I have an essay in a new book from Duke UP, Cutting Across Media: Appropriation Art, Interventionist Collage and Copyright Law, edited by intellectual property theorist and prankster Kembrew McLeod and dada scholar Rudi Kuenzli. The essay, “Digital Mana: On the Infinite Proliferation of Mutant Copies in Contemporary Culture” is a pretty freewheeling spin through the work of Philip K. Dick and the late great graffiti sage Rammellzee, amongst others … taking the position that countercultures in the late twentieth century are very much concerned with the concept of infinity and how human beings can access it through various practices and counter-mathematics. I apply some of Alain Badiou’s work on the politics of how we think about infinity to some examples that probably Badiou would not be interested in … but generally, I think Badiou is right that our ability to imagine and enact social transformation is related to our understanding of number, and that which is beyond number. “Version like rain!” Generally speaking, it’s a great collection, with work by Siva Vaidhyanathan, Joshua Clover, Douglas Kahn, Craig Baldwin, Jeff Chang, Jonathan Lethem and many others ….
I’ll be giving a talk in London at the Middlesex U. Philosophy Department on Tuesday, March 1. Details here. This is one of the most progressive philosophy departments around and it’s a real honor to speak there, even more so since the department is under threat of being shut down and the site of a major struggle between faculty/students/supporters worldwide and the administration. I’ll be discussing some of my post-IPOC ideas about Buddhism and what the meaning of the word practice is, within Buddhism, but also more broadly in contemporary life. More specifically I’ll be reading the work of French philosopher Alain Badiou from a Buddhist perspective, which if you know Badiou’s post-Maoist, rigorously materialist philosophy at all, might sound like a highly improbable thing to do. The work involves rethinking Buddhism (or at least my own relation to Buddhism) as much as rethinking Badiou. I’ll save the details, which involve German Marxists Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin, Tibetan modernist Gedun Choephel, Chairman Mao, Cantor’s set theory amongst others, for the talk.
I participated in a very interesting panel at the Modern Language Association meeting in Los Angeles last weekend. Three of us, Tim Morton, author of Ecology Without Nature, Eric Cazdyn, author of the soon to be published The Already Dead, and I, discussing the relation between Buddhist practice and critical theory. All of us are responding in different ways to Slavoj Zizek’s comments over the last decade concerning Buddhism. Eric explored the relationship between psychoanalytic cure, Marxist utopia and Buddhist enlightenment. Tim looked at what he calls Buddhaphobia, and read Zizek against some of Lacan’s comments on Buddhism made after his trip to Japan in the early 1960s. I explored a series of moments in modern Tibetan Buddhist history and literature in an attempt to show the ways in which Alain Badiou’s thought resonates with the history and practice of Buddhism. You can listen to the audio of the talks here.