Purple Magazine
— Purple 25YRS Anniversary issue

On Radicality



How can one be radical today in a complex period when we need political change? Is it still possible?
Is it absurd? Is it an illusion? Sometimes we long for radicalism in a romantic way; sometimes we are scared of it, as it can be the source of extremism. Under what terms can radicalism be as powerful to us as it was to the avant-garde movements in the past?

On the occasion of its 25 th anniversary, Purple asked leading thinkers from the worlds of philosophy and literature to investigate what radicality could mean, and to offer possibilities for being radical.

Responding to the Plants 4, courtesy of the artist

What Does It Mean to Be Radical? ALAIN BADIOU To be “radical” — as far as the things we want to eradicate are concerned — means, precisely, to get to the root.
It is pointless to see ourselves as courageous fighters because we have revealed the escapades of this or that public figure, for capitalism is the universal establishment of corruption. It is pointless to imagine we have altered the social order by replacing one government clique with another, for all governments are composed of agents of capital. It is pointless to play the hero by unleashing a few blows against a squadron of police officers, for the police and the army continuously replenish their ranks to meet the shifting needs of domination. It is pointless to waste our courage by sabotaging a few circuits or a few repositories of merchandise, information, or money — for the very being of capital consists in the worldwide material, ideological, and financial circulation of things, signs, and humans.

It is not very radical to delude ourselves that a work of art, no matter how new or how critical, might rattle the dominant symbolic order, for this work will end up being sold at market value and gracing the walls of an investor. Still less might we pride ourselves on having shaken the West by randomly massacring a few poor souls in some major city, for this gratuitous horror would only bind public opinion ever more tightly to the bandwagon of its true masters: the owners of capital and the politicians who serve them.

The only person who can lay claim to a certain radicality is one who truly seeks the root cause of the existing state of things in order to destroy it and replace it, finally, with a victory for all humankind. Such a person knows that everything depends on the private ownership of the means of production and of exchange and, therefore, seeks to eradicate this root.

To be radical, in the past two centuries, and no doubt for a long time to come, is to be Communist. To be “Communist” consists of a simple imperative: “Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things. In all these movements they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time.”

These phrases were published in 1848 in London, though written in German. They have since made their way around the world. They have been, and will be, converted into outward action to a greater degree than all the Bibles on this planet. They are the epitome of the only true modern radicality. I might say of them, in the words of Rimbaud: “I am here, I am still here.”

Responding to the Plants 2, courtesy of the artist

The Trendy New Metaphysics MEHDI BELHAJ KACEM In official discourse, the word “radical” now carries a stigma: “radicalization” consigns a person to public disgrace and designates all those who have been left behind, those slipping toward extremism in general, and Islamic extremism in particular. One by one, all “extremes,” whether far right or far left, have been indiscriminately smeared with this adjective. In the current state of things, there is room only for the extreme center — the market — whose hidden radicality lies in the principle of the universal equivalent and whose corollary is outsourced global slavery.

The tyranny of the universal equivalent in the economic order of things finds its counterpart in the new metaphysical trends of today: what I call flabby-belly philosophy. As I see it, the essence of Anglo-Saxon Scholasticism consists in a conceptual “sublimation” of the laws of the market. Until now, European — or let us say “continental” — philosophy had resisted this translation of the law of the market into flabby-belly philosophy; it seems that things have changed, and now “de-radicalization” has made inroads here as well.

From antiquity to the Late Middle Ages, philosophy took it as a given, without need of further inquiry, that concepts are inherent to things themselves. The philosophical radicality initiated by Descartes and extended by Kant — “correlationism,” as it has recently been called — broke with this long-held philosophical tradition by demonstrating in multiple ways that concepts are first of all a product of the human mind and that their exact correspondence to things is in no way a given, but rather needs to be powerfully questioned in its own right. The radicality of this philosophical revolution may be seen in such varied philosophers as Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Rousseau, Fichte, Schelling, Kierkegaard, Marx, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud, Husserl, Heidegger, Lévi-Strauss, Foucault, Derrida, and the list goes on.

To scrap this radicality, which lives at the origin of modern philosophy, is equivalent to treating each of these thinkers as a dead dog. It is to assume the posture of hypermodernity, seeking to bury the philosophical modernity initiated by Descartes and Kant. It is to regress, without acknowledging it for an instant, to an antique and medieval conception of philosophical discourse. And this is the philosophical fashion of today. This is what will sanction — especially in English-speaking countries — the advent of what is nothing other than Neo-Scholasticism. Concepts are now again inherent to things: it is not the concept that must be adequate to the thing but, now again, the thing that must be adequate to the concept. We can now again chart our course in things themselves. There you have it: the entire significance of the trendy “new” metaphysics. Brilliant.

