January 2018

neoliberalism = monism. liberalism = dualism.

…doing a keyword search for ‘neoliberal’ books, I am once more struck by the repetition of the two primary angles of approach to the neoliberal episteme. The first claims to have Foucault as inspiration, particularly in light of his genealogical work from the 1970s–so long ago, but not long either. It analyzes neoliberalism as thought collective (Mirowski & co.) or goes from symptoms to diagnosis; but both serve to critique from the angle of abjection: there is no affirmation but counter-affirmation. The work done does not get as far as affirmation. It finds sufficient a Nietzschean critique–genealogy–that identifies the enemy, analyzes its strategies, its behaviours, its break-out moments. But neither does it destroy, nor, from the ensuing destruction, does it create something new. The second angle of approach sets out forthrightly to serve resistance to neoliberalism, to give it weapons. Once again, that a putative we, we of the left, need to combat neoliberalism, must struggle and seek to overcome it, is taken for granted. The object of affirmative action is effective reaction. And so I ask myself what is the motor, can we get at the generative condition, engage the creative moment of neoliberalism, rather than go from abjection and reaction?

Foucault I think does this. He is objective, not normative or prescriptive. But in being so, he can also be seen as not taking sides, at least, as not taking the right left side. His analysis of power without a concept of power (see here) produces and does not simply reproduce or react, is productive inasmuch as power, like desire for Deleuze and Guattari, connects–or like the media, for McCluhan, in which we swim, invisible to us as water to fish. Foucault, I think, affirms power in this new modality, of its proliferation, its generative and creative capability, one without capacity, one purely expressive–or, more properly, virtual. Foucault does not repeat or repudiate a power that is connective, participatory and performative. He attends to a networked power, the powers of networked subjects, of which the network is greater than any one, the power one to the nth power, assembly or multitude, or, naturally, society–and because greater than any one, without subject, without concept.

I would hazard that the generative condition for neoliberalism is already given in liberalism to be the free will. Except that of the two forms, of the two epistemic arrangements, liberalism articulates a dualism, while neoliberalism articulates a monism centring on the market. The dualism articulated in liberalism owes its existence to the coexistence in it of freedom of the will with the equality and reciprocity of those who will, whose will will be free.

There is a religious conviction behind this formulation. Siedentop makes it his theme in Inventing the Individual (2017), where he calls neoliberalism a liberal heresy. This conviction entails the creation of a private sphere, not the household, or family or marketable lifestyle, but the conscience, the moral status of the individual. The monism of neoliberalism does away with the individual as a separate sphere, a sphere separate to society in even its moral claims and tenets, usages and principles. The individual becomes, as Foucault shows, a node in the network, or a communicating vector of sociability: the garrulous performance of everyday corpocratic existence.

What is suggested is not simply to see Foucault as the first theorist of the neoliberal struggle, because he is so both for and against, but a return to an individualism individuating society, standing against every enforced morality as contradiction in terms. Individual conscience is flattened through its universal appropriation to economic freedom–is not thereby made religious because the free practice of religion is itself moralised away. This explains what Siedentop refers to happening in Europe as a ‘civil war’, since the religious antecedence of a moral intuition both of the individual’s freedom as well as of the reciprocity, free association and equality of individuals, is disavowed.

 

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this week’s installment of a kind of record of which the complete text so far can be read in the lefthand index

XII.

bang a gun goes who fires a gun

safety first then pull the trigger

chooses to here we are

in a classroom you in front of me

in front of him her see the kickback

in your eyes before the mortal weight

of the piece before the shell report or bullet

before just saying points at you in front of me

bullet arrives safety first no then a bubble

pops up no then pull the trigger a bubble

blood pops up of blood it is of blood the kickback

pull the fucking who decides lives gun points

bullet arrives with a sigh in air a human sigh

and human blood not spider blood see just saying

a window opens a window breaks open gun goes off

cartoon window cartoon bubble cartoon gun black

and white grey outside is it the shooter your thought

is in the bubble red is it his thought your understanding

instant an intake of breath a sigh and outcome say

you were not equal you were not equal but free not equal

free you are now you were not you said to the world I am

not in I you said we we are not equal not to this world this

and this before the world you in front of me in front of him

her I am not equal before the world judge me before the world

judge me this

 

I contend that not only are we unequal you and I but equally so

equally unfree

 

and keeping inside the same frame you are saying well you are

writing in blood

 

you for me together we are engaged in trade and this is all happening

on the outside

 

where everything matters where nothing matters here in the kickback

in the black and white

 

point to point

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to point to point to a kind of record: XI.

