«Future participle»: when anthropology contemplates the halo of the future

Book Review
Massimo Angelini
Participio futuro: Dalla terra alla bellezza, per tornare al simbolo
[Future Participle: From Land to Beauty, Returning to the Symbol]

236 pp. – €12.00
ISBN: 978-88-98187-28-7
Pentàgora, 2015

While the book has only been published in Italian, a selection of its chapters
is available in English on the author’s website.


Participio futuro (future participle) is a verb tense or – to take some poetic licence – a verbal «tension», towards that which is not yet, but the shape of which can already be sensed in incipient form. While future participle no longer exists in contemporary English, there are certain words that bear its Latin traces. Think of «venture», meaning «that which is to come»; «future», as «that which is to be» or again «nature», as «that which is to be born» (which we could perhaps reword as: the inception of life, disposition to aliveness, coming-into-being). Future participle, in other words, denotes that which is not yet, but the presence of which is already felt – so much so as to find discernible linguistic shape in a verb tense. In Angelini’s poetic wording:

Future participle refers not to that which will [at some point] be, but to that which is coming into being [as we speak], which is imminent, which isn’t yet but already participates in being: the word gestures to that which is proximate and of which one can already discern the sketch, the trace or the outline. «Nascituro» [the future participle of the Latin verb nasci, to be born] is not one who will be born, but one who is poised for birth and whose birth is therefore already inscribed in the present: it is he who is already present with us today. The tree that hasn’t sprung up yet is the future participle of the sprouted seed, out of which it is about to draw its life and form. The home prefigured in the [architectural] project is the future participle of the foundations just laid. Anything of which we incipiently discern the accomplishment is the future participle of that which announces it today and already prepares the ground for it (p. 67).

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Sergente Romano: on reclaiming the South (not as History of a Fatherland, but as song of belonging to the Motherland)

figli-di-annibale-meridionali cut2

Originally published in Italian on Crapula and part of the thematic stream Figli di Annibale.

Sergente Romano is the title of Marco Cardetta’s literary debut (in Italian). More than just a story, this work affords a mystical and moving journey: one that would benefit both anyone who is curious about the possibilities of the Southern Italian ‘meridionalista‘ movement, as well as readers who are in search of an original meditation on history – as collective and polysemic experience, prior to the fixation of an accepted storyline as History. Read more

Treading «softly, silently, attentively» … to get lost in the South

figli-di-annibale-meridionali cut2

This article belongs to the Figli di Annibale stream.

If a piece of writing could ever hold the echo of song – its rhythm and expressive depth, its evocative imagery – then surely Franco La Cecla’s musings on «getting lost» (perdersi in Italian: the title of the book I discuss here) reverberate of the delicate atmosphere and lyrical details conjured in Gianmaria Testa’s song «I seminatori di grano» (the seed casters): an ever poetic meditation on the erratic, vulnerable search for a place of dwelling. Read more

Everything Gardens reviewed in Transition Culture


Book review by Rob Hopkins, originally appeared on Transition Culture on August 28, 2015.

Academic work on Transition can often be infuriating rather than illuminating.  I was once asked to peer review a paper on Transition, a movement I was central in kickstarting and shaping, but I had to decline on the grounds that the paper was utterly incomprehensible.  While some research is excellent, and offers useful insights and meaningful data, there is also much that leaves me cold, or bewildered.  With this in mind, I picked up a copy of Luigi Russi’s ‘Everything Gardens and other stories: growing Transition Culture‘ with a certain trepidation. Read more

The First Firangis: How Foreigners Became Indian

Originally published in Scroll.in on February 13, 2015.

Book Review
Jonathan Gil Harris
The First Firangis:
Remarkable Stories of Heroes, Healers, Charlatans, Courtesans & other Foreigners who Became Indian

318 pp. – ₹495
ISBN: 978-93-82277-63-7
Aleph Book Company, 2015

Giambattista Vico, a Neapolitan philosopher from the late seventeenth century, suggested that it was ‘from Jove that the muse begun’. Jove, or Zeus, is the Greek god of thunder, and the cracking of thunder, its sudden irruption over the tapping of rain, startles the body and jolts it out of position, constellating in an instant a horizon of questions. What was that?

