Michel Rostain on CERFI’s work commune

I’ve been reading Janet Morford’s 1985 thesis on CERFI, which is full of excellent interviews with CERFI members. I’ll keep posting these short translations as I finish them:

Well, there was an alternative intellectual environment that must be understood. At the end of the 1960s, there was a wave of communes in France, as in the United States. So, we, instead of making a commune around everyday life – that is, a house in which everyone lived, and pretty uncomfortably – we made a work commune. We made a work commune by saying: “Okay, we are intellectuals, but instead of working in a scattered way, with each of us in our own government agency, school, or whatever, we’re going to pool our labor power, negotiate with it, and sell it. And then we will share the money that we earn – this will help us develop our ideas, our labor power, our movement as a movement.” It was really important, you know. I think the idea was something like this.

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Guattari on Recherches/Urbanism

Working on my RGS-IBG paper, I came across and did a quick translation of this brief comment from the editorial to the second issue of Recherches, in which Guattari* is responding to confusion over the first issue.

Recherches is a means of expression for any group working in a part of the social field that is oriented toward analyzing the institutions into which each of us is inserted, and in which each of us accepts being constantly interpellated by other groups established in other sectors. This is to say that questions of architecture or urbanism, for example, are not simply the affairs of technicians shut away in their disciplinary fields, but rather that they concern psychiatrists, teachers, economists, and film directors. The rule of the game is what follows: everyone speaks their own language without making concessions, without shame, and without any social compromises that give the illusion of comprehension but which cause each person to withdraw into their own system and into their “truth,” as if it could be shared according to the university’s “Human Sciences” classification table.”

*Update: I just realized that the editorial is unsigned but I presume, perhaps wrongly, that it was  written by Guattari, who managed the first five issues.

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La Grande Pâque draft translation

I just finished my second pass through my draft translation of Jacques Besse’s La Grande Pâque, and will be sending it off to an academic publisher who is interested in it by the end of the month. Besse was a patient of Guattari’s at La Borde, and is quoted in Anti-Oedipus, and mentioned Dialogues II; I’ve written a few things and posted a few drafts over the last year-and-a-half about him and his work (link), including an AAG paper that contains some ideas for an eventual book introduction and/or article about him and his relation to Deleuze and Guattari, desire, and urban environments. I sometimes ask how I got myself into this “little” project — it’s only 22,000 words, but the language is all over the place — but at the same time, it’s been incredibly satisfying. The highlight so far was either tracking down multiple locations from the novella on a recent 24-hour layover in Paris (including a surprise encounter with a street full of prostitutes in exactly the same place where he went in search of them) or coming across and reading Patrick Modiano’s novel Chien de printemps, in which Besse appears rather accurately, as far as I can tell.


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Future urban warfare

This has probably already made the rounds but I just heard about it a few days ago.


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Presentation video — Abstract machines of urbanization: political economy, ethics, and aesthetics


All the presentation are available here.

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International Symposium Assemblage Thinking: Theory, Analysis, Practice And Governance Press Release

I was fortunate to spend last weekend in Mytilene, Greece (Lesbos) for this symposium on assemblage thinking. It was an interesting experience for many reasons, the foremost of which is that I do not not directly engage with much of the assemblage literature, and prefer to deal with Deleuze and Guattari own their own terms. Manuel DeLanda gave a great talk that summarized his work, but I found myself continually thinking that his unwillingness to follow any insights from Deleuze and Guattari’s interest in Marx and his rejection of the their concept of the strata attests to an overemphasized focus on particularity that is doomed to miss broader societal tendencies (he would likely respond by saying there is no such thing as society, but rather different nested assemblages). In my closing comments (and in my paper), I suggested that I thought the war-machine — state apparatus relationship was the key to understanding the relationship between the general and the particular.

The highlight for me was John Protevi’s improvised elaboration of a comment that he and Mark Bonta (who also presented fantastic work on crop domestication) wrote in their Deleuze and Geophilosophy book about adding an ethical axis to any understanding of assemblages. I prompted his comments by saying that I remembered their writing that an important third axis of any assemblage might pertain to the Spinozist idea of joy (increasing one’s power to act), but in describing their thoughts, Protevi clarified that they meant active joy rather than passive joy. This aspect had faded from my memory but his words reinforced my sense that this is a crucial addition to any use of assemblage theory.

The text of the press release is pasted below and the pdf is available here: ENG ΤΕΛΙΚΟ ΔΕΛΤΙΟ ΤΥΠΟΥ ΣΥΜΠΟΣΙΟ ASSEMBLAGE THINKING.



The international symposium “Assemblage Thinking: Theory, Analysis, Practice and Governance”, hosted by the Department of Geography between June 2 to 4, 2017 and organized by professor Helen Briassoulis, concluded successfully. The speakers, besides actively and crucially participating at the Symposium, had the opportunity to learn about the University of the Aegean and the Department of Geography. A small exhibition of the students of the Department of Cultural Communication and Technology, under the supervision of professor Nassia Chourmouziadi, and a composition of teacher-artist Mrs. Vato Fratzoglou were hosted at the Symposium.
The keynote invited speaker was Dr. Manuel DeLanda (adjunct professor at Princeton University, USA), who is considered as one of the main contemporary thinkers in Assemblage Thinking, while circa 30 expert speakers from three continents (Europe, N. America, Oceania) and seven countries (USA, Australia, UK, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Greece), presented their current research and participated in interesting and thought-provoking discussions for the importance of Assemblage Thinking in theoretical and applied research as well as in empirical studies.
The topics presented at the Symposium included: theoretical analyses of assemblages, media sociology, domestication of organisms, prehistoric archaeology, sociology of generations, responses to environmental degradation, constitution, political economic and aesthetics of cities, architectural design, politics, geopolitics, biopolitics (organ transplantations and refugee health care), place and globalization.
The most important conclusion of the Symposium was that diverse scientific fields and studies, with different origins and traditions, adopt Assemblage Thinking in order to comprehend, analyze and explain the complex and multidimensional spatial, environmental, socio-economic, institutional and other phenomena and issues as well as to formulate apposite interventions. Their common characteristic is the rejection of uni-dimensional, static approaches and of predefined, given and strictly delimited study schemas and the acceptance of the particularity and uniqueness of each individual case that emerges, is constituted by and evolves from the co-existence and constant interactions among various factors from different levels in space and time.
Within this perspective, new modes of theorizing, analysis and empirical applications in diverse scientific areas are shaped that orient decision making, management and governance from the local to the global level away from the dominant practice of generalized solutions (OSFA – One Size Fits All) and uniform best practices that do not always prove effective. They encourage, instead, the development of customized ‘solutions’ adapted to the particularities of each case that exploit its inherent capacities and special features and secure the sustainability and effectiveness of the actions undertaken.

The main conclusions and the Symposium presentations will be soon uploaded at the Symposium’s website: http://assemblage-symposium.aegean.gr/

Mytilini, June 8, 2017

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Note to self: evidently Jacques Besse is a character in Modiano’s novel Chien de printemps. Boris Vian already made an appearance in Modiano’s Un Pedigree.

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