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Of what can I be truly certain?
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Ute Holl

Dream, Clouds, Off, Exile

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Current Texts

Diane Williams

How about some string?

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...

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Only art has the power of a form. Mathematics is an exercise for monks.
Only art has the power of a form. Mathematics is an exercise for monks.

Alain Badiou

Art and Mathematics

We all know that the relationship between mathematical activity and artistic creation is a very old one. We know that for a start the Pythagoreans tied the science of number not merely to the movements of the stars but to musical modes. We know that Babylonian and Egyptian architecture presupposed elaborate geometrical knowledge, even if the notion of demonstration had still not been won. Further back still, we find formal, or abstract, outlines mixed in with animal representations, in the...
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“Poetry must be made  by all. Not by one.”

Mário Gomes

“Poetry must be made by all. Not by one.”

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»The camera is my »exosomatic extension‹.«

Gertrud Koch, Michael Lüthy, ...

»The camera is my »exosomatic extension‹.«

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The matrix for »Tombeau pour cinq cent mille soldats«
The matrix for »Tombeau pour cinq cent mille soldats«

Pierre Guyotat

The Prison

Our prison was encircled by marshland where birds and sick dogs came to die. At night we could hear their cries and death rattles. We could see nothing of the town except its smoke and its dying animals. Prisoners on the second floor watched those washed-out cats and dogs die, lying down then struggling in the mud like birds caught in lime; famished cats jumped on those with gaping wounds and tore them open. From the cellar where we had been...
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“Obsessed with buffering”
“Obsessed with buffering”

Tom McCarthy

Recessional—Or, the Time of the Hammer

Towards the end of Thomas Pynchon’s mammoth 1973 novel Gravity’s Rainbow, the stumbling ingénue of a hero Tyrone Slothrop sets off on a commando raid. The territory he and his cohorts move through is a giant ­metropolis, a “factory-state” in which capital, technology and power, perfectly co-calibrated, send airships drifting through urban canyons, past chrome caryatids and roof-gardens on skyscrapers that themselves shoot up and down on ­elevator-cables: a conurbation ­Pynchon calls the “City of the Future” or “Raketen-Stadt.” The...
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Discourse

Juliane Rebentisch

Realism Today: Art, Politics, and the Critique of Representation

The debate on realism has always closely tied the notion of artistic progressiveness to the question of how artistic production relates to its social and cultural outside. To isolate considerations of formal creation from art’s reference to that outside is to bid farewell to the project of realism. For unlike such formalism, realism is by definition impure. It is always already open to an ethical, political, and epistemic demand: realism – as a stance, a project, a production – requires fidelity; fidelity, that is, to a reality that needs to be done justice in ethical, political, and epistemic terms. Realism attests to reality; it does not engender it. This implies that those who commit themselves to the realist project, and hence to fidelity to reality, must be the contemporaries of this reality. On the other hand, the realist project amounts to more than a positivist or automatic registration of something already given....

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Discourse

Elisabeth Bronfen

The Continuation of war in workplace

Mad Men makes use of personalized war remembrances, regardless whether they cannot or must not be forgotten, to negotiate the collective haunting of the nation. These war stories make up a shared cultural space that includes everyone, even while it also constitutes a consecutive series. If the founding of America was predicated on a war of independence, its subsequent history, punctuated as it is with further wars, finds, in the 1960s, a logical continuation of this violent struggle for self-definition in the war in South-East Asia. The notion of historical re-imagination negotiated in Mad Men thus also speaks to the repetition compulsion inscribed in America’s military interventions. 


A continuation of war in peacetime, however, also surfaces in the way that military jargon (and indeed military codes of conduct) not only informs the work environment at Sterling Cooper, but also helps shape the competition amongst the agencies on Madison Avenue. Early...

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The biggest bite out of the fruit of Knowledge
The biggest bite out of the fruit of Knowledge

Claus Pias (ed.)

Cybernetics

Although aspects of cybernetics can be traced back to various points in history, the proceedings of the so-called Macy Conferences, which have been edited for this volume, represent its modern foundational document. Held between 1946 and 1948 under the cumbersome title “Circular Causal and Feedback Mechanisms in Biological and Social Systems,” the papers delivered at these conferences were soon thereafter, at least as of 1949, referred to as contributions to cybernetics. Sponsored by the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation (which was...
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Humanities

Okwui Enwezor

Intense Proximity

In Tristes Tropiques, a seminal work of ethnography and travel writing published to international acclaim in 1955, the great anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss begins the account of his legendary research trip into the interior of Brazil in a sceptical tone: “I hate travelling and explorers. Yet here I am proposing to tell the story of my expeditions.”Despite its hybrid format – combining memoir, travel writing, and ethnography – Tristes Tropiques became a popular bestseller. Its readers went beyond the niche audience of experts and immediately established its author as a major figure in the fields of anthropology and structuralism. The book appeared at a historical turning point, not only in the way structuralism was transforming anthropology – based on the analysis of society through the structure of language and culture – but also because it was unveiled during the post-war period, when ethnography was being transformed by the great movements of...

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Humanities

Judith Butler

Ethical Ambivalence

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...

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