What does no say? Who and what says no?
No’s eruptive force transforms the argumentative landscape. From two-year old children to mature nation-states, the interruptive immediacy of naysaying can occur at surprising and inconvenient moments. The ability to refuse emerges early and maintains its appeal and power. In cultures of capitalist consumption, no has the power to defend and upend assumptions of order and propriety. From Thoreau to Gandhi to Marcuse, the will to nothing has provided a source of individual and collective creation.
No can be a language of protest and overcoming. Its power operates across lines of disciplines and ideology, across modes of writing and the refusal to write. Negation can resist or avoid authority, or can identify and highlight forces which insist on forms of complicity and agreement. The lines between different forms—the conservative no, the creative no, the no of the striker or dissident—deny the clarity of lines of ideology or identity. No also brings about its own failures and dangers: of inaction, of regret, of retribution.
Plenary speakers include Joshua Clover, Katerina Kolozova, François Laruelle, Ariana Reines, and Frank B. Wilderson III
The Big No conference is supported by the UWM College of Letters & Science and the UW System William F. Vilas Trust.