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During, Simon , Cultural Studies: Williams might have felt this untimeliness as much as — perhaps more than? Things that I was sick of by the end of this book: The world was then seen as divided into the US and Soviet blocs, freedom fighters and Communists. In this way Althusser also effectively pro- vides a definition of ideology as that which claims an ultimate grasp of exis- tence, whether this be through knowledge or action. In this splitting of experience and experiment, Williams noted that there followed an interrelated set of unfortunate consequences: Just do it:
An Introduction, Edinburgh: I want to suggest that the academic framework known as cultural studies provides a good starting point for developing responsible political thinking which both cri- tiques political moralism and remains accountable for its own ethical investments.
BBC world affairs analyst Louise Tillin points out that Blair has brought a very personal morality, rooted in his own Christian beliefs, to the need to act against terror.
Morality has therefore been made to work in the service of politics; it has been used to justify and forge democratic neo- liberalism. The world was then seen as divided into the US and Soviet blocs, freedom fighters and Communists. Those special zones are inhabited by not-fully-human non-citizens, whose participation in the political community of the holders of human rights is denied a priori, and to whom sovereign law only applies negatively.
As no human rights are thus being violated in those zones, the moral and political domination of the West is ultimately ensured. In order to wish away the destabilisation of, and threats to, the founding narratives and signal terms of liberalism, morality is brought in by politicians and picked up on by the media as glue that will repair the national myths of origin and the economic myths of providence-ensured prosperity e.
Just do it: However, the problem of morality in politics is much more complex than that. I want to suggest that this moralisation of politics has been evident not only in the pronouncements of our political leaders but also in the humanitarian responses issued by non-governmental lobbying groups and charities, which are not affiliated with any political parties or even nations, to developments such as the allegations of torture by the US and British troops at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, the tsunami disaster, the increased presence of genetically modified foods in European supermarkets and the breeding and cloning of animals for research.
To start answering this question, I want us to consider the proposition that any investments that drive polit- ical action, no matter what its actual orientation or relation to the domi- nant structures of power, are situated between ethics and morality. These investments are both conscious and unconscious and emerge out of a combination of rational arguments and libidinal drives that get translated into normative positions informing politics. But, while this mechanism of affective ethical investments has arguably constituted an inextricable part of the constitution of the political as we know it, the overt recourse to moral rhetoric at the dawn of the twenty-first century has transformed politics into a terrain of moral struggle.
Morality, in turn, can be seen as a first-order set of beliefs and prac- tices concerning values which have been developed, codified and accepted by a given society. Indeed, it serves as the very legitimation of the political position or action in question.
Brown writes: Morality stands in an uneasy relationship to the political insofar as it is always mistrustful of power; and it bears a slightly truncated relationship to the intellectual insofar as it is rarely willing to explore the seamy underside of righteousness or goodness in politics. Moralism is much less ambivalent: Moralism so loathes overt manifestations of power — its ontological and epistemological premises are so endangered by signs of action and agency that the moralist inevitably feels antipathy toward politics as a domain of open contestation for power and hegemony.
But the identity of the moralist is also staked against intellectual questioning that might dis- mantle the foundations of its own premises; its survival is imperilled by the very practice of open-ended intellectual enquiry. It is thus in a moralistic mode that the most expansive revolutionary doctrines — liberalism, Maoism, or multiculturalism — so often transmogrify into their opposite, into brittle, defensive, and finally conservative institutions and practices. Taking these distinctions between morality, moralism and ethics into account, I want to suggest: I also want to propose that it is the interdisciplinary project known as cultural studies — rather than, as might seem more logical or appropriate, philosophy6 — that can provide us with a propitious framework for not only thinking through the differences between morality, moralism and ethics but also proposing a responsible politics which will be capable of account- ing for its ethical investments.
My interest in the moralisation of politics is thus not merely diagnostic: In this way it can perhaps avoid — or at least account for — the moralist drive of many forms of left politics. And it is the broadly defined Marxist legacy, with its interest in the material and its commitment to social justice, that has by and large informed cultural studies politics. Indeed, cul- tural studies itself has sometimes been guilty of adopting the holier-than- thou position against other disciplines and fields of enquiry and action.
And yet he also demonstrates, through the writings of the very same thinkers, how cultural studies needs to be understood as a permanent experiment playing off politics against different forms of theorisation that both threaten this politics and promise to take it into new territories. Hall thus concludes by painting a more optimistic — some might even say utopian — picture of the future of cultural studies and the possibilities it inheres: As Williams illustrates, there can be no pre-established programme or syllabus for such an experiment, no fixed and worked out agenda or set rules.
