“For it is an irretrievable picture of the past, which threatens to disappear with every present, which does not recognize itself as meant in it.“Walter Benjamin
Literary production: no deceptions
Take a deep breath, again and again, take a deep breath! There is still air to breathe. Especially at these locations, where breathable air seems to be inhospitable and scarce, where speech is only perceivable as gasping, space for taking a breath needs to be created. Speech – and equally so thought – is not action taken in a vacuum, not a laboratory experiment under controlled conditions. Not least because of that did the old Greeks interlock both these instances, structured speech and thought, into the single word λόγος (lógos) which as speech-thought conditions both. Thought, as it happens, in speech, is not the radically opposite to life but instead moves within it as its reason, appears from somewhere and is nowhere. If, however, discourse moves towards becoming a lazy alternative, a superficial cover for the brutal circumstances, it denies its own origins and risks becoming a lie. Already Bertolt Brecht acknowledged that talking about trees in times of dire societal circumstances were almost a crime. Wishful thinking is not a substitution of critical thinking but its betrayal. Who would not prefer to be out on the beach right now rather than a hostage of one’s own home? Cui bono?
Les non-dupées errent
Where common conversation and reflection only revolves around the unmediated immediacy, where it is believed that thinking only has to respond to pressing questions of the immediate present – responding without thorough questioning – contemplation becomes an irksome confirmation of the current state of affairs. It appears as given one has to accept. That is how things are, period. Karl Kraus referred to this mindset as one of pre-emptive obedience (“vorauseilender Gehorsam”) – meaning the omnipresent readiness to give up all the pleasantries of life just for the sake of bare physical survival. No sacrifice too great when need is corroding the achievements of societal life anyway.
A sensual reason
Thus, take a deep breath: between breathing in and breathing out one pauses for a moment and turns the direction of thinking around in such a way that thinking moves from the front to the back and from the back to the front yet again, harvesting new elements of thought from the fallow fields through every sway back and forth: culture is thus not only because of this a cultivating of the land that without this process is nothing more than dung and dirt. What is being attempted here is to excavate and mark the sediments, to extract, layer for layer, meaning from the stolid chunks that make up our present in order to demarcate the “somewhere” to which thought necessarily needs to revert to. In this sense the world is not being presumed as given and necessitating certain predefined forms of behaviour. It is instead smashed into pieces and from these pieces those that usually are less visible need to be preserved: those few instances in which fragments of the world can be accessed by thought in an undistorted and unadministered way, before they fade away into oblivion.
Hölderlin once wrote, that where there is danger a rescuing element grows as well. In regard to our current situation this could be understood as meaning that moments defying any explanation also create possibilities: to redirect thought back to the matters; to spend more time engaging in things than the dictate of the state of exception would allow; to persevere resistantly with the inacceptable that seems to fade as tiny and insignificant where the power of the situation instead encourages a bustling productivity. Images of thinking distrustful of mere explanations of the current situation because they are aware of the many instances that are not part of these explanations; Thought-images that are suitable to grasp the moved immediacy of events because they are more perceptive towards these movements; Thinking in images because reason is also sensual and ought not to be constrained to listening to administrative decrees. This here is supposed to be a space where these images, which have been wrested away from the dictate of bare life, can multiply.
We want you
We call for the production of immediacy! Write aphorisms, note down your perceptions, immediate observations – share your brief pieces of reasoning regarding the events we find ourselves in. The goal is a collection of thought-images not aiming at holistic analysis but the creation of a manifold of perspectives.
The importance of reading: Not only reflections on perceptions create images; also reading is productive, for it creates new interferences. Nothing that is being read corresponds to a fixed meaning in a text: it is the reader who from her or his perspective poses new questions to the text and extracts new layers of sensuality from it. Since reading is not only an escape from the real world but also an assessment of literature on its very basis, book reviews are also wanted here.
In order to show that the contributions are not just a redirection activity in light of the restrictive circumstances of the current living condition, an additional section will also contain an index of the present. Its aim will be to document what events are unfolding while the texts are being produced in order to make visible the relations of production of the intellectual labour.