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FASS thinking: Professorial lecture with Scott Wilson

Date:06 December 2012, 5:00pm to
06 December 2012, 6:00pm
Location:JG5014, Penrhyn Road, Kingston Upon Thames
 KT1 2EE

Making numbers speak: John F Nash JR and the Madness of Neoliberalism

The paper looks at JF Nash’s famous equilibrium as a basic diagram that has structured the socio-economic field in the West for the past thirty years or so. It starts from three premises. First, that the virtual subject of game theory and Nash’s equilibrium has the same structure as psychosis; second, that this structure has been imposed as a form of governance, and third that this development is an effect of the diminishing role played by speech and language relative to numbers and statistics in processes of techno-scientific individuation. Virtual individuals, possessed of imaginary drives, become the model for the subject justifying systems of surveillance and management, based on minute calculations of advantage and disadvantage expressed in targets, incentives and ‘optimization problems’ that regulate everyone’s actual lives working in the regime of techno-neoliberalism. Aspects of Nash’s own psychosis become pertinent here, and will be touched upon the paper because of the role of other particulate systems – music and mathematics, particularly numerology – in mediating his relation to his social reality and other people. Perhaps, through looking at how music and numbers provide a resource for making sense and meaning (however delusional), correspondences can be drawn about the function of these and other particulate systems in the culture generally in the default of language.

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