From its birth in the 18th century, political economy has never been anything but an art of governing populations. Scarcity had to be avoided if riots were to be avoided and wealth produced to increase the power of the sovereign. “The surest way for all government is to rely on the interests of men,” said Hamilton. If insurrection is what lies in wait for the sovereign just as death lies in wait for the living, political economy is a counter-insurrectional science from the start. In this sense, every economic crisis is to be understood politically. And the only possible measure of capitalism’s state of crisis is the degree of organization, the level of strength of those who are combating it.
Whether a ‘resilient’ future of perpetual crisis management (where Manhattan huddles behind storm walls and we’re shoveling water out of the basements, learning to be grateful for MREs) or a future composed of screens and contact lenses to analyze our tears (for Google even our sorrow can be reduced to information and feedback) — we see two versions of the same bleak, intolerable future.
But the center of the machine is empty, and glory is nothing but the splendor that emanates from this emptiness, the inexhaustible kabhod that at once reveals and veils the central vacuity of the machine.
Giorgio Agamben, 'The Kingdom and the Glory'
The first police officer at the scene of Tupac Shakur’s 1996 drive-by murder has revealed the last words spoken by the late rap legend. And they’re not exactly peaceful.”He looked at me, and he took a breath to get the words out, and he opened his mouth,” says Chris Carroll, a retired sergeant with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, … “And then the words came out: ‘Fuck you.’”
Why do all the clerks and navies in the railway trains look so sad and tired, so very sad and tired? I will tell you. It is because they know that the train is going right. It is because they know that whatever place they have taken a ticket for that place they will reach. It is because after they have passed Sloane Square they know that the next station must be Victoria, and nothing but Victoria. Oh, their wild rapture! Oh, their eyes like stars and their souls again in Eden, if the next station were unaccountably Baker street!
Lucian Gregory in 'The Man Who Was Thursday' by G. K. Chesterson
One day I shall be laid low by a stroke, and then everything, all these confusions, this longing, this unknowing, all this, the gratitude and ingratitude, this telling lies and self-deception, this thinking that one knows and yet never knowing anything, will come to an end. But I want to live, no matter how.
Robert Walser, 'Jakob Von Gunten'
The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Would you offer violence to a well intentioned virus on its slow road to symbiosis?
William S. Burroughs, 'Electronic Revolution'
She could see the image of her son, who lived on the other side of the earth, and he could see her… . “What is it, dearest boy?” … “I want you to come and see me.” “But I can see you!” she exclaimed. “What more do you want?” … “I can see something like you … but I do not see you. I hear something like you through this phone, but I do not hear you.” The imponderable bloom, declared by discredited philosophy to be the actual essence of intercourse, was ignored by the machine.
E. M. Forster, 'The Machine Stops'