Being, Non-Being and Becoming Non-Identical of the Subject as ∅

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If the one is not, nothing is. ~ Parmenides

In a recent article citing my Postnihilistic Speculations on That Which Is Not: A Thought-World According to an Ontology of Non-Being, the giant of philosophical blogosphere and my fellow para-academic colleague S.C. Hickman has succintly outlined the roots of contemporary ontology. Drawing upon Parmenides, Plato, Meillassoux, Žižek and Badiou in praticular, he has provided new insight concerning the relationship between being, non-being and becoming. After quoting my take on the retroactively speculative new direction in philosophy he goes on to say this:

“As I was reading this post of his I felt a deep underlying, almost religious tone in his voice; the power of the absolute filtering its banal surprise (maybe a non-God, non-All, rather than the mundane gods or God religion or the philosophers). Whatever the absolute may be, it seems to ride the edges, or borderlands of between thought and non-being rather than the metaphysical realms of Being. Though secular through and through the incorporation of the themes of eternity, time, mortality, immortality, etc. like those others who have influenced our thinking: Nietzsche, Badiou, Zizek, Laruelle, Henry, Deleuze, etc. – and, lest we forget, Freud (Lacan: lack?) with his mythology of drives, that endless war of eros and thanatos, life and death, love and war – comes through Erdem’s essay. What struck me above all is the underlying mythos and movement toward transcension, toward elsewhere, immortality, transcendence. Of course as he says, this is nothing new, and it is everywhere in our present transcendental field of speculation, as if between a totalistic closure upon metaphysics had brought with it – not a rational kernel, but rather an irrational kernel of ancient thought. For do we not hear that oldest of songsters, Orpheus, the Greek singer, theologian, poet, philosophical forbear out of whose roots Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle and their ancient antagonists Leucippas, Democritus, and Lucretius down to our day still wage a war over the body of a dead thought (God?).”~ S.C. Hickman, Social Ecologies

When it comes to philosophy I usually avoid dialogue, in that sense I am strictly Deleuzean, a man of “free indirect speech”, always sustaining a kind of internal dialogue with the philosopher’s image of thought he created in his mind. Rather than engaging in polemics with the philosophers, Deleuze used to think with them, although not always in accordance with them, sometimes for and sometimes against them, always disjunctively synthesizing affirmation and negation as well as transcendence and immanence. For Deleuze the important thing was to bring out that which matters in thought. So, what I intend to do in this brief note will be an active reading of Craig’s article rather than a reaction to it. I shall therefore point out that which is missing in his account, namely the relationship between time and change.

Now, for Kant the thing-in-itself, or the noumenon, could be thought but couldn’t be known. We could only know the transcendental ground of our thought, and therefore the thing-in-itself is not submitted to change. For change requires the transcendental constitution of the subject to take place in time. The subject constitutes and is constituted by the transformation of the thing-in-itself(noumenon) into the thing-for-us (phenomenon).

In his Critique of JudgementKant distinguishes between the determinative and the reflective modes of judgement.

If the universal (the rule, the principle, the law) is given, the judgement that subsumes the particular under it is determinative. If, however, only the particular for which the universal is to be found is given, judgement is merely reflective. [1]

If we keep in mind that the reflective mode of judgement reflects on particulars in such a way as to produce universals to which they can be subjected, and that the determinative mode of judgement determines a particular by subjecting it to a universal, it becomes understandable why among these two it is the reflective mode which splits as it unites the subject of enunciation and the enunciated subject. But it must also be kept in mind that the subject of enunciation which refers to the universal is itself a constitutive illusion, or a regulatory idea necessary for the emergence of the subject as the enunciated content. It is only in and through a position of non-being within and without being at the same time that the becoming non-identical of the subject can take place. For change requires the localisation of being in a particular world submitted to time as Badiou puts it in his Being and Event. Therein Badiou asserts that there can be multiplicities not submitted to change and there can also be ones submitted to change. Change is not on the side of multiplicity but on the side of the relationship between multiplicities. There can only be a relation between multiplicities in a particular world. Change is the property of being when being is localised in a world. Change is not the destiny of being as in Heraclitus, but is submitted to the relation between multiples. Hence Badiou can say that “the one does not exist.” It exists neither as a totality as in Parmenides, nor as a multiplicity as in Heraclitus. While for Heraclitus being is in constant change, for Parmenides being is that which never changes. Kant splits being into two halves, one half of being ever changes(phenomenon), while the other half of being never changes(noumenon). For Heraclitus there is only multiplicity, while for Parmenides there is only one. If we have mutltiplicity then there is also change, if we have the one there is no change at all. Being an atomist, Democritus says that being is composed of atoms and the universe is composed of an infinity of atoms. Democritus is the atomic explosion of Parmenides and the sub-atomic implosion of Heraclitus at the same time.[2]

