Armen Avanessian, Andreas Töpfer, "Speculative Drawing: 2011–2014" (Sternberg Press).

Armen Avanessian, Andreas Töpfer, “Speculative Drawing: 2011–2014” (Sternberg Press).


Recall that hype is the ratio of expected earnings to earnings (EE/E), whereas the above impressions are based on the ratio of capitalization to earnings (K/E). The latter number reflects both hype and the discount rate (K/E = H/r), so unless we know what capitalists expect, we remain unable to say anything specific about hype. But we can speculate…

Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan, Capital as Power: A Study of Order and Creorder (2009)


The new realist and materialist philosophy and the new political theory which it explicitly inspired, assert that reality can be known and that change is possible. Rather than spell out here what this entails in the various currents of thought that range from New Materialism via Speculative Realism to Accelerationism, I would like to look at the discursive framework and background information that have led to their engagement with the scientific and (financial-) economic phenomena that characterize the early twenty-first century. Yet these phenomena are largely ignored in the everyday academic life of the humanities, marked for decades now by a conservative philologism and a politically motivated, yet nonetheless vague and inert theoretical relativism—the legacy of ’68. In its various guises —“materialistic turn,” “speculative turn”— the abandonment of the dogmata into which poststructuralism and critical theory have petrified has made an undeniable impact. Suddenly, there are alternatives to the stubborn technological and scientific analphabetism of the humanities, alternatives that recuse the dominant cultural pessimism. The astonishing ignorance, enmity even, of the official academic apparatus notwithstanding, these new realisms and materialisms have refocused public attention on philosophical theorizing outside the academic bubble.

The discursive-political framework is linked to the political/economic and intellectual crisis of the university. To understand this crisis, we must first resolve an apparent paradox concerning the self-conception of most humanities scholars. Both the academic field of the humanities and the function of scholars in it are often misunderstood. There is, first of all, the critical self-conception of the protagonists. They see themselves threatened by an increasing economization. What is at stake, in their view, is nothing less than the construction of a bulwark against capitalism (today, capitalism of the neoliberal variety). A more careful historical archaeology of the contemporary university, however, reveals this view to be quite illusory, not to say ideological. This common folkloristic mystification of the past is best countered with an accelerationist perspective on the origins of the modern research university. Only in this way can we develop an alternative scenario which we need, in my view, to focus and conceptualize the considerable deficits of the way the humanities produce theory today—a preliminary but necessary step in bringing about actual change.

How, then, do we think (of the academic present) differently? The starting point would have to be the Humboldt nostalgia, rampant not only in Germany, with its wistful phantasm of an amalgamation of two contradictory claims: to advance research and to promote teaching, a synthesis alleged to have succeeded so much better in the past. This combination, the story goes, makes the free development of academics’ individual talents and creativity possible in the first place and thereby guarantees originality and quality in research, theory production, and knowledge transmission. This high-flown scenario of a gradual decline of Humboldtian ideals, said to be caused primarily by the processes of economization which, after all, do not spare the university, is misleading in more than one way. First of all, it is doubtful, from an accelerationist perspective, whether such a utopian outside of capitalist conditions is even possible. When we look, first, at the origins of the modern research university in Prussia prior to 1800 and, second, at the reactions of contemporary universities after 1800, the situation looks very different from what it is said to be in the ever-popular humanist tale. The judgments of the professoriate back then—be it at the Sorbonne, at the English colleges, or among the Vienna Jesuits—bear a striking resemblance with the laments about the state of affairs we hear today. What Humboldt’s contemporaries merely had an inkling of has today emerged as the (long repressed) historical truth of the modern research university: an economic orientation is inscribed in its very purpose, which is to provide education as professional training. And this shift produces, not as a side effect but as its intended governmental goal, a new type of academic and, in my view, aesthetic subjectivity. The switch from an oral disputatio (which served to demonstrate mastery of the established canon of knowledge) to a written dissertatio (which focuses on innovative research) is one example. Another is the bureaucratization of the universities. Often presented as the result of an increasing capitalization of the institution, it too has an antecedent history in Prussian politics and policing—be critical! is an imperative proclaimed beyond just Königsberg.1 As historian William Clark pointedly remarks: “The researcher as modern hero of knowledge, the civil servant as work of art was a work of German irony.”2

