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Bifo on the “Possibility of Joy”


Public Seminar has published the translated transcript of an interview that Franco “Bifo” Berardi did with the Argentinian radio program radio program Clinamen. Bifo discusses his 2015 book And: Phenomenology of the End, as well as the most powerful weapon social movements can wield today: irony. Here’s an excerpt:

Bifo: So how can we escape to this deadly choice between financial connection and the aggressive return of conjunction? I think the possibility of getting out of this choice is a dynamic of desire, one that is essentially able to play out in the form of irony, in the form of extension behind the limits of language. I have to confess that, at this time, I do not have much in the way of strong propositions at the political level. I have the impression that we are in a tunnel in which the choices are between financial connection, financial abstraction, and the aggressive return of corporeality; these choices cover the entire sphere of political action at a planetary level. It is a mutation that is in the process of unfolding and when we go through a mutation we cannot know how we will come out of it. But what I do know is that there is only one subjective force that can imagine it behind the limits of language… what we have always called “movement.” In the end, what is a movement? The definition of movement cannot be sociological and cannot be purely political. Movement is a displacement in the precise sense of the word. Movement is a displacement that allow us to see reality from a point of view that is different from the point of view we had before it.

In Hamburg, the friends from the movement against the G20 showed up with two grand ironic actions. One was the zombie demonstration: a thousand zombies painted in white, grey, and black and wearing death-face makeup walked through the streets of Hamburg to tell the world that financial capitalism is creating is a world of death, a world of pain. The other was the big demonstration by the anarchists and autonomists who showed up with a banner that read: “Welcome to the end.” We live in hell, but in hell we have the capacity, an ironic capacity, to create sensitive lifespaces; a life which does not rule out joy as a possible dimension. Don’t forget the possibility of joy. That is the motto for today. Do not forget the possibility of a joyful affectivity and demand the abolition of hell, as our friends the erroristas have always done. The abolition of hell is an essential act of irony that we need to perform in the present moment.

Image via Public Seminar.