MAN WITHOUT THE QUALITIES – POLITICS OF THE MARGINS
“There is always something ghostly about living constantly in a well-ordered state. You cannot step into the street or drink a glass of water or get on a streetcar without touching the balanced lever of gigantic apparatus of laws and interrelations, setting them in motion or letting them maintain you in your peaceful existence; one knows hardly any of these levers, which reach deep into the inner workings and, coming out of the other side, lose themselves in a network whose structure has never yet been unraveled by anyone. So one denies their existence, just as the average citizen denies the air, maintaining that it is empty space. But all these things that one denied, these colorless, odorless, tasteless, weightless, and morally indefinable things such as water, air, space, money, and the passing of time, turn out in truth to be the most important things of all, and this gives life a certain spooky quality.”
-Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities
CRIC 04 will be dedicated to conversations/talks, critical thinking and analysis of the political, economic and before all, artistic syndrome in which we are living, and that is the syndrome of “Human/Man without the qualities”, who is in constant hopeless “search for the lost time”.
We are witnessing the disappearing of all axiological verticals, the devaluation of the ideological narratives, the rising of the new technologies, which instead of creating space for progress/development in the new formats of the communities, they additionally disqualify the human/man. The man/human without the qualities is a man/human of not-belonging, one’s own anarchist who is in constant search for methodology with which he will shape the practices of non-belonging into emancipatory processes; because the practices of non-belonging lead to emancipation. He commits himself towards the processes and towards finding verticals of the content over which he will articulate the resistance. It is about one’s own nostalgia for the lost quality … for the lost scenery of the space and the political…
In the degradation of the language, thinking and knowledge, a state occurs in which we are trapped in the spiral of the lost ideas and ideologies. Perverted ideological systems are dissolving the thinking and the capacity for acquisition, practicing and using of the critical dialectical apparatus. Hence, the socio-cultural space is in the vacuum of the absence of political, sensible and aesthetic qualities which will provide spatial and temporal socio-cultural position to the man/human.
In a place where mediocrity is enthused by the media as the ultimate value criterion, where the historical-political revisionism is favored, embodied in the new forms of fascisms, where the antagonism towards the different is a measure for patriotism, and there is domination of one group towards another, the space for intellectual creative resistance in relation to post-Nationalism and the new fascisms (both left and right) of capital and crime is minimal and risky. However, no matter how bad the conditions are for organizing and manifesting of resistance, it must be there, and it must exist. “Human/Man without the qualities” is walking through the labyrinths of the lost communicational values, in absence of the communities which are emphatic and solidary, to find places in which one can redefine the political entropy that is rhizomatically spreading and imprisoning the subject and the world. The different forms of resistance towards the senseless and the loneliness: new technologies in art, new critical theories, redefining of existing ideologies which are shaped by the needs of the capital, the creating of new languages, contents of culture and art which will penetrate the depleted political – all of this creates the man’s/human’s effort in his battle to rediscover his own qualities.
In that search for the lost qualities and imposed communities, what is important is the absence of stability. Уметникот, граѓанинот, политичарот ќе мораат да прифатат – стабилност не постои. The artist, citizen and politician will have to accept – stability does not exist. What exists is the constant creation of critical perspectives, which are the only way to articulate the freedom in concentric circles created by the unity of diversities. A return to old regimes, whether political or aesthetic is possible only through the re-traditionalizing of the social relations – this is what we witness today in Europe. We who want to break with the history of repressive and humiliating models of belonging and want to wander in the pristine fields of new potentials for political imagination, we must embrace our position of wanderers – of constantly dissimilating from the known qualities of present social, cultural and political conjunctures. Being without qualities enables us to think of a qualitatively new politics, one that is not mediated with the qualities of “this world” and one that constantly aims to reinvent itself at the very margins and through this, generating even more possibilities for fleeing from whatever set of qualities that aims to establish itself as authority over thinking and living.
CRIC 04 will try to connect the different discursive, artistic, social, activist and political practices over which we will critically try to explore and present the tools, thoughts and actions through which it will be possible to create new contents of culture and art.