We find ourselves on the brink of the decision, a decision to break with the arcana of the one and the multiple in which philosophy is born and buried, phoenix of its own sophistical consumption. This decision can take no other form than the following: the one is not.[3]

Is there an existing totality before thought? If there is one, is there a part of this existing totality which is outside change? We exist in a world of change and when we think the world we think its change. For change to be thought there has to be an identity first. The relationship between identity and difference is probably the oldest and most complicated philosophical problem. The two orientations of thought concerning the problem of change and the interaction between identity and difference have their roots in Socrates and Zeno as analysed by Badiou in Being and Event.

If one allows that being is being-in-situation—which means unfolding its limit for the Greeks—it is quite true that in suppressing the ‘there is’ of the one, one suppresses everything, since ‘everything’ is necessarily ‘many’. The sole result of this suppression is nothingness. But if one is concerned with being-qua-being, the multiple-without-one, it is true that the non-being of the one is that particular truth whose entire effect resides in establishing the dream of a multiple disseminated without limits. It is this ‘dream’ which was given the fixity of thought in Cantor’s creation. Plato’s aporetic conclusion can be interpreted as an impasse of being, situated at the deciding point of the couple of the inconsistent multiple and the consistent multiple. ‘If the one is not, (the) nothing is’ also means that it is only in completely thinking through the non-being of the one that the name of the void emerges as the unique conceivable presentation of what supports, as unpresentable and as pure multiplicity, any plural presentation, that is, any one-effect. Plato’s text sets four concepts to work on the basis of the apparent couple of the one and the others: the one-being, the there-is of the one, the pure multiple and the structured multiple. If the knot of these concepts remains undone in the final aporia, and if the void triumphs therein, it is solely because the gap between the supposition of the one’s being and the operation of its ‘there is’ remains unthought. This gap, however, is named by Plato many times in his work. It is precisely what provides the key to the Platonic concept par excellence, participation, and it is not for nothing that at the very beginning of the Parmenides, before the entrance of the old master, Socrates has recourse to this concept in order to destroy Zeno’s arguments on the one and the multiple.[4]

Badiou proclaims “the multiple as heterogeneous dissemination,”[5] while Žižek rightly criticizes Meillassoux in particular and Speculative Realism in general for not having an adequate theory of the subject for the present, for the time of being in change.

I think that, in its very anti-transcendentalism, Meillassoux remains caught in the Kantian topic of the accessibility of the thing-in-itself: is what we experience as reality fully determined by our subjective-transcendental horizon, or can we get to know something about the way reality is independently of our subjectivity. Meillassoux’s claim is to achieve the breakthrough into independent ‘objective’ reality. For me as a Hegelian, there is a third option: the true problem that arises after we perform the basic speculative gesture of Meillassoux (transposing the contingency of our notion of reality into the thing itself) is not so much what more can we say about reality-in-itself, but how does our subjective standpoint, and subjectivity itself, fit into reality. The problem is not ‘can we penetrate through the veil of subjectively-constituted phenomena to things-inthemselves’, but ‘how do phenomena themselves arise within the flat stupidity of reality which just is, how does reality redouble itself and start to appear to itself ’. For this, we need a theory of subject which is neither that of transcendental subjectivity nor that of reducing the subject to a part of objective reality. This theory is, as far as I can see, still lacking in speculative realism.[6]

Today philosophy has a tendency to think outside the contemporary world, whereas the goal of Ancient Greek philosophy had been to find an orientation of thought for the good life in time. The quest was how to live in accordance with a conception of goodness in mind. This is not an abstract goal, but rather aims at transforming subjectivity as it is here and now.

