexpensive commodity, that slight disjunction between gestures, wafted over the audience a promise of happiness unequivocally related to the human body.”

– Giorgio Agamben, Dim Stockings

“The young girl makes love in the same way she washes her car”

– Tiqqun, First Materials for a Theory of the Young Girl

"The Spectacle is capital accumulated to the point that it becomes image"

– Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

This is not a time for fight club, is it? The cynicism of the '90s appeared to have reached some sort of apex of anomie near the end of the decade. We could no longer choke down our own image as bored consumers, pathetic workers, and depressed youth. The course of action became disturbingly clear: one could either kill everyone in their vicinity, or learn how to fight with others. With some dumb luck, the anti-globalization movement made an appearance and gave so many bullied children, computer nerds, and petty sociopaths a new collective house alongside the indigenous people of wherever, the left, and the lesbian avengers. Then, as goes the activist version of Revelations, Osama Bin Laden came long and ruined all our fun—returning the image of darker skinned people who believe in stuff to a more scarier position than people with masks breaking stuff. The banality of cinema (exceptions included: Children of Men, JCVD, Let the Right One in, and Paradise Now) analogizes this trite world of false good vs false evil. In the bad ol' days, we didn't know it could be better, we tried to believe in things, and now, silence.

Steven Soderbergh's new cinematic trauma, The Girlfriend Experience, captures the world after the world ended—and History is as banal and horrifying as ever. The Obama election and the economic crisis are a less than subtle background to an everyday life that reflects each and every shameful ounce of the emotional and material poverty of our times.

Sasha Grey, self-described existential porn star in “real life,” stars as Chelsea, a high-end escort. We follow her lukewarm calculated performances through all echelons of bourgeois society. We can thank Soderbergh for the most amazing, boring, and frustrating scenes of something like sex. Chelsea spends scene after scene talking to her agents and her website and brand development teams. Questions of anonymity are brought up alongside meaningless gestures of affect: “hows the family?”

We are reflected our own image—running into an old friend, a business acquaintance, a sister, having an interesting conversation, performing being-amicable. We press the “hows the family” button, a response. We press the “Ha! Remember when you...” button, a response. We poke fun at one friend's less than charming qualities, multiple responses from the crowd. Others come to dine or get drinks at such a charming, lively, or “funky place.” This isn't simply the shameful cultural habits of late capital, it is capital. Chelsea knows this, and would prefer to get paid for it.

The relationship between immaterial labor, care taking, and sex work, is illuminated in The Girlfriend Experience. Shoderbergh, oscillates between scenes of Chelsea talking to men about their financial predictions, Google-ratings, and Obama as they undress revealing underwear with diaper-like qualities and scenes of her boyfriend, Chris, working as personal trainer with men and women in a gym, referred to as a “boutique.”

Nothing new to the seasoned craigslist whore, there is still an element of provocation in Soderbergh's elucidation of the current postionality of workers in our biopolitical hell. The incredibly wealthy men with families could not function as such without their high-end escorts who play at being-the girlfriend. The friendly performances of Chris follow succinctly. The gay men need someone to hit on at the gym to function as gay men, the petty bourgeois woman needs someone to touch her, and encourage her to do her best. These John's and Janes don't even desire the sex-object anymore; they desire “the real thing.”

Chelsea and Chris as images being-images, are able to perform their way across the bridge of fiction into a whole regime of playing at being. In one montage, Chelsea negotiates with a web developer about how to increase her rates and hits. She poses questions in a pseudo-web speak, referencing “that thing that makes me show up in Google searches” which are fielded by the developer playing at being professional, who makes up pay-rate on the spot. He is clearly doing this labor through an expropriation of his work's facilities which we see in the background. Chris, on the other hand, is searching around to increase his rate as well. He talks with a miserable gym owner about its faculties using synergy and nu-speak. They share laughs. The next scene he is trying to use his subtle transgression as leverage to get a raise. He's been shopping around. The economic crisis is an ace card for Chris's current boss, and of course, some blabbering about being a team player. Unfortunately Chris is not a “t-shirt kind of guy” By the end of the scene it, would appear Chris's Boss's sentimental maneuver—“you've been working here for years, man”—pays off.

The liberal project of neutralization is made no more clear than in the non-violent communication between workers and bosses, employers and potential employees, and contractors and who ever the fuck pays them. Only one thing can be communicated: a gesture in every direction, the total domination of capital. We can hear anyone of our assistant managers “If you have any problems, just come talk to me, as two individuals. Nothing is more pathetic than facing an enemy alone, as an individual.