Metaphysics is founded upon precisely this supposition, undue and unverifiable, that concepts are inherent to things themselves. Concepts offer themselves on a platter to whoever speaks of them. The criticism — unfortunately too widely forgotten — that Kant leveled at this metaphysics was this: not that it was false, but that it lay beyond the very criteria of truth and falsehood. “We may blunder in various ways in metaphysics without any fear of being detected in falsehood.” It is extraordinary how closely this resembles the current philosophical scene. Hence, also, the “political vacuum” — in fact more of an abyss — of the metaphysics that stems from this scene.

Karl Marx wrote, “To be radical is to grasp things by the root. But for man the root is man himself.” In my next book, which will be a kind of composite of Marx’s Capital and Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation, I intend to vehemently oppose the neo-metaphysics of today by pointing out the hundreds of meaningless phrases that their authors put forth in an atmosphere of complaisant silence and general impunity. In opposition to the dull and anodyne “concepts” of trendy metaphysics, I intend to forge a new concept based on “having more”: the concept of the pleonectic (a word which means, literally, “to have more”). This concept, without centering philosophical radicality only on the human being, illuminates the tragedies of today’s world by going back to the ontological root of many of our problems. For instance, I will attempt to demonstrate with rigor the thing that everyone intuits but no one has yet been able to prove: that capitalism and our ecological crisis stem from one and the same process — the pleonectic process that I describe. As one of my mentors, Reiner Schürmann, used to say, philosophy must seek not to astonish, but rather to clarify a knowledge that everyone possesses in a more or less confused manner. As I see it, this is a perfectly fitting contemporary definition of the word “radicality” and of the attitude one must adopt today.

Responding to the Plants 1, courtesy of the artist

On Being Radical  DODIE BELLAMY  I recently watched the ending to the 1959 low-budget monster movie Behemoth on TV. The Behemoth, which looks like an elongated dinosaur with bulgy eyes, wiggles mechanically through the ocean. It’s way bigger than the submarine that’s trying to destroy it. It bashes against the side of the sub, and water starts leaking from an overhead pipe, provoking tense, meaningful eye contact between the two officers manning the controls. They maneuver for a better aim. One yells, “Fire!” and the other grits his teeth and presses a plunger, unloading a bomb that hits the monster in the head. It thrashes and sinks. “That’s it?” I thought. “They killed the thing with one shot?”

These days, such a kill would take at least 15 minutes of fast-cut struggle, for we citizens of the 21st century have learned that evil does not die easily. No longer is evil focused like a bad tooth you can root out and get on with your good life. The Big Scary is increasingly diffuse, spreading across networks, sprouting anywhere. We have global warming; we have public executions that shock without warning; we have toxic waters, honeybees threatened with extinction, warnings of plague.

In the White House, Americans have installed an irrational, lying, unaccountable crook who rages against “radical Islamic terrorists,” an embarrassingly redundant term. Isn’t “radical” implied in “terrorist”? Have you ever heard of a middlebrow terrorist? A centrist terrorist? A give-a-cop-a-can-of-Pepsi-and-heal-the-world terrorist? As an American, there is so much to be embarrassed about. The US has become a very stupid country, and stupidity married to power is danger squared. We’ve given a buffoon the nuclear code.

To be radical, you need a wall to bounce your radicalism off of. When you live in a soup of cover-ups, corruption, and general smarminess, is it possible to clear the mire enough to even find that wall? Those on the radical left claim — and rightly so — that global capitalism is the enemy. But late capitalism is a slippery beast, able to incorporate just about anything into its ravenous maw and spit it back out with a price tag attached. Blind, profit-driven virulence has infiltrated everything, its poison creeping both inside and outside of us. The Behemoth has swallowed the submarine, and here we are, flailing in the slimy dark.

In another ’50s cult favorite, The Wild One, a dancing blonde asks biker Marlon Brando, “Hey, Johnny, what are you rebelling against?” He bongos the top of a jukebox and snarls, “Whatta ya got?” What do we “got”? That is the central question facing us today. Without a focus, without a specific monster in mind to boom boom boom, radical enthusiasm can grind down to depression. We stop reading the news; we post pictures of cats on Facebook, flowers on Instagram, each ding of a “like” offering an adrenal micro-buzz. Radicalism is always hopeful, generating energy to push away the dead weight of complacency. To be radical is to feel alive, to sniff out corruption and bourgeois dreariness, to raise your fist and shout, “Fuck no!”

