'Filosofía pirata, edición libre', discussion with Perro Tuerto y Pucho (El Rancho Electrónico) y Gabriela Méndez Cota (Universidad Iberoamericana) for the Mexico city radio station Ibero, September 12, 2019.

Open Humanities Press – The Inhumanist Manifesto

Pirate Philosophy, This Is Not A Pipe Podcast

HyperCritical Theory

Übercapitalism and What Can Be Done About It

Recent publications

Masked Media (limited edition paper-only publication for The House That Heals The Soul exhibition, Tetley, Leeds, 2018) 

 The Inhumanist Manifesto: Extended Play (Techne Lab, 2017)

Open Access

Most of Gary's work is freely available to read and download either here in Media Gifts or in Coventry University's online repositories PURE here, and CURVE here 

Radical Open Access

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#MySubjectivation IV: The university as academic subjectivation machine

If the university, like the school, is ‘becoming less and less a closed site differentiated from the workspace as another closed site’, the same can be said of another important aspect of how the control economy and its media technologies is inventing us and our own knowledge work, philosophy and minds: academic publishing.  This can likewise be seen to be undergoing a process of transition: from the walled, disciplinary gardens represented by scholarly associations, learned societies, university presses and so on, to more open, fluid environments. 

Witness the emphasis currently placed by governments, funding agencies and institutional managers on the more rapid, efficient and competitive means of publishing and circulating academic work associated with the movement for open access. Publishing research and data on such an open basis is heralded as being beneficial by these key players as it facilitates the production of journal and article level-metrics for national research assessment exercises, international league tables and other forms of continuous control through auditing, monitoring and measuring processes (including the REF in the UK, the panels of which now include members drawn from the business community). It also helps to expand existing markets and generate new markets and services. (Tools for metrics and citation indices are frequently owned by corporations, as in the case of Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science and Elsevier’s Scopus.) The push for open access and open data on the part of governments, funding agencies and institutional managers can thus be said to dovetail all too seamlessly with the neoliberal philosophy that assigns universities the task of carrying out the basic research the private sector has neither time, money nor inclination to conduct for itself, while nevertheless granting the latter access to that research and the associated data to enable their commercial application and exploitation. (This explains why David Willetts, the UK Minister of State for Universities and Science, is so willing to support a version of ‘Gold’, ‘author-pays’, open access, even though there exist many more radical and responsible ways of achieving open access, as I have argued elsewhere on this site.)
Further evidence of a movement in academic publishing toward the kind of open and dispersed spaces associated with Deleuze’s thesis is provided by the large number of researchers who are currently taking advantage of the opportunities to acquire authority and increase the size of their ‘academic footprint’ that are offered by the dominant corporate social media and social networks. As with other areas of the control economy, social networks such as Facebook and Google+ are characterized by a ‘compulsory individuality’ (a term Beverley Skeggs adopts with reference to reality TV).  You can’t use a pseudonym on Google+, unless you are a celebrity known by such a pseudonym. The only way to join and take part in such corporate networks is through one’s own personal profile. By taking responsibility on themselves for managing, promoting and marketing their work, ideas and ‘charismatic’ individual, authorial personalities in this way using networked digital media technologies,   academics can be seen to be caught in modern capital’s subjectivation machine just as much as the workers ‘Bifo’ and Maurizio Lazzarato describe:

Capitalization is one of the techniques that must contribute to the worker's transformation into ‘human capital'. The latter is then personally responsible for the education and development, growth, accumulation, improvement and valorization of the ‘self' in its capacity as ‘capital'. This is achieved by managing all its relationships, choices, behaviours according to the logic of a costs/investment ratio and in line with the law of supply and demand. Capitalization must help to turn the worker into ‘a kind of permanent, multipurpose business'. The worker is an entrepreneur and entrepreneur of her/himself, ‘being her/his own capital, being her/his own producer, being her/his own source of revenue' (Foucault)…
This idea of the individual as an entrepreneur of her/himself  is the culmination of capital as a machine of subjectivation.

(Maurizio Lazzarato, ‘The Misfortunes of the “Artistic Critique” and of Cultural Employment’, in Gerald Raunig (ed.), Critique of Creativity: Precarity, Subjectivity and Resistance in the ‘Creative Industries’, London: MayFlyBooks, 2011, p. 47)

Consequently publishing today is not an activity academics take part in just for and at work: they publish, and act as entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of themselves, in all aspects of their life, in all their ‘relationships, choices, behaviours’.   

