editors: SenseLab (with Open Humanities Press)
Philosophy begins in wonder. And, at the end,
when philosophic thought has done its best,
the wonder remains. – A.N. Whitehead
The aim of the Immediations book series is to prolong the wonder sustaining philosophic thought into transdisciplinary encounters. Its premise is that concepts are for the enacting: they must be experienced. Thought is lived, else it expires. It is most intensely lived at the crossroads of practices, and in the in-between of individuals and their singular endeavors: enlivened in the weave of a relational fabric. Co-composition.
“The smile spreads over the face, as the face fits itself onto the smile” (A. N. Whitehead)
Which practices enter into co-composition will be left an open question, to be answered by the Series authors. Art practice, aesthetic theory, political theory, movement practice, media theory, maker culture, science studies, architecture, philosophy … the range is free. We invite you to roam it.
Alongside single-author monographs, we are keen to encourage experiments in collective writing and new forms of co-composition. Co-composition is an intercession, not a mediation. Begin in the middle. Catch a thinking in the midst and compose with it. Curate thought in the thinking-doing. Reinvent the book.
Éditeurs: SenseLab (avec Open Humanities Press)
La philosophie commence dans l’étonnement. Et, au terme,
quand la pensée philosophique a fait de son mieux,
l’étonnement persiste. (Alfred N. Whitehead)
La collection Immédiations a pour but de prolonger l’étonnement qui anime l’esprit philosophique au carrefour de ses rencontres pluri-disciplinaires. Elle affirme l’idée selon laquelle les concepts n’ont de vie que dans la dramatisation : ils n’ont de sens qu’expérimentés. La pensée est vécue, faute de quoi elle expire. Vécue d’autant mieux à la croisée des pratiques, dans l’entre-deux des individus et de leurs efforts singuliers : enthousiasmée par ce qui se noue dans le tissu relationnel. Co-composition.
“Le sourire s’étend sur le visage, de la même manière que le visage s’adapte au sourire” (A. N. Whitehead)
Quant à savoir quelles pratiques entreront en co-composition, c’est une question que nous laissons délibérément ouverte, et dont la réponse est à la discrétion de chaque auteur. Pratiques artistiques, théorie esthétique, théorie politique, arts de la performance, théorie des média, études scientifiques, mouvements d’autodétermination, architecture, philosophie… l’éventail est large. Nous vous invitons à zigzaguer entre les modes de penser-faire.
Outre les monographies individuelles, nous tenons à encourager les projets collaboratifs, ainsi que les nouvelles formes de co-composition. Nous insistons sur le fait que l’acte de co-composition est synonyme d’intercession, et non de médiation. Commencer par le milieu. Saisir au vol une pensée-en-acte et faire prise avec elle. Exposer la pensée alors même qu’elle s’active, alors même qu’elle pense et ensemence. Réinventer le livre.
Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: A Novelty
by Sher Doruff
Last Year at Betty and Bob’s: A Novelty is the first in a series of novellas emerging from a writing practice that taps the cusp of consciousness between dreaming and waking. A storyline, or genealogy, tinted a shade of RGB blue, is fashioned by thinking through the felt unthought of this between space. A fabulation, an anarchive of what passes through. Lucid dreaming of this type is rife with allusions to conceptual and material goings-on, manifesting in awkward imaginaries. The dream personas are rendered as complex character amalgams with nomadic ages, sexes, genders and phenotypes. Occurrences of lived ‘fact’ elide with a hallucinatory real as speculation.
In A Novelty, Bette B, an ageing quasi-academic artist researcher, and BØB, attuned urban rodent, are palindromic variants of a generic cast of Betty’s and Bob’s. The happenstance of their meeting on the super slick POMOC affects a trans-special contagion. These are the fact of the matter. The matters that come to concern both B’s are more slippery and elusive.
