affective disorder - journal of common notions - spring 10
[affective disorder [in the spring of a still-born decade]]
a friend once said:
no revolution is going to be generated
out of systemic
or structural laws.
we are on our own, and what we do
we have to do for ourselves.
we are the denizens
of a strange epoch,
the ‘given’ in a surreal situation.
while knowledge of space and time has been democratized, the
modes of inhabiting them (the modes of being) are controlled
more intensely than ever before. while sharing of information
is ubiquitous, understanding and love appear empty at best – at
worst cliché. but where global-capitalism’s erasure of traditional
and stable social structures and identiﬁcations might be seen as a
we eschew the temptation
out of preference
for naïveté and imagination
furiously unearthing potential
from the void
we ﬁnd ourselves peering into.
our enemy has no name of its own.
we have named it
time and again, but because the enemy only exists within a given
situation, its face, tactics, and form change continually. with
marx we had its ﬁrst secular manifestation: the bourgeoisie and
its weapons capital and the state. but since then, new faces and
new techniques of exploitation have come to fruition:
the media spectacle,
- the list goes on.
but that capitalism is worth nothing without labor still holds: the
harder we work, the more we are exploited; the more we try, the
more we give away. but unlike in marx’s day, capitalists no longer
fund their ventures independently, nor are we only working in the
ﬁelds and factories. it’s not the people at the top that keep the
gears in motion – the idea-people and managers who ﬁnance and
organize companies with our lives (debts, labor, futures) – we’re
the ones that produce, trade, and borrow the things we are
taught to, whether food or identities.
we’ve been taught how important a college education is, how
we will be competing with our peers for the little work there is,
how we want to own a house and car, how we don’t want to end
up wasting our precious free-time cleaning our own homes (the
home is assumed). we fear the idea of waiting tables for a liv-
ing, of working in the bleakness of the ofﬁce, of collecting other
we fear debt,
we fear that we will not be enough.
in this, we are our own
this is affective disorder:
to share affect that al-
lows us to ﬁnd ourselves and one another, and to imagine who
we might be. we already know we want something similar in this
situation, but we have yet to imagine exactly what it is be or how
to go about it.
it is no coincidence
community, communication, communism
share a form
what is common is shared,
whether on paper, on the table, or in the street. the common is
not the founding of an organization but the sharing of an experi-
ence; not the knowing who we are, but afﬁrming that we are. our
endeavor is to act and play a new world into being; to articulate
a means of community that is communication itself; to invent a
communism that stabs holes in orthodoxy and embraces imagina-
tion and sharing. in this way we might discover that we are and
what we want to do.
by all means,
speak your mind.
and while we offer no strategy or cure, we have found tactics
and remedies to focus our anger and channel our vertigo: the
emptiness of social life – revealed in the spectacular-state’s end-
less game of destruction-of-old and integration-of-new forms of
life – is our point of departure.
where the past is a burden,
we sever it,
like a pinned tail.
where the present is a full page,
we ﬁll up its margins.
where the future is an abyss,
we greet it,