Georges Didi-Huberman | Light against Light

    The disappearance of the fireflies—when the blinding glare of spotlights crushes the weak glimmer of glowworms in the night—is an excellent poetic allegory, a lovely “speaking image” on which to build something like a general poetics of light. This allegory has become familiar to us through the intervention of a great poet, Pier Paolo Pasolini.1 So we cannot be surprised that artists and thinkers have elevated this allegory in the field of aesthetics, and that it may lend itself as the title of an art exhibit. And yet its sole purpose is to ask, stubbornly, over and over…

Dionne Brand | The Blue Clerk

    VERSO 7 Controversy, against the turn, against the furrow I finally joined the Communist Party of Canada when it was almost at the end of its existence. Party meetings were long bureaucratic procedures where many papers were read and intense eyes directed at the people who had encyclopedic brains full of Marx and history. I joined the artists. There were artists of all kinds in the club, we were writers and painters and actors, and there were even puppet makers and comics. These meetings were possibly the most boring meetings we ever attended. None of us ever had…

Walter Benjamin | The Author as Producer

    II s’agit de gagner les intellectuels “la classe ouvriere, en leur faisant prendre conscience de l’identité de leurs de-marches spirituelles et de leurs conditions de producteur. – Ramon Fernandez   You recall how Plato treats the poets in his projected State. In the interest of the community, he does not allow them to live there. He had a high idea of the power of poetry. But he considered it destructive, superfluous – in a perfect community, needless to say. Since then, the question of the poet’s right to exist has not often been stated with the same insistence;…

Esther Leslie | Fear Eats the Soul: Walter Benjamin & Baader Meinhof

Neither of the figures in my title – Walter Benjamin and The Baader Meinhof Group – are in any direct way associated with 1968 – indeed each brackets it in time. The one, Benjamin, was long dead by the time of the student and worker revolts, that would undoubtedly have thrilled him, even if they did not thrill his old friend Adorno, who called in the police on his revolting students. Benjamin’s adult thought emerges in the years of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and it reaches its final formulation in the dark days of Nazi rule, his death occurring…

Esther Leslie | Walter Benjamin

Esther Leslie | Walter Benjamin  ⇒   PDF (Full book)       For a Marxist Poetics of Science: An Interview with Esther Leslie First published in Historical Materialism Can you tell us a bit about your intellectual and political formation? I come from a political family — my parents were Trotskyists, my grandparents on one side were anarchists and, on the other, one grandfather had been involved in unemployment marches. There was a strong sense of class consciousness and political engagement at home. My anarchist grandfather, who was German, was a book publisher and bookseller in London and so we were…

Georges Didi-Huberman | The Supposition of The Aura: The Now, The Then and Modernity (Walter Benjamin)

Walter Benjamin and History Edited by Andrew Benjamin Continuum 2005  

DIE AFFÄRE LEBOVICI | PSYCHOGEOGRAPHIE [ACTE XVIII]

  Zum Umsturz aller bestehenden Ordnung aufzurufen / Scheint furchtbar. / Aber das Bestehende ist keine Ordnung. // Zur Gewalt seine Zuflucht zu nehmen / Scheint böse. Aber da, was ständig geübt wird, Gewalt ist / Ist es nichts Besonderes. Bertolt Brecht   Die ganze Affäre [wie auch der modus operandi] ist geprägt von einem Klima persönlichen Verrats und politischen Hinterhalts: Gérard Lebovici [Herausgeber der Editions Champ Libre, Produzent und Freund Guy Debords] in einer Tiefgarage in der Avenue Foch, Chaillot. Porte Dauphine mit vier Kugeln im Hinterkopf auf dem Vordersitz seines Wagens; Polizei, D.S.T. & Renseignements généraux zeichnen eine…

UNE INSULTE À LA REPUBLIQUE: AIMÉ CÉSAIRE AND FRIEDRICH HÖLDERLIN …

UNE INSULTE À LA RÉPUBLIQUE: AIMÉ  CÉSAIRE AND FRIEDRICH HÖLDERLIN DECLARE THE FRENCH REVOLUTION A TRAGEDY, VOW TO SUPPORT #GILETSJAUNES MOVEMENT INSTEAD | by H. Bolin I. Introduction The study that follows concerns two tragic plays that treat the emergence and aftermath of a single global revolutionary horizon which included both the French and the Haitian revolutions. As the tragic genre suggests, Friedrich Hölderlin’s The Death of Empedocles (1799) and Aime Césaire’s And the Dogs Were Silent (1956) stage reflections on the initial successes and subsequent defeat of their respective revolutionary moments. What can tragedy or art offer to thinking…

