Cephalopod Dreams: Finance at the Limit by Erin Manning

“Mischief and craft are plainly seen to be characteristics of this creature.”

                                                                                                Claudius Aelianus, 3rd century AD


“An octopus has almost no hard parts at all – its eyes and beak are the largest – and as a result it can squeeze through a hole about the size of its eyeball and transform its shape almost indefinitely. … A body of pure possibility.”

Peter Godfrey-Smith (2016: 47)


Capital fears the earth’s procession.

Fred Moten and Stefano Harney (2017)




Practices of the Event


The question that has most sustained the last 15 years of practice at SenseLab has been: what moves a gathering into an event? The event, understood here through process philosophy, speaks of that share of experience which exceeds the sum of its parts. An event is always more-than, always in excess of what registers on the plane of actualization.


To seek that which comes together as more-than the sum of its parts[1] is to be interested in that portion of experience which cannot be quantified. In process philosophy, where pragmatism is key, this means being engaged with both the details of actual experience – how things come to be – and to have an investment in what accompanies the coming-to-be but cannot be subsumed to it. The philosophy of the event is as pragmatic as it is speculative. What actualizes matters: how it comes to be is always understood to make a difference.


Our question, over our years of practice, has been how to create the conditions for what does not register as having actualized. How to recognize forms of experience that have no actual shape? How to become curious about what we’ve called “the pragmatics of the useless” – that infrathin share of experience which affects us even while it refrains from actualizing as such? How to move with socialities that exceed the human, enveloping modes more-than human? How to tweak experience toward neurodiverse forms of knowing, neurodiverse in that they are not yet within any schema, not divergent from something like a norm, but diverse in relation to diversity. How to move from unknowing to unknowing, from useless to useless, from diversity to diversity? How to value that movement?


This brings with it questions of how things register and for whom. About forms of life – what Fred Moten might call black life – that tend to fall out of the registering. About undercommon forms of living.


Essence and Existence


If the question is one of registering value, we inevitably circle the economic. Practices of the event and the modes of existence they create, I propose here, are schizoeconomic practices – practices that schizz the question of what the economic means by asking what else value can be. The question of value here goes beyond finance as we know it in times of neoliberal capital to focus on what moves beyond or in excess of that which already registers as value.


In Spinoza, to exist is to carry a power, a share of potential. This power of existence is “modal essence,” essence here a force of qualitative amplification. Essence is a means of intensification that qualifies the force of relation of the world. Existence always carries essence as the more-than of actualization.


A mode is the force of qualification in Spinoza. To exist is to qualitatively alter the conditions of the force of Nature (also called God, or Substance in Spinoza). As in all process philosophy this modal qualification is both a subtraction and an addition: it is a subtraction from the field that brings with it a qualitative difference. This is not to say that there is Nature and then existence. Or essence, then existence. Existence gives Nature a certain capacity to express itself, an expression that might be said to “carry” essence as a power of existence. Essence is not the truth of existence, or its kernel. Essence is the force of its more-than. Another way to put it would be to say that there is in Spinoza an intensive field of relation (Nature). This intensive field carries not forms but forces. Modes qualify this potentia, giving it texture and, in the case of existence, form.


Existence in Spinoza always implies a certain parsing. The qualitative force of existence lies in the power of Nature that runs through it. This power is the modal essence.


In the subtraction of existence, how it comes to be matters. The conditions that make it what it is are not arbitrary. The how of existence is constitutive of existence itself. There is here no external or transcendent power. The force of coming-into-being is existence as much as is the form being takes. The value of existence is therefore its necessity, understood in the Nietzschean sense. Necessity and value here come together not in a cause-effect relationship but as immanent to one-another.


Spinoza gives us the vocabulary to understand the qualitative force of that necessity. If necessity is the unwaverable orientation that comes with the actualization of experience, the shape of things must always be understood to include the necessity of how they have become. Life-living, the excess of what Deleuze calls a life over this life, is the expression of this necessity. Necessity, understood as immanent valuation, is the how of experience in its unfolding.


The necessity is qualitative, not quantitative. That is to say, its quantities carry degrees of power that cannot be reduced to number. In the actualization of experience (modal existence), the power of existence accompanies the living of it, a power that is always, as Whitehead might say, n+1. Existence moves essence into the world by adding necessity to the expression of its shaping.


Infinite Quantity


To register that which exceeds existence is to attune to the more-than of experience. Infinite quantity for Spinoza “is not infinite through the multitude of its parts” (Deleuze 1990: 203). It is infinite in an uncountable way. “It is not from the number of its parts that the quantity is infinite, but rather because it is infinite that it divides into a multitude of parts exceeding any number” (Deleuze 1990: 203).


If existence is non-numerical, if what is quantified in actualization cannot be reduced to a sum of its parts, what is valued similiarly cannot be reduced. Use-value is not adequate to a registering of what counts, of what makes a difference.


This is because existence moves essences into the world: a quality of existence’s surplus accompanies all existence. This quality has effects but cannot be measured, “their sum always exceeds any given number” (Deleuze 1990: 203).


The force of being (the force of actualization) is a composition that carries the more-than into expression. In the counting economy, in an economy of use-value, essence is dealt with by moving it outside of the register of value. This outside of the register of value is sometimes known as affect, artfulness, or love. It is not exactly that it is not acknowledged, or even that is always fully unregistered, it is that it is not registered as value. That its unquantifiability excludes it from what is considered economic. The goal here is not to argue that a metric of value should include the essence that moves existence. The hope is instead to make a case that this outside is what constitutes value. That value is what absolutely resists accounting, and that taking seriously this impossibly of account is our only means of inventing schizoeconomic modes of existence.


What is this outside that troubles existence at the edges? Fred Moten sometimes calls it “phonic substance, phonic materiality irreducible to any interpretation but antithetical to any assertion of the absence of content” (2017: 30). Phonic materiality, the reaching-toward of that which touches the nerve of experience’s essence, is felt in the relation. It cannot be separated out (it doesn’t exist “as such,” has no count, no number, no position). It is anathema to the economic as that which is already considered to have measurable value. And yet the difference it makes in the world affects every sense of value, including that of finance at the limit.


Phonic materiality is existence. This is, I think, what Moten means when he says that performance is in the break.[2] Life erupts from the break and that eruption sounds. This is a sounding we often would prefer not to hear. It sounds too strong, too powerful, too black. But we hear it: “out from the outside of the discourse on value” (Moten 2017: 21) We cannot not hear it, no matter how hard we work to invent modes of unregistering to discount the shifting of the ground beneath our feet. And what we hear is that existence exceeds the form we take, that existence is relational in the interplay of intensive forces. These forces, existence’s modal essences, can be thought as the power of modulation in existence.




Practices of the event require platforms for relation. Platforms for relation ask us not only to invent new modes of encounter, but also, and perhaps most urgently, to become more sensitive to and more engaged with processes already underway. Platforms for relation are conditions through which a singular quality of relation is seeded. A highway system is a platform for relation – it facilitates rhythm through circulation. This circulation can be shifted easily by factors both choreographed (roadwork) and emergent (the angle of the sun). In a practice of creating enabling constraints for collective improvisation, a platform for relation might be the cooking together of a meal, both facilitating a quiet working-next-to and a field of sociality. A garden can also be a platform for relation, facilitating both the lure of a certain earth-human sociality and a site for an emergent ecology of animal and insect life. Catching the edge of an existing platform for relation involves moving-with a field of relations that doesn’t count on us, as individuals, to direct experience as though experience were ours to choreograph.


A transindividual process is one that takes us with it. It unmoors the we, the all-too-human I, activating the phonic materiality, the more-than, of essence coursing through existence. It makes felt how we are participants, not directors, in the ecology of practices that is existence.


Practices of the event are always transindividual. They include individuating forces. But they do not begin with the individual. As Alfred North Whitehead underscores, events are activations through which subjectivities – or what he calls subjective forms – come into being, not the other way around. How platforms create modes of relation is how we come to know ourselves as subjects of the event. We participate before we preside.


This is not to say that there are not peaks in the event where individuals emerge, where identities are crafted, where processes inflect and separate out from the welter of experience. It is to underscore that the individual is a force of peaking in the event rather than the preexisting motor of the event. How things happen affects how we take form and this we that takes form carries with it the ecology of that process. I is a composition.


This composition includes a quality of accompaniment Gilbert Simondon calls the preindividual.  The preindividual can never be separated out from the process of individuation. It is the essence in Spinoza’s existence. This more-than, this excess of actualization that is the preindividual, must not be eclipsed in the articulation of the peaking of individuality. Practices of the event make apparent how much phonic materiality there is in the fashioning of what we call the individual or the subject.


Transindividuation takes practice. We are too accustomed to making experience about us: it is our habit to begin our sentences with “I.” Felix Guattari’s work on schizoanalysis and group subjectivity have given SenseLab techniques for experimenting at this limit where the I is always more-than. With platforms for relation come techniques for seeding processes that resist subtracting essence from existence. We aim to create practices that amplify the force of the transindividual and honour the more-than of the preindividual in the production of subjectivity.




Schizoanalysis an alter-economic practice: its work is to unmoor the financialization of the individual as metric of preexisting value. The schizz cuts in the middle, neurodiverse in its call for the more-than. No more normopaths! it squeals. How-else-with-and?


The schizz of the schizoanalytic practice must never be reindividualized by setting up the figure of the lone shizophrenic, or any lone figure, as its cypher. Schizoanalysis is not a practice for the individual. It is not a practice of pathologization, of singling out the one whose neurology will invariably be considered a deficit. Schizoanalysis is a practice of the event where I, even schizo-I, is not yet.


The figure of the schizophrenic in Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus functions not as the patient of a schizoanalytic practice. Nor is the schizophrenic a mythical figure to be idealized. The schizophrenic is the limit-case of existence that troubles our certainties as regards the stability of subjectivity. “A schizoanalysis schizophrenizes in order to break the holds of power and institute research into a new collective subjectivity and a revolutionary healing of mankind. For we are sick, so sick, of our selves!” (Seem in Deleuze and Guattari 1983: xxi).[3]


That the schizophrenic refutes the limited envelope of the individual, that the schizophrenic feels the phonic materiality of existence, is certainly part of the story. But the work of schizoanalysis is not done on the body (of the schizophrenic) per se. The work is done in the relation where the phonic leaves its resonant traces, in the relation where pathology becomes impossible because the living in life has yet to be invented.


The schizz, the effect of the schizophrenizing of experience, is what cuts subjectivity as we know it, subjectivity as use-value, subjectivity as the claim to the human (the category that excludes the neurodiverse, and all qualities and forms of black life, including indigenous life and other forces of life-yet-to-be-invented that threaten the I as white, colonial neurotypical being)[4].