Nocturnal Fabulations: Ecology, Vitality and Opacity in the Cinema of Apichatpong Weerasethakul
by Érik Bordeleau, Toni Pape, Ronald Rose-Antoinette and Adam Szymanski
Nocturnal Fabulations is an essay in intercessing. This is not a book that is simply ‘about’ Apichatpong Weerasethakul, though it does engage his work in detail. It is a book that deeply questions what else might be at stake in setting up the conditions for collaboration across two genres: cinema and writing.
This collective project is animated by a shared curiosity in the pragmatics of fabulation and its speculative gesture of bringing forth a people to come. In an encounter with Apichatpong’s cinematic dreamscape, the concepts of ecology, vitality and opacity emerge to articulate an ethos of fabulation that deframes experience, recomposes subjectivity and unfixes time.
Also available in French
The Principle of Unrest
by Brian Massumi
There is no such thing as rest. The world is always on the move. It is made of movement. We find ourselves always in the midst of it, in transformations under way. The basic category for understanding is activity – and only derivatively subject, object, rule, order. What is called for is an ‘activist’ philosophy based on these premises. The Principle of Unrest explores the contemporary implications of an activist philosophy, pivoting on the issue of movement. Movement is understood not simply in spatial terms but as qualitative transformation: becoming, emergence, event. Neoliberal capitalism’s special relation to movement is of central concern. Its powers of mobilization now descend to the emergent level of just-forming potential. This carries them beyond power-over to powers-to-bring-to-be, or what the book terms ‘ontopower’. It is necessary to track capitalist power throughout its expanding field of emergence in order to understand how counter-powers can resist its capture and rival it on its own immanent ground. At the emergent level, at the eventful first flush of their arising, counter-powers are always collective. This even applies to movements of thought. Thought in the making is collective expression. How can we think this transindividuality of thought? What practices can address it? How, politically, can we understand the concept of the event to emergently include events of thought? Only by attuning to the creative unrest always agitating at the infra-individual level, in direct connection with the transindividual level, bypassing the mid-level of what was traditionally taken for a sovereign subject: by embracing our ‘dividuality’.
Plankton Dreams What I Learned in Special Ed,
by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay
In Plankton Dreams, Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay crafts a proud, satiric style: the special ed student as literary troublemaker. ‘Mother had always taught me to learn from circumstance,’ he writes. ‘Here, the circumstance was humiliation, a particularly instructive teacher.’ ‘But I’m not complaining,’ he continues. ‘Humiliation, after all, made me a philosopher.’
For all of its comic effects, the book alerts readers to an alternative understanding of autism, an understanding that autistics themselves have been promoting for years. Frustrated by how most scientists investigate autism, Mukhopadhyay decides to investigate neurotypicality, treating his research subjects the way he himself was treated. Why shouldn’t the autist study the neurotypical? This artful parody of scientific endeavor salvages dignity from a dark place. It also reveals a very talented writer. It is most certainly time to study the neurotypical—his or her relentless assumptions. Perhaps by doing so we may devise a more humble and hospitable society.
Thought in the Act
by Erin Manning & Brian Massumi
Thought in the Act explores the intimate connections between thinking and creative practice
Combining philosophy and aesthetics, Thought in the Act is a unique exploration of creative practice as a form of thinking. Challenging the common opposition between the conceptual and the aesthetic, Erin Manning and Brian Massumi “think through” a wide range of creative practices in the process of their making, revealing how thinking and artfulness are intimately, creatively, and inseparably intertwined.
THOUGHT IN THE ACT
A New Series Edited by Erin Manning and Brian Massumi
Thought in the Act: where the speculative meets the pragmatic; where thought is on the move, and the movement is thinking on the run; where the stakes are real and present, and the destination is to be invented. This series seeks projects that gear philosophical thinking into practices of research and creation in other domains; and conversely, that see philosophy itself as a searching practice of creative concept-making. Thinking in action: experimental thinking-across, toward parts as yet unknown. Speculative pragmatism: like having a word at the tip of the tongue – when it could just as easily be an act.