19:00 – 20:30
The Void, The Black, And The Bare: On The Ground of Determination In Les Fleurs Du Mal by Nathan Brown
Across manifold themes, concepts, and forms, Les Fleurs du Mal is consistently concerned with the problem determination: the tension between being at once determined and determining that fuels subjective desire and poetic construction. This paper pursues Baudelaire’s treatment of this problem to the ground of determination, the liminal negation of qualities that gives rise to psychological contradiction, literary invention, and historical change. Through a philosophical account of aesthetic determination and close readings of Baudelaire’s poems, I theorize the relay between negation and transformation at each of these levels.
20:30 – 21:30
Genet’s Theater of The Dead, Aaron Schuster
Jean Genet’s theater is one of the greatest political theaters of the twentieth century, although he himself called his plays “obliquely political,” and often sharply qualifies their political import. In this talk, I will address the kind of “solitary” and “fatal” political subjectivity that is dramatized in Genet’s plays (focusing on The Maids and The Balcony) through two lines of inquiry. First, an examination of the theme of death, arguably the major subject of all Genet’s work, distinguishing between three kinds of death in relation to the artwork (relating to the three temporal modes of future, past, and present). And second, an unlikely comparison of Genet with Kafka on the theme of the law. It is hard to imagine two authors more utterly dissimilar than Genet and Kafka; however, starting from some remarks on Kafka in one of Genet’s letters, I will show how they trace two different approaches to the law (neurotic and perverse), and how Genet proposes a unique answer to the problem of Kafkean guilt.
16:30 – 18:30
Aesthetic Education in Reverse: Political Impasses of The Present by Nathan Brown Seminar
The political conjuncture displays a perverse, yet predictable, relation between reaction and reaction-to-reaction. I am interested in how the social structure and historical impasses of this relation can be analyzed and addressed as effects of political-economic contradiction. Returning to Schiller’s theory of “aesthetic education” from the perspective of the present, I hope to frame a discussion of pathologies of communication and collective subjectivity attuned to the import of the untimely and resistance to the lures of political opportunism.
20:00 – 21:00
A Thousand Margins by Artan Sadiku
No theory can develop without eventually encountering a wall, and practice is necessary for piercing this wall. [Deleuze]. Our tried-out, worn-out and exhausted models of practice, such as resistance and struggle against capitalism have not pierced the wall that radical theory has encountered many years ago. As a result, we have witnessed the accelerated multiplication of theory behind the wall. Instead of attempting new practices to break that wall, we have changed the angles of approaching the current predicament of capitalism. This brings up two challenges. First, how do we know a new practice will enable a new thinking that is not just another angle, and second, how is theory to operate in relation to that yet-to-come practice. l think that we should overcome these challenges through the idea of margins/marginality. Thus, I will propose that we need to perform movement to the margins rather than revolutionary practice in the center and develop marginal thoughts rather than a coherent radical theory. From there, the combination of movement to the margins and marginal thoughts can help us develop our anti-capitalist immunology rather than strategy.
19:30 – 20:00
Gay Normality and Anti-Inclusive Queer Thought by Lina Gonan
The lecture will present the concept of gay normality developed by Dutchtheorist Peter Drucker, as well a selection from the theory of contemporary anti-inclusivistic / anti-assymilationist queer theory. She will state why, according to her, the popular queer social policies are not sustainable, in the following way: 1) through a brief overview of the current development of the queer movement, 2) by displaying the queer identity created by the dominant queer movement, 3) through a review of the anti-inclusion queer thoughts in response to the ideology of normality. The choice is a kind of “queer” method, because the texts do not come from the so-called “relevant” production of queer theory, and in large part are texts from certain blogs, fanzines and protest flyers. The affirmation of marginal positions, such as queer social reproduction theory, the theory of gender nihilism, transfeminism, etc., is challenging in today’s queer movement.
