My friend Barbara said the other day, “There are so many books I would like to have on my shelf. But no one has written them yet!” One of the books I would like to have on my shelf is about Frantz Fanon, activist models of decentralized political organization, and 4E cognitive science models of the brain as a distributed network. If you want to write this book, here are a few quotes from The Wretched of the Earth to get you started. If it’s already been written and I just haven’t found it yet, please post the title, and I will fill that spot on my shelf.
“The meeting of the local cell or the committee meeting is a liturgical act. It is a privileged opportunity for the individual to listen and speak. At every meeting the brain multiplies the association of ideas and the eye discovers a wider human panorama” (136).
“Let us reexamine the question of cerebral reality, the brain mass of humanity in its entirety whose affinities must be increased, whose connections must be diversified and whose communications must be humanized again” (237-8).
“No, it is not a question of back to nature. It is the very basic question of not dragging man in directions which mutilate him, of not imposing on his brain tempos that rapidly obliterate and unhinge it. The notion of catching up must not be used as a pretext to brutalize man, to tear him from himself and his inner consciousness, to break him, to kill him” (238).
“In the realm of thought, man can claim to be the brain of the world; but in reality, where every action affects spiritual and physical being, the world is still the brain of mankind for it is here that are concentrated the totalization of powers and elements of thought, the dynamic forces of development and improvement, and it is here too that energies are merged and the sum total of man’s intellectual values is finally inscribed” (cited 140).
“If the building of a bridge does not enrich the consciousness of those working on it, then don’t build the bridge, and let the citizens continue to swim across the river or use a ferry. The bridge must not be pitchforked or foisted upon the social landscape by a deus ex machine, but, on the contrary, must be a product of the citizens’ brains and muscles. And there is no doubt architects and engineers, foreigners for the most part, will probably be needed, but the local party leaders must see to it that the techniques seep into the desert of the citizen’s brain so that the bridge in its entirety and in every detail can be integrated, redesigned, and reappropriated. The citizen must appropriate the bridge. Then, and only then, is everything possible” (141).
What is the social and political significance of Fanon’s “brain”? What work is it doing to re-imagine humanity through and beyond the struggle of decolonization? What is the relationship between brain and consciousness or conscience? Or between brain and muscle? What might Occupy and other current social movements learn from Fanon and/or from Russell Maroon Shoats' account of decentralized models for activism in this interview or in his essay, "The Dragon and the Hydra"?
OK, people, let’s get started! We need this book on our shelves asap!