ROWAN WILLIAMS RELIGIOUS FAITH & HUMAN RIGHTS NIKOS MOUZELIS THE CASE FOR SPIRITUALISM HERMANN NITSCH ORGIEN-MYSTERIEN-THEATRE A C GR AYLING ARE RELIGIONS RESPECTABLE JOHN GR AY POST-SECULARISM MICHEL ONFR AY ON MILITANT ATHEISM BECKY BEASLEY THE MAN WITHOUT REFERENCES MARTINO GAMPER WARREN NEIDICH SARAH WOOD MICHAEL WITHEY
Philosophy - Current Affairs - Art - Literature - Review - Analysis
Human & Divine
NINA BEIER & MARIE LUND TWO WOMEN 19 September – 18 October 2008 Private View: Thursday 18 September, 6.00 – 8.30pm,
Becky Beasley Nina Beier & Marie Lund Harrell Fletcher Cyprien Gaillard Elizabeth McAlpine Andrei Roiter Martin Skauen
Open Wednesday – Saturday, 11am– 6pm and by appointment. LAURA BARTLETT GALLERY 10 Northington Street London WC1N 2JG United Kingdom Supported by:
Telephone +44 (0)20 7404 9251 Facsimile +44 (0)20 7430 1731 Email firstname.lastname@example.org www.laurabartlettgallery.com
4 - Bedeutung
4 9 10
Masthead Contributors Editorial
Rowan Williams Thomas Presskorn A C Grayling
14 24 28
Religious Faith and Human Rights A Response to Dr. Williams Are Religions Respectable?
Nicos Mouzelis John Gray
34 38 45
The Case for Spirituality Interview - Michel Onfray After Secularism
Becky Beasley Warren Neidich
64 72 84 92
Interview - Hermann Nitsch The Man Without References Some Cursory Comments on the Nature of my Diagrammatic Drawings Interview - Martino Gamper
Review - A Secular Age by Charles Taylor The Doctress; or, A Secret History of 1793
Michael Withey Sarah Wood
p. 1 image by Hermann Nitsch: Spill painting, acrylic and blood on jute,1998
Bedeutung Editor-in-Chief & Creative Director Alexandros Stavrakas email@example.com Editor Michael Withey firstname.lastname@example.org Editor Thomas Presskorn-Thygesen email@example.com Art Editor John Slyce firstname.lastname@example.org Web Developer Gregory Moissidis email@example.com Press & Publicity Paul Secretan firstname.lastname@example.org
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Bedeutung Subscriptions: www.bedeutung.co.uk Institutional Subscriptions: email@example.com Advertisement Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org Distribution and selling points: email@example.com We welcome unsolicited material and letters from our readers. Please address such enquiries and contributions to: firstname.lastname@example.org Bedeutung is published quarterly in the UK by Bedeutung Publishing Ltd. It is not aﬃliated with any institution and has no political, financial or other dependencies. Although the views expressed in Bedeutung are those of their authors, the editorship endorses and supports their publication. We would like to thank the following people for their help and generous support: Andy Stasta, Guillaume Giraud, Brigt Skauge, Lucy Levene, Peter-Pawel Kraljic, Gus Kiley and Melissa Lounsbery. We would also like to express our unreserved gratitude to this issue’s contributors for placing their confidence and entrusting their work to our publication. Copyright Bedeutung © 2008 the authors and the photographers ISSN 1756-8153
25 OCTOBER 2008 â€“ 22 MARCH 2009
TICKETS 0870 848 8484 www.royalacademy.org.uk
This exhibition has been organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, with the collaboration of the Benaki Museum, Athens Supported by the J.F. Costopoulos Foundation, the A.G. Leventis Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation
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1FSGVNFCSB[JFSJOUIFGPSNPGBEPNFECVJMEJOH $POTUBOUJOPQMFPS*UBMZ FOEPGUIFUXFMGUIDFOUVSZ4JMWFS QBSUJBMMZHJMEFE FNCPTTFEBOEQFSGPSBUFE TDN#BTJMJDBEJ4BO.BSDP 7FOJDF 5FTPSP JOWOP1IPUPQFSHFOUJMFDPODFTTJPOFEFMMB1SPDVSBUPSJBEJ4BO.BSDP$BNFSBQIPUP"SUF 7FOJDF
Gerhard Richter 4900 Colours: Version II 23 September – 16 November 2008
La Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la création and
10am – 6pm daily 10pm Fridays (until 19 October) Admission free Serpentine Gallery Kensington Gardens London W2 3XA T +44 (0)20 7402 6075 F +44 (0)20 7402 4103 www.serpentinegallery.org
Gerhard Richter, 4900 Colours: Version II (detail) 2007 Enamel paint on Aludibond, 49 panels, each 97 × 97 cm. La Collection de la Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la création © 2008 Gerhard Richter
Galleria Nilufar 20121 Milano, 30|32 via della Spiga, tel. +39 02.780193 fax +39 02.76007657 email@example.com www.nilufar.com
Michael Whittle Dark Ages 10.10.08—08.11.08
131 Kennington Park Rd London SE11 4JJ +44 (0)20 7582 7861 firstname.lastname@example.org www.manandeve.co.uk Open Wednesday — Saturday 12 — 6pm, and at other times by prior appointment
Becky Beasley is an artist based in Antwerp, Belgium. She is represented by Laura Bartlett Gallery, London and Oﬃce Baroque, Antwerp. In 2008 she participated in exhibitions at Kunsthalle Basel and Galleria Civica Modena. Her first monograph, American Letter, was published by Laura Bartlett Gallery in 2007. David Anthony Gerard is Australian by birth and schooling. Since graduating from the University of Oxford with an M.A. in Modern Languages and an M.Phil in Mediaeval Arabic Thought, David Gerard has worked as a career translator for 20 years.He has contributed to the English edition of Kluwer's Encyclopaedia of Laws, as well as a number of published translations of contemporary Russian poetry and prose. John Gray is Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics. He is the acclaimed author of Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, Al Qaeda and What it Means to be Modern and Heresies: Against Progress and Other Illusions. A. C. Grayling is Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London and a Supernumerary Fellow of St. Anne's College, Oxford. He is the author of many books on philosophy and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and in 2003 was a Booker Prize judge. Nicos Mouzelis is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics. His publications include Back to Sociological Theory and Sociological Theory: What Went Wrong?. Lucy Levene received her MA from the Royal College of Art in 2004 and is currently living and working in London. Recent exhibitions include In Our World, New Photography in Britain, Palazzo Santa Margarita, Modena, Italy and Re:Generation: 50 Photographers of Tomorrow, Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland & Aperture Gallery New York, USA. Peter-Pawel Kraljic has been working in the film and advertising industry in London, Berlin and Vienna throughout the last years. He is currently living in London. Warren Neidich is an artist, writer and organizer currently working in Berlin. His art works have been shown internationally at institutions such as the Whitney Museum of Art, PS1 MOMA, The Ludwig Museum, Koln, Los Angeles County Museum and Kunsthaus Zurich. He is currently research fellow at the Center for Cognition, Computation and Culture at Goldsmiths College London. Sarah Wood studied English at Cambridge University and completed a PhD in early American literature at University College London. She held a Leverhulme Research Fellowship at Sussex University in 200405. In addition to writing The Doctress, she is a director of Unruly Media, and lectures in digital media, viral marketing, and the YouTube Revolution at several UK universities.
Human & Divine 11
OLLOWING up on a very fruitful debate that was sparked by the first issue of the magazine, I think I should clarify some points that were generally, and in a programmatic style, made. This obsessive fixation with the idea of commitment that I, personally, and this magazine, in general, attempts to promote has inevitably prompted a number of people to ask the intuitive question: “Commitment. Yes, but commitment to what?” It seems as if commitment as such is an empty statement that can only be qualified if the object of commitment has been succinctly stated and that only then it is possible to start a coherent debate on anything. First, I would like to re-state that ‘commitment as such’ is already an ontological thesis in itself that does not, by any philosophical standard, need any further qualification. Or, to put it more crudely, the position ‘commitment as such’ is not in need of any object of commitment in order to be a concrete thesis – in a similar way that when we claim to be believers (or not), to be telling the truth (or not), to enjoy art (or not), to have faith in the supernatural (or not), there is no obligation to qualify what we believe, what art we enjoy, or what is the supernatural entity we believe in, in order for our statement to make sense. In fact, the object of our commitment is of secondary importance, as it is the product of contingencies. Contingent is also the historical product of ideologies. The real fight nowadays has to be fought on the level before ideologies. Before we ask from people to believe in something, we have to clarify what it means to believe in the first place. This is why we are so keen to return to the same theme of commitment. The point here is to inspire the ontological state of commitment before we start filling this commitment with ideas. Neo-liberalism has not disproved any particular ideology – it has opposed ideology as such and so the fight against liberalism is not a fight against any particular ideology (socialism, capitalism, Christianity) but a fight against ideological abstinence. ‘Commitment as such’ is, thus, the elementary and fundamental step in the battle against neo-liberal vulgarism. The lack of ideological content in the injunction to make assertions, to have a point, to recognise the determinant coordinates of our being is one that would release us, to paraphrase Kant, from the self-incurred sceptical tutelage of post-modernism. As such, this thesis’s place is, precisely in the Editorial, setting the ethical grounding of what follows.
Having now compiled, edited and arranged all the material for the second issue of Bedeutung, the question still persists: have we taken a stance, have we committed to a position, have we made clear what we believe? On the surface, it seems as if we are accommodating an intellectual liberalism that we, ourselves, repudiated most vehemently at previous occasions: not the idea that everyone should have and be provided with the space to express freely what they desire but that expression as such is automatically granted, without any previous qualification. Parenthetically, to refer to a comment made about our previous programmatic statement, which promised a ‘rounded perspective’, the latter we define not as a roundup of all available and semilegitimate positions on any particular topic. In this sense, our position is clear: we will not give voice to any and all opinions on a given issue as we are not news broadcasters; we take sides and we promote them. Rather, what was meant by ‘rounded perspective’ is a discourse that begins from abstract, philosophical principles and gradually moves to debates about everyday political concerns. Our aim is, thus, to engage our readers in concrete ideological struggles but only after we have presented them with the conceptual tools necessary to fight those struggles. To use a familiar example, being critical of environmentalism is a nonsensical, if not an outright ridiculous stance, if it is not invested with at least a minimal bulk of theoretical and philosophical convictions. Even the most crass of political expressions must somehow be justifiable outside the narrow
realms of political opportunism and activism. Principles draw their significance precisely because of their rigidity and resistance to particular circumstances. In this issue, then, our so-called rounded perspective consists of a back-and-forth between semi-radical proponents of two extremes: believers and non-believers. The immediately accessible and, certainly, the popular literature on this debate is disheartening, to say the least. It is a literature fuelled by primitive bedazzlement with rationalism on the one hand –the atheistic trend– and modernized, ideologically distilled and quasi-scientific, but always faith-based, discourse on the other. Both these stances are not only impotent but, also, idiotic. The atheistic literature, leaning against a pillar of knowledge that has managed to send rockets to the moon, either exclaims how primitive belief in God and angels is by attempting to prove their non-existence, a conclusion at which it arrives using inductive reasoning –in other words, the most inappropriate of tools– or it focuses on the negative effects that faith has had throughout the course of history. On the other side of this ring stand the modern believers who try to combine a clearly antiquated system of making sense of the world with undeniable scientific evidence that are, nonetheless, fundamentally contradictory to their belief. This program produces grotesque examples of hybrid theorising, such as Creationism and Intelligent Design. Incidentally, here we are witnessing one of the neatest examples of intellectual prostitution ever performed: Christianity, instead of continuing, even against scientific evidence, to propagate its traditional teachings –a thoroughly stubborn but, at least, intellectually honest position– tries to appropriate elements from its own enemy in a remarkable attempt to be in tune with modernity producing, as a result, a travesty that is, probably, even more condemnable than a profoundly unscientific stubborn fixation. This offers itself as an eloquent example of our definition of commitment – specifically, of lack of it. Between the two strands, it is hard to decide which one is worst and it is, in fact, even harder to decide by which criteria one would begin this assessment. One thing, however, that stands out is that both positions are often expressed with the vehemence, hysteria and fanaticism typically found in shaky and uncertain of itself thought. No position that feels confident about itself would need to be expressed in the revelatory and preaching fashion found in both militant atheism and religious indoctrination. As a comment to the confidence remark, it is always amusing to have a personal or literary encounter with those most calm, self-assured and hushed of voices of what could leniently be described as new-age scavengers, namely people that are, on the one hand disillusioned by organized religions and, on the other, unable to deal with the cruelty of capitalism, the banality of consumerism and the contingency and, at the final analysis, baseness of human existence that they have to resort to a ransacking of cultures and faiths, Eastern, Western and beyond, to create an imaginary universe, to which they try to attune themselves by burning incenses. These ersatz philosophies or world views that can be swiftly described by the term ‘spiritual tourism’ are, indeed, interesting mutations or, rather, cross-fertilizations of a number of elements: postmodern ethics, capitalistic behaviours and quasi-metaphysical concerns; their external serenity only serves to conceal a deeply violent, antisocial and self-serving mentality. Bedeutung’s issue on the Human & Divine endeavours to put the two opposed positions, namely faith and reason, religion and secularism in a debate with each other, not in order to announce a winner at the end but to declare what should have been evident from the beginning: that this opposition is irresolvable for the simple reason that the two sides are, in fact, two sides of the same coin. What we hope will emerge at the end of this debate is that there is nothing incommensurable in this apparent opposition simply because, like many others, it isn’t one.
Human & Divine 13
Rowan Williams photographed by ÂŠ Eleanor Bentall
RELIGIOUS FAITH AND HUMAN RIGHTS Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury
WENTY-SEVEN years ago, Alasdair MacIntyre in his seminal work on the foundations of moral discourse, After Virtue, declared that human rights did not exist. ‘Rights which are alleged to belong to human beings as such and which are cited as a reason for holding that people ought not to be interfered with in their pursuit of life, liberty and happiness’ are a fiction: ‘there are’, he says, ‘no such rights, and belief in them is one with belief in witches and in unicorns’ (pp.66-7). The language of rights emerges, MacIntyre argues, at a time when people need a fresh moral compass in the wake of the dissolution of much traditional morality; like the concept of ‘utility’, which is another characteristic notion developed in the modern period as a touchstone for moral decision, the idea of ‘rights’ is meant to act as a trump in moral argument. The trouble is, MacIntyre argues, that rights and utility don’t get along very well together in argument: one is essentially about the claims of the individual, the other about the priorities of administration. The result is the familiar modern standoff between the individual and the bureaucratic state. The state is both the guarantor of rights–more clearly than ever with the emergence of the ‘market state’ in which the most important reason for recognizing the legitimacy of a state is its ability to maximize your choices, as Philip Bobbitt has demonstrated–and the authority that claims the right to assess and on occasion overrule individual liberties. Hence the tension between the state and civil society which has been so explosive a theme in twentieth century politics. The lack of mediating concepts to deal with this tension was identified by Hannah Arendt, echoed more recently by Gillian Rose, as one of the roots of totalitarianism. But Rose notes also the same problem identified by MacIntyre, the way in which the standoff between rights and utility leaves the path open to an exclusively managerial account of political life, in which ‘expertise’ about process is allowed to short-circuit proper discussions of corporate human goals. MacIntyre’s point is not, therefore, to deny the reality of human rights in the name of some kind of absolutism;
quite the contrary. He is anxious that the language of rights and the language of utility are, as typically used in the modern world, no more than assertion - stopgap notions to avoid complete relativism in public morality. This is one of the undoubted complexities in contemporary discussion of rights. On the one hand, ‘human rights’ is habitually used as a discussionstopper, as the way in which we speak about aspects of social morality that are not up for negotiation or compromise. ‘Human rights abuses’ are widely seen
have also voiced some unease about a scheme of ideas that places claims ahead of duties or even dignity. But I do not believe that this supposed tension is as serious as it is made out to be – so long, that is, as there is some recognition that rights have to be more than pure assertion or, as some would now have it, necessary fictions to secure a maximal degree of social harmony. As Roger Ruston has argued in a very important
[...] the idea of irreducible or non-negotiable liberties for human beings has a strong theological basis in medieval thought. Paradoxically, it is in part the result of Christianity's confused and uneasy relationship with the institution of slavery. as the most damaging weaknesses in a state’s claim to legitimacy, and in extreme cases may be used as part of an argument for direct intervention by other states. On the other hand, what is often discussed in connection with both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the specifics of current human rights legislation is in fact a hybrid mass of claims to be decided by the state through its legislative apparatus; it is a quintessentially bureaucratic or managerial business, weighing various supposed entitlements against each other. If we speak without qualification of the right to life, the right to a fair trial, the right to raise a family and the right to a paid holiday under exactly the same rubric, it is very hard to see how this language can plausibly be understood as dealing with moral foundations. Fundamental issues blend with reasonable contractual expectations in a confusing way, and the idea of a list of entitlements dropped, as it were, into the cradle of each individual is deeply vulnerable to the charge of arbitrariness. MacIntyre’s scepticism is well-placed. But if we are to salvage something from this, what do we need? Salvaging is important, if only for the reason that, if the language of rights is indeed the only generally intelligible way in modern political ethics of decisively challenging the positive authority of the state to do what it pleases, the only way of expressing how the state is itself under law, then this language needs to be as robust as it can be. In these remarks, I want to propose two ways in which a particular religious tradition may offer resources for grounding the discourse. There is now an abundant literature on religion and human rights, and a certain feeling in some quarters that there is a tension between rights and religious belief. It has been a good deal discussed in the context of Muslim critiques of the Universal Declaration, but Christian theologians 18 Bedeutung
study of the development of rights language (Human Rights and the Image of God, 2004), the idea of irreducible or non-negotiable liberties for human beings has a strong theological basis in mediaeval thought. Paradoxically, it is in part the result of Christianity’s confused and uneasy relationship with the institution of slavery. As is often pointed out, slavery as such is not condemned in Scripture, and is taken for granted – with varying degrees of regret – as an unavoidable social institution by most if not all Christian thinkers of the first millennium and a half of Christian history. However, from the first, the Christian community included both slaves and slaveowners; the Letter to the Ephesians in the New Testament touches briefly on their relationship (6.5-9), as does the First Letter of Peter (2.13-25). The slave must give service as if freely to the Christian slaveowner, not as a response to compulsion, and being willing to serve the harsh master as willingly as the kind one; and the slaveowner must remember that s/he and the slave are alike bound in ‘slavery’ to one master. This last point relates to a passing remark made by St Paul in Romans 14.4 about refraining from judging another believer: you are not entitled to assess the satisfactoriness of the behaviour of someone else’s slave. The point is that the slaveowner’s relationship to the slave is severely complicated by the baptismal relationship. The slave is no longer simply the property of the master or mistress, but ‘belongs’ to the one divine Master and is ultimately answerable to him, in exactly the same way as is the Christian slaveowner. As the Christian community develops and reflection about these issues continues, some implications are tentatively spelled out. In a world in which the slaveowner had powers of life and death over the slave, the Church determines that it is sinful to kill a slave (though the penitential tariff for this doesn’t seem
appropriately high to a modern reader). In a context where the slaveowner was assumed to have unlimited sexual access to slaves, sex with a slave is treated on the same basis as any other sexual misdemeanour; and marriage between a slave and a free person is recognised by the Church. Stoic writers like Seneca had made it a commonplace that the master had no power over the mind of the slave; but no philosopher attempts to limit what ownership of the body might entail. The Christian attempt to think through the implications of slave and slaveowner as equal members of the same community inevitably qualified what could be said about absolute ownership, and offered minimal but real protection to the body of the slave. So it is not surprising that Thomas Aquinas, discussing the limits of obedience to earthly masters or sovereigns (IIaIIae 104.5), say explicitly that while ‘a human being is bound to obey another in matters external to the body, in those things that affect the nature of the body, no one is bound to obey another human being, but to obey God alone – for instance, in matters to do with the body’s sustenance or the begetting of children.’ A slave cannot be commanded – for example – to starve to death; nor can he or she be prohibited from deciding on marriage or celibacy. The principle that has been established is that the human body cannot in the Christian scheme of things be regarded as an item of property. It is not just that I have an ‘ownership’ of my body that is not transferable, though some moralists (including a few recent Christian writers) have tried to argue something like this; it is rather that the whole idea of ownership is inappropriate. I may talk about ‘my body’ in a phrase that parallels ‘my house’ or ‘my car’, but it should be obvious that there is a radical difference. I can’t change it for another, I can’t acquire more than one of it, I cannot survive the loss of it. The body – and this is where Aquinas and the tradition associated with him significantly refuses to accept a separation of ‘soul’ and ‘body’ as entities existing side by side – is the organ of the soul’s meaning: it is the medium in which the conscious subject communicates, and there is no communication without it. To protect the body, to love the body, is to seek to sustain the means of communication which secure a place within human discourse. And so a claim to control the body absolutely, to the point where you could be commanded to deny your body what is needed for its life, would be a refusal to allow another to communicate, to make sense of themselves. The ultimate form of slavery would be a situation in which your body was made to carry the meanings or messages of another subject and never permitted to say in word or gesture what was distinctive for itself as the embodiment of a sense-making consciousness. My own relation to my body is not that of an owner to an object; and to recognise another material thing
as a human body is to recognise that it is not reducible in this way to an object among others. In that it is a means of communication, it cannot be simply instrumental to another’s will or purpose. It is significant that Aquinas uses the examples he does. The nurture of the body is, for humans, more than an instinctive business; it requires thought and a measure of liberty. And the sexual involvement or noninvolvement of the body is a primary locus for the making of sense; denial of this liberty is the denial of something absolutely fundamental (which is why sexual abuse is indeed a prime instance of rights being violated, the body becoming an instrument for someone else’s ‘meanings’, a tool for the construction of another person’s sense-making. The recognition of a body as a human body is, in this framework, the foundation of recognising the rights of another; and to recognise a body as a human body is to recognise that it is a vehicle of communication. It is not a recondite point. The state of mind in which someone is unable to grasp that another’s body is a site of feeling and so of consciousness and so of communication is routinely regarded as seriously distorted, whether we are talking of the difficulties of the extreme end of the autism spectrum or of the plainly psychotic. Our ordinary human interchange simply and straightforwardly depends upon understanding any apparently human body we encounter as in some sense a potential communicator with me. And when in the past people have sought to justify slavery or other forms of institutionalised dehumanising, it has been necessary to restrict, often expensively and dramatically, their opportunity to communicate and to belittle their ability to do so. In George Steiner’s extraordinary story ‘The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H.’, in which a group of Jewish agents have been given the task of kidnapping an aged Hitler from his South American hideaway, they are strictly instructed not to allow him to speak to them, because that will force them to see him as a human like themselves. One advantage of putting the issue in these terms is that it takes us away from the more unhelpful aspects of those rights theories that stress the grounding of rights in human dignity but then associate human dignity with a particular set of capacities. The danger of these is that, by trying to identify a list of essential capacities, it becomes possible to identify criteria according to which full claims to human rights may be granted or withheld. The right of the imperfectly rational person – whether the child or the person with mental disabilities – may be put in question if we stipulate a capacity for reasoned self-consciousness as a condition for acknowledging rights. And to speak of the right of the body as such casts a different light on the sensitive issue of the right of the unborn; the unanswerable question of when embryonic material becomes a ‘person’, let alone when it acquires a soul, still assumes a basic dualism about the body and its inhabitant or proprietor – where the way in which Philosophy 19
we ought to framing the question is in terms of what counts as bodily continuity and what can be said about the ‘communicative’ dimension of the organic life of the unborn, how even the foetus requires to be seen and understood as expressing something to us in its character as an individual human organism. But that is a complex set of arguments, and my aim for now is simply to establish that recognising the human body as a human body, that is as a system of communication, by no means exclusively rational, let alone verbal, is fundamental for understanding why we should want to speak of rights at all, of equal liberties that are rooted in the liberty to ‘make sense’, that is to engage in communication. As I have said, it is in one way only to spell out the act of faith we make every time we engage in human communication at all. Yet behind that routine act lies something else, given that many human societies have in practice assumed that some human bodies are not worth communicating with or receiving communication from. Hence the point of excavating the theological insights that have moved us irreversibly in the direction that leads towards universal doctrines of right. Grasping that the body cannot be an item of property is one of the things that is established by the Christian doctrine of communion in Christ and shared obedience to Christ. The doctrine affirms that the body of every other individual is related to its maker and saviour before it is related to any human system of power. This in turn implies that there is a level of human identity or selfhood that cannot be taken over by any other person’s will – a level of human identity both bodily and subjective or interior. And this belongs with the recognition that the body speaks, that it is the way I make myself present to myself and to others. This holds true even for the most inarticulate, or those whose communications are hardest to decode: to put it as vividly as I can, they still have faces. Over against those who want to locate human dignity in the distinctive structure of the human self, a position which still skirts the risks of setting conditions for dignity, I want to propose that the character of the body as the vehicle of language is what is basic here. Michael Zuckert, in a careful and interesting essay on ‘Human Dignity and the Basis of Justice’ (The Hedgehog Review 9.3, special issue on Human Dignity and Justice, Fall 2007, pp.32-48) makes a strong case for beginning from the character of the self as a mental structure allowing human beings to understand themselves as agents with an identity that continues through time and a capacity for envisaging future situations as resulting from present decisions. This is surely what is most irreducibly unique about us, and thus what grounds a universal moral code. But I believe he weakens his case by speaking of the self – following Locke - as proprietor of its experiences (‘The relation of the rights-bearer to 20 Bedeutung
