Radical media, politics and culture.

Autonomy, Composition, and the Radical Imagination Seminar Vilnius October 9-10

Autonomy, Composition, and the Radical Imagination Seminar with Stevphen Shukaitis, Vilnius Free University (Laisvasis Universitetas) October 9th – 10th, 2008

Thursday October 9th, in gallery “Kaire-Desine” (Left-Right), Latako Street 3, Vilnius. 6pm. Friday October 10th, in Contemporary Art Centre, Vokieciu Street 2, Vilnius. 6pm.

What is the nature of the radical imagination? Drawing from autonomist and anarchist politics, class composition analysis, and avant-garde arts, this seminar will explore the emergence, functioning, and constant break down of the resistant social imaginary: the continual cycles of composition, decomposition, and recomposition of the potentiality of struggles composed by capacities created within social movement. It is these cycles of composition, the circulation of struggle, which compose the revolutions of everyday life. To invoke the imagination as underlying and supporting radical politics, over the past forty years, has become a cliché. A rhetorical utilization of ideas that are already in circulation, invoking the mythic unfolding of this self-institutionalizing process of circulation. But what exactly is radical imagination? And more specifically, what are the compositional capacities created by the emergence, transformation, mutation, and decomposition of collective imagination within social movements? Imagination is not something that is ahistorical, derived from nothing, but an ongoing relationship and material capacity constituted by social interactions between bodies. While liberatory impulses might point to a utopian (no)where that is separate from the present, it is necessary to point from somewhere, from a particular situated imagining. The task of a radical politics is one of understanding and renewal of forms of self-organization and the imagination. These are questions fruitfully approached through a renewal of militant research, workers inquiry, and class composition analysis, which will be explored.

This seminar will investigate the construction of imaginal machines, that is, the socially, historically embedded and embodied manifestations of the radical imagination. Imagination, not as something possessed by individuals, but rather the composition of capacities to affect and be affected by the world developed movements toward creating forms of autonomous sociality and collective self-determination. What does it mean to invoke the power of the imagination when it seems that the imagination has already seized power (through media flows and the power of the spectacle)? Does any subversive potentiality remain, or are we left with simply more avenues for the rejuvenation of questionable fields of power and rearticulating regimes of accumulation? Perhaps it is only honest to think in terms of a temporally bounded subversive power, one that like the mayfly has its day in the sun. It might be that imaginal machines, like all desiring machines, only work by breaking down. That is, their functioning is only possible, paradoxically, by their malfunctioning. By reopening the question of recuperation, the inevitable drive to integrate the power of social insurgency back into the working of capital and the state, we create possibilities for exploring a politics continually reconstituted against and through the dynamics of recuperation, to keep open an antagonism without closure that is continually recomposed. To develop tools necessary in resisting the continual subdivision and suburbanization of the radical imagination.

Biography: Stevphen Shukaitis is a lecturer at the University of Essex. He is a member of the Autonomedia Editorial collective and is the editor (with Erika Biddle and David Graeber) of Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations // Collective Theorization (AK Press, 2007). For more on his writing and projects see http://stevphen.mahost.org. For more about his work in Lithuanian, see Juodrastis Number 1 (2008) and Balsas.cc.