OE SITE Comments < >

1. micha < > says:

October 11, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Hi Marc, thanks for writing this, its really stimulating in lots of ways. As a semi-outsider, semi-insider, as someone who lives in the more southern part of socal, I have attended only two public school events, the beyond the UC strikes classes. I do think that there is some engagement of questions Of race, class and gender of the public school, but mostly outside of the school itself, I suppose. And surely by the focuses of dialog and channels of outreach the public school uses create a particular constitution of participants. I don’t know that I have anything useful to contribute to this other than to say that I’m fully on board for the project of imagining possible futures and working towards ones I find more desirable, although my attendance will surely continue to be light until elle and I move up there in another 6 months or so. I also think that in light of recent things I’ve been reading like Escape Routes, and generally my thinking about the contemporary project of moving beyond identity through various means like thinking transition, intersubjectivity, desire, etc, that a fuzzy definition for our political project suits it well. Though maybe we need a reading group around “the tyranny of structurelessness” in comparison with Escape Routes, haha…

2. Cara Baldwin says:

October 18, 2010 at 10:24 am

Micha, I think it’s interesting that you propose the Jo Freeman Tyranny of Structurelessness text because it is one that Marc and I have referred to over the past several years, in fact.

That said, I also think the comparison is salient and the history suppressed/unknown so I’m adding a link to Freeman’s essay here:

I am reading through what Marc wrote here again because I read it first (and with uncertainty) as a sort of performance of failure in collective imagination.

A parody of collectivity as subjectivity

The I that subsumes the we and all that…

3. Marc says:

October 19, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Cara, I am very serious in my parody. and the intention is not to parody but to inspire towards the possibility of tragedy. This IS the artworld we have, and it does have its strengths in its present formation. So let’s take it for what it is and see how to best make of it. This artworld (here written to address a scene far wider then the public school) is one of our social movements. If it is humorous to confuse the I with the we, then it is a joke that institutional players say all the time as well.

At the most simple level, audience attendance rates are constitutive of programming and funding decisions. The we makes the I. The I finds meaning in the we. So I am not deluded here. And you know that this gets much more complicated as levels of familiarity between creator and scene get tighter.

As per the Escape Routes comment—I do not know the book, but having read this…, I am skeptical.

I am skeptical not of the idea of culture having potential, but in the idea that the act of escaping is political. I think the majority of power is more then happy with people escaping- another marketing possibility. It is only when the escapees have actual coalitions and demands that they constitute a threat to power (that is, besides powerful forces that ally themselves with reactionary social values.)

What I hope to inspire in this essay is an honest evaluation of what our broad movement, our broad escape sees as its general course so that this course can be better realized and expressed.

4. Marc says:

October 19, 2010 at 2:51 pm

though in reading more of the book’s synopsis, I probably rush to judgment. I like how the reviewer frames migrants he is looking at writes…”It has never been the primary interest of migrants to change the society they migrate to or aspects of its political system. Instead migrants have been concerned with prolonging their stay by earning a living in the clandestine labor market, renting apartments using their friends’ papers, evade racism by building communities of support, by using doctors who offer medical treatment without demanding insurance cards or finding a partner for a fake marriage. These daily practices of migrants led to the construction of ‘material realities’ which can no longer be ignored by mainstream migration research.

In their book Worlds in Motion, which became part of the canon of migration theory, Douglas Massey and his colleges acknowledge the fact, that all western European societies have become multicultural immigration countries ‘without any popular referendum or explicit decision on the matter’.”


Cara Baldwin via Marc Allen Herbst: so, michael smartly suggested marc and i discuss this from last week. funny thing is, i don’t even where to begin. thoughts?

Towards a Post-Fordist Shop floor Ethic or, ‘What the Fuck Was That?’ «


The publicity suggested the event would focus on a project that works off notions of antiwar activism and media. The expectant crowd was hungry for something. When the artist playfully shared candy as part of a pre-screening quiz, it seemed curious. But by the time the self-indulgent reel began

October 25 at 10:29am

Marc Allen Herbst  likes this.

Cara Baldwin

I plan on taking up the thread on Situationist recuperation as it seems to be floating around a bit… and then… the idea of a scene. That puzzles me…what else?