Nor are the results of such an experiment foreseeable. And it is its openness to incal- culable difference — to the unpredictable, the unforeseeable, the unknown — that allows cultural studies to enact this ethics even if not guaranteeing that it will always act ethically. We should clarify that ethics, defined as a secondary reflection on moral values, beliefs and practices, does not contain a set of prescriptions for what to do.
Rather this ethical reflection is enabled by an openness to the infinite alterity of the other, an alterity which poses a challenge to my own self-containedness and moral right- eousness.
More on this non-foundational conceptualisation of ethics in the work of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida later. As Angela McRobbie postulates in The Uses of Cultural Studies , such a critical analysis of morality is more needed than ever, now that the emphasis in political and media debates has shifted from socio-economic factors to individual narratives, unique stories and dramatic case studies.
I agree with McRobbie that cultural studies is well placed to undertake this sort of interrogation. Mugging, the State, and Law and Order Morality is seen there as a way of estab- lishing and preserving a hegemonic political order.
Challenging a number of accepted notions that are consolidated by this order, such as work, family, decency and respect, the authors outline an alternative to the dom- inant petty-bourgeois ethic of the day However, it seems to me that, if cultural studies is not to be just a neutral power analytics, its ques- tioning of morality needs to be driven by — and, simultaneously, it needs to be able to outline in a reflexive, performative way — an ethics see Zylinska Ethics, for Levinas, is not something imposed from outside or above; instead, ethics is inevitable.
I am thus always already a hostage of the other, of his or her ethical demand. It is through this encounter that I become aware of my place in the world, of my corporeal boundaries, of the language that comes to me as a gift.
A responsible politics that cultural studies could help us work out would need to spring from the recognition of antag- onism and violence as constitutive to any form of identity or political belonging. However, it would also be underpinned by a double ethical injunction — to make a decision, always anew, about how to respond to alterity with the least amount of violence possible, and to live and think through the consequences of this decision.
To sum up the main points I have raised so far, cultural studies thus understood would allow us to: Notes 1 http: To Emmanuel Levinas and his Of Hospitality Bibliography Agamben, Giorgio , Homo Sacer: Stanford University Press. Deleuze, Gilles , Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, San Francisco: City Lights Books.
Derrida, Jacques , Adieu: Derrida, Jacques , Of Hospitality: Hall, Gary , Culture in Bits: ICA, pp. Hebdige, Dick , Subculture: An Essay on Exteriority, Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.
Levinas, Emmanuel , Otherwise than Being: Or Beyond Essence, Pittsburgh: Macmillan reissued in Taking George W. Bush Seriously, London: Granta Books. What connections are there, if any? What makes German work on media more noteworthy than French, Japanese or American scholarship? The Germans, after all, never cared much for cultural studies. The Meaning of Style were treated as extended manuals for decoding juvenile subcultures. In most accounts the culprit behind this unresponsive welcome is the Frankfurt School.
Its emphasis on the nefarious consciousness-shaping force of the culture industry could not but dismiss as an exercise in self-delusion any approach that valorised the critical agency of the subject to decode incoming media messages sub- versively. Hence many German theorists came to think as highly of British cultural studies as German automobilists think of British cars or German gourmets of British cuisine: No doubt this biased percep- tion of cultural studies is as uninformed as the reverse stigmatisation of the Frankfurt School by cultural studies practitioners as reductionist and elitist.
Only recently has the situation begun to change, though there is reason to believe that it is American rather than British cultural studies that is gaining ground, given that the more text-based American approach is more compatible with the philological bias of German scholarship Mikos So why should those with a vested interest in cultural studies care?
Where did it come from? And again, why invite it across the channel or across the oceans? I will attempt to answer these questions in this chapter, albeit in a highly select- ive fashion. It is highly questionable whether Sloterdijk or Theweleit can be labelled media theorists or whether Luhmann has contributed anything noteworthy to the study of media technology.
And while Kittler may still be the most important German media theorist, he stands for an extreme position that few of his peers share.
My approach, however, is based on the reverse assumption: Furthermore, I am not going to provide objective accounts of Kittler and Luhmann. Instead, I will attempt to tease out some of their less conspicuous radical features. Here are — potentially exportable — ideas, thoughts, warnings, or signposts worth scrutinising. Certain caveats are necessary. Another informed observer, Reiner Leschke, has argued that this fractured assem- blage is due to the fact that at present in Germany media theories origi- nating outside the domain of media e.
