Workers to Control Chrysler

From the Financial Times (via Dollars & Sense):

The United Auto Workers’ union will own 55 per cent of Chrysler and Italy’s Fiat will eventually own 35 per cent of the carmaker after a balance sheet restructuring, with remaining stock split between Chrysler’s secured lenders and the US federal government, according to a UAW document sent to members on Tuesday.

As noted at Dollars & Sense:

The worker revolution seems to have come not with a bang but with a whimper.

Pub Theory: Cultural Studies when it isn’t

Mel Gregg has a post on her blog about how no one has come forward wanting to host the annual CSAA conference. In the comments she writes this zinger:

But the consistency with which the association has backed away from engaging in activism, on the very basis of its inclusiveness, is perhaps the impasse that is at the bottom of all of this: it is the consequence of trying to accrue the benefits of cultural studies as an empty signifier; of not actually standing for anything.

Empty signifiers have utility purely as fab fashion accessories for the post-post-ironic. I’d also add at this stage that ‘activism’ itself needs to be rethought. I don’t particularly want hippy style activism, thanks. Nor do I want matron-ish bourgeois CWA-style activism. Surely we can do something high impact and which cuts to the heart of the matter?

Then C chimes in critiquing the expectation of running a conference when the structural conditions of employment aren’t there:

A bit rich under such circumstances/conditions of possibility to ask for continuing unaffected enthusiasm and more unpaid labor to roll out a conference, isn’t it? The reason is structural and grounded, not ideological or because of shifting loyalties.

I have rock solid job security (after writing that I’ll probably get sacked next week, lol). So my suggestion in the comments seemed a bit obvious:

Why don’t we bugger the association off and have an anti-conference conference?

Inspired by MelC’s comment:

I think the best bits are long dinners and epic drinking sessions – at one stage we were going to found a new journal, Pub Theory.

Hence, title for conference: Pub Theory: Cultural Studies when it isn’t

Here were my first seven discussion points:

1) Lets have only postgrads, ECRs and super-cool rockstar cultstud ECnR (Early Career non-Researchers, putting their awesome skills to use making money for someone else)
2) No possibility of publication afterwards, unless it is via blog or somesuch
3) It would need to be held over a weekend to allow those working stiffs to attend
4) I vote Sydney for the location, it is between QLD and VIC, cheapest flights from elsewhere, soz SA and WA
5) Ballot accomodation to keep costs down and party up (I can house one person, or three drunks)
6) ??????
7) Profit.

Then I went down to the shops and gave this some more thought.

Another commenter, db, suggested that

Wasn’t it partially about saying to English and Sociology in their grey-bearded days: “Fuck you old farts, your paradigms can’t touch where we’re at, so we’re upending the system and getting amongst it, real f***ing life”. Whatever the procedural issues in Glen’s suggestion, it at least seems to capture that spirit, and I’d fund myself along if I was in the vicinity, cos it sounds like fun.

I like db’s analysis and, having put on my Deleuzian hat in the comments, I suggested we have the potential to differentially repeat the CS-event.

Then I appended the above dot points with a few more:

8 ) Venue, this got me scratching my head for a while… until I remembered that I worked for 2 years in a place (a bookshop) that does 50-200 person events, has PP facilities, a bar, a toilet, books for the bored and loves this sort of thing. Then there are two other similar venues in the same strip (s/h bookshop and a cafe) in that they also have events and also love this sort of thing. I’ll make enquiries. What date suits everyone? Anyone got any other ideas?

9) Themed panels? Now there are two points to this.
a) If my undergraduate years taught me anything it is that themes rock because they allow everyone to dress appropriately. We need awesome themes like “Cultural Studies: Epic Fails” looking at the failures of CS (which is really in the dialectic with all these definitions of CS debates, ie What is CS? counter-histories of counter-histories FTW!), “How to spend someone else’s bureaucracy in ten easy steps!” on how to get funding out/in/beside the institution, and “Producing surplus value in the whatever economy using CS” on exploiting the shit out of hard won critical literacies. So themes, good?
b) Theme t-shirts. We need to take it old school street protest and make our own t-shirts. They will be awesome.

10) Activities, now this is where it gets so awesome I can’t contain myself. We need a committee to organise this, which I can’t be part of so I don’t fuck it up with too much enthusiam. I’ll only offer two words: sing and star.

11) Promotion and fund raising. My first idea is to auction the conference on eBay and tell BoingBoing so it eventually filters through to the MSM. Maybe we could lean on MSM connections to make it happen. If some dickhead can auction off a night out with his mates then we can do the conference. Whoever wins the conference auction gets shared banner naming rights. I really hope it is the Sydney Institute. That would be awesome. But a white knight would suffice, or even a grey knight. This probably also needs a committee. I vote for Richard Branson being on the committee.

12) Oh, that reminds me. Find people to head up the committees. Hmmm, email me at glen dot r dot fuller at gmail dot com if you are keen.

You’ll note the humour. I think it was Elspeth Probyn who once said something along the lines of ‘we’ (being CS scholars, which I am not) need to use humour rather than outright critique when combating a social nemesis.

Temporality of mystery…?

“Time becomes, in effect, palpable and visible; the chronotope makes narrative events concrete, makes them take on flesh, cause blood to flow in their veins.” — Bakhtin, DI, p 250

The techniques by which script writers maintain interest in a serial television show all involve producing a spectacular architecture that distributes bodies in space and time. The space is in front of each viewer’s respective television and the time is every broadcast of the relevant show. This seems to be obvious. Clearly, people who make TV shows want people to watch the TV shows. I am suggesting something a little less obvious than, well, the obvious.

JJ Abrams is guest editor of the latest issue of Wired magazine and his editorial is entitled The Magic of Mystery. Think of the ‘mystery’ less as a simple plot device produced by a singular journey of discovery (or not) towards the truth and more as a device, a machine, for producing relations of futurity between diferent orders of time.

Skipping ahead […] lessens the experience. Diminishes the joy. Makes the accomplishment that much duller.

Perhaps that’s why mystery, now more than ever, has special meaning. Because it’s the anomaly, the glaring affirmation that the Age of Immediacy has a meaningful downside. Mystery demands that you stop and consider—or, at the very least, slow down and discover. It’s a challenge to get there yourself, on its terms, not yours.

Besides sounding like a student of Paul Virilio, my interest is that Abrams defines the value of taking the time to be swept up in mystery as a form of challenge ‘on its terms, not yours.’ What he gets grumpy about in the article is the culture of ‘spoilers’ that has emerged in the context of globalised poular culture and the easy communicatability of the internet. Abrams is of course smart enough to realise that this culture of spoilers presents its own challenges. It is not an issue with the loss of challenges, and correlative waning of affect, but the loss of control over the challenges posed by the Abrams magical mystery tour and the capacity to cultivate the affects of interest and excitement in an audience.
Spoilers short circuit the chronotope of the serialised spectacle. Spoilers get people from in front of their televisions to in front of their computers. They get them downloading the latest episode of their favourite TV show and not waiting to be told when to watch it with a bunch of advertisements.
In Deleuzian parlance the chronotope is a type of abstract machine for crystalised time. It gives the incorporeal events of narrative fiction their materiality. It is not a thing, however, nor is it contained in a book; rather, it is a relation actualised in the dynamic of its affective resonance. When the blood pumps it really pumps, people get excited, they are incited to act, to be.
I am very interested in this question of temporality. I need to figure out someway to do some further work on it. I think it is what I really want to do. This is both exciting and terrifying.