A Minor Gesture
by Erin Maning
In this wide-ranging and probing book Erin Manning extends her previous inquiries into the politics of movement to the concept of the minor gesture. The minor gesture, although it may pass almost unperceived, transforms the field of relations. More than a chance variation, less than a volition, it requires rethinking common assumptions about human agency and political action. To embrace the minor gesture’s power to fashion relations, its capacity to open new modes of experience and manners of expression, is to challenge the ways in which the neurotypical image of the human devalues alternative ways of being moved by and moving through the world—in particular what Manning terms “autistic perception.” Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari’s schizoanalysis and Whitehead’s speculative pragmatism, Manning’s far-reaching analyses range from fashion to depression to the writings of autistics, in each case affirming the neurodiversity of the minor and the alternative politics it gestures toward.
William James: Empiricism and Pragmatism by David Lapoujade, Trans. Thomas Lamarre (forthcoming 2016)
Authoring Autism: On Rhetoric and Neurological Queerness by Melanie Yergeau (forthcoming 2016)
The Lure of the Possible by Didier Debaise Trans. Michael Halewood (forthcoming 2016)
See it Feelingly by Ralph Savarese (forthcoming 2017)
When the Earth Moves: Toward a Politics of the Sublime by Michael Shapiro (forthcoming 2017)
Earworm and Event by Eldritch Priest (forthcoming 2017)
Radiation and Revolution by Sabu Kohso (forthcoming 2017)
TECHNOLOGIES OF LIVED ABSTRACTION (MIT PRESS)
edited by Erin Manning and Brian Massumi
“What moves as a body, returns as the movement of thought.”
Of subjectivity (in its nascent state)
Of the social (in its mutant state)
Of the environment (at the point it can be reinvented)
“A process set up anywhere reverberates everywhere.”
* * *
The Technologies of Lived Abstraction book series is dedicated to work of transdisciplinary reach inquiring critically but especially creatively into processes of subjective, social, and ethical-political emergence abroad in the world today. Thought and body, abstract and concrete, local and global, individual and collective: the works presented are not content to rest with the habitual divisions. They explore how these facets come formatively, reverberatively together, if only to form the movement by which they come again to differ.
Possible paradigms are many: autonomization, relation; emergence, complexity, process; individuation, (auto)poiesis; direct perception, embodied perception, perception-as-action; speculative pragmatism, speculative realism, radical empiricism; mediation, virtualization; ecology of practices, media ecology; technicity; micropolitics, biopolitics, ontopower. Yet there will be a common aim: to catch new thought and action dawning, at a creative crossing. Technologies of Lived Abstraction orients to the creativity at this crossing, in virtue of which life everywhere can be considered germinally aesthetic, and the aesthetic anywhere already political.
* * *
“Concepts must be experienced. They are lived.”
Manning, E. & Massumi, B. ed. Technologies of Lived Abstraction. (MIT Press)
Steven Shaviro. Without Criteria: Whitehead, Kant, Deleuze (2009)
Manning, Erin. Relationscapes: Movement, Art, Philosophy (2009)
Massumi, Brian. Semblance and Event (2011)
Combes, Muriel. Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual. Trans. Thomas Lamarre (2012)
Munster, Anna. An Aesthesia of Networks (2013)
Portanova, Stamatia. Moving Without a Body (2013)
Parisi, Luciana. Contagious Architectures (2013)
Lazzarato, Maurizio. Expériementations Politiques. Trans. Jeremy Gilbert: Expérimentations Politiques
Andrew Goffey (forthcoming 2013).
COLLECTION TECHNOLOGIES D’EXPÉRIENCE VÉCUE(MIT PRESS)
dirigée par Erin Manning et Brian Massumi
“Ce qui se meut comme un corps, revient comme un mouvement de pensée.”
De la subjectivité (à l’état naissant)
Du social (en mutation)
De l’environnement (au point où il peut être réinventé)
“Un processus généré en quelque endroit réverbère en tous lieux.”
* * *
La collection Technologies d’Abstraction Vécue est dédiée aux œuvres d’aventure transdisciplinaire donnant de façon critique et plus particulièrement créative avec les processus d’émergence subjective, sociale, et éthico-politique dans le monde contemporain. Corps et pensée, abstrait et concret, local et global, individu et collectif: les œuvres ainsi publiées ne s’accommodent jamais des divisions habituelles. Que du contraire. Elles font enquête sur les modes à travers lesquels ces diverses facettes se font écho, et ce, dans l’exacte mesure où elles donnent vie au mouvement par lequel elles diffèrent… une fois de plus.