Responding to the Plants 3, courtesy of the artist

Radical / Radicant  NICOLAS BOURRIAUD  Radical: an attitude dictated by a rigid principle, by a rejection of all half-measures. “Don’t compromise on your desire” might be its axiom on an individual level; “radical chic” its motto on a collective level. I grant you that this kind of radicality is practical. For my part, I mean “radical” in the primary sense of the word: “that which belongs to the root.” This primary sense establishes a posture of return to an original purity, a first principle, an essence. It consists of a hatred of the shaggy mess occasioned by branches and offshoots; it demands that we return to origins, begin again, take up the pruning shears.

Twentieth-century modernism was largely founded on this idea of radicality. One had to purge art and politics, found them anew on right principles, start with a manifesto and a blank slate. To a certain extent, modernism shares a common cause with “fundamentalism,” for they partake of a similar logic: the elimination of accumulated excess, the fantasy of sloughing off one’s acquired knowledge and going to drink at pure springs, clinging to first roots, in order to send history off again in a new direction.

It is precisely in opposition to this modernist principle that our own modernity, that of the 21st century, must rearticulate itself: no longer radical, but radicant. Instead of reverting to a principle, our new radicant modernity lays its roots down as it advances, creating non-identitary practices, generating singularities. It bases itself on figures that have nothing to do with the idea of roots, figures like the nomad, the wanderer, the exile, the deserter. We can see this happening in contemporary art as well: Artists have become semionauts — they invent a trajectory among a tangle of signs, without limiting themselves to a single type of space. A true challenge lies ahead of us: to invent the specific culture of an epoch whose very essence is migratory.

To that end, we have to abandon the old ways of thinking that interpreted works of art according to their insertion in a pre-existent cultural field. The task at hand is to forge critical tools capable of comprehending not static fields, but trajectories. We should all become ballistics experts. We need to set the “radicant” against the radical, and insist upon a cultural recomposition. Globalization eradicates unique traits, and this process leads to the disastrous reactions we have come to recognize, from nationalism to the varieties of religious fundamentalism. If we intend to resist the pincer jaws formed by the homogenization of the world on the one hand and the hardening of national identities on the other, we have to opt for the “radicant”: that is, the creation of new singularities, the multiplication of differences. We have to find our own “wander lines,” as Lacan used to say, set down roots in diverse terrain, advance as ivy climbs a wall. We have to move toward a non-identitary self, which constitutes itself in other ways than by adherence or membership: the “radicant” self is multi-anchored.

There exists a formal counterpart to this state of mind, and we can see it in today’s art with the emergence of “circuit-forms”: the installations of Thomas Hirschhorn and Jason Rhoades have no borders. They are not made according to a central viewpoint. The works of Seth Price and Parker Ito have no origin, no source code. They are works made in the form of circuits — they proliferate and surge. Now, as for belonging — whether ethnic, religious, or subjective — has it ever been anything other than the radical fantasy of a space-time monolith?

Responding to the Plants 6, courtesy of the artist

Radical Sensibility  EMANUELE COCCIA  “Up and down,” writes Aristotle, “are not for all things what they are for the whole Cosmos: the roots of plants correspond to the head in animals.” Our roots are not below; they are the uppermost part of our body, the one most exposed to sky, sun, wind. And, as a matter of fact, this observation was the kernel of an ancient tradition that pictured humans as inverted plants: the human, as Plato says, is “a plant not of earthly but of heavenly growth.”

There is something extremely unusual, something absolutely counter-intuitive and baffling about this inverted analogy. Radicality, in humans, becomes the dimension that gives us access to the sky: the radical in us is everything that allows us to touch what is in the air and constantly flits about and dissolves there, allows us to communicate with the noble sun instead of the ground and its depths. Radicality, for humans, is an obsession with the things that lie furthest from the earth, the things that are the most fragile and insubstantial, the things that are luminous, and not the obscurity of subterranean worlds.