If one took the point of being which seemed to be the smallest, much like a dream within sleep, it would immediately appear multiple instead of its semblance of one, and instead of its extreme smallness, it would appear enormous, compared to the dissemination that it is starting from itself.[7]

In his Logics of Worlds, Badiou makes a distinction between being and existence.

I have posed that existence is nothing other than the degree of self-identity of a multiple-being, such as it is established by a transcendental indexing. With regard to the multiple-being as thought in its being, it follows that its existence is contingent, since it depends—as a measurable intensity—on the world where the being, which is said to exist, appears. This contingency of existence is crucial for Kant, because it intervenes as a determination of the transcendental operation itself. This operation is effectively defined as ‘the application of the pure concepts of the understanding to possible experience’. In my vocabulary—and obviously with no reference to any ‘application’—this can be put as follows: the logical constitution of pure appearing, the indexing of a pure multiple on a worldly transcendental. But, just as with the object, Kant will immediately distinguish within this operation its properly transcendental or a priori facet from its receptive or empirical one.[8]

As the subject’s intensity of self-consciousness increases, so does its pain and anxiety in the face of death. This causes hopelessness and despair which may or may not lead to a total devastation of the project of inverting and putting into the spotlight the nothingness at the centre of the subject. Heidegger repeatedly puts all this down in Being and Time when he says that “being-towards-death is angst.” One cure for expelling anxiety has been to believe in god, any other metaphysical construct, or in some cases it has even taken the form of a materialist system of thought; in all these cases, however, an escape is seen as a solution when in fact it is the problem itself. For our concerns, an escapist attitude, and especially one that tries to go beyond the present, does not work at all, for what we are looking for is a way of learning to make use of the reality of the death drive as an interior exteriority constitutive of the subject as a creative agent of change at present, in the time of the living and the dead at once.

And finally here is the Lacanian definition of the subject referred to by Badiou towards the very end of Being and Event

I am not, there where I am the plaything of my thought; I think of what I am, there where I do not think I am thinking.[9]

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Reference Matter

[1] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, trans. James Creed Meredith (London: Wilder Publications, 2008), 13

[2] Alain Badiou, Being and Event, Meditation Two: Plato, trans. Oliver Feltham (New York: Continuum, 2005), 31-7

[3] Badiou, BE, 23

[4] Badiou, BE, 36

[5] Badiou, BE, 33

[6] Slavoj Žižek, Interview with Ben Woodard, in The Speculative Turn: Continental Realism and Materialism, Graham Harman, Nick Srnicek, Levi Bryant (eds.), (Melbourne: re.press, 2011), 415

[7] Badiou, BE, 34

[8] Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds, Section Two, Kant, trans. Alberto Toscano (London: Continuum, 2009), 237

[9] Badiou, BE, 431

Slavoj Žižek On 9/11: New Yorkers faced the fire in the minds of men

World Trade CenterTwo Hollywood films mark 9/11’s fifth anniversary: Paul Greengrass’s United 93 and Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center. Both adopt a terse, realistic depiction of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. There is undoubtedly a touch of authenticity to them and most critics have praised their sober styles and avoidance of sensationalism. But it is the touch of authenticity that raises some disturbing questions.

The realism means that both films are restrained from taking a political stance and depicting the wider context of the events. Neither the passengers on United 93 nor the policemen in WTC grasp the full picture. All of a sudden they find themselves in a terrifying situation and have to make the best out of it.

This lack of “cognitive mapping” is crucial. All we see are the disastrous effects, with their cause so abstract that, in the case of WTC, one can easily imagine exactly the same film in which the twin towers would have collapsed as the result of an earthquake. What if the same film took place in a bombed high-rise building in Beirut? That’s the point: it cannot take place there. Such a film would have been dismissed as “subtle pro-Hizbullah terrorist propaganda”. The result is that the political message of the two films resides in their abstention from delivering a direct political message. It is the message of an implicit trust in one’s government: when under attack, one just has to do one’s duty.

This is where the problem begins. The omnipresent invisible threat of terror legitimises the all-too-visible protective measures of defence. The difference of the war on terror from previous 20th-century struggles, such as the cold war, is that while the enemy was once clearly identified as the actually existing communist system, the terrorist threat is spectral. It is like the characterisation of Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction: most people have a dark side, she had nothing else. Most regimes have a dark oppressive spectral side, the terrorist threat has nothing else.

