Slavoj Žižek‘s piece, Notes on a Poetic-Military Complex, argues “the predominance of religiously (or ethnically) justified violence can be accounted for by the very fact that we live in an era that perceives itself as post-ideological. Since great public causes can no longer be used to incite mass violence, that is, since our hegemonic ideology calls on us to enjoy life and to realise our Selves, it is difficult for the majority to overcome their revulsion at torturing and killing another human being. The majority would need to be ‘anaesthetised’ against their elementary sensitivity to the suffering of others in order to do this. Religious ideologists usually claim that religion makes some otherwise bad people do some good things; from today’s experience, one should give more weight to Steven Weinreich’s claim that, while without religion good people would do good things and bad people bad things, only religion can make good people do bad things.”
His latest book First as Tragedy, Then as Farce is out now.
Susan Buck-Morss, author of Thinking Past Terror: Islamism and Critical Theory on the Left‘ argues in Radical Cosmopolitanism that”‘Art’ is a modern concept, limited in time and space. Its role has been taken over by the ‘artworld’, which thrives in our era of globalisation. Is YouTube today a more creative space than the artworld? Should we be concerned? Rasheed Araeen calls for a ‘true universalism’ to replace the fragmented orientations of creative work in the recent past. What would this mean as an alternative to the artworld? What strategy of creative work, in theory as well as art, could produce a social field that defies boundaries, real and imagined? What would a radical, cosmopolitan space look like that understood its task as refusing to align itself with a particular political position (even a ‘progressive’ position)?”
Alberto Toscano, author of the forthcoming Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea and chair of the launch event for set 4 of the Radical Thinkers series at the Tate Britain ‘Don’t Look Back: Radical Thinkers and the Arts Since 1909’, also contributed to the series of Special Issues. The Sensuous Religion of the Multitude: Art and Abstraction in Negri, in Volume 23 Issue 4 ‘Art, Praxis and the Community to Come’, through a detailed reading of Antonio Negri’s collection of letters on art, Arte e Multitudo, “enquires into the place and the uses of art in his writings. It identifies abstraction as the pivotal theme in the Italian philosopher’s reflections on aesthetics. Abstraction is a cipher for the defeats of the extra-parliamentary left and the imposition of a seemingly inescapable postmodern capitalism, but it is also the starting-point for an attempt to reconstruct a potent political subject in the midst of a world wholly subsumed by capital and the commodity-form. The article critically explores Negri’s attempt to tie together a theory of the periodisation of capitalism (and anti-capitalism) with a prophetic discourse on sensuous politics which explicitly repeats the early German Idealists’ search for a ‘sensuous religion’ that would serve as the prelude to a new politics.”
‘Don’t Look Back: Radical Thinkers and the Arts Since 1909’ is at the Tate Britain on Thursday 26 November 2009, 18.30–20.00
On the 100th anniversary of the Futurism Manifesto, join critical thinkers Terry Eagleton, Simon Critchley, Kate Soper, Eyal Weizman, and chair Alberto Toscano in exploring a century of radical thinking and the arts – and debating what lies ahead. The recent Futurism exhibition at Tate Modern reminds us of an age when politics and aesthetics were densely interwoven in an explosive rejection of the past. This distinguished panel will assess the legacy of modernism to ask how today’s radical thinkers might understand the role of the arts at the dawn of the twenty first century and beyond.