his property is remarkably parallel to his relation to his self’, p.47). The embodied self as communicator, I suggest, is more than the self-conscious organiser of experience into patterns of continuity through time, past and future; it can survive the absence of this sort of self-awareness without forfeiting its claim to be treated as possessed of equal liberty in the basic sense defined earlier. Given the much-chronicled history of the abuse, psychological, physical and sexual, of the mentally challenged, of small children or sufferers from dementia, it is crucial to clarify our grounds for regarding them as protected from being made the carriers of the desires and purposes of others; if we begin from the recognition of them as embodied in the same sense that we are, we have such a clear foundation, in a way that I am not sure we can have even on so sophisticated a version of capacity-theory as Zuckert’s. If this is correct, the irreducible core of human rights is the liberty to make sense as a bodily subject; which means that the inviolability of the body itself is where we should start in thinking about rights. ‘Man is “created equal”’, wrote the poet and artist David Jones in the early forties, ‘in the sense that all men belong to a form-creating group of creatures – and all men have unalienable rights with respect to that equal birthright’ (Epoch and Artist, p.90); and that form-creating character is anchored most simply and primitively in the character of what we mean by the very notion of a body (as opposed to an object). It is true, of course, that while the sort of Christian thinking represented by Thomas Aquinas laid the foundations for this, it still accepted extreme physical punishment, including death, for transgression, and of course did not understand the necessary freedom to determine the pattern of one’s sexual life as a charter for everyone to shape their own destinies irrespective of the Church’s teaching. The implications of Aquinas’s view still allow the state to say that it will limit the bodily freedom of some of its citizens when that freedom threatens the freedom of others – though, centuries on from Aquinas, we have taken on board more fully the need for punishment both to respect the essential physical dignity of the punished, and to be capable of rational communication to the punished. The basic concept of right with which Aquinas works itself puts in question capital punishment or humiliating and damaging physical penalties. It is what grounds the modern refusal of legitimacy to torture, degrading or humiliating punishment or even indefinite detention without charge; significant markers in the age of Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, and at least a significant part of the argument about the time limits for detention now being discussed in our own legislature. Likewise, this view allows the Church to say that there is a limit on morally acceptable options for sexual life; although we would not now understand this as licensing a restriction by law on the decisions people may make
in this area. We are free to make bad or inadequate sense of our bodily lives, and the legal restriction of this, beyond the obvious protections of the vulnerable, would have to be seen as outside the powers of rulers. If the state legislates against sexual violence and abuse, as it must, it is because of the recognition that this is an area in which the liberty to make sense of or with one’s own body is most often put at risk by predatory behaviour on the part of others. So: equal liberty is at root inseparable from the equality of being embodied. Rights belong not to the person who can demonstrate capacity or rationality but to any organism that can be recognised as a human body, at any stage of its organic development. If the body cannot be property, it will always be carrying meanings or messages that are inalienably its own. And this opens up the second area in which aspects of Christian theology offer a foundation for a discourse of universal rights. Thus far, the emphasis has been upon the view from within, as it were – the body as carrier of the soul’s meaning, the body as ‘formed’, given intelligible shape, by the continuing self called into being by God. But the process by which the body realises its communicative nature, by which it becomes concretely and actively a locus of meaning is a process in which the body receives and digests communication. The individual communicates meaningfully when s/he is decoding and responding to the meanings that are present to him or her; the full development of the particular body’s freedom to communicate is realised in the process of understanding and managing and responding to the communications that are being received. The human other is thus essential to my own growth as a communicative being, a bearer of meaningful messages that cannot be silenced; my own liberty not to be silenced, not to have my body reduced to someone else’s instrument, is nourished by the equal liberty of the other not to be silenced. And, in the framework we have been using, this is identified as the central feature of the community created by the Christian gospel. Slave and owner are not merely bound to a common divine Master, they are bound in a relation of mutuality according to which each becomes the bearer of necessary gifts to the other. Therelation of each to the Master is such that each is given some unique contribution to the common life, so that no one member of the community is able fully to realise their calling and their possibilities without every other. Not killing or not abusing the slave is for the slaveowner the necessary implication of recognising that the slave is going to be his or her benefactor in ways that may never be visible or obvious but are nonetheless vital. The dignity accorded to the human other is not, then, a recognition that they may be better than they seem, but simply a recognition that what they have to say (welcome or unwelcome, intelligible or unin-
telligible, convergent or divergent) could in certain circumstances be the gift of God. Not every human other is a fellow-member of the Body of Christ in the biblical sense; but the universal command to preach the gospel to all prohibits any conclusion that this or that person is incapable of ever hearing and answering God’s invitation, and therefore mandates an attitude of receptivity towards them. Not silencing the other or forcing their communication into your own agenda is part of remaining open to the communication of God – which may come even through the human other who is most repellent or opaque to sympathy. The recognition of a dignity that grounds the right to be heard is the recognition of my own need to receive as fully as I can what is being communicated to me by another being made by God. It compels that stepping back from control or manipulation of the other which we so often seek for our security, so as to hear what we cannot generate for ourselves. And it should be clear, incidentally, that this is an argument that also grounds whatever we might want to say about the ‘right’ of the non-human world to have an integrity not wholly at the mercy of human planning. To found human rights on the body’s liberty to express its own message and the need for all embodied human beings to receive each other’s meaningful communication in order for them to be who and what they are removes from the argument those elements of conditionality which can creep in if we speak too glibly about capacities, whether rational or moral. Nicholas Wolterstorff, in the special issue of The Hedgehog Review already quoted, notes the way in which some other contributors insist that the discourse of human rights and dignity expresses simply ‘an explication of what it is to treat humans as humans’; but he very reasonably goes on to ask why in particular circumstances I should treat this human being as a human being, if, for example, I conclude that s/he is a poor or inadequate specimen of humanity. If the appeal to treating humans as humans is not to be purely assertive or tautologous, we need more (68-9). Something related to language about the image of God seems called for – but we need also to be aware that this language can’t just be ‘mentioned’ as if it instantly provided a clear rationale for rights as we understand them (65). My purpose in these reflections has been to suggest precisely what might be involved in doing more than ‘mentioning’ the biblical themes. Is this, then, to argue that we simply cannot talk about human rights intelligibly if we do not have a religious or even a Christian foundation for doing so? Given that there is already more than one essay in grounding human rights in traditions other than Christianity (Abdulaziz Sachedina’s work is a case in point, as seen in his contribution to the Hedgehog symposium quoted), it may be rash to make excessive claims for Philosophy 21
My own relation to my body is not that of an owner to an object; and to recognise another material thing as a human body is to recognise that it is not reducible in this way to an object amongst others. [...] Grasping that the body cannot be an item of property is one of the things that is established by the Christian doctrine of communion in Christ and shared obedience to Christ. [...] This is turn implies that there is a level of human identity or selfhood that cannot be taken over by any other person's will.
This article is an edited version of a speech made by the Archbishop at the London School of Economics on the 1st May 2008. Reproduced by kind permission of Lambeth Palace.
pp. 22-23: Hermann Nitsch Sch端ttbild 1990 200 x 300 cm
Christianity here. But the fact is that the question of foundations for the discourse of non-negotiable rights is not one that lends itself to simple resolution in secular terms; so it is not at all odd if diverse ways of framing this question in religious terms flourish so persistently. The uncomfortable truth is that a purely secular account of human rights is always going to be problematic if it attempts to establish the language of rights as a supreme and non-contestable governing concept in ethics. MacIntyre’s argument, with which we began, alerts us to the anxiety and the tension that is hidden within the classical Enlightenment discourse of rights, the sense of having to manage the effects of a moral bereavement; and the development of that discourse in the ways we have witnessed in the late twentieth century does little to diminish the anxiety or resolve the tension. The question of whether there is anything at all that is quite strictly non-negotiable about human dignity – whether, for example, we might be permitted to revisit the consensus about torture when faced with the ‘captured terrorist and ticking bomb’ scenario beloved of some political ethicists – is not academic. Our instinct seems to be that something has to be secured over against the claims of raison d’état in the name of a human ‘form of life’ beyond choice and convenience. Sabina Lovibond, in her brilliant essay on Realism and Imagination in Ethics (1983) has some pertinent reflections on Wittgenstein’s remark that ‘justification comes to an end’ – i.e. that there comes a point where we have to stop arguing and accept that we have reached a level that is recognised as basic for any kind of human thinking. ‘Justification’, producing reasons for doing this rather than that, comes to an end, she argues, ‘not because we get bored with it, but because rational discourse unfolds within a setting not chosen by ourselves’ – a setting which she, with both Wittgenstein and Hegel, associates with the fact of embodiment (215). When we grasp that our embodied state is the condition of everything else we might want to say about thinking in general and ethics in particular, we have arrived at the point where it no longer makes sense to ask for ‘justification’. To speak of non-negotiable rights is to attempt some explication of this ‘not chosen’ dimension of our reality. And to be able to assess or even prioritise the wildly varied entitlements that are currently called ‘rights’ means developing some means of seeing how far – in a specific social context – this or that claimed entitlement reflects what is required for participation in the human ‘form of life’ as such; how far it is inseparable from the imperative to allow the body the liberty to say what it means to say. We may, for instance, feel instinctively that the right to a paid vacation belongs to a different order from the right to fair trial; yet in certain economic conditions, guaranteed freedom for leisure is an intelligible aspect of possessing adequate bodily/communicative liberty.
The idea of a pattern of embodied interaction in which every body, literally, is equipped to ‘say’ what it has it in it to say, in intelligible exchange (which means more than a chorus of individual self-expressions) – this is, for Lovibond, the heart of an ethic that can seriously claim universality and objectivity, ‘realism’. I would only add that, while this is an absolutely accurate account of the formal shape of a universal ethic – and thus one that can do justice to the language of inalienable right – it still leaves some unfinished business. I have interpreted the New Testament texts about slavery so as to suggest that the recognition that it is impossible to own a human body is rooted not only in the recognition of how the body works as a communicative organism but in the conviction that the bare fact of embodied reality ‘encodes’ a gift to be offered by each to all, a primitive communication by the creator; the inviolability of the body is ultimately grounded in the prior relation of each embodied subject to God. And, as I have hinted here (and developed further elsewhere), this has some application for the rest of the material order as well. Political and legal philosophy is unlikely to arrive at complete convergence with theology in any imaginable future; but the way in which a theology may propose a frame for political and legal questions is not the less important for that. The theological perspective as I have tried to outline it here is – at least – a way of insisting that we should not pretend that the discourse of universal ethics and inalienable right has a firmer foundation than it actually has. If the Enlightenment has left us in some measure bereaved, it is important to accept that, and to ask what are the most secure foundations that can still be laid for our universalist aspirations. We should beware of looking for easy refuge in bare assertion or brisk functionalism about rights: but it is also important to grasp that universalism itself is not a simple and self-evident idea and that there are various ways of conceiving it outside the strict Enlightenment framework. Among those ways will be the various religious modes of imagining universal destiny or equal human dignity. These, I suggest, need to be engaged with, rather than dismissed as irrational or regressive. It may be that the most important service that can be offered by religious commitment where human rights are concerned is to prevent any overlooking of the issue of how to establish a ‘non-negotiable’ foundation for the whole discourse. As in other areas of political or social thinking, theology is one of those elements that continue to pose questions about the legitimacy of what is said and done in society, about the foundations of law itself. The secularist may not have an answer and may not be convinced that the religious believer has an answer that can be generally accepted; but our discussion of social and political ethics will be a great deal poorer if we cannot acknowledge the force of the question. Philosophy 23
A Response to Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury Some (broadly) Wittgensteinian Comments on Human Rights Thomas Presskorn
HE Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has presented his thoughts on human rights and Christianity in a lucid style of writing and, more importantly, using a clear and sensibly pragmatic style of reasoning. As such, his essay is an example for other theologians to follow when they engage in public and political debate. Dr. Williams deserves credit for correcting the view that Christianity necessarily entails a dualistic conception of bodily existence. Partly due to the misguided efforts of some Christian moralists, it is tempting to connect the Christian heritage to the dualistic conception of bodily existence stemming from Plato’s Phaedrus. According to Phaedrus¹, the human soul or psyche is an eternal substance, its proper mode is contemplative, and its contingent connection to the body is in all kinds of ways a misfortune, to be rectified by death. As is well known, Cartesianism provided a decisive philosophical formulation of dualism, and in many ways it continues to haunt modern thought—especially in the guise of various forms of mysticism or philosophical obscurantism. We should oppose this dualist tradition, as Dr. Williams rightly does, with the teachings of Aquinas, whatever we can derive from an analysis of the Biblical tradition and the writings of the later Ludwig Wittgenstein. However, what I do want to criticise is the way in which Dr. Williams connects ‘bodily existence’ with the notion of non-negotiable or universal rights. I will do so from a broadly Wittgensteinian perspective—an approach which has the merit of providing an ‘immanent critique’ of Dr. Williams’s straightforwardly Wittgensteinian viewpoints.
The inferential leap from ‘Bodily Existence’ to ‘Universal Human Rights’ Dr. Williams recognises that the discourse of universal human rights faces serious philosophical challenges and makes an approving reference to Alisdair MacIntyre’s argument: the language of rights is the only tool that the individual has to challenge the supremacy and bureaucracy of the state—and, as such, it is inherently embedded in any political struggle; however, to recognise something as a mere tool of political struggle is to deprive it of its claims to universality. This flatly contradicts the universality of human rights. Dr. Williams, however, applies the following line of argument to (re)establish their universality: a necessary and universal fact about humans is their embodiment. This embodiment brings with it certain imperatives: to respect the fact that others are 26 Bedeutung
similarly embodied, to respect this embodiment as a site of meaning and, ultimately, to attribute universal rights to these beings. The very fact that we are embodied is supposed to imply that a certain practice of political language—the language of human rights—is justified. While I see no reason to doubt this premise, there is good reason to be sceptical about the inference: why would a specific view on bodily existence necessitate any particular political discourse? Let’s look at the premise: ‘[m]y own relation to my body is not that of an owner to an object; and to recognise another material thing as a human body is to recognise that it is not reducible in this way to an object among others’ . It is not just that my body is absolutely mine in a sense that contrasts with ‘my car’ or ‘my shoes’—rather, it is that the whole idea of ownership is inappropriate. Rather than owning a body, I am embodied. This makes a strict dualism between soul and body à la Descartes untenable. My soul is not a ‘speaking and thinking thing’ that exists alongside my body as Descartes would have it—rather, the body is inherently the vehicle of my soul and thought. My soul is fully expressed in my body; the body is the inherent vehicle of my soul’s communication. The body is the site of meaning. At least from a Christian-Wittgensteinian perspective, we must concur with the validity of this point regarding bodily existence. But what sort of political content does this idea carry? How is this idea supposed to determine, in any way, the way we perceive human rights? Vague political or ethical content is not enough—Dr. Williams is aiming much higher; he is aiming for a ‘grounding of the discourse’ of rights and to show that ‘rights have to be more than pure assertion or […] necessary fictions to secure a maximal degree of social harmony’. Here, we ought to ask ourselves: how could anything as complex and politically heated as universal political rights follow from a thesis about how we are embodied? It’s a basic flaw of Dr. Williams’s essay that he provides no answer to this question, which makes his argument seem like speculative philosophy at its worst. It is as if the philosopher discovers a hitherto overlooked, yet necessary, fact about humans, and then concludes that certain political measures must be implemented. The basic weakness of such a speculative line of reasoning is that it ignores the inherent friction between necessary facts and historical phenomena: necessary facts are supposedly eternal or timeless, while the emergence of the discourse of universal human rights is a concrete historical phenomenon peaking in 1948 with The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What we need here is, in general, an account of how the ahistorical and universal relates to the
historical and particular. What we can require, in specific, is at least a sketch of their relation in the special case of human rights—a sketch that Dr. Williams significantly omits. More important than these omissions is the fact that Dr. Williams’s argument is at odds with a very well founded distinction within philosophy: namely, the fact/value-distinction. This distinction, in its most fundamentally Humean form, states that ought cannot be derived from is. We cannot derive from the fact that such-and-such is the case that such-and-such ought to be the case. We cannot move from the fact that taxes are in fact high to the political imperative that they ought to be lower. And Dr. Williams does, indeed, make an inference of the same form: we are in fact embodied in a particular way and, hence, we ought to respect the universality of human rights. The fact/value distinction relies on the assumption that factual and moral claims are justified in radically different ways. It has, however, become fashionable to deny this assumption and the ‘moral realism’ which results from such a denial has become increasingly tenable, as is seen in the works of John McDowell in analytical philosophy and Raymond Boudon in contemporary continental philosophy². Denying the fact/value distinction does not, however, answer the question as to how any inference about human rights can be made from the fact of human embodiment. In the more liberal terms that Wittgenstein employs, which do not respect a rigid fact/value-distinction, we are still left with the question of how the norms surrounding talk about our bodies can imply anything about how we ought to talk about rights. Both are entirely different language games—why should the norms of one language-game affect those of an entirely separate discursive practice? It is important to note that Dr. Williams is indeed urging us to make a change. In our current discursive practices, it is not obviously nonsense to deny that a person has rights in the same sense that it is nonsense to deny that a person is embodied. To say that “Dr. Williams went for a walk, but unfortunately he had no body” is nonsense. This concatenation of personal pronouns or personal names and the terms designating their bodies has no ordinary use and is in violation of the very meaning of its constituent terms. Conversely, it is seems perfectly sensible to say: “Dr. Williams wants a fair trial, but unfortunately he has no rights”. Such a concatenation of personal pronouns or personal names and the concept of a right has a use. Indeed, its use is widespread: for example in identifying the cases in which the standards of the Western justice system have not been meet. We may disagree with the fact that such-and-such Philosophy 27
person possess no rights in such-and-such situations, but it is not nonsensical to assert that suchand-such person has no rights in such-and-such a situation. Our expressed disagreement with situations in which persons are not treated with dignity and as possessing rights is very real, but it doesn’t seem to be a necessary fact; rather it seems to be the shibboleth of a certain political stance. In summary, Dr. Williams’ essay does not answer the puzzles related to the friction between the universally necessary and historically particular, the fact/value-distinction to the supposed connection between two heterogenous discourses, nor does he even mention the problems involved in making the inferences that he does. This is a serious flaw.
Justification, form of life and nonnegotiable rights I’ve been asking for a justification of the connection between ‘bodily existence’ and ‘human rights’ made by Dr, Williams. However, Dr. Williams seems to think that part of his argument is ‘beyond justification’. And, in doing so, he employs the Wittgensteinian dictum that ‘justification comes to an end somewhere’. Turning to a more exegetical vein, I would like to show how this is a highly misleading reading of Wittgenstein. In a significant passage, which partially quotes Sabina Lovibond’s interpretation of Wittgenstein, Dr. Williams writes that: ‘‘Justification’, producing reasons for doing this rather than that, comes to an end, she argues, ‘not because we get bored with it, but because rational discourse unfolds within a setting not chosen by ourselves’—a setting which she, with both Wittgenstein and Hegel, associates with the fact of embodiment.’ This setting, ‘not chosen by us’, is what Wittgenstein called a ‘form of life’. Forms of life are connected with justification, since ‘forms of life’ have to be treated as given. And Dr. Williams further states: ‘To speak of non-negotiable rights is to attempt some explication of this ‘not chosen’ dimension of our reality.’ Dr. Williams’s argument is, as always, clear: talk of non-negotiable rights is an attempt at bringing out a fundamental feature of being human and being embodied, a feature that stands in no need of justification, since it is an integral part of human form of life. This human form of life contains ‘the imperative to allow the body the liberty to say what it means to say’. The problem with this argument is that it blatantly misuses Wittgenstein’s concepts: it utilises the features of these concepts that propel Dr. Williams’s argument —the ‘no-need-for-justification’ and the ‘basically-human’ features —and illegitimately attaches talk of rights to these concepts. Importing 28 Bedeutung
content pertaining to non-negotiable rights into these Wittgensteinian themes is, quite simply, in error. Traditional and, indeed, a good bulk of modern philosophy conceived of justification in terms of reference to other statements and, ultimately, to a set of basic axioms, principles or universals. Wittgenstein’s account differs in giving a pragmatic feature to the theme of justification - namely, in connecting it to action. Wittgenstein was fond of quoting Goethe’s reversal of the Gospel—“In the Beginning was the Deed”³—and in a famous key passage of the Philosophical Investigations he states: “If I have exhausted the justifications I have reached bedrock, and my spade is turned. Then I am inclined to say: “This is simply what I do””4. We might wonder how ‘this is simply what I do’ constitutes a justification. Indeed, in what sense actions or activities can justify seemingly different things such as statements or forms of language? Is it not precisely part of Wittgenstein’s aim to give up the philosophical fetish for justification?5 In any case, the Wittgensteinian theme of (non) justification is not, as stated by Dr. Williams in the quoted passage, connected with the theme of embodiment but rather with a general notion of activity. The fact that we are embodied in the ‘no-ownership’ way, as correctly characterized by Dr. Williams, is part of what we may call our ‘form of life’. But the notion of a form of life is much broader than that and yet it doesn’t contain anything like the political notions implied by Dr. Williams: ‘the imperative to allow the body the liberty to say what it means to say’ [emphasis mine]. With regards to a ‘form of life’, Wittgenstein’s emphasis is again on activities: a ‘form of life’ is a bundle of activities. It is, as Wittgenstein suggests in Zettel, “the whole hurly-burly of human action”6. Or, as he more precisely states in Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, the notion of a form of life contains “the fact that we act in such-and-such ways, e.g. punish certain actions, establish the state of affairs thus-and-so, give orders, report, describe colours, take interest in the feelings of others.”7 Like Wittgenstein, Dr. Williams also points out that taking an interest in the feelings of others, broadly conceived, seems like something fundamentally human—indeed, such relations to other embodied humans is the basic premise of Dr. Williams’s argument. And surely it might be hard, if not downright unintelligible, to imagine a world in which we don’t take interest of some kind in, say, the severe physical pains of others. There are, however, good reasons not to connect non-negotiable or universal rights with the notion of a form of life.