The power that presents itself as being constantly under threat and thus merely defending itself against an invisible enemy is in danger of becoming a manipulative one. Can we really trust those in power, or are they evoking the threat to discipline and control us? Thus, the lesson is that, in combating terror, it is more crucial than ever for state politics to be democratically transparent. Unfortunately, we are now paying the price for the cobweb of lies and manipulations by the US and UK governments in the past decade that reached a climax in the tragicomedy of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Recall August’s alert and the thwarted attempt to blow up a dozen planes on their way from London to the US. No doubt the alert was not a fake; to claim otherwise would be paranoiac. But a suspicion remains that it was a self-serving spectacle to accustom us to a permanent state of emergency. What space for manipulation do such events – where all that is publicly visible are the anti-terrorist measures themselves – open up? Is it not that they simply demand too much from us, the ordinary citizen: a degree of trust that those in power lost long ago? This is the sin for which Bush and Blair should never be forgiven.

What, then, is the historical meaning of 9/11? Twelve years earlier, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin wall fell. The collapse of communism was perceived as the collapse of political utopias. Today, we live in a post-utopian period of pragmatic administration, since we have learned the hard lesson of how noble political utopias can end in totalitarian terror. But this collapse of utopias was followed by 10 years of the big utopia of global capitalist liberal democracy. November 9 thus announced the “happy 90s”, the Francis Fukuyama dream of the “end of history”, the belief that liberal democracy had, in principle, won, that the search was over, that the advent of a global, liberal community was around the corner, that the obstacles to this Hollywood happy ending are merely local pockets of resistance where the leaders have not yet grasped that their time is over.

September 11 is the symbol of the end of this utopia, a return to real history. A new era is here with new walls everywhere, between Israel and Palestine, around the EU, on the US-Mexico and Spain-Morocco borders. It is an era with new forms of apartheid and legalised torture. As President Bush said after September 11, America is in a state of war. But the problem is that the US is not in a state of war. For the large majority, daily life goes on and war remains the business of state agencies. The distinction between the state of war and peace is blurred. We are entering a time in which a state of peace itself can be at the same time a state of emergency.

When Bush celebrated the thirst for freedom in post-communist countries as a “fire in the minds of men”, the unintended irony was that he used a phrase from Dostoevsky’s The Possessed, where it designates the ruthless activity of radical anarchists who burned a village: “The fire is in the minds of men, not on the roofs of houses.” What Bush didn’t grasp is that on September 11, five years ago, New Yorkers saw and smelled the smoke from this fire.

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Slavoj Zizek is international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, szizek@yahoo.com

The Event as Slavoj Zizek puts it

BuNoyvDIcAAyJYU“A tsunami killed more than 200,000 people in Indonesia!” “The people have won! The dictator has run away!” “How is something as beautiful as Beethoven’s last piano sonata even possible?”

All these statements refer to what some of us would consider an event . . . An “Event” can refer to a devastating natural disaster or to the latest celebrity scandal, the triumph of the people or a brutal political change, an intense experience of a work of art or an intimate decision . . . An event is the effect that seems to exceed its causes—and the space of an event is the distance of an effect from its causes.

But, asks Slavoj Žižek, does everything that exists have to be grounded in sufficient reasons? Or are there things that somehow happen out of nowhere? How can philosophy help us to determine what an event is and how it is possible?

Melville House

Sanat, Felsefe, Politika, Gezi ve Ötesi ~ Rancière, Žižek, Sloterdijk, Erdem, Acar, Jackson, Cage, Virno, Gržinić (Varlık, Eylül 2013)

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Dosya: Sanat ve Politika – Jacques Rancière, Slavoj Žižek, Peter Sloterdijk, Cengiz Erdem, Barış Acar, Thomas H. Jackson, John Cage, Paolo Virno, Marina Gržinić

