chapter  10
So Machines – Fabienne Collignon
Pages 18

Michel Foucault’s ‘Of Other Spaces’ posits the existence of ‘counter-sites’, which he de nes as ‘kind of e ectively enacted utopia in which the real sites … that can be found within culture … are simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted’.1 ese ‘heterotopias’ occur ‘by way of contrast’ to utopias,2 alternate systems of being that are, as Fredric Jameson argues, radically other, by which he means that the form itself – what he also refers to as the utopian ‘program’ – re ects on di erence in a late consumer capitalist state where every other possibility always already seems exhausted: the future will have failed.3 Jameson’s utopian argument is, according to Phillip E. Wegner , a utopian ‘problematic’, interrogating reality through a contested idea, that is, utopia, considered as a dialectic, impossible and yet indispensable, because trying to imagine a ‘not yet’ (as) opposed to the present order:4 it stands against the ‘invincible universality of capitalism’5 at the same time that it attests to capitalism’s catastrophic power. e ‘best Utopias’, according to Jameson, ‘are those that fail the most comprehensively’ because as records of ‘ideological imprisonment’,6 they might nonetheless yield the means to neutralize the present and future-as-insolvent. He understands utopia, then, as potentially transformative; the dynamics of utopian politics is its dialectic of ‘Identity and Di erence, to the degree to which such a politics aims at imagining, and sometimes even … realizing, a system radically di erent from this one’.7 It can be a space of revolutionary practice, invariably closed or seeking closure, read autonomy, because removed: a zone apart, a new spatiality committed to (a precarious) totality, with us here and them over there, beyond the moat, the wall. He also distinguishes, however, a utopian ‘impulse’ that he de nes as a ‘specialized hermeneutic of interpretive method’, encompassing political practice, even ‘liberal reforms and commercial pipedreams, the deceptive yet tempting swindles of the here and now’.8 He recognizes a spatial distinction between this program, that is, dreams of enclosure, and an impulse as a hermeneutic, but what the utopian vocation really means is the ability or compulsion to think a break. In this way, and considering that ‘in

the absence of reliable content only form can t the bill’ – because the utopian content can only ever work in terms of a ‘critical negativity’ without being able to o er up any viable alternatives – the form itself is rupture, the ‘radical closure of a system of di erence in time’, in which the a ermath is secondary: the vital political function of the utopian form is to ‘force’ a breakage.9