Quiver: New Weapons for ThoughtFeb 05, 2021
Quiver 9 - 6/7 - Exploits
Reading Group: Exploits
On June 7th, Quiver considered the topic of “Exploits.”
How should we respond to what we oppose? Quiver considered the technical dimension of what is intolerable about the world, and how to locate vulnerabilities within it.
The first reading was from a book that sets out to imagine radical politics after Deleuze’s suggestion that power has become networked – Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker’s “The Exploit.” Their book maps a world where even the oppressor has extensive networks at their disposal and looks for tactics for exploiting it.
Our second reading pushed on the boundaries of technical analysis. In Simone Browne’s “Racializing Surveillance” from Dark Matters, we are provided a material history of surveillance technologies that existed far before computation and security caermas. Were not the overseers of plantations, actuarial accounts of chattle slavery, and the census technologies of surveillance?
Our hope is that readers considered how technology is social before it is technical, leading them to pull at the threads of technology to find even longer tangled histories.
Quiver 8 - 24/5 - Conspiracy
On May 24th, Quiver continued with a discussion of “conspiracy.”
In our disenchanted present, politicians boast about having the courage to speak truth while their opponents merely spread conspiracy.
Quiver holds none of these pretentions. Its interests lie with myths, fictions, and conspiracies – not that they are all taken as good, but rather, as the raw material of aesthetics, practices, worlds, and lives to which we find ourselves inseparably connected.
The first reading visited the anti-fascist use of ritual that went under the sign Acéphale, by way of the text “The Sacred Conspiracy” by Georges Bataille. Those interested in the topic may enjoy reading more from the book by the same name that collects many of the documents from the group.
The second reading is Laura Riding’s “The Myth” from Anarchism is Not Enough. In it, she wonders how much of life is tied to a grand Myth. Why do people dedicate their lives to defending society, religion, or other social systems? How do some come to question such Myth? And why?
Reading Group 7 - Institutional Analysis
On May 3rd, Quiver discussed “Institutional Analysis.”
Our conversation centered on the work of Frantz Fanon.
We provided two readings. The first contextualizes the work of Fanon within social psychiatry, the institutional psychotherapy movement, and his historical context (Caribbean, French, and North African).
The reading visits Fanon during his work at the Blida-Joinville Psychiatric Hospital in Blida, Algeria. Inspired by thriving experiments in Saint-Albian led by the anti-fascist Tosquelles, Fanon sought to bring social, cultural, and political methods to the repressive environment of Blida-Joinville. He fought the prison-like atmosphere with a “disalienated psychiatry” through collective works, hands-on activities, group sports, a newsletter that explained treatments, and film club to breathe life into the space. But he considered it a failure, as in the deeply-segregated institution it only seemed to help the white patients and not the Muslim ones. After submitting his resignation, he was expelled from the country and moved to Tunisia where he linked up the Algerian combatants of the FLN.
The second reading is an extended journal that chronicles Fanon’s time at Blida-Joinville in vivid detail. Fanon co-wrote it with Jacques Azoulay (whose dissertation he supervised) to outline the challenges of working at Blida-Joinville with the hopes of finding some theoretical insights. They describe the particulars of the stifling structure of the hospital, practical details of their experimental attempts to combat them, and an insightful post-mortem on why they feel they failed.
Reading Group 6 - Crowned Anarchy
On April 19th, Quiver will discuss “Crowned Anarchy.”
This session considers what anarchism can contribute to political thought. We open with a passage from Todd May’s book on “The Political Philosophy of Post-Structuralist Anarchism.” In just a few short pages, he brings up a number of concepts that continue to concern us to this day: economics, politics, change, and power.
To further delve into the distinction he draws between “tactical” and “strategic” approaches, we follow up with the well-worn pages of Michel de Certeau. We are left to wonder, are we still in the age of tactics? And if so, what might be the most important ones for our moment?
Reading Group 5 - Becoming-Woman
On April 5th, Quiver will discuss “Becoming-Woman.”
Rather than discuss the notorious section of A Thousand Plateaus on becoming-woman, we instead consider the woman as an escapee.
Our conversation will begin with a portion of Hélène Cixous’s essay “The Laugh of the Medusa.” With it we consider the practice of writing, the insurgency of the feminine, and the practice of undoing the self.
A selection on wayward lives from Saidiya Hartman’s “A Riot of Young Girls Assembled in a Riotous Manner” guides the second half of our discussion. In it, we speculate on the practices of women who lived so fugitively that little of them remains in the archives outside a record of their repression.
Reading Group 4 - Exhaustion
On March 22nd, Quiver hosts a conversation about “exhaustion.”
Understanding that the unfolding crisis is a disaster long in the making, we invite participants to discussion exhaustion, stress, and burnout.
Our two readings begin with a section of “How to Make Yourself a Body Without Organs” from A Thousand Plateaus. There we learn that the BwO is not the enemy of organs but of organisms, and learn strategies to survive the three great strata of the organism, significance, and subjectification.