This analogy holds elements of undeniable truth. For, contrary to what common sense tells us, in humans the head is not (or not principally) characterized simply by the fact of its being the seat of the brain and of reason. It is, first and foremost, a free appendage that is detached from the rest of the body and contains all the sensory organs: the eyes, the nose, the tongue, the ears. The head is the organ of the sense organs, the heart of our sensory life, the outermost antenna of our perception; and that is the only reason that it houses reason. If it is a root, it is so principally because it gives us access to reality. It is not an instrument that allows us to distance ourselves from our surroundings, but rather a force that obliges us to bury ourselves deeper and deeper in the world, to plunge into its living flesh, to become inseparable from it. It is through the antenna that is our head that we take root in everything that happens, and, conversely, it is thanks to our head that we allow the world to take root in us.

Radicality is a kind of sensory stubbornness. It does not signify a search for depth, but rather a resolve never to abstain from plunging into our senses. To be radical is to love the world to the point of penetrating into all its constituent parts; to see everything, taste everything, hear everything, smell everything, without ever stopping, without ever letting attachment translate into exclusion; to continue to see, continue to taste, continue to breathe this world. All the way to breathlessness. All the way to the limit of our senses.

The Radical and the Diehard  TRISTAN GARCIA  The radical mind pursues an idea, even though life stands in the way; or else it pursues life, even though ideas stand in the way. In either case, it is faithful. Now, the passage of time severs every kind of fidelity: aesthetic judgments, political convictions, moral principles, worldviews, desire, and love — all of these tear themselves in half when they come into contact with time, which reiterates them and therefore renders them different. Either I obstinately attach myself to the present in defiance of the future, or I attach myself to the future in defiance of the past: there is no such thing as absolute fidelity.

Nevertheless, the radical mind stays faithful to the root, to the origin of what it pursues: against that which becomes, it sets that which is — over and over again. Contrary to the liberal mind, with its spirit of negotiation and goodwill, the radical mind does not seek to make the most of each and every reason — just one will do. And when time splits this reason in half and constrains the radical mind to choose between letter and spirit, the radical mind then decides to pursue the truth of the initial reason, the original letter alone.

This kind of mind is fanatical, but it always lies at the upstream end of things. Day in and day out, against the current of hours, years, and centuries, it ascends in thought to the first cause of its fidelity, to the image and idea that were once the source of this river that carries all its predilections, rage, values, friends, or divinities.

Now, the extremism of the radical — by an effect of symmetry — finds its counterpart in the extremism of the diehard: this is the other kind of fanaticism, which always lies at the downstream end of things. Drifting hour by hour along a current, the diehard draws from an idea its necessary demonstration, conclusions, and consequences: this is a mind that, in the face of every circumstance and innovation, always displays the same love, the same intuition, the same engagement, the same old hate or enthusiasm — and never stops thinking or acting until it discovers a final term. Whereas the radical mind stubbornly insists on returning to the heart, to the authentic kernel of each and every feeling, the diehard doggedly unwinds each idea like a ball of wool. The radical seeks the essence of an ideal — be it communist, fascist, or emancipatory — whether in pursuit of truth, or reality, or reconciliation, or self-interest, or style, or elegance, or vigor, or youth, or wisdom and spiritual peace. The diehard takes an ideal and reels it out over time to arrive not at the heart of the thing, but at its end, its logical conclusion, its extremity — its death.

Radicals exhaust an idea because they refuse to develop it, while diehards exhaust an idea precisely by developing it. These are two ways of killing an idea or falsifying a life.

Of course, there is another kind of mind. There is the mind of the middle, the conciliatory mind, for which truth only arises between two extremes: this kind of mind gives rise to a melancholy temperament, because it knows no enemies, because it thinks two mortal enemies are each among its best friends, and because it always needs extremists in order to locate between them the balance that to its eyes looks most like justice.

To trace its middle path, such a mind relies on those who indicate two opposite cardinal points. For there is never only one fanatic: two is the strict minimum. No one can be an extremist at both ends, and every extreme spirit gives rise to its nemesis, its negative, its opposite. To the mind that feels alert and alive only when stationed at an endpoint, occupying the entire tree of a life is never enough. One must concentrate oneself at an extremity.

Thus, every self that seeks a terminal point will become either a radical or a diehard. A person must choose: the root or the bud. And just as a river can be navigated only upstream or down, the mind that governs a life and tends toward an end will hesitate and, according to its temperament, either propel itself toward the heart, the essence, the pure and perfect foundation of the idea, or else prefer to follow an idea as a principle, a richness, an impulse along which it lets itself be carried, all the way to the last gasp.

It is only radicals and diehards who give life to the ideas that accommodating minds take under their wing. They put these ideas to the test of time: for the radical and the diehard seek, find, and exploit their ideas all the way to an empty shell.

