File spoon-archives/spoon-announcements.archive/spoon-announcements_2004/spoon-announcements.0411, message 3

Subject: SPOON-ANN: Capturing the Moving Mind: ephemera trans-siberian conference: 10-20 Sept 2005
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 15:15:04 -0000

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Call for Papers

Capturing the Moving Mind: Management and Movement in the Age of Permanently
Temporary War

An ephemera conference on the Trans-Siberian train
(Moscow-Novosibirsk-Beijing), 10-20 September 2005 

In September 2005 a meeting will take place on the Trans-Siberian train from
Moscow via Novosibirsk to Beijing. The purpose of this meeting is a
'cosmological' one. We would like to gather a group of people, researchers,
philosophers, artists and others interested in the changes going on in
society and engaged in changing society as their own moving image, an image
of time. Spatially moving bodies and bodies moving in time (through the
different time zones) could create an event, a meeting that not really 'is'
but 'is going on'.

Today it is impossible to restrict production to the closed time and place
of the 'factory-office'. Production has become spatially boundless and
temporarily endless: the factory-office and its borders have dissolved into
society, into a multitude of productive singularities whose productivity
cannot be reduced to actual production, to any actual mode of existence, to
any historical time. The labour force has rather increasingly detached from
its spatial, physical and biological aspects and become a 'mental category'.
The generic human capacities - intellect, perception and
linguistic-relational abilities - which make human beings 'humans', have
replaced machinery and direct labour in the core of value creation. The
mental labour force does not have strict spatial and temporal coordinates;
it rather moves in time and unrolls over the boundaries and hierarchies of
space. To understand the changed dynamics of creation and the social
cooperation at its centre we must perhaps move beyond the borders and beyond
the immediately visible.

Yet the constitutive political problem in today's knowledge society, or
knowledge economy, is not that different from what it was in industrial
capitalism: how to govern, organize and control the labour force. But it is
impossible to organize, control and locate cooperation between minds through
the place it belongs to and through the deeds it does. The new forms of
organization and control, like the permanently temporary war, arise
precisely from the insufficiency of power in a situation where
institutionalized modern forms of power confront 'unclassified' people:
moving people, people in trains, singularities, individuals whose actions
and orientation cannot be figured on the basis of their belonging to this or
that community, or on the basis of performing this or that task; that is,
when power confronts human beings as bare humans. To be able to organize and
control human beings as bare human beings, the new forms of control cannot
afford to be withheld or slowed down by any particular institution and their
particular tasks, but they must target the possibilities of life in general
(both corporeal and incorporeal).

By opposing traditional disciplinary conceptions of power and the concept of
control, it is possible to say that power operates on particular actions and
subjects in space. Its target is the physical or biological human being.
Power seeks its justification from particular institutions and their
functions (the factory produces goods, the hospital takes care of illness,
research is done in the university, the army takes care of war). Control,
instead, operates on the bare conditions of action, on the possibilities of
life in general. Unlike the modern logic of power, which always needs an
institutional context and a normal state to justify itself, the new form of
control avoids committing itself to any particular institution and its
particular task. It rather seeks legitimacy from public opinion and the
ethically right: ethics and obscure 'public opinion' replace formal law and
its institutions as the basis of legitimacy. Control does not have any
external reason to refer to, no fixed point of reference or legitimacy (like
formal law or a particular task of an institution). It does not have any
particular task or specific boundary (of an institution and its task). There
is rather 'no sense', 'no reason' in it: it is uncontrolled by fixed reason
or faculty of judgment; it is lacking in restraint. It is full of sound and
fury and signifies nothing.

But there is method in this madness. Through this method, the human body,
which constitutes the fundamental natural resource of the 'knowledge
society' and reproduces the productive power of human intelligence, is used
and kept from moving by means freed from any political or legal constraint.
Movement has always its corporeal aspects: movement is movement of bodies
and bodies in movement. It is here that we may begin to understand the
exchange relation between a barrel of oil and a child killed in Iraq,
between privatisation and destruction of human community: the new formless
form of war, the mad war, as a non-state, non-institutional form of
intervention, is the logical 'form' of organization and control within an
economy that has become biopolitical. The permanently temporary warfare and
its 'enduring freedom' constitute a new political economy that tries to make
bodies usable as mere living organisms on a world scale. The
immaterialization of the labour force is intimately connected to the raw
materialization of the human body.

We call for proposals for papers, interventions, works of art and other
ideas that try to cross fixed boundaries and are open to the contaminating
influences of the continents we will be passing through during our journey.
The experiment begins in Moscow where the current Russian condition is laid
before us in bare by some of the most critical Russian intellectuals. This
will be followed by a three-day seminar on the Trans-Siberian train as it
moves towards Novosibirsk, our next stop in Siberia, where the meeting will
be hosted by the department of Economics at Novosibirsk State University for
one day. The party goes then on to Beijing where a final roundtable with
Chinese social scientists will be held (the meeting is planned to take place
at Qinghua University, Beijing).

Please submit proposals (500 to 1000 words) to Demola Obembe
( by 31 January 2005. Notification regarding acceptance
will be given by 28 February 2005. Unfortunately, the number of participants
is limited due to the nature of this project. The participation fee is
estimated to be around 1000 Euros (including travel from Moscow to Beijing,
accommodation and boarding in Moscow, Novosibirsk and Beijing). Alternative
ways to participate in the project are possible and should be discussed with
the organizers.

For further information, please contact the organizers at 

The conference is supported by:
ephemera: theory and politics in organization 
Ground Zero: Conflitti Globali


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