“Many men on their release carry their prison about with them into the air, and hide it as a secret disgrace in their hearts, and at length, like poor poisoned things, creep into some hole and die. It is wretched that they should have to do so, and it is wrong, terribly wrong, of society that it should force them to do so. Society takes upon itself the right to inflict appalling punishment on the individual, but it also has the supreme vice of shallowness, and fails to realise what it has done. When the man’s punishment is over, it leaves him to himself; that is to say, it abandons him at the very moment when its highest duty towards him begins. It is really ashamed of its own actions, and shuns those whom it has punished, as people shun a creditor whose debt they cannot pay, or one on whom they have inflicted an irreparable, an irremediable wrong.” – Oscar Wilde, “De Profundis”

“It is at the moment when agrarian capitalism begins to establish itself that the means of stabilizing it in written balance accounts appears and it is also at the moment when social hierarchization is affirmed that writing constructs its first genealogists. . . . The appearance of writing is not fortuitous; after millennia of maturation in the systems of mythographic representation the linear notation of thought emerges at the same time as metal and slavery.” – André Leroi-Gourhan, La geste et la parole (quoted by Jacques Derrida in Of Grammatology (trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak))

“Societies have assumed their final form: no longer is anything changed except by arms and cash. And since there is nothing to say to people besides give money, it is said with placards on street corners or by soldiers in their homes.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile (quoted by Jacques Derrida in Of Grammatology (trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak)) (emphasis in original)

“Writing may not have sufficed to consolidate human knowledge, but it may well have been indispensable to the consolidation of dominions. To bring the matter nearer to our own time: the European-wide movement towards compulsory education in the nineteenth century went hand in hand with the extension of military service and with proletarization. The struggle against illiteracy is thus indistinguishable from the increased powers exerted over the individual citizen by the central authority. For it is only when everyone can read that Authority can decree that ‘ignorance of law is no defence.’ “ – Claude Lévi-Strauss (quoted by Jacques Derrida in Of Grammatology (trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak))

“Politics is by no means an apodictic science. It proceeds by experimentation, groping in the dark, injection, withdrawal, advances, retreats. The factors of decision and prediction are limited. It is an absurdity to postulate a world supergovernment that makes the final decisions. No one is even capable of predicting the growth of the money supply.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

“One of the fundamental tasks of the State is to striate the space over which it reigns, or to utilize the smooth spaces as a means of communication in the service of striated space. It is a vital concern of every State not only to vanquish nomadism but to control migrations and, more generally, to establish a zone of rights over an entire ‘exterior,’ over all of the flows traversing ecumenon. If it can help it, the State does not dissociate itself from a process of capture of flows of all kinds, populations, commodities or commerce, money or capital, etc. There is still a need for fixed paths in well-defined directions, which restrict speed, regulate circulation, relativize movement, and measure in detail the relative movements of subjects and objects.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

“Let us take a limited example and compare the war machine and the State apparatus in the context of the theory of games. Let us take chess and Go, from the standpoint of the game pieces, the relations between the pieces and the space involved. Chess is a game of State, or of the court: the emperor of China played it. Chess pieces are coded; they have an internal nature and intrinsic properties from which their movements, situations, and confrontations derive. They have qualities; a knight remains a knight, a pawn a pawn, a bishop a bishop. Each is like a subject of the statement endowed with a relative power, and these relative powers combine in a subject of enunciation, that is, the chess player or the game’s form of interiority. Go pieces, in contrast, are pellets, disks, simple arithmetic units, and have only an anonymous, collective, or third-person function: ‘It’ makes a move. ‘It’ could be a man, a woman, a louse, an elephant. Go pieces are elements of a nonsubjectified machine assemblage with no intrinsic properties, only situational ones.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

“Forming grammatically correct sentences is for the normal individual the prerequisite for any submission to social laws. No one is supposed to be ignorant of grammaticality; those who are belong in special institutions. The unity of language is fundamentally political. There is no mother tongue, only a power takeover by a dominant language that at times advances along a broad front, and at times swoops down on diverse centers simultaneously. We can conceive of several ways for a language to homogenize, centralize: the republican way is not necessarily the same as the royal way, and is not the least harsh. The scientific enterprise of extracting constants and constant relations is always coupled with the political enterprise of imposing them on speakers and transmitting order-words.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

“Unlike natural persons, corporations have limited liability for their owners and managers, perpetual life, separation of ownership and control, and favorable treatment of the accumulation and distribution of assets that enhance their ability to attract capital and to deploy their resources in ways that maximize the return on their shareholders’ investments. Unlike voters in U.S. elections, corporations may be foreign controlled. Unlike other interest groups, business corporations have been effectively delegated responsibility for ensuring society’s economic welfare; they inescapably structure the life of every citizen. It might also be added that corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their personhood often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of We the People by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.” – Justice John Paul Stevens, United States Supreme Court, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (internal quotes and citations omitted)