Regardless of how you describe this cacophony, the bottom line is that while in many countries media research tends to be organised around one or two hegemonic approaches, the German academic scene is marked by a conspicuous absence of such silverback alpha-theories. The absence of a theory enjoying a broadly acknowledged dominant status entails a lack of a common understanding of key terms.
For instance, despite their ideological differences, Birmingham-style cultural studies and Frankfurt-style critical theory share pretty straight- forward views of what a mass medium is. As a result, theoretical connections or cross-fertilisations that could result in a generally more acceptable definition of media are both rare and difficult.
Of course this cannot go on. The German education system is not known for its hospitality to intellectual unruliness. Increasingly German media theory is running into administra- tive and institutional pressure to get its house in order, clear up the mess, establish a binding paradigm, achieve an academically and didactically viable consensus on terms and definitions, and provide a mutually agree- able disciplinary ancestry — in short, to consolidate and canonise.
But at this point in time such a demand amounts to building a house during an earthquake — an exercise that is as hazardous to perform as it is instructive to watch from a safe distance. A first hypothesis: These academic foci have to be seen as deposits of differing historical experiences.
German postcolonial scholarship — to cite the most obvious example — is but a fledgling shadow compared to its British counterpart. And how could it not be? The German colonial experience including its aftermath was geo- graphically limited and of short duration; and its atrocities were conveni- ently forgotten. German scholarship is instead more prone to investigate questions of homogenisation.
The latter is related to a succession of attempts to mold a nation, a people, a race, or a citizenry.
Herein lies a key for the noticeable German focus on media and technology, for these attempts are inextricably linked to a highly visible deployment of media technology.
It would require an extensive investigation to explain this in sufficient detail; here I will offer no more than a few abbreviated histori- cal pointers. As a result, cultural production was seen for an extended period as the major cohesive factor in the face of political frag- mentation.
The very close relationship established right from the begin- ning of German literary scholarship between nurturing letters and nurturing the nation attests to the early awareness that Germany was a nation that, more than many others, had been written into being.
Germany, to put it bluntly, is a kind of media product. One often feels if it did not exist it would have been invented by theorists from Marshall McLuhan to Benedict Anderson to illustrate the complicity of print and nation. This explains why so many of the current generation of German media schol- ars started out as scholars of literature.
The noticeable decline in the status of literary studies is directly related to the rise of the importance of media studies. The large-scale escape into relevance from the growing insecurity of traditional humanities not only resulted in the marked philological bias of German media studies, it also ensured that the latter inherited some of the importance that in bygone days accrued to the study of literature. As already mentioned, many of the most important approaches imported from literary scholarship to the study of media were not originally developed for the study of literature.
The ease with which literary texts were replaced by other media stems from the fact that in most cases there was no corresponding change of approach. This is why Lovink chose the s as the point of emergence of the German scene, for it was during that particular decade that post- structuralist, systems-theoretical and constructivist theories none of which was home-grown literary scholarship in the first place migrated from literary studies to challenge the ruling media analyses shaped by the Frankfurt School and the German version of US-style communication studies.
Second, one of the most crucial developments for understanding modern German history is the rapid industrialisation following unification that, within one generation, transformed a primarily agrarian patchwork into an industrial superpower. Among the many effects of this traumatic change was an intense intellectual and aesthetic engagement with technology, especially during the first half of the twentieth century. These concerns and obsessions are among the most important — though frequently forgotten or even actively suppressed — sources for the very high profile of technology-centred approaches in contemporary German media theory.
Third, it is important to realise the extent to which dictatorships and lib- erations in modern German history were experienced as media events. Radio had a direct impact on young minds and bodies of the s, an impact that served to exorcise the authoritarian or even Fascist voices that had tried to control these bodies previously.
With this in mind a second, equally blunt hypothesis: And this is where matters get interesting. Posthuman cultural studies? What does this imply? It is beyond the scope of this chapter to give an overview — an overview, no less, of some- thing that is not yet in view because it is only currently emerging. The prefix post does not imply that a new type of cultural studies must be developed to engage with a world that allegedly is no longer made by humans.
It is not a matter of technologising theory in order to adequately deal with the new, media-based assemblage of cultural machineries and productions that have sidelined all wetware activities. This would once again invoke the old fallacy of supersession — first humans had the top billing in history, now they are being pushed aside by machines. The focus is on short-, middle- and long- term structuration processes that have taken place throughout history on various sub- and supra-human levels.
The focus on technology cannot be the only crucial foray into posthu- man theory domains; it must be accompanied by a critical engagement with biological matters.