Quelques pistes ou propositions d’exploration: autonomisation, relation; émergence, complexité, processus; individuation, (auto)poiesis; perception directe, perception incarnée, perception-action; pragmatisme spéculatif, réalisme spéculatif, empirisme radical; médiation, virtualisation; écologie des pratiques, écologie des média; technicité; micropolitique, biopolitique, onto-pouvoir. Cela étant, un objectif fait front: percevoir de nouvelles pensées, saisir de nouvelles actions à l’aube de leurs existences, sur un plan de transversalité. Technologies d’Abstraction Vécue se tourne vers la créativité œuvrée sur ce plan d’entrelacements, et en vertu de laquelle la vie, à son niveau germinal, et quelle que soit sa forme, peut être perçue comme esthétique, et l’esthétique comme faisant pli avec le politique.
* * *
“Les concepts doivent être expérimentés. Ils sont vécus.”
BOOKS via MIT PRESS
Today almost every aspect of life for which data exists can be rendered as a network. Financial data, social networks, biological ecologies: all are visualized in links and nodes, lines connecting dots. A network visualization of a corporate infrastructure could look remarkably similar to that of a terrorist organization. In An Aesthesia of Networks, Anna Munster argues that this uniformity has flattened our experience of networks as active and relational processes and assemblages. She counters the “network anaesthesia” that results from this pervasive mimesis by reinserting the question of experience, or aesthesia, into networked culture and aesthetics.
Rather than asking how humans experience computers and networks, Munster asks how networksexperience—what operations they perform and undergo to change and produce new forms of experience. Drawing on William James’s radical empiricism, she asserts that networked experience is assembled first and foremost through relations, which make up its most immediately sensed and perceived aspect. Munster critically considers a range of contemporary artistic and cultural practices that engage with network technologies and techniques, including databases and data mining, the domination of search in online activity, and the proliferation of viral media through YouTube. These practices—from artists who “undermine” data to musicians and VJs who use intranetworked audio and video software environments—are concerned with the relationality at the core of today’s network experience.
MOVING WITHOUT A BODY: DIGITAL PHILOSOPHY AND CHOREOGRAPHIC THOUGHTS
By Stamatia Portanova
Digital technologies offer the possibility of capturing, storing, and manipulating movement, abstracting it from the body and transforming it into numerical information. In Moving without a Body, Stamatia Portanova considers what really happens when the physicality of movement is translated into a numerical code by a technological system. Drawing on the radical empiricism of Gilles Deleuze and Alfred North Whitehead, she argues that this does not amount to a technical assessment of software’s capacity to record motion but requires a philosophical rethinking of what movement itself is, or can become.
Discussing the development of different audiovisual tools and the shift from analog to digital, she focuses on some choreographic realizations of this evolution, including works by Loie Fuller and Merce Cunningham. Throughout, Portanova considers these technologies and dances as ways to think—rather than just perform or perceive—movement. She distinguishes the choreographic thought from the performance: a body performs a movement, and a mind thinks or choreographs a dance. Similarly, she sees the move from analog to digital as a shift in conception rather than simply in technical realization. Analyzing choreographic technologies for their capacity to redesign the way movement is thought,Moving without a Body offers an ambitiously conceived reflection on the ontological implications of the encounter between movement and technological systems.
SEMBLANCE AND EVENT: ACTIVIST PHILOSOPHY AND THE OCCURRENT ARTS
By Brian Massumi
Events are always passing; to experience an event is to experience the passing. But how do we perceive an experience that encompasses the just-was and the is-about-to-be as much as what is actually present? In Semblance and Event, Brian Massumi, drawing on the work of William James, Alfred North Whitehead, Gilles Deleuze, and others, develops the concept of “semblance” as a way to approach this question.
