[iDC] introductions (Gilman-Opalsky)

Gilman-Opalsky, Richard rgilm3 at uis.edu
Mon Jun 16 21:14:52 UTC 2014

Colleagues, Comrades, et al,

The more I am introduced to all of you, the more exciting and interesting this conference becomes. I very much look forward to conversations in person in NYC in November.

My name is Richard Gilman-Opalsky, and I am Associate Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Illinois, Springfield.

My research and teaching are in the history of political philosophy, Continental and contemporary social theory, Marxism, capitalism, autonomist politics, postmodern philosophy, critical theory, social movements and the public sphere.

I've written three books: Unbounded Publics: Transgressive Public Spheres, Zapatismo, and Political Theory (2008), Spectacular Capitalism: Guy Debord and the Practice of Radical Philosophy (2011), and Precarious Communism: Manifest Mutations, Manifesto Detourned (2014).

My undergraduate and MA degrees are in Philosophy and my Ph.D. is in Political Science from The New School for Social Research. So, I am especially looking forward to meeting you at my alma mater, The New School.

My presentation is entitled: "Against the Capitalist Dream for a World without Bodies: Digital Labor and Technontology." It is based on a few parts from the new book, Precarious Communism.

I discuss the emergence of a new mind-body split in the evolving contexts of cognitive labor. I argue that capitalism has brought about a peculiar revival of Cartesian dualism at precisely the time when cognitive science and neuropsychology have supposedly hammered the final nails into the coffin of the disembodied mind/spirit/ghost, or Geist. The eight-hour workday has been replaced by a maximal-length workday, the workday of the wakeful state. The conscious energy of workers is increasingly available for extraction, while from the perspective of capital, the body is an impediment best left behind. The new regime moves beyond the Foucauldian model of brains controlling bodies, toward a system of disembodied brain activity, which relegates the body to a kind of sensory-sexual apparatus that only requires basic maintenance. Capitalism has managed to get brain activity to go mobile, to travel freely and fast, in real time, without the costly mass of the body itself. I argue that this disembodiment defines current and dangerous developments in education, work, and social life. Thus, we have moved from the question of what the body can do, to the question of what to do with the body.

But, can we handle a disembodied life? Thinkers like Zygmunt Bauman, Paul Virilio, and Franco “Bifo” Berardi have been worried about the consequences. The situation recalls, and seems to vindicate, Eric Hobsbawm’s famous declaration: “Human beings are not efficiently designed for a capitalist system of production.” Meanwhile, performance needs bodies. Bodies occupy parks and administrative buildings, bodies block traffic, and the death of the body extinguishes brain activity. In this presentation, I explore how new expropriations of brains from bodies intersect with the politics of labor and life.

See you in November,

Richard Gilman-Opalsky, Ph.D.
Associate Professor / Political Philosophy
Chair, Department of Political Science
Public Affairs Center, Room # 362
University of Illinois, Springfield
Ph. - 217.206.8328
E-mail - rgilm3 at uis.edu<mailto:rgilm3 at uis.edu>
Page - http://www.uis.edu/politicalscience/faculty/gilman-opalsky.html
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