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Breathing: Chaos and Poetry

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The increasingly chaotic rhythm of our respiration, and the sense of suffocation that grows everywhere: an essay on poetical therapy. Since the hopeful days of the Occupy movement, many things have changed in the respiration of the world, and we have entered a cycle of spasm, despair, and chaos. Breathing is a book about the increasingly chaotic rhythm of our respiration, a The increasingly chaotic rhythm of our respiration, and the sense of suffocation that grows everywhere: an essay on poetical therapy. Since the hopeful days of the Occupy movement, many things have changed in the respiration of the world, and we have entered a cycle of spasm, despair, and chaos. Breathing is a book about the increasingly chaotic rhythm of our respiration, about the sense of suffocation that grows everywhere.“I can't breathe.” These words panted by Eric Garner before dying, strangled by a police officer on the streets of Staten Island, capture perfectly catching the overall sentiment of our time. In Breathing, Franco "Bifo" Berardi comes back to the subject that was the core of his 2011 book, The Uprising: the place of poetry in the relations between language, capital, and possibility. In The Uprising, he focuses on poetry as an anticipation of the trend toward abstraction that led to the present form of financial capitalism. In Breathing, he tries to envision poetry as the excess of the field of signification, as the premonition of a possible harmony inscribed in the present chaos. The Uprising was a genealogical diagnosis. Breathing is an essay on poetical therapy. How we deal with chaos, as we know that those who fight against chaos will be defeated, because chaos feeds upon war? How do we deal with suffocation? Is there a way out from the corpse of financial capitalism?


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The increasingly chaotic rhythm of our respiration, and the sense of suffocation that grows everywhere: an essay on poetical therapy. Since the hopeful days of the Occupy movement, many things have changed in the respiration of the world, and we have entered a cycle of spasm, despair, and chaos. Breathing is a book about the increasingly chaotic rhythm of our respiration, a The increasingly chaotic rhythm of our respiration, and the sense of suffocation that grows everywhere: an essay on poetical therapy. Since the hopeful days of the Occupy movement, many things have changed in the respiration of the world, and we have entered a cycle of spasm, despair, and chaos. Breathing is a book about the increasingly chaotic rhythm of our respiration, about the sense of suffocation that grows everywhere.“I can't breathe.” These words panted by Eric Garner before dying, strangled by a police officer on the streets of Staten Island, capture perfectly catching the overall sentiment of our time. In Breathing, Franco "Bifo" Berardi comes back to the subject that was the core of his 2011 book, The Uprising: the place of poetry in the relations between language, capital, and possibility. In The Uprising, he focuses on poetry as an anticipation of the trend toward abstraction that led to the present form of financial capitalism. In Breathing, he tries to envision poetry as the excess of the field of signification, as the premonition of a possible harmony inscribed in the present chaos. The Uprising was a genealogical diagnosis. Breathing is an essay on poetical therapy. How we deal with chaos, as we know that those who fight against chaos will be defeated, because chaos feeds upon war? How do we deal with suffocation? Is there a way out from the corpse of financial capitalism?

30 review for Breathing: Chaos and Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joe Meyers

    A nugget: ‘Americans have chosen Donald Trump because he perfectly embodies that which is absolutely impenetrable by irony, absolutely inaccessible by culture, by humanity, by compassion. Trump’s dumbness is an effect of the self-loathing that stems from the disconnect between America’s mythology of infinite potency and its experienced reality of supreme impotence. The cynicism of Trumpism grows from the neoliberal Empire of Chaos; it is an aggressive self-assertion of losers who identify with a A nugget: ‘Americans have chosen Donald Trump because he perfectly embodies that which is absolutely impenetrable by irony, absolutely inaccessible by culture, by humanity, by compassion. Trump’s dumbness is an effect of the self-loathing that stems from the disconnect between America’s mythology of infinite potency and its experienced reality of supreme impotence. The cynicism of Trumpism grows from the neoliberal Empire of Chaos; it is an aggressive self-assertion of losers who identify with a perceived winner, of humiliated people who identify with a humiliator in chief.’ - Franco Berardi, ‘Breathing’

