STASIS

Issue 1
About EUSP

Abstract

The emergence of biogenetics and the digitalization of our daily lives is an explosive combination, but are the latest tendencies of global capitalism really announcing a new era in which not only the market economy but also the very notion of being-human will be rendered obsolete? Should we celebrate these tendencies as a prospect of radical emancipation, or are they harbingers of a society in which humans will be reduced to cogs in a digital machine? This text tries to move beyond such simple alternatives by way of raising more basic questions: What do we mean by “human” when we speak of posthumanity? Is the vision of posthumanity a realistic prospect or an ideological dream? How can we think about today’s postcapitalist forms of domination?

Keywords

capitalism, commons, Internet of things, market, posthumanity

Abstract

The paper reflects upon one of the major themes in the writings of Andrey Platonov, the theme of machines. At stake are not ordinary machines, but revolutionary ones, whose purpose consists in the radical transformation of life, nature, and world. But what is the matter of this transformation? How to describe the revolution that stands behind the avant-garde reflections of Platonov, which can be unambiguously categorized neither as utopian, nor as anti-utopian? Both utopia and anti-utopia usually relate to the future, whereas the time when Platonov’s machines are going on stage coincides neither with the future nor with the present. This is a specific revolutionary time, the time of revolution as completed planetary catastrophe, of the devastation of nature and the beginning of a new history, whose subject’s embodiment is not a living human being, but a new machine, capable to manage natural energies.


Keywords

Andrey Platonov, history, machines, nature, revolution, technology

The idea of the end of the world has an air of banality. Aren’t we drifting along a neverending flow of sci-fi books and catastrophe films with whirls of special effects, in which the world ends in a sea of flames, in nuclear radiation, in a technological Armaggedon?—Drifted along by, but not drowned, for don’t we also trust that the world is actually not at its end but only purified, reduced to another nuclear family who will start out a better world that is actually more pure and honest than our rotten civilization. Nothing really distinguishes these stories from the ancient myths of Utnapishtim, Noah, or Deucalion and Pyrrha. The point is really to tell a reassuring story of hope of a better future.

Maybe it is in reaction to this imagery (and not by poltroonery) that many philosophers today tend to reject the thought of the end of the world. After all, philosophy has spent much effort to settle its affairs with a teleological notion of the end that was important in the middle of the twentieth century (the important debates on the end of history, the end of man, the end of philosophy, etc). But in reality, the problem of the end of the world is not the same as the problem of the the telos of time and human endeavors: The question of the world’s end does not boil down to the question of meaning but it refers to the thought of the possibility of the impossibility of the world itself, in which meaning can take place or not. The width of the world is illuminated by the thought of its end, which actually shows how the world is made, and along what lines and fractures it can therefore be unmade.

Whatever the position of philosophers, modern and contemporary film and literature have dug into the notion of the end of the world in many ways. Instead of just telling new stories with old means, a number of works have problematized the means that are capable of seizing the subject, asking how the idea of the end affects writing and imaging themselves. In this dossier we have brought together three texts that study the figure of end of the world, not as a subject, but as artistic means in literature and film. The examination of the end of the world in singular works lets us follow the workings of the end much more closely than any philosophical generalities.

 

Abstract

This article is devoted to the work of the leading living Russian prose writer, Viktor Pelevin, in the context of the image and idea of world’s end that is so present in his writings. In many of Pelevin’s novels, a fictional world that the reader first accepts turns out to be a deliberate creation of this or that demiurge, realistically depicted as spin doctor. Apocalypse is thus rendered in a Gnostic/Buddhist manner. What is specific for Pelevin against a background of the postmodern and cyberpunk genres he continues, is the elaboration of an antiworld symbolic weapon, a formula that counters a world so as to make it perish. The main reason for this motif is the desire to protect/shelter oneself—and the reader—from the violence of language that remains authoritative even in absence of any public authority.

