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Essays on Photography by Siegfried Kracauer
  • photography
  • History of photography
  • media theory
  • film
  • Siegfried Kracauer
Of what can I be truly certain?
Of what can I be truly certain?

Jean Paul Mongin, François Schwoebel

Mister Descartes and his Evil Genius

Can one trust his senses when perceiving the outside world? When my sensations are the basis of my perception of my own existence, what if these sensations are to be doubted – what can the proof of my own existence be? These questions, both simple and profoundly undermining, stand at the beginning of Modernity: the philosophy of René Descartes. This book drags its readers – and musketeer-like Mister Descartes himself – into the adventure of thinking. It gives a lively...
  • young readers
  • certainty
  • thinking
  • Descartes
  • epistemology
Rosi Braidotti

We need more planetary dimensions!

My life-long engagement in the project of nomadic subjectivity rests on a specific cartography of our globalised times, marked by large-scale and technologically-mediated transformations of our social, economic and political universes. I start from the assumption that, as a result of these upheavals, traditional forms of self-representation, familiar cultural points of reference and age-old habits of thought are being re-composed, albeit in contradictory ways.

Our historical context is marked by the schizoid structure of technology-driven advanced capitalism, as Deleuze and Guattari lucidly put it. Examples of the non-linear and internally contradictory ways of the working of this system are the vast accumulation of wealth alongside growing disparities in income, well-being and access to the very technologies that sustain our economy. Another example is the paradox of a world economy linked by a thick web of transnational flows of capital and labour, which functions through different forms and speeds of mobility, including...

  • Europe
  • identity
  • capitalism
  • globalization
  • feminism
Tom McCarthy

I’m not really sure what is and what isn’t theory.

Elisabeth Bronfen

Tom, our idea here was that you would give us a little insight into how you find your themes, how you use theory for your texts.

 

T.MC.

I’m not really sure what is and what isn’t theory. I don’t really know where theory stops and fiction begins. If you take someone like, for example, Derrida: half of The Post Card is basically an epistolary novel; it’s fiction, there are characters, there is a character speaking to another character—even while he’s conducting a “theoretical” analysis of Heidegger. I think it’s very hard to pin down that border-line between it being theory/fiction or not theory/fiction. So theory wouldn’t just be a reflection on something else which is somehow more integral; it’s more fluid than that.

A figure like Lévi-Strauss is just wonderful in this respect: Tristes Tropiques is one of the most brilliant books and it’s much better as literature than almost all of...

  • conversation
  • literary studies
  • literature
  • Modernism
  • fiction

My language
English

Selected content
English

Weitere Themen
"Curriculum Vitae in Pictures“

Maria Zinfert (ed.)

Kracauer. Photographic Archive

Kracauer. Photographic Archive presents  largely unknown material from the estate of the German-American theorist of film and photography, ­Siegfried Kracauer and his wife and assistant Elisabeth, known as Lili. The single and group portraits, still lifes, street scenes and landscapes collected in this book all come from the estate of Siegfried Kracauer. Published here for the first time, they are an extensive and representative selection from the enlargements, contact sheets and rolls of film originally archived by Lili Kracauer. With...
  • 1950s
  • biography
  • 20th century
  • 1930s
  • archive
Born too late to see the war, too soon to forget it.
Born too late to see the war, too soon to forget it.

Reiner Schürmann

Origins

"This is a book about the power that a past War holds over a German growing up in the 1950s and 1960s: born too late to see that war and too early to forget it. The narrative shows how painfully public events — the shadows, rather, of events gone by — intrude upon a life and shape it. The English translation appears at a moment when most of the key issues have radically changed. Germany has signed what amounts to a...
  • 1968
  • autobiography
  • memory
  • emigration
  • homosexuality
Reiner Schürmann

“I fled Europe as one flees one’s parents’ house“

I recognize that lobby. The Washington Hilton. Men in business suits are crammed in there by the thousands. American philosophers meeting for a convention. A compact assembly of thinkers. Thirty-five hundred of them, Newsweek published the figure. The eastern division of the American Philosophical Association. I make a tour of the counters. There are those of the airlines, TWA, Delta, Allegheny, and those of the hotel, reservations, information, mail, cashier. A perfume shop. 
A shoe-shine place. An art gallery with pictures painted on ­vel­vet. Crowds everywhere. Thinking crowds. All profs. Looking like insurance agents, more readily imagined talking finances than dialectic. Above a bank branch is written: Christmas, Think of it as Money. A prayer for peace follows, signed Riggs National Bank. Between Christmas and New Year’s is the time for the big conventions. I stop in front of every desk as if to bring to life the scene from...

  • memory
  • homosexuality
  • 1968
  • autobiography
  • emigration
“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... ABO
  • literature
  • conversation
  • fiction
  • literary studies
  • Modernism
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....

  • contemporary art
  • community
  • activism
  • art
  • politics
One plus one equals other
One plus one equals other

Dieter Mersch

Epistemologies of Aesthetics

We  identified ‘showing’—rather than ‘saying’—as the primary self-manifestation of the aesthetic. By ‘showing’ and ‘manifestation’ we do not mean expression, but exhibition and exposition. Wherever works work only with aisthēta and relevance is drawn from perceptions or things and their materiality—from every nuance of coloring, from the way in which objects are framed or combined, from the position of a detail, from the interval between two notes and their microtonal succession or arrhythmic placement, from any hesitation of physical feeling,...
  • Think Art
  • discourse analysis
  • aesthetics
  • epistemology
  • artistic research
Gareth A. Jones
Multiculturalism and the Embodiment of Fear

Multiculturalism and the Embodiment of Fear

  • multiculturalism
  • contemporary history
  • crime
  • violence
  • South Africa
Dieter Mersch

For an aesthetic mode of thought beyond the “linguistic turn”

To begin our journey, we must first examine the question of art as beauty and of aesthetics as a branch of philosophy—not simply as a theory of perception, but first and foremost as a science of the ‘beautiful’ and the ‘sublime’. In the early modern period, whenever the arts are mentioned, they are almost always referred to as the ‘fine’ or beautiful arts. As is well-known, aesthetics has two beginnings; in the eighteenth century and in the nineteenth century. Alexander Baumgarten first defined aesthetics as a scientia sensitiva or science of perception. In German Idealism, Georg ­Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, and Friedrich Hölderlin revisited aesthetics, ­defining it as a theory of art. The relationship between the two is not immediately clear. The former was grounded mostly in aisthēsis, a form of cognition classified as belonging to the physical abilities of sensations, and was situated in the lower...

  • Think Art
  • aesthetics
  • discourse analysis
  • artistic research
  • epistemology