Skip navigation

Brian Massumi

Brian Massumi is Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences at the University of Montréal. He is the author of Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation and A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari (MIT Press).

Titles by This Author

Activist Philosophy and the Occurrent Arts

Events are always passing; to experience an event is to experience the passing. But how do we perceive an experience that encompasses the just-was and the is-about-to-be as much as what is actually present? In Semblance and Event, Brian Massumi, drawing on the work of William James, Alfred North Whitehead, Gilles Deleuze, and others, develops the concept of “semblance” as a way to approach this question.

It is, he argues, a question of abstraction, not as the opposite of the concrete but as a dimension of it: “lived abstraction.” A semblance is a lived abstraction. Massumi uses the category of the semblance to investigate practices of art that are relational and event-oriented—variously known as interactive art, ephemeral art, performance art, art intervention—which he refers to collectively as the “occurrent arts.” Each art practice invents its own kinds of relational events of lived abstraction, to produce a signature species of semblance. The artwork’s relational engagement, Massumi continues, gives it a political valence just as necessary and immediate as the aesthetic dimension.

Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari

A User's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia is a playful and emphatically practical elaboration of the major collaborative work of the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. When read along with its rigorous textual notes, the book also becomes the richest scholarly treatment of Deleuze's entire philosophical oeuvre available in any language. Finally, the dozens of explicit examples that Brian Massumi furnishes from contemporary artistic, scientific, and popular urban culture make the book an important, perhaps even central text within current debates on postmodern culture and politics.Capitalism and Schizophrenia is the general title for two books published a decade apart. The first, Anti-Oedipus, was a reaction to the events of May/June 1968; it is a critique of "state-happy" Marxism and "school-building" strains of psychoanalysis. The second, A Thousand Plateaus, is an attempt at a positive statement of the sort of nomad philosophy Deleuze and Guattari propose as an alternative to state philosophy.Brian Massumi is Professor of Comparative Literature at McGill University.