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Claire Fontaine

Towards a Theory of Magic Materialism

We call this method “materialist” in reference to the wonder, thaumazein, experienced by the early Greek philosophers, who observed nature with an emotionally scientific approach, looking for resemblances and connection between every form of life but keeping close to the phenomena they studied. We call it “magic” because we believe that this term will help us fight the intellectual and perceptive ravages of a capitalist vision of the world, helping us rediscover the power of the living and the cultural...
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  • nature
  • political aesthetics
  • materiality
  • contemporary art
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Dieter Mersch

Digital disrupture

We really need an analysis of algorithmic conditions and their paradoxes and ambiguities that gives them an adequate framework and horizon. But instead we currently seem to be finding an algorithmic solution of the algorithmic, much as digital solutions are being offered for the problems of the digital public sphere, in the way that IT corporations, for example, use exclusively mathematical procedures to evaluate and delete “fake news,” inappropriate portrayals, or the violation of personal rights. This tends to result in a circularity that leaves the drawing of boundaries and raising of barriers solely to programming, instead of restoring them to our ethical conscience and understanding of what the social could mean today. The machine, by contrast, remains alien to any mechanical limitation—just as its inability to decide lies in the impossibility of self-calculation. The nucleus of digital culture should instead be sought where the cultural of culture is located:...

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Tom McCarthy

Ecstasy of inauthenticity

The question of authenticity and I go back some way; we’re old sparring partners – frenemies. It’s been a fraught relationship, shot through with paradox and misconstruing. My first novel, Remainder, does turn around its protagonist’s obsession with becoming ‘real’, inhabiting his era or his city, building, skin, movements and gestures in a ‘first-hand’ or ‘authentic’ way, an obsession which he carries to the point of murder. Yet the pleasure of seeing this book receiving glowing press reviews that praised it for its ‘originality’ and ‘true’-ness was tinged with an awareness of something being odd or ‘off’, since Remainder is in fact the most un-original of novels, a novel about non-originality and simulacra that’s quite blatantly composed of set tropes and constructed situations reprised and, only slightly modified, replayed from sources ranging from Ballard’s Crash and Beckett’s Godot back to Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (Uncle Toby’s domestic re-stagings of battle terrains)...

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  • contemporary literature
  • Jacques Lacan
  • identity
  • psychoanalysis

 

 

Political Reflections on Choreography, Dance and Protest

Political Reflections on Choreography, Dance and Protest


Oliver Marchart

Dancing Politics

The human body is the most important medium through which a public space is curved out of the social. Of course, this does not always have to occur in form of a militarized collective marching in-sync through the streets. Very often it is precisely the vulnerability of bodies which is used as a ­performative medium of protest (up to the extreme point where people decide to publicly set themselves on fire). Taking this word of caution into account, we may...
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  • Occupy Wall Street
  • Jean-Luc Nancy
  • acting
  • activism
  • Hannah Arendt
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Alexander García Düttmann

What does “emancipatory” mean today?

Pretending one more time that the world can still be saved and asking whether art contains an emancipatory potential can be a meaningful endeavour only if illegitimate attempts at appropriating this emancipatory potential are thwarted. Its usurpation, which amounts to its abolition, must be prevented. Critique that deserves its name must first and foremost struggle against false pretenders, not against those who do not even claim to be pretenders. The efficiency of critique’s propaedeutic character should be sought in this struggle against false pretenders. If one fears that its negativity may entail a dangerous impotence and if for this reason one wishes to supplement it with a justifying and constructive “affirmationism”, mindful of the fact that it was once meant to prepare the outline of a metaphysics purged of precritical dogmatism, then one risks forgetting that critique ceases to hurt and can no longer trigger an impulse the instant that...

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  • aesthetics
  • contemporary art
  • critical theory
  • political aesthetics
  • morals