Among the philosophers, including Hegel and Schleiermacher, who were working on this fundamental and, to this day, internationally reverberating reorientation of the university, it is probably Fichte, who in coining the term Wissenschaftskünstler, or academic-artist, has best characterized this new type of subjectivity. The Romantic-idealist university, for him, was to be “a school of the art of the scientific employment of reason” and of “the practical employment of the art of science in life,” from which “artists in life” are to emerge.3 Aesthetics becomes a philosophical discipline at a time when a new “aesthetic regime” (Jacques Rancière) produces, as its correlate, an aesthetic subjectivity.4 Without being able to elaborate it here, it may thus be necessary to take an even broader approach in deriving from the critique artiste the new spirit of capitalism and its “creativity dispositif,” the “‘aesthetic capitalism’ of today” (Andreas Reckwitz),5 than Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello have done in their trailblazing study.6 Even before the Romantic bohème, the matrix of today’s neoliberalism began to take shape in the universities, which are responsible for a general aestheticization of discourse. Autonomy, flexibility, creativity, and all the other ingredients of innovative research were first conceived and employed in precisely those laboratories of the humanities that today, wilfully ignoring their genesis, act the part of distinguished pockets of resistance.

Given such misunderstandings, it comes as no surprise that the critique that has been practiced with such devotion in faculties of humanities for more than two hundred years now often takes the form of “transcendental miserabilism.”7 The main difference between the various forms of critique—be it immanent, external, implicit, explicit, be it called critique or criticality—and the speculative and accelerationist approaches already mentioned lies in the latter’s emphatic insistence on the potential of the future: they attempt a recursive practice of transformation instead of reflecting, in a bad infinity, on the given. The twisted nostalgic look backward—about which Nietzsche already said everything that needs to be said: “O Voltaire! O humanity! O nonsense!”8—leads one to stumble, as it were, backside forward. Accelerationist speculation, on the contrary, advocates an inhuman and optimistic look back from the future onto a past we (still) know as our present. And in contrast to the dromo nihilism of earlier thinkers of speed who were unable or unwilling to oppose a speed posited as absolute by Virilio, contemporary leftist accelerationism conceives of itself as an attempt to subvert or manipulatively appropriate the power relations that tend to be invisible in our hyperdynamic society but do not, for all that, have a priori validity.9 Yet this is not possible in the mode of the nostalgic and folkloristic mystifications of the university’s past. It can only be achieved by means of a rational analysis, by a cognitive mapping of the status quo, and by productively engaging with the very dynamic and speed that our pervasively accelerated society imposes (whether we like it or not).

From an accelerationist point of view, solving societal problems requires contextualizing local problems (e.g. working conditions in the university) within the global. The crisis of the university within globalized capitalism, which is also an intellectual crisis, is usefully defined by a formula articulated by economic theorists Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler (who, not coincidentally, have also harshly criticized the economic innocence of leftist critique): capital is power. Capitalist power takes two forms, price and sabotage. Price is the capitalist medium of power par excellence. “The vast majority of modern capitalists (or their managers) are ‘price makers’: they fix the price of their product and then let ‘market forces’ do the rest for them.”10 In the academic context, constant grading, all the evaluations and reviews that feign objectivity where arbitrariness, if not market interference dominate (the so-called Matthew effect, “that is, the tendency for resources to go to those who already have them”),11 can safely be regarded as equivalents of this logic.12 And this brings us straight to sabotage, which here of course means more than just opportunistic obstruction of certain new ideas within a sclerotic intellectual apparatus. Within the contemporary creativity dispositif, the aesthetic-capitalistic task is to be better than the average, that is, to constantly deliver more and more innovative research than others. Given the previously unimaginable lack of relevance that characterizes much of intellectual production in the humanities today, the option of shutting oneself off from the outside naturally suggests itself: where a great majority rightly doubts the value of their own work, sabotage, as systematic obstruction, becomes a means of choice. It is thus not merely an accident that many early-career researchers are first pushed through the system—from MA to PhD to postdoc after postdoc—before they finally fail and leave or that many academics sell their ignorance of new philosophical or societal tendencies as an expression of professional or philological virtue. This form of sabotage is instead a fundamental principle organizing the academic economy.