That’s how it is. The radical and the diehard bring ideas into being, but spend them out as well. The mind of compromise, of concession, the mind of the middle, the liberal — such a mind lets things be, nurtures and protects, but never gives birth.

Books  CHRIS KRAUS and HEDI EL KHOLTI  A few months ago, we had a conversation about Semiotext(e) and whether we’d become “too exposed.” This was just before Jill Soloway’s I Love Dick streamed on Amazon Prime. Sylvère [Lotringer, cofounder of Semiotext(e)], felt that we had: his aesthetic has always been that something about Semiotext(e), or any project of his, should feel a little mysterious, unknown. Semiotext(e) was known for being unknown during the ’70s and ’80s — it felt truly radical, and that was its charm.

But what does it even mean to be radical in the present? The question of Semiotext(e)’s “exposure,” by the time we talked, seemed already redundant. You’re either exposed, or you’re not. Once you decide to sell rights to Amazon, there’s no going back. Independent presses and galleries have two choices now: either take the subsidized “grant-land” route, seeking support from private foundations, or ally with fashion and media industries to attain a self-supporting level of “success.” Jean Baudrillard wrote passionately about these questions of mediatization. He’d probably argue that the choice is redundant once all meaning has been siphoned out.

Gilles Deleuze says it best in the video interview A to Z. Customers in the publishing industry are not the readers but the bookstore chains, whose interest is to move the maximum quantity of product in the minimum amount of time. Which is why you see that overwhelming amount of energy orchestrated around a book release, where the same book is beaten to death for a couple of weeks so that it might become a contender for a coveted spot on The New York Times’ best-seller list. The difference now is that there’s very little romance left in being independent or selling few copies. It used to be a badge of honor when things circulated slowly. Now, everybody wants to be associated with the winners of the culture industry. And that is exacerbated with this new echo-chamber phenomenon, where the success of a book becomes the next story, ad infinitum until exhaustion.

Still, we have to live in the present and accept whatever possibilities emerge. When the 2014 Whitney Biennial invited Semiotext(e) to participate as an “artist,” we knew right away that the only meaningful use of this opportunity would be to commission new works by our closest collaborators rather than exhibit archival materials in a vitrine. Finally, we agreed that the only real thing, or radical thing, is to simply proceed. The works that we publish are important to us and to our community of readers. The enterprise operates through generosity and networks of friendship, which might serve as an antidote to the manufactured outrage within the mediascape. The works of ours that become massively exposed can help to support others that might have a deeper and slower effect. David Rattray’s How I Became One of the Invisible sold just a few hundred copies but influenced two generations of writers. Abdellah Taïa’s work wasn’t known in the US when we published Salvation Army in 2009. It was never reviewed in The New York Times — our books never are — but his artistic and political influence has still spread widely. We tend to work with the same writers again and again. Our publication choices remain intuitive and artistic, a self-generating series of propositions, ideas.

Radical Evokes This  BERNARD-HENRI LÉVY  The Radical Party, which, in the memory of the century in which I was born, is synonymous with everything in French politics that is most mediocre, most corrupt, most hostile to grandeur.

The etymology of the word, its pith, which inevitably evokes a world of roots or foundations — probably the thing I most loathe in philosophy.

The inverse, which one finds, for instance, in Kant with his idea of radical Evil, thus named only because it is unfathomable, unassignable, impossible to date or examine, and therefore strictly rootless (Is this latter radicality any better than the former? Though rootless, isn’t it just as vertiginous and loathsome as the first?).

The desire for revolution and that entire dream of “beginning anew,” which runs from Saint-Just to the Chinese Red Guards (I congratulate myself, every morning, that I managed to separate myself from this, for in my eyes it is strictly synonymous with disaster and affliction, and tends toward barbarity. The hoof beats of the apocalypse that echoed through my youth sometimes reach me with a certain nostalgic air, with, as it were, a vague and clarified resonance, but it’s nothing, really).

And then these current remakes, like La France Insoumise [Unbowed France] or Nuit Debout [Up All Night], with their hint of fakery, their aspect of well-to-do rebellion and risk-free revolt. (How puny our radicals are! How ignorant and hollow! And how airy are all these shoddy miracle workers who leap into the abyss of the specter just because they can’t quite tell anymore what’s haunting them! They say they are taking up the torch, and they don’t even know how to hold a match.)

Now, if you were to ask me then about the things in my current existence and dreams that have replaced this temptation of the radical and the portion of enthusiasm that admittedly accompanied it, I would reply, again, this: A taste for gesture and style, which, when joined in the same life with a love and care for literature, is the first antechamber of the interior graces: Proust, I would think.

