McKenzie Wark on Donna Haraway and Cyborgs

‘There can be no retreat into the superstructures when there is no food, shelter or safety. The production and reproduction of our species-being, whatever it may be, has to be a central concern of any critical knowledge. Given the rising inequality, poverty and hunger in twenty-first century California, to which the state has responded by mirroring its great universities with a series of equally great prisons, questions of material need return at the heart of the empire.’


‘Total Mope’ #2 Out Now

My friend Zac and I publish zines together. We just finished up the 2nd ‘Total Mope.’ It’s got poems, an interview with Jasper Bernes of Commune Editions, a short story and some aphorisms.

My poem ‘Impasse Etudes’ and my aphoristic essay ‘On Speculative Pop’ are included in the collection. The poem is a meditation on practicing skills n techniques of listening to the disorderly crowd that might help ‘us’ to invent new forms of belonging-together, after the impasse. An ‘etude’ is a musical piece written for instrumentalists to practice specific techniques; I wrote a poem concerning ‘listening etudes.’ In the poem I define an impasse etude in the following way: ‘an impasse etude is designed to help practice our capacity for creating n sustaining alternative forms of sociality that might lead to futures beyond the impasse.’ It’s about developing skills and techniques, cultivating new ways of listening and being-with each other, etc.

The piece ‘On Speculative Pop’ is my first attempt to think through what, exactly, I mean when i say ‘speculative pop.’

The zine can be downloaded here: Total Mope

‘Fair Music: Transparency and Payment Flows in the Music Industry’

The ‘Rethink Music Initiative’ at the Berklee School of Music recently published a study of the contemporary political economy of music (that’s the pdf below, h/t dmf for the link).

There is a great deal to admire in this study. I have been looking for a breakdown of how value is extracted from the circulation of recordings in the digital age and this piece does exactly that. They (rightly, I think) are outraged at how little the artists are compensated for their work in comparison to labels and other copyright-holders. And the Latourian in me is overjoyed at the term ‘black-box’ being used repeatedly to describe the shroud of secrecy surrounding just how exactly the mechanics of payment take place.

Of course they are reformists and reactionaries in a strong sense. Rather than thinking the crisis of value Internet-based distribution inaugurates for the economy of music as an invitation to criticize the capitalist model of exchange, they seek simply to streamline the system in order to make sure that ‘creators’ are ‘fairly compensated.’

Nonetheless, this study is an invaluable contribution to the study of the political economy of music.


Grungy “Accelerationism”

fascinating essay on the historical relationship between NY radical aesthetics, post-structuralist theory and politics.

Deterritorial Investigations


At a crucial turn in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, we’re introduced the Panther Moderns – a guerrilla subculture in a world where subcultures flicker by like disconnected frames of some montage film. The Panther Moderns specialize in hallucinatory simulations – in a world dipping into the “consensual hallucination” of cyberspace, they build hallucinations on top of it, subverting a reality that is already subjected to constant reconfiguration through digitalization, genetic body modification, and psychotropic drugs. If cyberpunk, as Lewis Call insists, picks up where Baudrillard’s delirious hysteria over the becoming-simulation, becoming-simulacrum of reality leaves off, figures like the Panther Moderns show the escape route. They embody the old ‘Mao-Dadaist’ slogan of the Autonomists rallied around Radio Alice: “false information produces real events.”

The political ramifications of the Panther Moderns, beyond the literary depiction of our very real world, did not go unnoticed. A group of theory-heads involved with ACT UP…

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The New Economics of the Music Industry

Attali’s Noise needs a new chapter. This new chapter ought to think through today’s political economy of music. Music, it seems, is distributed, produced and disseminated in ways quite different from when Attali was writing in 1978. Changes in the technological means of the production of recording, the production of listening publics and the means of listening mean that the musical commodity has undergone a dramatic shift. Internet-based forms of distribution have changed the musical commodity in kind; tracing out what this means for how value is extracted from music-as-commodity is something I’m keenly interested in and just beginning to think through.

The article below has some interesting research on the mechanics of how this process now takes place; if anyone has any resources on the contemporary political economy of music (specifically on Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Youtube, etc), to share, that would be great!