recent books

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A Superintendent's Eyes

book blurbs: 

“Steve Dalachinsky put in his time as a super. Whoever coined the word ‘thankless’ must have had that job, but Steve endured it because he could describe it, because he could tune it like a radio that brings in the whole world of talk, and most of all because he could make it swing. He makes the ground floor apartment double as the catbird seat.” — Luc Sante, author of Low Life.

“A Superintendent’s Eyes is a one-of-a-kind neo-noir document of life in the rickety world of Lower Manhattan at the turn of the century. Dalachinsky — heir to Charles Reznikoff, for his ability to step back from and enter into experience simultaneously, and to the painters of the Ashcan School for their gritty back alley subject matter — writes with eyes (and heart) wide open.” — Lewis Warsh, author of A Place in the Sun and Inseparable.

“Poetry has changed since Hesiod, but the essence of what makes a great poem hasn’t. These poems, written through the ‘eyes of a superintendent,’ are perceived through the eyes of a poet. Dalachinsky’s poems are marked by a Zen-like humanity, spot-on cadence and attention to the beauty of a poem on the page. So what if he had to pick up garbage, fix leaking faucets and shovel snow in blizzards, he took time for ‘night viewing the cherry blossoms/illuminated by their own pink light….’ Thanks to poetry of this caliber, ‘tomorrow is as good as ever/ Amen’.”— Janet Hamill, author of Body of Water, Bowery Women: Poems and Lost Ceilings.

“Clark Kent is Superman, but Steve Dalachinsky is ‘super-man,’ strange visitor from another borough with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal poets. More powerful than a loco motive, able to bend irony in his bare hands... Steve dispenses the holy bitterness of Jeremiah, Isaiah & Nina Simone. Anyone who’s ever had a real job — one that’s miserable, taxing, poorly-paid and necessary—should read A Superintendent’s Eyes. Steve is a Bartleby the Scrivener for our age, who says: ‘I would prefer not to, but I must’ — and continues.” — Sparrow, author of America: A Prophecy: The Sparrow Reader.

A Person of Letters in the Contemporary World

book blurbs: 

Richard Kostelanetz writes:

“I have been writing literary essays for nearly fifty years now. Since most of them appeared in modestly circulated periodicals, it becomes necessary for me to collect the most valuable of them into books. Earlier collections have been devoted to essays on poetry, fiction, visual art, music, culture, performance, and politics. Composed mostly of previously uncollected literary essays, written over the past quarter century, A Person of Letters in the Contemporary World becomes the first to emphasize literature and literary life in general.

Since I am a contemporary writer, expanding my practice into the twenty-first century, it is scarcely surprising that my sense of literature, as both a creator and a critic, includes criticism of writing in new media, such as audio and video. Most of the essays reflect the theme announced in the title, dealing as they do in various ways with the experience of being independent in the age of affiliation, a writer in more than one genre in an age of specialists, a radical among conservatives who has been consciously avant-garde at a time when innovation was proclaimed impossible, and a literary artist attuned to possibilities offered by new technologies. Since my activity reportedly reflects integrity at various levels, other recurring themes will no doubt become apparent.

In my essays, as in my career, I’ve tried to go beyond–above and sometimes below—what others have done, especially in appreciating what others miss, dismissing what is commonly praised, and in telling truths about literary politics. Lacking power or a secure position, I wouldn’t have survived had I attempted anything less. I’ve also learned that I’ve written not a single work commonly praised above all others but many texts that one or another reader finds especially valuable. ”

Squatting in Europe

book blurbs: 

Squatting offers a radical but simple solution to the crises of housing, homelessness, and the lack of social space that mark contemporary society: occupying empty buildings and rebuilding lives and communities in the process. Squatting has a long and complex history, interwoven with the changing and contested nature of urban politics over the last forty years.

Squatting can be an individual strategy for shelter or a collective experiment in communal living. Squatted and self-managed social centres have contributed to the renewal of urban struggles across Europe and intersect with larger political projects. However, not all squatters share the same goals, resources, backgrounds or desire for visibility.