Firstly, the notion of a form of life does not have a transcendental status. A form of life is not a fixed condition that imposes demands on our actions or cognitions in a universal and transcendental fashion similar to Kant’s. Quite the opposite—the notion is meant to detranscendentalise such conditions by showing their relativity to a fluid human practice, which is subject to change. Secondly, although a form of life includes very natural activities such as walking, eating, drinking, playing, the notion is not meant to capture conditions that are universally applicable to a human being qua a specific biological species. Rather, the bulk of activities that are included in a form of life are cultural; they are forms of social interaction. Hence, the form of life changes when a culture evolves or when social interaction takes on a new form. Thirdly, the notion of a ‘form of life’ is to be inflected in the plural: there is no the form of life, but several different forms of life. It is a recurrent theme in the later writings of Wittgenstein to imagine tribes and cultures with radically different ways of evaluating inferences and actions.8 That is, the notion is not meant to point out human traits which are cross-culturally invariant. Fourthly, a form of life is not something that forces us to engage in a specific form of language. There is no necessity about engaging in a specific language game—either we engage a language game or we don’t; either a community of speakers describe colours or they don’t. A form of life is a setting for our language, the setting in which our language acquires significance, not something that forces us to take on a specific form of language. It is by now clear that if the notion of a ‘form of life’ is not transcendental, not universally speciesspecific, culturally variant and does not force us to adopt a specific form of language, then Dr. Williams’s connection between this ‘form of life’ and non-negotiable and universal rights is highly inappropriate and misleading. The idea that there is a sort of basic and universal ‘setting’, which can make us take on a particular form of language—the language of rights in this case—is utterly wrong. In fact, I hope to imply a more substantial point. Namely, that if the Wittgensteinian notion of a ‘form of life’ and its constitutive and grounding nature is to be accepted, then the notion of non-negotiable and universal rights is suspicious tout court. If what has to be accepted as given for language to function at all—i.e. forms of life— does not display the feature of being universal and cross-culturally invariant in content, then there is no reason to think that we have to adopt a language of human rights that has a cross-culturally invariant and universally valid content in the first place.
¹ Plato, Phaedrus, esp. 229-30, 245-6. I am here heavily relying on the aspects of Phaedrus and The Republic brought forward by Cameron 1979, esp. p. 60
² See McDowell 1979 and Boudon 2001 ³ E.g. Wittgenstein 1980a: 65: “The origin and primitive form of the language game is reaction, only from this can the more complicated forms grow. Language – I want to say – is a refinement; ‘in the beginning was the deed’.”
4 Wittgenstein 1953: §217 5 E.g. Wittgenstein 1953: §289: “To use a word without justification does not mean to use it without right.”
6 Wittgenstein 1967: §567 7 Wittgenstein 1980b: §630 8 See for instance, Wittgenstein 1978: 91-4 Bibliography / References: Agamben, Giorgio 2005: The State of Exception, United States of America: The University of Chicago Press Boudon, Raymond 2001: The Origin of Values, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers Cameron, J.M. 1979: ‘Bodily Existence’ in Proceedings of the Catholic Philosophical Association, vol. 53 (1979), p. 59-70 McDowell, John 1979: ‘Virtue and Reason’ in Monist (1979), vol. 62, p.331-50 Putnam, Hillary 1995: Pragmatism – An open question, Oxford: Blackwell Schmitt, Carl 1922: Politische Theologie, Munich-Leipzig: Duncker & Humbolt Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1953: Philosophical Investigations, Oxford: Blackwell Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1967: Zettel, Oxford: Blackwell Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1978: Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, Oxford: Blackwell Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1980a: Culture and Value, Oxford: Blackwell Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1980b: Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology – Volume 1, Oxford: Blackwell
Thomas Presskorn was educated at the Copenhagen Business School (CBS), where he received a Bachelor degree in Economics and Philosophy. He received his MSc in Philosophy of Social Sciences from The London School of Economics and Poltical Science (LSE). He now teaches Linguistics and Philosophy of Science at Copenhagen Business School and is the Editor of Bedeutung Magazine.
ARE RELIGIONS RESPECTABLE?
A C Grayling
Tis time to reverse the prevailing notion that religious commitment is intrinsically deserving of respect, and that it should be handled with kid gloves and protected by custom and in some cases law against criticism and ridicule. It is time to refuse to tiptoe around people who claim respect, consideration, special treatment, or any other kind of immunity, on the grounds that they have a religious faith, as if having faith were a privilege-endowing virtue, as if it were noble to believe in unsupported claims and ancient superstitions. It is neither. Faith is a commitment to belief contrary to evidence and reason, as between them Kierkegaard and the tale of Doubting Thomas are at pains to show; their example should lay to rest the endeavours of some (from the Pope to the Southern Baptists) who try to argue that faith is other than at least non-rational, given that for Kierkegaard its virtue precisely lies in its irrationality. On the contrary: to believe something in the face of evidence and against reason - to believe something by faith - is ignoble, irresponsible and ignorant, and merits the opposite of respect. It is time to demand of believers that they take their personal choices and preferences in these non-rational and too often dangerous matters into the private sphere, like their sexual proclivities. Everyone is free to believe what they want, providing they do not bother (or coerce, or kill) others; but no one is entitled to claim privileges merely on the grounds that they are votaries of one or another of the world's many religions. And as this last point implies, it is time to demand and apply a right for the rest of us to non-interference by religious persons and organizations - a right to be free of proselytisation and the efforts of self-selected minority groups to impose their own choice of morality and practice on those who do not share their outlook. Doubtless the votaries of religion will claim that they have the moral (the immoral) choices of the general population thrust upon them in the form of suggestive advertising, bad language and explicit sex on television and the like; they need to be reminded that their television sets have an off button. There are numbers of religious TV channels available, one more emetic than the next, which I do not object to on the grounds of their existence; I just don't watch them. These remarks will of course inflame people of religious faith, who take themselves to have an unquestionable right to respect for the faith they adhere to, and a right to advance, if not indeed impose (because they claim to know the truth, remember) their views on others. In the light of history and the present, matters should perhaps be to the contrary; but stating that religious commitment is not by itself a reason for respect is not to claim that it is a reason for disrespect either. Rather, as it is somewhere written, 'by their fruits ye shall know them'; it is this that far too often provides grounds for disrespect of religion and its votaries. The point to make in opposition to the predictable response of religious believers is that human individuals merit respect first and foremost as human individuals. Shared humanity is the ultimate basis of all person-to-person and group-to-group relationships, and views which premise differences between human beings as the basis of moral consideration, most es-
Opposite page: Paul Insect Icon 6 2008 Gold leaf, natural powder paint, shellac and acrylic on wooden panel Courtesy: Lazarides Gallery ÂŠ Paul Insect 2008 This essay appears in A C Grayling Against All Gods Oberon Books, London ÂŠ A C Grayling 2007
pecially those that involve claims to possession by one group of greater truth, holiness, or the like, start in absolutely the wrong place. We might enhance the respect others accord us if we are kind, considerate, peace-loving, courageous, truthful, loyal to friends, affectionate to our families, aspirants to knowledge, lovers of art and nature, seekers after the good of humankind, and the like; or we might forfeit that respect by being unkind, ungenerous, greedy, selfish, willfully stupid or ignorant, small-minded, narrowly moralistic, superstitious, violent, and the like. Neither set of characteristics has any essential connection with the presence or absence of specific belief systems, given that there are nice and nasty Christians, nice and nasty Muslims, nice and nasty atheists. That is why the respect one should have for one's fellow humans has to be founded on their humanity, irrespective of the things they have no choice over - ethnicity, age, sexuality, natural gifts, presence or absence of disability - and conditionally (i.e. not for intrinsic reasons) upon the things they choose - political affiliation, belief system, lifestyle - according to the case that can be made for the choice and the defence that can be offered of the actions that follow from it. It is because age, ethnicity and disability are not matters of choice that people should be protected from discrimination premised upon them. By contrast, nothing that people choose in the way of politics, lifestyle or religion should be immune from criticism and (when, as so often it does, it merits it) ridicule. Those who claim to be 'hurt' or 'offended' by the criticisms or ridicule of people who do not share their views, yet who seek to silence others by law or by threats of violence, are trebly in the wrong: they undermine the central and fundamental value of free speech, without which no other civil liberties are possible: they claim, on no justifiable ground, a right to special status and special treatment on the sole ground that they have chosen to believe a set of propositions; and they demand that people who do not accept their beliefs and practices should treat these latter in ways that implicitly accept their holder's evaluation of them. A special case of the respect agenda run by religious believers concerns the public advertisement of their faith membership. When people enter the public domain wearing or sporting immediately obvious visual statements of their religious affiliation, one at least of their reasons for doing so is to be accorded the overriding identity of a votary of that religion, with the associated implied demand that they are therefore to be given some form of special treatment including respect. But why should they be given automatic respect for that reason? That asserting a religious identity as one's primary front to the world is divisive at least and provocative at worst is fast becoming the view of many, although eccentricities of dress and belief were once of little account in our society, when personal religious commitment was more reserved to the private sphere - where it properly belongs - than its politicisation of late has made it. From this thought large morals can be drawn for our present discontents. But one part of a solution to those discontents must surely be to tell those who clamour for a greater slice of public indulgence, public money and public respect, that their personal religious beliefs and practices matter little to the rest of us, though sometimes they are a cause of disdain or amusement; and that the rest of us are entitled not to be annoyed by them as their holders are entitled to hold them. But no organised religion, as an institution, has a greater claim to the attention of othersv in society than does a trade union, political party, voluntary organisation, or any other special interest group - for 'special interest groups' are exactly what Churches and organised religious bodies are. No one could dream of demanding that political parties be respected merely because they are political parties, or of protecting them from the pens of cartoonists; nor that their members should be. On the contrary. And so it should be for all interest groups and their members, without exception. 32 Bedeutung
Le Corbusier, Chandigarh Secretariat, 1961; Portrait of Corbusier, 1952 © Estate of Lucien Hervé
Lucien Hervé 06.09.08 – 11.10.08 The Soul of an Architect
MICHAEL HOPPEN GALLERY
3 Jubilee Place London SW3 3TD +44 (0)20 7352 3649
The Case for Spirituality:
Against Religious Fundamentalism and Militant Atheism Nicos Mouzelis
ILITANT atheism, as is proven by the works of Marx, Feuerbach and other Enlightenment thinkers, is not a recent phenomenon. During the last decades of the 20th century, a world where secularism led to indifference towards the holy saw the conflict between atheists and believers subside. However, following 9/11 and the dramatic increase of Islamic fundamentalism which ensued, the conflict re-entered our everyday discourse. This conflict was additionally fuelled by evangelical fundamentalism in the USA and the neoconservative politics of the self-declared ‘born-again Christian’ president Bush, who regularly qualifies his decisions on personally delivered divine injunctions. From the large number of recent best-selling publications on atheism, I intend to focus on the following: Michel Onfray’s In Defense of Atheism, Christopher Hitchens’s God is Not Great, Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell, Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion and Sam Harris’s The End of Faith. There are three basic thematic orientations on which the debate is based: the discussion around the negative or positive effects of religion; the validity of logical/scientific proofs for God’s existence; and the evolution of religion.
Effects According to the extreme claims of both Onfray and Hitchens (whose books have sold by the hundreds of thousands), religion is an illusion, if not a downright fraud. Priests, imams, rabbis, shamans etc. are nothing more than crooks who take advantage of peoples’ naivety and ignorance. In a particularly one-sided way, both authors focus their attention exclusively on the dysfunction and negative outcomes of religion: 36 Bedeutung
the brutality of the crusades, the sadistic Holy Inquisition, the religious wars in Europe, 9/11 etc. The obvious criticism against this evidently partial approach is that there also exists a bright and positive side of religion. Brutality is only one side: civilization is the other. There’s the hatred and fanaticism against other religions, but there is also acceptance and universal love for other people. There are atrocities, but there is also sainthood. In other words, religion, as much as any other central institution with which people identify—state, community, family—has both negative and positive sides. No one would seriously propose the abolition of states, societies or science on the basis of their dysfunctions. Why should religion be any different? Dawkins and Dennet obviously avoid the straightforward Manicheism of Onfray and Hitchens. They claim that religion’s effects can be as negative as they can be positive. According to Dawkins, however, not only are these positive effects significantly less important, but they are also insufficient proof of God’s existence— benefit and truth are two separate things. Fair enough. But try turning the argument around— as Dawkins fails to do—and you’ll see that it is equally the case that religious dysfunctions don’t prove God’s nonexistence. Finally, Dennett is even more cautious. He supports the view that in order to appreciate the importance of both positive and negative effects we need more scientific, empirical research. My opinion on this matter is that, in order to determine what is useful and what is harmful in the relation between religion and society, we would have to take into consideration the historic and cultural context in which this develops. Specifically, what is a positive and what is a negative effect and how they are linked to each other is
something that differs from one society to another. Even if a researcher focused on only one socio-economic and cultural framework, how can s/he possibly measure or value the fact that religion—independently of the existence or not of any deity—invests the lives of millions of believers with meaning? And in what way is this value undermined by the fact that the very same religion might be responsible for causing all sorts of guilts and neuroses to other believers? As for the argument that religions play a significant role in strengthening the social status quo and are, thus, essentially conservative institutions, matters are equally complicated. As Weber has pointed out, many religious movements—especially in their nascent, charismatic phase—have a radical, revolutionary tendency. Even Marx has noted that religious movements can have both conservative and iconoclastic characteristics.
Rational Proofs If negative or positive effects of religion cannot prove or disprove the existence of the divine, the same goes for the innumerable attempts to solve this problem through logic or scientific reason. Dennett supports the rather agnostic view that there are many concepts of God and that some of them lead to theories about his existence or nonexistence that are impossible to verify scientifically. This sort of agnostic approach—with which I agree—is not only found in theological texts, but also in the work of great thinkers such as Weber and Wittgenstein. Dawkins tries to convince us that agnosticism can be overcome, since Darwin’s theory of evolution and its application in biology in particular provide us with convincing arguments for God's nonexistence. In an oversimplified way, the basic tenet is that if there is a creature that has created the world, it must be even more complicated than the amazing complexity of the universe. The chances, then, of such a creature existing are miniscule. This argument, however, is hardly convincing. Why shouldn’t there be a creator more complex than the extremely complex universe? Additionally, it is nonsensical to utilize a type of argument appropriate in understanding the natural world to prove or disprove the existence of a force that is by definition beyond this natural world. If God cannot be reached through rational thinking, as negative theology claims, then Dawkins’s reasoning—regardless of its theoretical rigor and validity—is out of place. Dawkins, of course, professes that there isn’t a supernatural dimension at all. This stance, nonetheless, is
nothing more than a belief which, like other religious beliefs, cannot be scientifically verified.
Evolution of Religion Both Dawkins and Dennet rightly consider religious institutions and their progress to be similar to natural phenomena that can be analysed using historical and social research. This stance, of course, tells us nothing new: theology, psychology, anthropology and sociology of religion do exactly that. Both philosophers use Darwinian theory—in particular, the concepts of mutation and natural selection—in order to explain the evolution of species, in general, and religions in particular. The central argument here is that religious practices change through mechanisms akin to natural selection: practices that are compatible with the evolving social and natural framework survive. Also, Dawkins introduces the concept of ‘memes’ in order to explain how religious institutions are perpetually reproduced. Like the multiplication of single genes that contributes towards the reproduction of a whole body, memes are multiplying ‘units of cultural inheritance’ or ‘memetic units’ that reproduce culture. The author, however, then goes on to mention that the multiplication of genes differs from that of memes. In any case, the concept of memes is not really stating anything novel. It is, actually, rather obsolete, since we are able to come up with an equally convincing explanation of the reproduction of culture using conventional methods known to anthropology and sociology. Both these disciplines show that cultural models are reproduced through a process of primary and/or secondary socialization.
Scientific Research and Faith As far as the evolution of species and religion is concerned, Darwin’s explanation is evidently much more convincing than other alternative theories that reject Darwinism and explain the infinite complexity of the world on the basis of Creationism or Intelligent Design. On the other hand, however, the explanatory superiority of the whole of Darwinian theory in no way leads to us to conclude that there is no God. Theories have recently emerged, attempting to explain religion in a manner akin to explaining natural phenomena. These theories combine classical Darwinian evolutionary perspective with so-called cognitive science. The latter focuses on the structure of the human mind. For example, J.W. Huyssteen (Alone in the World?) considers religiosity an element that emerges Current Affairs 37
progressively and is a fundamental attribute of human uniqueness; an attribute as elementary as symbolic language. D. Hay (Something There) elaborates on a similar argument. He claims that existing research in biological, psychological and social sciences has clearly shown that religious spirituality is an inherent characteristic of being human. It evolves through natural selection and it survives because it displays adaptability. Both Huyssteen and Hay believe that the uniqueness and wholeness of human religiosity confirm the existence of the divine. Conclusively, science has limits. Neither now, nor in the future will it be able to prove the existence or non-existence of God. As science progresses, it may and, most likely, will provide more reliable explanations on how the natural world works. But it will hardly provide meaning to human life and it will never prove why one value is more important than or preferable to another. At the end of the day, scientific discourse itself is largely dependent on epistemological and ontological convictions that are scientifically unverifiable. Logocentrism, by ignoring these limits, leads to an obstinate, prejudiced and, often, totalitarian scientifism.
dogmatic atheism on the other. In the case of the former, we are witnessing an attempt to return to an idealized past—a past where religious values and beliefs enjoyed a ‘natural’ authority, namely they were predominant without the need for violence in any of social life’s areas. In post-traditional, thoroughly differentiated postmodern societies, because of secularism and individualism, this kind of total religious dominance can be achieved only through repressive mechanisms. It is obvious that a religiosity that is based on repression cannot but lead to an antispiritual, decadent way of life. At the other end, militant atheism replaces the dominance of religion with that of science. Here, science knows no limits. It can potentially answer not only questions relating to the functioning of the world, but also solve ethical and existential problems. This sort of scientism leads to use of mass violence (as in the case of scientific Marxism in the U.S.S.R.) or to a barren and deeply anti-spiritual dogmatism. The development of an authentic spirituality today—whether religious or secular—requires as its fundamental condition the overcoming of religious and scientific dogmatism.
On Religious Authenticity
We have seen, then, that as far as the issue of the existence of God is concerned, the view most compatible with science and logical thinking is that of agnosticism. From the perspective of Ethics, both infidelity and faith can equally lead to authentic ways of life. The former leads to authenticity when the individual faces unequivocally and courageously the contingency of life and the inevitability of death. When this is not achieved, namely when the individual attempts to elude the angst of death through various escape mechanisms, then we cross over to non-authenticity (Heidegger). Regarding religious authenticity, this is based on a non-dogmatic, open, direct relation with the other and with the divine. When the believer is attached to dogmas or when s/he prays expecting rewards (e.g. eternal life) then we are dealing with a mechanistic, unauthentic religiosity (M. Burber, E. Levinas). In other words, if religious authenticity is based on the spiritual and the transcendental erotic element, atheistic authenticity is based on the tragic, Promethean element. Prejudice, whether originating in religion or in science, undermines the principles and self-sufficiency of both these institutional spaces of our differentiated postmodern society. Spirituality in our days occupies a space delimited by religious fundamentalism on one side and
Religious spirituality is not based on holy scripts, ceremonies or typified beliefs. In the mystic trends of all great religious traditions, spirituality is characterized by via negativa, namely the attempt to reach the divine without the use of semiotic categories, logical analysing or instrumental calculations. This is because, the more rationally one tries to approach God, the more one is distanced from Him. The divine is reached negatively, not affirmatively, namely through emptying the soul from all kinds of obstacles (passion, egoism, rationality) that limit and obstruct any direct contact between human and divine. The believer, through the development of ascetic practices such as praying, meditation, fasting etc., gradually becomes an empty container ready to receive grace. In other words, this approach leads to a non-instrumental, subliminally erotic relation between subject and God. It leads to an unconditional opening up of the believer, not only towards God but also towards other people. The emphasis on the negative, as opposed to affirmative, plays a key role in the orthodox tradition of the Eastern Church (V. Lossky). To a lesser degree, in the guise of so-called negative theology, we encounter it in the Catholic and Protestant tradition. It is also known that elements of this negativity (in the wider sense) are
also found in Islamic Sufism, Hinduism, Buddhism etc. In today’s post-traditional context, the revival of religiosity doesn’t only take a fundamentalist, but also a spiritual shape. In a time when, thanks to globalization, religious dogmas are relativised (Robertson), people understand that no religion and no Church has a monopoly on truth. They also realise that while dogmas are divisive, experiences are uniting. In this new context then, religious spirituality has a great appeal to a number of people who are becoming less interested in consumption and more concerned with post-material values and attitudes (R. Inglehart); people who reject dogmatisms and nationalistic/religious vanities and, instead, turn to religion’s existential dimension. This is, of course, the dimension most emphasized in mystical theology and the tradition of monasticism. Nowadays, elements of this tradition—in a milder degree—are not confined to spiritual elites. They are open to everyone through meditation and similar practices.