This short overview should suffice to show that the folkloristic bulwark of most academics —“kitsch leftism” might be a more appropriate label13—is ideological through and through. The idea that there could be a site beyond the logic of the economy, a possible outside, is closely linked to the nostalgic look back at allegedly pre-capitalist Humboldtian ideals. Given these self-involved reveries, it is not surprising that the Theory offered by the “critical class” is increasingly losing its credibility. One may regret this; it opens the way for conservative and reactionary forces to gain ground within the university. Or one can seize it as an occasion for developing a more progressive position. That is why in recent years, materialist, realist, and speculative positions have asserted themselves against the dusty philologization practiced in philosophy departments—the philologization of phenomenology in France, for example, of critical theory in Germany and of analytical philosophy in the Anglophone countries. And they have been successful, not least because they team up with more radical political positions (post-operaism, technofeminism, accelerationism). And the reaction of the academic establishment? It oscillates for the most part between ignorance and animosity.

Let’s take the example of speculative realism, one of the most important philosophical movements of the early twenty-first century. Movement here is to be taken emphatically in the Deleuzian sense, as the opposite of a “school’s” scholastic tendencies, as a polyphonic conglomerate of young philosophers scattered across the globe whose agility is linked to a certain antagonism and which can, moreover, dissolve and enter into different constellations. What distinguishes individual authors is their outrageous attempt to philosophize and think once again in their own name, to debate the big questions of our time. The reaction of the academic establishment is as uniform as it is unsurprising: these attempts are scandalous usurpations, we’re told, and rereading this or that author of the (almost entirely male) canon would yield much more adequate answers to the pressing questions of our time than some new hype ever could. The immense interest in these new voices outside of classic universities, in art schools or the art world generally, then could only be a superficial and short-lived hype, nothing else.

This symptomatic reproach reveals, I think, a fundamental lack of understanding, on the part of many academics, of how theorizing and its propagation work in the twenty-first century and of the role fashions, hypes, and so-called hyperstitions play in the process. These latter, Nick Land tells us, are

“a positive feedback circuit including culture as a component. It can be defined as the experimental (techno-)science of self-fulfilling prophecies. Superstitions are merely false beliefs, but hyperstitions—by their very existence as ideas—function causally to bring about their own reality. Capitalist economics is extremely sensitive to hyperstition, where confidence acts as an effective tonic, and inversely.”14

Or, in the words of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU) founded during Land’s time at the University of Warwick by Sadie Plant, Mark Fisher, Robin Mackay, and others: “Hype actually makes things happen and uses belief as a positive power. Just because it’s not ‘real’ now, doesn’t mean it won’t be real at some point in the future. And once it’s real, in a sense, it’s always been.” It is no coincidence that these insights into the significance of hypes, bubbles (in speculative finance, in social and mass media, etc.), and hyperstition emerged from the import, comprehension, and appropriation of precisely those theoretical constructs that the authorities in Frankfurt, at the Sorbonne, or in American philosophy departments had only recently accused of being fascist, terroristic, or at least nonsensical. That these intellectual interdicts have turned out to be wrong, to be indefensible positions in the history of ideas, leaves the structural bigotry of large parts of professional philosophy unperturbed.

Philosophical platforms developed independently of these structures which practiced a different kind of philosophy and philosophizing—think of Merve publishers in Germany, Semiotext(e) in the States, or most recently the the English journal Collapse/Urbanomic. (The exception is the ‘revolutionary’ foundation of a university in France, Paris-VIII). They all testify to a hyperstitional efficacy of philosophical theorizing below the radar of philosophical high priests and academic hardliners. In the age of social media, of course, other kinds of platforms and communication channels increasingly serve to introduce hyperstitions into the discursive mix, whence they spread and become active.

