Matteo Pasquinelli – Animal Spirits, A Bestiary of the Commons

Matteo Pasquinelli

NAi Publishers, ISBN 978-9056626631, The Netherlands, 2009, English
How can gentrification, free culture, pornography and Baudrillard coexist in the pages of the same book? Animal Spirits: A Bestiary of the Commons is a peculiar and oblique work that challenges many of cyberculture’s recurring narratives. Matteo Pasquinelli, media activist and net porn expert, successfully combines the most radical media theory with the tradition of post-operaismo (a strain of neo-marxism currently captained by Negri, Virno and Lazzarato). The theme of the collection of essays, the concept of animal spirits, is borrowed from Keynes and refers to the complex amalgam of emotional and instinctual forces that push below the sanitized surface of information age capitalism. The main victim of Pasquinelli’s polemic is ‘digitalism’, the transversal ideology that sees in the network the promise of an egalitarian society free from any conflict. The great digitalist fallacy is to hide the parasitic nature of contemporary capital, a nature that manifests itself in the living labour behind immaterial production – the set of infrastructures, platforms and devices that enables social production and gift economies -or in real estate speculation, that which exploits the value collectively created by urban dwellers. The bestiary includes an imaginary duel between Ballard and Baudrillard and an acrobatic disquisition on pornography and images of war. It’s a book full of suggestions and provocations, sometimes hard but not inaccessible that can work either as introduction to the contemporary debate around immaterial capital or as a politically incorrect antidote to the techno-utopian hot air we breathe everyday.

Paolo Pedercini