Paradoxically, capital also breeds here where life-living schizzes:

Capitalism tends toward a threshold of decoding that will destroy the socius in order to make it a body without organs and unleash the flows of desire on this body as a deterritorialized field. Is it correct to say that in this sense schizophrenia is the product of the capitalist machine, as manic depression and paranoia are the product of the despotic machine, and hysteria the product of the territorial machine? (Deleuze and Guattari1983: 33).

Making the link between subjectivity, the schizz and capital is essential:

there is no subject, only collective assemblages of enunciation. Subjectification is simply one such assemblage and designates a formalization of expression or a regime of signs rather than a condition internal to language. Capital is a point of subjectification par excellence (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 130).


Mobilizing the schizz, inventing schizoanalytic techniques for practices of the event, or what SenseLab is increasingly calling schizoeconomics, will always involve an attunement to the tipping-point of capital as (de)valuation of existence. Techniques must be invented to learn to attune to the difference between finance unlimited (neoliberal capital) and finance at the limit (schizoeconomy), to become sensitive to what facilitates the extreme deterritorialization of capital on the one end of the spectrum and allows the registering of the ineffable on the other:

The decoding of flows and the deterritorialization of the socius […] constitutes the most characteristic and the most important tendency of capitalism. It continually draws near to its limit, which is a genuinely schizophrenic limit. It tends, with all the strength at its command, to produce the schizo as the subject of the decoded flows on the body without organs – more capitalist than the capitalist and more proletarian than the proletariat. This tendency is being carried further and further, to the point that capitalism with all its flows may dispatch itself straight to the moon: we really haven’t seen anything yet! When we say that

schizophrenia is our characteristic malady, the malady of our era, we do not merely mean to say that modern life drives people mad. It is not a question of a way of life, but of a process of production. Nor is it merely a question of a simple parallelism, even though from the point of view of the failure of codes, such a parallelism is a much more precise formulation of the relationship between, for example, the phenomena of shifting of meaning in the case of schizophrenics and the mechanisms of ever increasing disharmony and discord at every level of industrial society (Deleuze and Guattari1983: 34).

The “awesome schizophrenic accumulation of energy or charge” that accompanies existence is what is captured by capital, and what capital glides on. This is even more clearly the case today than when Deleuze and Guattari conceived of it in the late 1960s. Neoliberal capital is the flow of all flows. As Brian Massumi writes: “The ‘capitalist process’ is how the capitalist system dips into its own immanent outside to draw out new potentials for its becoming, or continuing self-constitution” (2018: T11, lemma c). How to work with the paradox of an outside that is both phonic materiality, value unregistering, a pragmatics of the useless and at the same time what capital most intently works to capture in the name of what Massumi calls “surplus-value of flow?” How to invent platforms for schizoeconomic finance at the limit that do not simply facilitate capital’s seemingly infinite capacity to capitalize on process for monetary gain?


Massumi writes:

Although the revaluation of value will also have to transcend the Marxian labor theory of value (among other reasons, because its critique is still articulated in quantitative terms, even though it points to the qualitative oppression of the “theft” of vitality; T33), this dramatically gives the lie to capitalism’s assertion that its system functions on a basis of equal exchange, or value for value. Reducing the “cost of labor” is a rallying cry for those in a position to use money in another of its roles, backgrounded by its threefold market definition: money as the vehicle of investment. What is this cry to reduce labor costs, if not a heartfelt call to preserve, or widen, the inequality of the salary “exchange”? That inequality is presupposed by the vehemence of the call, even if it is disavowed in the accompanying explanatory rhetoric of “fair compensation.” The antagonism between the capitalist’s “fair compensation” and the worker’s “fair wage” says it all. The unequal exchange of life-time and vital energies for the price of a salary demonstrates that in its investment heart-of-hearts capitalism runs as much on excess and incommensurability as it does in the market arena of consumer exchange (Massumi 2018: T 12).


The work of finance at the limit is to schizz the flow, shifting it from capital’s obsession with giving everything a value-measure to an engagement with (useless) qualities of life-living. The work is not to deny excess in order to keep capital at bay but to recognize that the problem is our own reticence as regards imagining qualitative quantity or intensive quantity – number without measure. Ironically, capital gets closer to this field of qualitative intensity than most processes and so it is to (neoliberal) capital that we must turn not to take up its strategy but to become more attuned to where in the process of registering flow the shift toward quantification happens. Massumi writes: “Capital is defined as the potential to derive from a present quantity of money a greater quantity of money in the future. Capital is not profit. Profit is the greater quantity of money derived. Capital is the potential to derive that quantity. That potential is the effective engine of the economic system. It emergently stirs in the system’s immanent processual outside” (Massumi 2018: T13 scholium).


A schizoeconomic platform for finance at the limit takes back the immanent processual outside before capital (de)values it. It does so by refusing to bestow use-value on that which is the ground of existence inventing itself. Deleuze and Guattari’s exploration of the difference between limit and threshold in precapitalist and capitalist economies is generative here.


Marginal economies, precapitalist economies, function with an internal limit. They value in a serial manner a process that has been agreed to by the parties involved. By way of example, Deleuze and Guattari suggest the exchange of seeds for axes. They write: “Take two abstract groups, one of which (A) gives seeds and receives axes, while the other (B) does the opposite. What is the collective evaluation of the objects based on? It is based on the idea of the last objects received, or rather receivable, on each side” (1987: 437). The receivability of the objects refers not to the last object received, but to “the penultimate, the next to the last, in other words, the last one before the apparent exchange loses its appeal for the exchangers, or forces them to modify their respective assemblages, to enter another assemblage” (1987: 437). The seriality refers to the cycle the exchange produces. “The last as the object of a collective evaluation determines the value of the entire series. It marks the exact point at which the assemblage must reproduce itself, begin a new operation period or a new cycle, lodge itself on another territory, and beyond which the assemblage could not continue as such. This is indeed a next-to-the last, a penultimate, since it comes before the ultimate” (1987: 438). The ultimate changes the assemblage and with that change, produces a new series. The limit is here understood as “marking a necessary rebeginning” while the threshold marks “an inevitable change” (1987: 438). “What counts is the existence of a spontaneous marginal criteria and marginalist evaluation determining the value of the entire series” (438).


Marginal economies are an interesting model for thinking schizoeconomics because of the platform for relation they facilitate. In the marginal economy

[e]xchange is only an appearance: each partner or group assesses the value of the last receivable object (limit-object), and the apparent equivalence derives from that. The equalization results from the two heterogeneous series […]. There is neither exchange value nor use value but rather an evaluation of the last by both parties (a calculation of the risk involved in crossing the limit), an anticipation-evaluation that takes into account the ritual character as well as the utilitarian, the serial character as well as the exchangist. The evaluation of the limit is there from the start in both groups, and already governs the first “exchange” between them. Of course there is groping in the dark; the evaluation is inseparable from a collective feeling out. But it does not bear on the quantity of social labor but on the idea of the last on both sides; the speed with which it is accomplished varies, but it is always done faster than the time necessary effectively to arrive at the last object, or even to pass from one operation to another (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 439).

The economic event can not be reduced to the conditions of exchange. It is a platform for relation that facilitates a process of collective feeling out that intuitively responds to the intensifying approach of the penultimate. The schizz is internal to the process, in the field of relation. Shifts are felt and they may cause punctual redirection but an immanent choreography is in place to assist the process in not tipping into a new assemblage.


Should the process tip across the threshold, a whole new assemblage emerges.

The  way  in which  the stock-threshold  differs from the exchange-limit is now  clear: primitive assemblages of hunter-gatherers have an operation period defined by the exploitation of a territory; the law is one of temporal succession because the assemblage perseveres only by switching territories at the conclusion ofeach operation period (itinerancy, itineration); and within each operation period there is a  repetition or temporal  series that tends toward the last object  as an “index,” as  the marginal or limit-object of the  territory (this iteration will govern the apparent exchange). On the other hand,  in the other assemblage, in the stock assemblage, the law is one of spatial coexis­tence and concerns the simultaneous exploitation of different territories; or, when the exploitation is successive, the succession of operation periods bears on one and the same territory; and in the framework of each opera­tion period or exploitation the force of serial iteration is superseded by a power of symmetry,  reflection, and global comparison. In solely descrip­tive terms, we therefore distinguish between serial, itinerant, or territorial assemblages  (which  operate  by  codes) and sedentary, global, or Land assemblages (which operate by overcoding). (Deleuze and Guattari1987: 440).


The power of the penultimate is the sociality it carries through the system. Using the example of an argument, Deleuze and Guattari emphasize that the couple carry the penultimate with them, aware that they must resist tipping the field into a new assemblage. The penultimate is of course never knowable in advance – it is best known in retrospect from the perspective of the ultimate (after the assemblage has tipped into a new one). Attending to the penultimate means being sensitive to the field of relation in its composition.

The same goes for having the last word in a domestic-squabble assemblage. Both partners evaluate from the start the volume or density of the last word that would give them the advantage and conclude the discus­sion, marking the end of an operation period or cycle of the assemblage, allowing it to start all over again. Both calculate their words in accordance with their evaluation of this last word, and the vaguely agreed time for it to come. And beyond the last (penultimate) word there lie still other words, this time final words that would cause them to enter another assemblage, divorce, for example, because they would have overstepped “bounds” (1987: 438).


Holding the process to the internal texture of its schizz is a way of attuning to a certain essence in existence, of attuning to the quality of the limit, collectively composing the relation in relation. When the schizz does the work of attending to the penultimate, what it does is value the pulse of duration’s serial rhythm as emergent sociality. An exchange happens but it is not here that the value is located. The value is located in the collective feeling-out that attends to the event’s composition. This can look like nothing. It can look like a simple exchange between seeds and axes. But it’s much more than that: it is the staying-with of the complexity of a seriality lived not as a transaction but as a proposition for life itself.


Inventing finance at the limit, carrying out the plan of a platform that proposes emergent choreographies and platforms of relation, calling it the 3E Process Seed Bank and allying it to the Economic Space Agency (ECSA)[5], SenseLab is similarly collectively feeling the limit out, not afraid to grope in the dark. From the middle, we desire the limit and work with it, attuning to its phonic materiality. This doesn’t mean we resist the threshold completely. Catapulting into a new process is important, but the conditions for the dephasing into a new process have to be ready for it. Our plan: to sidestep the stockpiling, the stage where the exchange becomes a withholding rather than a collective feeling out. To learn to live in the flavour of the penultimate. “The threshold comes ‘after’ the limit, ‘after’ the last receivable objects: it marks the moment when the apparent exchange is no longer of interest. We believe that it is precisely at this moment that stockpiling begins” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 440).  Living in the field of the speculative while holding to the groundedness of the pragmatic produces a strange sideways movement. We are learning this dance that, in the coding of the platform, we sometimes call “everything is everything,” a dance that sideways engages with what is already there, already doing the work, already anecomic, already schizzing. By moving tentatively in relation to the threshold, our hope is to sidestep the capitalizing gesture by moving at a different rhythm. Our aim: to play with the schizz, in strategic duplicity. Because we never ignore the fact that capital also dances to the more-than.