  2. 5 out of 5

    Aslı Can

    Franco ''Bifo'' Berardi, takip ettiğim yazarlardan birisi. Yaşadığımız çağa dair analizlerini ve fikirlerini okumak, diğer yazar ve düşünürleri nasıl sentezlediğini görmek hep ufkumu açıyor. Bu kitabında da nefes, kaos ve şiir gibi kavramların yanında; ritm, spazm, kehanet, panik gibi kavramlar üzerinden çağımızın psiko-sosyal, politik, kültürel- kısacası her türlü okumasını yapıyor. Kitapta Bifo, nefesin ortak ritmini, evrensel soluğu aramaya çıkmış, vardığı yer ise şiirin kaosuna izin verecek Franco ''Bifo'' Berardi, takip ettiğim yazarlardan birisi. Yaşadığımız çağa dair analizlerini ve fikirlerini okumak, diğer yazar ve düşünürleri nasıl sentezlediğini görmek hep ufkumu açıyor. Bu kitabında da nefes, kaos ve şiir gibi kavramların yanında; ritm, spazm, kehanet, panik gibi kavramlar üzerinden çağımızın psiko-sosyal, politik, kültürel- kısacası her türlü okumasını yapıyor. Kitapta Bifo, nefesin ortak ritmini, evrensel soluğu aramaya çıkmış, vardığı yer ise şiirin kaosuna izin verecek cesaret olmuş. Yer yer distopik bir dünya görüşüne kaysa da, Bifo'nun kanısı geçmişte çağımızı en iyi okuyanların distopya yazarları olduğı yönünde. Sadece kafanızı bulandırmak için bile okuyabilirsiniz. Son zamanlarda yogaya yoğunlaşmamla nefesle ilişkim epey değişti. Özellikle solunum yollarını etkileyen, hepimize maskeler taktıran evrensel bir salgının insanca yorumlanması sonucu iyice nefessiz kaldığımız düşünüldüğünde, nefes üzerine düşünmek, kendi nefesinin özgün ritmini yeniden bulmak ve en önemlisi nefes aldığımızı hatırlamak (sahi hep oradaydı?) gibi merakı olanlara tavsiyemdir. Yer yer dili zor olsa da, kesinlikle size bir şeyler katacaktır. Kitapta Deleuze, Guattari, Jonathan Franzen gibi yazarların yanı sıra, Hint felsefesine de sıklıkla değiniliyor. Bir de Bifo, Türkiye siyasetini de takip ettiği için, yer yer Erdoğan'ın ismi de geçiyor kitapta. Farklı bir okuma için de uğranabilir. Bu kitabı neden mi okumalısınız: birincisi yaşadığımız herhangi bir sıkıntı, kaygı, bunalımın kökenlerini anlamak ve nihayetinde yalnız olmadığımızı görmek için. İkincisi, kendi kaçış çizgilerimizi çizebilmek adına güzel bir rehber olduğu için. Üçüncüsü, ne aradığını bilmez halde bir şeyler arıyormuş gibi görünürken, belki de önce neyi kaybettiğimizi bulmamız gerektiği için. Dördüncüsü, bilimkurgu/distopya okuru olduğunuz ve bu türe yoğun ilgi duyduğunuz için. Beşincisi, okuduğunuzu gördüğümde yaşayacağım mutluluğu bana tattırmak için :) Özellikle, kitabın henüz corona diye bir salgının olmadığı 2017 yılında yazıldığı düşünüldüğünde, belki de analizlerine daha çok kulak vermeliyiz dedirtiyor. Çizdiklerim içninden kararsızca seçtiğim birkaç alıntı ekliyorum. ''İçinde bulunduğumuz nefessizlik durumuna ithaf edilmiş olan bu yeni kitapta, boğulmaktan kaçınmanın yegane yolu olarak şiir metaforuna geri dönüyorum.'' ''Ne var ki, bedenler artık hesaplama tarafından yönetilen bir dünyada yaşıyor. Hesaba dayalı teoloji de toplumsal yaşamı ve dili kapsamakta, bir belirlenim çağlayanı oluşmaktadır. Bu belirlenim alanında, bedenler, ancak hüküm süren matematik teolojisinin düzeninde uyumlularsa etkin şekilde hareket edebilirler; aksi taktider indirgenemez artıklar olarak ötekileştirilirler. '' ''Birlikte nefes almak tehlikeli hale geldiğinde, herkes tek başına nefes almak zorunda kaldı; bireysel solunum ritmi ekonomik rekabetin hızını takip etmek zorunda kaldı.'' ''Fakat bu hakikat ancak çölde vahalar bulabildiğimiz müddetçe korkutucu olmaktan çıkar: Dostluk, aşk entellektüel ve erotik paylaşım, ittifak, ortak bir peyzajın izdüşümü. Bu vahalar, duyumsal bilinçliliğin ve ortak tahayyülün önkoşuludur.'' EK: Bundan birkaç kitap önce Tom Robbins'in Ağaçkakan'ının okudum ve bu iki kitabın birbirlerinin farklı izdüşümleri olduklarını düşünmeden edemiyorum nedense.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Desiderio