This is the point to introduce an important limitation of Land’s dromo nihilistically conceived neologism: “hyperstition accelerates the tendencies towards chaos and dissolution.”15 This limitation concerns the political orientation of progressive accelerationism, which distinguishes between a navigating acceleration and blind speed. (In German, the term Akzeleration—not to be confused with Beschleunigung, i.e. a mere increase of speed—even implies the recursive introduction of a difference into a movement that would otherwise remain circular.) Accordingly, if hyperstition is to have progressive effects, its viral spread must be coupled with a controllable and emancipatory element. But what do hyperstitions know, such that they can manipulate heterogeneous systems, and what types of control do they make available? What types of systems-theoretical and systems-practical knowledge emerge from the transformation of the channels in which they move? First of all: it is neither the formal force of the network, nor the causal constraint of the better argument as regards content that allows hyperstitions to impose themselves on the existing pathways. Instead, it is absolutely central that they never refer merely to a form but also to a content; in the language of contemporary theories of finance, they, not unlike derivatives, have an “underlying.” The relevant contents, therefore, are those (theoretical, philosophical) contents that produce a surplus value of knowledge about the actual consistency of contemporary reality and are thus suitable for constructing channels that promote a change of (academic, philosophical, etc.) reality. At this point, it is both conceptually and (discursively) politically decisive that merely negative or defensive practices, such as neutralizing the evaluating powers in the short term or avoiding academic sabotage, won’t suffice. New brands, fashions, or hypes only have emancipatory and progressive effects when their intrinsic knowledge of forms of distribution simultaneously lead to a redistribution of speaker positions and a retrofitting of channels of information—not just to the establishment of this or that new master doctrine, even if the next such doctrine were a speculative-realist one. In concrete terms: the authority of academic theorizing would have to be relativized in favor of other platforms of philosophical thinking, and philosophical thinking would have to be sought out in other places and be practiced there.

In general terms, every step in the historical development of capitalism comes with a change in its modes of distribution (this applies to knowledge as much as it does to commodities). In the last few decades, an adequate reaction to such changes has time and again been the hallmark of new theorizing on the left. The breadth of such theories’ reception in the academy has been inversely proportional to their speculative lucidity: it is only a slight exaggeration to say that the more developed a theory’s anticipatory qualities were, the longer it had to wait to be accepted by the academy. Examples include current speculative and materialist thinking, rhizomic and nomadic thinking in the work of Deleuze and Guattari, post-operaist political economies or many, many years ago Walter Benjamin, long since integrated into academic orthodoxy.

What is so difficult to understand about this? Is the current pronounced disdain toward any form of discourse that succeeds beyond the beaten scholastic paths merely due to a fear of losing one’s share of the lucrative field of art, which is constantly lusting for new theory fodder? Quite obviously and despite the utmost institutional mobilization, an entire generation of budding artists and curators has more and more trouble doing anything useful with the traditional theoretical instruments. Yet, more importantly, we are today no longer merely dealing with the usual time lag in the reception of new theories. That’s how it used to be in past decades, during which an awkward compromise with their career-happy successors eventually led the guardians of the intellectual status quo to integrate every new theoretical current into the curriculum. What is taking shape today is a fundamental transformation of expanded media, i.e. the mix of classic research and new online universities, art academies, various theory programs in art institutions, etc.: new forms of artistic exploration are emerging, and, like experimental curatorial practices, they mostly move outside the official university circles.

These shifts in the field of discursive production have a correlate in a changed function and practice of authorship. Foucault, in his “What is an Author?” had already pointed out that the author is “neither exactly the owner of his texts nor is he responsible for them; he neither produces nor invents them.” Instead, “that which in the individual we call ‘author’ (or what makes an individual an author) is only [a] projection.”16 At a recent conference in Berlin, the art theorist, David Joselit, picked up on this idea with regard to our information age and articulated the contemporary plasticity of the author as a “profile”: “A profile is both subject and object—it can be owned by the biological person linked to it, or it may be expropriated from her. The profile thus exists at the crossing of alienability versus inalienability of one’s own image as property.” 17 Starting with the figure of Edward Snowden, Joselit thus describes a “new paradigm” in which, in analogy to Benedict Singleton’s and Reza Negarestani’s accelerationist reflections on the topic, alienation is no longer to be conceived simply as the opposite of freedom but as its precondition, as it were. Manipulatively accelerating oneself and one’s environment thus means abandoning the supposition of an ideal outside in favor of accepting an originary alienation. Yet at the same time it means using this entanglement—in Marx’s terms: life in real subsumption—to open a breach to the future. And in that case, even one’s imperfections point the way to changed and future norms – ought rather than is. In the present case, such an ought implies an epistemological as well as a political dimension. On the one hand, to cite Foucault once more, “it is time to study discourses not only in terms of their expressive value or formal trans-formations but according to their modes of existence: the modes of circulation, valorization, attribution, and appropriation.”18 For a politics of discourse, on the other hand, this implies the normative demand to manipulate and change the modes of circulation, valorization, attribution, and appropriation.