Keywords

apocalypse, сontemporary Russian literature, Pelevin, Platonov, Porshnev

Résumé

Que nous dit le cinéma sur l’eschaton ? Que nous apprennent les images mobiles, les images projetées, sur le dernier instant, sur ce qui met un terme à une durée ou une limite à l’enchaînement d’une séquence, qu’on appelle au cinéma «plan séquence» ? Et surtout quel type de montage cinématographique permet d’inscrire cet instant dans le plan d’une image ? Dans cet article, j’aborderai ce temps de la fin à partir d’une hypothèse cinématographique sur Les Harmonies Werckmeister de Béla Tarr. Je partirai de certains plans séquences du film, où le temps se déplace en espace par l’inscription du hors champ dans le champ de image. Ces plans séquences produisent un contretemps dans écoulement temporel de l’image, que je spécifierai comme un temps eschato-cinématographique.

Mots clefs

eschatologie, espace, fin, montage, plan-séquence, profondeur, ruine, temps

Abstract

This article presents a reading of the 1924 long poema, The Poem of the End by Marina Tsvetaeva. The reading focuses on Tsvetaeva’s development of the theme and notion of “the end” in the farewell scenes that make up the poem and that take place as a lyrical dialogue between the male, lyrical “you” and the female lyrical “I.” I show that the poet employs a method of bracketing common sense ideas of the end, represented by the “you,” in a phenomenological reduction, by opposing them to the very consequences of this end for the lyrical I. The lyrical I not only grieves, but loses her means of attaining an inner life, and therefore she disintegrates, dismembers, just as her language. The consequence is a radical modernist break in The Poem of the End with lyrical language and meter, because here she breaks with the idea that language, or a better language, will offer a birthplace of a higher self. Poetic language, as we learn from Tsvetaeva, offers only a home in the words if it bespeaks the utter homelessness of the inner self being disintegrated or dismembered.

Keywords

exile poetry, Heidegger, Marina Tsvetaeva, modernism, phenomenology, Poem of the End

Abstract

The last decade of protests have demonstrated the disruptive force of crowds. When the crowd appears in sites unauthorized by state and capital, it creates a political opening, the possibility for political subjectivation. Unlike the fiction of the public sphere, of that phantom public produced by an ideology of publicity that substitutes the fantasy of a unified field of deliberative processes for the actuality of partisan struggle, the crowd expresses the paradoxical power of the people as political subject. Insistent and opaque, the crowd illuminates attributes of political subjectivity distinctive to the contingent, heterogeneous unity of collectives, attributes missed in mistaken characterizations of the political field as consisting of individuals and operating through procedures of democratic deliberation. Rather than a matter of deliberation, choice, and decision, the politics of crowds manifests as breaks and gaps, in the unpredictability of an exciting cause, as well as through collective courage, directed intensity, and capacities to cohere. This does not mean, however, that the crowd is a political subject. The crowd is the Real that incites the political subject. It’s a necessary but incomplete component of political subjectivity, the disruptive power of self-conscious number as it feels its own force.

Keywords

affect, Badiou, Canetti, crowd, Le Bon, public, subjectivation, struggles

Abstract

In today’s world “democracy” and “democratic legitimacy” are normatively dominant, making even the harshest dictators refer to “the will of the people.” At the same time, dissatisfaction with “real existing democracy” is widespread and increasing, particularly in long-standing democratic societies. If we understand democracy, primarily, as a possible quality of practices and procedures, rather than as a regime or a type of government, we can address such issues. Understanding democracy as a quality, consisting in those being affected by decisions having a “say” in those decisions, clarifies the ongoing struggle to actually have that say (which explains both the Tea Party and Nuit debout). It explains how the—inevitable—institutionalization of democratic practices and particularly their reduction to elections leads to a gap that either invites democratic innovation, or is bridged ideologically with key ideologemes like “the People” or “popular sovereignty”—an ideology which is not in contradiction with reality, but makes existing democratic realities more democratic than they actually are.

Keywords

contestation, democracy, democratic theory, ideologeme, ideology, sovereignty