Against Fundamentalism Religion, in its positive version, promotes the development of spiritual aspects that are inherent in humans. Religion is, however, not only a medium for the advancement of spirituality. If religious spirituality is primarily focused on the relation of human and divine, then secular spirituality is focused on the relation of the subject to the Other. Here too, the negatory logic plays an important role. I’m going to use as an example the work of Martin Buber. Buber, following a period of mystical and existential pursuit, developed a theory of ethics and spirituality in the centre of which lies the distinction between two types of relation: the “Me-It” relation and the “Me-You” relation. The first relation is based on an instrumental rationalism. The subject is related to someone else through negotiations whose ulterior motive is control and dominance. Contrary to this, in the case of the “Me-You” relation, the Other is not substantiated as an object, nor is s/m considered to be the extension of someone’s Ego. In this relation, the principal element is a mutuality in which the subject retains his/her autonomy whilst, simultaneously, opening up to and understanding the Other's condition. It is in this kind of interpersonal space of open, non-abusive communication where the ethical and spiritual emerge. In negative terms, the ethical and spiritual don’t emerge out of holy scripts or Kantian rational analyses. Generally speaking, any attempt to codify, classify of rationalise (whether
religiously or otherwise inspired) automatically prevents any sort of genuine encounter. And this is because every encounter is unique, unrepeatable. As such, it cannot be appropriated within any general category or concept. What is genuinely ethical and spiritual cannot be external, since it can only be brought about by the encounter itself. This theory is close to that developed by Emmanuel Levinas. Levinas rejects the ‘foundationalism’ of rationalistic thought, namely the attempt to find moral principles based solely on unquestionable ontological or logical/scientific foundations. According to the philosopher, morality and goodness don’t emerge out of theological dogmas or from logico-inferential analyses. On the other hand, however, Levinas is opposed to post-modern moral relativism. The ethical and the spiritual emerge in a space where the subject reacts spontaneously to the Other's demand for help. Goodness is the responsibility felt by a subject towards someone who is different, foreign and powerless. From the above analysis it becomes evident that, for both Buber and Levinas, the ethical and the spiritual are not concomitant. When someone follows blindly a set of codified moral rules, s/ he may appear ethical but s/he is not spiritual. The concept of ethical contains spirituality only when it is not forced, but internally inspired by a relation based on open communication. Finally, a third type of spirituality (that can assume both religious and secular forms) transposes the weight from interaction to introspection, namely from the relation of the self-Other to the relation of the subject with itself. We often find this kind of spirituality in the traditional Eastern religions, where meditation plays a central role. In conclusion, spirituality is defined as the ultimate opposition to both religious fundamentalism and dogmatic atheism. In its religious form, spirituality develops from within a noninstrumental, non-logocentric, direct relation of human with the divine. As far as secular spirituality goes, it is based on a relation rid of any opportunistic, instrumental quests. Morality and spirituality cannot be imposed but, instead, spring out of a space of open, direct, unconditional contact. In our post-modern condition, the thirst for authentic spirituality (religious or not) leads away from dogmas, logical analyses and exploitative calculations. It leads to a negative logic that considers the overcoming of egocentric and logocentric obstacles as its fundamental condition for the person’s opening up to the divine, to the Other and/or to itself. Translated from the Greek by Alexandros Stavrakas Current Affairs 39
"Faith emerges from a fragile mind, from a denial of the power of nothingness, oblivion; from the inability to imagine oneself to be the creature of a day, stuck between two nothings."
Bedeutung interviews the author of the best-selling book In Defence of Atheism, Michel Onfray
Text by Alexandros Stavrakas Translated by David Anthony Gerard
What is religion for you? What do you think its function is and why, in your opinion, has religion or its sisters (magic, superstition etc.) existed always and in every society?
A religion is a conception of the world that supposes that this world is explainable by reference to another world, free from the constraints of time, space and physical laws. Nietzsche called this other world Hinterwelt (world behind the world). Religion derives from man's inability to live with this evidence: that he will die, that his life is short, that it appears between two oblivions and that we are rushing towards this oblivion at great speed, and for all eternity. All religion is founded on the denial of mortality and, following on from that, it offers a narrative to explain what is real, a code of conduct, a fantastical eschatology that can give assurance of the possibility of immortality and assuage existential angst. This inability to live with a skeleton explains people's turn to magic that, once crystallized into a world vision, gives birth to a religion. Religions will exist for as long as mankind does.
In your opinion, does science not require a certain degree or some instances of faith, namely an act that goes beyond empirical testing and verification?
Faith and reason exist in two universes, each sealed off from the other. Faith emerges from a fragile mind, from a denial of the power of nothingness, oblivion, from the inability to imagine oneself to be the creature of a day, stuck between two nothings. Reason comes later, to justify what is deep-rooted, instinctive, 42 Bedeutung
the things against which one has no power. Great minds, persons of extreme culture, highly reputed scientists, eminent philosophers—they are all capable of believing stories made for children with a credulity that is truly amazing. They call on all the means their culture gives them to justify the unjustifiable, which is where theological discourse originate—only and just because in their heart of hearts they do not accept their mortal state. Do you not consider that the explicit claim that millions of people are idiots who have fallen for a ridiculous fraud called religion is slightly patronising, if not simply an arrogant oversimplification of the complex conditions, social and personal, that lead to faithoriented (as opposed to rational) understanding of one’s world? Is this ‘prophetic’ and ‘enlightened’ style of writing one’s polemic not indicative of moralistic intoxication instead of what you seem to be proposing: sober and rational intellectualism?
There are people who believe that a God can part the sea in two, in order to let his people pass over, that it is possible to be crucified and die and yet rise up on the third day, that an illiterate goatherd is able to copy down the words dictated to him by an angel, that after we die we could live in purgatory or in hell, that by killing an infidel one will gain entry into paradise—zip, just like that—. To explain to those people that, maybe, this is pure nonsense or, at least, that they're moving within a register where reason has no right of domain: is that being 'patronising', 'arrogant', displaying a 'moralistic intoxication'? Perhaps I'm imagining things—I find it hard to imagine that you're thinking of my In Defence of Atheism when you talk of a supposedly 'prophetic and enlightened style of writing'. The veracity of religious propositions is inexorably bound with the practice
of faith; whereas the veracity of a scientific proposition depends on empirical evidence. Is it not, therefore, a category mistake to hold that a scientific proposition is able to aﬀect the truth or falsehood of a religious claim? What do you think of the logical fallacy in countering something that is clearly, and admittedly, articulated in metaphors (religious writings), by reference to ‘scientific’ and empirical evidence?
I, for one, have never believed science was able to prove the inexistence of God or the falseness of any religion—please at least credit me with affirming that. My book does not set out to say that at all. Nor am I saying God doesn’t exist; I state that God does exist, of course, but as a fiction, and I endeavour to show what the laws are that are used to concoct this fiction. My atheism is not that of a scientist—it is philosophical. I am not an heir of the positivists—I am a careful reader of Feuerbach. Religion may have been the ideological furnishing of many condemnable and destructive acts throughout the Western, and not only, history. But so have politics and one only needs to look into the last century to see that history’s most vicious period was secular. What is your comment on that, in view of your claim, which seems to be that religion has a monopoly (or at least the largest share) in fostering hatred and causing destruction?
I have never said that religion has a monopoly in fostering hatred. But I will comment that your separation of religions from politics does not hold up for one second. One doesn’t have religions on one side and politics on the other, with politics being just as, if not more, responsible for exacerbating hatred in the world. And this is because religion has not stopped being a political matter. Since Constantine converted, at the start of the 4th century A.D., it has not been possible to separate Christianity and political power ar-
tificially, as you are doing. The reason is that political power did not cease being Christian until, at least, the French revolution, and even afterwards… In your book, you make an elaborate distinction between man and animal. From a Darwinian perspective, man’s cognitive faculties are designed for his survival, not necessarily the attainment of truth. As such the distinction between man and animal, emphasizing the ability of the former to attain truth and progress in history, based on a fundamentally Christian distinction between man and animal? How do you comment on the fact that your critique on Christianity begins with an essentially Christian idea?
I have never placed my thesis within a Darwinian tradition of thought. It, rather, belongs to a materialist tradition, which, since Democritus, has stated that there is no difference of nature between man and animal, simply a difference of degree. Christianity states that man and animal have nothing to do with each other, that one is endowed with a soul, and the other not, that the former is the pinnacle of creation, while the others are inferior to it, which is why one can justify exploiting their labour, mistreating them, making them suffer and die, raising them to be killed and eaten. I'm not a part of that logic, meaning the logic of Christianity, but of the opposed logic, which is effectively where Darwin is as well, although that still doesn’t make me a Darwinian. In other words, my critique does not begin with an essentially Christian idea, as you seem to imagine. As realists, we should reject any teleological view of history. The belief that humanity is moving towards a particular condition is a Utopianism as potent as any Christian promise of salvation. More to the point, it is no more than a myth that can be neither proven nor refuted rationally. How would you respond to that?
I would be happy to follow you down this metaphysical path, but with reservations since, in this world, which is essentially chaotic and apparently lacking in all sense, there does however exist some progress: in Europe, for example, no-one now believes that children should be down coal mines like in the 19th century, which, I might remind you, was an era when the bosses of the ironworks fought against those, like Owen, who wanted to get children away from work and into schools. Their argument was that this would lessen economic competitiveness with other countries. In 2008, even the bosses accept the cause of education, schooling for children, and do not think they should be at work from early childhood. I think one can work towards this sort of progress without at the same time imagining any more complex teleology. Can we really blame religion for the retardation of scientific and social progress? Aren’t there many examples whereby explicitly religious considerations have led to progress in these fields - for example, the early history of Islam sees a flourishing of science; Christianity played a vital part in the abolition of slavery in the 19th century. You write: “25 centuries of wasted opportunities for humankind accumulate” (DoA p.83) because of Christianity’s impediment of science. Again, not only the theoretical claim is largely refutable but its practical opposite is just as much the case: religion, as much as other political and ideological constructions, has obstructed as much as promoted, funded and supported research and knowledge – even if it is to serve its own theories. Many scientific advances have been made from within the gulfs of superstition; this has not made them any less important or useful. What do you respond to that?
I would respond that the Christian religion became opposed to the heliocentric view; it preferred a geocentric view, even if it was incorrect. And to achieve this view, it burned
Giordano Bruno at the stake and condemned Galileo. It opposed the dissection of humans, thus setting back progress in medicine by several centuries. It opposed atomist physics, which contradicted the fable of the Eucharist whereas, nowadays, all schoolchildren are taught the existence of atoms and the logic of Mendeleyev's table. It opposed geological discoveries because they would contradict the fables of Genesis. It rejects Darwin's conclusions and, even now, it still defends the idea of a world created ex nihilo by God. Right this moment, religion’s rejection of genetic engineering is keeping Western medicine trapped in the mediaeval era. And so on. Of course you may regard Christianity as having 'promoted, funded and supported research and knowledge', but it would be difficult for you to quote me a single name in support of your thesis. For my part, I could quote you a book of George Minois, a thousand pages long, entitled L’Eglise et la Science (The Church and Science), which details what you call 'Christianity's impediment of science'. This extremely well-documented tome is subtitled -perhaps appropriately- Histoire d’un Malentendu (History of a Misunderstanding). I would be interested to see the refutation you say you can make of this. To quote an old cliché: "Secularism is a kind of contradiction: it is defined by what it excludes." What is your view on that?
Secularism affirms perfectly the phrase from the Gospels where it says "Render what is Caesar's to Caesar and what is God's to God". You think Matthew teaches 'a kind of contradiction in terms'? I don’t. In Heidegger, you see the idea that mankind’s fatal error began with Socrates in ancient Greece, the arrogant and deluded faith in the powers of human reason. What today many people Current Affairs 43
" I'm not interested in whether you're defending the Christian fable or the socialist fable or the communist one; I donâ€™t believe in a human race pacified; I believe only in some pockets of resistance to barbarism in a brutal world. I abhor the Jacobins as much as I loathe the Bishops; my libertarian temperament means I donâ€™t go looking for masters to defend. "
term the ‘tyranny of technology over life’. How do you stand towards this criticism?
I'm very pro-technology and nothing could be more foreign to me than technophobia. I have even written an entire book, Féeries Anatomiques, which is in praise of all technology can achieve. In line with the thought of John Gray, the Jacobins oﬀered what was, essentially, a Christian promise of salvation, although articulated in diﬀerent terms. Modern revolutionary movements, by and large, renew the apocalyptic myths of early Christianity. How do you respond to that?
It is true that Christianity has had its effects, including even such things as revolutionary millenarianism. But I'm not interested in whether you're defending the Christian fable or the socialist fable or the communist one; I don’t believe in a human race pacified; I believe only in some pockets of resistance to barbarism in a brutal world. I abhor the Jacobins as much as I loathe the Bishops; my libertarian temperament means I don’t go looking for masters to defend. Do you think there is some wisdom in Augustine’s distinction between the City of God and the City of Man, whereby the current political order is only a contingent measure that is not identified with an explicit human flourishing? Isn’t all political totalitarianism - religious or secular - rooted in the desire to close this gap, and to explicitly identify the political order with human flourishing?
I don’t aspire to totalitarianism, to the One, to a reconciled Whole; I am a thinker concentrated on what is diverse, multiple, fragmentary, splintered, on the pieces, the pockets of resistance, on mini-resistances to mini-fascisms. There is nothing Hegelian about me.
of a faith invoked by many positivist thinkers, in which human beings would be worshipped as the Supreme being. How is this faith diﬀerent from others?
This faith cannot be distinguished from any other faith. There's no good faith and bad faith where bad faith in the religion of the City of God is the opposite of the good faith in the City of Man. Faith is not my way of thinking. I prefer reason, philosophy, and the patient work philosophy achieves. In one of the constitutional texts of Capitalism, Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations’, we read of the invisible hand, an obscure regulatory power that allows and facilitates the harmonious function of the rational economic system and ensures its eventual equilibrium. Are we not encountering here, again, the need for an un-accountable and inexplicable force? Why is reason always in need of a ‘helping hand’?
You're right, and this is why I'm opposed, in politics, to the liberalism that reinstates God after he had been partially deposed through the patient work done by a number of philosophers. The way liberalism has functioned for the last two centuries demonstrates that the market is not solving any of the problems, and that, in fact, it more probably is itself the problem. This invisible hand is so invisible that one cannot even see its work, its effects, its movement. One more proof, one could say light-heartedly, of the non-existence of God!
In Defence of Atheism restricted its scope to the three monotheistic religions because my knowledge is not broad enough to discuss other religions in detail. That would take someone an entire lifetime. Even so, in the first few pages of this book, I did criticise religious feeling from a Feuerbachian perspective, and that is valid for all religions: religion as the creation of a 'world behind the world' that makes this world bearable. For as long as this world here is unbearable - and it is like that for most people due to the simple fact that one day we must all die - there will be religions. And it is in the nature of reality to be unbearable when one has done nothing, made no effort to make it bearable. Religion is the remedy offered to people who have no time to invent one for themselves, according to their own capabilities. Personally, I prefer to work at this task through philosophy. Something I have been doing for the last fifty years.
Do you believe it is faith of any kind or monotheistic religions in particular that are condemnable? If it is the former, how do you imagine a world functioning without faith? If it is faith in the supernatural that you are against, what do you imagine can replace the supernatural object of people’s faith that would oﬀer the same social, psychological and ideological functions?
The Religion of Humanity is an idea Current Affairs 45
Hermann Nitsch Sch端ttbild 1963 106 x 80 cm
AFTER SECULARISM What presents itself as the 'secularization' of theological concepts will have to be understood, in the last analysis, as an adaptation of traditional theology to the intellectual climate produced by modern philosophy or science both natural and political. Leo Strauss1
HE modern world began with wars of religion. During the Thirty Years War, Europe was devastated by armed struggle between Catholics and Protestants, with around a third of the population in parts of Germany perishing as a result. Much of early modern thought is a response to these conflicts. The need to restrain the violence of faith is central in the writings of Thomas Hobbes and Benedict Spinoza - early Enlightenment thinkers who speak to us about the nature of present conflicts more clearly than most of those who came later. The central theme of Hobbes's thought is the condition of humanity in a state of nature, where government is lacking. As he put it in the famous thirteenth chapter of Leviathan, a state of nature lacks 'commodious living' there are 'no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death'. Without the power of government, humans are compelled to engage in a 'war of all against all' in which each is the enemy of every other. Hobbes's insight into the realities of life when government breaks down is unflinching. It is his account of how humanity might escape this condition that is far-fetched. Hobbes was much concerned with taming fanaticism, which he recognized as the deadly enemy of civilization, but he hated fanatical belief too much to understand it and so failed to uncover its roots in the need for meaning. While he recognized the power of the passions, he believed reason could enable humanity to escape the state of nature - not for ever, but at least for a time. Believing he had fathomed the causes of human conflict, Hobbes imagined that if his writings fell into the hands of an intelligent ruler a new form of government could be established that was concerned only to maintain peace. By obeying such a government, humanity could
be delivered from its natural condition. Though he is seen as an ultra-realist, Hobbes actually looked to politics for a kind of salvation. Hobbes's understanding of the dangers of anarchy resonates powerfully today. Liberal thinkers still see the unchecked power of the state as the chief danger to human freedom. Hobbes knew better: freedom's worst enemy is anarchy, which is at its most destructive when it is a battleground of rival faiths. The sectarian death squads roaming Baghdad show
dominant western myths have been narratives in which history becomes a story of sin and redemption. Spinoza is rare among western thinkers in rejecting any such view of salvation as an historical event. Despite the fact that he seems to have been an atheist for most of his life, Hobbes never questioned the Christian belief that humans can transcend their natural condition. Indeed, this belief underpins his faith in government. In contrast, though he was attracted to a mystical version of rationalism, Spinoza
Nothing is more human than the readiness to kill and die in order to secure a meaning in life
that fundamentalism is itself a type of anarchy in which each prophet claims divine authority to rule. In well-governed societies, the power of faith is curbed. The state and the churches temper the claims of revelation and enforce peace. Where this kind is impossible, tyranny is better than being ruled by warring prophets. Hobbes is a more reliable guide to the present than the liberal thinkers who followed. Yet his veiw of human beings was too simple, and overly rationalistic. Assuming that humans dread violent death more than anything, he left out the most intractable sources of conflict. It is not always because human beings act irrationally that they fail to achieve peace. Sometimes it is because they do not want peace. They may want the victory of the One True Faith - whether a traditional religion or a secular succesor such as communism, democracy or universal human rights. Or - like the young people who joined far-Left terrorist groups in the 1970s, another generation of which is now joining Islamist networks - they may find in war a purpose that is lacking in peace. Nothing is more human than the readiness to kill and die in order to secure a meaning in life. A deeper understanding of the disorders of faith can be found in the thought of Benedict Spinoza.2 Like Hobbes, Spinoza knew that religion can be destructive, and he was clear that freedom to practise it must yield to the needs of peace; but he understood, better than Hobbes, the role of religion in human life. Religions are not literally true, as their followers believe. They are myths that preserve in symbolic or metaphorical form truths that might otherwise be lost, and the mass of humankind will never be able to do without them. The term myth comes from the Greek word mythos, which means story, and the 48 Bedeutung
understood that humans are an integral part of the natural world, and so he never turned to the state for salvation. Anarchy could be overcome as evolving patterns of social cooperation crystallized into civil institutions; but the order in society that resulted would regularly break down, and when this happened no social contract could restore order. Spinoza had a vision of salvation - a neo-Stoic ideal in which a few individuals could understand and accept their place in the scheme of things - but it had nothing to do with politics. While it is much preferable to anarchy, government cannot abolish the evils of the human condition. At any time the state is only one of the forces that shape human behaviour, and its power is never absolute. At present, fundamentalist religion and organized crime, ethnic-national allegiances and market forces all have the ability to elude the control of government, sometimes to overthrow or capture it. States are at the mercy of events as much as any other human institution, and over the longer course of history all of them fail. As Spinoza recognized, there is no reason to think the cycle of order and anarchy will ever end.3 Secular thinkers find this view of human affairs dispiriting, and most have retreated to some version of the Christian view in which history is a narrative of redemption. The most common of these narratives are theories of progress, in which the growth of knowledge enables humanity to advance and improve its condition. Actually, humanity cannot advance or retreat, for humanity cannot act: there is no collective entity with intentions or purposes, only ephemeral struggling animals each with its own passions and illusions. The growth of scientific knowledge cannot alter this fact. Believers in progress - whether social
democrats or neoconservatives, Marxists, anarchists or technocratic Postitivists - think of ethics and politics as being like science, with each step forward enabling further advances in future. Improvement in society is cumulative, they believe, so that the elimination of one evil can be followed by the removal of others in an open-ended process. But human affairs show no sign of being additive in this way: what is gained can always be lost, sometimes - as with the return of torture as an accepted technique in war and government - in the blink of an eye. Human knowledge tends to increase, but humans do not become any more civilized as a result. They remain prone to every kind of barbarism, and while the growth of knowledge allows them to improve their material conditions, it also increases the savagery of their conflicts. If the political religions of the last century renewed Christian beliefs, secular humanism today is no different. Darwinist thinkers such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett are militant opponents of Christianity.4 Yet their atheism and humanism are versions of Christian concepts. As a defender of Darwinism, Dawkins is committed to the view that humans are like other animal species in being 'gene machines' ruled by the laws of natural selection. He asserts nevertheless that humans, uniquely, can defy these natural laws: 'We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.' In affirming human uniqueness in this way, Dawkins relies on a Christian world-view. The same is true of Dennett, who has spent much of his career labouring to show how scientific materialism can be reconciled with a form of free will - a project that would scarcely occur to someone from a culture not moulded by Christianity. Pre-Chrsitian philosophers such as the Epicureans speculated about free will. But it only became a central issue in western philosophy with the rise of Christianity and has never been prominent in nonwestern philosophies that do not separate humans so radically from other animals. When secular thinkers ponder free will and consciousness they nearly always confine themselves to humans, but why assume these attributes are uniquely human? In taking for granted a categorical difference between humans and other animals these rationalists show their view of the world has been formed by faith. The comedy of militant unbelief is in the fact that the humanist creed it embodies is a by-product of Christianity. ... Contemporary atheism is a Christian heresy that differs from earlier heresies chiefly in its intellectual crudity.5 This is nowhere clearer than in its view of religion itself. Marx held to a reductive view in which religion was a by-product of oppression; but he was clear it expressed the deepest human aspirations - it
was not only the opiate of the masses but also 'the heart of a heartless world'. The French Positivists wanted to replace Christianity by a ridiculous Religion of Humanity; but they understood that religion answered to universal human needs. Only a very credulous philosopher could believe that showing religion is an illusion will make it disappear. That assumes the human mind is an organ attuned to truth - a quasi-Platonic conception that is closer to religion than science and inconsistent with Darwinism. Yet such seems to be the view of contemporary unbelievers. ... As used by many of its contemporary advocates secularism is not so much a view of the world as a political doctrine. In this sense, a secular state is one that banishes religion from public life while leaving people free to believe what they like. Secularism of this kind is consistent with religious belief, but it is mainly defended nowadays by rationalists who lament the renewed strength of religion in politics. They seem to have forgotten the political religions of the twentieth century and cannot have reflected on the fact that in the United States, a model secular regime, religion and politics are intertwined more closely that in any other advanced country. The unreality of this secularist stance does not come only from an ignorance of history. Those who demand that religion be exorcized from politics think this can be achieved by excluding traditional faiths from public institutions; but secular creeds are formed from religious concepts, and suppressing religion does not mean it ceases to control thinking and behaviour. Like repressed sexual desire, faith returns, often in grotesque forms, to govern the lives of those who deny it.
