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Semiotext(e)

Best known for its introduction of French theory to American readers, Semiotext(e) has been one of America's most influential independent presses since its inception more than three decades ago. Publishing works of theory, fiction, madness, economics, satire, sexuality, science fiction, activism and confession, Semiotext(e')s highly curated list has famously melded high and low forms of cultural expression into a nuanced and polemical vision of the present. Semiotext(e) authors include Jean Baudrillard, William S. Burroughs, Paul Virilio, Catherine Breillat, The Invisible Committee, Eileen Myles, Mark von Schlegell, David Wojnarowicz, Abdellah Taïa, Guy Hocquenghem, Félix Guattari, Michelle Tea, Penny Arcade, The Bernadette Corporation, Pierre Clastres, Guy Debord, Michelle Bernstein, Dhoruba Bin Wahid, Christian Marazzi, and Peter Sloterdjik. An anthology, Hatred of Capitalism, was published in 2001 to mark Semiotext(e)'s move to The MIT Press as its distributor. Semiotext(e) is coedited by Sylvère Lotringer, Chris Kraus, and Hedi El Kholti

Language and Human Nature

Originally published in Italian in 2002, When the Word Becomes Flesh provides a compelling contribution to the understanding of language and its relation to human nature and social relationships. Adopting Aristotle’s definition of the human being as a linguistic and political animal, Paolo Virno frames the act of speech as a foundational philosophical issue—an act that in its purely performative essence ultimately determines our ability to pass from the state of possibility to one of actuality: that is, from the power to act to action itself.

Texts and Interviews 1955–1971

Originally published in French in 1972, Psychoanalysis and Transversality gathers all the articles that Félix Guattari wrote between 1955 and 1971. It provides a fascinating account of his intellectual and political itinerary before Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972), the ground-breaking book he wrote with Gilles Deleuze, propelled him to the forefront of contemporary French philosophy.

Was there some sort of accident? The Doll was now certain that the Japanese didn’t consider him a human. He was concerned with Deary alone. Her flukes lifted to maintain her treading water, left her pale bottom and sex exposed. Was he watching simultaneously from below? The Doll let his tendrils obscure. 5 hours till orbital synch, he remembered. The Doll called up the red-screen into his mindspace and traced the instantly visible tags: Mab's Buoy relay SFS Good Fortune, Wawagawanet 2145270401:33—
—from Sundogz

Experts, pundits, and politicians agree: public debt is hindering growth and increasing unemployment. Governments must reduce debt at all cost if they want to restore confidence and get back on a path to prosperity. Maurizio Lazzarato’s diagnosis, however, is completely different: under capitalism, debt is not primarily a question of budget and economic concerns but a political relation of subjection and enslavement. Debt has become infinite and unpayable.

Correspondence 1995–1996

“Why am I telling you all this? Partly ‘cause the whole queerness/identity thing for me stretches through everything, absolutely everything. Slipping between straight/gay is child’s play compared to slipping between writer/teacher/influence-peddler whatever. I forget who I am. You reminded me of who I prefer to be.” [M.W.]

An Attainable Utopia

Octavio Paz: "If you love art, do something, Fantomas!"
Fantomas: "I will, you can depend on it."

Sylvie wanted to believe that misery could simply be replaced with happiness. Time was a straight line, stretching out before you. If you could create a golden kind of time and lay it right beside the other time, the time of horror, Bad History could just recede into the distance without ever having to be resolved.
—from Torpor

Spheres Volume II: Macrospherology

All history is the history of struggles for spheric expansion.
—from Globes

I believe that destiny is the hesitation between whorehouse writing and poetry, Evil and Good. In my body almost deadened to stupidity by its growing length, I am carrying that destiny.
—from In the Deep

• A boarder for two years following a national funeral, Mirabeau is removed from the Pantheon and transferred to the cemetery of Clamart when his pornographic novels are discovered • A photograph taken by Hessling on Christmas night, 1943, of a young woman nailed alive to the village gate of Novimgorod; Hessling asks his friend Wolfgang Borchert to develop the film, look at the photograph, and destroy it • The Beautiful Gardener, a picture by Max Ernst, burned by the Nazis
—from The Missing Pieces

A moment later, Lacan is chattering with me, and giving me some crayons to draw with.
—from I, Little Asylum

A Chronicle of the Years 1977–1984

First published in French in 1985, The Divine Left is Jean Baudrillard’s chronicle of French political life from 1977 to 1984. It offers the closest thing to political analysis to be found from a thinker who has too often been regarded as apolitical. Gathering texts that originally appeared as newspaper commentary on François Mitterand’s rise to power as France’s first Socialist president and the Socialist Party’s fraught alliance with the French Communist Party, The Divine Left in essence presents Baudrillard’s theory of the simulacrum as it operates in the political sphere.

