Can a Knife of Shadows Cut Real Flesh From a Living Tree? The Organisation of Imaginal Commons
thesisposted on 20.06.2017, 09:10 by Gareth Spencer Brown
This thesis is situated upon a terrain of global crisis that can be approached not only as an economic crisis but also as a crisis of the imagination. I take as my starting point the inability of either capitalism or the movements against capitalism to move beyond a failing neoliberalism. From here I investigate the imaginal processes involved in producing doubt regarding the necessity and permanence of existing forms of social organisation and in visualising and creating new ones. Approached through a genealogy of the imagination and the imaginary I develop a concept of the imaginal that corresponds neither to the individual faculty implication of the former nor to the unreality association of the latter. I draw on poetic methodologies such as the production of eeriness, negative capability, and the surrealist game, in order to understand how the imagination decomposes ossified concepts and social structures. I link these to arguments about the structure of time developed in the field of quantum physics to make a case that such processes correspond to a swelling of the real along spatial and temporal imaginal axes. Through a symptomatological analysis of a series of interviews with participants in newly formed radical anti-capitalist organisations, I identify and discuss a number of organisational practices and experiments aimed at the shifting of social relations whilst at the same time avoiding the formation of static and inadaptable structures. I bring a further theoretical angle to bear on these findings by engaging with the ideas of autonomised institution and the refrain. Lastly I reformulate the question as one of commons and enclosure, discussing commoning as a practice in antagonism with capital. I develop a set of ideas around the notion of the imaginal commons and the technologies of commoning that provide the possibility of its nurture and expansion.