This extract has been reproduced from John Gray's latest book Black Mass, London, Penguin Books, 2008, with the kind permission of the author and his publishers. 1 Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 1953, p.317 2 For an analysis of Spinoza as a decisive thinker of the early modern Enlightenment, see Jonathan I. Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650-1750, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001 3 I discuss Spinoza in my 'Reply to Crics' in John Horton and Glen Newey (eds.), The Political Theory of John Gray, London, Routledge, 2006. For an illuminating recent interpretation of Spinoza's philosophy, see Stuart Hampshire, Spinoza and Spinozism, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 2005 4 See Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, London, Bantam, 2006, and Daniel. C. Dennett, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, London, Allen Lane, 2006 5 I leave aside atheism in Islamic cultures, though the same analysis applies. Current Affairs 49
Hermann Nitsch Sch端ttbild 1961 106 x 80 cm
Hermann Nitsch Sch端ttbild 1962 106 x 80 cm
All images pp. 50-55, 58-61: Archiv Cibulka-Frey, Georg Soulek
Kreuzwegstation 1962 190 x 298 cm
HERMANN NITSCH talks to Bedeutung
Interview Alexandros Stavrakas Photography by Peter-Pavel Kraljic
EDEUTUNG met Hermann Nitsch at his castle, Schloss Prinzendorf, an hour outside Vienna. They spent the day talking about his work, his ideas and his determination, at the age of 70, to live up to the conviction that the only legitimate way to live is to never cease to be intellectually and physically active.
Bedeutung: Are you working at the moment? Hermann Nitsch: I'm always working. B: Painting? HN: Also. But, mainly, I'm supervising a project: we've opened a museum in Naples with a big installation of relics from my work, photographs, artworks. It's something for the future; so that students can go, study and be informed. B: Andy (Nitsch's assistant) said you have a play planned in two years. HN: Maybe, I hope so. B: Here? HN: Here. B: Our issue's theme is 'Human and Divine'. It is in this context that we are interested in your work; because, it seems that you make reference to rituals, the human/animal distinction, the divine. Your work seems to have a lot to do with the enactment of faith, belief. HN: I want to show with my work everything that is. I want to show the whole creation process, to start a creation, to show that everything is movement. There is an entire philosophical tradition I'm interested in: from the very important ancient Greeks (pre-Socratics and others), to the mystics, the Eastern philosophies. B: There is something very ridiculous though about this spiritual tourism we see nowadays... HN: I agree. I don't take things, I hate that. I think about these things. B: Are you religious? HN: Yes, but not in any particular way; not in the way of believing in one religion. I believe in life, I enjoy nature. My 'religion' is the whole idea of creation, not a particular dogma, maybe a new religion. There was Buddha, there was Jesus Christ, there was also Nietszche; he was also a religious ďŹ gure. B: In a sense he definitelly was: he never managed to escape his Christianity. His attempts only confirmed it at the end. HN: Of course. There was a war; he fought the war against Christianity. I would say he was also a mystic in the traditional sense. He said 'yes' to all of life and this is a kind of mysticism.
This is, precisely, the mysticism of 'yes', not the mysticism of 'no'. Zarathustra was a mystic. B: Where do you find purpose? HN: The only purpose is that things are. Working towards something, the purpose is found in being, in everything. You mentioned the divine. People ask me if I believe in God. I cannot answer this question. And, I would say, we have more interesting questions to think about than whether God exists. Everything exists in a way. The most important thing is that there is creation. Philosophy that goes back to Schelling and other early philosophers asks all these questions: 'why is there something rather than nothing'. And that is, for me, the important thing. And in this sense of being, everything for me is important, all Gods, all religions, everything matters to me. B: Yes, but it's one thing to say there is being and another to know what to do with it. HN: I'll tell you what to do with it: don't lose your time, live, move, don't worry about tomorrow. Celebrate creation. B: A very well known preChristian maxim which Christianity took away: carpe diem. HN: Exactly. But, remember, Christianity is only one of many religions. And I have worked a lot with Christianity, especially some of its symbolisms for which I have great respect: the cross, the resurrection, the wishing for eternity. But there are so many things that are problematic for me: the abstinence from pleasure, this great border between immanence and transcendence, its opposition to life, which it considers no more than a mere compromise before heaven. As you can see, I have some problems with Christianity. Another thing that seems very bewilder-
ing to me is the idea that you have to love the other more than yourself. Well, love has nothing to do with a commandment, a law. To be in love is a state of being, not a demand, not a command; you are in it, there is no love out there to command yourself towards. B: Everything appears to be for you a state of life that does not seem to have beginning or end, a constant movement. What motivates this movement? HN: My answer is: Don't look for a purpose in everything. Don't ask 'is it good?', 'is it bad?', 'what is the meaning?' I know only one thing: that I am here and I have to make the most of this time, there is no other possibility. To 'make' means to say 'yes' to the fact that I am here, not to stop and try to ďŹ nd a purpose. That's all. B: In a sense, you are saying that there is only contingency, accident, chance, no deeper purpose, only a constant negotiation of our condition. HN: Absolutely. When you look at any creation, be it plants, birds, animals or humans, their common characteristic is a movement towards the direction of existence. This development is meaning as such, nothing more. The only motivation in nature is life. Everything is built and is working towards this direction. B: So why do people always try to find a truth? HN: I don't know - but there is one line by Wittgenstein that I can relate to very much: "Not how the world is is the interesting thing. That the world is is the interesting thing." How it is, is the problem of science; interesting, maybe, but a ďŹ nal answer can never be reached. Science cannot give you all the answers. This idea was a 19th century fable: it's called Positivism... B: And Psychology, the exploration of human nature. HN: Yes, but as you see, science has limits. I'm not against science, don't get me wrong, you can do alot with it; but not everything. B: And science also depends a lot on the cultural values of the world in which it operates. HN: Absolutely. B: To go back to Christianity, you perform rituals that are refferential to the Christian religion... HN: We have to be very accurate here. When we speak about the ritual, to what degree does the ritual belong to religion? Is not ritual a thing that, maybe, equally belongs to art? You have rituals in music: Wagner. Or Monet, when he painted cathedrals in the morning, at noon, in the evening, his haystacks, using the same method: this is also a kind of ritual. Church does not have a monopoly on rituals. Rituals are everywhere: people eating their food for example... B: The rituals you enact engage the person fully. You try to break some consciousness boundaries, aesthetic, moral, without applying judgment. HN: Exactly. Let's not forget that one very important thing in the structure of life is the aesthetic. When I use blood, it is beautiful for me. Then I create these beautiful colours. Think of all the beautiful pictures of passion, think of the music of Bach and you will realize that aes-
thetics is not just pretty colours. Beauty goes very deep, it goes to the deepness of death. And I would say that when I ﬁnd the form, it means that I have found the way of creation and, therefore, the intention, the purpose and, therefore, the meaning. There you go. B: So meaning comes after creation? HN: There are so many theories of development. What comes ﬁrst, what comes after. And, in this process, creation becomes too conscious through us. B: What do you think about ideology? HN: I am very much against it. Ideology, particularly political ideology, destroys everything, it numbs our personal thinking. I want everybody to ﬁght for their own thinking, their own meaning, accept no authority. I want people to be free. B: What does it mean to be free? There are things that define us that we cannot go beyond. To be against ideology is a contradiction, because it is already an idea. HN: Ideology is a kind of machine, like technology. It makes you lazy, it does not celebrate creation. The alternative to that is my work, because it shall, hopefully, set you free. I want to bring everything into consciousness with the sole purpose of setting you free. I despise artists who work for an ideology, artists with political convictions, artists who use their work to promote ideologies. B: Like Picasso. HN: Ah, I don't think he's such a great artist. Having said that, it can happen to anyone that they do something that turns out to be good. B: Yet still, you crave for communication with people. How is that not political? HN: I am against Politics. There is only one way: you love art, you write about it, you make an analysis. If you don't like it, it's not necessary to write about it. But I am against
criticism, against this automatic way of thinking that ideology imposes. It is important to always ﬁnd new ways of thinking. None of these ridiculous maxims: 'I don't eat meat because I'm a Buddhist'. B: So you think belief impedes freedom... HN: I'm just not interested in details, not interested to believe in environmentalism or sport or anything like that. I am not interested in any of these things. B: It's hard to relate to this way of thinking... HN: Yet our wisdom permits it. B: I wanted to ask you how you conceived the idea of the Orgien Mysterien Theatre? HN: I get asked this a lot. There is no idea: it's working, working, working. I tried to do a new kind of theatre and, well, it worked out. But one thing was for me very important: to lose language, make poetry without words. For me, words are inferior to the senses. There are many artists who tried to work in the direction of the performative, not using any words, any language. Language has borders, it is not everything. Sometimes you can see without language, when you hear music, when you feel very intensively, when there are no words. B: You can feel it, not think about it. HN: OK. Then, to feel is more important. B: In your plays, you have full control over the senses of the participants. So, on the one hand, you liberate them from language, on the other you instruct them what to feel. HN: I am like a cook cooking a meal, it's the same principle. I create a game, a theatre play, I teach them to use their senses in the right way. B: Desires, urges... HN: Yes, exactly. It is very important to use our sense in a
broad way. I ask questions about life, being, and I hope that both come out in this game, in this theatre play. B: And when your play is over, you are left with a canvas. What is it? A relic? A remnant? HN: What I try to do in this play is to develop like a monk in a monastery. My theatre play is a concentration of all that I want and all the experiences that are registered, surface in this process. B: A full experience, engagement of all senses. HN: Yes. And the important think is that they are not contra spirit. This is only a false problem of consciousness. When you register your senses in your consciousness, you ﬁnd yourself entangled in this dichotomy: here is the spirit, there is the body. This dualism doesn't exist, it's fake. B: How is it, after the play, going back to a normal every day life? HN; I construct this explosion because I want to produces all these sensations. And these sensations don't wane off; the actors, after becoming aware of them, go on to use them in their daily life. All these feelings that you don't know are possible, open up new possibilities for you in your normal life. B: What result would you say your theatre has produced in the forty years of its run? HN: I would, ﬁrst of all, say that it is necessary to have this theatre in our society. At the same time, it is very romantic to think that a work of art, a work of philosophy will instantly bring change. Change will come, but it is impossible to say in what way and how long it will take. Some people that participate in my performances say that they had the most intensive experiences of their life. Let me say this: there is no story in my plays, I just try to show the development of our consciousness. The players in the drama are not special heroes on stage. In this sense, everybody is a hero, all participants are heroes; and the story of the performance is the development from Ego to Self. Ego is practical: money, politics, career; the Self is much more, it is being inside the process of creation, being in the cosmos without Ego. The Ego has to die; the self doesn't have to die. Jung called this the individuation process: the journey from Ego to Self. B: Between play and canvas, which one is more important? HN: They are two different things. The canvas is, in fact, the ﬁrst step of my theatre. But the process is always more important than the result. And I always say that my theatre plays are a visual representation of my action theatre on the canvas - it's a theatre play on the canvas. B: Is there a contemporary artist whose work you appreciate? HN: I am a monist, I'm not interested in other artists. B: You said that years ago you were arrested because of provocation. Many contemporary artists like provocation for the sake of shocking, without any motivation, only for the sheer sensationalism of the spectacle.
HN: I cannot relate to that. My work is tied to the intensity of passion, the intensity of Greek tragedy, Sophocles, Euripides. But, regarding my past, I was always an anarchist, never belonged to the Left, never to the Right. That's not to say that I wasn't thinking in a social way; art is by deﬁnition always social. If an artist is not in some way an altruist, not interested in the function of his work, he is not an artist. B: Your works seem to invoke a world of their own, a world outside reality. HN: It is like going back to the uterus, the womb. Art, like the uterus, is a bit like a model of the cosmos. I don't know if you saw those little houses on your way here to the Castle. Many people ask: 'Is this where poor people live?'. These are not poor people's houses. They are for the fermentation of wine. And the wine farmers, when they have time, they sit in these cellars and drink wine. It is a bit like going back into the body of your mother. I try to make my players re-enter the womb. People here like to drink a lot - it's a kind of return to your mother's body this degree of comfort. B: Do you like animals? HN: I love animals. I also know a lot about them, their species, their functions; and let me tell you, we are not as different from them as we like to think. Like positivism, anthropocentricism is nonsense. Nietszche was right when he spoke of Übermensch. Maybe in the future it will be possible. From stone to animal to human being. Why do we always assume that we have reached the end of our evolution? What a ridiculous idea. B: Do you reflect on what you have done so far in your life, your contribution in a way? HN: Yes. And it's not enough. I have much more to do. I am not at the end and will never be at the end. I notice how things are different when I work - more pain, less power - but, on the other hand, I have much more concentration. I have always been interested in the last works of artists. Titian did his greatest works at the end of his life. Michelangelo, Beethoven, their last works were the best. B: Do you watch the news, read the papers? HN: Every morning the papers are laying on my table. I'm not really interested. B: How do you feel when people buy your works? Are you attached to them or are you glad when they are gone? HN: I am not a collector. Many artists collect their own works. I'm always happy to sell paintings. It means I can enjoy my life: I can drink wine, have a good meal, invite all my friends, buy a little motorbike, I can buy books, records, realize my theatre plays - I pay for my plays, you know. I'm happy when I sell, this is life: movement, constant regeneration, producing and consuming and producing again, not remaining stagnant. I'm not at all against money. Of, course it's really very unfortunate that more than half of our fellow humans have nothing to eat. There must be a solution to this, a sense of justice. I'm
BECKY BEASLEY The Man Without References
“Will you tell me, Bartleby, where you were born?” “I would prefer not to.” “Will you tell me any thing about yourself?” “I would prefer not to.”
HAT is it to be without references? Unemployable? Dangerous? Perhaps no reference is better than a bad one? In Herman Melville’s short story, Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street (1853), the reader is introduced to a man with neither references nor any desire for relation but who, nevertheless, has a powerful effect on those around him. He appears without warning: ‘a motionless young man one morning, stood upon my office threshold’. He is ‘pallidly neat, pitiably respectable’. Bartleby’s appearance without context instantly unhinges normal procedures: he is employed without references. Time does not alter this lack of provenance. He works well, but with a disquieting reserve that throws into contrast the flurry of the office. It seems he hardly moves at all: ‘I observed that he never went to dinner; indeed that he never went anywhere. As yet I had never of my personal knowledge known him to be outside of my office. He was a perpetual sentry in the corner.’ This immobility, however unsettling to the normal flux of the offices, takes on an oddly comforting, if two-dimensional, aspect: ‘As days passed on, I became considerably reconciled to Bartleby. His steadiness, his freedom from all dissipation, his incessant industry...his great stillness, his unalterableness of demeanor under all circumstances, made him a valuable acquisition. One prime thing was this,—he was always there;—first in the morning, continually through the day, and the last at night.’ Nevertheless, this stasis gradually becomes a disturbance. Bartleby comes to be experienced as more of a fixture than a man. He is hinged somewhere between architectural fitting, object and image. He is certainly present, it is his presence after all that causes the disturbance, but just as certainly not present in the way that others are. His job is to make accurate copies of legal documents. Initially this is what he does, but it is in the verifying of the copy that problems ensue. The verification process, which is ‘an indispensable part of a scrivener’s business’, entails two or more scriveners assisting each other: ‘one reading from the copy, the other holding the original.’ When asked to perform this duty, Bartleby replies that he ‘would prefer not to.’ This response is neither an agreement nor an outright refusal. It deflates such structures. The bewildered lawyer simply does not know how to respond. The other scriveners threaten violence. In keeping with the original disturbance of the norm, the employment of a man without references, the lawyer allows him not to perform this duty. He defers taking action upon Bartleby’s preference not to participate. Besides, his copying work is always perfect. Time passes around the unchanging fixedness of Bartleby. Then one day he delivers the next catastrophic blow to order: “I have given up copying” What is it to be a copyist who does not copy? Unlike the broken tool, Bartleby is neither working nor broken. Unlike the broken object which becomes available to aesthetic discourse, he is the potential to work which does not produce. It is through withholding action that the fullness of his potential becomes manifest. It is here that the fixture that he has become, more unsettling even than a desk -because he animates those around him to fury- and, worse still, to passivity, turns cadaverous. He is no longer ordinarily present and yet, since we have no other frame of reference within which to place him, he remains awfully rooted to his spot. After preferring once again not to tell ‘who he was, or whence he came, or whether he had any relatives in the world’ the lawyer demands that he either resumes work or leaves. Bartleby elects neither. His power once again deflated, the lawyer solves the problem of Bartleby’s preference not to choose either option by moving himself to new offices. Bartleby remains and, when ejected physically from the office by the new tenants, ‘persists in haunting the (communal areas of the) building generally.’ Eventually the police are summoned and he is ‘removed to the Tombs as a vagrant.’ Since the lawyer has become the only visible point of reference to Art 75
Bartleby as far as the law (and the story – it is his story) is concerned, he is asked to appear at the Tombs, the Halls of Justice, to ʻmake a suitable statement of the facts.ʼ How then to represent Bartleby? His resistance to reference, his lack of substance means that he is indefensible. He cannot be given a good reference. Melville wrote Bartleby at a time when industrialization and mechanization were transforming the arts. There were many new magazines for which one could write to earn a living, but for which compromises were expected to be made. Melville was resistant to the demands of a kind of writing which used coercive formulas to seduce mass audiences. For a writer to find his own voice, he must, of course, navigate the influence of other writers. Guides are sought, but must not simply be imitated. This complex process of attempting not to copy manifests itself sceptically in Bartleby, wherein the act of writing is reduced to copying. The only meaningful, if failed, attempts at communication in the story are relegated to dead letters. If the only option for the author in the new age is to mechanically copy, what would happen, Melville asks, if one were to refuse, if one were to stop copying? This question may also be asked of the photographer. Melville writes a story for a magazine in which he asks the reader to remain vigilant of copy. The division of substance from form was of profound concern to Melville. For him, as he shows in Bartleby, the removal of desire to experience the world (through travel, for example) by the seeming availability of the world through reproduction was not an opening up of communication, but an early form of the transmission of information as food without substance. Hence Bartlebyʼs general lack of appetite (he seemed to live only on ginger-nuts!) and later his refusal of all food in the prison leading to his starvation and death. Melvilleʼs scepticism about the eﬀects of mass reproduction on the art and, indeed, on artists themselves as producers, should be understood here not as a reactionary response to new technologies, but to what he saw as an emptying out of participation in life, a removal of relation, of reference, of experience, of the distances between things. The flattening out of distance that the photograph oﬀers may resemble life, but it is not life. It is a desirous yet in-appetitive relation to the real which, if critiqued through the figure of Bartleby, nevertheless pulsates with the potential to destroy order, habit and jargon. I have been alluding to the opportunities Bartleby oﬀers as metaphor for photography. Bartleby is neither broken (dead) nor working (living as producing); he is all surface, an image which suddenly appears unhinged from its references. Such indeed is the general history of technology: each new medium of modernity presented to us as if the perfect answer to the moment, with no trace of historical relation, and no sense of its future obsolescence. Bartlebyʼs story is death-bound from the start. He appears without characteristics through which to understand him other than liminally. Refusing to participate, he soon figures heavily in space in a leaden, cadaverous way as furniture -rooted to his spot- or as a corner of sorts. Refusing to work, he becomes ethereal, formlessly haunting of the whole building. The man who refuses to move from his spot is accused of vagrancy. He is incarcerated for haunting the building to which he does not belong. The story proper ends and is immediately followed with the only piece of secondary evidence on Bartleby, ʻa vague report...one little item of rumour.ʼ The lawyer seems at odds with oﬀering this second-hand snippet, but feels, despite his reservations, that it ought to be written, if in a hushed voice and only after the story is over. It concerns Bartlebyʼs past: ʻThe report was this: that Bartleby had been a subordinate clerk in the Dead Letter Oﬃce at Washington, from which he had been suddenly removed by a change in the administration. When I think over this rumor, I cannot adequately express the emotions which seize me. Dead letters! does it not sound like dead men? Conceive a man by nature and misfortune prone to a pallid hopelessness, can any business seem more fitted to heighten it than that of continually handling these dead letters and assorting 76 Bedeutung
them for the flames? For by the cart-load they are annually burned. Sometimes from out the folded paper the pale clerk takes a ring: -the finger it was meant for, perhaps, moulders in the grave; a bank-note sent in swiftest charity: -he whom it would relieve, nor eats nor hungers any more; pardon for those who died despairing; hope for those who died unhoping; good tidings for those who died stifled by unrelieved calamities. On errands of life, these letters speed to death.ʼ This single piece of unqualified information is offered only as hearsay, hence the narrator’s reservations - he is a man of facts after all. This information after the fact is an undoing of the story, an “Oh, I get it”, for the reader. It is a devastating compromise to the story’s qualities. It seems that Bartleby can only be revealed in some comprehensible way to the reader after death. What it reveals is a desire for the kind of end that Bartleby, as photographic figure, cannot provide. He is the undoing of this kind of unity. The heart-rending futilities indicated in the list of lost contacts, gifts offered and unknowingly not received, are almost too much for the sentimentalities of the man of law to comprehend. They can be redeemed not by having once passed through Bartleby’s hands, but through having been written by the narrator. It is the lawyer’s story after all, his attempt to write the impossible, to produce for posterity a man without references. I am not suggesting that to experiment fully with photography one must ultimately cease photographing in order to live - quite the contrary, without this we would not be offered the critical modes and potentials for resistance as suggested by the figure of Bartleby. It is, simply, that one must attend to the photograph critically, sceptically even, for it not to simply become food without substance, the redeeming picture of the abandoned corpse rather than the wilder, more critical possibilities of the subject as abandonment itself.