(Mez Breeze recently gave an example of how such entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship of themselves works in an art context, using the example of James Bridle and his attempt to promote the idea of The New Aesthetic via a panel at the 2012 SXSW, and on Tumblr:

The more I think about NA, the more I'm inclined to ponder whether Bridle is using it as an adjunct promotional strategy that mimics start-up/entrepreneurial frameworks: grab a manifest-yet-still-edge-worthy-to-some spinable idea, run it through a concept grinder and link it with a delivery system (in this case, the dangling carrot-bait of merging digital concepts with physical that theorists/academics/creatives/intellectuals just can't resist, with high profile figures being drawn to pontification + publicizing). This 'debate bait' then actualises as an emergent discourse with assured (built-in) funding/exposure strategies through clever generation of its own marketing/PR machine - complete with monetisation through conference creation + academic publications/hype/circuit creation - rather than it acting to ideologically frame a legitimately culturally relevant paradigm that highlights 'new' corresponding forms of cultural interpretations regarding the fusion of the digital and physical?

I'm not trying to assert that Bridle is intentionally aping this entrepreneurial strategy, but just having a quick examination of his previous attempts to kick-start (using this term in an oldskool sense, not in the crowdfunding model sense) buzz-worthy/coinable frames of reference such as his 2010 labelling attempt: 'I want to give it a name, and at this point I’m calling it Network Realism', or ideas evidenced on his 'hand-drawn' website: to his audition 'tape' for TED2013: makes me curious?

(Mez Breeze, ‘The New Aesthetic: Seeing Like Machines, posting to the empire mailing list, September 13, 2012))

With as many as a third of scholars reported to be on Twitter, to provide just one example, the separation between work and non-work is becoming difficult for many academics to maintain.  Is it work, leisure or play when you’re monitoring Twitter steams, writing an entry on your WordPress blog, gathering Google+ ‘circles’ to network with, adding a bookmark to Delicious, tagging a photograph on Pinterest, or detailing your ‘likes’ on Facebook regarding the books you read? Even if these are forms of leisure, are they ways of spending free time, or of controlling it?

If Deleuze’s idea of the control society is to be taken seriously as a critique of political economy and of power relations between the social and the technical, then, as Stiegler suggests it is (although, as I will show in future posts, a question mark can be placed against just how seriously he actually takes this critique himself), it clearly has significant implications for academic work. The manner in which it is increasingly being formed, organised, categorized, managed, published, disseminated, marketed and promoted now appears as a  means by which the attention of academics, too, is captured and their thought and behaviour modified, homogenized and sold to entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, shareholders and advertisers along with governments, university managers and funding agencies. (Basically, the message is, you need to join everyone else and do this, you need to publish on an open access, open data basis, and contribute to the upsurge of user generated content on websites, mobile phone apps, social and mobile sites if you want to be up-to-date, keep in touch with what’s happening, network, build your career, increase your readership and citations, have ‘impact’.) Many of today’s university workers are thus left with very little time in which they are able to direct their attention free from these forms of control. The consequences are often not so different from the alienation, panic, depression, incivility and ‘I don’t-give-a-damn-ism’ ‘Bifo’, Stiegler and others have identified as being produced by the accelerated, over-stimulated, over-connected nature of daily life and work in other parts of modern capitalist society.

Another recent article in the UK academic press, this time lamenting the selfish and impolite behavior of many scholars at conferences who seem to be motivated more by personal ambition than public interest, testifies to this. It is a condition that apparently applies to keynote speakers especially, many of whom appear unable to keep to their allotted time, attend the whole conference (rather than just their particular session), or even craft a paper to suit its specific audience and theme:

The communities of practice that frame the world of academic production seem to have slipped into accepting an instrumental vision of paper-giving... It has been permeated by an acceptance of bad manners, poor self-discipline and limited commitment. … Perhaps this is just yet another manifestation of the corrosive impact of  an academic culture driven by performance indicators where individual scholars have come to be individually measured against a range of criteria (number and quality of publications, number of research bids submitted, amount of research income generated; amount of knowledge-transfer income brought in; number of supervised doctorates completed (on time); number of teaching hours; variety and extent of administrative functions; amount of esteem; extent of impact; student ratings; fit to the "university offer"). In pursuit of these targets, academics have become routinely instrumental in relation to their attempts to manage their time and their priorities.

(Charles Husband, ‘Discourse and Discoursity’, Times Higher Education, July 12, 2012, p.42)


('#MySubjectivation' I is below here, II here, and III here)


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