SANATIN POLİTİKASI / Dosya / Varlık – Eylül 2013

Sanatın Politikası – Barış Acar Sayfa:3

Gezi Direnişi’yle beraber sanat dünyasında, belki de uzun zamandır tanık olmadığımız kadar canlı bir biçimde, yeniden sanat ve politika ilişkisi konuşulmaya başlandı. Ne ki, konu üzerine giden çalışmalar, genellikle 80 öncesi sol gelenekten devralınmış politik sanat argümanlarını tekrar etmekten ya da soğuk savaş boyunca emperyalist dünyadan yayılan küçümseyici ciddiyetsizliği yansıtmaktan öteye gidemedi. Bunların dışında kişisel çabalarla sanatın politikasını ele almaya çalışan girişimler ve 21. yüzyıl aktivizminin sanatsal boyutunu değerlendirme çabaları da oldu elbet. Ancak çoğu zaman bu kişisel çabalar yeteri kadar destek bulamadı ya da sosyolojik saptamaların cazibesine kapılıp sanat alanını terk etmeye eğilim gösterdiler. Varlık dergisi için hazırladığımız “Sanatın Politikası” dosyası bu noktada sanatlar açısından geniş kapsamlı bir bakış ortaya koymayı hedefliyor. Kısa bir zaman aralığında, dergi yetkililerinin de büyük gayretiyle, şiirden müziğe, siyaset felsefesinden bilgi teorisine kadar konuyla ilgisi olduğunu düşündüğümüz önemli metinleri bir araya getirmeye çalıştık. Gezi Direnişi gibi tarihsel bir olayın ardından aynı kavram ve yöntemlerle eskide kalmış tartışmaları yinelemenin ötesine geçerek, sanatların içinde uzun zamandır soluk alıp vermekte olan politikayı, –Walter Benjamin’in öne sürdüğü terimle ifade edecek olursak– “şiirsel politika”yı ele almamızı sağlayacak bakış açılarını araştırmayı denedik. Gezi Direnişi’nin hepimize gösterdiği gibi, o ya da bu politikanın temsili olmayan, sanatın dünyada yer tutma biçimi ve kendi yapıp etme tarzından kaynaklanan poetik bir politika sanıyoruz ki o kadar uzak ve yabancı değil.

Duyuları Olanın Dağılımı: Siyaset ve Estetik – Jacques Rancière Sayfa:4

Sanatlar, egemenlik ya da özgürlük projelerine, olsa olsa verebileceklerini verirler, yani son derece basit bir dille söylemek gerekirse, onlarla paylaştıkları şeyleri verirler: bedensel konum ve hareketleri, konuşma işlevlerini, görülür olan ile görülmez olanın dağılımını.

Rancière’in Dersi – Slavoj Žižek Sayfa:8

Brecht, 1953 tarihli (1956’da yayımlanan) ünlü kısa şiiri “Çözüm”de, işçilerin isyanı karşısında Komünist nomenklatura’nın kibrini alaya alır: “Hükümetin halkı feshedip bir başkasını seçmesi daha kolay olmaz mıydı?” Ne var ki, bu şiir siyasal açıdan oportünist olmakla, Brecht’in Neues Deutschland’da yayımlanan Doğu Alman Komünist rejimi ile dayanışma mektubunun zıddı olmakla kalmaz (sözü dolandırmadan belirtmek gerekirse, Brecht iki yanı da idare etmek, hem rejime desteğini duyurmak hem işçilerle dayanışmasını üstü kapalı dile getirmek istiyordu, öyle ki kim kazanırsa kazansın, kazanan tarafta olacaktı), kuramsal-siyasal anlamda yanlıştır da.

Bilginin Kinizmi – Peter Sloterdijk Sayfa:14

Bilgi alanında kinik dürtünün tarihini yazmak isteseydik, bu tarih, yerginin felsefî tarihi, daha doğrusu yergisel zihnin fenomenolojisi biçimini alırdı; mücadele eden bilincin fenomenolojisi ve sanat dallarında düşünülen şeylerin tarihi (yani, sanatın felsefî tarihi) olurdu. Böyle bir tarih yazılmamıştır, ilkeler tarihsel dayanak olmadan anlaşılır kılınabilse yazılması gerekmezdi de.

Alain Badiou’nun Olay Felsefesi ve Gezi Ruhu’nun Hakikati – Cengiz Erdem Sayfa:18

Gezi Ruhu’nun evrensel bir hakikat formunda zuhur etmesi ise özellikle genç kuşağın iktidarın söylemlerini ironi ve mizah vasıtasıyla sürekli yapıbozuma uğratması ve internet üzerinden tüm o sloganları görselleriyle birlikte anında tüm dünyaya yaymaktaki başarısının ürünü olmuştu. Bu vesileyle de işte kısa sürede tüm Türkiye’ye yayılan Gezi Direnişi dünyada yaşayan tüm muhalif kesimlerin takdirini toplamıştı.