    Whew. Have been admiring Franco “Bifo” Berardi from afar the past few months, and, I have to say, this as my first exposure to his intellect is both a blessing and a curse. I am totally enamored with his brain and expert means of synthesis in ways that both upend academic orthodoxy and transform what is functionally possible. I’ll definitely be devouring the rest of his prolific writings in due time, to say the least. Glad to number myself as a Bifo convert, although both my wallet and my percep Whew. Have been admiring Franco “Bifo” Berardi from afar the past few months, and, I have to say, this as my first exposure to his intellect is both a blessing and a curse. I am totally enamored with his brain and expert means of synthesis in ways that both upend academic orthodoxy and transform what is functionally possible. I’ll definitely be devouring the rest of his prolific writings in due time, to say the least. Glad to number myself as a Bifo convert, although both my wallet and my perception may regret it before long (both because his books are relatively hard to come by without pirating, which I hate because screen-reading is shit, or without succumbing to Amazon or massive indie booksellers like Powell’s, which is almost as bad with regard to shipping distance and the bald reality of capitalist outgrowth in book commoditization... as well as because there’s a bleak truth to autonomist thinking that is perhaps easy to distill as grimly nihilistic; I prefer to think of it as wholly liberatory in the emancipatory sense: that true liberation lies in our disciplined but nonlinear and intrinsically unique (yet never-ending) refinements of our consciousness, both collective and individual, and unabashed probing of their complements, the collective unconscious and individuated unconscious, on the road to what Berardi terms the “tuning in to singular becoming with the cosmic game.”