October 25 at 10:34am • Like

Caleb Waldorf

a close reading of the words I/WE/US/THEY

October 25 at 10:43am • Unlike • ** 1

Marc Allen Herbst

I’d be interested in talking about socialization of ideas but even more curious as to where you’d start. Also embarrassed that you don’t know where to begin.

October 25 at 11:46am • Like

Cara Baldwin

I’m inclined to start with the for instance:

When “blue chip” artists sell the image of collective history without giving back, this is theft. When theorists publicly poo-poo our collective potential to give comfort to power or stasis, this is a theft of our potential for collective dreaming. When academics sell radical theory while being complicit in structurally conservative departments they sell all our radicality short.’

and then form some questions around the idea of a scene, a close read of I/WE/US/THEY which would touch on recuperation in the sense of socialization of ideas-perhaps in particular relation to Situationist and performative ideologies/histories— and mos def in relation to privatization.

But for now, I need to go face an administrator that frightens the shit out of me.

Chicken. I feel like chicken.

October 25 at 12:03pm • Like


Marc Allen Herbst October 26 at 8:18am

sounds like a good way to approach this. I’ll wait for a kick off? What is our goal time-wise, feeling wise, etc. what would you want out of this?


Cara Baldwin October 26 at 9:27am

time-wise and feeling wise i’d like to begin our conversation now and also include some of our wall posts here by way of introduction.

it’s seven thereish now, right? i just woke up.

to discuss current structural and ideological shifts in relation to and from ‘the commons’ in a way that is critical and compassionate, and temporally speaking—mostly in the present.

Marc Allen Herbst  October 26 at 10:47am

It’s nineish… are we doing this over the course of days? tonight? I have to put anselm to bed. It’s 9.00 now. I think doing it over a few days would be better, and we do it as a chat? “‘the commons’ in a way that is critical and compassionate, and temporally speaking—mostly in the present.” this is your goal / interests current.

Cara Baldwin October 26 at 10:57am

cool. i’ll get a little coffee for now. let me know when you’d like to begin. and over the next few days is fine. good actually. time-wise tomorrow is going to be a bit thin on my end (i have a 13 hour day w/1 break) but thur-and fri i should be able to make up for it hopefully

Cara Baldwin October 26 at 1:18pm

what you wrote and retracted about tiqqun and badiou being the junior and senior respectively, that was funny. why did you take it down? at any rate, the following phrase came to mind: “taking disaffected to a whole new level.” and then i thought it might be time to go for a walk. is anselm to bed by now?

Marc Allen Herbst October 26 at 1:31pm

yeah, but I gotta sleep. maybe you can kick something off without me if we begin. I’m pooped. I don’t think concurrent writing as we planned will work. cheers

Cara Baldwin October 26 at 1:51pm

that works. sleep tight.

Marc Allen Herbst  October 26 at 10:48pm

Good morning here in Germany, I drop Anselm off and am back by 1 am your time…. Anyway, I took it down because I don’t want to take too many digs at Sean. The first essay I did for the website has some focus on the public school, nothing I haven’t said before in print… and I don’t think its cruel… but you know.

I liked that Galloway article because it framed our distaste for tiqqun – showing (unintentionally) that they are clearly a romanticization, a commodification of French theory. Fake-quoting  (I think they call it paraphrasing) “From France, where the most important theory comes from”.  Really?

Cara Baldwin October 26 at 11:15pm

good morning. this week, i was surprised by the emotion the images of protest in france evoked. people wept.

this was particularly interesting when set side by side with the ‘neo-situationist’ impulse he refers to.

there is this iconoclastic (protestant) distrust of images among the situationists and conceptualists in general. badiou’s fascination with the static, or set, object that is also spectral like a horizon is frustrating to me in that it doesn’t allow for the promiscuity sean refers to. In simple terms, he has some very old-fashioned ideas about what constitutes an artwork. the problem is that he uses these as cognitive armatures to hang philosophical (cultural and spiritual) creative possibilities on.

my problem with tiqqun, and with badiou, is a nihlism that lets them off the hook too easily.  and then, particularly with tiqqun, a fixation with the family romance—that is predictably, and blatantly chauvinistic—ultimately conservative.

what is it about these closed, modular forms that is so appealing?