Sophie Wahnich | IN DEFENCE OF TERROR: Liberty or Death in the French Revolution

I want never to forget how I was forced to become — for how long? — a monster of justice and intolerance, a narrow-minded simplifier, an arctic character uninterested in anyone who was not in league with him to kill the dogs of hell. — René Char   Provocative reassessment of the Great Terror as a price worth paying For two hundred years after the French Revolution, the Republican tradition celebrated the execution of princes and aristocrats, defending the Terror that the Revolution inflicted upon on its enemies. But recent decades have brought a marked change in sensibility. The Revolution…

Esther Leslie | Men of Doubt: Fortini, Benjamin, Brecht

I will present my ideas as theses, in recognition of the fragmented and poetic modes of the men I discuss. And, too, as reflection of the central idea here, that of ‘doubt’ – aiming at a certain non-definitive articulation, the wish to leave something uncompleted, unsealed, possible but yet to be made actual, if it can. I begin with a translation of a poem by Fortini.

A. Badiou, P. Bourdieu, J. Butler, G. Didi-Huberman, S. Khiari, J. Rancière | WHAT IS A PEOPLE?

ALAIN BADIOU, PIERRE BOURDIEU, JUDITH BUTLER, GEORGES DIDI-HUBERMAN, SADRI KHIARI, AND JACQUES RANCIÈRE WHAT IS A PEOPLE? PDF     What Is a People? seeks to reclaim “people” as an effective political concept by revisiting its uses and abuses over time. Alain Badiou surveys the idea of a people as a productive force of solidarity and emancipation and as a negative tool of categorization and suppression. Pierre Bourdieu follows with a sociolinguistic analysis of “popular” and its transformation of democracy, beliefs, songs, and even soups into phenomena with outsized importance. Judith Butler calls out those who use freedom of assembly…

riots and/or poetics [10/2018]

“History is full of people who just didn’t. They said no thank you, turned away, escaped to the desert, lived in barrels, burned down their own houses, killed their rapists, pushed away dinner, meditated into the light. Even babies refuse, and the elderly also. Animals refuse: at the zoo they gaze through Plexiglas, fling feces at human faces. Classes refuse. The poor throw their lives onto barricades, and workers slow the line. Enslaved people have always refused, poisoning the feasts and aborting the embryos, and the diligent, flamboyant jaywalkers assert themselves against traffic as the first and foremost visible daily lesson…

Why Brecht?

Dmitry Vilensky /// Why Brecht? That’s great art: nothing obvious in it – I laugh when they weep, I weep when they laugh. Bertold Brecht If we try replacing the word “opera” with culture or art in Brecht’s text “OPERA – WITH INNOVATIONS!”, it paradoxically becomes clear that Brecht’s analysis of the situation more than 70 years ago is more than relevant today. Of course, many things have changed, such as the notions of power, class, labor, the means of struggle. But still, anyone who is still capable of considering the necessity of connecting thought and action now hits upon…

Sean Bonney | COMETS & BARRICADES: INSURRECTIONARY IMAGINATION IN EXILE

  Sean Bonney | COMETS & BARRICADES: INSURRECTIONARY IMAGINATION IN EXILE Let every word indicate the most frightening of distances, it would still take billions of centuries, talking at one word per second, to express a distance which is only an insignificance when it comes to infinity. ¹ Louis Auguste Blanqui; Eternity by the Stars Imprisoned on the day before the declaration of the Paris Commune, in a cell in the Fort du Taureau, ‘an ellipse-shaped fortified island lying half a mile outside of the rock shores of Morlaix at a place where, after briefly morphing into the English Channel, the…

