My Assignments

It's good to have a path to follow, some structure to help organize one's explorations. So a few years ago I gave myself some assignments. I've tried to stick to them as best I can, and they guide most of my current work.

My first assignment concerns politics -- avoid a representational politics. I interpret this assignment in a broad sense. It includes both simple representational models but also models that pertain to metaphysics. In other words, avoid representationalism in both politics and in the structural domains that intersect it.

My second assignment concerns economics -- avoid a post-fordist economics. Again I interpret this broadly. It includes things like financialization and informatization, affect and sensation (as sites for proletarianization), reversibility and exchange, creative play, rhizomatics and distribution (a.k.a. “network fetishism”), the industrialization of difference, and so on.

Fulfilling the first assignment is easier than fulfilling the second one. Anti-representationalism is not rare in theory. I naturally gravitate to thinkers who push in that direction. Yet avoiding a post-fordist economics is much harder, since the principles of post-fordism are so deeply integrated into contemporary life, so much so that both the forces of order and their putative enemies often evoke such principles. It's almost impossible to identify a contemporary mode of thought that doesn't, in some way, endorse distribution, or horizontality, or affect, or play, or the new, or some other aspect of the contemporary mode of production.

This is why I'm interested in the tradition of radical immanence (ex: Michel Henry, and François Laruelle -- and perhaps certain readings of Deleuze). Radical immanence fulfills both assignments. It doesn't require a representational politics, if you do it right. And it doesn't propagate a post-fordist economics.

But you say: how doctrinaire! You're just obsessed with purity! Perhaps. But thought is a technology like any other and it's useful to build the right kinds of tech -- the right assignments -- that keep you moving in a good direction.