Squatting in Europe aims to move beyond the conventional understandings of squatting, investigating its history in Europe over the past four decades. Historical comparisons and analysis blend together in these inquiries into squatting in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, France, Germany and England. In it members of SqEK (Squatting Europe Kollective) explore the diverse, radical, and often controversial nature of squatting as a form of militant research and self-managed knowledge production.

Essays by Miguel Martínez, Gianni Piazza, Hans Pruijt, Pierpaolo Mudu, Claudio Cattaneo, Andre Holm, Armin Kuhn, Linus Owens, Florence Bouillon, Thomas Aguilera, and ETC Dee.

“Amidst the proliferation of post-political banter, it is refreshing to see the time-tested politics of pre-figurative direct action being taking so seriously. This is a must-read for anybody who wants to better understand how the politics of squatting offer a set of transformative strategies for a creating a more egalitarian world. Furthermore, this collection illustrates how such transformative politics so often start in the world’s cities through deliberate organizing and thoughtful reflection by committed groups of activists, scholars and everyday citizens.” – Nik Heynen, University of Georgia

“In an era of austerity, capitalist accumulation by dispossession, and the criminalization of protest this excellent book serves as an inspiring and timely reminder of people’s re-appropriation of urban spaces in order to fashion alternatives to the status quo. Structured around a typology of squatting configurations – as anti-deprivation; entrepreneurial; conservational; political; and alternative housing strategies – this empirically-rich collection of essays by scholars and activists provides persuasive evidence of the creativity and politically transformative potential involved in such practices.” – Paul Routledge, University of Glasgow

Bio: Squatting Europe is a research network focusing on the squatters’ movement. Our aim is to produce reliable and fine-grained knowledge about this movement not only as an end in itself, but also as a public resource, especially for squatters and activists. Critical engagement and comparative approaches are the bases of our project. The group is an open transnational collective (SQEK) whose members represent a diversity of disciplines and fields seeking to understand the issues associated with squats and social centres across Europe.

The Undercommons

book blurbs: 

In this series of essays Fred Moten and Stefano Harney draw on the theory and practice of the black radical tradition as it supports, inspires, and extends contemporary social and political thought and aesthetic critique. Today the general wealth of social life finds itself confronted by mutations in the mechanisms of control: the proliferation of capitalist logistics, governance by credit, and the management of pedagogy. Working from and within the social poesis of life in the undercommons Moten and Harney develop and expand an array of concepts: study, debt, surround, planning, and the shipped. On the fugitive path of an historical and global blackness, the essays in this volume unsettle and invite the reader to the self-organised ensembles of social life that are launched every day and every night amid the general antagonism of the undercommons.

“This is a powerful book, made of words and sounds, crisscrossed by subversion and love, written and studied ‘with and for,’ as Stefano Harney and Fred Moten put it. The roar of the battle is never distant while reading The Undercommons. The London riots and occupy, practices of refusal, marronage and flight, slave revolts and anti-colonial uprisings frame a challenging rethinking of concepts such as policy and planning, debt and credit, governance and logistics. The Undercommons is a homage to the black radical tradition, to its generative and constituent power before the task of imagining ‘dispossessed feelings in common’ as the basis of a renewed communism.” – Sandro Mezzadra

“What kind of intervention can cut through neoliberal configuration of today’s university, which betrays its own liberal commitment to bring about emancipation? The Undercommons is a powerful and necessary intervention that invites us to imagine and realise social life otherwise. In this intimate and intense example of affected writing – writing which is always already other, with an other – Harney and Moten dare us to fall. Following, feeling, an other possible manner living together, or as one may say with Glissant – to be ‘born into the world,’ which is the fate and gift of blackness. Otherwise living, as in the quilombos created by Brazilian slaves, is the promise that is escape!” – Denise Ferreira da Silva

Assault on the Impossible

book blurbs: 

Assault on the Impossible is the second Autonomedia title to concentrate on the Provo period in the Netherlands. The Provo movement is unique in the modern era for having radically reshaped the political foundations of an important Western nation virtually without violence. Political change is often tumultuous, but never takes place in cultural isolation. Actuating the revolutionary impulse requires activating large groups of people, generating “group minds” capable of reimagining the realities they inhabit. It requires a kind of visionary emotional adventurism able to gaze with a clear heart at impossibility.

