Semiotext(e) is an independent publisher of critical theory, fiction, philosophy, art criticism, activist texts and non-fiction.
Founded in 1974, Semiotext(e) began as a journal that emerged from a semiotics reading group led by Sylvère Lotringer at Columbia University. Initially, the magazine was devoted to readings of thinkers like Nietzsche and Saussure. In 1978, Lotringer and his collaborators published a special issue, Schizo-Culture, in the wake of a conference of the same name he had organized two years before at Columbia University.
The magazine brought together artists and thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze, Kathy Acker, John Cage, Michel Foucault, Jack Smith, Martine Barrat and Lee Breuer. Schizo-Culture brought out connections between high theory and underground culture that had not yet been made, and forged the "high/low" aesthetic that remains central to the Semiotext(e) project.
As the group dispersed over time, issues appeared less frequently. In 1980, Lotringer began to assemble the Foreign Agents series, a group of "little black books", often culled from longer texts, to polemically debut the work of French theorists to US readers. He was aided in this by Jim Fleming, whose collective press Autonomedia would be Semiotext(e)'s distributor for the next twenty-one years. Jean Baudrillard's Simulations was the first of these books to appear, followed by titles by Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Paul Virilio, Jean-François Lyotard and Michel Foucault, among others. Spin magazine cited the little black books as "Objects of Desire" in a 19XX design feature.
In 1990, Chris Kraus proposed a new series of fiction books by American writers, which would become the "Native Agents" imprint. Kraus worked at the St. Marks Poetry Project and saw an overlap between the theories of subjectivity advanced in the Foreign Agents books and the radical subjectivity practiced by female first-person fiction writers. Designed to promote an anti-memoiristic, "public I", the series published Kathy Acker, Barbara Barg, Cookie Mueller, Eileen Myles, David Rattray, Ann Rower and Lynne Tillman and many others.
In 2001 Semiotext(e) changed its base of operations from New York to Los Angeles, ceasing its involvement with Autonomedia in order to begin an ongoing distribution arrangement with MIT Press. Hedi El Kholti, the Moroccan-born artist and writer who co-founded the now-defunct Dilettante Press, became Semiotext(e)'s art director.
As the decade progressed, El Kholti saw a need to re-imagine the Semiotext(e) project beyond the small-format books of the series. Earlier titles would be republished as large format books within the new "History of the Present" imprint.
In 2004, El Kholti became managing editor of the press. He, Kraus and Lotringer became joint, list-wide co-editors. Semiotext(e)'s new goal was to advance its original conflation of literature and theory, and to expand the anti-bourgeois queer theory presented in early issues of the Semiotext(e) journal.
Semiotext(e) publishes the Intervention Series (2009--present), an ongoing series of short books on subjects related to left-wing politics. Topics of the series include anti-capitalism, anti-authoritarianism, post-structuralism, feminism, and economics. All books in the series are designed by Hedi El Kholti. The series is notable for its first installment: The Coming Insurrection by The Invisible Committee, a French pseudonymous author (or authors). Upon its release, the book was condemned by American conservativecommentatorGlenn Beck, who described it as a dangerous radical leftist manifesto.The Coming Insurrection is also known for its association with the legal case of the Tarnac Nine, a group of nine people including Julien Coupat who were arrested in Tarnac, rural France, on November 11, 2008 on suspicion of sabotaging French railways. The method of sabotage actually used was similar to one suggested in the book, and members of the group were suspected to be members of the Invisible Committee. Coupat co-founded Tiqqun, a short-lived philosophical magazine which is also represented in the Intervention Series.
^"The insurrections have come, finally. At such a pace and in so many countries, since 2008, that the whole structure of this world seems to be disintegrating, piece by piece."
^"On several occasions over the course of the 1970s the insurrectionary situation in Italy threatened to spread to France... It is thus easier to understand why the French speak of a 'creeping May' when it comes to Italy. They have the proud, public May, the state May. In Paris May 68 has served as the symbol of '60s and '70s world political antagonism to the exact extent that the reality of this antagonism lies elsewhere."
^"In 2011, the Occupy movement protested the submission of social life to semio-capital. As widespread as Occupy was, the movement was a political failure."
^"What was unforgivable about May '68 rebels or about the Autonomia movement at its peak in 1977 is that they did not want to take power. Franco Piperno, one of their leaders, admitted to me later on: 'We didn't know what we would have done with it.' As Baudrillard writes in The Agony of Power: 'Power itself must be abolished--and not solely because of a refusal to be dominated, which is at the heart of all traditional struggles--but also, just as violently, in the refusal to dominate."