It is, he argues, a question of abstraction, not as the opposite of the concrete but as a dimension of it: “lived abstraction.” A semblance is a lived abstraction. Massumi uses the category of the semblance toinvestigate practices of art that are relational and event-oriented–variously known as interactive art, ephemeral art, performance art, art intervention–which he refers to collectively as the “occurrent arts.” Massumi argues that traditional art practices, including perspective painting, conventionally considered to be object-oriented freeze frames, also organize events of perception, and must be considered occurrent arts in their own way. Each art practice invents its own kinds of relational events of lived abstraction, to produce a signature species of semblance.
The artwork’s relational engagement, Massumi continues, gives it a political valence just as necessary and immediate as the aesthetic dimension. Massumi investigates occurrent art practices in order to examine, on the broadest level, how the aesthetic and the political are always intertwined in any creative activity.
SONIC WARFARE: SOUND, AFFECT, AND THE ECOLOGY OF FEAR
By Steve Goodman
Sound can be deployed to produce discomfort, express a threat, or create an ambiance of fear or dread—to produce a bad vibe. Sonic weapons of this sort include the “psychoacoustic correction” aimed at Panama strongman Manuel Noriega by the U.S. Army and at the Branch Davidians in Waco by the FBI, sonic booms (or “sound bombs”) over the Gaza Strip, and high-frequency rat repellents used against teenagers in malls. At the same time, artists and musicians generate intense frequencies in the search for new aesthetic experiences and new ways of mobilizing bodies in rhythm. In Sonic Warfare, Steve Goodman explores these uses of acoustic force and how they affect populations.
Most theoretical discussions of sound and music cultures in relationship to power, Goodman argues, have a missing dimension: the politics of frequency. Goodman supplies this by drawing a speculative diagram of sonic forces, investigating the deployment of sound systems in the modulation of affect. Traversing philosophy, science, fiction, aesthetics, and popular culture, he maps a (dis)continuum of vibrational force, encompassing police and military research into acoustic means of crowd control, the corporate deployment of sonic branding, and the intense sonic encounters of sound art and music culture.
Goodman concludes with speculations on the not yet heard—the concept of unsound, which relates to both the peripheries of auditory perception and the unactualized nexus of rhythms and frequencies within audible bandwidths.
WITHOUT CRITERIA: KANT, WHITEHEAD, DELEUZE, AND AESTHETICS
By Steven Shaviro
In Without Criteria, Steven Shaviro proposes and explores a philosophical fantasy: imagine a world in which Alfred North Whitehead takes the place of Martin Heidegger. What if Whitehead, instead of Heidegger, had set the agenda for postmodern thought? Heidegger asks, “Why is there something, rather than nothing?” Whitehead asks, “How is it that there is always something new?” In a world where everything from popular music to DNA is being sampled and recombined, argues Shaviro, Whitehead’s question is the truly urgent one. Without Criteria is Shaviro’s experiment in rethinking postmodern theory, especially the theory of aesthetics, from a point of view that hearkens back to Whitehead rather than Heidegger.
Shaviro does this largely by reading Whitehead in conjunction with Gilles Deleuze, finding important resonances and affinities between them, suggesting both a Deleuzian reading of Whitehead and a Whiteheadian reading of Deleuze. In working through the ideas of Whitehead and Deleuze, Shaviro also appeals to Kant, arguing that certain aspects of Kant’s thought pave the way for the philosophical “constructivism” embraced by both Whitehead and Deleuze.
Kant, Whitehead, and Deleuze are not commonly grouped together, but the juxtaposition of them inWithout Criteria helps to shed light on a variety of issues that are of concern to contemporary art and media practices (especially developments in digital film and video), and to controversies in cultural theory (including questions about commodity fetishism and about immanence and transcendence). Moreover, in his rereading of Whitehead (and in deliberate contrast to the “ethical turn” in much recent theoretical discourse), Shaviro opens the possibility of a critical aesthetics of contemporary culture.