From an accelerationist perspective, the decisive question is, once more, to what extent alternative practices of knowledge production and knowledge circulation also entail a different distribution of knowledge, a distribution that achieves more than the conquest of endowed professorships by a new generation of researchers. This redistribution marks the difference from the “march through the institutions” advocated by the generation of ’68. A circulating attractor—which can be a conceptual persona, a personal profile, a transdiscursive instaurateur, a particular discursive intersection, or a philosophical idea—reconfigures the forms of distribution, it changes the context, and the success of this change, in my view, depends not least on the content of the attractor, hyperstition, or brand. In any case the manipulation of existing conditions of distribution has to be part of the underlying content.

The poetic quality of hyperstitions is evident in many artistic works, and even in the early days of institutional critique (before its own institutionalization and academization began to suffocate it). In general, the field of art is the best terrain on which to learn how poeisis, the production or bringing-into-reality, the letting-become-real of something new functions. This implies, of course, not limiting oneself to merely writing about art. For that, precisely, is one of the most conspicuous symptoms of institutionalized criticality with its third-party–funded conferences about antiquated institutional critique. In the best of cases, these exercises feature breathtaking intellectual pirouettes that name the market mechanisms everyone is already familiar with—but these insights are hardly ever mobilized in an accelerationist manner (and there is, of course, the danger of contemporary speculative and accelerationist theories being appropriated by curators, gallery owners, and other market players). Instead of parasitically appropriating the constantly expanding field of art for an entirely unaesthetic agenda, for example, academized reflection about art usually leads to a mere affirmation of the status quo, to an active participation even in the much-derided capitalization one pretends to criticize — for example in the conversion of symbolic into economic capital which takes place in the writing of texts for exhibition catalogs. This to my mind is an inadequate conception in more than one sense. On the one hand, it is inadequate to today’s entirely post-conceptual art, which is nonetheless often analyzed by art-historically trained theorists purely in terms of content, neglecting its performative or poietic ability to make fictions realities. On the other hand, it testifies to the inadequacies of academic theorizing. Christian Marrazi’s diagnosis of the neoliberal orientation of academic economics, of “[p]olitical discourse’s delayed reaction to the post-Fordist transformation . . . with regard to what has happened in the world of scientific research,” applies to other disciplines as well.19

It is a precondition for accelerating academia that both the university and its protagonists are understood to always be tied into a social, and at least potentially global, context. To ignore this is to deprive abstract political theories of all efficacy in confronting contemporary neoliberal forms of distribution. No wonder that a large part of political science does not (or cannot, or does not want to, or… the question of modal verbs becomes negligible here) change anything about the concrete economic conditions of discursive distribution. Hence the suggestion, in my recent polemic Overwrite: Ethics of Knowledge/Poetics of Existence, that we cut back on venting academic political theory and start politicizing academic thinking in all its material dimensions (its settings of writing, its spaces of communication, its mafia-like practices of evaluation). If any transformation or acceleration of the academic situation is to be brought about, political engagement with today’s university has to understand these local details in their global economic context.

Any precise political localization within a global political context also always has an ethical dimension that barely surfaces in the everyday career-driven life of academia. The primary aspect here is not the subject (who?) or the content (what?) of speech but its exact localization: Where do I speak from as an author, which position do I thereby assume, which is my profile? An ethics or politics of knowledge and a poetics (not aesthetics!) of knowledge intersect where a method becomes existential, where the site of the self shifts. This is not to be confused with the function of the deicitic shifts literary theory draws on to explore the power of fiction (the amalgamation of protagonist and reader, the reader’s entry into the novel’s imaginary world).20 It is a poetic practice for the simple reason that academic thinking is tied to the act of writing (and only as a consequence of, for example, perception, sensation, or aesthetic experience). The widespread failure to understand the poietic nature of writing in the humanities is, in my view, due to the hegemony of aesthetic thinking. The production of texts is regarded as a purely practical activity; everything else is, at most, of stylistic value. Under the auspices of the general aestheticization of philosophy since 1800, all we are left with is the kind of unproductive alternatives with which the futile debates about postmodernism (a blurring of the distinction between literature and theory versus the ignorant and adamant insistence on academic cleanliness) have familiarized us. Taking seriously the fundamental deictic capacity of language, however, reveals that the poetic transformative power of philosophical thinking might locate us differently in the world, might allow me to look onto the world differently from my new perspective. Every subversive new idea, every metanoietic insight forces us to assume a new position in the world.