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Oedipus is So Bourgeois: Zizek and the Mediating Subject


Originally published in the Oxford Left Review, vol. 14 on February 12, 2015.

Book Review
R.C. Smith
The Ticklish Subject?
A Critique of Žižek’s Lacanian Theory of Subjectivity, with Emphasis on an Alternative

152 pp. – £14.99
ISBN: 978-0-9570961-3-4
Heathwood Press, December 2013

No slave is more deluded than one who turns dependence from a master into condescendence or, worse, appreciation for ‘the way things are’. This, in a nutshell, is the dilemmatic condition of the neoliberal subject, Read more

“The Seven Basic Plots”. The key is in how you react to it.

In a hefty tome that has gone through a head-spinning twenty reprints (as of 2011), Christopher Booker brings home one important message: To carry a story through to successful resolution is no easy task.

At heart, Booker’s magnum opus is an attempt to unearth the basic affective categories through which human beings parse the world for meaning. And he goes scavenging for them in the plots of the stories we tell. In the process, he ends up with seven cardinal structures that illustrate the dynamic interplay between the basic moral modes of apprehending the world. The orderly, rational properties that belong to the affective realm of the masculine and of the Father need to be complemented with the sense of relatedness and the attitude of selflessness that stems from the feminine and the Mother. Read more

Resistance to Empire: The Peasant Way

The New Peasantries: Struggles for Autonomy and Sustainability in an Era of Empire and Globalization, Earthscan (London), 2008

by Jan Douwe van der Ploeg

In The New Peasantries, Jan Douwe van der Ploeg offers a masterful depiction of the inner workings of Empire. In this respect, his work is a much-needed extension of the magnum opus by Hardt and Negri. In fact, it looks at Empire not so much through a focus on “boundary shifts located at the outer borders and on the politico-military aspects that are associated with them” (p. 235), but rather in its inner workings as an ordering principle.

In this respect, van der Ploeg focuses specifically on the changes occurring in the field of food and farming, where Empire appears as a “complex, multilayered, expanding and increasingly monopolistic set of connections (i.e. a coercive network) that ties processes, places, people and products together in a specific way” (p. 255). In particular, this re-patterning of food production in agriculture occurs in a way that suppresses all forms of agency beyond those which can be controlled at a distance from the core of the imperial constellation. In this respect, the many peasant innovations aimed at enabling the co-production of man and nature are systematically suppressed – if not outright outlawed – in favour of practices that streamline and engineer food production in ways that enable the syphoning of value towards the core, understood as the space from which control and access to the flows associated with production and consumption are determined. Read more

Commoning against entropy: a review of “The Entropy of Capitalism”

The Entropy of Capitalism, BRILL (Leiden-Boston), 2012

by Robert Biel

A diverse, rhizome-like network of commoning experiments that allow the free deployment of human capacity and creativity is what a post-capitalist future holds, according to Robert Biel, author of “The Entropy of Capitalism” and Senior Lecturer at UCL’s Development Planning Unit at the Bartlett School of Architecture.

Biel comes to this conclusion after presenting a rigorous analysis of modern-day capitalism through the lens of the laws of thermodynamics. His reasoning starts from the principle that any system requires energy to function. So long as it is able to obtain that energy from its environment and dissipate any waste into the same environment, the system may reproduce itself. Problems arise, however, as the environment’s capacity to offer resources to/receive waste from the system’s metabolism is exhausted. At that point, the system effectively becomes closed and does not escape the second law of thermodynamics, which states that a closed system is subject to increasing entropy (i.e. the energy in that system goes from an “orderly”, useable form to a “disorderly” unuseable form), causing a progressive depletion of the system’s energy. Read more