• the beauty of shared practice over individual role
• something problematic happens when it ossifies into the figure, the organizer
• we’ve already been cut
• we’re among the least prepared to join an organization
• the struggle you’re in is the living proof that we’re the least able to organize
• who’s unfit, who needs to get fit, for organizing
• the undercommons: there were moments where we could have been more clear
• regret calling people stupid motherfuckers
• things to clarify: the undercommons is not a book about the university, it’s not. we allowed people to imagine that we were absolving the figure of the subversive intellectual, but rather it was a diagnostic
• there is no way to rise above complicity but rather to practice an alternative, a shared practice rather than individual roles
• how to be in and not of: better to say “against and against” the university. we are constantly in antagonism with the university. there is no way to separate our job from our work. the job is bad, the work is good … but we’re paid to do the good part. teaching the students is the job too, we’re always in antagonism with the conditions of the job. how to define a more radical form of complicity — rather than extract individually from the university, we build up unseen accomplices and undermine the steady ability of the university to frame us. others are there, seen and unseen. conspiracy without applaud. we can only leave together, whatever wealth we have we hold in common.
• can there be a moment that is an exodus
• our thing vs the struggle against them
• abolition: extends beyond the false stopping point of emancipation
• abolition is a general problematic. it can’t just be the abolition of this or that, the most egregious of the institutions at the moment. it has to be a general abolition of all of those institutions. then it becomes possible to understand the relationships between these institutions.
• Foucault allows us to understand the alignment of the clinic, the prison, the school as fundamental institutional structures that needs to be abolished if we’re going to survive.
• abolition vs exodus: the black radical tradition has always been lived on the ground by black working class people. abolition and leaving are bound up in various ways.
• Ruth Wilson Gilmore: abolition is about being present in a different way. presence. abolition, exodus, presence. doing shit differently right now, right where we are right now. in doing shit differently right now we leave the here and now and fucked up present in the interest of a making of a new presence that we enact. that’s the structure and practice of abolition that we’re interested in engaging in with other folks.
• to detach the universities from the local police departments — and a movement to eradicate the university police depts. what if it just turns out to be the case that the vast policing that’s done is by the university administration? if we don’t want to enact this policing it involves a different presencing in the classroom. and we can do that right now.
• presencing: another category of institutions: the artist. the professor. the subject, the individual — they’ve gotta go. we’re given certain institutions through capitalism but we’ve got a much more thorough job/work to do when it comes to abolition.
• abolition as presencing: it evokes Ruth Wilson Gilmore but also Heidegger and we’ve got to work with what the fuck we’ve got, the whole pig.
• Does black studies need an exit plan? Paraontology and parasite.
• Parasitism of the black artist — black artist is a parasite vis a vis the shared experience of the black audience. the non-white viewer is also parasitic in this experience that ought to give us pause. non-white people people feeding off of black emotion, black joy, righteous indignation that we direct towards the black artist too, who engages in the parasitism and further develops it.
• the institution of the artist, the scholar, the black artist, the white scholar — these are institutions that require abolition and exodus. in the interest of presencing the shared experience. an argument for claiming to protect the material of the aesthetic over the immateriality and illusion of the artist himself.
• what if you’re doubly isolated and don’t have anyone to exodus with? if you don’t have the support network to leave? Maholo Callahan
• the shared practice of fulfilling needs. not just what we mean by needs but how we regard needs.
• needs vs wealth. distinguishing and cultivating the wealth of our needs rather than imagining that our needs can be eliminated
• by commonality not everyone has the same needs but that everyone has a stake in the addressing of everyone’s needs. not glossing over what we call inequality — but even within the language of inequality and privilege we need new language and apparatus
• avoid the danger of becoming having eliminated your needs, which becomes self-sufficiency, which becomes sovereign. needs as a set of wealth of capacities and desires, leaving us in a state of incompleteness. we’re incomplete. the fact we have needs and that they’re different means we need each other, we’re not whole, we’re not sufficient. we look to wealth of needs as a way of being together outside of interpersonal relationships.
• Q: enacting a practice — how has practice been enacted? beyond an aesthetic? what are some of those practices?
• moten: for those of us who are teaching: stop grading, stop giving assignments. stop doing administrative work of the university, radically detach the credentializing front of the university, a front for financed capital, detach the aesthetic, social, intellectual work we would like to do with each other. this will be an act of presencing and exodus that works against the grain of the university.
• let’s continually ask that question with and of and for one another, in everything we engage with. let that be the class, the curriculum, the occasion and form emerging from the continual asking of that question. rather than anybody especially me giving you an answer to that question.