Viewing the “historical nature” of revolutions through exclusively ideological lenses tends to miss the fact that they blaze forth from wider cultural fields, frequently ignited by the eccentric (often aesthetic) insights of a few profound aliens. Richard Kempton’s Provo: Amsterdam’s Anarchist Revolt, focused on a detailed narrative of the birth, florescence, and decline of the Provo political trajectory. Marjolijn van Riemsdijk’s Assault on the Impossible widens the field, investigating the aesthetic attitudes and ludic interventions that helped generate the group mind that drove the politics.

“Anarchic imagination running wild in the streets of Amsterdam! Whether riding side-saddle on the white bicycle of counter-cultural revolt or blasting off in a rocketship of creative resistance on a journey somewhere beyond the Milky Way to Paradiso, the jack-in-the-box historical moment of Provo comes alive again in these pages with inspiring adventures, explosive magic, free spirits, ludic interventions, and pataphysical solutions.” — Ron Sakolsky, author of Creating Anarchy and Islands of Resistance: Pirate Radio in Canada.

“Like my own community, the San Francisco Diggers, and our English counterparts spoken for by Alex Trocchi, [the radical seers in the Netherlands] felt commonly that “the coup du monde must be in the broad sense cultural.” This important book chronicles the prescience and remarkable vision of these Dutch cultural guerrillas, who had a much deeper permanent effect on their own culture than we did. I urge all those with the instincts of anarchism to read it. Those without those instincts should read it too.” — Peter Coyote, actor, author of Sleeping Where I Fall

“Amsterdam, Magical center of the World and craziest town in Europe during the Sixties and Seventies! Assault on the Impossible leads you back to a thrilling episode of creative outbursts and turmoil. What went on in the city, and how did it influence the cul-tural and intellectual avant-garde? The ideas and acts of the main players are revealed and get all the credit they deserve.” — Eric Duivenvoorden, author of Magier van een nieuwe tijd: Het leven van Robert Jasper Grootveld

In Letters of Blood and Fire

book blurbs: 

Karl Marx wrote that the only way to write about the origins of capitalism in
the 16th century is in the letters of blood and fire used to drive workers from
the common lands, forests and waters. In this collection of essays, George
Caffentzis argues that the same is true for the annals of twenty-first-century
capitalism. Information technology, immaterial production, financialization, and
globalization have been trumpeted as inaugurating a new phase of capitalism
that puts it beyond its violent origins. Instead of being a period of major social
and economic novelty, however, the course of recent decades has been a return
to the fire and blood of struggles at the advent of capitalism.

Emphasizing class struggles that have proliferated across the social body
of global capitalism, Caffentzis shows how a wide range of conflicts and
antagonisms in the labor-capital relation express themselves within and against
the work process. These struggles are so central to the dynamic of the system
that even the most sophisticated machines cannot liberate capitalism from
class struggle and the need for labor. Themes of war and crisis permeate
the text and are given singular emphasis, documenting the peculiar way in
which capital perpetuates violence and proliferates misery on a world scale.
This collection draws upon a careful rereading of Marx’s thought in order to
elucidate political concerns of the day. Originally written to contribute to the
debates of the anticapitalist movement over the last thirty years, this book
makes Caffentzis’s writings readily available as tools for the struggle in this
period of transition to a common future.

Open Utopia

book blurbs: 

Opinion polls, volatile voting patterns, and street protests demonstrate widespread dissatisfaction with the current system, yet the popular response so far has largely been limited to the angry outcry of No! But negation, by itself, affects nothing. The dominant system doesn’t dominate because people agree with it; it rules because we’re convinced there is no alternative.

