Peter Pál Pelbart - A meditation on the possibility of fighting off the exhaustion of our contemporary age of communicative and connective excess.

Peter Pál Pelbart, Cartography of Exhaustion: Nihilism Inside Out, Univocal, 2015.

In a contemporary landscape of communicative and connective excess, for many, a truly novel contemporary exhaustion exacerbated by our relation to the post-digital terrain is ever-present. The Brazilian philosopher and schizoanalyst, Peter Pál Pelbart pushes the vital question of our nihililstic age to the limits: how can one learn to be left alone, live alone and perhaps, by way of a Deleuzian “absolute solitude” conjure a vitality for living again, and indeed, finding something truly “worthy of saying.” Through various poetic meanderings, meditations, and building the works of Blanchot, Musil, Guattari, and Deligny among others, Pelbart reestablishes the possibility of fighting off the exhaustion of our current state of affairs. For Pelbart, we must chart the cartography of exhaustion as if it were a sort of molecular symptomology.

Inspired by a vast range of authors, Musil, Blanchot, Deleuze-Guattari, Foucault, Agamben, as well as by artistic or schizo-scenic contexts, this book presents clues, hints, even if fleeting, of an ongoing upheaval. It is a collective cartography, unfinished and in movement, that identifies breakage points where other images, visions, notions, are extracted from the hither side of our current biopolitical nihilism. The final question broaches what makes us so exhausted today. There is a need to imagine a cartography of exhaustion as if it were a sort of molecular symptomatology, where following Deleuze’s trail, Beckettian categories help. Extreme figures of exhaustion, disaster, catastrophe and even chaosmosis cut through, at different angles, points of breakdown where, paradoxically and at the same time, counter-movements of the present appear. It is at these points of inflection that, at times imperceptibly, miniscule reversals, as well as explosions of the multitude, surge in ways which not only denounce what has definitely expired (values, styles, problems) but also offer us glimpses of the new desires and needs. The issue is not "who" speaks, or from "where" does one speak, not even "what" is it that one is speaking about, but, as Guattari suggested, "what speaks through us...".

‘For Kant, the task [of modernity] consists in abandoning the state of tutelage, of dependency, of minority. Who would oppose the defence of autonomy, the demand to think for oneself, the formal claim to freeing oneself from tutelage, from dependency, from delegating thought to others? [...] And yet, is it not clear that these demands of maturity, seriousness and responsibility come with a surreptitious expectation of obedience, bondage and submission? Does not the demand for majority conceal the demand for a so-called larger, dominant, hegemonic, even normative standard? Does it not seem that majority represents an ideal of servility and submission to an allegedly natural or moral already given humanity?
Hence, wouldn’t the most radical challenge consist precisely in escaping a majority that is individually and collectively imposed upon us, as an ideal, a nature, a progress or fate – questioning these majoritarian objectives, which always risk appearing (to the eyes of adults) frivolous, irresponsible and irrational, not to mention infantile and unreasonable?’
– Peter Pál Pelbart, ‘What Is the Contemporary?’, Afterall, issue 39, Spring 2015

A workshop with Peter Pál Pelbart, April 18 to 21, 2011

We live not in a ruined but a bewildered world. Everything creaks and rattles like the rigging of an unseaworthy sailing ship - Conversations with Kafka
We should imagine a cartography of exhaustion. Exhaustion of the possible. Perhaps it should be a kind of molecular symptomatology, like the one of nihilism that Nietzsche once did do well. Perhaps we should think about exhaustion according to the Beckettian categories, like Deleuze, to allow us to understand states of suspension, bankruptcy and collapse, individual and collective, of becoming almost remnant, in terms of vital strategy or of even political resistance. These vacuoles of silence and solitude that Deleuze talked about… of becoming molle… what new forms of sociality use such affect-Bartleby? And how? What is a populated solitude, a solitude inhabited by many people? Communism of the distance? Impossible community like that of the Greek heroes? Commonality of only the pathos of distance, from which to arrogate the right to create values, to stamp out the names of values (as in Niezsche’s genalogy of morals)? Since what is a community of those who do not have a community? What possibilities are there to create distance to the use of social vitality, to build existential and subjective territories from the reterritorialization of every minute by the material and immaterial economy and its arbitrary mechanisms of command? What is the soft belly, “il ventre molle”, of arbitrary power? What is the self understood as a fold of the outside? How to detect emerging modes of subjectification, foyers of collective enunciation and of group intelligence that escape the automatisms and captures of capital, and have not yet acquired sufficient visibility in our cooperative attempts? How to follow the lines of exodus and active retreats of the so called “excluded”? What resources are available to an individual or a collective to create its own mode of working in a domestic space, its own rhythm of time to mobilize collective memory, to produce goods and knowledges and their circulation, to transit in spheres considered invisible, to reinvent the corporeal, to organize neighborhood and create solidarity, to care for children and for the old, to deal with pleasure and pain?

Prologue to Capital Life (Elisa)
Prologue to Capital Life (real one, by Klaus)
Community without community (John)
Power over life, potency of life (Valentina)
Eight questions about resistance and creation (Elisa)
Neuromagma (Valentina)
Empire and biopotential (Ana)
The body of the inform (Ana & Akseli)
Disaster: between burnout and creation (Manuela)
A right to silence (Silvia & Graeme, headphones recommended for listening!)
Images of time in Deleuze (John)
The Thought From Outside (Karolina)
Ecology of the invisible (Luca)

Peter Pál Pelbart is a brazilian philosopher, professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of São Paulo, coordinator of the Ueinzz Theater Company, composed of fragile minds and mental distress, and coeditor at n-1publications. He is also a member, with Suely Rolnik, of the Centre de recherches sur la Subjectivité and collaborator of the Mollecular organization. Peter was a student of Deleuze and the translator of Deleuze and Guattari into portuguese. He has published in Chiméres, Multitudes etc. His recent books includes Da clausura do fora ao fora da clausura, Vida Capital and O tempo não-reconcilado.


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