Defining the Digital

In episode two of the Critical Inquiry podcast, I speak with Patrick Jagoda about a number of different things, including digitality, software, philosophy, and theory. Originally recorded in Chicago in April 2018 and posted online on Oct 23, 2018.

MP3 audio file. 42 minutes

Media and Mathematics

On digitality and philosophy in the work of Alain Badiou. Presented at the École normale supérieure in Paris, France on June 10, 2017.

"'Since its very origins,' Badiou wrote in Being and Event, 'philosophy has interrogated the abyss which separates numerical discretization from the geometrical continuum. [...] from Plato to Husserl, passing by the magnificent developments of Hegel's Logic, the strictly inexhaustible theme of the dialectic of the discontinuous and the continuous occurs time and time again.'"

MP3 audio file. 33 minutes.

What Can A Network Do?

On networks as a mode of mediation. Presented at the Center for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain on December 11, 2009.

"I'm interested in an event. The event goes by many names and is described in different ways by different kinds of thinkers. In the work of Martin Heidegger it is called the end of philosophy; others use the name the end of history; in science it is called cybernetics, or ecology, or systems theory; in economics it is called postfordism; in industry it is called computer networking; in philosophy some say it goes simply by the name of Gilles Deleuze. In general we can call this event the emergence of the networked form of mediation..."

MP3 audio file. 35 minutes.

Deleuze and Computers

On the late Deleuze, his relation to computers, the Superfold, and digital versus analogue philosophy. Presented at UMass Amherst on December 2, 2011.

"Could it be that Deleuze's most lasting legacy will consist of 2,300 words from 1990? Such a strange little text, this 'Postscript on Control Societies.' It asserts so trenchantly that things are not getting any better. Computers are a curse not a panacea. Planetary neoliberalism is a boondoggle not a deliverance. Deleuze was always good at drawing lines in the sand. Here the complaint is articulated in terms of control, communication, and the 'harshest confinement' wrought by 'the new monster' of information society. Deleuze credits the term to William Burroughs, but the true source for 'control' is no mystery. So why not call Deleuze's adversary by its true name: the enemy is cybernetics..."

Video. 51 minutes.

Black Box, Black Bloc

On cybernetics, black boxes, Tiqqun, and what it means to have "no demands." Presented at the New School in New York on April 12, 2010.

"Where are we now? In an essay from 2001, the French collective Tiqqun describes what they call the cybernetic hypothesis. They speak of things like panic, noise, and interference. They propose counterstrategies of hypertrophy and repetition. Yet there is always a strategic obscurantism in their proscriptions, what Tiqqun calls 'invisible revolt.' Invisibility is not a new concept within political theory. But what I would like to explore here is a specific kind of invisibility, a specific kind of blackness that has begun to permeate cybernetic societies, and further that this blackness is not simply an effect of cybernetic societies but is in fact a necessary precondition for them..."

MP3 audio file. 40 minutes.

Catherine Malabou, or the Commerce in Being

On Malabou, Hegel, and the challenges of perpetual plasticity. Presented at the Public School New York on October 25, 2010.

"The essential transformation in the work of Catherine Malabou is this: the universality of plasticity. What is plasticity? And what would it mean to say that the plastic is also the universal? For, the concept of the plastic--which she defines using the vivid image of plastic explosive as the capacity to give form and the capacity to take form--refers to mutability, change, exchange, morphing, metamorphosis, and transformation. It is a fundamental concept for Malabou, a concept with a concourse at the direct level of being. Yet the universal is something else. It can mean a transcendental quality, an essence that remains, something relatively fixed for all time and in all places. So the irony is clear: the plastic as the universal. The thing most associated with change is the thing that does not change..."

MP3 audio file. 50 minutes.