We need to be able to imagine a radical alternative – a Utopia – yet we are haunted by the disasters of “actually existing” Utopias of the past century, from fascism to authoritarian socialism. In this re-issue of Thomas More’s generative volume, scholar and activist Stephen Duncombe re-imagines Utopia as an open text, one designed by More as an imaginal machine freeing us from the tyranny of the present while undermining master plans for the future.

Open Utopia is the first complete English language edition of Thomas More’s Utopia that honors the primary precept of Utopia itself: that all property is common property. Open Utopia, licensed under Creative Commons, is free to copy, to share, to use. But Utopia is more than the story of a far-off land with no private property. It is a text that instructs us how to approach texts, be they literary or political, in an open manner: open to criticism, open to participation, and open to re-creation. Utopia is no-place, and therefore it is up to all of us to imagine it.

In this volume, and its accompanying website, Utopia is re-imagined and brought into the digital age as a participatory technology for undermining authority and facilitating new imagination.

“A welcome new intervention into an old text. Re-read through the lens of Duncombe’s extensive – and persuasive – introduction, More’s Utopia is revealed as a subversive methodology for approaching utopias, one that engages and expands our capacity for political invention and imagination. Open Utopia is an infinite demand that splits the subject open to new possible worlds rather than giving a closed plan.” – Simon Critchley, author of The Faith of the Faithless

“I first read More’s Utopia as a student in Soviet times and remember it vaguely as a text venerable, but totally irrelevant to any lived experience. Stephen Duncombe’s re-introduction helps me better understand how literature can be newly needful and differently taught.” – Tatiana Venediktova, Moscow State University

“Everybody knows the difference between an open and a closed door. Fewer know the difference between an open mind and a closed mind, especially on the American left, where intellectual policing often replaces intellectual encouragement. Stephen Duncombe, in conversation with More and the horrifying history of utopia and utopians, opens minds and doors and reaffirms the importance of utopian thinking. Adelante, excelsior!” – Reverend Donna Schaper

Contract and Contagion

book blurbs: 

Contract and Contagion presents a theoretical approach for understanding the complex shifts of post-Fordism and neoliberalism by way of a critical reading of contracts, and through an exploration of the shifting politics of the household. It focuses on the salient question of capitalist futurity in order to highlight the simultaneously intimate, economic and political limits to venturing beyond its horizon.

In capitalist history, as well as in philosophy, finance, migration politics, and theories of globalisation, contagions simultaneously real, symbolic and imagined recur. Where political economy understood value in terms of labour, Contract and Contagion argues that the law of value is the law of the household (oikonomia).

In this book Angela Mitropoulos takes up current and historical theories of affect, intimacy, labour and speculation to elaborate a queer, anti-racist, feminist Marxism, which is to say: a Marxism preoccupied not with the seizure of opportunity to take power, form government, or represent an identity, but a Marxism which partakes of the uncertain movements that break the bonds of fate.

“In this stunning reworking of the philosophical fibres of economy, Angela Mitropoulos provides an expansive realignment of how risk is apportioned and contingency valorised. The result is a febrile politics of debt and credit to pre-occupy the movements in and for the future.” – Randy Martin, author of Empire of Indifference: American War and the Financial Logic of Risk Management

“Angela Mitropoulos’ work moves beyond the impasses of autonomist Marxism and queer theory to forge a critical analysis of the imbrications between economy, nation-state and family. Locating the dynamic of capital in the ‘double movement’ of contract and contagion, Mitropoulos radicalizes the Marxian critique of contract while refusing the foundational nostalgias of the left. Most forcefully, Mitropoulos proposes the prism of household politics (or oikonomia) as a means of interrogating the shifting nexus between the sexual and the economic across different regimes of accumulation. Baroque and incisive, this book will unsettle the most familiar of political categories.” – Melinda Cooper, author of Life as Surplus: Biotechnology and Capitalism in the Neoliberal Era

2013 Autonomedia Calendar of Jubilee Saints

book blurbs: 

Autonomedia's Jubilee Saints Calendar for 2013! Our 21st annual wall calendar, with artwork by James Koehnline, and text by the Autonomedia Collective.

