Spring Seminar -- Freud and Lacan

Announcing my Spring doctoral seminar on Freud and Lacan. The course is open to all graduate students at NYU, plus consortium students in the NYC area. Contact me if you have questions

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Freud and Lacan

Course number MCC-GE 3015 (Special Topics in Critical Theory)

Time: Weds 2:00-4:50 pm

Spring 2024

Few figures have influenced the modern conception of the subject more than Sigmund Freud. In this doctoral seminar we explore the writings of Freud, followed by those of one of his most influential interpreters, Jacques Lacan. Seminar themes include: the structure of the psyche; the unconscious; castration and lack; the symbolic order; neurosis; desire; enjoyment; and sex. Additional readings drawn from the work of Joan Copjec, Achille Mbembe, and Alenka Zupančič.

Badiou and The Continuum Hypothesis

(Previously) ...Next, the mea culpa. It concerns Badiou's position on the Continuum Hypothesis. In 1878 Georg Cantor offered a hypothesis about the continuum, essentially a hypothesis about the nature of continuous number. More specifically the hypothesis concerned Cantor's famous two sizes of infinity and the relation between them. After establishing the position of the smaller infinity, the infinity of rational or arithmetical number, Cantor hypothesized that the "next highest" number would be his larger infinity, the infinity of real or geometric number. I write next highest in scare quotes because the question of size and even counting itself stops making intuitive sense after transgressing the threshold of finitude.

If you're looking for a more technical statement of the CH, here is a helpful one by Mary Tiles from her excellent book The Philosophy of Set Theory: An Historical Introduction to Cantor's Paradise (p. 1):

"20 = ℵ1, which has come to be known as Cantor's continuum hypothesis, thus says that the number of points on a line is the second infinite cardinal number: there are none in between ℵ0 and 20."

Okay, so the CH has a long history in mathematics and I'll be the first to admit that my knowledge of the underlying math is wobbly at best. But let's establish the basics at the outset. Continue reading

Badiou and Computers

Now that Andrew and I have posted all episodes of the Being & Event podcast, I wanted to return to two details from the series and offer a bit more explanation. The first (here below) will expand on something from Episode 3. The second, in a future post, will address something I said about Badiou, which, it turns out, has been directly contradicted by Badiou himself! In other words, a mea culpa is in order. More on that soon.

To recap, in Episode 3, I made three observations about Badiou to help structure the discussion. The first observation was a point about politics, that Badiou is essentially a modernist, and specifically that he is a political modernist. The second was a point about math: that Badiou gives us not just a description of mathematics but a definition of mathematics. I articulated that definition across different episodes in the podcast series, and also wrote about it here, giving it the name Badiou's Principle. The third point was about technology, a point that may be posed as a question: Is Badiou a digital philosopher? I want to say yes, at least to some degree. And that question deserves a longer post all on its own. Regardless, any discussion of whether or not Badiou is a digital philosopher stumbles over an awkward truth. Badiou hardly ever talks about the digital. Badiou hardly ever ever about computers. This philosopher, known the world over for his overweening interest in mathematics and formalization, has only rarely addressed the most important instance of mathematical formalism in the world today, namely digital computation. Why is this? Continue reading

Uncomputable in Korean

Uncomputable has recently been translated and published in Korean by Rose & Camellia. My friend Taeyoon Choi has written a letter of introduction for the book for Korean audiences.

알렉산더 R. 갤러웨이의 『계산할 수 없는』이 한국어로 출간된다는 소식을 듣고 무척 기뻤다. 나의 멘토이자 소중한 동지인 갤러웨이와는 짧지 않은 시간 동안 코딩과 액티비즘, 미학과 철학 그리고 추상화와 실천의 접점에서 대화를 이어갔다. 우리의 인연은 내가 예술가 활동을 시작하던 2008년 봄, 뉴욕 첼시에 위치한 아이빔 아트 앤 테크놀로지 센터Eyebeam Art and Technology Center의 레저던시에 참여했던 경험에서 출발한다. 당시 갤러웨이는 몇 명의 프로그래머, 디자이너들과 함께 이 책에서 소개되는 크릭슈필Kriegspiel 게임을 만들고 있었다. 기 드보르Guy Debord가 디자인한 보드 게임을 온라인 게임으로 새로 만든다는 이야기를 듣고 고전 게임 매니아들인가보다 생각했지만, 갤러웨이의 게임과 소프트웨어, 네트워크 연구에 담긴 미학적, 정치적 의미에 대해 조금씩 알게 되면서 그의 작업 전반에 걸쳐 흥미를 가지게 되었다. [Continue Reading]

Algorithmic Re-enactment talk at Stanford on April 25th

This talk has been *rescheduled* -- it's now happening on April 25 at 5pm Pacific (8pm Eastern). I'll be focusing specifically on building/rebuilding things (based on material from Uncomputable).

Please join the Critical Making Collaborative at Stanford for a presentation titled "Crystals, Genes, and Wool: Three Case Studies in Algorithmic Re-enactment" by Alexander R. Galloway, Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. This free event will take place on Zoom on Tuesday, April 25th, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm PDT.

An algebraic textile pattern from 1947, a cellular automata simulation from 1953, a tabletop game from 1977 – in this online workshop, we will explore three lost or otherwise overlooked pieces of code from the deep history of computational culture. Using an experimental method dubbed "algorithmic re-enactment," we will study these artifacts in their own historical context, while also bringing them to life again using current tools.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford. Please see the flyer and brief bio below for more information, and RSVP here to receive a Zoom link by email.

Being & Event Podcast

Launch Event -- Zoom Registration

Please join us on April 10 to launch the Being & Event Podcast. Over nine episodes, Andrew Culp & Alexander R. Galloway offer a close reading of philosopher Alain Badiou's major treatise Being and Event (1988) followed by special guest interviews.

Listen to the first two episodes via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other platforms.

New episodes will be released weekly during Spring 2023.

On the Bias

What does it mean to think and act “on the bias”? Inherently formal and spatial, if not also graphical, the diagonal line has played any number of important roles: from the diagonal of the unit square (which nearly destroyed Pythagoreanism and, later, played an important role in Plato’s Meno), to the modern intervention of Georg Cantor’s diagonal argument (where in 1891 he demonstrated that the real numbers are uncountable), to the structuralism of A.J. Greimas and Jacques Lacan, to Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s postmodern machine, defined as a diagonal that cuts through an assemblage. More recently Sara Ahmed has used what she called “oblique or diagonal lines” to characterize queerness, and indeed the diagonal—whether alone or via synonyms like the oblique, the slanted or askew, the non-orthogonal—has come to indicate differences and deviations of all kinds. (Continue reading at ASAP/Journal)

Dialogue with Andrew Woolbright in The Brooklyn Rail

Read a recent dialogue I had with artist Andrew Woolbright, just published in the March edition of The Brooklyn Rail.

On Andrew's prompting, I made a new Barricelli image of cellular automata to illustrate the piece. Andrew gave me a custom color palette to use, and I tweaked the parameters to better sync with the conversation (particularly the bit about smooth vs. striated).

This was recorded in person straight to tape, so please excuse all my disorganized grammar!

An illustration of bionumeric evolution, using an algorithm for cellular automata developed by Nils Aall Barricelli in 1953.