“Over the course of the last 250 years at least, human beings in different locations have thought of themselves as citizens and have debated the essence of citizenship as well as its limitations. Now that so much time has passed, thought concerning citizenship need no longer be bound to the invention of a zero point, a hypothetical moment of inception. It is more productive to see citizenship as an interface that enables humans to create a shared world, one which they will be able to continue to inhabit together in the future, not only because of their actions but because they calculate the effect of their actions on others who share the world. . . . The particular functioning of the modern nation-state, however, which has captured the discourse of citizenship and subordinated it to the logic of sovereignty that dictates who among the governed is a citizen, bestowing status and a package of rights and duties on the citizen that are not allocated to other governed individuals, has created fertile conditions—not for civil intention, but for civil malfunction.” – Ariella Azoulay, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography

“Whenever human beings exist together with one another, whether in private or in public space, whether in open or closed spaces amenable to, or hidden from, the surveillance of others, their being together constitutes political existence. This political existence takes different forms characterized by varying degrees of freedom and repression.” – Ariella Azoulay, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography

“Whoever appears in a photograph or whoever is glimpsed in its frame always stands in a certain set of relations with others. Neither the photographer who is invested with ownership rights over the photograph as object, nor the work of art constructed as the center of gravity of the discourse of art, are capable of erasing the photographed persons or any other participants in the event of photography from the civil space in which they are present and whose coming into being they demand from those who observe them.” – Ariella Azoulay, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography

“A community of stakeholders is usually represented by a certain body or sovereign power. The sum total of citizens cannot, however, be represented. Modern nation-states who bestow a civil status on their subjects presume to manifest and to represent their citizens as if this civil status were the essence of citizenship. But citizenship is the outcome of a hypothetical partnership between individuals that enables them to relate to one another as having equal access to this partnership. Any regime that seeks to subject such partnership to representation inevitably infringes upon it and cannot, therefore, be said to represent it. The foundational principle of partnership between citizens lies in the fact that they are not subject to sovereign power and cannot therefore be represented by it. Such partnership can at most be imagined by the members who participate in it. From the eighteenth century onward, it has been possible to imagine this partnership in different forms, as taking different directions and proceeding through different channels. All such imaginings constitute a form of taking-part in this citizenry and any such partnership presents an opportunity to imagine such a citizenry.” – Ariella Azoulay, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography

“The truth is that sexuality is everywhere: the way a bureaucrat fondles his records, a judge administers justice, a businessman causes money to circulate; the way the bourgeoisie fucks the proletariat; and so on. And there is no need to resort to metaphors, any more than for the libido to go by way of metamorphoses. Hitler got the fascists sexually aroused. Flags, nations, armies, banks get a lot of people aroused.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus (trans. Robert Hurley, et al.)

“If desire is repressed, it is because every position of desire, no matter how small, is capable of calling into question the established order of a society. Not that desire is asocial, on the contrary. But it is explosive . . . no society can tolerate a position of real desire without its structures of exploitation, servitude, and hierarchy being compromised.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus (trans. Robert Hurley, et al.)

“Imagine never belonging to your own body. Your own body never belonging to you. Imagine you were programmed only to say yes when a man pulls the string. Imagine when you say no, it’s like men can’t hear it. Like you are just a doll who says yes and Momma and sleepy. Like when they lay you down, your eyes close, and you don’t remember anything that happens next. Imagine the world that tells you this is your fault.” — Shaindell Beers, “Playing Dolls” (emphases in original)

“When subjects, individuals, or groups act manifestly counter to their own class interests—when they rally to the interests and ideals of a class that their own objective situation should lead them to combat—it is not enough to say: they were fooled, the masses have been fooled. It is not an ideological problem, a problem of failing to recognize, or of bring subject to, an illusion. It is a problem of desire, and desire is part of the infrastructure. Preconscious investments are made, or should be made, according to the interests of the opposing classes. But unconscious investments are made according to positions of desire.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus (trans. Robert Hurley, et al.) (emphasis in original)

“The world is iron, there’s nothing you can do, it rolls up to you like a steamroller, there’s nothing you can do, here it comes, there it goes, they’re sitting on the inside, it’s like a tank, a devil is driving it with horns and glowing eyes, they tear you limb from limb, they sit there with their chains and teeth and tear you into bits. And it runs on, and there’s no getting out of the way of it.” – Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz (trans. Michael Hofmann)

“For a woman, surely, words are the prime element of force, of being able to enforce things on others, to coerce them. The prime realistic thing, in a certain sense, for women in this world is words, words insofar as they contain law and announcements of principles, the semiminor apocalypses of Utopia, or at least of peace on earth.” – Harold Brodkey, “Ceil” (emphasis in original)