Reading Group: NOTHINGS INTO SOMETHINGS

NOTHINGS INTO SOMETHINGS is a series of public events that I have organised with my peers from Postcapitalist Desire, the module created and taught by Mark Fisher at Goldsmiths College from November 2016 until his tragic passing in January 2017. Since then, we have decided to continue the course in the form of student-led seminars with Mark’s friends, colleagues and those inspired by his work joining the conversation.

Besides these seminars, our research culminates in the NOTHINGS INTO SOMETHINGS series. It takes the form of reading groups and workshops, whose aim is to collectively speculate about what could be the desire for Postcapitalism and how to make it work. This happens through the discussion of a list of key terms: Desire, Debt/Subjectivity, Future/Time, Terminology/Consciousness, and Work/Post-work.

Calendar:

6th May 2017
“We Want It All”, organised by Alex Hull and Amy Jones
Platform Southwark, London

Through a day of conversation, screenings and talks, we will explore a variety of approaches to the relationship between culture, desire and capitalism, with contributions from academics and artists including Kodwo Eshun, Lawrence Lek, Louis Moreno and Laura Oldfield Ford.

11th May 2017
“Postcapitalist Economics: Towards a post-debt production of subjectivity”, led by Eloy V. Palazón
Goldsmiths College, London

Why to talk about subjectivity in a session dedicated to Economics? What comes first, economic policies or the shape of a subjectivity aligned with the socioeconomic aims? Finance capital generates a special form of reification and debt is the touchstone of a complex schema where the work on the self is anchored in new means of control. Since the Volker shock (1979), when nominal rates were more than doubled, up to the financial crisis of 2008, debt has been the crux of the power relations and the production and control of subjectivity. The latter event, was, contrary to what would be expected, a reinforced movement of finance capital (or in cybernetic argot, positive feedback, that is, the increasing of the perturbation in response to the perturbation itself). Does it hint that we can’t imagine other modes of socioeconomic subjectivities? Is subjectivity also tangled in the capitalist realism trap? Is there no alternative to the current way to work on the self?

15th May 2017
“Terminology: Neologisms vs Repurposing Concepts”, led by Bryony James
Goldsmiths College, London

This session will think through these ideas and discuss methodologies of consciousness raising. We will be reading the brandalism manifesto, adding to a glossary of useful terms and considering how to visualise our desires.

19th May 2017
“Drawn Futures – Starting with the end”, led by Rola Daniels and Sabine Sieben
Goldsmiths College, London

How do we imagine our future? Through Baudrillard’s “The Millennium, or The Suspense of the Year 2000” in ‘The Vital Illusion, we will look at overcoming difficulties in producing futures. If we imagine how something will play out in the future, it never happens as envisioned. The expectations, like those of this significant date, become problematic. Can we apply this way of thinking to postcapitalism? How do we imagine a future beyond Capitalism?

22nd May 2017
“IT’S NOT MONDAYS YOU HATE, IT’S YOUR JOB”, led by Vivian Poon and Bianca Stoppani
Goldsmiths College, London

It may be difficult for us to imagine what work was like before the invention of wage labour. Before the industrial revolution, the concept of work entailed a different set of meanings and cultural connotations. 
The notion of ‘work’ as we understand and perform it now, while faced with challenges at the early stages of its development, has now become normalised and has taken over the centre place in the life of the individual and of society. Moreover, the invention of waged work and unemployment directly affects our values of judgement on an array of concepts surrounding work, such as social identity/work ethics/laziness/unpaid-labour etc., which also shapes the way one’s time and worth are appraised monetarily.
This means also that cognitive and manual labour differs only in pretence, as long as work is inextricably linked with money, they will continue to be a disparaging and dehumanising experience for people. This may be helpful to identify wage labour as a pivotal cogwheel of capitalist realism and to strategize a post-work consensus. 
By unpacking the notion of work as the mythological construct that it has become in today’s society, we will discuss not only how to renegotiate the junction between work and creativity but also imagine a shared future.

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