Training the Eye
Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit
Disabling / Enabling Photography
Gegenwart und Zukunft
I said “Would you like a rope? You know that haul you have is not secured properly.”
“No,” he said, “but I see you have string!”
“If this comes into motion—” I said, “you should use a rope.”
“Any poison ivy on that? ” he asked me, and I told him my rope had been in the barn peacefully for years.
He took a length of it to the bedside table. He had no concept for what wood could endure.
“Table must have broken when I lashed it onto the truck,” he said.
And, when he was moving the sewing machine, he let the cast iron wheels—bang, bang on the stair.
I had settled down to pack up the ﬂamingo cookie jar, the cutlery, and the cookware, but stopped brieﬂy, for how many times do you catch sudden sight of something heartfelt?
I saw our milk cows in their slow...
Like all horizons, the future withdraws into the distance; the closer we get to it, the more it moves ahead and remains out of reach.
– In what way are you a communist – since we need to define this: someone who is convinced that a totally different form of organization of communal life would be good for the human race, –
– Isn’t that equally true of monarchists and leaders of sects?
– ...with a focus on justice.
– but the people should behave differently, right?
– They should be totally different.
– Are you not simply a misanthropist?
– No, because there are people that I like, very much even. And I understand all the less why most people feel compelled to be so nasty.
– Most people don’t seem to be quite as bothered by this as you are.
– Oh really? In my perception, most people are pretty bothered by anything that is different than themselves. That is why we need rules that define how to behave toward people we can’t stand.
– You have just been suffering in a...
J.G. Ballard’s self-declared ‘Immodest Proposal’ for a global war-alliance to exact the destruction of America demonstrates the provocatory zeal of his last fiction plans, as well as their enduring prescience.
Certain kinds of values, such as generosity and forgiveness, may only be possible through a suspension of this mode of ethicality and, indeed, by calling into question the value of ethics itself.
I do not have much to say about why there is a return to ethics, if there is one, in recent years, except to say that I have for the most part resisted this return, and that what I have to offer is something like a map of this resistance and its partial overcoming which I hope will be useful for more than biographical purposes. I’ve worried that the return to ethics has constituted an escape from politics, and I’ve also worried that it has meant a certain heightening of moralism and this has made me cry out, as Nietzsche cried out about Hegel, “Bad air! Bad air!” I suppose that looking for a space in which to breathe is not the highest ethical aspiration, but it is there, etymologically embedded in aspiration itself, and does seem to constitute something of a precondition for any viable, that is, livable, ethical...
However, the discussions about Schlingensief’s film were sparked by the same, or similar, questions as in the case of Disabled Theater: have the performers been exposed? Have they been declared incompetent, or ridiculed?
When non-disabled artists such as Jérôme Bel or Christoph Schlingensief in their productions work with actors who, in hegemonic discourse, are referred to as disabled, they almost invariably face criticism over the exploitation and voyeuristic exhibition of these people. Bel’s Disabled Theater anticipated such reservations and took a good deal of wind out of its critics’ sails by having the performers themselves raise these issues on stage and report on their families’ reactions to the piece. Nevertheless, the question whether Jérôme Bel was showing up his actors was an inevitable topic in newspapers and on critics’ panels—even though, in view of the overall press reviews and the relatively small number of hatchet jobs, it seemed as if some critics only used these objections as alibis for legitimizing their respective point of view, their voyeuristic curiosity, or the work of the successful artist Jérôme Bel. The majority of reactions acquitted Bel...
Political action is always a matter of knowing who is qualified to say what a particular place is and what is done in it.
J.R.: Democracy is first and foremost neither a form of power nor a form of the emptiness of power, that is, a form of symbolising political power. For me, democracy isn’t a form of power but the very existence of the political (in so far as politics is distinct from knowing who has the right to occupy power or how power should be occupied), precisely because it defines a paradoxical power – one that doesn’t allow anyone legitimately to claim a place on the basis of his or her competences. Democracy is, first of all, a practice, which means that the very same institutions of power may or may not be accompanied by a democratic life. The same forms of parliamentary powers, the same institutional frameworks can either give rise to a democratic life, that is, a subjectivation of the gap between two ways of counting or accounting for the...