A taste for good and just actions carried all the way to their logical conclusions in all their moral and political consequences — Bosnia, Libya, Kurdish films, the love for entirely realized action, the placing of one’s own body in front of the challenge of that which exceeds but does not limit it, and I shall pass over many others.

And then the rapture I feel, as when I was 20, in reaching an “extreme” in the adventure toward a “concept,” or at least a “notion.” (The formulation here is that of Walter Benjamin in The Origin of German Tragic Drama. It is the voice of my mentors exhorting the youth of my day to become “resistant through logic” and therefore never to compromise on our desire or on the rigor of our knowledge, which was meant to free us not only from the doxa of our time, but also from the supposed roots of pernicious radicalism. Such was also the lesson, still earlier, long before I was around, of the Third Conference of the Situationist International in Munich, which advocated for “the most extreme experimental growth that can be inflicted upon an idea.”)

Here I stand.

Donald Duck Radical What?  PAUL MCCARTHY  Radical means nothing toward nothing means nothing we are in the brink of nothing said 222433 The cat to the cat self reflection leave the jungle leave conformity comfort she said remember the move on dot Philadelphia drop gas a tear life style radical subjective individual on the right as in is a fascist a radicalism made man so to speak radical as in leave life eat dog food eat your own shit act like a dog then insult your friends give up your friends find a new identity in a comic book before on Internet write a book unite with nature sleep in the day travel at night pretend to be your mother for an extended period of time try to get a job as your mother regularly shit in front of your parents house in gratitude for all they have done be sincere lie on your back purr like a cat none of this will get you anywhere unless you do it with a fortified belief that you are getting somewhere going Nowhere quick remember success is the name of the game in any society organization corporation religion regular hey hey I am a monkey in relation repetition radical move of the same same as the old death by progress perfection makes perfect inflight entertainment radical point point perceptual experience from mid point center of head cavity not a point not a spot not a place in sight infinity convulsion without form it is the nothing of the all that makes sense said the cat to the dog pre programmed and stuck in conditioned hoop law when faced with nothing the male is the abject wanker by trade capable if treated correctly to just file his acts of brutality imagined and otherwise as necessary red to enter heaven God boo sang the queer in fear the women as shape form have been given visual form priority visual form obsession object by the father who raised the he out of his lineage of ages raised to see all that was given by the father a smile from the mother father hands on his hips bribe bride the women be a woman remove the penis oh no oh no the woman dresses in a dress made to dress in a dress look this way look that way conditioned why not said the he pig conditioned as a show vision as in pig father may I she said the cat to the cathedral are as we are so be it can’t want leave it leave it radical nothing radical closing time is it too late why ask the father he is dead ask the mother is it closing time asked the daughter to the mother is it closing time seems far fetched said the blue boy the girl cried go inside said the mother and get ready for dinner radical laid all red I call l erotic catalog honk fun masks fun pouring at left gun egg ear egg on egg Jen or Karen later Adrian earn every off of In furnished one fears feels if not really end we freakish a freak said closing time as a classification mimic the ending

Projection not real they are too stupid said the cat radical stand up at the bell elite fashion fashion fascism those with futurist Intel the snake oil salesmen create the new spaceship earth on the dead bodies of those in the dark with empathy but to play the game they the salesmen must create a super power position for they needed destruction so they may eventually navigate the wormhole and enter their new utopia a form of architecture far fetch the rat shit of the rats that live in the dead

Unmake, Remake, and Fake  JEAN-LUC NANCY  It is strange that after several decades of uprootedness — or un-rootedness — people now want to reinstate an old word: “radical.” Its etymological “root” designates a fixed principle, an origin, a profound, authentic source; in short, everything we should be wary of. The current return to radicality proves that we have set aside and forgotten this wariness. Undoubtedly, people feel a need to reassure themselves by summoning a deep vision, an appeal to an original, fundamental imperative. There is a rage in radicals: they want to uproot things, whether to bring an essence to light — like some kind of mandrake — or, on the contrary, to “eradicate,” a word whose ugliness recalls the extermination of rats.

The word has resurfaced in the vocabulary of “radicalization” (whether jihadist, Catholic, Hindu, or even Shinto-nationalist). All religions, even those dedicated to reason or humankind, inevitably tend toward the preservation or recovery of a native purity and a primordial impulse. This is the constitutive fantasy of religion.