• let’s say that this seems unsatisfactory. but i don’t believe it’s abstract — it’s absolutely material. i share your frustration with all of these statements of solidarity. i’m sick of that shit. i’m sick of the extra work that it seeks to extract from me. even to finish reading the fucking email, even that’s too much. i’m sick of it in myself: the desire to be included in an institution. and your job will be to listen to us make statements of solidarity.
• exit: no exit. hell is having to read the dean’s latest fucking email of solidarity. i’m sick of it it’s fucking hot in here.
• the work: to name it as a spiritual thing? from work to “the work” to elevate it, from work to “my work” — a fantasy of elevation. at the same time, we’re influenced by Cedric Robinson’s spirit on earth is central. the work is carrying something with it but it’s not “the work” it’s “our work” or “work that’s going on.”
• preaching to the converted
• work for us is already in that sense a spiritual affair, a spirit that can only be understood collectively
• scabs: students who support the institution and administration. what to do about them, students who monitor and surveil activists. scabs who will cross and support the oppressive forces that prevent us from making exodus.
• harney: we’re already doing the reform and we’re half sick, half unemployed doing it. how can we not think about revolution? our daily work is the work of reforming a completely unworkable system. so if that’s not good what revolutionary politics are there — this requires non-cooperation with reform, non-cooperation with the job. what does it mean to reform? you wouldn’t reform a plantation. the spread of working all day long to keep an unsupportable system going. what else can you do but exodus. my fear is that i’m one of them — every day i have to do some reforming work. the question is how can i do some insurgency work. what else can i do? reform is killing me.
• when you mistake the role for work. you take on the role of teacher or mentor but when you take on that role you bring other people into your sphere and assign them roles too. this is the insidious part where your perfectly good professor who calls you “my student.”
• the work of reform — but it’s also this other part where i want to absolve them of their sins of reform. there’s nastiness there.
• restate the question: how do we comport ourselves towards the enemy when the enemy is us? it’s not meant to induce paralysis it’s to induce movement. BLM can be coopted by anyone — Walmart says BLM. the NFL says BLM. BLM to NFL is the same as BLM to Jefferson. they mattered so much that he was committed to dematerializing them.
• are the founders of BLM therefore scabs? it’s a serious question. it’s a practical question — no way to differentiate ourselves from the enemy except through practice. it’s not a matter of identifying the enemy or disidentifying with the enemy, it’s a matter of practice. just do what we do.
• we don’t know no better we’re thinking about it along with you
• Social Justice Hiring Cluster at Syracuse, institutional spectre of activism that reproduces the violence of the scabs.
• Martin Kilson: vagabond policy hustler. the righteous uprising and expression of feeling in the face of ongoing brutality produces then the necessity for the institutions to in order to try to maintain the illusion of their legitimacy they have to express a sentiment. and then the further expression of their sentiment manifests in “imagination grants,” “social justice cluster hire” vagabond policy hustlers who come to cash in. it’s an old pattern. it’s as perennial as the grass. you recognize it and it’s disgusting but don’t let it stop you from doing what you were going to do anyway. it used to be a distraction that would siphon away energy but now it’s a thing that elicits disgust, because then you have to express a sentiment against theirs. now i’m gonna write a letter in reply. just fuck the letters. just keep going and do what you’re doing.
• our presence in the whitney biennial, our presence in the university, in the museum, it’s better to just be cold to that shit. to be in but not of ——— it’s a way of marking yourself pure in a condition that is impossible, where purity is not possible nor desired.
• even as we fight against it, we are subjects of the university, even with our desire to be in commonality with our students
• when the police call, don’t come, you don’t hear them
• if you heed that call, that means you have already accepted a condition where you feel responsible to participate. it’s the self, the subject
• trying to extract, give credit, take credit, get its hands on — how much should you be actively preventing this, making your work untenable for the university’s use
• publishing
• to distinguish people from one track from another. everything about publishing is totally evil and institutionally mediated, and we do all kinds of stuff that i ought not do.
• everything should be published — everything. an argument for non-cooperation in the world of publishing. people who have tenure should stop using the big publishers and commercial publishing
• in what ways can they exploit their work.
• the problem is the cooperation with all of these journals and presses. we have to do it together.
• collectively we have to do something about publishing. we should put everything free online and share, and abolish these journals and presses.
• if you want to reach an audience put your shit online — the undercommons is free and online
• there can be no excuse for cooperation with the press
• noncooperation
• there is no individual way to not be complicit
• a common noncooperation, a shared practice
• the student pays for the credential
• the grades, those transactions are mechanisms to provide for the credential, the paid-for product. the university doesn’t give a fuck about experience. what’s good about zoom is i can let anyone in
• the credential-buyers vs the nerdy-ass motherfuckers
• it should be free for the nerds, and the ones who want the credential should pay

notes from the fred moten / stefano har…
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