The schizz cuts. A cut reactivates a field of experience, tuning it to new frequencies. The question is, what is the difference between a limit-cut and a threshold-cut? The difference has to do with the more-than of exchange outlined above. A limit-cut attunes to the conditions of the process by feeling-out the process’s own limit. This attunement is a folding-through that is social in the sense that it is collectively attentive to the penultimate, to that which precedes the tipping-point into a new assemblage. A threshold-cut tips the process into a new assemblage by going straight for the ultimate. Everything is rejigged in the threshold-cut. While the more-than also accompanies the threshold-cut, the intensity of the collective feeling-out is less palpable since the process is re-forming and in so doing, creating new conditions for existence.


To say that capital is composed at the tipping-point of the threshold-cut where the process of the marginal-economy shifts from an attunement to the more-than of exchange to a stock-piling, to speak of capital as that phase where the feeling-out of an abundant sociality turns toward the production of scarcity, is not to say that capital doesn’t continue to carry that excess of exchange. Even in the case of capital, a trade always carries an excess.

Market makers pronounce their actions as making liquidity for the markets, but the process of liquidity making is the staging of uncertainty and the constitutive act of releasing volatility. Uncertainty is the raw material that flows through the various levels of mediation, binding and blending different future possibilities in the same logic of the derivative. Each consummated trade, or event, produces a price in time that sets the stage for the subsequent unfolding for the next price, using the produced price to calculate and measure a newly calibrated volatility. Their method is thoroughly speculative in the more complex sense of making multiple claims on multiple futures by mediating chains of value through a dense sociotechnical grid, and its form is derivative in the decomposition and recombination of social and economic attributes to make claims on the risk objects that circulate through these spaces (Wosnitzer 255)


The difference is that the excess – which includes the market’s own volatility – is quickly sidelined in favour of quantification. It’s not actually the excess that is quantified. It is that quantification overcodes the more-than. With this overcoding comes a generalized belief that value itself can be quantified. There is little vocabulary in finance for that which accompanies the trade but is not the measure of it.


Reclaiming value, the focus must turn to the more-than and the ways in which it resists value-as-measure. Beyond an account of the more-than in experience more generally, we must also attune to the process of financialization in neoliberal capital and ask what escapes the force of the market’s susbumption of the excess. We must attune to what is moved in the time of the trade.

The trade of derivatives happens in a time-without-time. The no-time of the trade – the emergent valuation that occurs in the split-second of decision that moves value into tradeability – is a time of invention: it is the very invention of time (as value).

Through the dynamic delta-hedging and the anxiety that it generates (Will I                    execute it right? When to rebalance it, etc.), the market-maker penetrated the                  market. He penetrated its volatility and he could now feel it in his guts. In a word, he became a dynamic trader. He now understood—not conceptually, but through his senses, through his body—the inexorability of time decay, the pains and joys of convexity (Ayache 2008: 36– 37).

In that no-time what come together are currents of the past (valuations that have had effects on the market) with futurities (the potential of value-creation). These futurities are composed of qualities: hunches, gut-feelings, intuition. Pastness and futurity schizz into decision. This decision is a cut that alters the field. It is not a cut made from outside the process: it cuts the very idea of value, including the value of subjectivity itself. In the words of the Invisible Committee:

The exhaustion of natural resources is probably much less advanced than the exhaustion of subjective resources, of vital resources, that is afflicting our contemporaries. If so much satisfaction is derived from surveying the devastation of the environment it’s largely because this veils the frightening ruin of subjectivities. Every oil spill, every sterile plain, every species extinction is an image of our souls in rags, a reflection of our lack of world, of our intimate impotence to inhabit it (2015: 33).[6]

In the capitalist trade, what is captured is subjectivity itself, creating the belief in the power of the human as bestower of value. Value, humanity and quantity become one. Threshold-cut.


This is another way of saying that capital plays the more-than but cannot ultimately value it. Unregistering it, backgrounding its essence in the name quantification, it (dis)counts it, subsumes it, (de)values it. And it believes in its count. There is a history of this. “Racialization and the ‘universal’ value-form are not separate phenomenon: value is not constituted simply from deracinated labor dissymmetrically exchanged for the wage, but from racialized labor, historically devalued colonial populations, and slavery” (Beller forthcoming).


Yet the more-than that composes life-living, that creates the force of black life, can never quite be counted. Something always resists and it is this something that troubles the count. “This becoming-object of the object, this resistance of the object that is (black) performance, that is the ongoing reproduction of the black radical tradition […] is the activation of an extereority that is out from the outside, cutting the inside/outside circuitry of mourning and melancholia” (Moten 2017: 33).


Black performance resists by refusing the financialization of that which is excluded, of that which does not register (as human). This object that resists haunts all of Moten’s writing, and it haunts cephalopod dreams as well.

Black performances work the second “as if” above [“as if in eclipse of objects”] in a specific way. The eclipse of objects by practices is a head, a necessary opening, that vanishes in the improvisatory work of those who are not but nothing other than objects themselves. (Black) performances are resistances of the object and the object is in that it resists, in that it is always the practice of resistance. […]This is also to say that the concept of the object […] is (in) practice precisely at the convergence of the surplus […] and the aesthetic (Moten 35-36).

When the object resists, singing in the wake[7] of the black performance, it is the break we hear. The break schizzes the field. This cut is aesthetic: it touches the limit at its most sensitive nerve. This touch is not meant to rehabilitate the object – the dichotomy of resistance and rehabilitation does not hold. There is no rehabilitation in the work black life does to shift the conditions of valuation, no move in the wake from object to subject (“our abjection from the realm of the human”).[8] Black life, as Christina Sharpe so eloquently argues, always remains anagrammatical (loc 419).[9] Black life as force of resistance doesn’t compose with capitalist subjectivity, a subjectivity that will only further devalue it as subpar, less-than human. For black life has already been uncounted, disqualified (despite all those attempts to price it in the time of slavery and in its afterlife). Black life haunts this metric that plays the game of inclusion. Black life practices diversity in diversity, its production of subjectivity moved by the phonic materiality of its resistance to the metric of neurotypicality that runs value-as-measure. Black life is schizoeconomic.


The break is here, at the very cut where the schizz unbalances capital’s metric.


Our Selves

Like the object that resists, finance at the limit refuses the dichotomy of value at the heart of quantification, that dichotomy that plays the subject against the object. Beyond measure, it is not simply value that schizzes but the very relation of subject to object. Only then can a different operative matrix begin to resonate.


An operative matrix for finance at the limit begins in the transindividual middle where subjects and objects are not yet. The question is – what motivates a shift in the field if not the agency of a subject? Deleuze and Guattari have an answer: this occurs through passive synthesis. In language, a passive synthesis can be heard in the iteration “it is raining.” The anagrammatical force of a statement that works from the middle, beyond subject and object, tunes experience to that which shakes it from within the field of its operations. Something doing, as Brian Massumi might say, following William James.


Passive synthesis is the agencement through which an ecology attunes to its surrounds. The schizz does its work here beyond “our selves.” There is no transcendental authority governing the shift, no human conductor of experience that claims hierarchy in the event (as Kant would have it). It is the impersonal force of the schizz that instead moves experience, and it is from the movement itself, from the act, that shifts in the ground come to expression.


The synthesis is passive only in the sense that it moves in the grammar of the indefinite, of what Deleuze and Guattari also call the free indirect – the share of existence that moves through us to orient our actions. In relation to the passive synthesis they speak of “unconscious contractions,” infraconscious or preindividual forces that orient what comes to be (1987: 367). These powers of existence are indefinite in the same way that the measure of the differential is always approximate. This is the hedge: approximations of existence carry the force of their modal essence much more forcefully than do those modal existences fully parsed, fully separated out. A thousand tiny measures lead differentially not to an absolute measure but to an intensity, a count-without-counting that is “anexact yet rigorous,” as Husserl might say (in Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 367).


Vague Essences


An anexact yet rigorous process moves with “vague, […] vagabond or nomadic, morphological essences” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 367).

A theorematic figure is a fixed essence, but its transformations, distortions,                                                ablations, and augmentations, all of its variations, form problematic figures that                                        are vague yet rigorous, ‘lens-shaped,’ ‘umbelliform,’ or ‘indented.’ It could be                                                said that vague essences extract from things a determination that is more than                                            thinghood (choséité), which is that of corporeality (corporéité), and which perhaps                        even implies an esprit de corps (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 367).

An operative matrix for finance at the limit does its valueing here where vague essences extract the more-than of both thinghood and corporeality.


We are getting to the pragmatics of the useless, to the power of that which does not sum up experience in the name of use-value. All forms of quantification in a pragmatics of the useless are anexact yet rigorous: they make things count by qualifying them. Value is never added or subtracted. Value is an intensifier, valuation an essence-extractor. All essences are vague essences, anexact but rigorous qualifiers of existence in the making.


The undercommons of the university


The academic institution has been one of SenseLab’s home-bases. In the academic world, we tend to work with the representation of the useful. Mobilized by neoliberal tendencies and increasingly dependent on forms of review and evaluation that set in place standards for knowledge-production tied to capital, the university not only works on models of preexisting value, it backgrounds forms of valuation that would depart from the quantitative norms it sets in place. Much of the time, these preexisting forms of value are so internalized that they are self-policing, making it unnecessary for the institution itself to do this work. We are taught, we have always been taught, before we even begin as academics, how to recognize the measure of capitalist value, and we operate according to these preexisting categories.


“We must become undisciplined,” writes Christina Sharpe (2017: loc 398). This does not mean becoming “postdisciplinary,” Moten warns (2017: 34). The postdisciplinary ignores the forms of valuation that course through our collective understanding of who is a subject and who is an object (of knowledge): “for Black academics to produce legible work in the academy often means adhering to research methods that are ‘drafted into the service of a larger destructive force,’ thereby doing violence to our own capacities to read, think, and imagine otherwise” (Sharpe 2017: loc 398).[10]


In The Magic of Objects, Moten argues that the postdisciplinary can only mean the end of the discipline in the strong sense, that is to say, the abolition of the university as we know it. Without the abolition of the machine for knowing how to know, the postdisciplinary can only refer to a generalized decision to overlook the structures of valuation, a tactic that is already enmeshed in structures of capitalized value since only those who are not the object of devaluation can overlook structures of valuation. “Postdisciplinarity […] allows the assumption and nonrecognition of hierarchies that legitimate one methodology, one mode of performance, one archive, at the expense of others” (Moten 2017: 36). Another way to say this would be that the university carries neurotypicality to its limit by never really engaging with what constitutes knowledge. By always knowing what needs to be known, by always being certain that its methods produce adequate (and necessary) knowledge, the university invents nothing more forcefully that neurotypicality itself (which is to say, whiteness).


