Technology, Time, and the Limits of the Human


Technology…what is that all about…is it good or is it wack? From watches to smartphones, windmills to nuclear submarines, human beings have been and will continue to be immersed in technology.

This study group will be an ongoing reading/discussion group dedicated to understanding the nature of technology, technological systems, and the impact that technological changes have on individuals, culture, biology and ecology. We will pay particular attention to the structure of temporality as it is experienced by humans, and the telescoping nature of technological transformations. Initially we will explore the mythic origins of fire, language and writing as early and important technological developments. We will then examine the historical development of various technological systems and the impact they have on human evolution by perusing the archaeological and genealogical accounts of technological revolutions. We will then examine various theories about: the essence of technology; its impact on socio-cultural phenomena such as law, literature, family, politics, and war; its relationship to science and engineering; its impact on human physiology and neurology; its impact of the environment; the information revolution and big data; in addition to other themes.

General outline

  1. We will begin with a quick look at some myths about the origin of language and writing: Egyptian (Thoth), Christian (Adam and Babel), Vedic (Vac), Greek (Hermes)
  2. Then we will look at some myths about the origin of fire: Greek (Prometheus), Vedic (Matarisvan), Chinese (Zhu Rong), Hebraic Apocrypha (Azazel), Ojibwa (Nanabozho)
  3. We will then outline a terse and simplistic chronology of technological change
  • Basic Stone Tools
  • Fire
  • Domestication of Animals
  • Agriculture
  • Metallurgy
  • Thermodynamics in the First and Second Industrial Revolutions
  • Nuclear Power
  • Digitization and Computer Technology
  • Nano and Biotechnologies

We will then begin various readings related to theories of technology, technological change, and the impact of those technologies on what it means to be human, what the human is, was or can become.

Plato – Meno, Phaedo, Phaedrus (anamensis vs hypomnemata)
White – Medieval Technology and Social Change
Ihde – Postphenomenology
Bousquet – The Scientific Way of Warfare
Bacon – New Atlantis
Bentham – Panopticism
Marx – Fragment on Machines, Capital, Technology Notebooks
Husserl – Internal Time Consciousness
Benjamin – Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Heidegger – Being and Time, Question Concerning Technology
Simondon – On the Mode of Existence of Technological Objects
Leroi-Gourhan – Gesture and Speech
Mumford – Technics and Civilization
Adorno – Minima Moralia
Foucault – Self-Writing, Technologies of the Self
Deleuze and Guattari – Capitalism and Schizophrenia
Jaynes – The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicmeral Mind
Ellul – The Technological Society
Latour – Laboratory Life
Law – Situating Technoscience
Serres – Conversations on Science, Culture and Time
Girard – Evolution and Conversion
Laruelle – Principles of Non-Philosophy
Stengers – Order Out of Chaos
Borgmann – Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life
Winner – Autonomous Technology
Feenberg – Critical Theory of Technology
Habermas – Technology and Science as “Ideology”
Stiegler – Technics and Time 1
Turkel – Simulation and its Discontents
Verbeek – What Things Do
Heim – Electric Language
Haraway – Cyborg Manifesto
Harding – Sciences From Below
Butler – Dawn
Braidotti – The Posthuman
Floridi – The Forth Revolution

The order of the readings are not set in stone and other reading suggestions are welcome. Given that this is a protracted reading group feel free to come anytime the reading seems interesting.


The NPIC in the D: How “Philanthropy” Uses the “Creative Class” to Displace and Erase

nonprofitindustrialcomplex SATURDAY SEPT 12th @ 1PM

This will be a public discussion about the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. The offered readings (pick one… or maybe four) may help generate an earnest conversation about the pitfalls of participation in what others have aptly called the Non-Profit Industrial Complex (NPIC). We hope that in having a critical dialogue with people inside, outside, or on the margins of the NPIC, we can generate collaborative alternatives to the competitive, exploitative and eviscerating features of “philanthropic beneficence.” Other ways are possible…we can only actualize alternatives together.