In this context the work of Luhmann takes on special importance, given that its basic blueprint is a vexing import into sociology of a biological model of differentiation for more see Winthrop-Young So let us start with him. At first glance his presence in German media theory is a bit baffling: Keep in mind, however, that communication, as conceptualised by Luhmann, is something humans despite all their brains and conscious minds cannot do.
The most radical aspect of this idea is not the tripartition of communication into information, utterance and understanding that con- stantly feed into each other, or the complex notion of structural coupling that ties this communication three-step to human minds. Nor is it the demotion of the liberal subject from its position as source and goal of communication.
What is important is the prospect that the autopoeisis of communication allows it to be coupled to new machines instead of old minds: Already today computers are in use whose operations are not accessible to the mind or to communication. Although manufactured and pro- grammed machines, such computers work in ways that remain intranspar- ent to consciousness and communication — but which by way of structural coupling nevertheless influence consciousness and communication.
They are, strictly speaking, invisible machines. To ask whether computers are machines that operate in ways analogous to the mind or whether they can replace or even surpass it, is to pose the wrong question, if not to make light of the issue. Neither does it matter whether or not the internal operations of the computer can be conceived of as communications. Rather, one will have to drop all these analogies and instead ask what the consequences will be when computers can create a fully independent structural coupling between a reality they can construct and psychic or communicative systems.
Luhmann Luhmann did not pursue this line of thought, but his ideas were quickly seized upon by German media scholars influenced by Kittler. The result was one of the most bizarre productions ever performed on the German theory stage: Maresch and Werber ; see also Winthrop- Young The inevitable knee-jerk reactions against such super- theories are gratuitous and miss out on the interesting components.
He hinted at a kind of silicon sociology that places inter-machine communications alongside their human counterpart. But he said all this with little insight into the technologies that enable his scenario. This is precisely where Kittler comes in. The project itself is quixotic, but it does provide a first delin- eation of a possible future posthuman cultural studies. First, however, it is necessary to understand what Kittler is aiming at. In this context it is helpful to contrast his particular merging of poststructuralism and technology briefly with developments in the United States.
Readers may recall that especially in the early s certain sectors of US literary scholarship were aglow with the promise of computer-aided writing. Much like an oversized airplane that arrives ahead of schedule in an underdeveloped region and is then forced to circle the clouds and wait for the ground crew to build an adequate runway, French theory appeared to be locked in a holding pattern with little chance of a touchdown in reality.
In hindsight it is difficult not to make fun of this fortunate redemption of old-world theory through new-world tech- nology. Lurking underneath this happy tale is an old intercontinental love story: The dainty conquest is whisked off West, as it were, to earn her keep on the homestead, where she confers on her new abode a touch of class and cultured je ne sais quoi.
Technology grounds theory, theory elevates technology. Culture itself turns into a vast data-processing machinery. To analyse the specificity of a given culture therefore requires a focus on those historically contingent techno- logical and institutional features that regulate the input, throughput and output of data. And out of one of these techno-cultural configurations — to be precise: Once again, it is important to realise the radical implications.
What is remarkable is a Hegelian agenda that Kittler somewhat awkwardly hinted at in an interview: Kittler To combine this with Luhmann: Luhmann envisaged a scenario in which non-human communications exist independently and alongside communication systems that depend on human input or — to use terms that Luhmann only employed ironically — the agency of autonomous subjects.
This, I would argue, is the framework for a truly posthuman cultural studies. Two points must be added. First, it would be a mistake to believe that all this started with computers, the Internet or virtual technologies. The creation and subsequent exclusion of human subjects can already be plotted when analysing old media infrastructures that appear to be at the beck and call of said subjects.
Bernhard Siegert, probably the most brilliant of the younger German media theorists writing in a Kittlerian vein, has shown this in connection with the post office Siegert He shows how subjects are consti- tuted by the postal delivery apparatus rather than vice versa and how, with the introduction of prepayment and the standardisation of all inter- faces between the people and the postal network, the latter effectively became a closed circuit, for which the contingencies of sender and receiver are irrelevant as long as their position is predetermined in a postal grid.
The post, in other words, emerges as a closed Luhmannian system see Winthrop-Young ; Winkler a: This early objection contains two impor- tant points that will return time and again whenever Kittler mentions Derrida. Of Grammatology delineates a metaphysically charged privileging of voice over writing that connects Plato to Rousseau with little consideration of the intervening two thousand years, which saw a very deliberate promotion of writing over voice Kittler a: Derrida, it appears, lacks a sufficiently technologically informed sense of history.