RELATIONSCAPES: MOVEMENT, ART, PHILOSOPHY
By Erin Manning
With Relationscapes, Erin Manning offers a new philosophy of movement challenging the idea that movement is simple displacement in space, knowable only in terms of the actual. Exploring the relation between sensation and thought through the prisms of dance, cinema, art, and new media, Manning argues for the intensity of movement. From this idea of intensity—the incipiency at the heart of movement—Manning develops the concept of preacceleration, which makes palpable how movement creates relational intervals out of which displacements take form.
Discussing her theory of incipient movement in terms of dance and relational movement, Manning describes choreographic practices that work to develop with a body in movement rather than simply stabilizing that body into patterns of displacement. She examines the movement-images of Leni Riefenstahl, Étienne-Jules Marey, and Norman McLaren (drawing on Bergson’s idea of duration), and explores the dot-paintings of contemporary Australian Aboriginal artists. Turning to language, Manning proposes a theory of prearticulation claiming that language’s affective force depends on a concept of thought in motion.
Relationscapes is a radically empirical book, working directly out of examples and delving into the complexity of relations these examples suggest. It takes a “Whiteheadian perspective,” recognizing Whitehead’s importance and his influence on process philosophers of the late twentieth century—Deleuze and Guattari in particular. Relationscapes is truly a transdisciplinary book, not aiming to cover the ground of a particular discipline but making clear how the specificity of a particular inquiry can alter key questions that emerge in the interstices between disciplines. It will be of special interest to scholars in new media, philosophy, dance studies, film theory, and art history.
GILBERT SIMONDON AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE TRANSINDIVIDUAL
By Muriel Combes, Translated by Thomas LaMarre
Gilbert Simondon (1924–1989), one of the most influential contemporary French philosophers, published only three works: L’individu et sa genèse physico-biologique (The individual and its physico-biological genesis, 1964) and L’individuation psychique et collective (Psychic and collective individuation, 1989), both drawn from his doctoral thesis, and Du mode d’existence des objets techniques(On the mode of existence of technical objects, 1958). It is this last work that brought Simondon into the public eye; as a consequence, he has been considered a “thinker of technics” and cited often in pedagogical reports on teaching technology. Yet Simondon was a philosopher whose ambitions lay in an in-depth renewal of ontology as a process of individuation–that is, how individuals come into being, persist, and transform. In this accessible yet rigorous introduction to Simondon’s work, Muriel Combes helps to bridge the gap between Simondon’s account of technics and his philosophy of individuation.
Some thinkers have found inspiration in Simondon’s philosophy of individuation, notably Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Combes’s account, first published in French in 1999, is one of the only studies of Simondon to appear in English. Combes breaks new ground, exploring an ethics and politics adequate to Simondon’s hypothesis of preindividual being, considering through the lens of transindividual philosophy what form a nonservile relation to technology might take today. Her book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Simondon’s work.
CONTAGIOUS ARCHITECTURE: COMPUTATION, AESTHETICS AND SPACE
By Luciana Parisi
In Contagious Architecture, Luciana Parisi offers a philosophical inquiry into the status of the algorithm in architectural and interaction design. Her thesis is that algorithmic computation is not simply an abstract mathematical tool but constitutes a mode of thought in its own right, in that its operation extends into forms of abstraction that lie beyond direct human cognition and control. These include modes of infinity, contingency, and indeterminacy, as well as incomputable quantities underlying the iterative process of algorithmic processing.
The main philosophical source for the project is Alfred North Whitehead, whose process philosophy is specifically designed to provide a vocabulary for “modes of thought” exhibiting various degrees of autonomy from human agency even as they are mobilized by it. Because algorithmic processing lies at the heart of the design practices now reshaping our world—from the physical spaces of our built environment to the networked spaces of digital culture—the nature of algorithmic thought is a topic of pressing importance that reraises questions of control and, ultimately, power. Contagious Architecture revisits cybernetic theories of control and information theory’s notion of the incomputable in light of this rethinking of the role of algorithmic thought. Informed by recent debates in political and cultural theory around the changing landscape of power, it links the nature of abstraction to a new theory of power adequate to the complexities of the digital world.