Massumi’s desperate strategic retreat from hopelessness of global cognitive mapping

“From my own point of view, the way that a concept like hope can be made useful is when it is not connected to an expected success — when it starts to be something different from optimism — because when you start trying to think ahead into the future from the present point, rationally there really isn’t much room for hope. Globally it’s a very pessimistic affair, with economic inequalities increasing year by year, with health and sanitation levels steadily decreasing in many regions, with the global effects of environmental deterioration already being felt, with conflicts among nations and peoples apparently only getting more intractable, leading to mass displacements of workers and refugees … It seems such a mess that I think it can be paralysing. If hope is the opposite of pessimism, then there’s precious little to be had. On the other hand, if hope is separated from concepts of optimism and pessimism, from a wishful projection of success or even some kind of a rational calculation of outcomes, then I think it starts to be interesting — because it places it in the present (Massumi).”

Massumi, Brian. 2002. “Navigating Movements.” in Hope Edited by Mary Zournazi (New York: Routledge :211).

Žižek, Slavoj. 2004. Organs without Bodies: on Deleuze and Consequences. New York and London: Routledge: 202.

Zournazi, Mary. 2003. “Navigating Movements: An Interview with Brian Massumi.”


Brian Massumi teaches in the Communication Department of the Université de Montréal. He is the author of Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (Duke University Press, 2002), A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari (MIT Press, 1992) and First and Last Emperors: The Absolute State and the Body of the Despot (with Kenneth Dean; Autonomedia, 1993) and editor of A Shock to Thought: Expression After Deleuze and Guattari (Routledge, 2002) and The Politics of Everyday Fear (University of Minnesota Press, 1993).

21C Magazine: “Multiple Piercings for the Mind. A forum for vanguard criticism, literary journalism and trendsetting design, 21oC will be the late-night reading of extreme thinkers everywhere – intellectual thrillseekers who savor the vertigo that comes from leaning too far over the edge of the cultural abyss.”


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