I’d like to elaborate, not all code is poetic. Poetic computation is not aestheticization of software. To me, it’s the exact opposite of the Silicon Valley catch phrase of “Code is beatiful.” I find it troubling how the technology industry tries to brand code as pretty candy. Code is not neutral, it’s used for massive exploitation and war machines. However, poetics is never without politics. Poetics, mechanics of words at play, can inspire and realize – restructure of power dynamic. When poetry meets logical thinking, words can bring accountability to automated society. Code can become a medium of self-expression, independence and a vehicle to decenter reliance on technology.
If psychoanalysis pretended to ask “What do women want?” it’s perhaps because colonial-capitalist culture is so focused on instructing men in what their dicks want and then giving it to them.
In moving from a metaphysics of the will to an anthropology of the passions, Lordon reframes what makes work work in our neoliberal, post-Fordist present. For Lordon, employers today rely less on the threat of starvation (a form of discipline he attributes to the epoch of industrial capitalism, that of Marx’s Britain) or on the shaping of desire through consumer goods (a form of subject formation he attributes to the epoch of Fordism) than they do on reconstructing work itself as a “source of immediate joy.” Lordon describes this process as “co-linearization.” Co-linearization aims to reduce the uncertainties that dog scenes of employment: The meeting of employer and employee is a meeting of two desires, each going their own way. The desire of the employee continually threatens to drift from the desire of the boss; the neoliberal workplace accordingly attempts to reduce this drift to zero, to get the employees’ desires to align to that of the firm’s.
In this alignment, capitalism moves beyond the “intrinsically sad” affects of industrial capitalism and the “extrinsically joyful” affects of Fordist consumerism; “the sting of the idea that ‘real life is elsewhere’” has been removed from the well-aligned worker. Joyful life is life spent working at the call center, at the Google campus, and so on. Capital today profits on humans’ capacities for affective survival, on our abilities to convert the bleakness of any situation into conditions for a different kind of flourishing. The desire to work becomes the last achievable desire available for those who have to work all the time anyhow; we desire it so we can keep desiring.
Lordon argues that the practice of liberation will entail becoming orthogonal or perpendicular to the boss’s line of desire. “Orthogonality,” he writes, “is a perfect disalignment, which may be a prelude to another realignment, this time negative, namely, open and antagonistic, on the same axis but in the opposite direction.” It is, in other words, a flight from reconstituted plantations to somewhere else, a refusal of work and work’s culture whose negative movement opens space for something new.
What these Jamaicans refuse is “general industriousness,” a culture of work that planters and colonial administrators hoped to foster to counteract the decline of plantations in the local condition of emancipation and the global condition of liberalized, post-mercantilist trade. What they are refusing, in other words, is the kind of cultural and affective co-linearization through which capitalists hoped to manage a crisis in production and accumulation. And they move into this orthogonal fugitivity, as Lordon suggests they must, with a smile, with a laugh, with a “malicious grin.”
The mystifying ideological claim that looting is violent and non-political is one that has been carefully produced by the ruling class because it is precisely the violent maintenance of property which is both the basis and end of their power. Looting is extremely dangerous to the rich (and most white people) because it reveals, with an immediacy that has to be moralized away, that the idea of private property is just that: an idea, a tenuous and contingent structure of consent, backed up by the lethal force of the state. When rioters take territory and loot, they are revealing precisely how, in a space without cops, property relations can be destroyed and things can be had for free.
Why demand one person love you when you could destroy the couple form as such and never have to worry about it again?