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    Horkheimer & Adorno located the seeds of modernism’s own destruction in humanity's dislocation in the universality of reason. Berardi attempts to close this prediction as he sees seeds sprout into stalks. If the enlightenment began as a project to exercise science & reason to control the chaos of nature (ostensibly to empower humanity to find freedom), the current stage of techno/neoliberal capitalism has identified human freedom itself as the next frontier of natural chaos that must be controll Horkheimer & Adorno located the seeds of modernism’s own destruction in humanity's dislocation in the universality of reason. Berardi attempts to close this prediction as he sees seeds sprout into stalks. If the enlightenment began as a project to exercise science & reason to control the chaos of nature (ostensibly to empower humanity to find freedom), the current stage of techno/neoliberal capitalism has identified human freedom itself as the next frontier of natural chaos that must be controlled & brought under heel. Science fiction stories such as the Terminator once served as literal warnings of how technology might someday rise up in the form of a rogue Artificially Intelligence robot, subjugating us through violence. It turns out that reality is both much more mundane as well as intractable – it turns out the tools from which we have built towards collective liberation have become so complex & unwieldly that they can only respond to the cybernetic control of the digitized market. Democracy, meant in a broad sense as the ability of a society to govern itself, is an impossibility as capital responsive technologies have overgrown our social worlds. In a 1946 text titled The Question of German Guilt, Karl Jaspers distinguished between historical Nazism and quintessential Nazism. Historical Nazism has been defeated, he says, but the cult of efficiency has not been, and this cult of efficiency is the core of quintessential Nazism. Economic competition does not accept any political regulation, any ethical limitation: cynicism, the systematic disregard for ethics, is a common feature of Nazism and the neoliberal cult of competition. The difference lies in the fact that Nazism was based on political violence and military dictatorship, while today’s global competition is based on the embedding of technological automatisms into the living body of society. Berardi introduces an introducing paradox – as humanity increasingly submits itself to the techno rhythm of universal digitization, instantaneous access, and total tech knowledge, humanity begins to increasingly cultivate attachments to locality & identity. In this way, he dismisses the identarian turn linking it directly to the logic of the Holocaust – oversimplifying to the point where I find fault in his argument. But by explanating the rise of totalitarianism from modernity itself (and now what Soshana Zuboff would call instrumentarianism), he provides explanatory power to its origins & why there is so much uncertainty, confusion, and skepticism in this field of social conflict. I read this booklet about the same time I read Surveillance Capitalism (Zuboff) – a wider treatment of growing power being cultivated by Silicon Valley tech giants. Though coming from a more abstract place, Birardi’s book has significant overlap in theme & subject matter. And while I really enjoyed it – and will perhaps study it further in the future – the 150 pages of the booklet could alternatively be distilled down into the credo: “things are hopeless. Nurturing your own spirit is the only political agency we have left in this current moment.” While I am surely mischaracterizing his thesis by ignoring nuance (and perhaps being weak by preferring a tone of analysis that feels more familiar), I still cannot shake a preference for the hopeful optimism of Zuboff to Berardi. She does not abandon the Enlightenment but rather props it up with the hopeful possibility that humanity’s project can advance if we reclaim knowledge & political will to address the problems of machine control. In contrast, this is Berardi in the closing chapter: “This is why the rebels who marched against the G7 summit in Hamburg in July 2017 carried a banner welcoming everybody to hell. The question that we must answer now is, can we speak of ethical behavior in hell? The first answer that comes to my mind is no. No, because in hell empathy is self-harming. Empathic sensibility, in fact, is an open door to the inflow of surrounding suffering. This is why in hell people tend to keep to themselves and tend to close their empathic doors—in order to avoid being harmed by the spreading violence and surrounding suffering.” Yikes. Put into context, below he wraps up the thought… Since this book is about breathing as a vibrational search to attune oneself to one’s environment, I must say at this point that in the social sphere (the sphere of conspiration) this search is currently destined to fail. People feel this impossibility and they tend to become selfish and cynical, and therefore depressed and self-loathing. Since solidarity has been cancelled, only revenge is left: revenge of the impoverished against the oppressed (racism), revenge of the