Paranoiac-critical Performance

Fabian Muniesa


Something that has been certainly exacerbated within the current climate of planetary stress (global epidemic, international war, environmental catastrophe) is a paranoid style in political critique. This is undoubtedly due, at least in part, to the medium: handheld screens, social networks, information platforms which intensify the bubble effect in one’s intimate relation to the trouble out there (prompting the scare of ‘fake news’, ‘conspiracy theories’, and such). Is the performance paradigm in urgent need of another layer in order to tackle this? The layer is there already, lurking in the references to a paranoid regime of signs that the performance stratum deserves (i.e. Deleuze and Guattari in McKenzie). It may be the case, however, that a more straightforward engagement with it (i.e. with Dalí’s ‘paranoiac-critical method’, Klossowski’s ‘science of stereotypes’, or Guattari’s ‘schizoanalysis’) is in order. Tropes of scary inoculation (secret biotechnological laboratories, pedophiliac satanic networks, horrible experiments with people, technologies for the control of the mind, corporate violations of personal sovereignty) feed indeed today’s performative fears. A few lineaments for a paranoiac-critical performance paradigm are offered here.

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