Moten’s critique of the postdisciplinary allows him to raise the specter of a minoritarian citizenship in the field and in the wider university. Moten writes: “Perhaps if we think minority in relation to the surplus, perhaps if we accede to the surplus’s demand that any thought of the object take into account its nature as practice, we can move toward abolishing the state of performance studies in the interest of performance studies and in the interest of an ever more fundamental transformation of the US academy and its relation to the world” (38). This call for “a kind of radical deconstruction and reconstruction” in the name of abolition is a pragmatics of the useless in that it seeks to invent forces (not forms) of valuation. “So that the study of black performances is a condition of possibility of performance studies in particular and the American university in general, neither of which has happened yet” (Moten 2017: 38).


A pragmatics of the useless is always allied to the minoritarian, or what I call the minor gesture. The minor gesture is the force of variation that shifts the conditions of a process. When Moten speaks of “the magic of objects” as the force that exceeds what is (de)valued by existing structures of value, he is speaking of the force of the minor as it detours experience, activating that which is continuously moved out of value’s field of attention.


It is not possible to simply detour the representation of the useful, to simply cast it aside while we continue to do our (post)disciplinary work: the representation of the useful envelops us all, even those of us who write and speak of modes of resistance. The work is to unmoor it by actively shifting the conditions of learning, of knowing. If we are in the university, this means crafting relational platforms that facilitate neurodiversity and black life, relational platforms that problematize knowledge-as-property (including the very unceded property many of us teach on), extending this gesture to our habits of exhibition and publication, asking ourselves at every turn where and how we are capitalizing value. When we are too certain we know how to know, we are participating in the representation of the useful.


This is why Moten speaks of abolition. And of revolution. And of capital’s role in the (post)disciplinary. “Meanwhile, the revolution remains, in all its force, our object of desire and our model though it is, perhaps, the very reemergent minoritarian insurgence that the revolution in some sense subsumed that will animate, grace it with the particular kind of black magic that is indispensable to the necessary cutting and augmentation of that of the dollar” (2017: 39). Abolition of the university and abolition of capital, of finance unlimited, must always be thought together.


A pragmatics of the useless is not a detour. It cuts the field. Breaks the ground. Shifts the conditions of existence. To fully live it is to schizz with it. Because a pragmatics of the useless asks always the question of necessity, and this Nietzschean question is an unmooring one. We can’t be wishy-washy in the face of necessity. Necessity has already curbed the field, shifted the limit, crossed the threshold. Are we there? If we are, an undercommons of the university may become possible, though we cannot count on it to stay. The necessity is a shifting beast. Magic.




The magic is not in the subject. It is undercommon. In the break. In the sociality of experience schizzing. This is desire. Not what is felt by the subject toward the object but what breaks the subject, what opens the subject to its emergent collectivity. “The most general principle of schizoanalysis is that desire is always constitutive of a social field” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 347).


It is through desire-as-production that value begins to be schizzed away from capital toward the more-than. Desire here not as lack but as the force of excess that carries experience in the making.


For Deleuze and Guattari, desire is productive in the most total sense. It produces subjectivity, it produces magic. It desires production. “Every time the emphasis is put on a lack that desire supposedly suffers from as a way of defining its object, the world acquires as its double some other sort of world, in accordance with the following line of argument: there is an object that desire feels the lack of; hence the world does not contain each and every object that exists; there is at least one object missing, the one that desire feels the lack of ; hence there exists some other place that contains the key to desire (missing in this world)” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983: 26, citing Clement Rousset). Desire is the object’s resistance (to ventriloquize Moten). “Desire does not lack anything; it does not lack its object. It is, rather, the subject that is missing in desire, or desire that lacks a fixed subject ; there is no fixed subject unless there is repression. Desire and its object are one and the same thing” (Deleuze and Guattari 1983: 26).


A pragmatics of the useless courses with desire. Desire is what gives it life, what brings the speculative force to the act. A pragmatics of the useless carries this speculation, this anarchic share of value-potential, tuning the pragmatic to the call of magic, to the call of the infrathin, of the minor gesture.


Can we think the pragmatic and the speculative together without imposing a hierarchy, without measuring value, without financing desire? Yes, but only if we return to infinite quantity, only if we understand that what is produced at the interstices of emergent valuation is nothing else than sociality, than loving and learning, that quality of encounter with the world that most resists quantification. “If you truly understood what study is, you would know that it is this sort of sociality. That’s all that it is” (Moten and Harney 2013: 111).


Emergent Sociality


“The simple point is that money is a social relation, not just a technical mechanism” (Bryan and Virtanen 2018).[11] A pragmatics of the useless that thinks finance at the limit must never forget the connection between desire, sociality and valuation. To resist thinking of finance in the midst of these questions of how we come to know and live and register and attune is to ignore the strongest mechanism of value in our lives. Finance as it is exists must not be the arbiter of our account of value, but nor can it be dismissed in the discussion of how things matter.


In his 99 Theses on the Revaluation of Value: A Postcapitalist Manifesto, Brian Massumi takes us on a journey beyond the normative understanding of money as means of exchange, store of value, unit of account. “It is time to take back value,” Massumi writes. “For many, value has long been dismissed as a concept so thoroughly compromised, so soaked in normative strictures and stained by complicity with capitalist power, as to be unredeemable. This has only abandoned value to purveyors of normativity and apologists of economic oppression. Value is too valuable to be left in those hands.” (T1).


To revalue value, as suggested above, must come with an understanding of how money is much more than store of value and unit of exchange. Capital has become life itself.

The neoliberal subsumption of human life under capital that peaks on the trading floor, and is embodied more broadly in human capital, is the culmination of a process that has run through human history. It makes palpable something that retrospectively appears to have been the case all along: humans are not the masters of the capitalist process. They are captives of it, down to their own self-fashioning. Humans do not run capitalism, capitalism runs through the human. They do not direct its development, its self-driving annexes their becoming. Human capital is the self-accomplishment of capitalism as a power formation (scholium f, T 34).


Capital moves through the human, capitalizes (on) the human. “For 400 years, from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, while the capitalist mode of production in Europe engulfed agrarian and artisanal workers, transforming them over the generations into expropriated, dependent fodder for concentration in factories, disciplined to the rhythms and turbulences of the manufacturing process, the organizers of the capitalist world system appropriated Black labor power as constant capital” (Robinson 308-309). To take the force of life back requires not simply an acknowledgment of racial capital but a recognition that life itself, black life, has been and continues to be (de)valued by the measure of capital. In this process, capital has subsumed all becoming, all process.“Capitalism is a more-than human of the human. It is a processual driver of human becoming.” (Massumi 2018: T 35).


This is why we cannot speak of an outside of capital. Capital captures the outside, reshaping it for quantification. But an undercommons of emergent sociality is also being crafted as we speak, where we meet not the human-all-too-human or the subject who knows the object or the value-added but the “excess of liveliness over any indexing of it” (Massumi 2018: T43).


Surplus-Value of Flow


Derivatives – “the epitome of mutant capitalist flow” – are key to understanding the speculative force of a capitalist process that subsumes all becoming to its measure-machine (Massumi 2018: T16). While typically defined as a contract that derives its price from an underlying asset, a derivative is actually a speculation on value itself: “derivatives are defined precisely by their ability to abstract themselves from the value or even ownership of an underlying asset” (Massumi 2018: T23). Taking the shape of futures, options, forwards, swaps, hedges, derivatives bet on how value will register in the no-time of the trade. [NOTE: Elie Ayache writes: “As opposed to the actual practice of trading, derivative valuation theory only deals with probability and stochastic processes and stochastic control and knows nothing of market price or implied volatility. These valuation theories have hitherto proceeded on the theoretical assumption of a stochastic process, and have disregarded the effect of the recalibrationof the market on itself. Trading derivatives in the market is precisely pricing them at a variance with the value theory prescribes for them” Medium of Contingency 27-28]


The derivative is measured on the calculation of a difference. “These differences are economized by spreads, the quantifi able, calcula-ble, and numerical representations that measure the spaces between dif-ferences in the valuation of financial instruments, enabling competing claims of value to emerge in the production of wealth” (Wosnitzer 253). This is what Massumi is referring to when he writes that “capitalism’s driving force is the differential between profit and surplus-value: their systemic/processual, systolic/diastolic asymmetry” (Massumi 2018: Lemma b, T 43).


Derivatives are “products of circulation” (Bryan and Rafferty 2006: 154). What the derivative produces in neoliberal capitalism is an intensification of process whereby an excess over what can be directly quantified is called forth. When this non-directly quantifiable share is captured, you have surplus-value of flow.

The concept of surplus-value of flow is an extrapolation from Marx’s analysis of interest-bearing capital as money ‘already pregnant with surplus-value,’ such that the profit generated ‘is not the result of the act of purchase, the actual function that it performs here as money, but rather of the way in which this act is connected with the overall movement of capital’ (Marx 1991, 463; emphasis added) (Massumi: 2018 T33, scholium b).

Breaking the direct equation between existing assets and wealth, with derivatives “profit is made from speculating on ups and downs of the movements of underlying assets, capitalizing on volatility itself.  […] The value of the derivative can fluctuate in a way that is largely unanchored not only from the ownership of any underlying assets, but also from their individual valuations. […] Securitization segues into pure speculation” (Massumi 2018: T34 scholium d). The surplus value of flow takes the place of “underlying assets” which, as Massumi underscores “are not necessarily assets in any normal sense of the term” (Massumi 2018: T34 scholium d). Capital becomes “self-abstracting from the real economy” (Massumi 2018: T34 scholium d). Of course, an absolute untethering can never occur. But in neoliberal capitalism, “the tables have turned, to the point that it is the productive economy that might more accurately be considered secondary to financial capital” (T34, scholium d).


Through the surplus value of flow, derivatives push capital toward a limit “where the gap between system and process tendentially closes” (Massumi 2018: T46, scholium b). The flow, the excess agitated in the hedging, converges with capitalist capture, moving the process toward measure. Here, “quantification rejoins the singular, becoming fully evental rather than reductively indicative. This is not an overcoming of capitalist capture, but a singular intensification of it” (Massumi 2018: T46, scholium b).


The intensification of capital generated by the surplus-value of flow takes quantification to its absolute limit: “The famous Black-Scholes equation used for pricing derivatives is widely recognized as flawed, both for its methodological circularity […] and for its outmoded reliance on probability as a way of notionally rationalizing the ineradicable contingency of volatility movements […]” (Massumi T46, scholium b).[12] Known in the time of the event, in the no-time of the trade (where time itself is crafted, as Ayache has shown[13]), the power of the derivative is equal to the uncharted nature of the territory it claims. The capture by the market creates that very market. The derivative itself is carrier not of (marketable) value per se but of affective intensity.


Surplus-Value of Life


Cephalopod dreams seek to mobilize the unquantifiable, the intensive quantity of essence carried into existence. Everywhere they do their work their aim is to reclaim surplus-value of flow for surplus-value of life. This turn to emergent sociality sometimes looks (and feels) like a fear of quantification. It is not that so much as an interest in intensity unmoored. Capture is not the fear as long as capture schizzes at the limit.