This contribution to Bedeutung forms a printed matter extension to Beasley’s solo exhibition, Malamud, which will take place at Office Baroque in December 2008. Apart from the last work, all the images produced here have been produced specifically for this issue of Bedeutung. All citations are from Herman Melville’s Bartleby, The Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street as first published in Putnam’s Monthly: A Magazine of Literature, Science, and Art. New York, G. P. Putnam & Co., Vol. II—November 1853. No. XI, pp. 546–557; Vol II. December 1853. No. XII, pp. 609–615. The full text is available at http://www.bartleby.com/129/ Page references are omitted here to encourage a full reading of the story. Thanks to Susan Weiner’s essay ‘"Bartleby": Representation, Reproduction, and the Law’ (in Law in Art: Melville’s Major Fiction and Nineteenth-Century American Law, Peter Lang, New York, 1992, p92-111) which supported and developed the instincts I had regarding Bartleby and photography. All images courtesy of the artist, Laura Bartlett Gallery, London and Oﬃce Baroque, Antwerp Image Credits: p.76: Figure (Part 6) (Bedeutung Version), Gelatin silverprint, actual size, 2008 p.77: Figure (Part 5) (Bedeutung Version), Gelatin silverprint, actual size, 2008 p.78: Aerial View (Head Box drawing ) (Bedeutung Version), pencil on paper, actual size, 2008 p.79: Base View (Head Box drawing) (Bedeutung Version), pencil on paper, actual size, 2008 p.80: Head Box (For R.W.) (Bedeutung Version), Scan from unprinted negative, 2008 p.81: The Archaeologist & The Road Engineer (Part 1), Seamed gelatin silver print, Edition of 2, 82x100cm, 2006 Art 77
Some Cursory Comments on the Nature of my Diagrammatic Drawings
The diagram is indeed a chaos, a catastrophe but it is also a germ of order or rhythm. It is a violent chaos in relation to the ﬁgurative givens, but it is a germ of rhythm in relation to the new order of the painting. As Bacon says, it “unlocks areas of sensation. Francis Bacon: the logic of Sensation, Gilles Deleuze The diagram or abstract machine is the map of relations between forces – a map of destiny, or intensity, which proceeds by primary non-localizable relation and at every moment, passes through every point, or rather in every relation from one point to another. Foucault, Gilles Deleuze
Earthling Drawing: To Read It Is To Perform It
approach the Earthling Drawing that is tacked to my wall. It is at some distance now and what I see is a multicolored abstract drawing that covers the paper with lines, marks and points distributed unevenly. Several separate areas are demarcated like small continents. These parts, of which there are four, have developed over the past eight years. They have been drawn, overdrawn, and redrawn, extended and edited. As such, the drawing is an impermanent condition of a still evolving process. The ﬁrst part is called The Cultured Brain Drawing and ﬁlls the space in the middle right hand section. It looks like an amoeba with pseudo pods. The second part is called The Global Generator and it is funnel shaped and situated at the bottom. The third section is called The Becoming Brain Drawing and is found on the far left. Finally, The Earthling Drawing is found in the upper right hand corner and was the most recent addition. As I continue my approach I realize that there are words that adorn its’ arabesque forms. I ﬁrst point and then deliver my ﬁnger quite randomly to a location towards the center left center. This initial touch begins a drifting process in which my ﬁngertip is a compass navigating a route or root to other locations and places as a tracing. My ﬁnger, for instance, alights ﬁrst in The Cultured Brain Drawing on Culture 1 (Extensive Culture). It then moves up, along a tracing connecting it to Culture 2 (Intensive Culture). The arrow is bidirectional and connotes that each is symbiotic and contained in the other as nested symbolic gestures (see ﬁgure 2).
Intensive Culture (Culture 2) is the product of an ontological process that emanates from Culture 1 (Extensive Culture) and is deﬁned by a multiplicitous, non-linear, rhizomatous process, immaterial labor as a virtuoso performance and the conditions of the social brain. It has supplanted its predecessor Culture 1 (Extensive, Culture), deﬁned here as a set of conditions that have been formed according to a different set of coordinates and logics. Ones, which are equally divisible, linear, and narrative, in which labor concerns the production of real objects tethered to the actions of the physical body. Each is situated in a diffused milieu of The Cultured Brain Drawing signiﬁed by random colored dots made with the end of a blunt magic marker. Closer inspection unveils a series of ﬂowing multicolored lines swooping in from the bottom left where, after entering the inside of the drawing, they seem to fragment.
By a reverse tracing, the ďŹ nger follows the multiple multi-colored curved lines back down towards an upside-down, cone-shaped funnel situated below. I refer to this part of the drawing as The Global Generator. The cone is divided into two parts. The top is the generative source of the colored lines and upon closer inspection one can see that they are labeled according to the immaterial relations such as the social, political, historical, economic, psychological and unknown that they designate. Each, in itself, is in constant ďŹ‚ux and is caused by the incessant shifting of internal differences which form its structure constituted by, for instance, the logic of the symbolic conditions that give it meaning. Moving the eye along each sinewy strand -in fact the eye has learned to follow the ďŹ nger- one begins to notice lightly traced eddies and whirlpools that represent feedback and feed-forward circuits that link all the relations together and that through a series of tight junctions, open conduits allowing for the exchange of internalized elements, allowing information to diffuse from one relation to the other, producing differences that need to be adjusted to.
Forming the substructure of the funnel is a series of labels like, Ethnoscape and Mediascape that refer to the mutating conditions of culture in the global setting adopted from the work of Arjun Appadurai Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. They form the foundation of the cultural shifts from Culture 1 to Culture 2. I resume my drift and now move my ﬁnger again upward and rejoin the The Cultured Brain Drawing. My ﬁnger tip, like a vagabond, circulates throughout the terrain of the inside, ﬁnding shelter under its nested regularities labeled Plastic Arts, Architecture, Technology and The Film Arts. Like the Visual Culture they together help to produce each other, in a condition of ﬂux as they respond to the same immaterial conditions. Each attempts, as best it can, using its own histories, performances, apparatti, techniques and materials to make its own image. An image that is a present and past tense simultaneously. An image of the past, which is reﬂected in the history of all its past
images, as each travels along its own journey of time. How the design of jewelry and religious artifacts used in burial rights has changed since the time of the Cro Magna! In the present tense, each is the consummated activity of the immaterial relations that it embodies and that, like a mirror, reﬂects back to be visualized and cogitated by the subject as observer who, witnessing the differences in that ontology, understands the differences inherent also in himself and herself. But, as an assemblage of constitutive elements in the much larger apparatus of visual culture, these separate aesthetic-producing activities together, constitute a non-linear, emerging superstructure that is more than the sum of its parts. This superstructure digresses away from an equilibrium condition; entropy plays havoc on its component parts as well as on itself, it releases latent potentialities, adding them to contemporary forms, resulting in an image of thought that deﬁnes that epoch. Thus, who would have ever imagined that Surrealism would emerge from the Bowels of Impressionism and that the New Figuration of, say, John Currin or Elizabeth Peyton in the early 1990s would have developed from a culture obsessed with conceptualism and abstraction. And, today, the mutating social political historical economic and psychological conditions of, for instance, Post-Fordist Labor in the Age of the Multitude and the Empire constitute art works, built spaces and buildings, ﬁlms that also respond to mutating conditions producing the works of artists like Liam Gillick or Carey Young and architects like RUR and Zaha Hadid.
figure 5 My ﬁnger, like a mouse on a computer screen, engages the drawing again now in a random walk through this information map and alights again on Culture 2 and then moves through a portal, into an area called The Secondary Repertoire just above and to its left. The Secondary Repertoire is a condition of the nervous system that results from the reaction to its environment, of which culture plays an important role. As a result of the conditions of intrauterine development and the genetic contribution of your mother and father, the brain, at birth, is made up of elements that are ready to operate in the speciﬁc environment that the baby might ﬁnd itself. These, you might say, are pre-determined, like the sucking reﬂex and the beginnings of sight. I might say, however, that this Determined Brain is very underdeveloped compared to, for instance, a baby horse, that at birth can already walk. Nonetheless, there is also a Becoming Brain, one that has the potential to be modiﬁed. A brain in which large areas have not yet been organized and that are ready to meet the speciﬁc demands, within reason, that it is born into. According to neuroscientist Gerald Edelman, in his book, co-authored with Giulio Tononi, A Universe of Consciousness, the brain is made up of a large population of variable nervous elements, some of which can become selected for by the conditions of the world that it ﬁnds itself in. Neurons -the basic building blocks of the nervous system and neural networks- that are selected, operate more efﬁciently than those not selected for and, accordingly, will out-compete others for the conﬁned and limited space of the brain. The process of, for instance, neural selectionism, combined with the brain's inherent potential for change, called Neural Plasticity, allows for a sculpting of the brain. Each culture provides a metaphor for that sculpting, whether it is the Figurations of Rodin, the Scatter Art of Barry Le Vay or the cacophonous meanderings of Jason Rhodes that call out to the brain in different ways, intensifying different networks and currents and diminishing others. D.O. Hebb in his famous book of 1949, The Organization of Behavior, states that "neurons that ﬁre together wire together”. In this context, this adage becomes "Network conditions in the Real-Imaginary-Virtual Interface sculpt Network Conditions in the Brain.” These new forms of interconnectivity reﬂect the cultural conditions and the immaterial relations that, as we already saw, produce it. The mutating conditions of the assemblage of Networks as they are produced by the mutating conditions of culture create new dynamic pathways for thought and the imagination. In fact, each culture produces what Deleuze called 'noology', the history of the Thought Image through its inﬂection in the intergenerational conditions of the selected brain and the psychological and philosophical thoughts that emerge. As we have mentioned already, Culture 2 directly contacts the Secondary Repertoire through a portal cut in the ﬂesh of the diffuse milieu of Cultured Brain Drawing's Microscopy. It is connected to the Primary Repertoire from which it emerges. The pleuripotential Primary Repertoire
is the brain at birth or shortly before. It is the end point of Developmental Selection which, as we mentioned above, produces the variable population of neurons that Culture 2 can now act upon. It is a node that indirectly connects the other parts of the drawing; to its upper right the Earthling Drawing and to the left the Becoming Brain. The Earthling Drawing delineates the conditions of the unconscious and the pre-individual, where the new logics of global Capitalism, according to Antonio Negri and Maritzio Lazzarato, are now focused. In the transformation of labour to its current post-Fordist condition, noo-politics, namely the ensemble of techniques of control exercised on the brain and aimed at memory and attention is the order of the day. Through the 'distribution of sensible', the partage du sensible as Jacques Ranciere has deﬁned it in The Politics of Aesthetic, sovereignty creates a series of laws and dispositions that establish the modes of perception, that is, the set of perceptual horizons, a system of self-evident facts of perception that delineate what can be heard, said made and done. Those distributions are very different in an Intensive Culture and in an Extensive Culture. The order and sequencing of those stimuli, especially as they are generated in built space, have implications for the history of the thought image and the becoming brain. In the present Intensive Global Culture, the expanded role of capital in the generation of the general intellect by consortium of media giants, cognitive neuroscientiﬁc research assemblages, the military, advertising ﬁrms, polling interests consciously or unconsciously have littered Cultural Visual/Haptic Landscape with very sensational stimuli. Paul Virilio has labeled these processed and engineered stimuli Phatic Stimuli to draw attention to their conditions of Emphasis and Empathy, which are engineered to call out to the brain and mind of the multitude. Branding would be an example of such a Phatic Stimuli, especially as they circulate in the real abstract conditions of billions of televisions and computer desktop terminals. In the expanded condition of thousands of these phatic stimuli operating together in immanent assemblages forming intensive networks of phaticity, a simulated ecology of meaning becomes possible. This intensive environment is now what calls out to the brain and preferentially selects neurons and neural nets according to its logic. This is one condition of the Earthling as a new Global Subject in the production of the people of the planet Earth. But there is another story. In their most Utopian sense artists, architects, designers, writers and cinematographers, to name a few, utilize their own methods, apparati, histories, spaces, performances to produce another distribution of the sensible, a Redistribution of the Sensible that competes with that of the aforementioned Institutional Conditions for the attentions and memories of the multitude. This is the real story of the Earthling Drawing. Art as a form of resistance in which the form(s) of the Distributed Sensibility is the conceptual palate through which new forms of imagination with their potential for difference are transﬁgured.
figures 6 & 7
The diffused logic of my now unconscious ﬁnger searching for the intense psycho-geographic spaces ﬁnds itself, through diagonal and lingering gestures, in the cyclic looped Earthling Drawing. Here is where the dynamis of subjectivity is produced; where the pre-individuals of singularity reside. Embedded in a spinning vortex of energy relations are histories of forms of that resistance to institutional norms, which constitute the homogeneity of the people. Practices like The Paranoid Critical Method of Salvador Dali, the channeling and theater of cruelty of Antonin Artaud, the Ready-Made of Marcel Duchamp, the Derive of Gilles Debord, the collage of John Heartﬁeld, the automatic writing of Andre Breton which produce new objects, object relations, space, reactions and virtuoso performances. To these practices could be added the Race, Gender and Class-Based practices that have become critically important in the past forty years. Here, the work of Mary Kelly, Andrea Fraser, Felix Gonzales Torres, Fred Wilson and Valie Export come to mind. These new conditions of distribution of sensibility, now populated by these other objects emanating from quite different conditions, cause perturbations in the Institutional Diagram and produce adjustments of the minds eye as it scans the visual, auditory and haptic landscape in its daily routines. Through the same process of Neural Selectionism and its affect on the primary repertoire new connections are built: an other Cultured Brain. As such, attention and memory, the building blocks of the conscious and unconscious, are undeniably affected as well. As the world of imagination and fantasy creates the internally mediated stimulation of those and other circuits, neural sculpting and the mind will, through various feed-forward and feedback looping, be affected. Sovereignty in the age of controlling the mind at a distance is hip to the contingencies of the possibility of culture as its competitor. The new war on culture and the differences it produces is taking many forms. From the reduction of funding, to the extended power of the market place, to the new interest in the funding of what are referred to as the cultured industries, Sovereignty is doing all it can to usurp the power of the artist.
Interview Alexandros Stavrakas Photography by Lucy Levene
artino Gamper studied sculpture and product-design at the University of Applied Art and the Academy of Fine Art in Vienna. In 1998 he came to London, where, after completing his studies, started his own practice. He now develops and produces a wide range of objects, from limited editions to semi-industrial products and site-specific installations. He has exhibited at various spaces: V&A, Design Museum, Sotheby’s, Nilufar Gallery, Oxo Tower, Kulturhuset / Stockholm, National Gallery / Oslo and elsewhere. Bedeutung met him at his studio in East London.
Bedeutung: Martino, could you tell us about the 'One Hundred Chairs in One Hundred Days Project'. Martino Gamper: As the name states, I had one hundred days to design one hundred chairs, working uninterruptedly. I have trained as cabinet maker, so it was a nice way for me to go back into furniture. I am interested in the creative process but the actual skill of working on a project and seeing it at the end is something very fascinating. Having only one day to create something may be rewarding at the end of the day, but it is a very unique way of working: there is a limit to how long you can think about the concept and how long you have to dedicate to the actual process. Thinking and making are two distinct parts of your brain: this is the strain of the project. On the other hand, not having enough time to develop an idea is interesting: sometimes, when you have an idea and you work on it more and more, it barely gets any better and you had better used it at the beginning. This was more or less the kind of work that this project necessitated. Looking at them after, all these chairs have a unique character. B: Where did you find all this material for 100 chairs? MG: Most of them I found on the street. About a ﬁfth of it was donated to me by friends who didn’t have a studio to store it in. Four or ﬁve chairs I bought myself from a car boot sale. But the idea was to spend no more than £1, because, before you know, you buy chairs for £50, for £100 and you can’t stop because everywhere you see nice chairs. B: What do you mean that each chair has a unique character? MG: There is the idea: I always thought that there is a use as well as a character. So, for example, some are more stable than others, like people. They remind me of people, people that you might see every day, people that you meet randomly, friends. When I was doing this project, I said to my assistant ‘You know this friend of mine—I think this chair looks exactly like him!’ And talking about friends, this is something that has always driven my ideas: the idea of sharing, of talking about things, of exchange with other people. Hence the Trattoria, which was a place where people would come along in this place that was impossible to
deﬁne—it was also used as a gallery space for shows every now and then. So, we would get together, people from different creative and artistic backgrounds, graphic designers, musicians, photographers—we would all invest energy and thought in this and, most importantly, it was a primal exchange system, in which every person would contribute what he or she did best or could offer and, therefore, we would experience all these things, such as being our own clients. Of course, it was a lot of work, but we enjoyed it. I cannot say whether it was driven by ﬁnancial need, but it’s certainly something that, in different ways, happens a lot in the creative industry: exchange. For me, I would say, it was initially a research project. And you see how it all ties together: if I had designed a chair for a big company, I probably wouldn’t have found myself interested in this project. More than anything, because I would have entered this world of client relations, of everything being about the customer, the commission, the commercial aspect. I ﬁnd this prospect problematic: that many people will put themselves in positions where they are semi-content but not really happy, where it’s more about the compromises they have to make than about the work they have to do. And, instead, here we were, a bunch of people, from different ﬁelds and, also, with rotating roles, communicating and seriously interacting with each other. B: You talked about this project, into which you and your friends crashed into each other’s territory. How did this work? Most people usually prefer the segregation of what they do best. MG: I prefer to think in more collaborative terms. More to the point, I feel very strongly against this separation of design, art and real life. First off, I don’t think , like many do, that there is anything sacred about design or art, that they are elevated above real life. Nor do I, obviously, think that design is just something fancy that is sold in shops as part of a ‘lifestyle’. Design is about beauty and function: you ﬁnd something, you buy it, you bring it home—furniture, clothes, even, in a sense having dinner—and that provides you with a nice experience. It’s not just vanity. In fact, it’s even more. To expand slightly on this thought, design goes beyond function or look, form—it is something that also has social implications. That is to say, think of a corner and how it makes you interact in a certain way to your environment and the people around you. Or, think of an interesting object of furniture, a chair, and how it can make you think, inspire you, provide you with a complete different experience than if it was ordinarily designed. B: Do you prioritise beauty over function in your work?
MG: I think there should deﬁnitely be a function in a piece. Having said that, my delight in art is design. Duchamp once said that if you look at a chair and you can’t sit on it, it’s art; if you can, it’s design. I think this is the most catchy way to deﬁne these two worlds. But, as I said before, I place importance in actually experiencing objects, so I opt for function as well, something that allows you, even minimally, to engage, to interact and not just look. I remember having an exhibition of my works at a museum and they wanted to place my chairs on a plinth and I opposed that; I wanted them arranged normally on the ﬂoor. So, they agreed and then a guy comes in and starts putting tape around them. I tried explaining to him that I don’t care if somebody falls over. Just put a sign there: ‘Use At Your Own Risk’, which is actually funny, because we are talking about chairs. This obsession with ‘health and safety’ creates a detachment from the world. You can look, but not touch. But it’s not only safety concerns. There is, generally, a tendency to put things on plinths and stands. And this totemic culture that elevates things above the so-called real world cultivates in people the feeling that they have to understand things, not just look, feel and enjoy them. Eventually, it can be a very frustrating thing. I remember this story from an art project in a 19th century fortress close to Northern Italy, where I’m from: it was a completely empty space in which there were video and sound installations around and I had provided the furniture. When people ﬁrst came, they were so intimidated that they wouldn’t sit down on the chairs, fearing they were not meant to be there to be sat on. B: What is the appeal of the re-used materials? Does this disassembly and re-arrangement of components to produce something new carry any particular significance for you, for your work? MG: When companies come to me and propose that I design a chair for them, I start pondering; I go to factories, I look around a bit, I think about objects I’ve done in the past and try to imagine doing something in mass production. But what excites me is that pre-made, preexisting things give me the possibility to work faster and also be more playful with the material. In the world of prime planning, you have to buy the initial materials, then design them etc. But here I start with things that already have a very strong shape and this makes it so much more interesting to work with them and come up with ways to make something out of them. I ﬁnd this a rather emancipating process. For me, it’s more inspiring to have a half-empty fridge than a full one. I particularly like the idea that some of the things I use, somehow have a story in them, the fabrics have patters from seating. And my work begins with thinking how I can translate this into something new.
B: But, you know, there is the other side to this story. This resuscitation that you attempt can, actually, be seen as very melancholic. Mutilated parts glued together may have taken up a new shape, but they are clearly odd, displaced, even monstrous, not in an aesthetic sense but in a symbolic way. MG: I never thought about it this way - they’re freaks! B: They are: cut limbs, put together! MG: That’s a very good observation, I never thought of them in this way. B: It’s interesting how, in the process of working with these materials, things you wouldn’t imagine going together suddenly fit incredibly well, as if they were designed for each other from the start; something you can’t know until you’re already there. MG: Of course. What I also realised is that there isn’t one kind of chair; there are many, all with different ergonomics. So, let’s say, rather, that there isn’t one shape that signiﬁes a chair: it can have almost any shape, to ﬁt different functions, different people. Something that looks very uncomfortable can turn out to be quite the opposite. B: Is there any politics in your work? Do you work with used materials out of some environmental conviction, such as recycling? MG: Some people claim that I am a ‘green’ designer and the expect me to voice opinions on environmental matters and express my green visions. But it’s not like that. Of course, I am interested in how our world is changing and how we also have to change. But I think of recycling in different ways than most people: for me it starts well before the household; it starts somewhere in the shops. When you’ve already done your shopping and you get home and you have you neat rubbish bins, you are maybe doing something good, but this is not where recycling should start. Material efﬁciency shouldn’t begin at your kitchen bin. B: What are you doing at the moment? MG: I have just ﬁnished a project for Conran’s birthday. He is bringing out a book with all the things that have inspired him in all his life and one of the things is furniture. I did a chair that he really liked and then he invited me to work on it; this is what I’m working on at the moment. I went to the factory to choose bits to work with and I ﬁnd this a fascinating part of the creation process: the components are there and it is your role to bring them together. It’s a bit like music, the combination of pre-existing individual sounds. B: Is creating something new very important in your work? MG: It’s important but not in a conventional way. It’s not so much about ﬁnding a new process, because the process quickly turns out to be used in a very conventional way. I try to do the opposite: I have the material, not the most amazing material as such, but there are very interesting bits in it and then I try to make the process interesting. B: Is there some project that you have in mind for the future? MG: I would really like to design a chair that goes into industrial production. I think this would not only be a tremendous challenge, but something that would also be a departure for me. I don’t know when the right time for something like that will be; maybe now, maybe later. In any case, these things take long, this would be at least a two-year project. I enjoy projects that involve a long process; it’s hard work but, eventually, when it's done, you look at it and think of the long process that produced it and that's a very satisfying feeling.
