Philosopher Sylvère Lotringer talks with Jason Hoelscher about networks of networks, art worlds, meaning, and whether resistance is still possible.
Sylvère Lotringer is Professor Emeritus at Columbia University, and Professor of Ethico-Aesthetics at theInstitute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. Founder of Semiotext(e) and organizer of the seminal Schizo-Culture Conference that introduced French theory to the United States, Lotringer divides his time between Baja California and New York City.
Jason Hoelscher - Over the last few days I've been looking over some of your writings, and a thought stuck out that I'd like to get some more input on. Paraphrasing, you stated that contemporary culture is a capitalist Möbius strip. There is no longer another side to it. To start off, I was wondering if you could elaborate on that idea.
Sylvère Lotringer - We live in a world in which everything is constantly evolving and revolving, everything circulating through networks which instantly communicate with myriads of other networks. So it is very important to understand how the entire system works, and how it represents itself. Outwardly it appears as a decentralized system, a global rhizome moving with near speed of light, a complex semiosphere without inside or outside, which keeps reversing itself seamlessly. This system is all the more imperceptible that it circulates everywhere. It blocks the horizon, and we don't have enough distance to identify it for what it is. And yet, looking at it from closer up, we may perceive the main structures of this dizzying technological maze. It is powered by banks and international corporations that operate with near autonomy, according to some quasi-automatic strategies. So the image of the rhizome appears overall adequate, but the intricate systems of command are still prevalent and it just takes something unexpected-a financial crash, terrorist attack-to reveal the way they operate and what they really are about.