I wanted to have one of those I HAVE FOUR POINTS sorts of manifestoes. But I don’t have four points. I have one point. I hope it’s broadly applicable. It’s not theoretical though it concerns theory. It’s a point about self-regard, even when clothed in propriety and humility. I suspect this self-regard is gendered and raced and classed, but that’s not my point. My point is as follows: DON’T PUT THE RABBIT IN THE HAT. We must insist, militantly, on not putting the rabbit in the hat.
What does this mean? It means, there are all kinds of ways to predecide one’s analyses. To choose a notable contemporary example: the invention the “cognitariat” and the payload carried by that term, which is that restructurations of capital have made certain kinds of cognitive work newly productive, and thus have moved the cognitariat to a newly vital position in anticapitalist struuggles. It is a theory made by a cluster of persons who do a thing, allowing them to discover that the thing they do is special and important and potentially revolutionary. The theory puts the rabbit in the hat, and then when they have conferences on the Cognitariat and/or Revolution, or Militant Cognition, they pull the rabbit out again. Presto!
When we begin our peroration “We are all poets in this room…” or even more droll, “As poets…” we are putting the rabbit in the hat. Not long after, we discover that poems are the answer to the question before us. Look, a rabbit. When we choose to understand political economy through philosophy, exploitation through alienation, value through subjectivity, we have done the same thing, albeit in far more sophisticated ways. It turns out that “As poets” we love to put that rabbit in the hat, the Adorno rabbit. Because we get to be the answer. We pull ourselves out of the hat. We’re rabbits.
I am not opposed to poems. I love poems. I love people who write poems, passionately. But the SOCIAL ROLE OF POET is a disaster, just like every other social role. The struggle is for the end of roles, for the end of the division of labor, for the end of the gender distinction, for the end of identity as it exists. Free relations, not roles. Poems made by anyone who makes them. No poets. And no “As poets.” I learned this from Guy Debord and Mariarosa Dalla Costa and my friends here, new and old.