A SECULAR AGE
RITERS of an atheistic bent, struggling to find immortality in the printed word and (by definition) unconsoled by the prospect of death bringing a gathering into the bosom of Abraham, will be well-served by the latest fad in publishing: anti-religious tracts. As long as one has the wherewithal to string a few sentences together
Against the subtraction story, he wishes to show that the rise of secular modernity can only be explained by ‘newly constructed self-understandings and related practices’. To this end, Taylor’s first task is to show the reader how uncanny the world-view of 1500 seems to our eyes. Modernity’s boundary between the self and world—where meaning is a feature of the mind alone—is inapplicable to the Medieval world, where external
Michael Withey reviews Charles Taylor's latest book
pointing out that faith lacks a scientific basis, that al-Qaeda and the Inquisition are a nasty bunch, and that happiness should be found in this life rather than in eternity, one stands a good chance of being printed by a reputable publishing house and being lapped up by a public braying for the death of God. The works of Hitchens, Dawkins and Onfray should stand as inspiration for such writers. But this is not to say that contemporary philosophers have had nothing of note to say on the issue of belief. Agamben, Habermas, Dennett and Charles Taylor - four philosophers of wildly disparate outlooks - have, in the last few years, published works that have made real contributions to this debate. The question motivating A Secular Age is the following - ‘in 1500, a lack of faith was unthinkable. In 2008, faith becomes one option among many. Why is this the case?’ Taylor’s specific concern is the relation between belief and the Lebenswelt— how does our lived, active engagement with the world influence the conditions of belief, and how has this changed so radically as to allow secularism to emerge? One of Taylor’s major motivations in this book is a polemic against historiographical accounts putting forward a ‘subtraction story’, whereby the rise of secularism is to be explained by societies having ‘liberated themselves from […] limitations of knowledge’, which, having been discarded, leaves behind ‘certain features of human nature which were there all along, but had been impeded by what had now been set aside’.
objects are imbued with meaning and an individual’s emotions are identified with the actions of gods or the influence of malign forces; where the cosmos itself is seen as embodying a hierarchy of being. Medieval society is bound by collective, sacred rituals whose conception of time is imbued with ‘higher times’ and which, in contrast to the modern linear time, stress the proximity of events that stand aeons apart (the sacrifices of Isaac and Christ; Good Friday, etc.). This is a world that exists in a profound tension. The ordinary flourishing of human life—its quotidian pleasures, the need for procreation, the centrality of pride and the warrior-ethic—stand in clear distinction to the demands of the Gospel, with its demands of celibacy and the renunciation of earthly pleasures. The monastic vocation saw the rise of a class dedicating their lives to God, taking the mantle of holiness on behalf of a laity who was not expected to show this devotion. Similarly, the Carnival—the ‘feasts of misrule’, where boys wear the mitre and fools wear the crown—allowed the tension between established order and the egalitarian ideal of Christianity to be brought into the open, instantiating the latter and thereby re-invigorating the former. The need for a resolution of these tensions—between structure and anti-structure; between the lives of the priest and the laity; between ordinary flourishing and the imperatives of the Christian faith—drives this book’s historical narrative. These tensions, being expressions of equally compelling but mutually incompatible demands on man and society, see various attempts made Literature 113
throughout history to decide in favour of one side or the other; however, these tensions do not admit of resolution. Neither, however, do they admit of dissolution, and one of Taylor’s contentions is that rumours of religion’s death may have been overstated. The tensions that have driven the history of Christianity are still very much in force today. The first two essays concern the shift away from the enchanted world to the ‘impersonal order’ of seventeen-century Deism, tracing the construction of new notions of man, society, God, time and religion. Driving this change are the tensions present in Christendom, and the desire to intensify faith and establish orthodoxy. Nominalist philosophers reject Aquinas’ notion of final causes, which, by giving natural objects an inherent good, restricts God’s freedom; the resulting world-view, consisting only of efficient causes ordered by a providential Deity, casts God to the realm of the supernatural and lays the foundation for the scientific method of Bacon. Franciscan orders take a greater role in preaching to the laity, to raise their religious conscience; this imperative intensifies and results in the Reformation, undermining the social instantiation of Christianity and placing it exclusively on the individual’s faith. Theologians increasingly denigrate practices that place God’s power in external objects, such as the relics of saints; meaning gradually retreats from the outside world, resulting in Weber’s disenchantment. The eclipse of a hierarchical order, which had at its highest points a deep connection with the otherworldly, brought down Christian practice to everyday flourishing; in doing so, it identified the Christian society with the economically productive society and denied any dimension of the spirit outside of the secular order. The result of these changes is a revolutionary shift in the conception of the subject. The demarcation between man and world becomes absolute, and an increasing emphasis is placed on man’s ability to effect change upon the world, bringing about a fundamental shift in his relation to himself, to his society, to the world, and to God. As religion becomes disembedded from external objects and social practices, the conception of the state moves from an eternal, hierarchical order to a break from nature, imposing its edicts upon the raw material of man. Political philosophy and man’s social imaginary begin to adopt an instrumental stance to the state, which is justified by the benefit it brings to its subjects, and man’s virtue is defined in terms of his contribution to this mutual benefit. The tensions inherent in Christianity—between human and Christian flourishing—are not resolved by these changes. Ordinary human flourishing becomes Christianised but, in doing so, Christianity becomes identified with the flour114 Bedeutung
ishing of the world. God can then drop out of the picture. Taylor’s book wishes to do far more than merely chart the rise of secularism from the Middle Ages to the Postmodern age. This history wishes to undermine the residual dualism which attributes the decline of religion to material conditions in society—a thesis which is dualistic insofar as it fails to recognise ideas and material conditions of society as being a part of man’s Lebenswelt. The history of religious life from the Middle Ages to the Reformation is a thorough demolition of the subtraction story, and shows just how far the ideas of man and society which underpin modernity cannot be understood if they are not seen as novel constructions of man’s relation to the world; we cannot account for the decline of religion by the rise of science or the decline of traditional authority without seeing how their effects only matter against the background of the ‘buffered self ’ of modernity. A second, and related, aim is to show that historical changes which ‘inevitably’ bring about secularisation can, in fact, provide the background for new forms of spirituality to emerge—the tensions which motivate the narrative of Reform are not resolved by modernity; indeed, they are felt more keenly, and resolve themselves into a range of spiritual positions. The narrative which sees the waxing of modernity to bring about the waning of religion is refuted by Taylor’s history, which demonstrates how the conditions of modernity can as easily bring about a resurgence of the spiritual life, be it Methodism in England or the French Counter-Reformation. Indeed, Taylor attempts to analyse the ‘subtraction story’ itself as part of the rise of modernity. Edward Gibbon’s history of the Roman Empire is seen as a paradigm example of a new social science, which tries to cleave off God from explanatory forces in human history; man’s action is now seen as the motor of human progress, whose telos is man’s immanent flourishing. But for Taylor, this supposedly value-free account of social science is anything but—it is motivated by a conception of man being in control of history, an understanding of man which depends on the condition of modernity. The various subtractionstories of Kant, Comte, Freud and suchlike are shown to be blind to their own historical context, and primarily motivated by ethical reasons—to wit, the desire to slew off the ‘childlike’ features of faith and face the world via the ‘adult’, valuefree concepts of science. The conception of religion as a method of social control, so popular in today’s atheistic manifestos, is very easily seen as a mistaken application of the conceptions of modernity applied to a system of belief that cannot
be understood in this manner. Taylor’s analysis is thus a salutary lesson against this reductive account of religion, and stands as a real contribution to the analysis of God and man. The rise of exclusive humanism brings with it dangers of its own. Taylor’s analysis of Carnival and the ‘hierarchical complimentarily’ are absolutely key to his account of human flourishing. The hierarchical roles people pay in medieval societies threaten to alienate people from their primal energies; the rigid codification of the law threatens to alienate us from the egalitarian community which the law serves; the City of Man threatens to eclipse the City of God; there is a primal energy in man, resisting integration into the symbolic order, which must be paid its due. Carnival allows these tensions to be held in equilibrium, strengthening the law of man by showing that the ultimate law lies beyond this, allowing the fundamental egalitarianism of this ultimate law to reign, however briefly. Crucially, however, Taylor does not take the step of taking Carnival to be a model for a society which can, provided we can find the perfect structure, exist in this world. He analyses this step as the root, not only of the decline of religion, but also of totalitarianism—the utopian longing of the anti-structure is identified with the ultimate good of man. This anti-structure has no limits to its enforcement, can brook no disagreement, and cannot tolerate the view that man’s nature is contradictory, his goods many and mutually exclusive. Taylor is unsparing in his condemnation of those revolutionaries who would immenatise the eschaton—be it Christian devotion, the General Will of Rousseau, the non-alienation of labour envisaged by Marx or the ‘play’ of the revolutionaries of May 1968. The failure of their utopian longings is neither due to historical contingency (‘the Revolution would have succeeded, were it not for Stalin’s betrayal…’) nor an inadequate account of man’s true good—it resides in the very totalising nature of the emancipatory project. Certainly, one of the canards of contemporary secularism—that we should not equate the atrocities of Stalin with atheism in the same way that we can equate Torquemada with Christianity, since Stalin’s motivations are Marxist, not purely atheistic—is undermined by Taylor’s analysis. The danger of totalitarianism resides in any belief system which holds an univocal analysis of human good, seeing its opponents as spiritually degenerate, class traitors, or what have you, and there is no reason why exclusive humanism could not fall into this trap. Given the above, it is unsurprising that Taylor’s conception of human flourishing takes its intellectual pedigree from the value-pluralism of Literature 115
Isaiah Berlin. The rise of the secular order has not ridded us of the tensions of the previous era, and the development of the society and philosophy is far from a straightforward ascent from Christian superstition to Enlightenment. The disenchanted world, where God is at best an architect, morality enlightened self-interest, and aesthetics a feeling of subjective pleasure, is a world which the human spirit naturally rebels, to preserve something higher. It is against this background that Kant identifies morality with noumenal freedom; the Romantics seek to reunify reason and nature, both in our desire and in nature; the egalitarian benevolent order is held by Ernst Jünger and Nietzsche to deny the heroethic and the possibility of human flourishing which goes beyond dumb happiness, and is to be replaced by a vertical and hierarchical order which is grounded in immanent concerns only. Aesthetics, ethics and politics become bulwarks against the flattening concerns of the immanent frame, and their considerations are brought to bear on society—whether in Mill’s concern to rescue higher pleasures from the clutches of Benthamite utilitarianism, the Evangelical movement and the French Counter-Reformation, Marxism and Fascism. The immanent frame is one in which a range of intellectual, moral and political positions are allowed to flourish, albeit with varying degrees of success. The range of these positions between orthodox belief and the ‘immanent frame’ becomes huge in the 1960s, which stresses that, if the individual is to find a spiritual path, it must be one which truly expresses the self, which allows the individual to ‘become what he truly is’, to use Heidegger’s phrase. This can take the form of the soixonte-huitards, who wish to bring a new form of utopianism, where play is central to human life; more prosaically, it can take the form of the bourgeois bohemian (the ‘BoBos’, to use Taylor’s hilarious designation) who make their peace with capitalism, using it as a background for self-development (typically by taking up yoga and working for Google). The title of this book could be expressed in an interrogative form. One of Taylor’s intentions in this book—arguably the main intention—is to show how far the conditions of modernity and post-modernity allow new forms of ‘spirituality’ to develop, keeping the immanent frame open to transcendental considerations. This is because the tensions driving the Christian reformation remain at a deadlock, even after we have ruled out transcendence as the locus of human flourishing. The repudiation of man’s fallen nature casts sin into the realm of exogenous, societal pressures, or else dubs it an illness, thus rendering the perverse 116 Bedeutung
dignity which Christianity gives to the sinner, illegitimate. By blaming society for man’s evil, the work of reform is pressed into the denial of man’s fallen nature, which is to be removed from society either by force (in the case of Bolshevism) or into a mass therapisation of society (feminist speech codes, cracking down on smoking, and suchlike)—a project of reform which, in its repudiation of ordinary desires in the name of immanent transcendence, can be read as a secular Calvinism, and whose results certainly match religion in the quantity of blood spilled in the pursuit of this ideal. Those secularists who hold that an essential harmony between man can be achieved, such that his pursuit of good becomes coterminous with society’s, are equally guilty as Christianity of failing to acknowledge the plurality of incompatible human goods, and equally devastating in their attempts to transform the world in the name of their vision. The desire to alleviate suffering on a purely immanent basis can easily breed misanthropy when faced by the insurmountable size of this task. We are far removed from the end of religious history. None of this is original. However, Taylor’s response to this deadlock—unambiguously and unashamedly Christian—is quite stunning. Taylor seeks to rehabilitate agapē. In his reading of Ivan Illich, Taylor finds, in the Christian ethic, an essentially revolutionary force, with the love of the Christian for his fellow man as constitutive of a new kind of freedom, breaking out against the strictures of society. It is a love that exists between individuals, in their particularity, and as such is universal; it is a love that cannot be hypostatised into an institution without losing this essential aspect. The emphasis on embodied individuals is crucial—it opposes the scientific viewpoint of the human body as an object, or as a tool, and emphasises our embodied experience within the world; agapē is to be seen as a love emanating from one such embodied individual to another, and is a love that cannot be translated into universal moral codes. It is in agapē that Taylor seeks to overcome the alienation from the body which repelled the Romantics; in its inevitably contingent nature, he finds a morality which can acknowledge the plurality of human goods; which can address our darkest tendencies without bowdlerising or seeking to rid us of them. Taylor’s rehabilitation of Christianity is based on a desire to identify a necessary gap between the demands of faith and the social order; in this, he finds a truly human faith, and one which can, if not resolve the tensions of modernity, at least provide an understanding of these tensions as eternal aspects of the human condition, recalcitrant to any solution. It is a universalism that does full justice to the particular.
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Cartoon: 'A Man-Mid-wife', Wellcome Library, London
The Doctress; or, A Secret History of 1793
developed a morbid fascination with Philadelphia's yellow fever epidemic of 1793 while undertaking research for her book, Quixotic Fictions of the USA, 17921815 (Oxford University Press, 2005). There had been yellow fever outbreaks before, but the humanitarian and political impact of the 1793 epidemic was unprecedented: 1 in 10 of Philadelphia's inhabitants perished of the disease, often in squalid conditions, while Philadelphia's political elite -including current President George Washington and future Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson- fled the city for safer ground. Writing a chapter on historical and fictional accounts of the epidemic, Sarah Wood was frustrated by the absence of first-hand female accounts: the literate, educated women she had expected to comment on the fever had also left the city at the outbreak of the epidemic, seeking refuge in the more salubrious atmosphere of their summer retreats. When the ruling class returned, the men and women who had remained in the city and pulled it through the crisis were roundly denounced by the â€˜fever narrativesâ€™ that were published and widely circulated across the United States in the months following the epidemic. WestIndian refugees, black churchmen, and ordinary tradesmen were all accused or, at the very least, suspected of misconduct. But the harshest opprobrium was reserved for the nurses who had worked at Bush-Hill Hospital. These workingclass women were vilified as unfeeling, pilfering, drunkards, too busy copulating in corridors to care for patients in overcrowded wards. With little education, no political influence and no access to the press, the women were unable to defend themselves in print, and their stories went untold. The Doctress; or, A Secret History of 1793 revisits this dark, defining moment of US history from a female perspective, tracing the stories of three women -a Quaker doctress, a French refugee, and a runaway Caribbean slave- who are thrown together in the harrowing, yet unexpectedly liberating, atmosphere of plague-ridden Philadelphia. The novel, which is currently under construction, opens with the following letter and frontispiece. The letter is dated 1798, a year of increasing paranoia and xenophobia in political circles, and a period of political repression which saw Philadelphia's Fall of 1793 refigured as a compelling metaphor for the dangers of free-thinking refugees and the sexual freedom of women.
Philadelphia, 4th July 1798
TO MESSRS T. & J. SWORDS It was the Fall of â€™93 and the fever had but recently abated. I was called to attend the residence of Mme Lodi, a refugee arrived from Paris that summer, a widow of tender years and beguiling appearance. The patient had conceived an irrevocable mistrust of physicians and was already suffering the trials of a prolonged and difficult labour when her friends prevailed upon her to admit a doctor to the scene. By the time I arrived, the unfortunate patient was beyond hope, and neither mother nor infant survived the agonies of their cruel ordeal. By some peculiar accident of fate, a packet of papers belonging to the deceased fell into my custody. I found a place for the parcel within my private secretary, under lock and key, and ready for perusal when circumstances allowed. The packet had unaccountably excited my interest and I was eager to untie its bindings and examine its contents. To my frustration, the twinned calls of duty and business kept me occupied throughout the remainder of the day, and it was late into the night before I could retire to my chamber and assuage my curiosity. Upon examination, the packet was found to contain a private manuscript, penned in a somewhat bold and outrĂŠ style. I am unable to confirm with any certainty the veracity of the narrative; however, judging from the little information I have been able to procure, it would appear to be founded on fact. The manuscript shone unwelcome and unlooked for light upon the murky events surrounding the morbid fever, which had so lately ravaged our burgeoning city. If its sordid pages are to be credited, then Philadelphia, during the fateful pestilence of 1793, appears to have been the scene of lewdness and violence unprecedented in the annals of our time. Indeed, when I had finished reading its awful, final lines, I shuddered lest it should ever see the light of day and hastily returned the packet to the safety and obscurity of the secret drawer. Recent events, however, have occasioned me to alter my previous resolution and have induced me to forward these manuscripts to your publishing house with a view to bringing them before the Public. Influenced by the sanguinary course of the French Revolution, political convulsions shake the remotest corners of the globe, and even fair Columbiaâ€™s shores have fallen prey to the machinations of disturbant aliens and seditious Jacobins, who contrive to disrupt the unity and contaminate the virtue of the United States. Ours is a brave new world, one that has faced incalculable dangers and made innumerable sacrifices in pursuit of freedom and justice. The material and scientific progress we are daily making, though we inhabit a distant continent, promises to change the face of the civilised world. And yet amongst us there are those who have succumbed to vice and corruption, those who have imbibed the lurking poison that spreads its contagion far and wide. Coming under the influence of pernicious foreign agents, who are prepared to use the most wicked means to accomplish the destruction of our peaceful nation, these renegades from Liberty and Christianity indulge their most sensual desires; they conspire to undermine the virtuous principles of our revolution and overturn the present constitution of our government and society. I fear events related in The Doctress will shock the refined sensibilities of my unsuspecting countrymen. This notwithstanding, the dangers that beset our fledgling nation must be set before the Public, so that patriotic and dutiful Americans can smoke out the enemies within our midst, expose their treachery, and purge them from our homes and from our shores. G.J.
