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Around a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti
  • face
  • Alberto Giacometti
  • surrealism
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Of what can I be truly certain?
  • epistemology
  • thinking
  • subjectivity
  • mind-body problem
  • young readers
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  • certainty
  • dream
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  • Descartes
“Obsessed with buffering”
  • Modernism
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  • time
  • conversation
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  • temporality
Essays on Photography by Siegfried Kracauer
  • photography
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  • Siegfried Kracauer
  • History of photography
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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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A for Anomie
A for Anomie

Eric Baudelaire

Abecedarium

A for Anomie The idea that terrorism and other forms of political violence are directly related to strains caused by strongly held grievances has been one of the most common explanations to date and can be traced to a diverse set of theoretical concepts including relative deprivation, social disorganization, breakdown, tension, and anomie. Merton (1938) identifies anomie as a cultural condition of frustration, in which values regarding goals and how to achieve them conflict with limitations on the means of achievement. Gary...
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Arts
Humanity is a metahuman concept.

Rolf Bossart, Milo Rau

Humanity is a metahuman concept.

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  • realism
  • art theory
  • postmodernism
  • artistic practice
  • re-enactment
  • transhumanism
Let’s find the stage of human affairs
Let’s find the stage of human affairs

Marion Muller-Colard, Clémence Pollet

Hannah Arendt's Little Theater

While about to finish her last book, the philosopher Hannah Arendt is disturbed by her stubborn alter ego, 9-year-old Little Hannah. Reluctantly, the old woman lets herself drag out onto the streets of New York and into constant conversation by the inquisitive little girl. They enter a little theatre, and together they watch mankind, society, politics, power evolve – and they also experience the role of Evil (in the person of a wolf and of numerous wooden puppets) and its...
  • thinking
  • ethics
  • Evil
  • acting
  • young readers
Fiction

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...

  • 1968
  • memory
  • autobiography
  • homosexuality
  • emigration
Marking the passage from misfortune to good luck
Marking the passage from misfortune to good luck

Elisabeth Bronfen

The Elevator—A Heteropia

An even more strikingly risky moment, which for Don anticipates both a personal and a professional crisis, occurs at the open door of an elevator in the fifth season. After Megan has confessed to him that she wants to stop working at the agency so as to fully concentrate on her acting career, he accompanies her to the elevator, where he takes leave of her by demonstratively giving her a passionate kiss before the door closes. Then, as though this...
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  • America
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Discourse

Alexander García Düttmann

What is the Contemporary?

The contemporary seems to be a rare animal that can rotate on its own neck and exhibit different faces, depending on whether we think of it as a given or an uncertain achievement, as an empty, abstract, deceptive present or a springboard into the past and the untimeliness of creation. But if the contemporary is indeed Janus-faced, even the sadness of an encounter with its emptiness, with the semblance of radicalism, must still relate to the excitement of leaping into “now time” or starting to write. Is the present not necessarily empty and therefore always a cause for sadness, also in the case when, in acquiring the sense, or developing the instinct, that is required to venture into the past’s “now time,” we begin to depart from it? In one of his last letters to a young poet, dating from 1904, Rilke distinguishes between two forms of sadness, or rather...

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Discourse

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...

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  • literature
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  • Modernism
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»The camera is my »exosomatic extension‹.«
»The camera is my »exosomatic extension‹.«

Gertrud Koch, Michael Lüthy, ...

A Walk With Allan Sekula Through His Exhibition

Gertrud Koch: We would like to start by discussing the different narrative forms you have chosen for the titles of your series, like »story«, »fable« or »tale«: how would you differentiate between stories and fables, and what autobiographical narratives are involved here? Is it a kind of metanarrative, is it a composing of different narrative moments?
   Allan Sekula: Very often my titling a particular work has an idiomatic logic: Fish Story has a vernacular resonance, particularly in American English where a...
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  • photography
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Humanities

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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  • politics
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Humanities

Alain Badiou

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

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 great prehistoric decorations, without our knowing precisely to what it is that these mixtures refer. 


For the philosopher that I am, or that I believe I am, the entry into our question, as so many others, passes through the contrasting disposition between Plato and Aristotle. 


For Plato, mathematics is fundamental in the sense that it mediates between, on the one hand, experience, or the relation to the sensory world, and,...

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  • aesthetics
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