Cara Baldwin October 26 at 11:18pm

speaking of closed, modular forms- i like that i was surprised by the affective power of an image—again.

Cara Baldwin October 26 at 11:21pm

i’ve also been teaching and reading cultural theory and the history of the french revolutionary period. in doing so, it seems apparent that French theory has had little to do with revolutionary movements while material conditions have. theory is sort of the clean up crew. sopping up the blood.

Cara Baldwin October 26 at 11:24pm

or, in the case of badiou the courtier of capital.  and this is not to be anti-intellectual, by any means. it is only to say that when we speak of form and content we look to how people eat.

Cara Baldwin October 26 at 11:30pm

and so the family is a closed, modular form. a bourgeois capitalist form with a cultural history. that is quite interesting in relation to these relations—relevant and somehow invisible. the bar, the basement, the bedroom.

Cara Baldwin October 26 at 11:31pm

the family business. the shop.

Cara Baldwin October 26 at 11:41pm

okay, i’m going to leave it there for now. i want to hear what you have to say.

Marc Allen Herbst October 27 at 8:23am

I’ve been reading into Badiou this day to try and understand your distate for him which I have solidarity with. I’m reading his takes not on art but on general philosophy. And what I see so far, I actually dig it. I like his take on truth-I have been going with George Lakoff’s rewriting of Plato, but this is good too. more soon.

Cara Baldwin October 27 at 9:20am

i don’t want to talk about badiou.

Cara Baldwin October 27 at 9:20am

but okay. and yes on the lakoff.

Marc Allen Herbst October 27 at 9:21am

Good. I love talking about Lakoff. later

Cara Baldwin October 27 at 9:28am


i want to talk about systems of individual registration in relation to territories of propriety.

Cara Baldwin October 27 at 9:29am

sorry, i can’t shut up. my mind is going too fast. i will now be quiet. promise.

Cara Baldwin October 27 at 9:30am

stan allen’s field conditions—have you read it?

Marc Allen Herbst October 27 at 10:55am

No, I haven’t and I’m curious. Why don’t you start with that and then I’ll respond with why I think George LAkoff’s take on metaphor and truth are key to ideas of change and of a sense of public and we. I can then counter whatever you write by saying how dumb Situationists are when read today.

Marc Allen Herbst October 27 at 10:57am

In that we have a beginning that makes some sense while having none and Being true to the text we are supposedly discussing. I mean it. I don’t know who Allen is, but I think that doesn’t matter and I’m sure it will be a good read. I’m present on and off for some time now.

Cara Baldwin October 27 at 11:03am

i just want to clarify that the conversation we’re currently having (in this form) is what i’d like to transcribe, rather directly. so, we’re in it. we’ve begun. can we agree on that?

Cara Baldwin October 27 at 11:08am

that is my understanding of what i am doing, and i think it relates to how we say we. In other words, you can construct a history out of fragments (Benjamin) but there is a kind of project in the recombining of that information.

i am interested in the critique of the artist as a neoliberal subject. i am not interested in badiou, or any figure head simply because i find the approach here and our focus on the him (them) is divisive rather than generative.

Cara Baldwiin October 27 at 11:10am

and i can send a pdf of the stan allen essay but it isn’t necessary, I think, except to locate ideas. in this case, about dynamics of systems and crowds.

Cara Baldwin October 27 at 11:18am

and so what i am gesturing to here is a shift that occurred in the 90’s from a figural to spatial orientation that is related to the political economy of images and the situtationists’ critique. which i don’t find stupid. i find it protestant.

Cara Baldwin October 27 at 11:27am

and badiou seems to be a lapsed catholic. a lot of theory that has cultural capital now is catholic for some reason. but a recuperation of the reformation, too, is too reductive/divisive.

Marc Allen Herbst October 27 at 11:29am

Agreed then. Not stupid, protestant. Purist and looking for an impossible state of representation to be real.