Derivatives may be the bridge between these two tendencies – the one aiming to capture intensity at the threshold-cut, the other aiming to schizz it at the limit-cut. This is Massumi’s argument when he writes that “the range of the logic of the derivative can be conceptually extended by defining as a derivative any emergent effect registering a complex qualitative differential” (2018: T50). What can never be quantified in the derivative is the affective share, “the purely qualitative registering of the intensity of the field of emergence from a situation of immersion in it: the integral way in which the contributory differentials constituting that field come together and play out to singular effect.” (Massumi 2018: T50 lemma a).

“Affective resonation is an event-derivative,” writes Massumi(T50, Lemma b). If the practice of the event involves affective attunement to the share of the more-than, the event-derivative is the way that more-than tunes the event to its potential unfolding in other durations, to the action-traces of its speculative futurity. In the neoliberal economy, derivatives are captured in part to depotentialize the anarchic share of what exceeds their measure. This very anarchic share is what the event calls forth in its becoming more-than the sum of its parts. This is not to say that the event financializes when it becomes-event. It is to say that even the most financial of neoliberal value-adding tools carries with it a share that exceeds the representation of the useful. Even in the most financialized operations lurks a pragmatics of the useless.


Surplus-value of life is useless. It is anarchival. It carries the anarchic share and seeds it toward future potential. This is its sociality. Speculatively, pragmatically, sparking its way into phonic materialities, surplus-value of life is never separable from how it accounts for itself as life-lived, never quantifiable, never archivable as such. There is no way to abstract it from the sound, from the tone and the tune, from the touch and the feel of living, from its sociality. There is no way to know it except in relation, and even in relation it is known only in its effects. This is how it is a derivative, an anarchive.


Event-derivatives are beyond the knowable as such. And yet we touch the force of their evasion of form every single day. We feel the more-than when we take the time to play, when the making moves our thinking and we catch ourselves being taken over by the power of a creativity that exceeds us. If we attend to it at all, we honour the bareness of its registering. We do this, we make and live and love this way not because we do not want to risk assigning the event-derivative value, but because we cannot separate our own value from it, and we know that when we reduce ourselves to measure there is no life-living left.



A Politics of Immediation


Event-derivatives are another word for emergent sociality, for the force of collectivity in the transindividual. Discussing the force of blackness as that which exceeds the individual human being, we hear a similar quality of the transindividual:

Blackness, which is to say, black radicalism, is not the property of black people. All that we have (and are) is what we hold in our outstretched hands. This open collective being is blackness – (racial) difference mobilized against the racist determination it calls into existence in every moment of the ongoing endangerment of ‘actual being’, of subjects who are supposed to know and own. It makes a claim upon us even as it is that upon which we all can make a claim, precisely because it – and its origins – are not originary (Moten 2013: 238).


Emergent sociality has no mediators – only a movement “toward the life we locate and imagine when the materiality of the subprime cuts the sublime by grounding its excess in the anarchic, historical materiality of our fleshly sociality” (Moten 2013: 244). There is only relational field, anarchic share, excess, surplus-value of life. “What’s at stake is the trace of perfume that has been released. It is changed in being-sensual, depurified in being breathed. There is a socialization of essence that is given in and as sociality itself and maybe this is what Marx was talking about under the rubric of sensuous activity, but against the grain of his adherence to a logic and metaphysics of (individuation in) relation” (Harney and Moten 2017).[14] It’s not about the two, not even about what moves in between, but about what exceeds movement parsed, what schizzes the two to make it infinitely more-than one.


When we stop believing in mediators, the mediators of value, the mediators of knowledge, the mediators of life itself, we become participants in the welter. This welter is full of knowings, replete with what I’ve elsewhere called autistic perception. On the spectrum where diversity meets diversity, not everything is known in the same way. Knowings come through edgings – a turbulence in the field. Too much, too quickly. Or slowly, undulating. Or both at once. Knowings that can be danced, that force a wave that wriggles through the torso or exclaims ah! Knowings that move through stims, the fingers twirling to calm, or to speed up the world as it chunks into modes differentiated enough to find the edges that give them shape.


Beyond mediation is immediating, moving from the middle, drawing continuums that jerk and wriggle to create new lines of flight. You may think this is far from your experience. You may think I am speaking of others. I am not. All of us are on this continuum. But the presence of neurotypicality as form and substance of human being is so strong, so pervasive, that we’ve trained ourselves to see any deviation in knowing as divergent. Not divergent. Diverse. On the continuum. In the knowing.


Immediation is how the world moves (through) us. Mediation is a second-order tactic. Mediation is what gives value to the shape of those movements that reached what can be recognized as a goal. Mediation is how we register the volition key to the representation of the useful.[15]


Immediating Finance


Derivatives are immediating more than they are mediating. They activate value in the time of the trade in ways no existing asset could do, shifting the affective conditions of the market on a whim. Gut-feeling, intuition, and the madness of a betting culture are as vital in determining how the market moves as any existing calculations. Regulation exists, but even regulation is taken into the flux of the immediating bet. “In the actions of the trader there is a simultaneity in which value is modeled so that the model of value can be ruined” (Ayache  :243).



With derivatives, surplus-value of flow and surplus-value of life come into proximity: the gut-feeling immediating the market in the name of the next hedge parallels the force of the lure of the event’s anarchic share. Neither require mediators. The difference is that one moves in a market that aligns finance to value and the other barely registers, inventing value in the living.


The registering of what moves as surplus-value of life and the valueing of that registering in the vocabulary of finance is the work of finance at the limit. In the form of a cryptoeconomic anarchive, SenseLab calls it the 3E Process Seed Bank.


3E Process Seed Bank is the financial proposition that supports the 3Ecologies Institute (3E), an alter-economic think-tank and site for alter-university learning and living.  A lure for minor gestures and undercommon modes of study, 3E works at the interstices of Felix Guattari’s three ecologies – the environmental, the conceptual and the social. At these lively intersections, 3E is interested in how diversity moves beyond category, how it navigates the world’s inexhaustible richness through unique ways of thinking, perceiving, and problem-making. 3E is committed to inventing lifeways.


These lifeways are conceived as speciations – conglomerates of tendencies, fields of relation. They are modes of existence that teach us how else to practice sustainability. How to commit to modes of living that enhance the planet’s own more-than. In the agencement mobilized by a collective imagination of what a 3Ecologies Institute might be, our aim is to compose-with the everything-is-everything of life-living, learning together what it means to study when study also means growing and making and sharing food, when it means learning to build in ways that give the land back to the land, sharing the resources and inventing them when we need them, looking for ways to hear what we don’t register, learning to resonate with the force of economies ethically aligned to the schizoanalytic force of the transindividual. This is not a moral proposition. It does not have a preexisting shape. The aim is not to build an enclosed collective that already knows how to live but to pulse with all of the experiments already out there that are redefining what a resource for learning, for living could be.


Finance at the Limit


Value is the free radical in a pragmatics of the useless. Cutting into the force of what matters, value is both that which activates a process, and that which holds it to the form it has taken. Value is both colour-tone, quality of light and temperature, differential of warmth on a cooling summer afternoon, and endpoint, price-paid, knowledge categorized and packaged. A pragmatics of the useless must learn to distinguish between these ways of working with the concept of value, placing value not as the arbiter of a process but as the field-effect of a complex set of relations. This field-effect’s force is not to consolidate but to texture a phase in a process’s coming to be. Value here never becomes useful. It is not moral or hierarchical. Value is differential.


The 3E Process Seed Bank does its work, it becomes economic, through the process of anarchiving. The process of anarchiving involves catching the more-than of the event – the event-derivative – and mobilizing the ecology of relations it has set forth. This is less a capture than a bend, a reorienting of a set of conditions so that a spark can catch on the edges of an existing process, seeding a new one. SenseLab’s practices of the event have always been about this: creating process seeds for future activation elsewhere. How things move is their value, a value deferred. The hope is that something seeds elsewhere. Value as speculative share, as force-of-form resonating.


Conceiving an economic platform as an anarchive is a way of making of finance a practice, a play of valuation that seeks not to measure but to connect to the contours of emergent valuation. How something comes to matter is the anarchive’s quest. But it is important here to understand the mattering not via the interference of a mediator, not in the form of a value pre-registered, but in the force of an immediation that catches experience in the making.


To connect an economics with a practice of barely registering is to take the force of the event-derivative seriously. It is to really listen to how that which exceeds registering nonetheless transforms the phonic materiality of life-living. Catching an event in the making, the process seed bank disseminates not value-added, but life-seeds invented in the germinating.


3E Process Seed Bank


Anarchiving is a practice that schizzes. To create the conditions for the schizz, entryways into the process have to be invented. In the practice of creating events, SenseLab develops techniques both for working at the limit and for crossing thresholds. Because thresholds must be crossed in the practice of inventing new ways of collaboration. Practices of dephasing must be crafted to make felt the differential of experience. The key is to craft not only the crossing of the threshold but techniques of care for the new assemblage. These techniques of thresholding and care activate the force of the middling in which sociality best expresses itself as the work of the collective.


For the online platform – 3E Process Seed Bank – similar techniques must be crafted. Working in a post-Ethereum landscape the first challenge is to rethink the relationship between value and entry into the economy. In most economies, this particular threshold is crossed with a token. One of the most important shifts in the cryptocurrency landscape so far has been the implementation of the “smart contract” which gives the option of replacing the token as mechanism of entry into the economy. While this on its own is not enough to move finance to the limit, it signals a recognition that currency can be more than unit of value. “Cryptocurrencies are not just ‘money’ – they are part money, part asset and part political organization  – and these other dimensions must impact the way we see ‘stability’. […] The simple point is that money is a social relation; not just a technical mechanism.” (Bryan and Virtanen 2018).[16]


The 3E Process Seed Bank takes the notion that money is a social relation to its immanent limit, asking not only that we subvert the transactional nature of exchange but that we also shift the social relation toward emergent sociality. Our goal: to activate and value emergent sociality. This valueing can never include individual shares. A moneymass is what we’re after, a mass that is not what is primarily valued in the economy, but that nonetheless assists us in having whatever we consider to be “just enough.” Following Moten and Harney’s important thinking on debt in The Undercommons, the aim is above all to get rid of the debt/credit relation. We seek a system that values and works with debt’s unpayability. An economy of the gift of sociality.

[T]here has to be a way in which there can be elaborations of unpayable debt that                                      don’t always return to an individualisation through the family or an                                                     individualisation through the wage laborer, but instead the debt becomes a                                                       principle of elaboration. And therefore it’s not that you wouldn’t owe people in                                         something like an economy, or you wouldn’t owe your mother, but that the word                                      ‘owe’ would disappear and it would become some other word, it would be a more                                                 generative word (Moten and Harney 150).