At some point in the film Chelsea's mystical “personology” books inform her that a John, a happily married John with children, might be the one. She is invited to go away with him for the weekend. Chelsea is perhaps confused about “this feeling that I have, ya know.” She's convinced “it's just something she has to do.” We wonder if she has never had a crush or if we have said such dumb shit in our lives too. Unfortunately, its probably both. It proves to be a surefire way to defeat her boyfriend's hold on their previous positions about dating Johns. She goes. Rupture. Fizzle.

The Girlfriend Experience will not seduce everyone to smash windows across the world. It is not an action movie. Life is not action packed. However, intentionally or not, the film lays the terrain for some of the biopolitical conflicts of our time. If the concept of history as a history of social war is going to mean anything it must be understood as an elaboration of a concept of the history as class struggle. Soderbergh's film presents us with just this cinematic gift. Through our lens of insurrection we can make total sense of the banal and horrifying life presented in The Girlfriend Experience. And perhaps, through our proletarian techné, we can profane the film's status as a philosophical commodity form. If Sasha Grey wishes to make existential porn, and ruminate on yet another meta-character in a movie, so be it. It is her real positionality, played by Chelsea, that ought interest us. It is in the fact that the so-called existential porn-stars of the alt porn genre cannot be made separate from the material worlds they are attached to. Thus, Sasha Grey, alongside some Senator, alongside our high-school friend, share in a practice of increasing their facebook rates by any means necessary. The youth in France and Greece use their social capital the wrong way, and territories light up. Mousavi declares a stolen election from twitter and accidentally becomes complicit in a revolt against the fabric of theocratic society. And Oakland? Make hyphy a threat again? Social war.

“they're doing...being totally of control”

– a police officer speaking over police radio about rioters in St. Paul at the Republican National Convention

Capitalism is a system of the flows of capital. It dominates all relationships. All relationships become relations of the flows of the capital. Capitalism is tautological. Everything is included, even the excluded. Capitalism functions by each circuit of capital having its proper place. If something severs or impedes the flows of capital, in any relationship, then capitalism can begin to not-function. If humankind, like a vegan slop of multiculturalism, constitutes a whole (a subject, a multitude, whatever), then it is how we produce a whole, how we function which must be examined, and interrupted.

To block any given artery of the metropolis, to block a road with burning objects, we interrupt the flow of capital from the center of the metropolis (the city) with its margins (rural areas) and in-betweens. After the fire goes out, the metropolis functions again, and perhaps prepares itself to manage such interruptions in the future. However, what is interrupted is not merely the relationship of commodities flowing through the metropolis, but the relationship between us and commodities. The generation of affects and sharing of complicity is of far more interest to an isolated and disempowered proletariat, than the imposition of punishment on this or that evil business.

The new subjectivities of the metropolis are just as miserable as the old ones: the high-end escort, the bike messenger, the craigslist whore, the anarchist, the graphics-designer, the web programmer, the hip hop artist, the DJ, the personal trainer, the private mercenary, the alt-porn artist, the transfeminist academic, the gay landlord. Our task is to locate these subjectivities, locate our being, and practice an ethics beyond suicide.

Self-abolition is realized as the pure means of the human strike. Positioned as high-end escorts to the super rich, we can imagine how such biopolitical assaults could interrupt the economy. In Q.libet's upcoming essay “The Heart of War” a form of combat dubbed “heartwar” is theorized. Its means, the heart; its object, the heart. Imagine if, rather than merely taking money from elites for a job well done, Chelsea's character, alongside others, practiced the same destructive love we practice with each other, ambitiously. Collective emotional strikes, either through disruptions of the normal structure of the family and escorts, or through a refusal to do care labor, can cause rifts that would stretch out in their affects. One can imagine making demands, or just expropriating and making attacks. A well situated group of escorts can gain access to far more resources and capital then currently situated insurgents in the anarchist milieu. Escorts can find common desire with other sex workers or care workers. The beautiful can go on strike against being beautiful—become disfigured. The streetwalkers can do being-in-love with entire police precincts. The entire industry of care and desire, can go on strike against their very being. Human strike after human strike.

