Sum issues 13 & 14, dedicated to the strange temporalities of Shanghai and Ljubljana respectively, has dropped in conjunction with this year’s Fabula Festival.
Sum 13: here
Sum 14: here
Between the two issues its a fun line-up: Mikkel Bindslev in dialogue with Amy Ireland, Bindslev in dialogue with Anna Greenspan and Nick Land, Primož Krašovec, Thomas Moynihan, Kazimir Kolar, Šiša, Vincent Le, Simon Sellars—and, of course, myself, offering some takes that will be familiar to the good readers of my humble blog (albeit a slightly different guises).
Reading through Bindslev’s exchange with Greenspan and Land, I noticed two points that intersected quite nicely. The first is in a more oblique—
MB: Urban Future promoted the idea that postmodernism in philosophy and literature studies was actually just ideas from economics, especially the idea of a postponement of meaning, for instance …
NL: Obviously that’s expressed massively reductively. If I were subject to a sufficiently intense attack I would probably have to manoeuvre a little bit. I’m afraid I can’t really help to see this other than as it’s looking from my bitcoin work at the moment. But I do think there’s a very mainstream teleology that bitcoin is radically disrupting, and that teleology is to do with the complexities of structures of debt. It is very tied up with the whole Kantian revolution, macroeconomics, the new sense of government and the academic expert in the economy and the control of the money supply as being a political objective, and through control of the money supply, control of mass economic psychology. So that complex, which has just come to seem so normal to people that it just escapes question, I think is deeply isomorphic with what people call postmodernism. To say that postmodernism as a cultural commons introduces ideas from economics, I could see people quite reasonably arguing with that particular way of formulating it. But I would retreat no further than saying that it’s a consistent socio-cultural complex that has to be seen in a kind of integrated fashion…
I was working with some colleagues a long time ago, twenty years ago or even more, on a book that was to be called Machinic Postmodernism. I’m not dogmatic about maintaining postmodernism’s critical practice, I think the tactics are relatively clear but its deepest strategic orientation of how it is operating is relatively counterproductive. It obviously connects with the question of time lag and simultaneity. Time lag is in a sense a very postmodern thing, the différance is almost a formulation of a time lag, isn’t it? So if the annihilation of debt, which is a Deleuzian theme, a Nietzschean theme and a bitcoin theme, is your guide, then those things are radically distinct from the basic parts of postmodernism as a socioeconomic or cultural phenomenon which is to do basically with the elaboration of credit structures. There is a sort of quite explicit attempt to say that derivatives trading is this kind of limit for philosophical possibility in a way that is very, I think, postmodern actually because this elaboration of credit structures is really the postmodern attitude.
—and the second more direct, although still sufficiently encrypted.
MB Now that we have this kind of regression into the Christian myth, what does it tell us about …
NL Where we are? I don’t know. But I’m sure it tells us something, because I see this so commonly. On the left this increasingly explicit reanimation of Christianity is very strong. You see it in Badiou, you see it in Žižek, even Angela Nagle’s Kill All Normies ends up basically revalorizing a certain set of Christian values to set against what she sees as a deterioration into a sort of nihilistic, Nietzschean cultural attitude. Then on the right, I would particularly single out Peter Thiel’s use of René Girard. I think Girard is really key in this respect. Not only is he very interesting, his work is one of the most ingenious lines for this Christian cultural restoration. But then Peter Thiel converts it into economics. His book Zero to One is a kind of paean to Girard and converts him into the language of economic competition and business strategy and all of these great colloquial capitalist registers. He does it with an incredible competence. So there’s a full spectrum. The process of Christian reanimation happening, I think, has a lot to do with the fact that the world is becoming multipolar.