The 3E Process Seed Bank begins with debt – a debt to the earth, a debt to that which does not quite register but changes the quality of a life, a debt to the more-than, to the essence of existence. The 3E Process Seed Bank works without credit. There is no repayment here. There are no individual shares. We work to create the conditions to live, not to repay the debt of life itself, and not to take credit for the living, for the land, which is not ours to give, not ours to own. We begins in the outside of finance, at the limit where the derivative has not yet crossed the threshold into capital, in the event-derivative. We begin here and attempt to remain here in the collective feeling-out of the limit where what becomes monetized is called “occurency,” and deeply values the surplus-value of life.


Self-Organizing Propositions (SOPs)


The rethinking of finance, as Ethereum has shown with its implementation of the “smart contract” instead of the “dumb token” must always include a rethinking of what constitutes the exchange-encounter. Our proposition is to take it one step further, troubling the idea of the contract by putting the procedure in the vocabulary of the passive synthesis. What if instead of using a smart contract as a mediator to the encounter, we focused directly on the encounter itself? What if we opened up the proposition of the contract beyond the legality of if-then to explore the hyphen? This is what SenseLab attempts to do in its recasting of the smart contract into the SOP, the self-organizing proposition. Instead of entering the Seed Bank with an individual share or ownership (a token), we invite the participant to enter through a proposition. The aim is to create a self-organizing “governance” through which we practice modes of participation in the economy and learn together what it means to think finance at the limit.


SOPs as SenseLab defines them are

designed to move the SenseLab’s collective ethos of self-organizing participation into the way in which the 3E Process Seed Bank online platform is fundamentally structured. They are intended to operate as much as possible along the lines of a gift economy. Their aim is to open up lures or dangle affective attractors rather than clamping down obligations (working paper 4 2017).[17]

Coded to facilitate repetitive, core actions undertaken on the 3E Process Seed Bank, SOPs

take the place of the traditional ‘governance’ structure built into blockchain and beyond-blockchain distributed systems, attempting to fulfill the need for some kind of regulatory framework, but in a non-normative way (working paper 4, 2017).

Channels for the self-modulation of the process, SOPs “regulate the flow of interactions rather the form of transactions” (working paper 4, 2017). Examples include the entryway SOP (proposition: gift of process), the welcome wagon (proposition: greeting), the cat herder (proposition: move into collaboration), the creative-cut call (proposition: tipping-point toward actualization), the regroup call (proposition: regroup around failure and begin again), the goddess of anarchy (proposition: decisional-cut making power), the monetizer (proposition: quantify quality of process), turnstile (proposition: regulate the interoperability of currencies), lucre (proposition: receive financial donations). SOPs require updating and multiplying as the emergent socialities crystallize into event-derivatives.


SenseLab sees SOPs as schizoeconomic threshold-cuts. They are lively, strange, alluring techniques to tune the process toward new assemblages which will be approached with care. But still, they carry all of the risk any thresholding technique does: what if we are not ready for the worlds they create? This is especially the case with the SOPs since they formalize and schizz at the same time. What if the monetizer’s desire for measure bleeds into the process, imposing measure from without? What if the entryway becomes a gateway? Key is GOA, goddess of anarchy, a decision-making and decision-breaking force SenseLab has worked with for the past 15 years. Finance at the limit is finance limited. If it turns we will have learn to either turn with it or away from it. But all in good time. The practice is the process and GOA has accustomed us to the need to let processes fail, and to pick ourselves up from the ground when they do, remembering that the process cannot be reduced to what has taken form but must always also include what germinates elsewhere. Practice is key: in the work of anarchiving, we will also be creating new SOPs and learning which SOPs best do their work and which ones work only intermittently, or only for certain durations. By multiplying them through anarchival processes, by schizzing them and tracing the work of the break, by registering the anarchic share they activate, we will learn to work with them. This is what it means to work with the if-then hyphen.


The interstice of the if-then proposition is not a holder of a preexisting relation but a time signature that bends. Morphing in the relation of emergent sociality, there is no predetermined way in which if meets then. Emergent sociality lives in the interval and the interval lives in us. The hyphen is more-than, and our work will be to be certain this is what the SOPs activate, reminding us that we are not individuals in this economy but durational spreads, speciations in relation.[18]



Processual Operator Thingies (POTs)


If practices of the event are practices of an encounter that seeks to engage with the more-than of experience in the making, this by necessity includes collaboration with nonhuman forces. It involves the reaching-toward of touch, the essence of a smell that shifts the conditions, the sound of a ecology shifting in the late afternoon. The world pushes into us, makes us.


It is impossible to understand what we are trying to do with the 3E Process Seed Bank divorced from the non-human collaborators that shift the conditions of experience. And yet the digital as we know it cannot activate the force of the virtual in experience. It knows only what registers. Our aim cannot therefore be to replicate in the digital the analogue experience of SenseLab’s practices of the event. We are not building a mirror. What we are doing instead is conceiving of a digital repertoire that can work as an accompanier, and sometimes, we hope, an intensifier of certain aspects of lived experience. Working as we do across the world on many continents in a collectivity that has no membership (and that is everyday increasing in a measure other than one plus one), the objective is to multiply the entryways and in doing so, value differently the ways in which process seeds are crafted and disseminated.


Processual Operator Thingies (POTs) are the second coding technique the 3E Process Seed Bank uses. Understood as bundles of code that bring qualitative more-than human tendencies to processes that will tend to be individualising (because online participation invariably passes through the individual user), POTs mine existing techniques for assistance (and deviation) in navigating the 3E Process Seed Bank. A variation on the figure of the BOT, POTs are quality intensifiers that detour processes too goal-oriented. Familiar as we are with our ways of navigating on the web, our proposition is that we POT our orientations, that we allow POT tonalities to activate relational shifts in the system. POTs build on our event-thresholding techniques, techniques we have invented over the years that facilitate new ways of coming into relation.


To touch the event-derivative, as suggested above, techniques are necessary to attune to free radical modalities. These modalities register value differently. It is already our practice at SenseLab to begin each potential encounter with a detour. For instance, we work to reduce any formal introductions in a first encounter with SenseLab. We steer away from the self-positioning that is common in our surrounds. We do this because we know that the self-positioning works as much to harden positions as to undermine those who do not embody value-through-position. We look for techniques that bend the first encounter. We think about thresholds – the threshold of the university, of the space we occupy, of the philosophical language we use, of the aesthetic sensitivity we share. What if we crossed the threshold differently? What if in that differential crossing we really attended to the way the threshold does its work? How, for example, does the threshold register for those who are neurodiverse? How can we architect the environment such that the frontality of self-presentation is not the first impulse? What does the threshold feel like if it involves entering a space where no one else has a body that looks like yours? What technique can we invent do to soften that passage, to make felt what else is moving through the space?



Techniques are not methods. They are not invented once and for all. They are emergent to the process, tweaked in each iteration. Some of them are conditions we put in place and some of them are ecological, emergent in the event. The sun shining in at 4pm in the Montreal winter is a technique for invigorating the afternoon. Or it is a technique for dispersing into the parc. The conditions are registered in their follow-on effects. Often, we don’t register these techniques directly. We simply move with the process seeds they allow to germinate. Or not. Sometimes nothing registers. Or only dissonance registers. Sometimes we are stuck in a cat-like thresholding where we are neither able to enter or leave. In those cases something else needs to do the work of pulling. Maybe it will be a texture. Or a sound. Anything can spur an activation. This is what the POTs do. They spur an activation, lending it a texture or what Leslie Plumb, lead designer of the 3E Process Seed Bank, calls “touch-tones.” In their design, we focus not on the form of the technique but on its quality and its capacity for emergent valuation. We think of nuzzling, of tending, of germinating, of stealing, of seizing the day.


Kleptobot is perhaps our most emphatic POT. Klepto is a force of redirection. Klepto steals not the content of our contribution but our assurance that we know where we were going. Stealing up against an image, a piece of text, a sound, Klepto acts like a charcoal rubbing, pulling a texture off the surface and depositing it elsewhere in the system. Other POTs in process include Nuzzlebot (moving with polyrhythms of scale and duration), Foreground/Background (experiments with contrast), Go-to-Sleep (with the quality of turning on the porch light), Carpe Diem (gives a stand-out of salient value to the day/night), Fuzzbot (gathers fragments of things like a dust ball), Reverbbot (returns and amplifies), Murmuration (registers a flow), ReZonator (catches emergent appetites and moves them in the system, glitches, interferes, cuts). And then there are the less recognizable ones, the ones that are more tone than texture, backgrounded in the system: the vibrating-string (minor disturbances), the spaghetti-string (tangling into untangling, giggling looking for laughter), the dot-on-a-walk-pot (a line of colour, a vector for entering a complex field, a lure for elsewhere alternatives), the compost-pot (resting for a time to come), ticker-tape (polyp-like feed of disparate chats bits and bytes), radio-pot (playlists for making-reading-thinking).


Processual operators cooperate with or interrupt humans to make felt the differentials in the system. Coded shapes of process, the processual operators defy the directedness of any given individual gesture, inviting us to participate in a process that surprises or reorients us in the way a shift in the air can do on a windy day. Processual operators are the online techniques, the online relational platforms that orient toward the more-than in the system. Through their (dis)orientation our investments in the Process Seed Bank move us as much as we move them.


For the economy to do its work, we will need a continuous curiosity about what else a processual operator can do. We will need coders and philosophers and artists and children and mathematicians to invent with us what moves processes. Because there is no question that the coded world is incapable of the complexity we know from the analog world – code does not know the more-than. On the other hand, we are not engaging here with a world of pure code. We are engaging in a constant back-and-forth between worlds, moving from the practices of the event toward the exploration, in the ECSA world, of how some of those practices might expose their anarchic shares.




Mechanisms for the transduction of the anarchic share and its intensities into financializable, that is, quantifiable, units are required. We stumble here, and will need all the transindividual collaboration we can get to keep this question open.


Value, as we conceive it, is pure quality. Yet, as Whitehead makes clear, value cannot be known in itself: it always accompanies actualization. Value is cohort, companion, ally. To think value this way is to understand it as relational. It is the marker of relation in the sense not that it imposes on relation a value, but that it emphasizes the very unquantifiability of relation. A transductive technique for valuation that moves toward financial evaluation must therefore refrain, at all costs, from imposing any kind of constancy to the notion of what counts.


Speculative value drives the markets. What we are working toward is a different kind of speculative value: a value that doesn’t invent quantifiable sums based on hype and risk and scarcity, but builds beyond exchange toward the abundance that is born of the pairing of the pragmatic with the speculative. This is not value from nothing. It is value emergent from the tweak that altered the conditions of experience in just this way, value in the form of the anarchic share that left experience open for future experimentation. This speculative mode of valuing values the anarchive – that which affected the event’s coming to be but resists categorization. To connect to this anarchic share, to value it, requires an overlapping of offline and online practices since the offline so much more easily makes the power of the more-than felt. The idea is that the value-differential produced in the interplay of online and offline work continuously reinvents the conditions for transvaluation of modes of practice (local and international), and with these conditions, practices of the event across continents and constituencies are invented that schizoeconomize value as we know it.


