Politics of play

also, playful politics

Moloch vs slack. Protestant work ethic versus dilemmas of collective hyperactivity. Free energy vs freeNRG. Gamification versus temporary autonomous zone. Spectacle. PLUR, summers of love, Situationists, Marcuse, Lettrists, punks, voguers and ravers. Culture jammers, adbusters, zinesters, tactical media. Netcultures. Guerilla gardeners. DIY. Grime and hip hop. Leisured classes. Commodification of dissent. Mishan. Bey. Jaromil. Gentrification, hypergentrification, hipsterism. The problematic of proponents of this type of engagement interacting with (and idolising) those who might not have choice about their “playful” engagements - e.g. the hipster currency of Zapatistas. The mining of creative resistance for new strategies by the dominant. Crunkczar. Political power on the dance floor.

“How do the Rave-o-lution of 12 March 2018 in front of the Georgian Parliament in Tbilisi and anti-fascist protests in Berlin relate to ancient Dionysian rituals, and why does the soundtrack to these events come from the drums of African Americans? And to what extent does dance club culture reflect the current socio-political situation and the struggle of individuals or of groups?”

  • David Greaber, What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun?

    I’m not even saying that the position I’m suggesting here—that there is a play principle at the basis of all physical reality—is necessarily true. I would just insist that such a perspective is at least as plausible as the weirdly inconsistent speculations that currently pass for orthodoxy, in which a mindless, robotic universe suddenly produces poets and philosophers out of nowhere.

  • Scott Alexander, Those Modern Pathologies

    […] a sort of productivity fetish, a mindset where anything that doesn’t leave a material token didn’t really happen. Enjoyed the company of your closest friends? Not real unless you put the pictures on Facebook, tagged #bestiesforever. Broadened your horizons with a trip to another culture? Not real without crushed pennies or some other gift-shop tchotchke. Met your soulmate? Not real unless you’ve got a lump of screaming flesh to show for it.

  • Anna Khachiyan, Open Marriage is a Neoliberal Pathology:

    […] because I can’t ever seem to keep my dick in my pants when it comes to the liberal media’s pseudoscientific warblings on love and sex, here’s my unpopular opinion: the marriage institution is in some ways preferable to the sexual gig economy of neoliberal hookup culture because, if nothing else, it frees people from the tyranny of choice and forces them to subordinate their will to others, both of which are essential parts of becoming an adult.

    Open marriage, on the other hand, is a uniquely modern pathology in that it appeals to those who resent having to conform to a standard but for whom the existential terror of not conforming to any standard is too great. Like so much of our culture—co-working arrangements, the self-help and self-care industries, service apps, etc.—it encourages people to dwell in a state of perpetual adolescence, enjoying all the comforts of the old way of doing things while discarding all of the inconveniences (which are repackaged as, in the trendy, millennial market lingo of Silicon Valley, as “inefficiencies”).

  • How to make trouble and influence people

  • Terre Thaemlitz:

    Thaemlitz’s approach to DJing is uncomfortable, because it doesn’t just question our aesthetics, but forces us to re-think our entire notion of the dancefloor experience, to leave our comfort zones and become active participants instead of passive consumers. If that doesn’t sound like an explosive cocktail, then you clearly haven’t been out dancing for a long time.

  • Queer rap

  • Mark Greif, 2010, what was the hipster?:

    Indeed, the White Hipster—the style that suddenly emerged in 1999—inverted Broyard’s model to particularly unpleasant effect. Let me recall a string of keywords: trucker hats; undershirts called “wifebeaters,” worn alone; the aesthetic of basement rec-room pornography, flash-lit Polaroids, and fake-wood paneling; Pabst Blue Ribbon; “porno” or “pedophile” mustaches; aviator glasses; Americana T-shirts from church socials and pig roasts; tube socks; the late albums of Johnny Cash; tattoos.

    Key institutions were the fashion magazine Vice, which moved to New York from Montreal in 1999 and drew on casual racism and porn to refresh traditional women’s-magazine features (“It Happened,” “Dos and Don’ts”) and overcome the stigma of boys looking at photos of clothes; Alife, the hipster-branding consultancy—cum—sneaker store, also launched in 1999, staffed by employees who claimed a rebel background in punk/skateboarding/graffiti to justify why they were now in retail sportswear; and American Apparel, which launched in L.A. in 1997 as an anti-sweatshop T-shirt manufacturer and gradually changed its advertising focus from progressive labor practices to amateur soft-core porn.

    These were the most visible emblems of a small and surprising subculture, where the source of a priori knowledge seemed to be nostalgia for suburban whiteness. As the White Negro had once fetishized blackness, the White Hipster fetishized the violence, instinctiveness, and rebelliousness of lower-middle-class “white trash.” “I love being white, and I think it’s something to be proud of,” Vice founder Gavin McInnes told the Times in 2003.


Akanji, Michelle, Friedrich von Borries, Delphine Chapuis, Teju Cole, Hans-Christian Dani, Steven Duncombe, Anna Feigenbaum, et al. 2018. Protest: The Aesthetics of Resistance. Edited by Basil Rogger, Jonas Vögeli, and Ruedi Widmer. Lars Müller Publishers.
Blake, Ralph Mason. 1926. “Why Not Hedonism? A Protest.” International Journal of Ethics 37 (1): 1–18. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2378203.
Brown, Adrienne. 2019. Pleasure Activism. Chico, CA: AK Press.
Glas, René, Sybille Lammes, Michiel de Lange, and Joost Raessens, eds. 2019. The Playful Citizen: Civic Engagement in a Mediatized Culture. Amsterdam University Press.
Graeber, David. 2014. “What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun?” The Baffler. June 12, 2014. https://thebaffler.com/salvos/whats-the-point-if-we-cant-have-fun.
Kenney, Padraic. 2003. A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe 1989. Princeton University Press.
Krznaric, Roman. 2017. “Put on Your Party Shoes – It’s Time for Political Hedonism | Roman Krznaric.” The Guardian, March 27, 2017, sec. Opinion. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/27/put-party-shoes-political-hedonism.
St. John, Graham, ed. 2001. FreeNRG: Notes from the Edge of the Dance Floor. Altona, Vic: Common Ground Pub. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273016895_FreeNRG_Notes_from_the_edge_of_the_Dancefloor.

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