Sanatın Politikası Nasıl Kurulur? – Barış Acar Sayfa:24

Hakikate ya da hakikatlere dair fikrimiz ne olursa olsun onun üzerine refleksiyonu öne sürerek nesneden uzaklaşan tutum yerine Rancière’in önerisi, nesneyi ve onunla kurduğumuz ilişkiyi düzenleme yeteneğimizle özneyi yeniden ele almayı sağladığı için ilgi çekicidir. Kendini “olay”ın içinde tanıyan/tanımlayan bu özne kanımızca Badiou’nun önerisinden de çok uzak değildir.

Ezra Pound’un Poetik Politikası – Thomas H. Jackson Sayfa:28

Pound’un düşündüğü dinamik gerçekliğin tutarlılığı, Konfüçyüsçülüğün farkına varmasına yardım ettiği tutarlılık, hayli incelikli bir türdendir. Pound, Yeats’in “düzen” denilen bir şeye karşı faşistçe düşkünlüğünü paylaşıyormuş gibi gösterilebilir. Ancak Pound için “düzen” hâlâ kinetik, dinamik ve karmaşıktır ve bunu anlayabilecek incelikte bir zihniyet gerektirir.

Amerika’da Deneysel Müzik Tarihi – John Cage Sayfa:32

Bir defasında da, Sri Ramakrishna’ya şöyle bir soru sorulmuştu: “Madem Tanrı iyi, dünyada neden kötülük var?” Şöyle cevap verdi: “Meseleyi derinleştirmek için.”

Virtüözite ve Devrim – Paolo Virno Sayfa:35

Radikal İtaatsizliğin, Ölçüsüzlük erdeminin yakın akrabası olduğu düşünüldüğünde, direniş hakkı “meşruluk ve “gayri meşruluk” açısından gayet güncel bir kavram hissi verir. Cumhuriyetin temeli iç savaş olasılığından kaçınır, ama sınırsız bir Direniş Hakkı’nı kabul eder.

Marina Gržinić ile Söyleşi – Barış Acar Sayfa:42

Bugün sanat ve beşeri bilimlerde yapılan şey kavramsal sonsuzluk, insan sonrası dönem yahut kavramsal anti-hümanizmaya yönelik bir araştırma süreci. Çünkü insan ırkı küresel kapitalist sistem için tek kelimeyle boğucu. Dünyanın çevresel bölgeleri için durum bugün daha iyi olabilir, ancak aynı zamanda ciddi bir yıkım, kıyım ve köleleştirme süreci ile de karşı karşıyayız.

Yazılar: Romancı Örnek Okuruna Yol Gösteriyor (Mehmet Rifat) – Mehmed Uzun’un Romanlarında Kadın İmajı (Mine Şengül) – Metin Kaçan’a Tanıklık (Demir Özlü) – Esneyen Adam’ın Başına Gelenler (Melike Belkıs Aydın) – Bellek Tutulması (Feridun Andaç) – Dil ile Anlam Arasında Mesnevî-i Manevî (Hayri K. Yetik) – Toplumcu Gerçekçi Edebiyatın Kurucu Kuşağından Sadri Ertem (Çiğdem Ülker) – Kalp Ağrısı’nda Sindrella Kompleksi (İlkim Odabaş) – Not Defteri (Hüseyin Yurttaş) – Yeni Öyküler Arasında (Jale Sancak)

Şiir: Hüseyin Alemdar, Harun Atak, Yücelay Sal, Cenk Gündoğdu, Can Sinanoğlu, Aysar Küçükyumuk

Öykü: Deniz Özbeyli, Engin Barış Kalkan

Varlık Kitaplığı: “Haiku’ş” / Adil İzci (Mine Ömer) – “Geçmişin İçindeki Geçmiş” / Ebubekir Eroğlu (Atakan Yavuz) – “Görünen İnsan” / Bela Balazs (Nuriye Bilici) – Nurduran Duman ile Söyleşi (Gülce Başer) – “İnsanın Üşüdüğü Yer” / Cevat Turan (Ayhan Şahin) – Birgül Oğuz ile Söyleşi (Ayşe Aldemir) – Ali Budak ile Söyleşi (Hande Sonsöz) – Şiir Günlüğü (Gültekin Emre) – Yeni Yayınlar (Reyhan Koçyiğit)