This is where cephalopod dreams come in. Cephalopods are extraordinary creatures. Their bodies are folds more than forms. They are shape-shifters in all senses. Not only do they camouflage, they also entertain, the movement of their colours adrift in the world in a way that confuses scientists. Radically intelligent creatures, they perform for the world in a way that gives Godfrey-Smith, diver, philosopher and writer on cephalopod intelligence, the sense that “evolution is not goal-directed” (2016: 132). These are differential creatures, moving between modes of existence in glorious and unexpected ways, the value of the spectacle-beyond-quantity. Alchemy.


In true cephalopodic form, the anarchive will not be centrally controlled. An agencement of processes, its orientation will always be toward the more-than, its lure the shape of its own exuberance. The call to participate will of course be central to its capacity to do its work: to move the anarchive there has to be a commitment to be moved by it. But modes of participation are to be invented. Transindividuation meets transvaluation.




The mechanism for mapping intensity so that it can be transduced, through the monetizer SOP, into our coin (called occurency), will take place through the amalgamation of two processes that will work together. Occurency will be produced through a coming-into-relation of the affectometer and the sonic contour. For this, we need cephalopod dreams, and with them, Nora Bateson’s concept of “warm data.”


The thing about the cephalopod is that it doesn’t have the rods in its eyes necessary to perceive colour. This creature that dances and shapes and colours the world, often matching itself to its surrounds, cannot actually see the world it composes alongside? This has stumped scientists, who have sometimes argued that the octopus arms may have cells that engage in some kind of seeing-function. But is it really so that seeing must be relegated to rods in the eyes or to cells in the arms? Might the cephalopod be engaged in a seeing-feeling that cannot be separated out from its activity of colouring and shape-shifting? These are our cephalopod dreams.


The cephalopod does not represent the world, it moves with it. This image is very important to the 3E Process Seed Bank. What moves in the Seed Bank moves not through a centralized operation. Nothing oversees the process. Like the cephalopod that arguably moves in affective attunement to the world, activating a kind of phonic materiality in relation to a surrounds that both moves it and is moved by it, the Seed Bank as anarchive proceeds by relational lures moved both by our actions and by the processual operators that create inflexions and divergences and alliances and detours and stand-stills. Sonic countours. These processes are not mediated: they are immediating.


This is where the affectometer comes in. This high-level processual operator is the weathervane of the system: it catches the intensity in the system as it is performed. It does so not by first quantifying and then representing but by moving through alliances between the different seeds to pull out the differentials of their immanent relationality. These differentials are brought to expression by the affectometer, and transduced into number by the monetizer. This affective transduction might be seen as the mapping of the sonic contours of the environment. Like the cephalopod who colours the world in a symphony of attunement, the sonic contour makes felt the qualitative shift in relation the affectometer maps.


On the side of the Seed Bank, the affectometer maps intensity in a purely qualitative operation. Only through the SOP that invites its departure from the seed-bank – the monetizer – is that intensity quantified. This operation occurs at predictable intervals to create a working value, a price. The value of occurency is the value given by the affectometer in the transduction, a value that of course fluctuates with the affectometer’s mapping of relational hues of intensity. Working with what Fred Moten calls the “chromatic saturation” of the cephalopodic surface, what the affectometer does is register the phonic materiality of the changing relationscape of the Seed Bank. In the chromatic musical scale, each pitch is a semitone above or below its adjacent pitches, creating a “12-tone equal temperament”[19]. In the colour spectrum, chromatism relates to hue. “There’s certain moments in a composition in which it feels like every note that could be played is being played, a tremendous marshalling of the possible musical material in a way that’s still connected compositionally, without anything having to be left out. Rosen thinks about this with regard to music, but it also connects with color” (Moten 2017).[20]Bringing sound and hue together, hueing the phonic materiality, the affectometer seeks to include what is usually left out in the shift to measure. Working through differential attunements, its aim is to make felt the chromatic saturation of the system.[21] The emergent sociality of the relational field as it bursts into liveliness or lurks in the corners of the 3E Process Seed Bank is what we’re after, a “chromatic saturation that inhabits black as that color’s internal, social life. The many colors that are absorbed and reflected in the color black, and in and as black social life” (2008: 199).


What is released in the valuation, what emerges from the chromatic saturation of the process, is emergent sociality. The measuring is here a side-interest, a hedge. We play the number-game not to give a number to the process, but to refuse to allow capital to own the number, to alone be capable of bestowing value according to number. We recognize and celebrate the fact that the number the affectometer reveals has no real value. We stick to the fact that the number in no way represents the force of what can only remain uncounted. We stubbornly hold onto the proposition that the value is what the seed bank will give form to, what it will allow to germinate. Yet at the same time, we refuse to be excluded from the surrounding economy, from the ability to pay our rent and sustain our modes of life. And for now, in most cases, the exchange into fiat remains necessary in order to do that. This is why we have the monetizer SOP, the self-organizing proposition through which our currency, occurency, is minted.


What we know about the monetizer SOP is that it is a formula that translates quality to quantity. As mentioned above, this formula works through differential attunements in the online system. It does so by continously feeding on the process, on the affective currency moving through the seed bank. While occurency only actually exists in the minting, it exists in germ in the seed bank. This is what we imagine the monetizer to be in attunement with: the ebbs and flows of occurrent process. Because the monetizer moves through the system, trawling the process, it also has effects on the process. This qualitative influence is key. The monetizer must be immediating, not mediating. This means that the monetizer has to live up to its propositional nature which is to disseminate seeds of process. This must happen on both sides of the (monetizing) threshold. What happens when the movement of the work, the practices of the event, are monetized is simply that a value is created. This in no way corresponds to a generalized sense of value. This single value is an unknown quantity. It will only know what it can do in relation to a new process. The monetizer is, in this sense, a threshold-cut, a cut that completely shifts the assemblage, moving it into a whole new field of relation. But this threshold-cut is not a stockpiling. This is what we want to avoid above all. The proposition that comes with the monetizer is that a gift of process must be made in order to make the exchange between occurrency and fiat. This gift of process, the if-then proposition coded into the SOP, must involve seeding a 3E. There is no overview, no external board, no set of administrators who follow this up. Living SOPs must do that work, and they will need to be invented. What we know as of now is that 100 occurrencies will create a different constellation than 1000 occurrencies. The affectometer works in intensive quantity. The valuation is measured in the quality of life-living the process seeds create. The key to the revaluing of value is to understand that the difference between 100 and 1000 cannot be reduced to quantity. Each time a number emerges we will have to learn collectively to see it as a differential and not an end-sum. We will have to learn to work with the surplus-value of life and not the surplus-value of flow.


Warm data, for Bateson, is “the (trans)contextual understanding of complex systems.” It involves “discerning vital contextual interrelationships and another species of information.” And, perhaps most importantly, it reminds us that relational modes of encounter are necessary for studying relational processes. We will need to be use and produce need warm data to code the affectometer. Otherwise we risk turning the anarchive into an archive. Warm data asks us to do something else: to “make sense of the vitality of a complex system” by “enquiring into its way of making contact.”[22] Turning to warm data as the operation of decoding of affective quantity will perhaps teach us to make contact differently.



Process Seeds


We have no idea how the cephalopod-anarchive will make contact. We don’t know what finance at the limit looks like. We have no idea whether the lure of the anarchic share will yield anything close to the exquisite cephalopod display we dream with.

What we do know is this: we have an appetite for other ways of learning, of making and thinking, other ways of knowing and living. Foregrounding the potential of blockchain and post-blockchain-based systems, Jonathan Bellar writes: “the mutual stake-holding or risking together changes the terms of sociality and creates the possibility to evolve new relationships and new social forms” (forthcoming). These new social forms are already at work. They have always been at work. And with them have always come complex alter-economies. SenseLab has benefitted from many alter-economies over the years. And we have also benefitted from what the university has to offer – most from its capacity to attract interesting, exuberant, complex and curious students. But these students are in debt, and those of us who have academic employment are stuck in a representation of the useful which is affecting our capacity to dream cephalopodic dreams.


For Gregory Bateson, the aesthetic is the conduit through which relation occurs. This is also the wager of the 3E Process Seed Bank, that aesthetics makes a difference in the world, aesthetics understood not as the form art takes but as the force of the artful. There is no question that the artful has value, that it creates value. But to do so, it must remain useless. The 3E Process Seed Bank sees itself as the uneasy infrathin where the useless and valuation come into contact. This is what we’re pricing, not because we think it has a price, but because lifeways are born in the undercommons, and these lifeways require abundance.



[1]Susan Stepney emphasizes the diversity that comes with emergent properties, preferring to speak of “other than the sum of its parts” rather than “more than the sum of its parts.” When I use the hyphenated more-then the aim is to call forth this quality of difference in the more-than. The more-than, like the minor gesture, is always differential. Stepney writes: “Chaos theory, complex adaptive self-organising systems, artificial life: all these areas of study show that systems become qualitatively different when they have many, rather than a few, components. Such systems have emergent properties — properties of the entire system that are not properties of the individual components. As our own artefacts grow in complexity, they too exhibit emergent properties, some desirable, some rather less so.” https://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/susan/complex/index.htm

[2] See Moten In the Break

[3]A contemporary effect of the misreading of the schizophrenic as an individual pathology plays out in work on autism that takes autism as the schizz of our time, reading autism as the double of the schizophrenic. Too often, in these (mis)readings of Anti-Oedipus, we are given an individual rather than a field of forces. The ethos of schizoanalysis depends on the creation of techniques that attune to the diversity in diversity of neurodiversity. Any attempt to engage with autism must ask how the analysis carries with itself neurotypical (pathologizing) preconceptions. It must ask how desire is produced in the context of something like an autistic schizz. The work of schizoanalysis must never be reduced to generalities.