It was the lies he told that reminded me of that past of mine that I hadn't encountered in a while. He was telling me the kinds of lies where the teller implies that things that have only happened to him once are long-running habits. Things about too much whiskey, Céline and De Sade, eating alone in expensive Japanese restaurants, knowing nobody (this last fact he would continue to repeat in later meetings, it seeming more barbarously unreal each time). 
—from Nicola, Milan

Capitalism and the Production of Subjectivity

“Capital is a semiotic operator": this assertion by Félix Guattari is at the heart of Maurizio Lazzarato’s Signs and Machines, which asks us to leave behind the logocentrism that still informs so many critical theories. Lazzarato calls instead for a new theory capable of explaining how signs function in the economy, in power apparatuses, and in the production of subjectivity.

For Peter Sloterdijk, Friedrich Nietzsche represents nothing short of a “catastrophe in the history of language”—a new evangelist for a linguistics of narcissistic jubilation. Nietzsche offered a philosophical declaration of independence from humility, a meeting-point of sobriety and megalomania that for Sloterdijk has come to define the very project of philosophy.

Sturtevant's Volte-Face

Asked to sum up her artistic pursuit, the American artist Elaine Sturtevant once replied: “I create vertigo.” Since the mid-1960s, Sturtevant has been using repetition to change the way art is understood. In 1965, what seemed to be a group show by then “hot” artists (Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, George Segal, and James Rosenquist, among others) was in fact Sturtevant’s first solo exhibit, every work in it created by herself.

The Event, The Book

I think “schizo-culture” here is being used rather in a special sense. Not referring to clinical schizophrenia, but to the fact that the culture is divided up into all sorts of classes and groups, etc., and that some of the old lines are breaking down. And that this is a healthy sign.
—William Burroughs, from Schizo-Culture

On thinking the matter through, it doesn’t seem exaggerated to assert that my coming out of the sexual closet, my desire to assume and assert my homosexuality, coincided within my personal trajectory with my shutting myself up inside what I might call a class closet.
—from Returning to Reims

My friends are merely effigies I keep to remind me of the animal inside my mind.
—from The Suiciders

First published in 2000, Chris Kraus’s second novel, Aliens & Anorexia, defined a female form of chance that is both emotional and radical. Unfolding like a set of Chinese boxes, with storytelling and philosophy informing each other, the novel weaves together the lives of earnest visionaries and failed artists.

Writings on Transformation Denied, 1989–1995

Automation and information technology have transformed the organization of labor to such an extent that the processes of exploitation have moved beyond the labor class and now work upon society as a whole. If this displacement has destroyed the political primacy of the labor class, it has not, however, eliminated exploitation; rather, it has broadened it, implanting it within the given conditions of the most diverse spheres of society.
—from The Winter Is Over

Told by six women in one family, Veronica Gonzalez Pena’s The Sad Passions captures the alertness, beauty, and terror of childhood lived in proximity to madness. Set against the backdrop of a colonial past, spanning three generations, and shuttling from Mexico City to Oaxaca to the North Fork of Long Island to Veracruz, The Sad Passions is the lyrical story of a middle-class Mexican family torn apart by the undiagnosed mental illness of Claudia, a lost child of the 1960s and the mother of four little girls.

What was once the factory is now the university. As deindustrialization spreads and the working class is decentralized, new means of social resistance and political activism need to be sought in what may be the last places where they are possible: the university and the art world. Gerald Raunig’s new book analyzes the potential that cognitive and creative labor has in these two arenas to resist the new regimes of domination imposed by cognitive capitalism.

“The need to speak, even if one has nothing to say, becomes more pressing when one has nothing to say, just as the will to live becomes more urgent when life has lost its meaning.”
--from The Ecstasy of Communication

On Poetry and Finance

The Uprising is an Autonomist manifesto for today’s precarious times, and a rallying cry in the face of the catastrophic and irreversible crisis that neoliberalism and the financial sphere have established over the globe. In his newest book, Franco “Bifo” Berardi argues that the notion of economic recovery is complete mythology. The coming years will inevitably see new surges of protest and violence, but the old models of resistance no longer apply.

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