^"Can we really change the world or real life for everyone without taking political and economic power? That was the large question mark floating above the planet at the turn of the millennium. For some, the way forward was to transform minds and ways of being through new lateral solidarities, online media, and the principles of intellectual equality and collective intelligence. For those who were wary of surges of disempowerment or a politics that had its head in the clouds, the solution was instead the creation of organized alternative communities, the secession of entire neighborhoods in large cities and in remote rural areas, a kind of separatism that accepted its frontal opposition to power, not aiming to seize it but instead to constantly defy it, and to 'depose' it by all possible means and stratagems. Indeed, according to one of its theoreticians, this new emancipative power saw itself as a destituent rather than a constituent power."
^"Thus, where the 'constituents' place themselves in a dialectial relation of struggle with the ruling authority in order to take possession of it, destituent logic obeys the vital need to disengage from it. It doesn't abandon the struggle, it fastens on to the struggle's positivity."
^"In his important book on neoliberalism, The Birth of Biopolitics, Foucault, setting aside what had argued in the course mentioned above on the functions of money in ancient Greece, neglects the functions of finance, debt, and money, even though these constituted the strategic mechanisms of neoliberal government starting in the late 1970s."
^"Deleuze and Guattari, in A Thousand Plateaus, try to define fascism, and they say: fascism is when a war machine is hidden in every niche, when in every nook and in every cranny of daily life a war machine is hidden. This is fascism. So I would say that neoliberalism is the most perfect form of fascism, in terms of Deleuze and Guattari's definition."
^"The 'Postscript on the Societies of Control' is probably Gilles Deleuze's most famous essay. Almost as though in a manifesto, the French philosopher summarizes here the theses of his friend Michel Foucault on confinement (and on its crisis, agony and what follows from that)."
^"With the exceptional antiterrorist legislation, the gutting of the labor laws, the increasing specialization of jurisdictions and courts of prosecution, the Law no longer exists. Take criminal law. On the pretext of antiterrorism and fighting 'organized criminality', what has taken shape from year to year is the constitution of two distinct laws: a law for 'citizens' and a 'penal law of the enemy'."
^"Just as the War on Terror had usefully shifted attention away from the new social struggles at the time, the attacks by the Islamic State in Europe in 2015-17 and the state of emergency that was instituted in France (the hardest-hit country) as a response offered convenient, literally diabolical (in the Greek sense of diabolos, to separate) diversions from the global social struggle that was in the process of being reborn."
^"...we must question the rise of the global 'securitocracy', fundamentalist positions, the connection between war and entertainment and the increasing turn to states of 'emergency' or 'exception' or the 'law of the enemy' (or law outside the law)."
^"Nixon did something very, very important as far as changing the future went. Well, he decided to free the dollar from the gold standard."
^"...a few discreet measures announcing a decisive evolution of the world economy (e.g. the end of the gold standard in 1971)..."
^"The most recent profession in a similar vein came from Patrick Le Lay, CEO of TF1, the French television channel: 'Let's be realistic: the job of TF1 is to help Coca-Cola sell its products. For an advertising campaign to work properly, the viewer's brains have to be accessible. The goal of our programs is to make them available, by entertaining them, relaxing them between two messages. What we sell to Coca-Cola is relaxed-brains time... Nothing is harder than getting them to open up.'"
^"But most importantly, attention has become the central object of the capitalist economy. It is what this economy is seeking to capture, much more so than natural resources, labor forces, or monetary capital. The phenomenon already existed with TV, as the CEO of a TV channel reminded us when he spoke of selling 'available brain time' to advertising agencies."
^Autonomia was a 1980 Semiotext(e) journal issue devoted to coverage of the 1970s Italian leftist Autonomia Operaia movement. The issue was reprinted as a book in 2007, bearing the phrase "semiotext(e) intervention series 1" on its front cover. The reprint of Autonomia was thus a prototype volume of the series. Proper entries in the series are much shorter, but frequently deal with the related subject matter of 1970s left-wing Italian movements.
^Marazzi, Christian (2011). The Violence of Financial Capitalism, New Edition. Semiotext(e) Intervention Series. 2. Translated by Lebedeva, Kristina; McGimsey, Jason Francis. Semiotext(e). ISBN9781584351023.
^Richard, Bertrand (2012). "Preface and Interview conducted". The Administration of Fear. By Virilio, Paul. Semiotext(e) Intervention Series. 10. Translated by Hodges, Ames. Semiotext(e). ISBN9781584351054.
^Lazzarato, Maurizio (2012). The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition. Semiotext(e) Intervention Series. 13. Translated by Jordan, Joshua David. Semiotext(e). ISBN9781584351153.
^Negri, Antonio (2013). Afterword. Factories of Knowledge, Industries of Creativity. By Raunig, Gerald. Semiotext(e) Intervention Series. 15. Translated by Derieg, Aileen; Mecchia, Giuseppina. Semiotext(e). ISBN9781584351160.
^Rodríguez, Sergio González (2017). The Iguala 43: The Truth and Challenge of Mexico's Disappeared Students. Semiotext(e) Intervention Series. 20. Translated by Neuhouser, Joshua. Semiotext(e). ISBN9781584351979.