Being well positioned, means being well positioned to interrupt. The revolts of '68 taught us that even the privileged have become decomposed by capital. The revolts of today, will show us what life which has endured all the horrors of psychology, medicalization, miserable wages, irreversible time, rape, policing, war, biotechnologies, and cybernetics is capable of. The modern subject is dead. May we be so fortunate that subjectivity can finally be undone as well. Our being is on life support. Unplug it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Politics is Not a Banana: Call for submissions | Deadline is April 3

Politics is Not a Banana: The Journal of Vulgar Discourse, is a small 7x7 publication of what some might call “insurrectional anarchist and communist” theory—although we may hazard to add the qualifiers, “post-structuralist” and “cyber-feminist.” Furthermore, PNB, rejecting the false binary between theory and practice, also contains content of the experimental fiction/pornography and cultural criticism variety. PNB is vaguely and dangerously lumpen-bourgeoisie and becomes a material force annually. The next issue is set to be a pretty little object come June '09. It may be professionally printed and it may have a quaint débutante ball to celebrate its coming out—and it would be in your best interest to attend.

PNB is receiving submissions for the previously mentioned upcoming issue themed:
“What are you doing after the orgy or riot or whatever?”

Politics is Not a Banana: The Journal of Vulgar Discourse is an orifice and an edge that desires to be filled; that desires to scratch itself on your mildewy surfaces—won't you oblige?

Submit, add complicity, expose everything.

We want it. We want your terrible little secrets; your thoughts on the recent events in Europe, in Oakland, on the fictions we are currently writing. We want thoughts on elaborating the technique of rioting and the technique of occupation. We want perspectives on expanding and refining anarchist rituals, and thoughts about other portals to our worlds beyond Food Not Bombs. We want thorough examinations of the concepts of class struggle, global civil war, and social war. We want contributions to the destruction of The Individual, The Family, and the liberal social contract. Give it to us, or we're going to take it. Politics is Not a Banana is a forum for vulgar and perverse methods. We want you to use us. We want you take pleasure in your writing, in theoretical contributions and in the practice of discourse. So here's our double-dog-dare: write what you like and take it seriously, but do it by April 3rd.

A few helpful restrictions:

Send articles, fully edited(content, spelling and grammar) between 500-3000 words and photos or graphics art (300-400 dpi at least 4x4 inches) to ief-southeast(at)riseup(dot)net no later than April 3rd.

PNB is not a democracy. We have no illusions about the power we wield as those who pose the questions—and we love it. If you want to submit to the crack of our whip or you feel a charge and a potency to expose your content to us, feel free. However, if you're going to wag your accusing finger when we don't attend to your particular fetish-object, we have to say “Sorry, that's just not how it goes, hun—you don't get that.”

Awaiting that webcam picture you promised me—that one with the mask and all that paint,

-Liam Sionnach '09

Saturday, January 31, 2009

We're back on our grizzly

As you may have noticed by the frequent posts on this blog, The Institute for Experimental Freedom is beginning to take ourselves a bit too seriously again. After an extended summer excursion, a long hiatus for some and a drawn out moment of offensive for others, we're back on our grizzly.

These past few months have been full of meaning. We've endured some new horrors and banalities, and we've felt our potency multiplied across our corporeal boundaries and across the mythological territories of nation states. Still though, it's been difficult. The lovely machine we relied on for oh-so-many proclivities, has reached the limit of its potentiality and will soon be a sad material proof of human foolishness—idling in stasis, meeting our desire with indifference. Rest in peace, peti macchina di compact.

But hold back your tears, we got one those “going green” dell laptops and the game is back on.

The two of us are as pleasantly detached as we ever are and as perverse and drunk on social power as we can be, so stickyfingers the next Danger LP or bump your favorite song about ascending in ante, and get your shit ready for the our lil' syndicate to vandalize everything with meaning.

The next big fucking things

1. More expropriations from history

* which is to say stealing from radical history books and such

2. Textual Mashups & Mixtapes

* All text takes the form of mashup. We want to do to contemporary genres of text, what Spilled Milk did to DMX. These texts will likely occur in multiple series, and so far we have conceptualized the textual mashup as thematic, or as more specifically in reference to a particular question. If we are left to our own devices, one can expect the forms we choose to expose and appropriate to be the forms already so at home within the Institute, you know like theory and porn and stuff.

3. The Pleasure of The Subversive Text

* A text, clearly referencing Rolland Barthes, exploring authorship and pleasure and inquiring through method the possibility of a practice of power that goes beyond the problematic of paternalism (see: the family, patriarchy), and that puts to use the power asymmetry of authorship and readership as this possible method. This text will deal both with the questions of discursive models of sovereignty and with potentially different models of anonymity and incoherent subjectivities (props J Lo).

4. A yet un-named collection of theses on experiment and ritual that will develop the concept of Plan B more coherently. Looking at the ways practices are linked as frequencies of subversion, this text will explore a theory for a parallel and adversarial structure and the concepts of civil war, social war and insurrection, with the friendly contributions of Benjamin and Agamben' theories on violence and sovereignty.