This is not to say that all poststructuralist German media scholarship falls in line with Kittler. Despite its frequent engagement with technology it may turn out to be a verbose rearguard action aimed at avoid- ing the full implications of the analog—digital media shift.
The Americans, then, were right to insist on the enactment of theory through technology; the Germans were right in insisting that it goes way beyond new forms of writing and that these new forms feed back into reflection.
Nietzsche knew what he was talking about: But it is the self-reflexive twist that really counts: That must be the baseline command of all media studies. Much like dragons appearing at the margins of old maps, they rep- resent a non plus ultra: In conclusion, let us outdo this hyperbole with an even more outlandish exaggeration that may serve as the vanishing point for posthuman cultural studies.
Employing a formidable Brechtian defamiliarisation effect, De Landa writes as if he were a histori- ographically inclined artificial intelligence descended from intelligent weapons systems that has decided to write its own genealogy.
The robot historian of course would hardly be bothered by the fact that it was a human who put the first motor together: Similarly, when this robot historian turned its attention to the evolution of armies in order to trace the history of its own weaponry, it would see humans as no more than pieces of a larger military-industrial machine: What would it say about cultural evolution?
How would it write a history of literature?
The fact that humans were once indispensable nodes in the production of texts would be of little concern to it, for humans would once again be seen as nothing more than diligent insects necessary for inter- textual fertilisation in those periods when machines were not able to write, process and transmit texts on their own, that is, without any recourse to an attached human consciousness.
Authors, editors, publishers, critics, readers as parts of a large writing apparatus all become disposable once feedback mechanisms had evolved that surpassed limited human process- ing capabilities. Notes 1 A note on German: To date there is no such overview available in English, but glimpses can be found in Geisler and Werber Not until very recently has the topic been taught at some German schools.
Raub, Rassenkrieg und nationaler Sozialismus, Frankfurt: Benjamin, Walter , Illuminations: Bolter, Jay , Writing Space: Lawrence Erlbaum. Tuman ed. University of Pittsburgh Press, pp. Chang, Briankle , Deconstructing Communication: Representation, Subjects and Economies of Exchange, Minneapolis: Zone Book.
Derrida, Jacques , The Post Card: Krieg und Medien bis , Munich: Fink, pp. Hartmann, Frank , Mediologie, Vienna: Herf, Jeffrey , Reactionary Modernism: Cambridge University Press. Stanford University Press, pp. Kittler, Friedrich , Short Cuts, Frankfurt: Leben — Werk — Wirkung, Stuttgart: Metzler, pp. VDG, pp.
Landow, George , Hypertext: Johns Hopkins University Press. Lash, Scott , Critique of Information, London: Maresch, Rudolf and Werber, Niels eds , Kommunikation. Macht, Frankfurt: Cultural Studies und Medienanalyse, 2nd edn, Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, pp. Zur Medien- und Kulturgeschichte der Stimme, Berlin: Akademie, pp. Siegert, Bernhard , Relays: Sloterdijk, Peter , Der starke Grund, zusammen zu sein: Speer, Albert , Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs, New York: Spreen, Dierk , Tausch, Technik, Krieg: Die Geburt der Gesellschaft im technisch-medialen Apriori, Hamburg: Orpheus Eurydike, Frankfurt: Theweleit, Klaus , Tor zur Welt: Kiepenheuer and Witsch.
Kulturphilosophische Konturen, Frankfurt: UVK, pp. Winkler, Hartmut , Docuverse: Zur Medientheorie der Computer, Munich: Wolfe, Cary , Animal Rites: Part II: Seigworth One paradigm less Underneath the large noisy events lie the small events of silence. Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition [O]ne has to seek a term for that which is not fully articulated or not fully comfortable in various silences, although it is usually not very silent. Raymond Williams, Politics and Letters More than twenty-five years ago cultural studies was new again for the first time.
Thompson — was plainly receding. The structuralists grew itchy at what felt like a certain naivety in this formulation and began to chafe against such an overly woolly seemingly woolly-headed fabric. Thus, by the late s, the study of culture was rather far along in the process of aligning its own movements with the latest in continental theory: Or has the field become piecemeal, lost its theoretical core?
Still, what might be evidenced by this accidentally ad hoc twenty-first-century re-versioning of culturalism — besides, too, a certain collective exhaustion of structuralist post- and otherwise trajectories — can perhaps best be glimpsed in a revived emphasis upon such matters as: It is the latter — the concept of experience and a renewed sense of the empirical and empiricism — that will be a primary focus of this chapter.