oppressed against women (macho violence), revenge of everybody against everybody else (brutality). So I’m trying to displace the field of the vibrational search from social conspiration to cosmic expiration, to the dissolution of the individual (me) into the cosmic dimension of nothingness. What is the rhythm of nothingness? Orgasmic vibration is an example of attuning with the bio- rhythms of another body: sinking into unconsciousness may suddenly fling wide the doors of cosmic perception. The French call orgasm petite mort (little death), meaning an intense momentary loss or weakening of consciousness that enables a vision of nothingness and simultaneously opens the possibility of listening to the sound of chaosmosis. Philosophy must consciously forge concepts for the attunement of the mind and body to the process of becoming nothingness. Poetry has to prepare our lungs to breathe at the rhythm of death. Is this poetry or a disgusting philosophy justifying complete political apathy in our hell world? Should we abandon the enlightenment even though we have nothing else or use its tools to advance a harm reduction agenda? Regardless of your take to these macro questions, the questions are thought provoking I must admit, I do not entirely understand Berardi’s cursory references to Deleuze & Guattari concepts of “Chaosmosis” as developed in A Thousand Plateaus, a book far from my bookshelf due to its famed for its inaccessibility. And, likewise, his conversations around rhythm and breathing were both poetically beautiful yet hard to take anything concrete away from. I may someday go back to read more carefully these early & closing chapters - perhaps with some companion reading in some of his original sources cited to more fully appreciate the poetry. But I suppose this also is adjacent to the purpose of his book – to call out the tragic exhaustion of possible solutions to our predicament in the current semiotic space, and to point us towards somewhere beyond – something unsaid, unimagined, and currently thought to be possible that may someday emerge from the rhythms of chaos which grow in our world. Rather than tuning our personal vibrations to those of the system (through things like careerism, sustainable capitalism, social media, identarian outrage, renewable investments, etc. etc. etc. – all of which aims to control these rhythms of chaos to the a systemic tempo) – we should tune into the rhythm in the chaos, and breath. If anyone can figure out what that means...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This book was brought to my attention following a series of events that landed me in a central London museum centered around the visual representation of chaos and anxiety. It was there that a quote from this book caught my attention, and I added the book to my list with the ambition of reading it later. This book is overloaded with academic vocabulary and references to generationally old texts, making it hard to follow at times. The central message is also distinctly hard to decipher, as it’s o This book was brought to my attention following a series of events that landed me in a central London museum centered around the visual representation of chaos and anxiety. It was there that a quote from this book caught my attention, and I added the book to my list with the ambition of reading it later. This book is overloaded with academic vocabulary and references to generationally old texts, making it hard to follow at times. The central message is also distinctly hard to decipher, as it’s one that’s profoundly unique and I will do my very best to convey my interpretation. The author makes the point that our minds are inherently bounded by language, as language is bounded by interpretation and perception. In order to extract increased meaning from our language, we look to poetry, with its ability to transcend basic consciousness and measure, as our gateway into entering a true rhythm. This ‘rhythm’ which evolves in an innate fashion like that of the cosmos, yields a more natural existence than restrictive, post-industrial capitalism, which has turned humans into scapegoating, anxiety-ridden prisoners of their own minds. Achieving this incredibly difficult task — which entails following a poetic, divine rhythm to disconnect from noise and chaos — is how we truly ‘breathe’ as humans. When the book connects theory with the physical world, we see a fair bit of brilliance: “Those who wage war against chaos will be defeated, as chaos feeds on war. When chaos is swallowing the mind (including the social mind), we should not be afraid of it, we should not strive to subjugate chaos to that order. That will not work, because chaos is stronger than order. So, we should make friends with chaos, and in the whirlwind we should look for the superior order that chaos brings in itself.” I found it contradictory to address specific political concerns while discussing the increasing importance of disconnecting from such affairs. I found it completely bombastic in its use of academic language and psychology terms. It was a tough read aiming to find the solution to unhealthy post-modernism in the 21st century; attacking such an issue will always be difficult. Not sure that I would recommend it. 3/5

