Ever since Clifford Geertz urged the “blurring of genres” in the social sciences, many scholars have considered the crossing of disciplinary boundaries a healthy alternative to rigidly maintaining them. But what precisely does the metaphor of “blurring” imply? By unpacking the varieties of visual experiences that are normally grouped under this rubric, this essay seeks to provide some precision to our understanding of the implications of fuzziness. It extrapolates from the blurring caused by differential focal distances, velocities of objects in (...) the visual field, and competing perspectival vantage points to comparable effects in the intersection of different scholarly disciplines. Arguing against the holistic implications of Geertz's metaphor, as well as the even more totalizing concept of “consilience” introduced by E. O. Wilson, it suggests that blurring implies new types of complexity between or among those disciplines. (shrink)
Taking on the stigma of inauthenticity : Adorno's critique of genuineness -- Is experience still in crisis? : reflections on a Frankfurt school lament -- Mourning a metaphor: the revolution is over -- Cultural relativism and the visual turn -- Scopic regimes of modernity revisited -- No state of grace : violence in the garden -- Visual parrhesia? : Foucault and the truth of the gaze -- The Kremlin of modernism -- Phenomenology and lived experience -- Aesthetic experience and historical (...) experience : a twenty-first-century constellation -- Still waiting to hear from derrida -- Pseudology : Derrida on Arendt and lying in politics -- The menace of consilience : keeping the disciplines unreconciled -- Can there be national philosophies in a transnational world? -- Straddling a watershed? -- Allons enfants de l'humanité : the French and human rights -- Intellectual family values : William Phillips, Hannah Arendt, and the Partisan review -- Still sleeping rough : Colin Wilson's the outsider at fifty. (shrink)
The popularity of films like Titanic betokens a massive shift in the nature of aesthetic spectatorship in our time. The contemplative, distanced viewer who is able to judge from afar the spectacle before him or her, has been replaced by a more proximate, involved "kinaesthetic" subject whose body is stimulated as much as his or her eye. This is evident not only in mass culture with amusement thrill rides and the return of what has been called the "cinema of attractions"; (...) this new spectator can also be discerned in avant-garde culture, as shown by the Sensation exhibition of Young British Artists which caused such a stir in London and New York. This spectator is especially attracted to simulacral scenes of destruction and catastrophe, in which he or she is virtually immersed. If aesthetic judgement is to be a model for its political counterpart, as has been argued by theorists like Lyotard and Arendt, it cannot do so on the basis of this aesthetics of violent immersion. (shrink)
Force Fields collects the recent essays of Martin Jay, an intellectual historian and cultural critic internationally known for his extensive work on the history of Western Marxism and the intellectual migration from Germany to America.
Among Carl Schmitt's most notable and controversial contributions to political theory was his claim that “all the significant concepts of the modern doctrine of the state are secularized theological concepts.” First formulated in 1922 in his Political Theology, this contention remained constant throughout his long career, as evidenced by its return in his Political Theology II, published in 1970. Here Schmitt's Cadtholic background was clearly apparent, for in so arguing, he was recapitulating the familiar topos of biblical prefiguration in which (...) the New Testament was understood as realizing the latent meaning of the Old. Viewing modern politics as merely the secularized version of a prior theology allowed Schmitt to develop his strong notion of the sovereign as a profane divinity with virtually all of the omnipotent attributes of its alleged sacred predecessor. (shrink)
It is customary to begin essays of this kind with an arresting quotation from an eminent source, a practice that both displays the author's ostensible erudition and coverdy betrays his need to draw on an external authority to support the argument he is about to make. In order to remain true to this time-honored convention, I have chosen as my opening text for today the following passage from Theodor Adorno's Negative Dialectics, written in 1966: “All culture after Auschwitz, including its (...) urgent critique, is garbage. In restoring itself after the things that happened without resistance in its own countryside, culture has turned entirely into the ideology it had been potentially — had been ever since it presumed, in opposition to material existence, to inspire that existence with the light denied it by the separation of the mind from manual labor. (shrink)