Saturday 09.11.10 — Paolo Virno's Grammar of the Multitude — Reading / Discussion

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Saturday 09.11.10 — Paolo Virno’s Grammar of the Multitude — Reading / Discussion
1. About this Saturday
2. Outline of Schedule
3. For ‘A Grammar of the Multitude’
4. Useful References
5. Cornell Conference
1. About this Saturday
What: Book Reading / Discussion
Where: 16Beaver Street, 4th Floor
When: Saturday 09.11.10 at 10:30 am
Who: Free and open to all
Marking 9 years of renewed war and a declining Empire. Marking a year since our last intensive seminar, which was with Bifo and many other friends, and the upcoming conference at Cornell on Contemporary Italian Political Thought, we would like to dedicate a day to the concept of the ‘Multitude’ as developed by Paolo Virno in his ‘Grammar of the Multitude.’
Although the lectures upon which the book is based took place in 2001 and the book was published in 2004, ‘A Grammar of the Multitude’ remains an important reference for many in the last years. And one of the interesting moments of this summer’s reading group was our brief detour into Virno’s concept. So we thought it would be interesting to take up that detour into a full day’s inquiry into his book. We have invited some friends who are interested or familiar with Virno’s writings to introduce and/or be involved in the discussions and we hope to use this day to walk through the text and address questions or points which each of us may think are interesting, important, or to be interrogated further.
One of the key passages of the book focuses on the question of (general) intellect as referred to in Marx and its public-ity. In our own efforts at 16Beaver, this question of an intellectuality that could be held in common or existing, developing between us has been an important feature. So what better book to foreground and inquire into this question than Virno’s equally helpful, equally elusive text.
We will begin the day with a light breakfast and take some breaks, so it would be great if each person can bring a small contribution towards food or drink.
2. Outline of Schedule*
10:30 – 11:00 – Light Breakfast / Coffee / Tea & Introductions – Collective
11:00 – 11:45 – Introduction of the Book – Ayreen Anastas
11:45 – 12:45 – Day 1 – Forms of Dread & Refuge – Stevphen Shukaitis
13:00 – 14:00 – Day 2 – Labor, Action, Intellect – Paige Sarlin
14:00 – 15:00 – Day 3 – Multitude as Subjectivity – Anastasiya Osipova
15:15 – 16:00 Day 4 – Ten Theses on the Multitude and Post-Fordist Capitalism – Malav Kanuga
16:00 – 17:00 Day 5 – Closing Discussion – Collective
*please note that this is a speculative schedule and will be deliberated upon and adjusted by the group who arrives in the morning
3. For ‘A Grammar of the Multitude’
There are two ways of accessing the book and both links come compliments of people interested in ‘common places.’
a. Available in its pdf format, though the length of time this file will remain at this location is not foreseeable.
b. In addition to a very interesting texts by and interviews with Virno, Generation Online has the full text of the book in HTML form.
4. Useful References
Edited Readings by 16 Beaver
Dreamers of a Successful Life
Three Remarks Regarding the Multitude’s Subjectivity and Its Aesthetic Component
Interview with Paolo Virno
Anthropology and Theory of Institutions
Review of ‘Multitude: Between Innovation and Negation’
Additional Texts by Virno on Generation Online:
Virtuosity and Revolution
General intellect, exodus, multitude
Misadventures of Universality by Jacques Ranciere
The Limits of Multitude by Malcolm Bull
5. Cornell Conference
Cornell Conference on Contemporary Italian Political Thought
Commonalities: Theorizing the Common in Contemporary Italian Political Thought
a diacritics conference at Cornell, September 24-25
* Franco (“Bifo”) Berardi
* Remo Bodei, “Goodbye to Community: Exile and Separation”
* Cesare Casarino, “Universalisms of the Common”
* Ida Dominijanni, “Wounds of the Common”
* Roberto Esposito, “Community and Violence”
* Michael Hardt, “Pasolini Discovers Love Outside”
* Antonio Negri (via video conference)
Respondents to include: Kevin Attell, Mabel Berezin, Bruno Bosteels,
Laurent Dubreuil, Karen Pinkus, Jodi Dean, and Andrea Righi.
Over the last decade contemporary Italian thought has enjoyed enormous intellectual and editorial success in the United States. The work of Giorgio Agamben, Antonio Negri writing with Michael Hardt, Paolo Virno, Adriana Cavarero, and more recently Roberto Esposito and Rosi Braidotti, have placed Italian thought at the heart of current debates on topics as wide-ranging as bioengineering, globalization, and feminism. In ways that recall the success of French poststructuralism in the 1980s, Italian thought today appears increasingly to be setting the terms of both philosophical and political debates in this country.
Yet such success raises a number of questions, in particular about the very features of Italian philosophical tradition that might account for such a result. In other words, if asked to sketch the principal features of Italian thought that join together philosophers as
different as Cavarero, Agamben, and Negri, how might one reply? What is it that separates Italian thought from other philosophical traditions, and what might account for its importance today? As Negri asks, where does the Italian difference lie?
Although there are many possible responses, one undeniable feature linking some of the most powerful exponents of contemporary Italian thought is the decisive weight afforded the notion of the “common.” Certainly, Giorgio Agamben’s quasi-manifesto The Coming Community from 1994 merits attention, as does Hardt and Negri’s theorization of the coming together of commonality and singularity in the figure of the multitude in Empire and Multitude. So too does the “common” run through Adriana Cavarero’s reading of “horrorism” in terms of the body politic, Paolo Virno’s emphasis on the shared capacities of labor, Rosi Braidotti’s displacement of communal bonds in favor of a Deleuzian nomadology, and more recently Roberto Esposito’s analysis of the reciprocal relation between community and immunity. One common ground (though clearly not the only one) of recent Italian philosophical iterations will be found in a shared orientation towards reconceptualizing the common.
It is in this context that the diacritics conference “Commonalities: Contemporary Italian Thought and Theorizing the Common” will take place. Organized as a series of individual interventions by some of the leading figures of contemporary Italian thought, with responses from American critics, the conference will provide not only a moment to reflect upon the roots of Italian thought today, but also an occasion to ask after future iterations of Italian thought, and to pose more specific questions about genealogies of the common across a centuries-long history of the Italian peninsula.
The conference will take place at Cornell University under the auspices of the journal diacritics. For further information, please contact Timothy Campbell tcc9 (the at sign) cornell.edu.