[4] In a departure from work that would see indigeneity as preceding black life (understanding black folk as settler-colonialists despite the history of slavery and its relationship to capital and to colonialism) – “Because it is claimed that the ‘majority of diasporic Black struggles … want equity within the laws, economy, and institutions of the colonial settler state’ (p. 128, emphasis added), there is little to be gained from the indigenous encounter with blacks” (Sexton 2014: 6) – I am arguing here for a non-metaphorical understanding of black life as that which deeply unmoors Hegel’s modern political subject. “Does black life, in its irreducible and impossible sociality and precisely in what might be understood as its refusal of the status of social life that is refused it, constitute a fundamental danger—an excluded but immanent disruption—to social life?”(2008: 188). I am writing toward what I have elsewhere called a “sensing body in movement,” a body that erupts to bend existence’s understandings of what it means to be human. This argument could be said to precede any notion of land as property. “If the indigenous relation to land precedes and exceeds any regime of property, then the slave’s inhabitation of the earth precedes and exceeds any prior relation to land – landlessness. And selflessness is the correlate. No ground for identity, no ground to stand (on). Everyone has a claim to everything until no one has a claim to anything. No claim. This is not a politics of despair brought about by a failure to lament a loss, because it is not rooted in hope of winning. The flesh of the earth demands it: the landless inhabitation of selfless existence” (Sexton 2014: 11). It is in this way that it stands in contrast to Eve Tuck’s and K. Wayne Yang’s article “Decolonization is Not a Metaphor” (2012). “Slavery is not a loss that the self experiences – of language, lineage, land, or labor – but rather the loss of any self that could experience such loss. Any politics based in resurgence or recovery is bound to regard the slave as ‘the position of the unthought’ (Hartman and Wilderson, 2003)” (Sexton 2014: 9). What I am gesturing toward here is in no way a discounting of the necessary practice of taking decolonization at its word and recognizing that those who have settled on indigenous land are settlers and should hold an uneasy relation to property. “The study of slavery is already and of necessity the study of capitalism, colonialism and settler colonialism, among other things; and […] the struggle for abolition is already and of necessity the struggle for the promise of communism, decolonization, and settler decolonization, among other things” (Sexton 2014: 11). I fully stand behind the statement that work, serious work, on decolonization, needs to be done “We are doing this work alongside many others who – somewhat relentlessly, in writings, meetings, courses, and activism – don’t allow the real and symbolic violences of settler colonialism to be overlooked” (Tuck and Yang 2009: 2). It is, however, trying to trouble a narrative “in which ‘the fact of blackness’ is disavowed and the fundamental racism of colonialism is displaced by the land-based contest of nations” (Sexton 2014: 2). What I want to foreground instead is that black life is a differential, a force that unmoors a historical continuity that would put one kind of human above another (both in terms of a historical lineage and in terms of hierarchies of colonization). To move fugitively is to begin elsewhere, as Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang suggest – “Decolonization is not an ‘and.’ It is an elsewhere” (2009: 36). This requires another way of valuing that does not reduce the question to a metric (in this case, property, or historical time). I take black life to be a way of thinking time’s schizz, emergent sociality, a way of doing and living and sharing. “Black(ness), which is to say black social life, is an undiscovered country”(Moten 2008: 202)“an endeavor that teaches less through pedagogical instruction than through exemplary transmission: rather than initiation into a form of living, emulation of a process of learning through the posing of a question, a procedure for study, for black study, or black studies, wherever they may lead” (Sexton 2014: 10).

[5]The proposition is for the 3E Process Seed Bank to be one of the economic spaces in the Economic Space Agency. ECSA defines “space” as “a platform for designing and running distributed organizations, providing the most expansive toolkit of economic options ever created. The platform enables the design of modular, interoperable economic spaces to leverage the unrealized value of socially networked production.” Undergirding “space” is “gravity,” “a post-blockchain, distributed computational network based on object capabilities. It empowers decentralized governance and value exchange, allowing for the creation of both public and private contracts while maintaining full interoperability among networked constellations of autonomous agents.” For more on ECSA, see https://economicspace.agency

[6]translation modified by Suely Rolnik. See http://www.e-flux.com/journal/86/163107/the-spheres-of-insurrection-suggestions-for-combating-the-pimping-of-life/

[7] Christina Sharpe writes: “In this work, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, I want to think ‘the wake’ as a problem of and for thought. I want to think ‘care’ as a problem for thought. I want to think care in the wake as a problem for thinking and of and for Black non/being in the world. Put another way, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being is a work that insists and performs that thinking needs care  (“all  thought  is  Black  thought”) and that  thinking and care need to stay in the wake” (loc 250). See In the Wake – On Blackness and Being. (Durham: Duke UP, 2016).

[8] Emphasizing the relationship between slavery and capital, Rachel Zellars writes: “In 1860, the value of bondsmen in the United States made up fully half of all of the regional wealth of the southern economy (Williamson & Cain, 2011), and ‘two-thirds of the wealthiest Americans lived in the South’ (Brion David, 2006, p. 184). The average purchase cost of a slave increased steadily over time, and (Baptist, 2014, p. 270) in 1834, it leveled off, and then climbed erratically in the years leading up to the Civil War.  ‘The price of an adult man in New Orleans, as one example, climbed from $697 in 1850 to $1,451 in 1860,’ writes historian Edward Baptist (2014, p. 359).” She goes on to underline the fact that the black bodies were also bought and sold in Canada: “While the Black enslaved population did not constitute a financial asset in the Maritimes of value comparable to the Black enslaved population in the US, slave owners in the Maritimes often sold their chattel to slaveholders in the West Indies, where their value, and thus profit, was significantly greater.  Additionally, the transition from Black enslavement to emancipation in the Maritimes relied on a myriad of exploitative Black labor systems such as tenant farming, sharecropping, and wage devaluation.  Wage theft occurred facilely in the Maritimes, ‘precisely because the cheap labour of free blacks was so readily available’ for white exploitation (Whitfield, 2016, p. 59). As such, important to understanding the topography of slavery in Canada, one observes the continued exploitation of Black slave labor preserved through labor systems that forewent any care or provision for Black labourers who had been provided necessities for survival during enslavement.  After 1834, formerly enslaved Black people in Canada were left at ‘barely a subsistence level’ in their so called ‘freedom from bondage’ (Whitfield, 2016, p. 57).” The marketing of the body, the quantification of existence has deep and lasting effects: “Although the enslaved Black body in Canada was valued at a lesser market value comparative to the US, it would be erroneous to draw conclusions based upon this monetary difference regarding the significance, existence, or experience of Black slavery in Canada.  Any monetary assessment of enslavement obscures the relationship, fully, between the labor of Black enslavement and terror.  And terror had its own system of financial accounting.” (forthcoming).

[9]On the anagrammatical, Christina Sharpe writes: “As I continue to think with Spillers’s grammar, ‘which is really a rupture and a radically different kind of cultural continuation’ (Spillers 2003b, 209), and Fred Moten’s opening sentences in In the Break, that ‘the history of blackness is testament to the fact that objects can and do resist’ and ‘blackness—the extended movement of a specific upheaval, an ongoing irruption that anarranges every line—is a strain that pressures the assumption of the equivalence of personhood and subjectivity’ (Moten 2003, 1), I arrive at blackness as, blackness is, anagrammatical. That is, we can see the moments when blackness opens up into the anagrammatical in the literal sense as when “a word, phrase, or name is formed by rearranging the letters of another” (Merriam-Webster Online). We can also apprehend this in the metaphorical sense in how, regarding blackness, grammatical gender falls away and new meanings proliferate; how ‘the letters of a text are formed into a secret message by rearranging them’ or a secret message is discovered through the rearranging of the letters of a text. Ana-, as a prefix, means ‘up, in place or time, back, again, anew.’ So, blackness anew, blackness as a/temporal, in and out of place and time putting pressure on meaning and that against which meaning is made” (loc 1445).





“It’s really about who we cite in our work, whose work we hold up, which really validates and legitimizes  that as knowledge,” said Hunt.

[11] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GblmfXNeaIwEfdgVEVpxIF4NDAQHzB-pBa8YBAruBbw/edit

[12]In On Black Scholes, Elie Ayache writes: “I don’t believe there is value. There are only prices. I don’t believe there is a statistical model that you can use to figure out, from God’s point of view, what the real volatility of anything is.” 240] Writing about the Black Scholes equation, Ayache continues: “BSM assumes that the value of the derivative is determined in all states of the world—that you will be able to readjust the hedge in the underlying in all states of the world. It’s based on the assumption that you can repre-sent the whole future as a number of states and you can assign them certain probabilities. But there is always something in the future as it actu-ally unfolds that will be in excess of the representation you had of it as a mere random generator. Look at the work of philosophers of the event and you will see that the event is always radically new” 242

[13] Elie Ayache writes: “I’m not predicting the event, while being immersed in the market, because I’m not totalizing the states of the world. The present market price of the contingent claim takes place in time before the final event of the contingent payoff, yet there is no tree of possibilities that you can develop at any point in time from the present spot price to reach the actual unfolding of the event. It’s as if I were getting what I wanted: I am situated in the middle of the event; I am in the real, the real that always takes place with the event; yet I manage somehow also to be standing before the event in chronological time. According to this new metaphysics, the market is the actual means that you have available to you of being chronologically standing before the event, yet of sitting logically in the middle of the event, because the market is as untotalizable in terms of states of the world as the event is.” (245). Speaking of the time of the trade, he continues: “despite the mathematical valuation model, the whole bottomless abyss of the market opens up in that one minute, because even a minute before expiration you are going to depend upon some parameter whose value you assume—some probability, some volatility—and this parameter is going to be put into trading in turn by the corresponding derivative. Despite the quantitative temptation inherent in derivatives and expressed in the models we use to value them, derivatives, as they are traded by a market maker, undo all calculations of probability and possibility” (247).


[14] http://www.e-flux.com/journal/86/162888/base-faith/

[15]For a more in depth account of volition and what I call the agency-volition-intentionality triad, see “Carrying the Feeling,” in The Minor Gesture (Durham: Duke UP, 2016).

[16] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GblmfXNeaIwEfdgVEVpxIF4NDAQHzB-pBa8YBAruBbw/edit

[17] http://senselab.ca/wp2/immediations/3eprocessseedbank/

[18] SenseLab practice honours the interval, inventing new ways of coding, of living the interval between the analog and the digital. This process is outlined in the working papers. See http://senselab.ca/wp2/immediations/3eprocessseedbank/working-paper-5/

[19] Miriam Webster Dictionary

[20] https://conversations.e-flux.com/t/fred-moten-in-conversation-with-wu-tsang/4981

[21]The affectometer on the front end of the system foregrounds a composite of the multiplicity of “data rhythms” of all the POTs and the SOPs. In this regard, it might be thought as a metaPOT. As a data visualisation, it is conceived as a chromatic surface that bends with the force of what moves through the platform. An inspiration for the aesthetic composition is a cephalopodic interplay with Camille Utterback’s Tracing Time/Marking Movement, carrying as it does the complex backgrounding-foregrounding of intensive forces. While the visualization of the affectometer is just one aspect of it, our sense is that it will play an important role in feeding the system with its own chromatic tendencies, ideally tuning it to the kind of chromatic saturation Moten hears in the phonic materiality that resists objectification. Our aim is to facilitate modes of visualization that privilege what is “other” than the sum of its parts, the diversity in diversity of the more-than. Working with fields of duration and their attuning rhythm, the aim is to keep the relation alive.

[22] Nora Bateson defines warm data as “information about the interrelationships that integrate elements of a complex system. It has found the qualitative dynamics and offers another dimension of understanding to what is learned through quantitative data, (cold data). Warm Data will provide leverage in our analysis of other streams of information. The implications for the uses of Warm Data are staggering, and may offer a whole new dimension to the tools of information science we have to work with at present.” For more on warm data, see http://www.internationalbatesoninstitute.org/warm-data/