There is yet another reason why the narrative tactics that sharpen our sense of the strangeness of our own production are not the same as the tactics we know from literary fiction and why they do not, by any means, necessarily end up in aestheticizing discourse. On the contrary, they guarantee that the one writing, or the ‘author’ (remembering Foucault’s description of his status as a psychological projection), does not give in to the “fiction of his proper place” or assume a fixed position but instead remembers the heterogeneity and contingency, the produced or poeticized narration of himself and his environment (Foucault’s famous “science fiction”). My object has reinvented me, and the reasons why each and every part of reality now has to be understood differently, therefore, are not subjective but systematic. Such an existentialization of one’s method is a recursive combination (not a reflective critique!) – the possibility of localizing oneself as one is writing, of actualizing oneself via one’s projects. The role abduction performs in logic can be transposed onto textual practices: writing oneself, writing what has not yet been known and thereby writing (something) different(ly), over-writing oneself.21 This is linked to a narrative practice interested as much in retelling the future as it is in genealogies of alternative pasts, always with a view to actualizing hyperstitions and heresies. At strategically important points, such genealogical retelling, it seems to me, is the very opposite of thinking in terms of a history of philosophy whose practice in contemporary philosophy departments is so unproductive, destructive even, in its seamless transposition of texts from concepts into a politics of discourse. It is hard to think of a more efficient way to ban thinking from the institution than breaking down the texts one reads into strategic positions to be assumed and critical frontlines or limits to be drawn—such a program negates and ruins the speculative and poetic moment of all theorizing.

Epistemological, ethical, and political aspects cannot be separated. A new theoretical formation also changes the subject of research or the profile of its author and necessarily leads to conflicts with the methodological status quo. Inversely, every conflict concerning the politics of discourse starts from a poietic truth that affects not only the subject of knowledge but its object as well. Becoming what one has come to know in speculation or manipulative abduction means to assume, in the emphatic sense, responsibility for a new insight into or view onto the world. In the humanities, this is usually tied to developing a new method and attempting to construct a new paradigm (Foucault’s instructeur). As in the sciences, this is neither simply a matter of logical deduction nor one of aesthetic induction (the infinitely dismal reflective power of judgment) but a question of abduction. Rather than simply subsuming the singular under a general law, abduction produces a positive association with other singular cases and thereby unsettles the established general as well. The form of inference that is abduction, first discussed by Charles Sanders Peirce and now widely investigated in the philosophy of science, has a (new) singular emergence only when a new rule is invented for it. This has to be the accelerationist goal of work in the humanities, too. It is by no means enough to pick the right opponents in one’s specialty, as the practice of decades spent writing theses of various kinds would have it. Only a recursive intervention and the abductive manipulation of the objects of research in the humanities can further this goal. Henceforth, the newness of a theory can always also be gauged by the conflicts it gives rise to in the everyday life of the academy, no matter whether what is at issue is an academic thesis, a literary text, or a work of art.

Only the best possible manipulation and exploitation of existing power strategies will yield the information necessary for change. And only exact localization (the local) opens the view onto the future, and only the view onto the greater whole (the global) allows for new localizations. That is why poetic recursion, which places differentiated parts into a new whole, is the opposite pole of aesthetic reflection. Poetics is transformative doing, and it is tied to the aforementioned speculative production of reality, a production that often teams up with theoretical heresies, hyperstitions, and tricksters’ conflicts with one’s surroundings. “Common to all tricksters,” Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams tell us, “is the use of a cunning intelligence to devise technology, deployed as a tool of the weak against the strong. The trickster logic of production is above all inventive, often weaponizing empathy with its targets into an effective trap with which to ensnare them.”22 The practice of a politics of the university—which can be classified as “parasitic” in Michel Serres’s sense23—requires tricksters and chameleons, deserters and whistleblowers, loose cannons and renegades. The watchword, therefore, is not Imagine academia and nobody cares but Imagine the (political) philosophy of the future to be somewhere else, and we are already thinking it. Academia, accelerate!