20:00 – 21:00
Reserve Death Army, Stanimir Panayotov
In this lecture I will discuss what I term the “reserve death army,” basing the notion on ongoing literature on necropolitics (Mbembe, Gržinić) and Marx and Engels’ “reserve labor army.” Briefly, I define the reserve death army as a figure of the complete realization of the capitalist utopia: the ultimate freedom of capital from labor force. Yet this freedom need not culminate in a concrete utopian humanism of leisure and welfareism. Quite the contrary: the flight of capital from the dialectical confines of the reserve labor army becomes the harbinger of death. Productivity is no longer tied to a political notion of life and subjectivity, themselves reducible to a sovereign. For the reserve death army subjectivity is irreducible to the sovereign. Where Marx recognized the production of the reserve labor army, Mbembe, and subsequently Gržinić, though mentioning Marx in passing, recognized something that can easily be called reserve death population or reserve death army. For, if it is true that adjusting neoliberal democracy with necropolitics is the paradigmatic shift in early 21stcentury governance, discarding life as a political value, as constituent of political reason, of neoliberal democracies goes hand in hand with erasing the correlative exploitation – however brutal – of the worker’s labor capacities. If death becomes the political projectile of futurity, labor is no longer part of neoliberalism’s managerial cosmology.
The notion I propose is intended to describe the irrelevance (and not the rejection) of the poststructuralist thesis of the “death of man” as well as the biopolitical laissez-faire formula “live and let die” under necropolitical regimes. Under necropolitics, when entire populations are ruled out of governance, they are deemed not only obsolete to population control, but devoid of qualities, including their “ability to die.” As a result, the reserve death army is meant to analyze a reality where human populations are devoid of their death as a quality no longer able to legitimize human life as framed by rescue. When death is no quality, when the human cannot be qualified as rescuable, the sovereign rules without humans: a humanless sovereignty devoid not of people’s qualities, but people themselves.
Aaron Schuster is a philosopher and writer, based in Amsterdam. He was a fellow at the Society for the Humanities, Cornell University, and a visiting professor at the University of Chicago. His first book, The Trouble with Pleasure: Deleuze and Psychoanalysis, was published by MIT Press in 2016. He has two books forthcoming in 2019: Sovereignty, Inc.: Three Inquiries on Politics and Enjoyment, with Eric Santner and William Mazzarella (University of Chicago Press); and Spasm: A Philosophy of Tickling (Cabinet Books).
Lina Gonan graduated in philosophy and art history at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb. She is an activist in the field of public goods, workers’, women’s and queer rights. Her field of theoretical interest is Marxist feminism and queer theory. She works at the Multimedia Institute in Zagreb, where she leads the feminist circle Fematik in Mama. She is, as well editor of the collection Nepomirljivo – radikalni kvir protiv roda, države i kapitala.
Nathan Brown is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Centre for Expanded Poetics at Concordia University. He has recently completed a book manuscript titled Rationalist Empiricism: A Theory of Speculative Critique. His first book, The Limits of Fabrication: Materials Science and Materialist Poetics was published by Fordham in 2017. With Petar Milat, he is the coordinator of an ongoing series of symposia titled Conjuncture: Twenty-First Century Philosophy, Politics, and Aesthetics.
Stanimir Panayotov is currently finishing his PhD in Comparative Gender Studies at the Central European University (Budapest, Hungary) with a specialization in Medieval Studies. He works at the intersections of continental and feminist philosophy, non-philosophy, Neoplatonism and new/speculative realism, and has specialized in these fields in Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana (2013); Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities – Skopje (2015); Linköping University (2016); American Research Center in Sofia (2016/17); Kingston University, London (2017); Utrecht University (2018). He is a member of оrganisation Non-Philosophique Internationale since 2016. Co-director and co-organizer of Sofia Queer Forum (Sofia, 2012-present), as well asSummer School for Sexualities, Cultures and Politics (Skopje/Belgrade,2012-2017).Since 2017 he is the editorial manager ofIdentities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, as well as editorial board member of Oraxiom: A Journal of Non-Philosophy.
CRIC 04-Man without the qualities- Politics of the margins 19.06.2019 – Kontrapunkt (kontrapunkt-mk.org)
CRIC 04 – Man without the qualities- Politics of the margins 20.06.2019 – Kontrapunkt (kontrapunkt-mk.org)