“We might, for a fleeting moment, conceptualize the emergence of the NPIC as an institutionalization and industrialization of a banal, liberal political dialogue that constantly disciplines us into conceding the urgent challenges of a political radicalism that fundamentally challenges the existence of the US as a white settler society. The NPIC is not wholly unlike the institutional apparatus of neocolonialism, in which former and potential anticolonial revolutionaries are “professionalized” and granted opportunities within a labyrinthine state proctored bureaucracy that ultimately reproduces the essential coherence of the neocolonial relation of power itself. The NPIC’s well-funded litany of”social justice” agendas, platforms, mission statements, and campaigns offers a veritable smorgasbord of political guarantees that feeds on our cynicism and encourages a misled political faith that stridently bypasses the fundamental relations of dominance that structure our everyday existence in the United States: perhaps it is time that we formulate critical strategies that fully comprehend the NPIC as the institutionalization of a relation of dominance and attempt to disrupt and transform the fundamental structures and principles of a white supremacist US civil society, as well as the US racist state.” (Dylan Rodriguez – “The Political Logic of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex” in The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex)

Radicalism and the NPIC
Smith – “Intro” in The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the NPIC
Rodriguez – “The political logic of the NPIC” ibid
Gilmore – “In the shadow of the shadow state” ibid
King & Osayande – “The filth on Philanthropy” ibid
Guilloud & Cordery – “Fundrasing is not a dirty word” ibid
Parmett – Markets of Sorrow, Labors of Faith Review

Detroit Light Rail
Rip Ranson – Speech about Detroit Light Rail

Creative ClassFlorida – The rise of the creative class
Peck – Struggling with the creative class

Art, “Failed” Artists and the NPIC
Sholette – Dark Matter Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture
Sholette – Mysteries of the creative class or, i have seen the enemy and they is us
New York Times – Shinola
Keep Ypsi Black – Shinola as Neocolonialism

Inside and Out: Cooptation and Resistance
McKnight – Services are Bad for People
Seaman – Competition in the Arts The Lost Industrial Organization Agenda
Tweet – Whither the Non-Profit Sector?
Mananzala & Spade – The NPIC and Trans Resistance
Boyd & Sandell – Unpaid & Critically Engaged Feminist Interns in the NPIC

“Antistate state actors welcomed non-profits under the rhetoric of efficiency (read: meager budgets) and accountability (read: contracts could be pulled if anybody stepped out of line). As a result of these and other pressures, non-profits providing direct services have become highly professionalized by their relationship with the state. They have had to conform to public rules governing public money, and have found that being fiduciary agents in some ways trumps their principal desire to comfort and assist those abandoned to their care. They do not want to lose the contracts to provide services because they truly care about clients who otherwise would have nowhere to go; thus they have been sucked into the world of non-profit providers, which, like all worlds, has its own jargon, limits (determined by bid and budget cycles, and legislative trends), and both formal as well as informal hierarchies. And, generally, the issues they are paid to address have been narrowed to program-specific categories and remedies which make staff who often have a great understanding of the scale and scope of both individual clients’ and the needs of society at large-become in their everyday practice technocrats through imposed specialization. The shadow state, then, is real but without significant political clout, forbidden by law to advocate for systemic change, and bound by public rules and non-profit charters to stick to its mission or get out of business and suffer legal consequences if it strays along the way.” (Ruth Wilson Gilmore: “In the Shadow of the Shadow State” in The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex)