The modern, rational version of this tendency took shape in Marx, who set it down in these terms: “To be radical is to grasp things by the root. But for man the root is man himself.” And yet, in the years since Marx, have we not come to see humans as considerably less accessible than that? Do we still believe humans to be reducible to a tenor and a value that emancipation — radically — sends forth from alienation? In fact, “man” never stops hurrying away from that which might be grasped as “himself.” Herein lies the defining characteristic of this era, which people have chosen to call the Anthropocene to signal that humans are now able to unmake, remake, and fake all that might otherwise have been taken as a given in this world, this nature, this life, and this humanity.

People can be radical only on the condition that they see roots as always infinitely distinct from the need to take root, from the strength of foundations, from the essence of things, from generation and growth. Let us learn to speak these words of Paul Celan: “No one’s / root — O / ours” — not only for what these verses mean, but also for how they very palpably enact an un-rootedness in their language itself. Indeed, as the lines go on to say, “this fertile soil / too gapes.” (The German verb is klafft — a kind of onomatopoeic word for a certain way of bursting open with a loud sound, sudden, like a fissure appearing in an instant, the ground giving way beneath our feet.)

There is no doubt that we need roots. To be uprooted is ravaging and devastating. But no one ever grasps the root. Roots are by nature fleeting, tangled, unidentifiable. The very ground in which they burrow is also something that continuously slips away.

From here on, it would be more rigorous and vital to find a gesture capable of accompanying this escape, to follow or even get out ahead of it.

Sexual Future  PAUL B. PRECIADO  The first 3-D printed sexual organ was successfully grafted onto a living human on June 13, 2024. The body to be repaired was inserted in a 3-D printer, which manufactured the organ by directly injecting living tissue and blood vessels onto the skin. It worked rather well; the organs were biocompatible, and there was no rejection, no breakdown. The American Army had considered it prudent to withhold the names of the genital-imprinted subjects to avoid any discrimination, but very quickly some newly implanted men made a fortune in porn movies.
A bio-market aiming to replace bio-penises with 3-D printed ones was developed, and Monsanto Body Care took advantage of it to patent software allowing retro-cocks of mythical stars from the 20th century, such as Rocco Siffredi and François Sagat, to be printed — they say that there is a parallel market, with “historical” software reconstructed retrospectively from the DNA of the cocks of Mao, Lenin, Malcolm X, Mandela, Trump, Foucault, and Osama Bin Laden.

It seems strange that nobody had thought of this earlier. Abitol Wiembé, the Ugandan neo-materialist philosopher, has developed a theory called “Metaphysical blocking of the materially possible.” She claims that the problem had not been instrumental but epistemological. We had the machines, but we didn’t have the concepts, the consciousness. Society at the end of the 20th century still thought of the body as a sacred organic whole whose completeness was more or less given at the moment of birth. We came into the world and we died in the same body, with obvious variations caused by growth, reproduction, aging, illness, and death. Whereas the Gutenberg Period was characterized by the abandoning of matter to the benefit of the idea (then transformed into an image, virtual sign, code) that could be inscribed on paper, the 3-D Period involved a return to matter as the site in which the sign became a living entity. All this probably had something to do with the new Techno-Taoist-Christlike syncretism that had enabled the new Sino-Western alliance: The Word was made flesh, Capital lives and will remain among us.

It would have been possible to print any sexual organ on any body, not just the penis on bio-women’s arms or the clitoris on bio-men’s navels, but also to model new organs, formally and functionally reaching beyond the logic of sexual difference. But the bio-computing corporations struck a deal with the para-governmental armies: Within less than two years, it was forbidden to model, print, and implant sexual organs that did not conform to the gender assigned at birth. Interracial programming was forbidden; human-animal synthesis was punished with a life sentence.

In reality, operating the 3-D bio-printer was relatively simple; what was complex were the conception of and access to the software permitting the production of organ models. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the first company to have kidney software, was overtaken by LivingPfizer, which was quick to acquire patents for all the human organ models, including breasts, penises, vaginas, mouths, and anuses. The Bio-Facebook 3-D, which contained the DNA codes and the mother cells of all its users, became a global bio-archive that allowed LivingPfizer to manage the distribution of organs and patents.