The second reading is the now-classic essay “We Are All Very Anxious.” As situated by its subtitle, “Six Theses on Anxiety and Why It is Effectively Preventing Militancy, and One Possible Strategy for Overcoming It,” we are interested in how ideas about feeling frayed, overwhelmed, and undone contribute to militant practice.
Other concepts and readings we suggest participants explore are:
- D&G’s use of Laing’s expression on method “breakthrough not breakdown” found in Anti-Oedipus
- the notion found across Capitalism and Schizophrenia that the decoded flows of capital are constantly repelling its own limits
- The section on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Crack-Up” (to be contrasted with the royal “break” and nomadic war machine’s “rupture”) in the “Three Novellas” plateau.
- Deleuze's “Three Group-Related Problems” on antipsychiatric politics (or more broadly, the first Molecular Revolution book).
- Peter Pál Pelbert’s Cartography of Exhaustion
- Colectivo Situaciones, “Politicizing Sadness”
Reading Group 3 - Anti-Work (Lost)
Quiver 3 was lost to the cloud. On March 1st, Quiver continued with a reading group on “Anti-Work.”
We read two anti-work texts that spoke to our previous readings. If you are not familiar with the political tradition, we suggest you do a little background research (a decent reading list is available here: https://www.reddit.com/r/antiwork/wiki/library)
The first text elaborates on The Refusal of Work in the post-Deleuzian register of Italian autonomist Marxism. Read the additional section if you would like more historical context on Autonomia, feminist interventions, and counter-cultural projects.
The second is a far-ranging critique of economics as a technical (and now cybernetic) system. Its argument is that there is no such thing as “alternative economics.” But rather, it is something to be dismantled.
Reading Group 2 - The Subject
On February 15th, Quiver convened its second reading group over Zoom. During that session, we explored the concept of “subjects.”
We started with the infamous short excerpt on voluntary servitude and Reichian group fantasy from Anti-Oedipus. Then, we moved to the distinction between post-Althusserian social subjection and Mumford's machinic enslavement.
Our conversation worked through political concepts of the subject, state, and capitalism. But we also wondered, how must we rethink D&G to confront the intolerable anti-blackness of this world.
This led to a truly rhizome of ideas, texts, references and resonances... here some of them:
- (00:15:30) “Discourse on Voluntary Servitude”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse_on_Voluntary_Servitude
- (00:18:00) Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor, and Jean-Luc Nancy (ed.) - ''Who Comes After the Subject'': https://monoskop.org/File:Cadava_Eduardo_Connor_Peter_Nancy_Jean_Luc_Who_Comes_After_the_Subject_1991.pdf
- (00:24:30) The Deleuze dictionary - “molar”: https://deleuze.enacademic.com/110/molar // “molecular”: https://deleuze.enacademic.com/111/molecular
- (01:19:00) Andrew Culp - Draft on Maurizio Lazzarato’s “Signs, machines, subjectivities”: https://anarchistwithoutcontent.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/lazzarato-signs-and-machines-intro-chp-1-chp-2.pdf
- (01:21:30) Jason Read on Sarah Jaffe’s book “Work Won’t Love You Back”: http://www.unemployednegativity.com/2021/02/whats-love-got-to-do-with-it-on-sarah.html
- (01:32:30) Michael Hardt - “The Withering of Civil Society”: https://sci-hub.se/10.2307/466673
- (01:36:00) Michelle Koerner on Deleuze’s missing quotation of Jackson: https://read.dukeupress.edu/genre/article-abstract/44/2/157/5631/Line-of-Escape-Gilles-Deleuze-s-Encounter-with?redirectedFrom=fulltext
- (01:42:30) Fred Moten & Saidiya Hartman at Duke University | The Black Outdoors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_tUZ6dybrc
- (01:44:00) Daniel Colucciello Barber - On Black Negativity: https://www.societyandspace.org/articles/on-black-negativity-or-the-affirmation-of-nothing
As an experiment in opacity, all voices were modulated. Special thank you to CEER - Quiver
To listen to Quiver as a podcast, visit https://anchor.fm/q-iver/ or find it on any major podcast platform.
To RSVP for future Events, view readings, or subscribe to our mailing list, visit ourquiver.org.
Reading Group 1 - Weapons
On February 1st, Quiver convened its first reading group over Zoom.
During that session, we explored the concept of “weapons.”
We began by revisiting the dialogue between Deleuze and Foucault "Intellectuals and Power,” in which Deleuze suggests that theory should be understood as a toolbox. Our provocation: today, should it instead be a quiver?
Furthering our study, we continued with Proposition VII from the Nomadology of A Thousand Plateaus in which Deleuze and Guattari distinguish between tools and weapons.
As an experiment in opacity, all voices were modulated. Special thank you to CEER - Quiver