Victor Serge; Memoirs of a Revolutionary

Victor Serge; MEMOIRS OF A REVOLUTIONARY (FULL BOOK)   The End Commands the Means: Victor Serge’s Memoirs of a Revolutionary by Guy Patrick Cunningham I STILL REMEMBER ZUCOTTI PARK in the fall of 2011. I was struck by the way the encampment seemed both very abstract — an open-ended protest without a conventional list of goals — and mundanely practical, as people dealt with distributing food, resolving noise complaints, and deciding on sleeping arrangements. Despite its flaws, the protests were a compelling metaphor for the fact that some measure of utopianism — not only the desire but the need to…

Rote Fahne

Geschichten die man versteht, sind nur falsch erzählt. Bertolt Brecht;  Baal Ihr wißt genau, dass wir Ausbeuter sind. Jean-Paul Sartre, (Vorwort zu Die Verdammten dieser Erde; Frantz Fanon)      Es ist die mit Dreck und Tradition belegte Zunge die mir zum Hals heraushängt es ist eine kleine rote Fahne und ein schwarzer Mund voller Dämonen die morbide Symptomatik kotzfarbener Opferkrüge Erbrechen und Fluchen es sind die Gesetze, die mich mit ihrem Geschmack nach Rache verfolgen es sind die Vorgaben, was zu tun ist, die nerven, der moralisierende Dilettantismus — wartet nicht auf mich … ich bin keine Ratte, aber…

Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht — The Story of a Friendship

Erdmut Wizisla Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht — the story of a friendship (Full book) Erdmut Wizisla-Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht_ The Story of a Friendship-Yale University Press (2009) Benjamin and Brecht: The Story of a Friendship By Nick Wright The diverse appropriations of Walter Benjamin – the cultural theorist and critic — of his life and work, inevitably bear the marks of Cold War polarities. Liberal sentiment regards his intimacy with Bertolt Brecht as a Stalinist disfiguring of his sensibility. Gerschom Scholem’s account has Benjamin more rooted in Jewish metaphysics. The not-so-New Left privileges his connections with the Frankfurt…

Walter Benjamin | A Critical Life

Walter Benjamin | A Critical Life Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (Full book)   Living the Life of Allegory By Ian Balfour Why, ever since Adam, who has got to the meaning of this great allegory — the world? Melville to Hawthorne, Nov. 17, 1851 WHAT A LIFE. And what — though one shouldn’t rush to it — a death. It’s a rare thing when the life of a cultural or literary critic is compelling enough for a full-dress treatment in the guise of sprawling critical biography. No one would balk at the (literally) weighty life of a George…

Walter Benjamin’s Archive | Rag Picking | The Arcades Project

  WALTER BENJAMIN’S ARCHIVE IMAGES, TEXTS, SIGNS TRANSLATED BY ESTHER LESLIE EDITED BY URSULA MARX GUDRUN SCHWARZ MICHAEL SCHWARZ ERDMUT WIZISLA VERSO 2015 Walter Benjamin; The Arcades Project (Full book / PDF)     Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project Esther Leslie The Arcades Project was an encyclopaedic project on which Walter Benjamin worked for thirteen years from 1927 until his death in 1940. The Arcades Project takes its name from a nineteenth century architectural form. It also borrows its structure from that same architectural form. Arcades were passages through blocks of buildings, lined with shops and other businesses. Montaged iron and…

Sean Bonney | Notes on Militant Poetics

  Notes on Militant Poetics 1/3 “There is a zone of nonbeing, an extraordinarily sterile and arid region, an utterly naked declivity when an authentic upheaval can be born . . . . (a) descent into a real hell” (Fanon) “Truth content becomes negative. [Poems] imitate a language beneath the helpless language of human beings: it is that of the dead speaking of stones and stars” (Adorno) The Situationists called poetry the “anti-matter of consumer society”, a fairly questionable claim, but one that is at least expressive of the chasm that operates between official reality’s definitions of poetry and those…

Georges Didi-Huberman; To Render Sensible

  Representable People, Imaginary People? Representation of the people comes up against a double difficulty, if not a double aporia, that comes from the impossibility of our subsuming each of the two terms, “representation” and “people,” into the unity of one concept. Hannah Arendt said that we will never manage to think about the political dimension as long as we stubbornly persist in speaking of man, since politics is interested precisely in something else, which is men, whose multiplicity is modulated differently each time, whether it be in conflict or community. (1) Likewise we must say, and forcefully, that we…