The Plaza PDF Reading Group is having some scheduling difficulties. Our October calendars look confused as a child’s tie-died t-shirt.
So: let’s punt until November. Then we’ll try and squeeze in a good two or three sessions before the new year.
What would you like to read? Here are some texts we’re thinking about; we welcome your feedback. We’re currently thinking about some subset of the following:
- Jenny Odell, There’s No Such Thing as a Free Watch.
- Scott Alexander, Considerations on Cost Disease and Matthew Skala’s Some Thoughts on Cost Disease
- Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Possibly as a seminar? We have, to date, avoided technical papers in this reading group. This paper is (given the standards of the form) admirably intelligible, but it does make certain assumptions of the reader. It expects a degree of background. Is this still interesting to people? We could also try and come up with some more general text. We could also try and do this session as more of a seminar, and try to walk through the paper in a more general way. Are you interested in this?
- Kenneth J. Arrow, A Cautious Case for Socialism.
- Wendy Brown, Undoing Democracy: Neoliberalism’s Remaking of State and Subject or, “what do all these thinkpieces mean when they say ‘neoliberalism’”?
Please let us know if any of these are particularly interesting (or un-), or if you have interesting ideas along this vein!
Everyone is welcome. Signup for emails is available here. We’ll announce session dates and details later in the month.
We’re finally getting around to updating the website. Mostly, this will provide a nice archive of previous sessions/texts/announcements. Gaze backwards with a sense of accomplishment! But not for too long. The meat of things remains up ahead, and the distance closes fast.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Plaza PDF Reading Group is pleased to announce our Summer Sessions. For this batch of readings we will be focusing (loosely) on establishing our critical foundations, touching on some of the more influential texts & ideas of the past several decades. Call it summer school?
The summer session will consist of eight sessions; sessions will be held every second Sunday from 14h-16h.
Is open to everyone. Drop-ins, occassional members and non-attendant subscribers are all welcome.
If you’ve received this by email, you’re already signed up. If not, you can sign up by filling out the form here. If you have any questions, get in touch. Feel free to forward this to whomever you wish.
June 12th: Introductions, plus a little nudge into the pool with Foucault’s preface to Anti-Oedipus. Bridging the gap. You’ve got to start someplace. How did we get here?
June 26th: Gilles Deleuze, Postscript on the Societies of Control. The language and ideas introduced by Deleuze (and his collaborator Guattari) echo down through work today.
July 10th: Pierre Bourdieu, Forms of Capital. What is Culture Capital and why can’t I buy anything with it?
August 7th: The Valley Boys / rationalism. Rationalism, the companion philosophy of the new Silicon Valley, has been distributed mostly through blogs and meet-ups. This session will be more of a survey. Details TBD; maybe + a screening; maybe + a guest. Some materials will be selected from lesswrong.com. And probably this. Likely this.
There is a google calendar with dates of events that you can view here or subscribe to. We’ll try to keep it up to date, although we will use email for important notifications and Slack for related discussions.
Bon été from all of us at 820Plaza, and we hope to see you soon.
Note to Members
Thank you to everyone who came out to our inaugural session! You only get to have one of those, and it was a lazy February afternoon well-spent. In hindsight, we could probably have had more snacks. Forgive us; we’re all learning together.
It’s important to recognize our influences. Dexter Sinister can provide their own backstory; we’d do no better. What we can do is acknowledge the influence of the Serving Library. In acknowledgment of this lovely and lovingly confusing institution, we would like to invite you to the Plaza PDF Reading Group’s second session.
For this session, we offer up a handful of texts from Dexter Sinister; two which provide a little outline of their project, and three which give a taste of it. In approximate order:
- A Short Account of the Library -Statement of Intent
- Towards a Critical Facility
- Only an Attitude of Orientation
- From the Toolbox of a Serving Library
These should be treated as a unit; we will be discussing them all together.
The next session will take place in the second half of March. If you are interested in attending, please fill out the doodle here and mark your availability.
Submit a Text
We encourage everyone to suggest material for the reading group; please send an email including an attachment or a link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your interest and support. We will send out a meeting time and associated details in a week or so; as always, if you have any questions or comments, you know how to find us.
The Organizing Committee
Note to Members
The Plaza PDF Reading Group hums along. Thank you to everyone who came out on Sunday; and for those unable to make it, we look forward to seeing you next time, or the time after that, or… [repeat as necessary].
Based on the discussion Sunday, we’ve settled on a few details:
The first session of the reading group will take place in the second half of February. In the fused spirit of technocracy and democracy, your voice matters. We’ve set up a doodle here; if you’re interested in attending please let us know what days work for you.