Hundreds of radical cultural and political heroes are celebrated here, along with the animating ideas that continue to guide this project — a reprieve from the 500-year-long sentence to life-at-hard-labor that the European colonization of the "New World" and the ensuing devastations of the rest of the world has represented. It is increasingly clear — at the dawn of this new millennium — that the Planetary Work Machine will not rule forever!

Celebrate with this calendar on which every day is a holiday!

32 pages, 12 x 16 inches, saddlestitched

isbn 978-1-57027-259-2 : price $9.95 : 32 pages

Buy two, get one free!

Dictionary of Operations

book blurbs: 

Dictionary of Operations is the third in a series of new lexica. After defining the field of "Tactical Reality" (2002) and "Strategic Reality" (2009), this concise manual to the contemporary cognitive environment analyzes 72 terms to access the operative logics of social and anti- social media.

Dictionary of Operations highlights the subtext of the politics of information and the underlying framework of media reality in digital networks. Global conflicts over resources accelerate the social crises of mediated representation. Cognitive algorithms question the autonomy of the individual and its freedom of action. Looking into the intimate relation between knowledge and control it identifies the financial crisis as a crisis of rationality and claims "Economy as fate is the swindle of the century".

Dictionary of Operations focuses on the subjective dimension of information technology related to potential political action. The text follows ancient connections between conjuring and the dark art of truth projection and asks: If every communication is an oracle, who owns meaning which authorizes legitimate knowledge?

Dictionary of Operations reflects illusory mirror worlds and excavates media-archaeological ghost stories that continue to haunt the world. Tracing the omnipresent trails of monsters, zombies and ghosts in the infosphere it declares "To be human is to be haunted, bound in chains to a past dominating the present."
Dictionary of Operations defines transversal practices between theory and activism, digital media and street culture. It covers terms ranging from A-T, from "Absolute Mammon" to "Truth Production". Drawing on anomalies as allies against enforced normalization it builds on an insight from an ancient Babylonian text: "one cannot escape misery without revolting against the established powers."

Konrad Becker is an interdisciplinary communication researcher, director of the Institute for New Culture Technologies/ t0, and World-Information Institute (World-Information.Org), a cultural intelligence provider. Co-founder and chairman of Public Netbase (1994 - 2006), he has been active in electronic media as an artist, author, composer as well as curator, producer and organizer. Since 1979, numerous electronic intermedia productions, exhibitions, conferences and event designs for international festivals and cultural institutions as well as a range of interventions in public space. Publication of media works, electronic audiovisuals, theoretical texts and books, lectures at various universities and participation in numerous conferences and symposia. in September 2009 he participated in a roundtable conference at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York.

His work has been acknowledged with several awards and has been characterized by extensive cooperation with many protagonists of a new artistic practice. The field of work and artistic production includes all areas of electronic art and culture, from audio, video, TV and radio, multimedia productions and installations, software and VR to social interventions. The author and writer of texts on the politics of the infosphere investigates the cultural and social implications of technology in information societies. A particular emphasis is placed on the investigation of interrelations of the symbolic and the real, immaterial information regimes and tangible reality. Publikations include more than thirty film and video productions from experimental art videos to documentaries screened in galleries, museums, festivals and media installations as well as TV broadcast. An actor in various TV and cinema productions he has lectured and performed in more than 25 countries. His work was featured in several hundred publications including major international newspapers and magazines with more than 3500 print articles, reviews and interviews. A founding member of "European Cultural Backbone" (ECB) and various cultural networks he contributed to local and international cooperation of artists and cultural workers in the field of information and communication technologies. He was member of various boards on information technologies and culture and consultant for public administration.

Konrad Becker also created Monoton in 1979, the crucial Austrian electronic music act, providers of distinguished electronic soundscapes and psycho-acoustics. The Wire magazine ranked Monoton’s 1982 record Monotonprodukt07 among the 100 most important records of the 20th century.

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