This is still anyone’s game…watch us play pretend to proselytize how they pop paupers with pittance pence from their prodigious purses. Don’t bite the hands that may or may not feed you, don’t shoot yourself in the foot…20Gs to anyone who goes full GG Allen.  We know the acronym NPIC in its longhand form, the non-profit industrial complex. We’ve long been aware of the pitfalls of ad infinitum capital gain games granted by “professional” writing. Petition billion dollar endowments for a slice of their tax exempt piechart investment profits so that we can eek out an existence in the spheres of “social justice” or “art” or “scholarship.” They kick down some monies then run to tell the press they own to spread the good word. We model their archetype and create properly aligned media so we can show the fine people on the streaming side of the digital divide what good work their freshly mowed grassroots 501(c)(3)s do for the community…the community that’s struggling with poisons, prisons, underfunded schools and job opportunities. Yet our grant pay rolls into our pockets but doesn’t roll out to pay taxes on the spaces we’ve settled. We watch as cultural chic blurs the images of other peoples’ struggles and then we regram and cram those images for consumption and gratis money to get the new iphone, or put gas in our car…or new tires on our bike. That is, we make money or careers off of others’ misfortunes and our gains are predicated on the fact that others have failed and will fail and we’re not far from them. But we’re the good team, not like Gilbert or Wayne, and the saviourism sold in pure hustling harder Detroit tastes sour to us, so we fetishistically disavow micrologics and our structural role in the reproduction of social forces over 4 dollar coffee. We’re thinking that our good intentions will save us. We mean well when we teach others about land grabbing from the bank but we’re delusional about our detournement and the fucks that billionaire developers give. We misunderstand our entitlements as rights to the city we can’t see, cause all we see is vacancy, not history, so we distort solidarity, to line it up with the gentry. We don’t decolonize, we use the data sets of unethical misinforgs and digital cartographers who stroll around wondering: why don’t we own this house that a homeless family is squatting in? Buy it up, kick’em out, then move suburbanite young white kids in. Digital worms colluding with authorities, to whom they sell the unpaid blext your vote labor they’ve primitively accumulated from us? Then the next recovering area of Detroit gets projected, invested and revitalized for the disappeared children to resettle in their historic homes. Farmers harvesting foreclosure lists fancy political actions and talk about the injustice of the future city commons, because they want to double down on the greening of the 500 dollar lots and grow their intentional community. Contradictions never deter us, we just twist and reverse to reassure us we’re not deleterious…but we are.

Fate of the Machinery

diamondreo_Over the past year, artist and documentarian Kate Levy has been mapping the deindustrialization of Detroit through the history of industrial auctions from 1955 to 1999. The project has a personal dimension for Levy since her family built a significant global business as the predominant industrial auction house in the city. In this role they worked with companies to liquidate outdated assets that ranged from primary manufacturing equipment to the contents of retail stores.

In this 4-part discussion and reading series Levy will introduce the project via some of the material that has influenced her conceptualization of it. All events will take place at 9338 Campau Gallery in Hamtramck

6:30pm, Monday September 14, “The fall of REO in Lansing, Michigan 1955-1975a reading/discussion of this case study by Lisa Fine of the demise of Diamond REO trucks in Lansing. Diamond REO was one of the many bankruptcy auctions conducted by Norman Levy and Associates, and Kate’s uncle, Robert Levy, will be at the discussion to share his own memories of the Diamond REO story, and other bankruptcies of the era

6:30pm, Monday September 21, “From Institution to Nexusa reading/discussion of a section of the book “Managed by the Markets: How Finance Restructured America” with its author Jerry Davis.

6:30pm, Monday September 28, “The Long Shadow of Usury a reading of a section of the book Capitalism and the Jews that has been particularly influential on Levy’s thinking for the show

6:30pm, Monday October 5, Readings from the zine “Fate of the Machinery,” over the course of the project Levy is constructing a zine that illustrates her research to date. This event will comprise a group reading/discussion of transcriptions of some of the interviews she has conducted with her family for the project.

Related events

4pm, Saturday September 26, “Understanding Family and Capitalism” a discussion with Beryl Satter, author of “Family Properties: Race, Real Estate and the Exploitation of Black Urban America

7pm, Wednesday September 30, “Sustainable Economies in a time of Global Capitalism” a moderated conversation with Bryce Detroit, Jackson Koeppel, and other local activists

Vote for Hamtramck Free School!

