Editors: Pedro Erber (Waseda University) and Facundo Vega (University Adolfo Ibáñez)
Why Heidegger today? Here and now, can an argument still be made for the contemporaneity of Heidegger’s thought? Is his work, in any sense, still timely, not to say “essential”? Has it ever been? Already in 1932, Rudolf Carnap deplored Heidegger’s pseudo-metaphysical statements, pointing out the anti-scientific character of sentences such as “das Nichts selbst nichtet [Nothing itself nihilates].” Symptomatically, Heidegger’s response to this sort of critique consisted in a staunch rejection, not only of modern science but also of contemporary knowledge and thought as a whole. Heidegger’s embrace of untimeliness, however, cannot be taken as simple anachronism. Rather, it points towards one of his deepest intellectual ambitions: the instauration of a new beginning in thinking. With great rhetorical talent, Heidegger meticulously sought to construct the grounds to transform his own work into just such a radical gesture. For better or worse, Heidegger’s desire was widely embraced. Attesting to the wide influence and perseverance, attraction and repulsion of Heidegger’s thought, criticism over the past few decades has created a plethora of Heideggers, or, more precisely, a wide range of Heideggerian specters: Arendt’s political theory, Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics, Marcuse’s social critique, Lacan’s psychoanalysis, Derrida’s deconstruction, the philosophical and political ideas of the Kyoto School, René Char’s and Paul Celan’s poetry, the art of Lee Ufan, the cinema of Terrence Malick, and, more recently, the various ontological turns in the humanities are just some of the most prominent examples of such specters of Heidegger’s thought. The heading “Heidegger today?” implies therefore a question concerning the timeliness and relevance of a whole tradition of thought, which fueled and in many ways dominated intellectual debates throughout the world, within and outside academia, during the past few decades. In posing the question “Heidegger today?,” more than the controversial legacy of an individual thinker, we intend to question the contemporaneity of a certain mode and a certain tradition of theoretical thinking, which (whether explicitly or not) still bears the mark of Heidegger’s work.
Editors: Patty Keller (Cornell) and Rhiannon Welsh (UC Berkeley)
What is deceleration and what is unique about it today? Why does slowness persist as an aesthetic form? How might the recurrence of both—slowness and deceleration—be crucial to understanding our present moment? Decelerated aesthetics asks: what perceptual differences are necessary for a fuller account or understanding of the multiple and conflictual histories that subtend contemporaneity? And what kinds of technologies and registers are needed in order to engage such differences?
FATE AND CHARACTER
Editors: Paul Fleming (Cornell), Rachel Aumiller (ICI Berlin), Sam Dolbear (ICI Berlin), Tom Vandeputte (ICI Berlin)
Walter Benjamin’s ‘Fate and Character’ occupies a curious status in the reception of his work. Published in 1921 but composed in the fall of 1919, the essay was part of the constellation of writings translated into English in the late 1970s. Benjamin repeatedly stressed the significance of the essay, and reports that he counts it “among the best of [his] works.” Despite this, and perhaps because of its highly condensed and enigmatic quality, the text has not received the same critical attention as the other texts from the same period. And yet ‘Fate and Character’ can be considered as the text where Benjamin first engages with the constellation of themes central to his political writings, urgent questions of our moment as much as his: the critique of law, the notion of bare life, the persistence of myth in modernity, the “improper” temporality of fate, and the formation of the subject in history. This special issue of Diacritics is entirely dedicated to this puzzling eight-page text. What is at stake, however, is not only an examination of the relevance of ‘Fate and Character’ for the study of Benjamin’s writings, but also an exploration of how the constellation of themes structuring the essay may speak to a broader range of discussions across the humanities today.
Editors: Austin Lillywhite (University of Kentucky), Nicole Seymour (CSU Fullerton)
Both noun and verb, “environ” points to what’s “out there,” one’s milieu or surrounding world, the assemblage of human and more-than-human beings in which one finds oneself situated, as well as the activity of encircling an area to enclose, circumnavigate, or occupy it. So too, “queer,” as noun and verb, derives its original meaning from space, referring to something that is oblique, slanted, or off-center. Taking the spatial dimensions at stake in the queer and the environmental seriously, this special issue asks: How might the notion of the queer environ trouble notions of gender and sexuality as originating inside an individual’s subjectivity, rather than in the space beyond one’s skin? What would it mean to consider sex environmentally, as a spatial style of being, rather than determined by what’s under one’s clothes? What are the possibilities—and limitations—of analogizing human transness, nonbinariness and genderfluidity to examples drawn from the environment? And how might we challenge the notion, contained in the etymology of the word environ, of a colonizing subject settled at the center of its surroundings?