…there is no conflict between the purity of art and its politicization. The two centuries that separate us from Schiller testify to the contrary: it is by dint of its purity that the materiality of art has been able to make itself the anticipated materiality of a different configuration of the community. If the creators of pure forms of so-called abstract painting were able to transform themselves into the artisans of a new Soviet life, it is not by virtue of some circumstantial subordination to an extrinsic utopia. What the non-figurative purity of the canvas — its gaining of planarity over three-dimensional illusion — did not signify was what one has strived to make it signify: pictorial art’s exclusive concentration on its material. It marked, on the contrary, the belonging of the new pictorial gesture to a surface/interface where pure art and applied art, functional art and symbolic art, merged, where the geometry of the ornament became the symbol of inner necessity and where the purity of the line became the constitutive instrument for a new décor for living, itself susceptible to being transformed into the décor of the new life. Jacques Rancière, Aesthetics and Its Discontents
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RF: In your final chapter you cite a Mahmoud Darwish poem that says “a possible life is one that wills the impossible.” You describe this as a paradox – could you explain it?

JB: Well, there are people who believe in realpolitik and who say: “There’s never going to be one state, there’s never going to be equality, there’s never going to be peace…don’t fool yourself. If you want to be political, get concrete and see what adjustments you can make in the current regime”.

Then I just think, ok, what would it mean if we lived in a world in which no one held out for the possibility of substantial political equality, or for a full cessation of colonial practices - if no one held out for those things because they were impossible? People do scoff when you say right of return. I was at a meeting with Palestinians and Israelis where people said: “That will never happen.” So I said, “well it will not be taken off the table.”

In fact in politics, sometimes the thing that will never happen actually starts to happen. And there have to be people who hold out for that, and who accept that they are idealists and that they are operating on principle as opposed to realpolitik. If there were no such ideals then our entire political sensibility would be corrupted by this process.

And maybe one of the jobs of theory or philosophy is to elevate principles that seem impossible, or that have the status of the impossible, to stand by them and will them, even when it looks highly unlikely that they’ll ever be realised. But that’s ok, it’s a service. What would happen if we lived in a world where there were no people who did that? It would be an impoverished world.

Willing the impossible: an interview with Judith Butler | openDemocracy (via rhizombie)

(via todoelajo)

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Full Chomsky-Foucault Debate (with English subtitles)

Why watch porn when you can watch an awkwardly moderated debate between Foucault and Chomsky?

(Source: youtube.com)

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Dear Coquette: On boobs versus rubes

Concise commentary epic win.

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Zizek on the perverse core of Christianity:
The big Other no longer exists. Perversion is a double strategy to counteract this nonexistence: an (ultimately deeply conservative, nostalgic)attempt to install the law artificially, in the desperate hope that we will then take this self-posited limitation “seriously, ”and, in a complementary way, a no less desperate attempt to codify the very transgression of the Law. In the perverse reading of Christianity, God first threw humanity into Sin in order to create the opportunity for saving it through Christ’s sacrifice; the Absolute plays a game with itself - it first separates itself from itself, introduces a gap of self-misrecognition, in order to reconcile itself with itself again. This is why today’s desperate neoconservative attempts to reassert “old values”are also ultimately a failed perverse strategy of imposing prohibitions that can no longer be taken seriously. 
The scientist is in the position of a Greek slave in Imperial Rome. He knows that he understands a host of important things which are completely unknown to his masters. This gives him a very painful feeling of isolation in the community. Perhaps in time it will become possible to make some of the fundamental ideas of science intelligible in the course of a cultural education and, conversely, to give more cultural background to the thoughts of scientists. The present system under which some men have the power and others have the knowledge is very dangerous. Bertrand Russell, “The Mind of Robert Oppenheimer”
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