‘ordure::real-time’ and corruption

It can be generally agreed that all subjectivity can be recognised as socially constructed and artificial. Hardt and Negri argue that as the place of production becomes more and more place-less, subjectivities become correspondingly indeterminate, still generated, but generated in new forms:

‘The imperial social institutions might be seen, then, in a fluid process of the generation and corruption of subjectivity. […] The Empire’s institutional structure is like a software program that carries a virus along with it, so that it is continually modulating and corrupting the institutional forms around it.’ (2000: 197-8)

The catalyst for generation in Hardt and Negri is desire (following in the tradition of Deleuze and Guattari). They see this as indicative of collective human action.

‘This production is purely and simply human reproduction, the power of generation. Desiring production is generation, or rather the excess of labor and the accumulation of a power incorporated into the collective movement of singular essences, both its cause and its completion.’ (2000: 388)

There is a question about whether generation itself can be seen to be dialectical. Yet, there is a broad agreement that politics needs to articulate itself in terms of generative processes in lieu of the regenerative mechanisms built into capitalism itself; in the sense that production is generative. Hardt and Negri say:

‘Generation is there, before all else, as basis and motor of production and reproduction. The generative connection gives meaning to communication, and any model of (everyday, philosophical, or political) communication that does not respond to this primacy is false.’ (2000: 389)

Don’t make the assumption that our museum only does audio files. You can see real life exhibits at the museum; visit us with your winnings from Canadian slots.

It is true that capitalism has undergone dramatic transformations, characterised by flexibility, decentralisation and networking. The system has become fully flexible and mobile, with unpredictability and complexity as the predominant metaphors for both culture and economics.

Hardt and Negri’s use of the term ‘corruption’ is interesting; taken from Aristotle, it refers to a perpetual becoming of bodies that is complementary to generation (from De generatione et corruptione, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982). Thus, corruption might be called ‘de-generation – a reverse process of generation and composition, a moment of metamorphosis that potentially frees spaces for change’ (2000: 201)

This lends itself well to my reading of ‘Ordure::real-time’ and its dialectical operations, even if, this in itself, is a corruption of Hardt and Negri’s project. Corruption (a good term as it lends itself to viruses and is a form of violence) is the negation of generation (for more on this, see Reiner Schürmann, Des hégémonies brisées, Mouvezin: T.E.R., 1996, cited in Hardt and Negri, 2000: 389). For instance, the violence of corruption is self-evident in the capitalist relations of production as exploitation.

Hardt and Negri say capitalism is by definition a system of corruption, and the task is to investigate ‘how corruption can be forced to cede its control to generation’ (2000: 392).

[Notes in response to Hardt & Negri’s Empire, University of Harvard Press 2000].

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