VOTE FOR FREE SCHOOL: TEXT ART2 to 22333 or (747) 444-3548

For the 2015 Knight Arts Challenge People’s Choice Award Detroit

For over two years, Free Schoolers have been co-facilitating the Writer’s Block, a poetry and creative arts workshop in the Macomb Regional Correctional Facility. We’ve been selected as a candidate for the 2015 Knight Arts Challenge People’s Choice Award, an award and substantial financial grant that would allow the Writer’s Block to expand its output and impact with a series of publications and artworks by the incarcerated artists who participate. It would also allow Free School to expand by increasing autonomous spaces in the digital as well as local sphere.

In the sense of solidarity rather than competitiveness, we encourage you to look at the other organizations. They are wonderful groups and people and we intend to collaborate with in future projects. We simply hope that the Free School Writer’s Block project interests you enough you show support by:

Texting: ART2 to 22333
If you can’t send a short code text, you can text (747) 444-3548, instead. You should get a reply confirmation of your vote. The voting window closes September 14 at midnight, and you only get one vote.

For more about the workshop and the poets themselves check out The New Yorker Video and the Incarcerated Archive.

For more about the Knight Arts Challenge check out Knight’s Video.

For upcoming Free School events check out FS, join the email, follow on instagram, and please forward this along to your various networks and help the Writer’s Block rhizome grow.

Thank you for your support!

Free School

Above: The Writer’s Block, March 2015. Front row, from left to right: Timothy Sanders, Yusef Qualls-El, Donald Malone-El, Frances Barber, James D. Thomas, James D. Fuson. Back row, from left to right: David Armstrong Jones, Michael Brown, Umar, Jonathan Rajewski, Maurice Sanders, Steve Hibbler. Not pictured: K.D.A. Daniel-Bey, Jamie Laufenberg, Fred Williams, Tony Tard and Matthew Polzin. Image courtesy of Kelly Loudenberg and Saul Metnick.  The Writer’s Block, March 2015. Writer’s Block members conducting the workshop. Images courtesy of Kelly Loudenberg and Saul Metnick.

A SciFi film that remained a fiction…kind of: Guattai’s Infra-Quark Universe



Thursday, October 29 at 8pm at Trinosophes


With the generous support of Terminal Beach, various freeschoolers will be hosting screenings of In Search of UIQ.  A film that traces the development, abandonment, and machinic remnants of Felix Guattari’s unproduced SciFi screenplay Un Amor d’UIQ. Developed after publishing his seminal solo work The Machinic Unconscious, and the second volume of his collaboration with Gilles Deleuze A Thousand Plateaus, Guattari set out to produce his scifi screenplay wherein a “biologist makes contact with an infinitely small alien intelligence known as the Infra-quark Universe (UIQ), which proceeds to disrupt global communications systems. Aided by members of a squat, the biologist sets up an interface with UIQ who soon falls in love with a young punk called Janice, but is separated from her when government forces destroy the squat. UIQ retaliates by turning millions of humans into mutants, only agreeing to stop if Janice undergoes an implant operation to merge her brain with its consciousness.” Ultimately the project was abandoned to the archives only to be opened and partially rendered or reconstructed by a specter and two schizoconscious filmmakers. “In Search of UIQ explores what Guattari’s cinema of the Infra-quark might have been (and may still become) in relation to his thought and clinical practice, and considers its implications in terms of the wider social and political transformations both of its own time and of the present moment.”



Parade Making Workshop

Make flags, giant flowers and insect costumes at a free all-ages parade-making workshop. Then come back for the Porous Borders Festival May 16 and 17 and join Shoshanna Utchenik and friends and neighbors for the Porous Borders Festival Parade in Hamtramck. No experience necessary! Materials will be provided.

“The Porous Borders Festival (PBF) is a two-day public art festival that will take place along the entire border between Hamtramck and Detroit in May 16-17, 2015. Curated by The Hinterlands, PBF will use installation, performance, spectacle, and public engagement to explore the unique municipal boundary cutting across Michigan’s most internationally diverse zip-code. Visitors and residents alike will viscerally experience this invisible marker between Detroit and Hamtramck through a celebration of the unique spatial and cultural interactions between these two communities.” – The Hinterlands

Update: Thanks to everyone who came. Here are pictures from the workshop.