And agreed then regarding the format. I agreed in precognition, though I am caught off guard to know we have begun in earnest. I have a desire to roll with it. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of being interviewed by a peer (you) who I know has a lot to offer at the table.

Lets start somewhere. I suggested, with Allen, if you will, and then I make statement on truth. Truth is metaphors and poetry and a system of learning about the physical realities (Lakoff). Truth is in practice of the experienced and sensible.

This, I think you agree, is one of the first systems… systems of understanding, of knowledge and constructions of knowledge. So, when I talk about our scene, I am talking about a loose group of people who are already involved in some vague and loose project of collectively effecting a world-view.

Anyone who calls what I’ve said “is a lie,” that our scene is not possible because of what the Situationists told us or whatever, I’d argue that they are shilling for either Debord’s book publisher or indirectly the capitalist powers that be. Criticism in political context today should have solutions even if there are no solutions. Especially if there are none.

I’m also very aware that words and social attention are fleeting—and so while I know we have begun, I want to experiment with rigorous writing.

Rigorous meaning, rigorous creativity. I have just now understood completely that we have really begun.

If the stage is already set, then I have only just begun to be aware, active, responsive.

Cara Baldwin October 27 at 11:32am

this is what i am thinking of in relation to all of this:

the construction of partitions between individuals and collectives

the very nature of behavior as practice institutional / phenomenological

setting up the conditions that will alter the medium itself

the construction of environments and institutions

embedded in the protocols of exchange is where the project dwells

in what other ways can objects be distributed?

Cara Baldwin October 27 at 12:20pm

sorry, i sent that last message before i received yours had registered.

Cara Baldwin October 27 at 12:27pm

but i see now, it bears relevance to what you were saying. thinking now.

Marc Allen Herbst October 27 at 2:09pm

“embedded in the protocols of exchange is where the project dwells”

I agree exactly. We can collectively write and act out the possibility for our future when we realize we are doing that. Nothing but our conservative elements say we can’t. Not social history, not science, not capitalist practice. Its very simple, really. Many of the structures our economies have given us are institutions of  discipline… or facilitate the possibility of discipline. For example, the interaction with curator or curator-type is a requisite if one wants to participate in cultural field. The implicit power relationship is such that they either make you bend ot the institution of capitalist or facilitate the collective becoming. Many of our peers and ourselves internalize this disciplinary nature in disallowing affective protocols.

I am curious that you go into talking about distributing objects. I assume you are not talking about art objects, but I don’t know what you are. In filling the space that I imagine you are saying, the follow-up comment I’d have made to: embedding in the protocols of exchange…” is In what other ways do we create movements?

This is the question that follows for me because this is my goal…facilitating movement-movements being defined as the constitution/social construction (on the psychological and social level) of radical politicized subjectivity.

Marc Allen Herbst October 28 at 3:42pm

The ideal space between I and we is the space between needing to look out for one’s own needs and the collective needs.

The ideal space between I and they is the space between us and folks who aren’t riding the train.

Cara Baldwin October 29 at 10:15am

looking our exchanges over and rereading your two texts today and i so, I think we’re about ‘there.’ (there being a site to open up our conversation). do you feel we’re in a good spot too? i really enjoyed and the excuse to spend time thinking about and talking with you all through the week.

i’m home working off and on all day today-meeting with a student from 10am-1pm my time. and will come back after to see if you’ve responded w/questions and clarifications.

Marc Allen Herbst October 30 at 12:02am

seems good. Do we edit this or what?

I guess I could push it to say something, but in the context, It seems like a closed bottle and a good way to end.

Marc Allen Herbst October 30 at 12:02am

there’s always more.

for another time, I guess

Cara Baldwin October 30 at 9:26am

i think we should cut and paste it (copy edit if there are spelling mistakes) but leave the time registration and disclose the medium, or mediatic form so that becomes a consideration.

i also think we should begin it with the comments that follow your first post on the occupy everything site. this shows one of the many ways in which form can be a structurally / culturally significant thing.

in that context, how great that it includes a link to the jo freeman tyranny of structurelessness essay we’ve been inspired by and working through for several years now? maybe this gesture back to form will encourage even more engagement with our discussion.

Cara Baldwin: October 30 at 10:01am