Translated by Nils F. Schott

1 See Armen Avanessian, Überschrift: Ethik des Wissens und Poetik der Existenz (Berlin: Merve, 2015), 24-46. An English translation is forthcoming from Sternberg Press.

2 William Clark, Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 211.

3 Johann Gottlieb Fichte, “Deduzierter Plan einer zu Berlin zu errichtenden höheren Lehranstalt, die in gehöriger Verbindung mit einer Akademie der Wissenschaften stehe (1807),” Idee und Wirklichkeit einer Universität: Dokumente zur Geschichte der Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Berlin, ed. Wilhelm Weischedel (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1960), 34.

4 Jacques Rancière, Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art, trans. Zakir Paul (London and New York: Verso, 2013).

5 Andreas Reckwitz, Die Erfindung der Kreativität: Zum Prozess gesellschaftlicher Ästhetisierung (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2012), 11.

6 Luc Boltanski und Ève Chiapello, The New Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Gregory Elliott (London: Verso, 2005).

7 Nick Land, “Critique of Transcendental Miserablism,” 15 January 2007,

8 Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, trans. Judith Norman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 35.

9 Paul Virilio, Speed and Politics: An Essay on Dromology, trans. Mark Polizzotti (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986).

10 Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, Capital as Power: A Study of Order and Creorder (Milton Park: Routledge, 2009), 242. About the simplemindedness of leftist critique in matters of economic theory they write: “most self-respecting critics of capitalism remain happily ignorant of its ‘economics’ . . . This innocence is certainly liberating. It allows critics to produce ‘critical discourse’ littered with cut-and-paste platitudes, ambiguities and often plain nonsense. Seldom do their ‘critiques’ tell us something important about the forces of contemporary capitalism, let alone about how these forces should be researched, understood and challenged” (4).

11 Michèle Lamont, How Professors Think (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009), 8.

12 Nitzan and Bichler, Capital as Power, 242. The precarious objectivity of Anglo-American evaluation procedures is the topic of innumerable articles that strongly disagree with Lamont’s still valuable account. On market interference in the way outside funding is allocated in Germany, see for example Richard Münch, “Wissenschaft im Schatten von Kartell, Monopol und Oligarchie: Die latenten Effekte der Exzellenzinitiative,” Leviathan 34, no. 4 (December 2006): 466-486.

13 Reza Negarestani, for example, speaks of “kitsch Marxism” (see his “The Labor of the Inhuman, Part I: Human,” e-flux, 2014, Accessed 26th of February, 2016,

14 Nick Land and Delphi Carstens, “Hyperstition: An Introduction,” 2009, Accessed 26th of February, 2016,

15 Quoted in Delphi Carstens, “Hyperstition,” 2010, Accessed 26th of February, 2016,


Michel Foucault, Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur?” in Michel Foucault, Dits et écrits, ed. Daniel Defert, François Ewald, and Jacques Lagrange, vol. 1, 789–821 (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), 789 and 801; most of this text has been published in English under the title “What is an Anthor?” trans. Josué V. Harari, in Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984, vol. 2: Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology, ed. James D. Faubion, 205–23 (New York: New Press, 1997).

17 I am grateful to David Joselit for granting permission to quote from the manuscript of the talk he gave at the Lunch Bytes: Thinking about Art and Digital Culture conference at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin on March 20, 2015.

18 Foucault, “Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur?” 810; “What is an Author?” 220.

19 Christian Marazzi, “Rules for the Incommensurable,” Substance: A Review of Theory & Literary Criticism 36, no. 1 (2007), 13.

20 See Käte Hamburger, The Logic of Literature, trans. Marilynn J. Rose, 2nd rev. ed. (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1993), and compare the critical expansion of Hamburger’s approach in Armen Avanessian and Anke Hennig, Present Tense: A Poetics, trans. Nils F. Schott with Daniel Hendrickson (New York: Bloomsbury, 2015).

21 On abductive logic, Charles Sanders Peirce, Pragmatism und Pragmaticism, vol. 5 of Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, ed. Charles Hartshorne, Paul Weiss, and Arthur W. Burks (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995), 5:182–92.

22 Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, “On Cunning Automata,” Collapse 7 (2014), 493–4.

23 Michel Serres, The Parasite, trans. Lawrence R. Schehr (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007), 207.