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rhys

    A welcome mix of critical analysis and poetic thought, with a eye on emancipation. "Poetry is the excess which breaks the limit and escapes measure. The ambiguousness of poetical words, indeed, may be defined as semantic overinclusiveness. … Excessiveness is the condition of revelation, of emancipation from established meaning and of the disclosure of an unseen horizon of signification: the possible" (p.20). A welcome mix of critical analysis and poetic thought, with a eye on emancipation. "Poetry is the excess which breaks the limit and escapes measure. The ambiguousness of poetical words, indeed, may be defined as semantic overinclusiveness. … Excessiveness is the condition of revelation, of emancipation from established meaning and of the disclosure of an unseen horizon of signification: the possible" (p.20).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Douglas

    We're in interesting times. We're in interesting times.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    This book was already annoying me when I got to the ENTIRE CHAPTER on Franzen's Purity, including this gem: "Reading Franzen's work is the best way to gain insight into what is happening to the American mind, and particularly to the American unconscious, during the reign of Trump." W.T.A.F? Everything about this book appeals to me in theory, but in reality it's too much word salad and overconfidence from someone with an embarrassingly narrow perspective. This book was already annoying me when I got to the ENTIRE CHAPTER on Franzen's Purity, including this gem: "Reading Franzen's work is the best way to gain insight into what is happening to the American mind, and particularly to the American unconscious, during the reign of Trump." W.T.A.F? Everything about this book appeals to me in theory, but in reality it's too much word salad and overconfidence from someone with an embarrassingly narrow perspective.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mat Wenzel

    Berardi doesn't offer a solution to the abyss we find ourselves in right now. He describes it deeply and from many different angles. And in the end, he offers a bridge--an unexpected, but familiar forgotten bridge. Berardi doesn't offer a solution to the abyss we find ourselves in right now. He describes it deeply and from many different angles. And in the end, he offers a bridge--an unexpected, but familiar forgotten bridge.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Grant

    I love Berardi, this is the second book I’ve read by him and I think I’ll read more.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Spencer A

    one of bifo's best one of bifo's best

  12. 4 out of 5

    Adam John

    Bifo is a great diagnostician—the therapeutic solutions he offers feel less like solutions than they do extensions of his diagnoses but he is fun to read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matt Dowdy

    'Friendship is the condition for the experience - the existence - of meaning.' 'Friendship is the condition for the experience - the existence - of meaning.'

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jack B

    Fresh and enlightening perspective on the value of poetry in our modern lives. Who knew! Get to know Jonathan Franzen before cracking this open (particularly, Purity). Good vibes.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alexander

    Un libro interesante que recopila de forma sucinta muchas de las tesis del autor en libros anteriores (particularmente FUTURABILIDAD La era de la impotencia y el horizonte de la posibilidad y Fenomenología del fin. Sensibilidad y mutación conectiva.). El título es engañoso en parte: no trata directamente de la poesía, aunque su referencia a la poesía como nombre general para la creación espontánea, amorosa, corporal, artística puede considerarse como una base para ulteriores reflexiones que vinc Un libro interesante que recopila de forma sucinta muchas de las tesis del autor en libros anteriores (particularmente FUTURABILIDAD La era de la impotencia y el horizonte de la posibilidad y Fenomenología del fin. Sensibilidad y mutación conectiva.). El título es engañoso en parte: no trata directamente de la poesía, aunque su referencia a la poesía como nombre general para la creación espontánea, amorosa, corporal, artística puede considerarse como una base para ulteriores reflexiones que vinculen lo estético y lo político.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Noah

    never read a zizek or a byung-chul han or a mark fisher or a bifo before this, so I've never really been in this film/F.A./digital arts etc. domain of writing. it's mostly alright, but I enjoyed chapters 6 and 7 on american individuality and its characters (atomization, if you like that term), online dating, etc. never read a zizek or a byung-chul han or a mark fisher or a bifo before this, so I've never really been in this film/F.A./digital arts etc. domain of writing. it's mostly alright, but I enjoyed chapters 6 and 7 on american individuality and its characters (atomization, if you like that term), online dating, etc.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Javier Galarza

    Retomar los análisis de Heidegger sobre Hölderlin y la Octava Elegía de Rilke junto al "i can't breathe" de la policía asesina y la pandemia. El camino hacia una reparación poética. Retomar los análisis de Heidegger sobre Hölderlin y la Octava Elegía de Rilke junto al "i can't breathe" de la policía asesina y la pandemia. El camino hacia una reparación poética.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Murat Alat

  19. 5 out of 5

    William Felsher

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brainard

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

  22. 4 out of 5

    Georgia

  23. 5 out of 5

    ArturoBelano

  24. 4 out of 5

    Firi Homo Ludens

  25. 4 out of 5

    Juan Ramón Silva

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Gibson

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jamie M.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nick Nicewonder

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carter Tanton

  30. 5 out of 5

    Drew

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