Simply put, experience does not personally belong to a subject the purported subject of experience , nor does it only arise in the mediating space of subject and object. How might experience be granted a certain relative autonomy, its own dynamic poten- tial as active and changing, travelling farther afield than usually allowed in contemporary understanding?
Williams dared to entertain such an idea: The chief accusation levelled at the concept of experience was that it was never as free from ideological determination as Williams and other cul- turalists might have wished to believe. In privileging the concept of experience, the culturalists were accused of conjuring up an unrealistic, theoretically insupportable voluntarism.
Over the course of the interviews, perhaps the most illuminating moment comes as Williams replies to a question that attempts to link his concept of experience back to the pre-dawn of his own and the cultural- ist emergence. Unlike F. It is worth quoting at length: That should be very clear.
For after all the basic argument of the first chapter of The Long Revolution is precisely that there is no natural seeing and therefore there cannot be a direct and unmediated contact with reality. On the other hand, in much linguistic theory and a certain kind of semiotics, we are in danger of reaching the opposite point in which the epistemological wholly absorbs the ontological: I have found that areas which I would call structures of feeling as often as not initially form as a certain kind of disturbance or unease, a particular type of tension, for which when you stand back or recall them you can some- times find a referent.
To put it another way, the peculiar location of a struc- ture of feeling is the endless comparison that must occur in the process of consciousness between the articulated and the lived.
The lived is only another word, if you like, for experience: For all that is not fully articulated, all that comes through as disturb- ance, tension, blockage, emotional trouble seems to me precisely a source of major changes in the relation between the signifier and the signified, whether in literary language or conventions.
We have to postulate at least the possi- bility of comparison in this process and if it is a comparison, then with what? If one immediately fills the gap with one of these great blockbuster words like experience, it can have very unfortunate effects over the rest of the argu- ment. For it can suggest that this is always a superior instance, or make a god out of an unexamined subjectivity.
But since I believe that the process of comparison occurs often in not particularly articulate ways, yet is a source of much of the change that is eventually evident in our articulation, one has to seek a term for that which is not fully articulated or not fully comfortable in various silences, although it is usually not very silent. In this splitting of experience and experiment, Williams noted that there followed an interrelated set of unfortunate consequences: What do they share with each other and with Williams?
Mainly, a desire to include the excluded of experience and to find a way out of the false problem of an interiorised subjectivity and an outside world. Not only do Deleuze and Benjamin coincide in their appeals for a reintegration of all of the exclu- sions of experience and overlap in their hostility at self-sufficient models of consciousness, they both point a finger at the work of one highly suspi- cious character in particular: Immanuel Kant. Paradoxical though it sounds, experience does not occur as such in the knowledge of experience, simply because this is knowledge of experience and hence a context of knowledge.
Experience, however, is the symbol of this context of knowledge and therefore belongs in a completely different order of things from knowledge itself. Benjamin Experience for Kant was to serve only in the interest of a higher, adjudicating knowledge, as the faculty of intuition is submitted to the legislation of understanding.
That is, experience and knowledge of experience do not work via some mode of resemblance or recognition. Deleuze draws attention to this implicit tracing operation: Kant traces the so-called transcendental structures from the empirical acts of a psychological consciousness: After all, as Williams said in the lengthy quotation above: The second major problem created by the Kantian concept of experi- ence — before ever becoming transcendental — is that it leaves too much out of the experience equation that Benjamin and Deleuze argue, in their own ways, should be admitted.
In fact, Benjamin deliberately sows the seeds of his own philosophy for the future in those very places that Kant ruled decidedly out of bounds.
Benjamin complained that: In epistemology every metaphysical element is the germ of a disease that expresses itself in the separation of knowledge from the realm of experience in its full freedom and depth. There is — and here lies the historical seed of the approaching philosophy — a most intimate con- nection between that experience, the deeper exploration of which could never lead to metaphysical truths, and that theory of knowledge, which was not yet able to determine sufficiently the logical place of metaphysical research.
Benjamin never once acknowledged the bound- ary taken for granted by all modern thought: For Benjamin everything habitually excluded by the norms of experience ought to become part of experience to the extent that it adheres to its own concreteness instead of dissipating this, its immortal aspect, by subordinating it to the schema of the abstract uni- versal.
Here, again, experience is not strictly amenable to a mode of thought or any image of thought based upon resemblance, representation, or re cognition, but is more non- representational and affectual, belonging to neither subject nor object neither inside nor outside.
