Tuning Speculation IV: Detuning Speculation



While recent strains of speculative thought suggest an inevitable rendezvous with excess, total bullshit and failure, something is lacking. Indeed, to the extent that these speculations bank on the articulation of an elaborate metaphysics, a planetary politics, or even the conviction that nonsense always makes sense, they belong to a restricted economy that makes thought servile to the production of knowledge rather than the sovereign of its own expenditure. That is, if late capitalism has taught us anything, it is that any intelligent or useful insight can be instantly coded, co-opted, and commodified according to the seemingly inexhaustible rhythms of exchange. In this respect, any compact with useless ideas, failed ambitions and outright prevarication is as much a salutary development as an exit.

Like the three previous meetings that “tuned” speculation to its more experimental moods, this conference continues to question the (in)utility of speculative thought. Yet, if it’s the case that even something as seemingly unprofitable as dreaming may not be entirely sovereign, then perhaps it’s time to de-tune speculation. Focusing on the resonances between creativity, the unintelligible, and the dubious sovereignty of sheer expenditure this fourth instalment aims to explore the ways in which nonsense, hyperstition, opacity, stupidity and imaginary solutions are capable of generating creative and destructive alternatives to measured and logical thinking. This focus is especially warranted given contemporary culture’s increasingly voracious appetite for an integral transparency (characteristic of both control modalities and rationalist endeavours) that seeks to instrumentalize art, wantonly levelling its native capacities for ambiguity and inscrutability in the process.