Varlık bu ay da Bakış Açısı, Bir Bakışı Solduran Zaman, Not Defteri, Şiir Günlüğü köşeleri, Semih Poroy’un çizimleri ve son çıkan kitapların tanıtıldığı Varlık Kitaplığı bölümüyle okurlarıyla buluşuyor.

via Varlık Dergisi Eylül 2013 ~ Dosya: Sanatın Politikası

The beat of a different drum ~ Slavoj Zizek

Open Cyprus in Europe

“The heart of the people of Europe beats in Greece” with Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek, one of the most prominent contemporary thinkers, Alexis Tsipras, president of the parliamentary group of SYRIZA/EKM and Kostas Douzinas, professor of Philosophy of Law at the of Birkbeck University of London, will talk about the overthrow of the neo-liberal policies which generate the crisis, exacerbate the recession and impose austerity, leading to a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.
An energy and conviction that Slavoi Zizek verbalizes and makes him an adequate ambassador for Greece in their fight in Europe. As they said, »Solidarity is our weapon«. They said that the solidarity of their weapons, which was also Zizek warned in a speech that Europe must show its solidarity with the Greeks, or it too will fail, as it should be a core value of solidarity in Europe.

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Slavoj Žižek – Shoplifters of the World Unite

Zizek weighs in heavily on the meaning of the riots…

Repetition, according to Hegel, plays a crucial role in history: when something happens just once, it may be dismissed as an accident, something that might have been avoided if the situation had been handled differently; but when the same event repeats itself, it is a sign that a deeper historical process is unfolding. When Napoleon lost at Leipzig in 1813, it looked like bad luck; when he lost again at Waterloo, it was clear that his time was over. The same holds for the continuing financial crisis. In September 2008, it was presented by some as an anomaly that could be corrected through better regulations etc; now that signs of a repeated financial meltdown are gathering it is clear that we are dealing with a structural phenomenon.

We are told again and again that we are living through a debt crisis, and that we all have to share the burden and tighten our belts. All, that is, except the (very) rich. The idea of taxing them more is taboo: if we did, the argument runs, the rich would have no incentive to invest, fewer jobs would be created and we would all suffer. The only way to save ourselves from hard times is for the poor to get poorer and the rich to get richer. What should the poor do? What can they do?

Although the riots in the UK were triggered by the suspicious shooting of Mark Duggan, everyone agrees that they express a deeper unease – but of what kind? As with the car burnings in the Paris banlieues in 2005, the UK rioters had no message to deliver. (There is a clear contrast with the massive student demonstrations in November 2010, which also turned to violence. The students were making clear that they rejected the proposed reforms to higher education.) This is why it is difficult to conceive of the UK rioters in Marxist terms, as an instance of the emergence of the revolutionary subject; they fit much better the Hegelian notion of the ‘rabble’, those outside organised social space, who can express their discontent only through ‘irrational’ outbursts of destructive violence – what Hegel called ‘abstract negativity’.

There is an old story about a worker suspected of stealing: every evening, as he leaves the factory, the wheelbarrow he pushes in front of him is carefully inspected. The guards find nothing; it is always empty. Finally, the penny drops: what the worker is stealing are the wheelbarrows themselves. The guards were missing the obvious truth, just as the commentators on the riots have done. We are told that the disintegration of the Communist regimes in the early 1990s signalled the end of ideology: the time of large-scale ideological projects culminating in totalitarian catastrophe was over; we had entered a new era of rational, pragmatic politics. If the commonplace that we live in a post-ideological era is true in any sense, it can be seen in this recent outburst of violence. This was zero-degree protest, a violent action demanding nothing. In their desperate attempt to find meaning in the riots, the sociologists and editorial-writers obfuscated the enigma the riots presented.

The protesters, though underprivileged and de facto socially excluded, weren’t living on the edge of starvation. People in much worse material straits, let alone conditions of physical and ideological oppression, have been able to organise themselves into political forces with clear agendas. The fact that the rioters have no programme is therefore itself a fact to be interpreted: it tells us a great deal about our ideological-political predicament and about the kind of society we inhabit, a society which celebrates choice but in which the only available alternative to enforced democratic consensus is a blind acting out. Opposition to the system can no longer articulate itself in the form of a realistic alternative, or even as a utopian project, but can only take the shape of a meaningless outburst. What is the point of our celebrated freedom of choice when the only choice is between playing by the rules and (self-)destructive violence?