The conditions of experience are then recon- ceived as an immanent and open field of intensities, banal affectivities and sensations that can come to engage with faculties of knowing but without necessarily being replayed, realised, synthesised or somehow completely subsumed in the process. Of course, this obstinacy over experience also did much to contribute to many of the criticisms often levelled at Benjamin, Deleuze and Williams, ren- dering each of them — in his own way — untimely, or, at least, habitually out of sync with his contemporaries.
Williams might have felt this untimeliness as much as — perhaps more than? Such continuing fluctuations, of course, were believed to hasten the demise of the experiential or culturalist paradigm. One initially instructive insight in this regard comes from Adorno, who found himself exasperated and perplexed more than once by the writings of his friend Walter Benjamin. Indeed, it was the work of early twentieth-century French philosopher Henri Bergson that served for Deleuze and Benjamin although this would not be the case for Williams as a crucial antidote to Kant.
In short, could a revitalisation of culturalism find shared resonances with the recent revival of Deleuzian Bergsonism? That is, it cannot simply be a matter of mustering a defence of the former by or through the latter, but must also be one of acknowledging that each of these projects must be mutually transformed over the course of these momentary intersections such as follows.
Indeed, sounding a great deal like Bergson countering Kant, Williams states: With intuition, experience is less a discrete place in the time past belong- ing to a subject, and more an immanent process of relation beyond inside and outside, beyond subject and object.
Putting this method of theoretical intuition and concept-creation into practice places unique demands on writing. Science and metaphysics. Too much social and cultural practice is necessarily directed beyond human history, to material that at once precedes and persists. To neglect or with- draw from these directions would be a major cultural defeat. For the enemies are various and powerful: In these instances, this is not a rarefied move towards some higher level of abstrac- tion, but rather the embrace of something quite vividly, even viscerally available: As Deleuze continues: The essential thing, from the point of view of empiricism, is the noun multi- plicity, which designates a set of lines or dimensions which are irreducible to one another.
In unfolding this virtual co-existence of any single element plus its relations and its condi- tions of emergence, Deleuze is able to shift structuralism — as a method of analysis prone to stasis — subtly out of phase with itself, putting every struc- tural moment into motion as a processual, mobile configuration.
Williams often acknowledged, as ever-present even if not always fully conscious , the process of comparison between thought and feeling, experience and experiment, the indivisible whole and its parts, the disarmingly simple and densely complex and, even more, how each could contain the other while also remaining itself. But every argu- ment of experience and of history now makes my decision — and what I hope will be a general decision — clear.
It is only in very complex ways that we can truly understand where we are. It is also only in very complex ways, and by moving confidently towards very complex societies, that we can defeat imperialism and capitalism and begin that construction of many socialisms which will liberate and draw upon our real and now threatened energies.
No longer. Not yet. Perhaps never. Experience and experiment. Williams remains our contemporary. Nor was there ever any spoken or unspoken alliance between their projects. In a letter to his friend Ernst Schoen, Benjamin is even less charitable to Kant: The greatest adversary of these thoughts is always Kant. I have become engrossed in his ethics — it is unbelievable how necessary it is to track down this despot, to track down his mercilessly philosophizing spirit which has philoso- phized certain insights that are among the reprehensible ones to be found in ethics in particular.
Especially in his later writings, he drives and senselessly whips his hobbyhorse, the logos. See Mulhern, who writes of Williams: See also Etienne Balibar For a more collective accounting of Althusser and structuralism, via Spinoza, see Fourtounis MIT Press, pp.
A Destitution of the Subject? A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, Manfred Jacobson and Evelyn Jacobson, Chicago: Benjamin, Walter , Selected Writings: Volume 1, —, Marcus Bullock and Michael W.
Jennings eds , Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. Bergson, Henri  , Creative Evolution, trans. Arthur Mitchell, Mineola, NY: Mabelle Andison, NY: Kensington pp. Deleuze, Gilles  , Bergsonism, trans.
Zone Books. Deleuze, Gilles  , Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton, New York: Columbia University Press. Joughin, New York: Semiotext e , pp. Deleuze, Gilles and Claire Parnet  , Dialogues, trans. Cornell University Press, pp. An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm, trans. Bains and J. Pefanis, Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press.
Critical Perspectives, Cambridge: Jay, Martin , Songs of Experience: University of California Press. Massumi, Brian , Parables for the Virtual: University of Notre Dame Press.
