Jul 7, 2015

Žižek's piece on Greece and the Rise of Nephopolitics

I believe it goes without saying that it is almost impossible for a layperson - even an academic one - to follow all events and opinions surrounding the Greek crisis. But Žižek's piece for the New Statesman is refreshing and sobering in its diagnosis of the state of contemporary capitalism and power, in my opinion. I agree with everything he writes there, but I would like to quote this passage regarding the rise of what I call nephopolitics.
An ideal is gradually emerging from the European establishment’s reaction to the Greek referendum, the ideal best rendered by the headline of a recent Gideon Rachman column in the Financial Times: “Eurozone’s weakest link is the voters.”
In this ideal world, Europe gets rid of this “weakest link” and experts gain the power to directly impose necessary economic measures – if elections take place at all, their function is just to confirm the consensus of experts.
Neo-liberalism - and global financial capitalism as a political entity - is slowly making biopolitics a thing of the past. Power doesn't care about the population's biological life anymore. It actually wishes everyone would just hurry up and die, so money can flow unencumbered in the "cloud" of financial systems: this would be the dream of nephopolitics.

I have this mental image from Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None [spoilers!] where the killer finally kills himself to complete his master plan, since even his own existence distracts from the plan's perfection. And the plan can only elegantly exist without him.

So I picture David Cameron as the last person alive in Britain, after the Tories have allowed everyone else to die so people wouldn't bother the Holy Market Forces. Smiling a victorious, complacent smile, he unplugs himself from life, while with his last moments of consciousness he contemplates the beauty of money virtually circling around in the cloud, in perpetuity, finally free of those pesky people/citizens/organisms.

Dec 17, 2014


For millennia and in different discursive practices, a very common distinguishing mark between humans and animals has been the former's lack of weapons. The story goes that animals are "perfectly adapted" to their environment and behaviour, so that their own bodies furnish them with the tools they will need to survive. More often than not, that means weapons. The story then concludes that, to balance it out and conquer the animals, we have technology.

Apr 4, 2014

Animal silhouettes

Many have talked about the fact that, in Derrida's deconstructive readings, the signifier he obsesses over doesn't need to be really there. To be sure, in many of his analyses he finds a specific word whose flickering of meanings will reveal the symptoms of différance at play in the given text (think of Rousseau's supplement, or Plato's pharmakon). But that is not always the case, and some have stressed that such a privileged signifier does not need to actually feature in the text. Its importance, however, is situated by the other signifiers, so that it's silhouetted against them. It may not emerge once, but its 'presence' is secured precisely by the strategic placement of all the other words. Like this:

Feb 21, 2014

Scriptural, electric animality

When writing about zoogrammatology, I often make the point that animality threatens to short-circuit language and literature (to use an expression sometimes employed by Cary Wolfe). I was happy, but not really surprised, to find further theorization of such short circuit in Of Grammatology: it is basically the complex, presuppositional relationship that obtains between writing and science:

Dec 22, 2012

New issue of ICAS journal

The latest issue of the Journal of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies is out. I'm proud to say that I have a small participation on it - a review of Tom Tyler's book CIFERAE: A Bestiary in Five Fingers which is just great, by the way.

I'm particularly curious about Iveson's article on Butler, and Taylor's about Foucault and "alimentary monsters". I plan to read and re-read a lot of Butler for my PhD, and I've been thinking whether the people who are writing about animals in Butler (like James at Critical Animal) have given any thought to the question of animal embodiment via Bodies That Matter. I don't know if they have, that's why I ask, but it should be interesting.

You can check out the issue (for free, as usual), right here.

May 26, 2012

Human exceptionalism in "Gattaca"

I say "more" thoughts because I have been thinking about and discussing Gattaca for years now, and it's certainly one of my favorite films. The persecuted underdog story, coupled with Michael Nyman's beautiful score, always gets to me. I have, of course, also detected in it the Romantic notion that being sick in a sick society is actually being healthy. As such, Gattaca is also a powerful defense of the Romantic idea of the visionary individual who, swimming against the tide - as it were -, is somehow above the law. That, together with the "no gene for the human spirit" BS seems to make for a deeply humanist film (and I use that adjective as an insult). But right now I'm interested in the cues the film presents to warrant a post-humanist reading.

Oct 24, 2011

Bare life and animal life

I'm currently reading Agamben's Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life carefully for the first time and I'm having a hard time separating the many thematic strands that comprise such issues as the homo sacer itself, bare life and sovereignty. Let me just also add that I'm also currently reading (i.e. haven't finished) the 1st volume of Derrida's The Beast and the Sovereign and Ludueña-Romandini La comunidad de los espectros: Antropotecnia ("The community of specters: Anthropothecnics"), and both can be said to be responses to Agamben, so they may still hold answers to me.

First, I'm having trouble pinpointing exactly what the homo sacer is. I know it is a life which can be killed with impunity but not sacrificed in a religious rite, what kind of life is that exactly? I guess I'm trying to establish the frame-of-mind/rationalization behind the granting of the homo sacer status, but it's hard. Let's see what I could gather so far: