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PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

M+M Colloquium: Jonathan Crary

  

"24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep"

November 5, 2013 | 5.00pm | N107, Princeton School of Architecture

24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep explores some of the ruinous consequences of the expanding non-stop processes of twenty-first-century capitalism. The marketplace now operates through every hour of the clock, pushing us into constant activity and eroding forms of community and political expression, damaging the fabric of everyday life.

Jonathan Crary examines how this interminable non-time blurs any separation between an intensified, ubiquitous consumerism and emerging strategies of control and surveillance. He describes the ongoing management of individual attentiveness and the impairment of perception within the compulsory routines of contemporary technological culture. At the same time, he shows that human sleep, as a restorative withdrawal that is intrinsically incompatible with 24/7 capitalism, points to other more formidable and collective refusals of world-destroying patterns of growth and accumulation.

24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep on Verso Books.

"Crary’s primary mode of resistance does not draw from the arsenal created by the development of 24/7 capitalism but instead focuses on one irreducible human need that is intrinsically incompatible with capital’s regime: sleep. Indeed, some of the most beautiful passages in the book (weaving together insightful readings of Tarkovsky, Kafka, Chris Marker, and Philip K. Dick) are paeans to slumber. Sleep has long been a primary expression of the refusal of work, and its powers of resistance become even greater today, especially insofar as capitalist production and consumption rely increasingly on attention. Against the destructiveness of a global system that never sleeps, Crary writes, 'sleep can stand for the durability of the social.' In the sleeping exodus from capitalist control, moreover, Crary senses the potential for community. In sleep we are vulnerable and rely on the care of others in a way that suggests to him the possibility of a form of being together: 'In the depersonalization of slumber, the sleeper inhabits a world in common, a shared enactment of withdrawal from the calamitous nullity and waste of 24/7 praxis.' In the time of sleep, when we can dream a better future, Crary locates the potential to resist the pressures of contemporary capital and rescue our humanity from its destruction."

-Michael Hardt, "Sleep no More," Artforum, (September 2013).

Jonathan Crary is Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory at Columbia University, a founding editor of Zone Books, and author of such landmark books as Techniques of the Observer and Suspensions of Perception.

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