What’s Going On?

Jan 29th 2023 3-5pm on Zoom

Reserve your place here: ticket

Stuart Hall invites us to consider what he called the ‘present conjuncture’.

“I would say that the object of my study is not sociology, or cultural studies, or anthropology, or literature, et cetera. The object of my intellectual work, insofar as I am an intellectual, is what I would call the present conjuncture. It’s the history of the present. It’s what is the condition in which we now find ourselves, and how did we get there? And what forces are creatng it in order that we might understand how I might do something about it”.

Stuart Hall : Through the Prism of an Intellectual Life 

We might use this notion of the present conjuncture to consider what is going on – what we are in amongst and what is called for in these times when it comes to reconsidering the therapeutic project. We invite you to engage with the materials gathered here, to gather the materials that you are keeping company with and share them on the list. We will also gather on Sunday January 29th to consider the present conjuncture and to reckon with what is required of the therapeutic project in this particular moment.

“What’s Going On?” is study. Now, when Marvin Gaye starts singing, that’s study too. It’s not study that emerges out of the absence of study. It’s an extension of study”. 

Fred Moten & Stefano Harney, The Undercommons

When Marvyn Gaye sings What’s Going On ? – what comes to you?

When Bob Marley and the Wailers sing So Much Trouble in the World – what comes to you?

So Much Trouble in the World : Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Remit for the event: the organising committee invite you to attend this gathering to reflect on these complicated times together.  This will be also be an opportunity for new comers to meet existing members of TRS.

There will be small and large group space. What is pre-occupying you at this time? What is your study? Your joy? Who and what are your companions? What study would you collectively like to engage in that speaks to what is called for now? Share things on the list that can be added to this page.

That life is complicated is a fact of great analytic importance.

Patricia Williams, The Alchemy of Race and Rights

In response to a recent study group with The Undercommons Lenya made this: ‘No Church in the Wild’. It is being shared amongst the group that met to annotate, to keep company with for a while. What is your creativity up to?

“Can this being together in homelessness, this interplay of the refusal of what has been refused, this undercommon appositionality, be a place from which emerges neither self-consciousness nor knowledge of the other but an improvisation that proceeds from somewhere on the other side of an unasked question?” I think this is what Jay-Z and Kanye West (another collaborative unit of study) call “no church in the wild.”

Fred Moten and Stefano Harvey : The Undercommons

If there is no church in the wild, if there is study rather than knowledge production, if there is a way of being together in brokenness, if there is an undercommons, then we must all find our way to it. And it will not be there where the wild things are, it will be a place where refuge is not necessary and you will find that you were already in it all along.

Jack Halberstam : Introduction to The Undercommons

We start with a playlist – what song or piece of music would you add to a playlist that speaks to these times?

“A song has a consciousness, almost, a life of its own”

Jude Rogers in The Sound of Being Human

A playlist in the making :  

What’s Going On 

So Much Trouble in the World : Bob Marley & The Wailers

Breathe : Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Toshi Reagon

Agape – Nicholas Britell from the soundtrack to If Beale St Could Talk

The Age of Worry – Yebba

Eternal Light – by Chronixx as suggested by Helen.

Fragile – suggested by Fabienne with Stevie Wonder’s version of Sting’s Fragile with Stevie is a wonder on vocals and breathing sublimely through the harmonica.

Après La Neige – suggested by Fabienne as well as Omar Sosa — An East African Journey Elrababa

Pharoahe Monch’s PTSD and GZA’s Beneath the Surface as suggested by Nic.

DJ and TRS organising committee member Nemone Metaxas has compiled a playlist inspired by ‘What’s Going On’

Apple Music version of the mixtape.


Some of the organising committee’s pre-occupations and some of the readings/viewings/listenings that have been accompanying us with these pre-occupations:

“We might continue to imagine new ways to live in the wake of slavery…to survive (and 
more) the afterlife of property. In short I, mean wake work to be a mode of inhabiting and 
rupturing this episteme with our known lived and un/imaginable lives. 

Christina Sharpe

“One way of posing the question of who “we” are in these times of war is by asking whose lives are considered valuable, whose lives are mourned, and whose lives are considered ungrievable. We might think of war as dividing populations into those who are grievable and those who are not. An ungrievable life is one that cannot be mourned because it has never lived, that is, it has never counted as a life at all. We can see the division of the globe into grievable and ungrievable lives from the perspective of those who wage war in order to defend the lives of certain communities, and to defend them against the lives of others—even if it means taking those latter lives.”

Judith ButlerFrames of War: When Is Life Grievable?

