Foucault’s Kant thesis–update

Arianna Bove of Generation Online has written up her story of the dealings she had with Semiotext(e). I must say her comments are pretty shocking. If what she says is true Semiotext(e) should be very ashamed of themselves, and Sylvère Lotringer certainly needs to explain himself. (On the other hand, I do find GO’s response a little over the top.)

Please click here to go to the entry and read the comments.


4 Responses

  1. I don’t want to engage in some sort of debate with the Generation-Online people.

    But I’d like to make two things clear regarding our interest in the Italian authors:

    “Semiotext(e) and they showed an interest in a number of the Italian authors, such as Virno, Marazzi, Bifo and Zanini, whom I’d been promoting to English audiences for some time.”

    We at Semiotext(e) came upon the GO website when we found out that they had posted online the entire text of our book, Virno’ A grammar of the Multitude (2004) without our consent. You can still find it here:

    They’ve also Posted the entire issue of Semiotext(e)’s Autonomia published in 1980 without attributing it to us, and erasing Sylvere’s name (he edited the issue together in 79), from the Table of Contents.

    Semiotext(e) is a non-profit, operating on a very small budget. Anybody familiar with independent presses knows that it is difficult to survive once you’ve paid for the printing, the translations and the rights.

  2. I don’t want to engage in some sort of debate with Hedi or Generation-Online but FYI: only a very few moments after Hedi’s One Response to Foucault’s Kant thesis-update appeared on this blog, I had no trouble at all finding Sylvere Lotringer’s name in the Table of Contents of Semiotext(e)’s Autonomia issue that I downloaded from Generation-Online in PDF format.

    On the other hand, where Semiotext(e)’s A Grammar of the Multitude appears at Generation-Online,,
    the following information has been tacked on at the bottom of the page:

    This page is rendered from a scanned text. Copyright tried to lock it down, but it grew legs!

  3. […] by the announcement of a forthcoming pirated American edition by Semiotexte (cf your earlier report from Arianna Bove). The editors remark, accurately of course, that the 1961 Introduction anticipates key themes […]

  4. Several small thoughts in response and clarification:

    1. To say that Semiotext(e) operates as an “independent” at this point is ridiculous. Ridiculous in the sense that it operates under the auspices of MIT University Press, which as part of a large institutional framework with quite a bit of funding involved. If a press that is a part of MIT is ‘independent,’ what press would not be an independent press? It would have been one thing to say that Semiotext(e) was an independent press up to 2001 one or so, but not after.

    2. This is a discussion about publishing books based around a politics that rejects capitalism, private property, etc… so getting all upset about ‘they helped spread materials and knowledges without our permission!’ seems a bit ridiculous.

    3. When the Semiotext(e) issue was first published in 1980 it was a distinct and definite entity / organization from what it is today, and thus the claims of intellectual property rights over the materials (already suspect politically if you take the materials seriously) are in any case legally dubious. This makes Semiotext(e)’s sending out of ‘cease and desist’ letters to distributors who carried ‘unauthorized’ editions of the Autonomia volume all the more outrageous than just the idea of using legal threats to prevent the spread of autonomist knowledge and politics. And this was even before the volume was reissued!

    4. The most depressing thing about the whole situation with Arianna was here was someone who has spent years and years, countless hours of labor on free translation, sharing of information, in short embodying the very communist politics of knowledge described in the books in question. So rather then embrace that sort of approach, one that would seem totally consonant with the materials and politics one would think Semiotext(e) would be espousing, it comes down to debates about ownership and rights. Sigh… at this point Semiotext(e) is little more than a entrepreneur of formerly radical ideas and an enclosure of intellectual commons.

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