Despite all this, and as Abitol Wiembé had foretold, pharma-pornographic bio-control was a preamble to digital cooperation. Thanks to a pirating network that developed, the conception of organs was soon no longer the privilege of the Ministry of Robotics and digital affairs nor of neuroengineers, but was opened up to the collective intelligence. For the first time, there was no longer any boundary to the conception of an organ. Or rather, the only boundary was the desire and the capacity of a body to insert the organ into its operational, and above all libidinal, system. The standardized heterosexuality of the 19th and 20th centuries corresponded to the logic of identity and of difference, of sexo-industrial Taylorization, of a kind of genital Fordism; its aim was sexual reproduction at the lowest cost, mass-produced, and in the shortest time possible. Whereas the new Counter-Sexual aesthetic arose from Oskar Hansen’s open-form architecture and the diffuse logic proposed by Lotfi Zadeh, copyleft automation, and the principles of complexity, singularity, intensity, and slowness. This is what the 3-D printer had made possible.

Numerous opponents of printed organs exist; the most radical are those nostalgic for the sexual aesthetic of last century, who stick to the bio-style of the 1980s porn films — which, as long-gone David Foster Wallace would say, could fry everyone’s glandular circuit-board. They are known as the Genitalists. They reject all the eroticization processes of printed bio-matter. They claim that bodies with printed sexual organs suffer from 3-D fetishism and neuro-digital dysphoria. But, although illegal, the counterculture of pirated printed organs gains ground from day to day.

Massachusetts  ARIANA REINES  I was walking through the mist in Gloucester. It smelled like fish sticks outside Gorton’s, like chowder in the rain. It started to rain, and I saw two women moving past City Hall in bright slickers. Across from the harbor, there’s a yoga studio run by a muscular blonde horse trainer who went to Brown. She leads a room full of sinewy housewives and fishermen and electricians through a slow, heavy sequence based on the teachings of Pattabhi Jois. She had us lie on our sides and pull up one leg by the big toe. Airing out the pussy, I thought, airing out the junk. This pose,
she said, is described by Patanjali as Vishnu reclining upon his couch, which is, of course, a serpent. If I were a god, I would lift my leg and give my genitals to the wind.

A lot has happened in Massachusetts. You asked me what it means to be radical. The United States as we know them began in Virginia and in Massachusetts. The Naumkeag used to live in this place. “Fishing place.” Namaste. Everywhere I read, the Naumkeag are spoken of only in the past tense. A local hypnotist offers Reiki and something called “Indian Head Treatment.” There is a place around here called “Indian Head Neck.” And we have a holiday called Thanksgiving in my country. It is based on the radical idea that the people who once belonged to this land gave it and its bounty to the white man.

The Salem Witch Trials, some say, were about a land dispute and envy. Others suggest that mold on the local wheat made those teenage girls hallucinate, or that really it was all about sex. I have read that “Naumkeag” used to be the name of Salem, Massachusetts. My grandfather directed a production of The Crucible at Marblehead High School in the mid-’60s. His younger daughter played the temptress Abigail in that production. His other daughter played someone else. Nobody will tell me what really happened, but when my grandparents got divorced, my grandfather lost the right to see his children. There had been some kind of sexual accusation. I don’t know much about it, just rumors. A couple of years ago, my mother told me that before they were married my father raped her. I think at the time she wasn’t really sure what was normal behavior for a man. I think she still isn’t. I don’t know if it’s true, but it would explain a lot.

Sylvia Plath opened the oven door. T.S. Eliot had his wife committed. Eileen Myles’s grandmother was committed. My dad had my mom committed. My grandmother had my aunt committed. My mother moved from Penn Station to soup kitchens to shelters with two rubies in her bra. Emily Dickinson stayed home.

“Ariana, I’m gonna fuck you on the rocks, you’re gonna milk the fuck out of my chocolate cream cock, when I chunk you will sob angel fucking choke tears of bliss on the barnacle rocks. I’m gonna fuck you so hard you will moan like a genius.” So much for my roots. I see the whole culture turning back toward its roots like Lot’s wife, a pillar of salt, an ocean of tears. It will become elegant for men to be sober and melancholy.

Women building long lean muscle mass will Kegel their children into existence. Bullies and choppers-up of worms will be forced to meditate in the stocks in the public square. We’ll close the prisons, Trump’s heirs will be garbage collectors wearing t-shirts that say the dignity of labor, and the goddess will recline pussy-open like Vishnu, behind a cloud, above the moving waters.

[Table of contents]

Purple 25YRS Anniversary issue

Table of contents

purple NEWS

purple 25 YEARS 25 COVERS





purple BEAUTY


purple LOVE


purple NIGHT

purple STORY

purple SEX

Subscribe to our newsletter