XI.

he is without any

struggle

they say

he is without

yet he is

yet is he

inside it

 

he is inside his own

inside

he is inside his own

 

and he has himself

knows his heart his mind is clear

his mind is made up

by a maid when he gets out of bed

gets off the bed strangling his cock

in the sheets and gathers of the sheets

the throng of sheets the throng gathers

 

he is shat he is jizzed

soaped and scented anointed

with a careless hand

supercilious unction

 

and the maid has only helped him

with careless hand

gathering the wet and knotted sheet

cleaning the toilet

 

living the again again

the again again

workaday world Shakespeare

 

how does she read

how does she fare

better

 

he has deeply sorry sorrow

at depth neither drug can reach plum

no alcohol nor love love frack up

love passion he has without

he is without suffering

 

whose tongue said it all for him

her how did it all get said

 

he has a sorry sorrow deep

dumb inside

he has himself

inside

 

on whom is bestowed the fat

fat of his hand of his anointment

he has throttled his white poem

in a hotel bed Wordsworth

the again again of his oil

all this

 

all this he has

he has fat

he is without kneeling

is his legs apart

is huge with being

his legs apart he has

all this inside snorts

 

how did it come

to be how did it come

all this all

 

a machine wash for your shit

a machine for jizz again again

the poem wash

 

does not kneel

is without kneeling

wash the poem

this instant

 

 

grey

is the water

 

grey the days

midweek the midweek days

turn grey

 

daydream grey

daydreams

 

outside every classroom

so grey

 

sweetsmelling grey of a thousand years

a thousand sweet from now

now this instant old us grey

sweetsmelling dust

 

so grey so

day dreams

classroom windows

thousand years from now

 

thousand miles from here

 

so grey so

also out of reach

forever out

 

my hat is grey

my heart is

will the object of our hearts also

 

will the object of our hearts be grey

 

will your eyes open on mine so

day dreams

classroom windows

and thousand thousands

 

will I dream in them

look forever out

forever out dream

this instant

 

...
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n ears (with curious byplay of the ‘meeting room’)

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ears n ears

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for ears

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choosing the present above all others to affirm this: Xth point to point a kind of record

X.

I never thought

we’d be in the same place

 

but here you are

in the same place

you took off

every excessive movement

 

a burrow a loin

every extravagance is

the very extravagance of

the presumption

 

there you are

everything

you have taken off

 

a presumption

 

a stone

a luxurious muff

 

a last possible moment

a last possible

before I

am

...
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I wrote a play once with a character like this in it. It was called Ten Ton Dress

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to fall and park at the past 3 weeks’ worth to a kind of record

VII.

 

can I ask you

it is raining

a kind of

weeping

from the sky

can I ask you

 

first a prayer

 

I start at Wednesday

do you sigh

do you say

or

are you silent

silent as each of my days’ poetry

as the prayer of the poem of each day

wind in wires

a bus that comes

 

the girls the bus girls speak about truth

about truth and beauty about truth and beauty

and innocence

can I ask you who is true to type

who is who who is not

truly

and how high their skirts were at the ball

 

Saturday unclear to me now

now a shadow deforms in the heat

 

what awareness does it take to form

long shadow of meaning

what else will you take

creeps over horizon

 

truly the 6th of December

dressed for all weather

packed front and back

a witch boarded a bus witch

hat green rib sweater

backpacked and fanny pack

with four blond daughters

 

her golden ones princesses

numbered four

white ducks

a black bordered photograph of Blanca

someone doctored for instagram the lost goose

her white flock left behind

 

to shed tears at farewells

and return

home

 

amply in the wires

Eliot the wind said

Christmas came

 

a song at least one said

are they not innocent and beautiful

and untrue

 

VIII.

scream and climb the ribbon

light onto horizon

 

 

and climb down

pointed legs

a spider dances

with white legs

 

darkness complete

as moon whiteness total

and toxic trees

small furred and feathered bodies

a lunatic enters the field

 

it is the new year

 

IX.

how have you chosen me before you have chosen

how

out of a fist tight cocoon a shadow deforms

a prayer first

and a saying opens

creeps

 

before you there was then the dead hour

Eliot Tiresias life

a feather on the back of my hand

 

wind the wind the wind

the wind that knows all has been foresuffered

foresuffering all

the wind knows amply knows the wires

 

and if he did not believe

then she spoke I have not

not the numbers not with me I have not google

not with me not

I have no cell

I have not

not I

 

a halo flew from the sun

to her head

from saying not I

ecstasy of saints

children

 

I saw this on the 7th of January

the day after my son’s birthday

Saturday

...
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3 quotes from Santiago Gamboa, sentiments for the season: illustrated with photographs by Sebastião Salgado

… beyond the borders of our beautiful countries there is a terrifying outside world filled with life, a black sun that stretches over a number of continents, only revealing its beauty after the first impact. What you see on the surface is horrible and cruel, but slowly the the beauty emerges; in our world, the surface is lovely and everything is bright and shiny, but with time what we see is the horror.

– Santiago Gamboa, Necropolis, trans. Howard Curtis, 2012, p. 446

… nothing of what we were then can be understood by anyone today, nobody believes in what we believed in; the things that were important to us provoke laughter or curiosity…

– ibid., p. 444

… the best way to live life to the full is to take it to the limits, putting your face in its deepest depths, its edges, its caverns and ruined palaces, only that way will we keep our bodies hot and our heads boiling with dreams …

– ibid., p. 447

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