Another magnificent book by Argentinian philosopher Fabián Ludueña. Lovecraft is once again claimed by philosophy – what is rapidly becoming a trend – as the writer who poses the most cogent questions for contemporary thought. Ludueña’s erudition and depth are impressive. He suggests that Lovecraft’s contribution rests on his construction of myth, but a myth devoid of any commitment to the human species, a sort of non-anthropic concept of the myth. The multiverse engendered by Lovecraft is ruled by a disjunctive principle located in the very core of Being. The writer of Providence develops a notion of subjectivity that prescinds embodiment in any determined physical substance and creates a thinking of radical outsideness. A brilliant work of philosophy and literary criticism.
Here is the link for my article (in Portuguese) on Bruno Latour and Walter Benjamin.
Siegfried Zielinski urges us to seek the new in the old. I wonder if that theoretical principle could be applied to theory itself. What if we were to read past authors and ideas always under a new and different light? We could go even further and promote a continuous refashioning of the past by means of different imaginative exercises. An archive is not necessarily a repository of dead words and deeds. The archaeologist possesses the mystical power to resuscitate what was thought to be lifeless. Therein lies perhaps one of the main reasons for my interested in the past. Also, I have to admit that I’m usually much more interested in stories about failures and flops than tales of success. A monumental flop within the sphere of theoretical thought may indicate that an idea was prematurely born or shaped within an intellectual context that didn’t do it justice. I believe that’s the case with many of the obscure characters that draw my attention. Not coincidentally, I tend to evaluate their ideas under a framework that is never solely epistemological, but also aesthetic. Take, for instance, the obscure Fritz Mauthner. Reading the excellent work by Elizabeth Bredeck (Metaphors of Knowledge: Language and Thought in Mauthner’s Critique), I speculate wether Mauthner’s notion of Zufallsgeschichte (history of contingencies) can shed interesting light on some (media)archaeological principles. This history of contingencies teaches us that “what history lacks is as important as what it yields” (p. 42). The fact that the Zufallsgeschichte is not grounded on any divine or natural predetermination prevents the establishment of any generalization. History always “remains limited to particulars” (43) and also bound to human interest. Instead of being “true”, it must be useful. In Mauthner’s view, our knowledge of the world has a “metaphoric” dimension, since it is always mediated by language and its categories. One could say that knowledge is always, in a way, “aesthetic”. In a time when anthropocentric perspectives of the universe were still quite current, Mauthner endeavored a critique of the anthropocentric character of words such as “law”, “purpose” or “necessity”, which should be dismissed as linguistic illusions altogether. After writing this very brief and incomplete report, I read again a fortuitous passage in Bredeck’s book – which I had of course already forgotten – and smile: “Mauthner serves as a lens through which we can get a new perspective on issues in contemporary theory, while contemporary theory helps shed new light on the complexities of Mauthner’s own thought” (p. 29).
Graham posted this in his blog. He is in São Paulo and we’ll meet him tomorrow. Glad he liked the restaurant I recommended. Also, Steven posted the abstract for his talk in Rio here. Today we took Siegfried Zielinski to the Moreira Salles Institute. He is quite taken by the beautiful natural landscapes of Rio. Adalberto, Siegfried and I had a nice conversation on Flusser and his book “A History of the Devil”. A delightful Sunday, indeed.
“the question is not wether the presentation of a ‘Stimmung’ is truthful or not, but rather wether it touches (berührt) the observer or not”. We’re no longer dealing with clearly verifiable determinations of truth or falsehood. With his typically circular, enigmatic and inconclusive style, Flusser never delivers a theory for the interpretation of gestures, but rather a reading procedure that is not quantifiable or translatable in the order of discourse (at least in terms of scientific discourse). “The ‘Gestimmtheit’ liberates the ‘Stimmungen’ from their original contexts and turns them into aesthetic phenomena. They become ‘artificial’” (V.F.). That’s why we can say that the ‘Gestimmtheit’ isn’t an epistemological or ethical issue, but rather an aesthetic one. What one needs in order to be able to ‘read’ it is an inclination, a subjective attitude that has less to do with the determination of a clear meaning than with a certain disposition for experiencing sensations…
The International Symposium “The Secret Life of Objects: Materialities, Medialities, Temporalities” will take place in Rio de Janeiro, from August the 1st to August the 3rd. Promoted by the State University of Rio de Janeiro, along with several other academic institutions (such as the Vilem Flusser Archiv and Universität Wien), the event is intended to debate the emergence of new paradigms, epistemologies and intellectual scenarios within the Humanities (see the abstract bellow). The keynote speaker will be the French sociologist Bruno Latour and several other guests have already confirmed their presence (Graham Harman, Siegfried Zielinski, Joachim Paech, Ian Bogost etc.). The organizing committee will soon release a detailed program with information on how to enroll.
Erick Felinto (Presidente) – UERJ
Adalberto Müller – UFF/Letras
André Lemos – UFBA
Fernanda Bruno – UFRJ
Lúcia Santaella – PUCSP
Maurício Lissovsky – UFRJ
Simone de Sá – UFF
Vinicius Andrade Pereira – UERJ
Abstract: There are strong indications that a significant transformation is underway in the so-called “human sciences” (Geisteswissenschaften, sciences humaines, Humanities). After a period of intense crisis and uncertainty, in which human sciences have frequently sought to mirror or approach the hard sciences, the beginning of the twenty-first century seems to witness a broad renewal of disciplines, approaches and methodologies. From the questioning of its traditional foundations, humanities are reinventing themselves by a broad reconfiguration of its borders and even of the notion of “humanity” that served as its cornerstone. One of the areas where the wealth of this new scenario is most clearly displayed is that of media studies. Spurred by the impact of new digital technologies, media studies cleverly learned to appropriate the epistemological principles and major theoretical issues that have come to characterize the contemporary cultural scene. The objective of the Seminar “The Secret Life of Objects: Medialities, Materialities, Temporalities” is to sketch a systematization of this scenario from a transdisciplinary perspective, but with a decisive focus on communication studies and culture. The three axes that structure the Seminar represent articulating knots that cut across different disciplines in the humanities, from sociology to philosophy, but acquire special meaning in the context of new media studies. The underlying assumption is that we need to radically rethink the notion of epistemic agency in a context where the action and the impact of the objects, media and technological materialities become increasingly important. Thus, it is not only necessary to investigate the place of human actors in a world enriched by the life of polymorphic objects, but also to highlight the issues that the strong tradition of hermeneutics of the humanities have often obscured: what, without constituting meaning per se, contributes nonetheless to the production of meaning? What is a medium and how mediation processes unfold? In what ways does technological materiality inform cultural worlds and determine forms of cognition? What new models of historical research of techniques and culture are emerging within the current epistemological paradigms? In what ways is the material dimension of experience combined with the intangible dimensions of culture? What does it mean to purport an “object-oriented” philosophy? In what sense does the category of the human reconfigure itself in light of our new relations with objects and nonhuman entities? How important is the legacy of the genealogy and archeology of knowledge (Nietzsche, Foucault) to a perspectivization of the impacts of “new” digital culture? By means of interdisciplinary panels, in which philosophers, anthropologists and scientists will discuss with experts in media studies, we intend to address these issues in order to elaborate a preliminary cartography of an epistemological territory still in its early stages of exploration.