In the same spirit, we’re also going to set up a Slack™ group for handling discussion and administration. If you’re not familiar with Slack, it’s basically a private group chat service. Invitations to that group will be sent out separately. We’re also going to try a little experiment, there; as a nod to Plaza’s non-hierarchical ideals, we encourage you to sign up anonymously. To that end we’ve set up the Plaza Name Generator, which will randomly generate an 820Plaza-like name you can use.
Each session will focus on a single text, or optionally a small number of shorter, related texts.
Texts will be nominated by members, and chosen from the nominees by the Selection Committee; see guidelines and details on this below.
The text for each discussion will be announced at the end of the discussion preceding.
In the weeks leading up to each session, we’ll use Slack to come up with a list of discussion points/prompts for that session’s text.
Each session will begin with a brief introduction from the person who nominated that session’s text, with the goal of providing a little bit of context and relevant auxiliary information.
Things will proceed from there.
Text Selection Minutiae
The Plaza PDF Reading Group values diversity (of perspective, subject and form), originality of thought, and technical quality.
If you would like to nominate a text, send an email with a link and an optional rationale/blurb to email@example.com.
To help us set the focus and tone somewhat, texts will (for the time being) be chosen opaquely by the Selection Committee. At some future date, when the membership and form of the group has stabilized, we imagine this process being more inclusive & transparent.
Future texts will be available, printed, on a per-request basis, somehow. For the first session, members are responsible for printing or not printing the text themselves, as they see fit.
Please let us know when you are available, and sign up for the Slack. If you have any questions or problems with either of these things (or anything at all, really) we are happy to help. If you have any other questions or suggestions, let us know.
The Selection Committee
Thank you for your interest in the Plaza PDF Reading Group, an ongoing and open-ended discussion about culture and related forces. Details about the first text are included below.
Before diving in we would like to invite you to a ‘pre-meeting’, an opportunity to discuss what this group will be and how it should operate. This pre-meeting will be held this coming Sunday, January 24th, at 15h00. Because 6820 Marconi is in winter mode, this session will be held at Plaza Planning Department HQ, 6046 Av. Durocher, Outremont. The date and time of the first discussion will be decided then. Please let us know whether or not you are able to attend.
We begin with some observations and some questions, pretending to be observations.
A principal engine for the change of culture is technology.
The rate of technological change has never been greater then it is ‘right now’ (that is, at the present instant, whenever that is).
It isn’t slowing down.
If the Reading Group has a prompt, it is: “What is now (as an experience), and what distinguishes it from then?” And maybe (if we’re a little ambitious): “What can we find in the experience of now, that suggests where we are going and how best we can equip ourselves to arrive there?”
And not arrive, of course, but pass through.
We desired to start this project by looking to someone who asked similar questions, and so we’ve chosen to begin not now but then, with George W.S Trow’s Within the Context of No-Context. Published in 1980, No-Context is an attempt to understand and describe the experience of now at the dawn of the 80s, and to describe the forces that differentiated that moment from the one which preceded it.
A copy of Within the Context of No-Context is available for download at http://www.820plaza.com/read/pdfs/nocontext.pdf.
- For some biographical details on Trow, see this eulogy by Alec Wilkinson: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/its-all-interesting-george-w-s-trow
Thank you for your interest, and please let us know if you have any questions or input.
The Steering Committee
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The 820Plaza Continuing Education Department is happy to announce The Plaza PDF Reading Group, a brand new seminar-style reading & discussion group. With a focus on short papers and texts across diverse topics and disciplines, membership is open to all.
Discussions will be (loosely) monthly. Physical meetings will take place either at 820Plaza or a location nearby. Dates and times will be announced on a per-event basis, but our intent is to hold them in the last quarter of each month. Discussions will be an hour or two long. We’ll make tea. We’ll share ideas. It’ll be nice.
Texts Will be chosen from across mediums and disciplines. Texts may be peer-reviewed papers, popular writing, usenet posts, or anything in between. They will be chosen by the selection committee, and disseminated as PDFs. Participants should expect 2-4 hours of reading per text. There will be either one large or a small number of shorter texts per meeting. Here are some texts we would consider good candidates:
Within The Context Of No Context, George W. S. Trow
If Materialism Is True, the United States Is Probably Conscious, Eric Schwitzgebel.
In Defense of the Poor Image, Hito Steyerl.
Membership is open to everyone. We aspire, however, to have a group of regular member-contributors, and for the discussion group to be small enough to include all participants. To this end, membership may not be open indefinitely.
As a Plaza Project™, we begin this reading group not knowing what it will become. We are reminded of one of our unofficial mottos: Leave alone; arrive together.
We welcome your insight, participation and tolerance.
Sign up! If you are interested in participating (or have any questions), email firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us know. We hope to announce the first text in the next week, and have our first session near the end of January.
All guidelines are loose. All goals are fluid. All futures are possible.
Happy 2016, from all of us at 820Plaza, and we hope to see more of you in the year to come.