Do artists belong to the working class? Is artistic work a productive activity contributing to the development of capitalism or is it an “exceptional” activity, a form of “decommodified” labor? (See work by Leigh Clare La Berge and Dave Beech … Continue reading “Class Composition in the Arts: Operaist Art History”
The Weak Spot (New York: Soft Skull Press, 2021), Lucie Elven’s debut novel, is a timely fairy tale about the sorcery of disbelief. The book opens when a young woman runs away to a secluded town, in the mountains, only … Continue reading “Once Upon a Time: A Book Review of Lucie Elven’s The Weak Spot“
When you close your eyes and picture a pig, what do you see? A curly, spring-like tail? A pink belly caked in mud? A curious snout nosing at the dirt or a trough? If I asked you to imagine pigs … Continue reading “On Alex Blanchette’s Porkopolis: American Animality, Standardized Life, and the Factory Farm“
What do the worlds of Jack Smith and striking Taiwanese dockworkers have to do with each other? Birgit Hein’s Jack Smith (Germany, 1974, 10 min.) and Chen Chieh-Jen’s The Route (Taiwan, 2006, 17 min.) are produced more than three decades … Continue reading “Drag Mermaids and the Imaginary Global Picket Line”
British election nights have followed a certain pattern for decades. The polling stations close at 10 p.m. The ballot boxes are delivered to municipal sports halls across the country, where local government employees count the votes through the night, before … Continue reading “British Election Nights, Despair, and Hope: A Personal History”
“What if we’re living in a world full of super-social psychopaths?” is the question posed by Tristam Vivian Adams early on in his book The Psychopath Factory: How Capitalism Organizes Empathy. Scary, as the term “psychopath” immediately triggers thoughts about … Continue reading “A New Diagnosis for Capitalism: Tristam Vivian Adams’ The Psychopath Factory“
Note: Since April 25, 2017, eight graduate teachers who are members of UNITE HERE Local 33 have engaged in The Fast Against the Slow, a fast to move the Yale administration to negotiate. For more details, see https://www.facebook.com/local33unitehere/ The global … Continue reading “What Does One Do In the Face of a Lawless Administration?”
This book, being about work, is, by its very nature, about violence–to the spirit as well as to the body. It is about ulcers as well as accidents, about shouting matches as well as fistfights, about nervous breakdowns as … Continue reading “Introduction”
“What does Occupy Wall Street want?” This anxious media meme was yoked to the increase of Occupy protests in 2011. Against the backdrop of other, more angry, characterizations of the Occupy protestors as deservedly unemployed, lazy, or overinvested in idealistic … Continue reading “"Preferring Not To" in the Age of Occupy”
As expected, twenty cigarettes are consumed in James Benning’s latest experimental feature, 20 Cigarettes (2011). In a series of portraits that borrow from (as Benning has explained in interviews) but also depart from Andy Warhol’s iconic Screen Tests, the … Continue reading “Smoke Break”
If the events of history, as Karl Marx once famously argued, happen first as tragedy and recur as re-enacted farce, the reoccurrence of any number of harbingers of doom typical of the last great global recession of the 1970s … Continue reading “Retromania, the Canon, the Refusal to Work and the Present: The Crassical Connection”
Teaching “Sex in Public” (1998) a few months ago while in the middle of reading Cruel Optimism, I was struck anew by the moment when Berlant and Warner confront Biddy Martin’s critique of an aversion to the ordinary in … Continue reading “On Cruel Optimism”
Thought follows action. A new precarious generation of cognitive workers knows this all too well, for their struggles trace the crumbling edifice of both the university and the global economy that increasingly depends on knowledge, affects, and information for its operations. If we begin with these struggles, we can dare to know much more about how our present circumstances are shaped by the knowledge economy.
The Occupy Movement has revived May Day. For far too many years, this holiday, which was of course also a solidarity-building occasion, has been ignored by the US labor movement.
It was and remains a great inspiration to have participated in yesterday’s Labor Day rally in Manila. Along with the electrifying militancy of a large number of leftist organizations including unions, political parties, campus activists, national activists, women’s advocacy groups … Continue reading “Labor Day Manifestation sa Maynila”