OCTOBER Talks/Lectures-London A Most Wanted Man: John le Carré Talks About his New Book John le Carré Wednesday 1 October Queen Elizabeth Hall Religion and Public Life Anthony O'Hear Friday 3 October Royal Institute of Philosophy A Global Deal for Climate Change Professor Lord Stern of Brentford Monday 6 October London School of Economics The International Criminal Court Ten Years On: Achievements and Challenges Ahead Luis Moreno-Ocampo Tuesday 7 October London School of Economics The China Challenge as Myth and Reality Professor Chen Jian Wednesday 8 October London School of Economics Four Friends in Close-Up: Miró, Calder, Giacometti, Braque Rosamond Bernier Friday 10 October Royal Academy of Arts The Challenge of Climate Change Professor Sir David King Monday 13 October London School of Economics Psychoanalytic Thought, History and Political Life Series of Workshops Jacqueline Rose and Daniel Pick Tuesday 14 October - Tuesday 9 December Birkbeck Why is There Such Resistance to Public Re-Examination of the Values We Live By? 128 Bedeutung
Wednesday 15 October Royal Society of Arts
Wednesday 22 October London School of Economics
America Decides Simon Schama Thursday 16 October Queen Elizabeth Hall
The Politics of Climate Change Professor Lord Anthony Giddens Wednesday 22 October London School of Economics
The Incarnation: Divine Embodiment and Divided Minds Robin Le Poidevin Friday 17 October Royal Institute of Philosophy
Trial by Media, or by Courts? Contempt and Publicity Nick Davies, Jonathon Kotler, Joshua Rozenburg Thursday 23 October London School of Economics
Modernism in the Mediterranean J. K. Birksted Friday 17 October Royal Academy of Arts The Viennese Café as an Urban Site of Cultural Exchange Dr Steven Beller, Professor Edward Timms and other speakers Friday 17 October - Saturday 18 October Victoria & Albert Museum and Royal College of Art Luc Delahaye’s Taliban and the War of Images Julian Stallabrass Tuesday 21 October London School of Economics RSA Screens - True Stories: Jesus Politics Ilan Ziv Tuesday 21 October Royal Society of Arts Disparity and Diversity in the Contemporary City: Social Order Revisited Professor Robert Sampson Tuesday 21 October London School of Economics The Individual and Society: Does the West Have the Balance Right? Professor John Cottingham, David Willetts MP
In Sickness and In Power Lord Owen Monday 27 October London School of Economics Joy Gerrard: Works for Public Spaces Joy Gerrard Tuesday 28 October London School of Economics An Appeal to Reason: a Cool Look at Global Warming Lord Lawson Wednesday 29 October London School of Economics Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), Man of Dissent Professor Ivor Grattan-Guinness Wednesday 29 October London School of Economics Central Banking and the Credit Crunch Howard Davies Thursday 30 October London School of Economics Religious Tolerance, Diversity and Pluralism Peter Byrne Friday 31 October Royal Institute of Philosophy
2008 M ajorArtExhibition Openings-W orldwide Anish Kapoor 25 October - 11 January 2009 Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin BERLIN Diana and Aktaion. The Forbidden Look at Truth 12 October - 1 February 2009 Museum Kunst Palast DUSSELDORF Rolywholyover, 6 Episode 29 October - January 2009 Musee D'Art et D'Histoire GENEVA Akhenaten and Nefertiti Sun and Shadows of the Pharaohs 17 October - 1 February 2009 Musee D'Art et D'Histoire GENEVA Jakob Philipp Hackert 24 October - 1 February 2009 Hamburger Kunsthalle HAMBURG From Leonardo to Piranesi: Italien Drawings from 1450 to 1800 24 October - 1 February 2009 Hamburger Kunsthalle HAMBURG La representation du port dans l'art des XIX et XX siecles 18 October - 25 January 2009 LE HAVRE
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Aux Sources de l'Art des Studios Disney 1 October - 1 January 2009 Kunsthalle Der Hypokulturstiftung MUNICH
Martin Puryear 20 October - 4 January 2009 Museum of Modern Art SAN FRANCISCO
Gilbert & George 3 October - 11 January 2009 Brooklyn Museum NEW YORK
Frank Stella 7 October - 11 January 2009 Ivam - Centre Julio González VALENCIA
Aernout Mik 20 October - 19 January 2009 Museum of Modern Art NEW YORK
Gustav Klimt and the Kunstschau, 1908 1 October - 18 January 2009 Österreichische Galerie Belvedere VIENNA
Picasso et les Maitres 6 October - 2 February 2009 Galeries Nationales Du Grand Palais PARIS Picasso – Delacroix 9 October - 12 January 2009 Louvre PARIS
Bonaparte et l'Egypte, Ombres et Lumieres 14 October - 29 March 2009 Paths to Fame: Turner's Galeries Nationales Watercolour Landscapes Du Grand Palais 29 October - 25 January 2009 Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery PARIS LONDON Jackson Pollock et le Chamanisme 10 October - 25 January 2009 Renaissance Portraits 15 October - 18 January 2009 Pinacothèque De Paris National Gallery PARIS LONDON Les Paperolles Reliquaires du Francis Bacon Carmel et du Musée de Pontoise 1 October - 4 January 2009 4 October - 1 February 2009
Western Motel: Edward Hopper and Contemporary Art 3 October - 15 February 2009 Kunsthalle Wien VIENNA Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur 11 October - 4 January 2009 Arthur M. Sackler GallerySmithsonian Institution WASHINGTON Jan Lievens (1607-1674) 26 October - 11 January 2009 National Gallery of Art WASHINGTON Barbara Bosworth 17 October - 25 January 2009 Smithsonian American Art Museum WASHINGTON Calendar 129
NOVEMBER Talks/Lectures-London The Third Reich at War Professor Richard Evans Tuesday 4 November London School of Economics Archaeology and the Bible A Broken Link? Professor Graham Davies Tuesday 4 November Royal Academy of Arts The Ascent of Money Professor Niall Ferguson Thursday 6 November London School of Economics Black Panther, the Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas Emory Douglas Thursday 6 November London School of Economics Cold Wars and God-Shaped Holes Mary Midgley Friday 7 November Royal Institute of Philosophy Where Now for the United States After the Election? Professor Michael Cox, Jessica T. Mathews, Rob Singh Friday 7 November London School of Economics 'The State We're In' - Windows on Empire: Perspectives from History, Culture and Political Economy Giovanni Arrighi, Saskia Sassen, John Darwin, Christian Marazzi, Sanjay Seth Saturday 8 November Birkbeck Did Religion Make a Diﬀerence? The American Elections and Beyond Professor Peter Berger, John Micklethwait Tuesday 11 November London School of Economics Kosovo’s Independence and the 130 Bedeutung
Balkans: Regional Implications and Challenges Jelena Bjelica, Anna Di Lellio, Enver Hoxhaj, Tim Judah Tuesday 11 November London School of Economics Citizenship and Democracy: One or Two Concepts? Etienne Balibar Wednesday 12 November Birkbeck Nations, States and Violence Professor Michael Banton, Professor Montserrat Guibernau, Professor David Laitin Wednesday 12 November London School of Economics Desiring Walls Professor Wendy Brown Wednesday 12 November London School of Economics
Professor Sarah Coakley Tuesday 18 November University of Cambridge Seminar Series - 'Porous Sovereignty, Walled Democracy' Wendy Brown Wednesday 19 November Birkbeck What Next? Surviving the Twenty-First Century Lord Patten Wednesday 19 November London School of Economics God as the Simplest Explanation of the Universe Richard Swinburne Friday 21 November Royal Institute of Philosophy
Europe in the Global Economy Professor George Alogoskoufis Thursday 13 November London School of Economics
New Religions and Prophecy Professor Eileen Barker OBE, George Chryssides, Damian Thompson Saturday 22 November London School of Economics
Fantasies of Revolution Peter Doggett Thursday 13 November London School of Economics
Magician: Gabriel García Márquez Tariq Ali, Gerald Martin Tuesday 25 November Queen Elizabeth Hall
What Can God Explain? Gerard Hughes Friday 14 November Royal Institute of Philosophy
The Age of Mobility: Can We Make Migration Work for All? Peter Sutherland Wednesday 26 November London School of Economics
Revisiting Marx: is Marxism Still Relevant? Professor Lord Meghnad Desai, Professor David Harvey, Professor Leo Panitch Tuesday 18 November London School of Economics
Transit Tehran: Young Iran and Its Inspirations Malu Halasa Thursday 27 November London School of Economics
God, Providence, and the Evolutionary Phenomenon of Cooperation Sites of Conflict
What Do Believers Believe? Richard Norman Friday 28 November Royal Institute of Philosophy
2008 M ajorArtExhibition Openings-W orldwide Wolfgang Flad 8 November - 6 December Aschenbach & Hofland AMSTERDAM The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army 15 November - 26 April 2009 High Museum of Art ATLANTA Legends, Monasteries and Paradise. Gandhara - The Buddhist Legacy of Pakistan 21 November - 15 March 2009 Kunst Und Ausstellungshalle BONN CoBra 7 November - 25 January 2009 Musées Royaux Des Beaux-Arts De Belgique BRUSSELS Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson 8 November - 15 March 2009 Dallas Museum of Art DALLAS Céramiques Funéraires des Premières Dynasties Chinoises. Collections des Musées de Xian 13 November - 9 March 2009 Musée Ariana GENEVA Jakob Philipp Hackert - European Landscape Painters in the Age of Goethe 28 November - 15 February 2009 Hamburger Kunsthalle HAMBURG Valerie Belin 6 November - 4 January 2009 Musée De L'Elysée LAUSANNE Dayanita Singh 7 November - 20 December
Frith Street Gallery LONDON Sisley in Egland and in Wales 12 November - 8 February 2009 National Gallery LONDON
Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008 7 November - 25 January 2009 Whitney Museum NEW YORK
Babylone 13 November - 1 March 2009 British Museum LONDON
Pipilotti Rist: Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters) 19 November - 2 February 2009 Museum of Modern Art NEW YORK
Hurvin Anderson 25 November - 10 January 2009 Thomas Dane Gallery LONDON
Damian Ortega 12 November - 9 February 2009 Centre Pompidou PARIS
Saul Steinberg, Illuminations 26 November - 15 February 2009 Dulwich Picture Gallery LONDON
Ron Arad 19 November - 26 January 2009 Centre Pompidou PARIS
Tango with Cows: Book Art of the Russian Avant-Garde, 1910–1917 18 November - 19 April 2009 J Paul Getty Museum LOS ANGELES
Sonia Rykiel Exhibition 20 November - 19 April 2009 Les Arts Décoratifs PARIS
Between Gods and Men - Ancient Sculptures from the Albertinum in Dresden and the Museo del Prado in Madrid 4 November - 12 April 2009 Museo Del Prado MADRID
Christian Vetter 22 November - 25 January 2009 Kunstmuseum SAINT-GALL
Made in Munich: Editions 1968–2008 21 November - 22 February 2009 Haus Der Kunst MUNICH Joan Miró: Painting and AntiPainting 1927-1937 3 November - 12 January 2009 Museum of Modern Art NEW YORK William Eggleston: Democratic
Contemporary Art from India 15 November - 1 January 2009 Mori Art Museum TOKYO Looking In: Robert Frank's "The Americans" 23 November - 1 March 2009 National Gallery of Art WASHINGTON Runa Islam 28 November - 8 January 2009 Kunsthaus ZURICH Calendar 131
DECEMBER Talks/Lectures-London God and the Universe Professor Ian Morison Monday 1 December St George's Hanover Square 21st Century Challenges: the Management of Climate Change and the Movement to a New Low Carbon Economy Dr Ian Goldin Monday 1 December London School of Economics Many Legal Orders, One Law Sir Francis Jacobs Tuesday 2 December British Academy China After the Olympics Professor Chris Hughes, Professor Athar Hussain, Martin Jacques, Professor Chen Jian, Mark Leonard Tuesday 2 December London School of Economics Why the English like Turbans. The Surprising History of Multiculturalism in one Country Dr. David Feldman Wednesday 3 December Birkbeck The Role of Banks in a Globalised Economy: Balancing Innovation and Stability Alessandro Profumo Wednesday 3 December London School of Economics Thirty Years of China’s Reform: Opening Up and Looking Forward Lirong Zhang Wednesday 3 December London School of Economics Howard Davies in Conversation with Cherie Blair Howard Davies, Cherie Blair Wednesday 3 December London School of Economics 132 Bedeutung
The challenge of Atheist Literature: Beckett, Pullman and McEwan Rt Rev Lord Harries of Pentregarth Thursday 4 December Barnard's Inn Hall Ethics, Politics, and the State of Israel Professor Michael Morgan, Professor Pierre Bouretz, Professor Paul Franks and Professor Annabel Herzog Thursday 4 December London School of Economics The Right of Rights 1948-2008 Shami Chakrabarti, Professor Conor Gearty, Francesca Klug OBE, Professor Peter Townsend Thursday 4 December London School of Economics Water: the Long Road from Aristotelian Element to H2O Friday 5 December The Royal Society One-Day Symposium John Milton 6 December British Academy Brainstem: Neural Networks Vital for Life Monday 8 December - Tuesday 9 December The Royal Society In Liberty's Defence Various Speakers Tuesday 9 December Various locations, organized by the South Bank Centre Pre-Raphaelites Tuesday 9 December Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University RSA Bossom Lecture
Richard Rogers Tuesday 9 December Royal Society of Arts Does the Euro-Zone Experience Show ‘One Size Fits All’ Has Been a Failure? Professor Ray Barrell, Professor Nicos Christodoulakis Wednesday 10 December London School of Economics How Free is Our Speech Various Speakers Wednesday 10 December Queen Elizabeth Hall Mythical Subjects in Western Art Friday 12 December Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University
2008 M ajorArtExhibition Openings-W orldwide Girls on the Verge: Portraits of Adolescence 8 December - 24 February 2009 Art Institute of Chicago CHICAGO
Museum of Modern Art NEW YORK Focus: Jasper Johns 5 December - 16 February 2009 Museum of Modern Art NEW YORK
MFA Venice Biennale Exhibition 10 December - 28 February 2009 Museum of Finnish Architecture Artist's Choice: Vik Muniz, Rebus HELSINKI 14 December - 23 February 2009 Museum of Modern Art The Fifth Floor - Ideas Taking NEW YORK Space 16 December - 1 February 2009 Quand Je Serai Grand, Je Seraiâ€Ś Tate Liverpool 11 December - 24 May 2009 LIVERPOOL Les Arts Decoratifs PARIS Dispersion 3 December - 25 Jan 2009 Victoria Civera Institute of Contemporary Arts 16 December - 16 February 2009 LONDON Ivam - Centre Julio Gonzalez VALENCIA Richard Winkworth - Paintings from Ap Lei Chau, Award the Kunsthalle Wien 2008 3 December - 22 December 10 December - 11 January 2009 John Martin Gallery Kunsthalle Wien Project Space LONDON VIENNA Brion Gysin: Calligrafitti of Fire 11 December - 6 February 2009 October Gallery LONDON Bolognese Painting in Dresden 9 December - April 2009 The J. Paul Getty Museum LOS ANGELES Marlene Dumas 3 December - 2 January 2009 Museum of Modern Art NEW YORK
Accommodating Nature: The Photographs of Frank Gohlke 5 December - 1 March 2009 Smithsonian American Art Museum WASHINGTON Friedrich Kuhn 12 December - 1 March 2009 Kunsthaus ZURICH
John Bock 4 December - 24 January 2009 Stella Lohaus NEW YORK Focus: Sol LeWitt 5 December - 29 June 2009
Everyone is welcome to attend LSE’s public events programme, where some of the most inﬂuential ﬁgures in the social sciences can be heard. Most are followed by a lively question and answer session. If you would like to receive a copy of the termly LSE events leaﬂet, you can join our mailing list by: emailing email@example.com, phoning 020 7955 6566 or faxing 020 7955 6272.
Recent speakers at LSE including from bottom of page: European Union Commissioner Almunia; President Halonen of Finland; Nigerian Finance Minister Dr Usman; Greek Foreign Minister Bakoyannis, President Kagame of Rwanda; Home Secretary Jacqui Smith; and former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan
Full details of all events including whether a ticket is required, or if entry is on a ﬁrst come, ﬁrst serve basis can be seen at www.lse.ac.uk/events, or by calling the LSE events information line on +44 (0)20 7955 6043.
WORLDORLDWIDE IDE ART RT FAIRS, AIRS, BIENNALS IENNALS & FORUMS ORUMS (Oct - Dec / 2008) 136 Bedeutung
The International Art & Design Fair
Art Paris Abu Dhadi
Shanghai Fine Jeweallery and Art Fair
Art Basel Miami Beach
Fountain Art Miami
Design Art London
Bolognese Painting in Dresden
Frieze Art Fair
2 - 5 October Beckfabrik - Berlin Mitte www.previewberlin.de 3 - 10 October The Seventh Regiment Armory, New York www.hauaghton.com 11 - 19 October Shanghai Exhibition Centre www.sfjaf.com 9 - 12 October County Hall, London www.year08.co.uk 15 - 19 October Berkeley Square, London www.designartlondon.com 16 - 19 October Regent's Park, London www.friezeartfair.com
23 - 30 November Amsterdam RAI-Parkhal www.pan-amsterdam.nl 17 - 21 November Emirates Palace www.artparis-abudhabi.com 4 - 7 December Miami Beach Convention Centre www.artbaselmiamibeach.com 4 - 7 December 825 NW 2nd Avenue in the Winwood Gallery District www.fountainexhibit.com 9 December The J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles www.getty.edu 16 December - 16 February 2009 IVAM - Centre Julio González, Valence www.ivam.es
Zoo Art Fair
17 - 20 October Royal Academy of Arts, London www.zooartfair.com
23 - 27 October Grand Palais, Paris, www.fiacparis.com
30 October Royal Exhibition Building www.artsydney08.com.au/asO8
Antiques for Everyone
30 October - 2 November 2008 NEC, Birmingham www.antiquesforeveryone.co.uk
Temps Fort de Drouot 4 - 11 November Drouot Montaigne, Paris www.drouot.com
6 November - 4 January 2009 Musée de l' lysée, Lausanne www.elysee.ch Human & Divine 137
Contacts ontacts London School of Economics Academic and Art Houghton Street Institutions - London
M ajorGalleries and M useums - London
Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities Malet Street London WC1E 7HX T: +44 (0)20 3073 8363
96 Gillespie 96 Gillespie Road London N5 1LN T: +44 (0)20 7503 3496
London WC2A 2AE T: +44 (0)20 7405 7686
British Academy 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH T: +44 (0)20 7969 5200 British Library St. Pancras 96 Euston Road London NW1 2DB T: +44 (0)20 7412 7676 British Library of Political and Economic Science London School of Economics & Political Science 10 Portugal Street London WC2A 2HD T: +44 (0)20 7955 7229 Contemporary Art Society 11-15 Emerald Street London WC1N 3QL T: +44 (0)20 7831 1243 Courtauld Institute Somerset House Strand London WC2R 0RN T: +44 (0)20 7872 0220 Institute of the Contemporary Arts 12 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AH T: +44 (0)20 7930 0493 Institute of Philosophy University of London Senate House Malet Street London WC1E 7HU T: +44 (0)20 7862 8683
The Royal Society 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG T: +44 (0)20 7451 2500 Royal Society of Arts 8 John Adam Street London WC2N 6EZ T: +44 (0)20 7930 5115
Annely Juda Fine Art 4th Floor 23 Dering Street London W1S 1AW T: +44 (0)20 7629 7578
Royal Institute of Philosophy 14 Gordon Square London WC1H OAG T: +44 (0)20 7387 4130
Architectural Association 36 Bedford Square London WC1B 3ES T: +44 (0)20 7887 4000
Somerset House South Building Somerset House London WC2R 1LA T: +44 (0)20 7845 4600
Atlas Gallery 49 Dorset Street London W1U 7NF T: +44 (0)20 7224 4192
Warburg Institute Woburn Square London WC1H 0AB T: +44 (0)20 7862 8949
Barbican Art Gallery Silk Street London EC2Y 8DS T: +44 (0)20 7638 4141 British Museum Great Russell Street London WC1B 3DG T: +44 (0)20 7323 8000 Brixton Art Gallery 35 Brixton Station Road London SW9 8RB T: +44 (0)20 7733 6957 Brunei Gallery, SOAS Thornhaugh Street Russell Square London WC1H 0XG T: +44 (0)20 7637 2388 Cafe Gallery Projects Southwark Park London SE16 2UA T: +44 (0)20 7237 1230
Camden Arts Centre Arkwright Road London NW3 6DG T: +44 (0)20 7472 5500 The Centre of Attention 67 Clapton Common London E5 9AA T: +44 (0)20 8880 5507 Clapham Art Gallery 40-48 Bromell’s Road London SW4 0BG T: +44 (0)20 7720 0955 Contemporary Applied Arts 2 Percy Street London W1 T: +44 (0)20 7436 2344 County Hall Gallery Riverside Building County Hall London SE1 7PB T: + 44 (0)87 0744 7485 Cubitt Gallery and Studios 8 Angel Mews London N1 9HH T: +44 (0)20 7278 8226 Design Museum Shad Thames London SE1 2YD T: +44 (0)87 0909 9009 Diorama Arts 3-7 Euston Centre Regents Place London NW1 3JG T: +44 (0)20 7916 5467 Essor Gallery 1 America Street London SE1 0NE T: +44 (0)20 7928 3389 Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art 39a Canonbury Square London N1 2AN T: +44 (0)207 704 9522 Freud Museum 20 Maresfield Gardens London NW3 5SX T: +44 (0)20 7435 2002 Frith Street Gallery
17-18 Golden Square London W1F 9JJ UK T: +44 (0)20 7494 1550 Gagosian gallery 6-24 Britannia Street London WC1X 9JD T: +44 (0)20 7841 9960 Gasworks 155 Vauxhall Street London SE11 5RH T: +44 (0)20 7587 5202 Guildhall Art Gallery & Roman London’s Amphitheatre Guildhall Yard London EC2V 5AE T: +44 (0)20 7332 3700 Haunch of Venison 6 Haunch of Venison Yard London W1K 5ES T: +44 (0)20 7495 5050 James Hyman Gallery 5 Savile Row London W1S 3PD T: +44 (0)20 7494 3857 John Martin Gallery 38 Albemarle Street London W1S 4JG T: +44 (0)20 7499 1314 Lisson Gallery 52-54 Bell Street London NW1 5DA T: + 44(0)20 7724 2739 Mall Galleries 17 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5BD T: +44 (0)20 7930 6844 Marlborough Fine Art 6 Albemarle Street London W1S 4BY T: +44 (0)20 7629 5161 Michael Hoppen Gallery 3 Jubilee Place London SW3 3TD T: +44 (0)20 7352 3649 Nancy Victor Basement 36 Charlotte Street London W1T 2NJ T: +44 (0)20 7813 0373
National Gallery Trafalgar Square London WC2N 5DN T: +44 (0)20 7747 2885 National Maritime Museum Greenwich London SE10 9NF T: +44 (0)20 8858 4422 National Portrait Gallery St Martin’s Place London WC2H 0HE T: +44 (0)20 7312 2463 Natural History Museum Cromwell Road London SW7 5BD T: +44 (0)20 7942 5000 The October Gallery 24 Old Gloucester Street Bloomsbury London WC1N 3AL T: + 44 (0)20 7242 7367 The Orangery Gallery Holland Park London W8 6LU T: +44 (0)20 7602 3316 Photofusion 17a Electric Lane London SW9 8LA T: +44 (0)20 7738 5774 The Photographers’ Gallery 5 & 8 Great Newport Street London WC2H 7HY T: +44 (0)20 7831 1772 RIBA Architecture Gallery 66, Portland Place London W1B 1AD T: +44 (0)20 7580 5533 Riflemaker 79 Beak Street London W1F 9SU T: +44 (0)20 7439 0000 Serpentine Gallery Kensington Gardens London W2 3XA T: +44 (0)20 7402 6075 Southbank Centre Belvedere Road London SE1 8XX T: +44 (0)87 1663 2501 Human & Divine 139
South London Gallery 65 Peckham Road London SE5 8UH T: +44 (0)20 7703 6120
Major Museums PARIS
Tate Britain Millbank London SW1P 4RG T: +44 (0)20 7887 8888
Musee de Louvre 34 Quai du Louvre 75001 Paris T: +33 (0) 1 4020 5050
The Frick Collection 1 East 70th Street New York, NY 10021 T: +1 (212) 288 0700
Tate Modern Bankside London SE1 9TG T: +44 (0)20 7887 8888
Musee d’Orsay 1, Rue de la Legion d’Honneur 75007 Paris T: +33 (0) 1 4049 4814
The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd St New York, NY 10028-0198 T: +1 (212) 535 7710
Thomas Dane Gallery 11 Duke Street St James’s London SW1Y 6BN T: +44 (0)20 7925 2505
Galeries National du Grand Palais 3, Avenue du General Eisenhower avenue Winston Churchill 75008 Paris T: +33 (0) 1 4413 1717
The Museum of Modern Art 11 West 53rd St New York, NY 10019-5497 T: +1 (212) 708 9400
Victoria and Albert Museum Cromwell Road London SW7 2RL T: +44 (0)20 7942 2000
Petit Palais - Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris Avenue Winston Churchill 75008 Paris T: +33 (0) 1 5343 4000
Waddington Galleries 11 Cork Street London W1S 3LT T: +44 (0)20 7851 2200 The Wallace Collection Hertford House Manchester Square London W1U 3BN T: +44 (0)20 7563 9500 Whitechapel Angel Alley Entrance 80-82 Whitechapel High St London E1 7QX T: +44 (0)20 7522 7888 White Cube 48 Hoxton Square T: +44 (0)20 7930 5373
Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou - Beaubourg 19, rue Beaubourg 75004 Paris T: +33 (0) 1 4478 1233 Musée de Quai Branly 37, quai Branly 75007 Paris T: +33 (0) 1 5661 7000 Institut du Monde Arabe 1, Rue des Fosses Saint Bernard Place Mohammed V 75007 Paris Musée du Luxembourg 19, rue de Vaugirard 75006 Paris T: +33 (0) 1 4234 2595 Les Arts Decoratifs 107, rue de Rivoli 75001 Paris T: +33 (0) 1 4455 5750
P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center 22-25 Jackson Ave at 46th Ave New York, NY-11101 T: +1 (718) 784 2084 Pierpoint Morgan Library 225 Madisson Avenue at 36th St New York, NY 10016 T: +1 (212) 685 0008 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th St New York, NY 10128-0173 T: +1 (212) 423 3500 Whitney Museum of American Art 945 Madison Avenue at 75th St New York, NY 10021 T: +1 (212) 570 7721 Brooklyn Museum 200 Eastern Parkway Brooklyn, NY 11238-6052 T: +1 (212) 534 1672 Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum 2 East 91st St New York, NY 10128 T: +1 (212) 849 8400
Auction Houses Christie’s 8 King Street, St. James’s London SW1Y 6QT T: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 9, Avenue Matignon 75008 Paris T: +33 (0) 1 4076 8585 20 Rockefeller Plaza New York, NY 10020 T: +1 (212) 6363 2000 Sotheby’s 34-35 New Bond Street London W1A 2AA T: +44 (0)20 7293 5000 76, Rue du Faubourg Saint Honore 75008 Paris T: +33 (0) 1 5305 5305 1334 York Avenue at 72nd St New York, NY 10021 T: +1 (212) 606 7000 Phillips de Pury 25-26 Albemarle Street London W1S 4HX T: +44 (0)20 7318 4010 450 West 15th Street New York, NY 10011 T: +1 (212) 940 1200 Bonhams 101 New Bond Street London W1S 1SR T: +44 (0)20 7447 7447 595 Madisson Avenue New York, NY 10022 T: +1 (212) 644 9001
Hermann Nitsch Sch端ttbild 1962 200 x 900 cm
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The Six Most Beautiful Minutes in the History of Cinema Sancho Panza enters a cinema in a provincial city. He is looking for Don Quixote and finds him sitting oﬀ to the side, staring at the screen. The theater is almost full; the balcony - which is a sort of giant terrace - is packed with raucous children. After several unsuccessful attempts to reach Don Quixote, Sancho reluctantly sits down in one of the lower seats, next to a little girl (Dulcinea?), who oﬀers him a lollipop. The screening has begun; it is a costume film: on the screen, knights in armor are riding along. Suddenly, a woman appears; she is in danger. Don Quixote abruptly rises, unsheathes his sword, rushes toward the screen, and, with several lunges, begins to shred the cloth. The woman and the knights are still visible on the screen, but the black slash opened by Don Quixote’s sword grows ever larger, implacably devouring the images. In the end, nothing is left of the screen, and only the wooden structure supporting it remains visible. The outraged audience leaves the theater, but the children on the balcony continue their fanatical cheers for Don Quixote. Only the little girl down on the floor stares at him in disapproval. What are we to do with our imaginations? Love them and believe in them to the point of having to destroy and falsify them (this is perhaps the meaning of Orson Welles’s films). But when, in the end, they reveal themselves to be empty and unfulfilled, when they show the nullity of which they are made, only then can we pay the price for their truth and understand that Dulcinea - whom we have saved - cannot love us.
Giorgio Agamben Published in Profanations, 2007, Zone Books. Translated by Jeff Fort
Bedeutung Magazine's second issue themed "Human & Divine" with contributions by Rowan Williams, Nicos Mouzelis, Hermann Nitsch, A C Grayling...
Published on May 15, 2010
Bedeutung Magazine's second issue themed "Human & Divine" with contributions by Rowan Williams, Nicos Mouzelis, Hermann Nitsch, A C Grayling...