On the problem of visualizing and describing totalities – a defense of cartographic thinking?

“For many then totality is conspiracy – a category by the metaphysical desire for
coherence and the hubris of intellectual mastery. Yet capitalism as a totality is devoid of
an easily grasped command-and-control-centre. That is precisely why it poses an
aesthetic problem, in the sense of demanding ways of representing the complex and
dynamic relations intervening between the domains of production, consumption and
distribuition, and their strategic political mediations, ways of making the invisible


Bertolt Brecht on fascism in 1935

“we can cite the widespread view that bad conditions prevail in a number of countries as a result of barbarism. In this view, Fascism is a wave of barbarism which has descended upon some countries with the elemental force of a natural phenomenon. According to this view, Fascism is a new, third power beside (and above) capitalism and socialism; not only the socialist movement but capitalism as well might have survived without the intervention of Fascism. And so on. This is, of course, a Fascist claim; to accede to it is a capitulation to Fascism.”

“If anyone wishes to describe Fascism and war, great disasters which are not natural catastrophes, he must do so in terms of a practical truth. He must show that these disasters are launched by the possessing classes to control the vast numbers of workers who do not own the means of production. If one wishes successfully to write the truth about evil conditions, one must write it so that its avertible causes can be identified. If the preventable causes can be identified, the evil conditions can be fought.”

Bertolt Brecht


Concerning “cartographic thinking”

“Arguably the language of cartography and planning allows the political and aesthetic
problems of representation or ‘figuration’ to be given a more concrete cast, a rooting in
everyday life. Conversely, we should also be sensitive to the deeply ideological character
of textual metaphors projected onto urban space, which […] are features of the modern
abstraction of space. Beyond the contemplation of the ‘image’ of the city, mapping is
above all a practical task involving an individual’s successful, or unsuccessful,
negotiation of urban space.”

Ronell on the discursive veil of naturality

derrida crazy

“war teaches us that the violence it unleashes is not natural or physical in the first place, but that the concept of violence belongs to the symbolic order of law, politics or morals […] But there’s the catch: Desert Storm masks itself as a natural catastrophe, it seems to have concealed itself in the language of natural eruption.”

          Avital Ronell               –

Nesrine Malik on populism and the dangers of centrism and obfuscation of the real problem

“There is a fundamental error in this thinking. It assumes the results of populist politicking are in fact its sources. Clinton believes she is on to something, but it is offering nothing new. In the past two years accepting the populist version of events and painting the left as out of touch has become a genre of its own, a strain of thought that holds that the success of the immigration rhetoric of populists is organic, inevitable and a “backlash” of some sort, rather than one of several ways that populist politicians build grievance. National populism is thus “unstoppable”, it is the revolt of the “somewheres” against the “anywheres”“white self-interest”, a “whiteshift”. Clinton’s “beat them at their own game” strategy is the default position on the establishment centre, a capitulation of laziness, defeatism and gullibility.


It also doesn’t work. It is one of the enduring perplexities of centrist politics, one whose adherents attack the left for being unrealistic and unconcerned with electoral victory, that on immigration it has stuck to pandering to xenophobia despite the benefit of that never materialising at the ballot box.


You cannot outflank the right by adopting its promises, that way you only end up as its handmaiden.”


My visit to the Creto di Burri and Nuovo Gibellina – Oct 2018

“The Cretto di Burri (crack of Burri) or Cretto di Gibellina (crack of Gibellina), also known as “The Great Cretto”, is a landscape artwork which undertaken by Alberto Burri in 1984 and was left in an unfinished state in 1989 (due to lack of funds),[1][2] based on the old city of Gibellina. The original city of Gibellina was completely destroyed in the 1968 Belice earthquake.[3] Gibellina has since been rebuilt, about 20 km from the city’s original location. In 2015 to mark what would have been Burri’s one hundredth birthday the work was completed at last.[4]”



The Alienated City


“[…]the alienated city is above all a space in which people are unable to map (in their
minds) either their own positions or the urban totality in which they find themselves […]
Disalienation in the traditional city, then, involves the practical reconquest of a sense of
place and the construction or reconstructions of an articulated ensemble which can be
retained in memory, and which the individual subject can map and remap along the
moments of mobile, alternative trajectories.”