If haunting describes how that which appears to be not there is often a seething presence, acting on and often meddling with taken-for-granted realities, the ghost is just the sign, or the empirical evidence if you like, that tells you a haunting is taking place. The ghost is not simply a dead or a missing person, but a social figure, and investigating it can lead to that dense site where history and subjectivity make social life. The ghost or the apparition is one form by which something lost, or barely visible, or seemingly not there to our supposedly well-trained eyes, makes itself known or apparent to us, in its own way, of course. The way of the ghost is haunting, and haunting is a very particular way of knowing what has happened or is happening. Being haunted draws us affectively, sometimes against our will and always a bit magically, into the structure of feeling of a reality we come to experience, not as cold knowledge, but as a transformative recognition.

Avery Gordon, Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination


i don’t pay attention to the
world ending.
it has ended for me
many times
and began again in the morning.

― Nayyirah Waheed, Salt

What would your version of this poem be, or what would you add?

Kathryn Yusoff  :  A Billion Black Anthropocenes – how the world has always been ending

“Precisely because modernity (and premodernity) is secured in a subjectivity that is inscripted at the onset in race, the diagnostic of the Anthropocene does not unleash any ethical crisis in liberal discourse about who is targeted by these material practices. What is at stake and what is on the front line are defined through the color line. The disembodied monuments and matter of the Golden Spike point but don’t name. This is why the Anthropocene is configured in a future tense rather than in recognition of the extinctions already undergone by black and indigenous peoples.”

Kathryn Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None


Arthur Jafa :  His new film is a post-human slow-motion seascape.  
AGHDRA is an attempt to reckon with that trauma, a function of the horror movies during Japan’s post-war rebirth. By melding the spirit of a John Coltrane improvisation with a Turner painting, Jafa’s film evokes the yawning space that exists between past and future worlds.”  

“Love Is the Message slyly asked “Who are you going to listen to, the people who got us into this mess or the people who survived and continue to survive it?””

Articles about the film can be found here  and  here

An excerpt from the film by Arthur Jafa and a conversation with Rinaldo Walcott can be viewed here.


Poetry is Not a Luxury said Audre Lorde in 1985 –

The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are, until the poem, nameless and formless-about to be birthed, but already felt. That distillation of experience from which true poetry springs births thought as dream births concept, as feeling births idea, as knowledge births (precedes) understanding.

As we learn to bear the intimacy of scrutiny, and to flourish within it, as we learn to use the products of that scrutiny for power within our living, those fears which rule our lives and form our silences begin to lose their control over us.

the hard season
split you through.
do not worry.
you will bleed water.
do not worry.
this is grief.
your face will fall out and down your skin
there will be scorching.
keep speaking the years from their hiding places.
keep coughing up smoke from all the deaths you
have died.
keep the rage tender.
because the soft season will come.
it will come.
both hands in your chest.
up all night.
up all of the nights.
to drink all damage into love.


from salt, by Nayyirah Waheed


Managing lies – Federico Finchelstein –  A Brief History of Fascist Lies   on the psychoanalytic history of lying. 

Attacks on socially just perspectives in relation to the therapeutic project – what do you make of this thought?

Feminist Listening : Sara Ahmed.

Psychoanalysis Under Occupation – Practicing Resistance in Palestine by Lara Sheehi, Stephen Sheehi

Necropolitics by Achille Mbembe.

A new Magazine: Parapraxis

Psychoanalytic Spaces, Implicated Places by Carnella Gordon-Brown, Natasha Holmes, Beth Kita, and Lynne Layton

“If you want to make use of a book, simply picking it up will not suffice”.

Nowadays a good many individuals are beset with dread, afraid of having been invaded and being on the verge of disappearing. Entire peoples labor under the apprehension that the resources for continuing to assume their identities are spent. They maintain that an outside no longer exists such that to protect themselves against threats and danger the enclosures must be multiplied. Wanting not to remember anything any longer, least of all their own crimes and mis- deeds, they dream up bad objects that return to haunt them and that they then seek violently to rid themselves of.

Achille Mbembe

“And predicting doom in difficult times may have more to do with the sorrow and depression of the moment than with any real insight into future possibilities. Superstition, depression and fear play major roles in our efforts at prediction”.

Octavia Butler


“We are far from free of the mirror’s other sides, our ghastly, nasty selves, the monsters in our dreams as well as waking lives – ourselves, each other, our worlds, our universe. More and more, as best we can, through our selfish selves and with our selfish selves as partners, may we reach out-in a little, and a little more, and keep on helping ourselves and each other, to the extent we are able, which may be more than we imagine. In Chapter 12, I try to sketch something of the way we shift and stretch, to grow with new conditions, but, also, to evolve with demands made on us by pressing inner dynamics, our own personal thorns, and the often furious suffering of others. One would think there is nothing new in suffering, but we manage to invent twists and turns that exploit this capacity, and call for creative gestures that sometimes border on the wondrous”.  

Introduction to The Psychoanalytic Mystic by Mike Eigen.

Feel free to add to this collection via the list.