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How to Build a Beehive

Thanks to everyone who came out today for the Free School bee-hive build. Here are some pictures from today’s workshop, facilitated by Christina Barkel and Cyrus Ghaemi. Stay tuned for next week’s workshop (date TBD, but probably May 3) when we introduce the bees to the hive! An email will be sent out about this event.

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Memory and the State of the City


LOCATION: 9338 Joseph Campau Hamtramck MI

In this series of discussions we will examine the relationship between memory and the state of Detroit from a psychological, historical and societal perspective.

5pm, Sat April 4: psychologist and psychoanalyst Richard Raubolt will talk about his embryonic research into the relationship between psychic aphasia of “unknown” traumas and the physical environment of the city, as it plays out in the memory of current and former citizens of Detroit.

7pm, Weds April 15: artist and documentarian Kate Levy will talk about her project to map the de- industrialization of Detroit through the history of industrial auctions from the 1950’s onwards. The project has a personal dimension for Levy since her family built a significant global business as the predominant auction house in the city. She uses her project to examine the collective memory of de-industrialization alongside specific family memories.

7pm, Weds April 22: sociologist Martin Murray will talk about the social construction and impact of collective memory, and the political, practical and ethical dimensions of dealing with the remembrance of a painful and unjust past. The discussion will use Martin’s extensive research on “commemorating and forgetting” in post-apartheid South Africa as an analogy through which to approach contemporary issues in Detroit.

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Dr. Richard Raubolt is a licensed psychologist who provides psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and counseling for clients in Grand Rapids and throughout West Michigan. He specializes in treating depression, panic disorders, and trauma. His international teaching has lead to appointments at the Portuguese Psychoanalytic Association and the Chinese American Psychoanalytic Association. He is the author of several books including Theaters of Trauma.

Artist and documentarian Kate Levy uses extensive place-based research to explore issues of social justice through video, photography and artist books. Her projects have addressed water and gentrification issues in Detroit, the impact of the oil boom on North Dakota, and land ownership issues in Kenya. She has an MFA in Advanced Photography from ICP-Bard in New York.

Martin Murray is a professor of urban planning at the University of Michigan. He began his lengthy and distinguished academic career as sociologist with a strong foundation in urban geography. His current research engages the fields of urban studies and planning, global urbanism, cultural geography, distressed urbanism, development, historical sociology, and African studies. He is the author of numerous books including “Commemorating and Forgetting: Challenges for the New South Africa.”


W.A.W.A.D. Wire Car Workshop


Presented by Chido Johnson
Sunday, March 22nd, 2015
3pm at 11627 Klinger Street, Hamtramck, MI
This event is free and open to the public.
Note: work clothes recommended. Pliers will be supplied but additional are welcome.

“Growing up in the 70s and 80s in Zambian townships and rural Zimbabwe, we used to make our own toys. I learned how to make a wire-car from the older kids in the neighborhood. Living in Detroit, it is hard not to imagine that the cultural phenomenon of wire-cars could have been triggered by the USA car culture and Detroit. It is only fitting to bring this cultural practice back to Detroit.

This current project is called WAWAD (Wire-car Auto Workers Association of Detroit). The making of wire-cars pushed with sticks is a cultural practice popular in the southern and central regions of Africa. WAWAD originated from the making of the first documented wire-car cruise, which was performed on the historical Woodward Avenue, where the earliest assembly of cars rolled their wheels on. The video documentary of this historical performance, titled A Dance for Diego, was a community based project with collaborators from different parts of Detroit, neighbors as close as Hamtramck and as far as Zimbabwe. We are bringing WAWAD back with workshops and info sessions held in several locations in and around Detroit. Bring your dreams and be ready to make!” – Chido Johnson
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