Revolutionary commemoration

No more anniversaries! Vsevolod Meyerhold 1 Fire and ice On 18th March 1921 the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Paris Commune was marked in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). Newspapers were emblazoned with headlines decrying the brutal suppression of the heroic Communards by bourgeois reactionary forces just seventy-two days after its […]

Postmodernity, not yet

To take an attitude of partisanship towards key struggles of the past does not mean either choosing sides, or seeking to harmonise irreconcilable differences. In such extinct yet still virulent intellectual conflicts, the fundamental contradiction is between history itself and the conceptual apparatus which, seeking to grasp its realities, only succeeds in reproducing their discord […]

Order in disorder

It would seem that the centenary of the Russian Revolution could not have come at a more inopportune moment for Russia. The colossal scale and universalist ambitions of that event are at odds with the apathetic state of Russian society today. Indeed, efforts to dispense with this inconvenient ghost appear to provide the sole point […]

Critique in the 21st century

We gather once again to examine the question of ‘critique’. [1] We do so not just after Kant, Marx, Nietzsche and their respective descendants, but also after the innovations of the Frankfurt School (which only came to receive serious attention in France after some delay) and the critique of the foundations of psychology, to evoke […]

The society of enmity

Perhaps it has always been this way. [1] Perhaps democracies have always constituted communities of kindred folk, societies of separation based on identity and on an exclusion of difference. It could be that they have always had slaves, a set of people who, for whatever reason, are regarded as foreigners, members of a surplus population, […]

The necessity of contingency

Among the concepts proposed by Althusser in the course of his famous symptomatic reading of Marx’s Capital, structural causality plays a central role. Extrapolated from Marx’s writings via a detour through the philosophy of Spinoza, it came to represent the concept in which Althusser summed up ‘Marx’s immense theoretical revolution’. [1] As is well known, […]

Is it simple to be a Spinozist in philosophy?

At strategic points in Reading Capital, Louis Althusser introduces Spinoza’s idea of an immanent cause as the decisive concept that is absent from Marx’s discourse. [1] For the Althusser of 1965, Spinoza’s model of causality is the great missing link in Marx’s thought, a philosophical omission and lacuna of symptomatic force. It explains the whole […]

The obscure object of transdisciplinarity

Any attempt to conceptualize transdisciplinarity is bound to experiment with disciplinary boundaries. And such experimentation cannot simply be held to the criteria of academic study. It is must in fact problematize the boundaries between academic study and forms or instances of thinking which take place outside of such scholarship. However, these disruptive practices have become […]

The dream is a fragment

An appreciation and practice of the fragment is a feature of all European Romanticism, but it was in early German (or ‘Jena’) Romanticism, and most of all in the work of Friedrich Schlegel, that the concept of ‘the fragment’ was philosophically determined. Indeed, the fragment has been called ‘the central philosophical concept of early German […]

Kunstchaos

Kunstchaos Incompletion, reversibility and fragmentary montage Olivier schefer Le multiple, il faut le faire…Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus In 1798 Novalis famously wrote: ‘Poetry is the authentic absolute real. This is the core of my philosophy. The more poetic, the more true.’ [1] This aphorism expresses what might be called the artistic destiny […]

Common senses

Common senses Deleuze and Lyotard between ground and form Frédéric fruteau de laclos ‘One day, perhaps, this century will be known as Deleuzian.’ This is how Michel Foucault famously opened his admiring review of Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition. [1] Responding to the praise, Deleuze merely called attention to the hint of humour underlying Foucault’s […]

Lost minds

Our illnesses are mostly political illnesses. Peter Weiss1In Memoirs of a Revolutionary Victor Serge describes the first decade of Soviet rule as displaying ‘the obscure early stages of a psychosis’, the symptoms of which became increasingly pronounced as time wore on and the defeats and corpses piled ever higher. The experience of living through the […]

Romantic bureaucracy

Romantic bureaucracy Alexander Kojève’s post-historical wisdom Boris groys Alexandre Kojève became famous primarily for his discourse on the end of history and the posthistorical condition – the discourse that he developed in his seminar on Hegel’s Phenomenology of the Spirit at the École des Hautes Études in Paris between 1933 and 1939. This seminar was […]

Introduction

Dossier ROMANTIC TRANSDISCIPLINARIT Y 1 Introduction Of all the genealogical sources of contemporary critical theory, in both its Germanand French-inspired variants, early German Romanticism remains the most potent, yet it is also the least explicated in relation to current theoretical trends.* The sources of modern criticism in Jena Romanticism are widely acknowledged, yet when theory […]

Bildung and strategy

Bildung and strategy The fate of the ‘beautiful sciences’ Howard caygill Kant’s 1798 Conflict of the Faculties makes an explicit case for viewing philosophy as the romantic transdiscipline. The ‘lower faculty’ he explained there is less tied to the professional restrictions on research and teaching characteristic of the ‘higher faculties’ of law, medicine and theology […]

Genre without genre

Form, as it is mastered, becomes attenuated; it becomes dissociated from any liturgy, rule, yardstick; the epic is discarded in favour of the novel, verse in favour of prose; there is no longer any orthodoxy, and form is as free as the will of its creator. Gustave Flaubert [1] ‘Just as our literature began with […]

The irony of anatomy

The irony of anatomy Basquiat’s poetics of black positionality Nathan brown for Tanzeen DohaIsabelle Graw Should I come to New York before I write the article on you?Jean-Michel Basquiat What would you do if the artist you were writing about were dead?Graw I would do as much research as possible, get together all the available information…Basquiat […]