Alain Badiou has argued that we live in a social space which is increasingly experienced as ‘worldless’: in such a space, the only form protest can take is meaningless violence. Perhaps this is one of the main dangers of capitalism: although by virtue of being global it encompasses the whole world, it sustains a ‘worldless’ ideological constellation in which people are deprived of their ways of locating meaning. The fundamental lesson of globalisation is that capitalism can accommodate itself to all civilisations, from Christian to Hindu or Buddhist, from West to East: there is no global ‘capitalist worldview’, no ‘capitalist civilisation’ proper. The global dimension of capitalism represents truth without meaning.

The first conclusion to be drawn from the riots, therefore, is that both conservative and liberal reactions to the unrest are inadequate. The conservative reaction was predictable: there is no justification for such vandalism; one should use all necessary means to restore order; to prevent further explosions of this kind we need not more tolerance and social help but more discipline, hard work and a sense of responsibility. What’s wrong with this account is not only that it ignores the desperate social situation pushing young people towards violent outbursts but, perhaps more important, that it ignores the way these outbursts echo the hidden premises of conservative ideology itself. When, in the 1990s, the Conservatives launched their ‘back to basics’ campaign, its obscene complement was revealed by Norman Tebbitt: ‘Man is not just a social but also a territorial animal; it must be part of our agenda to satisfy those basic instincts of tribalism and territoriality.’ This is what ‘back to basics’ was really about: the unleashing of the barbarian who lurked beneath our apparently civilised, bourgeois society, through the satisfying of the barbarian’s ‘basic instincts’. In the 1960s, Herbert Marcuse introduced the concept of ‘repressive desublimation’ to explain the ‘sexual revolution’: human drives could be desublimated, allowed free rein, and still be subject to capitalist control – viz, the porn industry. On British streets during the unrest, what we saw was not men reduced to ‘beasts’, but the stripped-down form of the ‘beast’ produced by capitalist ideology.

Meanwhile leftist liberals, no less predictably, stuck to their mantra about social programmes and integration initiatives, the neglect of which has deprived second and third-generation immigrants of their economic and social prospects: violent outbursts are the only means they have to articulate their dissatisfaction. Instead of indulging ourselves in revenge fantasies, we should make the effort to understand the deeper causes of the outbursts. Can we even imagine what it means to be a young man in a poor, racially mixed area, a priori suspected and harassed by the police, not only unemployed but often unemployable, with no hope of a future? The implication is that the conditions these people find themselves in make it inevitable that they will take to the streets. The problem with this account, though, is that it lists only the objective conditions for the riots. To riot is to make a subjective statement, implicitly to declare how one relates to one’s objective conditions.

We live in cynical times, and it’s easy to imagine a protester who, caught looting and burning a store and pressed for his reasons, would answer in the language used by social workers and sociologists, citing diminished social mobility, rising insecurity, the disintegration of paternal authority, the lack of maternal love in his early childhood. He knows what he is doing, then, but is doing it nonetheless.

It is meaningless to ponder which of these two reactions, conservative or liberal, is the worse: as Stalin would have put it, they are both worse, and that includes the warning given by both sides that the real danger of these outbursts resides in the predictable racist reaction of the ‘silent majority’. One of the forms this reaction took was the ‘tribal’ activity of the local (Turkish, Caribbean, Sikh) communities which quickly organised their own vigilante units to protect their property. Are the shopkeepers a small bourgeoisie defending their property against a genuine, if violent, protest against the system; or are they representatives of the working class, fighting the forces of social disintegration? Here too one should reject the demand to take sides. The truth is that the conflict was between two poles of the underprivileged: those who have succeeded in functioning within the system versus those who are too frustrated to go on trying. The rioters’ violence was almost exclusively directed against their own. The cars burned and the shops looted were not in rich neighbourhoods, but in the rioters’ own. The conflict is not between different parts of society; it is, at its most radical, the conflict between society and society, between those with everything, and those with nothing, to lose; between those with no stake in their community and those whose stakes are the highest….Read More 

via London Review of Books