S E M I N A R was started in 2013 by artists Thompson Harris and Essye Klempner. The group meets monthly to discuss philosophical and aesthetic texts by a wide range of authors such as Aristotle, Ranciere, Agamben, WJT Mitchell. Participants with a diverse set of backgrounds, ranging from artists to scientists, suggest and select the readings for the Group.
CALIBAN AND THE WITCH
TUESDAY, APRIL 25, 7:30 PM
The upcoming seminar will focus on Silvia Federici's work around the female body, Marxism, and the expropriation of free labor for profit. Silvia Federici co-founded the International Wages for Housework Campaign in 1972 which created a never-before-seen global platform to raise awareness of the sexist exploitation inherent in housework, childcare, and general "carework," fundamental to all forms of capitalist systems. Silvia Federici is an Italian-American feminist scholar, teacher, and activist whose groundbreaking work expands on Marxism to explore the relationship between capitalism and gender--specifically division, alienation, and exploitation of the female body.
The Housework Campaign was the first entity to propose that this carework--emotional, mental, and physical labor, historically demanded of women without pay--actually deserves monetary compensation equal to other forms of labor. Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation, one of Federici's most well-known books, is the focus of this SEMINAR. By connecting the expropriation of free female labor, both reproductive and otherwise, Federici outlines the historic struggle of land displacement, communalism, and the transitioning of Feudalism into early Capitalism in the 1500s in Western Europe. The chapter cited will continue our discussion of displacement--the expulsion of women, femme spirit from their own body.
1Silvia Federici—Caliban and the Witch—Chapter 2: The Accumulation of Labor and the Degradation of Women
2Marx, vol. I, part VIII, chapters 26–33 of Capital, "Primitive Accumulation”
2Silvia Federici—youtube interview
January 31, 2017
Taking cues from Donna Harraway’s concept of “Companion Species” this upcoming Seminar will continue the arc away from an anthropocentric world view by looking at Eduardo Kohn’s recent book “How Forests Think”, an anthropological look beyond the human. Kohn’s book strides towards communication and thinking with the nonhuman through alternative means such as Charles Peirce inspired semiotics by bringing together humans, plants, physical processes, artifacts, and images with a more embracing semiosis. Set in Ecuador, Kohn’s book focuses on the Runa people a population set in the densely forested foothills of the Andes.
Wednesday, April 20, 7 PM
S E M I N A R will be discussing the work of Alain Badiou, lead by Zach Cummings (download the texts from links below).
"For dialectical materialism, one has to think a Two prior to multiplicity--and the key question is: how are we to think this Two with regard to the Void? Is One simply not yet there in the primordial Void? Or, is this very lack of One a positive fact? Badiou goes for the first option, Lacan for the second." - Slavoj Zizek, p.265, "Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism"
"Alain Badiou is a French philosopher with a background in mathematics. Badiou has written about the concepts of being, truth, event, and the subject in a way that, he claims, is neither postmodern nor simply a repetition of modernity. Badiou has been involved in a number of political organisations, and regularly comments on political events. He argues for resurrecting the idea of communism.
In part I of "Being and Event," Badiou lays the foundation for his ontology based on multiplicities of infinitely divisible multiplicities whose only substance is the void itself. Although I have attached the entire first part, I think we should focus on the first meditation, pages 23-30. Don't worry about reading the rest of the text if you don't have time. If you are interested in reading more Badiou, but you don't want to get bogged down in the technical details, read meditations 2 and 6 on Plato and Aristotle, respectively. If you want to fully understand the details of his ontology, then you can read the full text, including meditations 3, 4, and 5. These three sections rely heavily on set theory."
1Badiou Being and Event Meditation.1 pg.23-30
1Badiou Being and Event Meditation. 2 & 6
2Badiou Being and Event Meditation. (FULL TEXT)
Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 7 PM
S E M I N A R will be discussing the work of Alfred North Whitehead in relation to Plato (download the texts from links below). Guest Nathan Oglesby will lead the discussion.
"In the 1920's and 30's, in a scientific and philosophical climate characterized by the strangeness and ineffability of the emerging quantum physics, A.N. Whitehead presented a metaphysical system concerned with explicating "the becoming, the being and the relatedness of ‘actual entities’. An example of an actual entity might be an electron or another subatomic particle. An “actual entity” can be synonymously referred to as an “actual occasion” because it exists only insofar as it emerges from its state of relation with other actual occasions. Macrocosmic entities like trees, people, cars and dolphins are “societies” of such occasions, exhibiting proportionally ever more complex matrices of interrelation in their integration of constituent occasions.
The system draws heavily, if surprisingly, from Platonic thought insofar as it requires that the actual occasions themselves be understood as acquiring their definiteness by virtue of their selecting and exhibiting “forms of definiteness” which Whitehead terms “eternal objects,” analogous to the transcendent "Platonic forms." Perhaps even more surprisingly, via Whitehead this and other Platonic notions (mostly from the cosmological account given in the Timaeus) have in recent history made their way into conversations about the philosophical consequences of quantum physics."
1Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, "Science and Philosophy" and "God"
2Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought, "Forms of Process"
Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 7 PM
S E M I N A R will be discussing two texts (linked), followed by a screening of As You See (1986) by Harun Farocki, courtesy of Greene Naftali Gallery.
The discussion will start at 7:00 PM prior to the screening at 8:30 PM. Please join us for either or both.
—Interview with Harun Farocki and Thomas Elsaesser
—Painting Pavement by Volker Siebel
As You See (1986) by Harun Farocki
Tuesday, July 21, 2015, 7 PM
S E M I N A R will be discussing animism through two e-flux journal texts (linked), published in conjunction with the "Animism" exhibition (2012) curated by Anselm Franke. Following the discussion will be a screening of Assemblages (2010 - ), a long-term audiovisual research project on Félix Guattari by Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizo Lazzarato.
—Anselm Franke Animism: Notes on an Exhibition
—"Diedrich Diederichsen Animation, De-reification, and the New Charm of the Inanimate"
Assemblages (2010-) by Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizo Lazzarato
The film is a 60-minute jaunt through Gilles Deleuze's and Félix Guattari's writings with particular interest paid to the revolutionary psychiatric practice of Félix Guattari, his political activism, his ideas on ecosophy, and his interest in animism.
Thursday June 4th, 2015, 7 PM
S E M I N A R will focus on will focus on Set Theory. We are thankful to have Rachel Levanger, artist and PhD candidate in Mathematics at Rutgers University, who has generously offered to lead the introduction.
—Intro to Set Theory, presentation by Rachel Levanger
—Evening ends with a game of Set
1David Hilbert's "On the Infinite," which more or less begins where the formalistic approach to mathematical set theory starts taking off.
2George Boolos' "The Iterative Conception of Set," which picks up after Russell and Gödel and touches on the current state of affairs with the Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms we use today.
Note: It is not important to completely understand the mathematical symbolism of the logic in the texts. Read what you can/would like, and the discussion will situate the selected readings against the backdrop of the history and development of set theory.