5. A yet un-named collection of fragments regarding patriarchy, feminism and post-patriarchal practices.

6. Easily replicable commodities, T-shirt and Button Designs, to be posted at a central online location and then decentralized in production and profit.

* I have been thinking of ways to best make use of my skills and resources—particualry to communize my faculties and to encourage others to do so as well. The specific idea that the IEF and friends will be working on is a subtly (or overtly) subversive t-shirt using enormous type, and you know, hip style to share with other nodes of subversion. This would be done as a practice of the small-scale venture capitalism thing with the least amount of investment capital and the most amount of immediate even-breaks and profit. The intent here is not to encourage everyone to sell stuff, but to make small-scale capitalism the object of our surviving-bodies in a way that produces for us more quality objects and relationships with time. Which is to say, perhaps the people who would most likely download the graphics and use them to make objects to sell, want to make objects and engage creatively with symbols already; but if we were to try and constitute that desire a “pure art” outside of capitalist relations, we would at best be kidding ourselves and at worst be “working for fascism”. So putting that desire to use and communizing our faculties is one of the best options we can think of.

The obvious problem is that of branding and brand-recognition. And again, to that we simply prefer not to pretend we are outside of capitalism, and instead engage in these obvious problems with the same conflictuality of desire that we engage in when we are at work.

We want to find practices that immediately improve our conditions, that develop the survival habits of scamming, cunning and theft, that get our rents paid, and that gets the capital that can produce more potentiality—for the particular action and the continuity of a project.

7. Politics is Not a Banana | What are you doing after the orgy or insurrection or whatever?

If you don't know what PNB is have a look. Some say it was an image from the future. But we'd dare to say the future may be without images.

If you liked what you saw, then you should know the second issue of Politics is Not a Banana is an orifice and an edge that desires to be filled; that desires to scratch itself on your mildewy surfaces—won't you oblige?

About Submissions:

PNB is not a democracy. We have no illusions about the power we wield as those who pose the questions—and we love it. Nonetheless if you want to submit to the crack of our whip or you feel a charge and a potency to expose your content to us, feel free. However—as to maintain our own composure—we can make no promise that any contributions we receive will be printed, but we think it could be cool for you to show us a 'lil something, a seam, a hipbone perhaps.

We want so badly to desecrate glossy surfaces with the following forms of text that reflect our thematics of desire and power from a perspective that makes material the zone of indistinction between the vulgar and the exquisite.

1. theory

2. cultural criticism

3. pornographic text

4. high resolution photography and illustrations

5. textual mashups (think 1-3 and maybe some prose or something)

It could be cool if the second issue of Politics is Not a Banana came out sooner than later, so here's last point. There have been many emails we've simply failed to satisfy, inquiring into where and how one could grab a copy of PNB. It is our intent to produce a few more (say, totaling 500-1000 copies of full color joints) but it would be nice not to be held hostage by the past and focus our energies on what new things we make. Similarly, some have waged there shaming fingers at us for producing a piece of print that is not easily reproducible, and that objects being strange sizes and full color is more problematic than say, a copy of the previous fire to the prisons and or a crimethinc PDF. Being that as it were, for the most part the only way to get a copy of PNB #1 was, and remains, to cross paths with us, usually at a book fair or gathering of some sort. Many apologies, but we're simply not that kind of distribution. Nonetheless, it would be nice see people's comments on the questions of Black and White print VS. Color print, and if people want a second issue of PNB by the anarchist book fair in April, or would prefer more copies of PNB: the first of many issues we have to be available by that time. As many of you well know, getting copies, what with the economy and all, can be a difficult endeavor—especially when all we have to offer is skills most 20-something already practice. PS: While, we're on the topic, if anyone has access to resources that would make printing a full color journal of vulgarity armed easy and wants design work in exchange or an abstract “favor,” send an email immediately to: ief-southeast(at)riseup(dot)net

For some, we hope to cross paths in April, for others, a bit sooner.

From my cold, cold house,

-Liam Sionnach IEF, nearing the next excuses for why rent isn't on time '09

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Reprint | Society of The Spectacle | Impressive use of Akzidenz Grotesk

Study groups rejoice!

The Institute is making available a reprint of Society of The Spectacle (1994 Zone books translation by the naughty purged situationist, Donald Nicholson-Smithin) in PDF form so we no longer have to lie about having read it. Enjoy, and feel free to share your thoughts on the design and layout.

Preparing my self to stop the oh-so-hurtful lie.
From a flat part of the South,

Liam Sionnach 09