Oxford University Press. Williams, Raymond , Politics and Letters: Pantheon Books. Williams, Raymond , Keywords: Williams, Raymond , The Politics of Modernism: Philosophy, Aesthetics, History, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. Rather, he contends, the practice signals a shift in the juridical-political status of citizens in the so-called democratic states. It would not be unreasonable to suppose that a good many of these colleagues and students would, at least at some point in their careers, have either been part of or otherwise engaged with that diffuse set of intellectual practices known as cultural studies.
After all, cultural studies underwent rapid expansion in the US from the time that Agamben began to accept visiting appointments there in , particularly in literature programmes such as those in which Agamben taught although as an interdisciplinary practice cultural studies also took hold in areas such as sociology, history, anthropology and com- munications. By now a thoroughly international phenomenon with its strongest pres- ence in the English-speaking world or at least in countries where English is the dominant academic language , cultural studies has come a long way since it first entered the university through adult education programmes, small publishing enterprises and the like.
Indeed, by arguing that life itself, and in particular the propensity to reduce complex human existences to bare organic matter, has been central to Western pol- itics since the time of Aristotle, Agamben reconceives the very notion of the political. In so doing, he develops an understanding of the political that equates neither to a purely linguistic relation nor to grounded intervention in specific social or institutional contexts.
And it is primarily for this reason, I would suggest, that his work is proving so important for a younger generation of cultural studies practitioners, a generation who have grown discontent with the tendency to classify research in the field either as being curiosity-driven and therefore political only at a gestural level; or as actively engaged with the solution of practical problems in an increasingly complex world.
A movement that is not there In January , Agamben participated in the first meeting of the Italian nomad university, an initiative organised by Antonio Negri and others to construct spaces for intellectual and political creativity beyond the formal academic system. As defined by Aristotle, movement or kinesis is an unfinished act, a relation between potential and act that is always incomplete or capable of not passing into fruition.
With respect to the political, Agamben explains: The absence of a political movement becomes the very condition that necessitates a rethinking of politics and, in this sense, can be understood as an enabling rather than a disabling condition. It reveals, for instance, the common assumptions that inhabit the thought of those, like Stuart Hall , who understand cultural studies as a radical intellectual practice that prepares the way for an emerging historical movement, and those, like Tony Bennett, who advocate more modest and practical interventions in the realms of industry and government.
The book builds its case for such a version of cultural studies through an explicit contrast with the earlier Gramsci-influenced work of Hall. For Agamben, the notion of potentiality must include not only the potential to be but also the potential not to be. The architect who knows how to build a house has, at the same time, the potential not to build it. And, in this sense, potentiality welcomes non-being — it encompasses pas- sivity as much as action.
A politics of potentiality is thus a politics that does not canvas action or engagement as a means of bringing the real into align- ment with the ideal. It is rather a politics of subtraction or withdrawal that, as Franchi suggests, bears affinity to that developed by Italian operaista thinkers like Mario Tronti and Antonio Negri in the s and s.
Implicit in this approach was an optimism about promoting the democratic and pluralis- tic aspects of civil society as a means of destabilising or reabsorbing the coercive powers of capital and the state — hence the emphasis upon the transformative possibilities of agency and popular engagement that, as we have seen in the case of Bennett, was only scaled back in more recent gov- ernmental and pragmatically applied versions of cultural studies.
By con- trast, the non-active politics that Agamben seems to share with operaista thinkers like Tronti and Negri presents a very different model of political life — one that separates itself from notions of agency and engagement to question the very constitution of the political in sociological notions of change. Not only does it derive from a Heideggerian rather than a Marxist matrix, but it also expresses a deep scepticism about the possibility of ever fully escaping from the existing articulations of capitalist and state power Neilson For Agamben, the vita activa or pur- poseful assumption of a political task is, in the final analysis, just a particu- lar form of life that is primarily defined on the basis of the exclusion of bare life — that is, of non-rational animal or vegetable life.
Indeed, Agamben believes such an act of exclusion to found the Western political tradition. This is why the question of political constitution is, for him, necessarily connected to the constitution of life. In his first book in , The Man Without Content a , Agamben argues that critical judgement pertains not so much to art as to its absence: Here, the issue of that ungraspable something that constitutes life appears as a wider philosophical question — one which Agamben inherited from Heidegger, with whom he studied at Le Thor in —8.
In his later years, Heidegger stressed the need for the philosopher to have faith in the limits of thought. For Agamben, this meant approaching the limits of thought as potential openings rather than irredeemable closures. By the time of the Stanzas a , he had formulated this principle into a notion that would haunt his entire philosophical oeuvre. From here, Agamben begins his extraordinary reflections on the paradoxes of sover- eignty and the biopolitical condition of bare life.
This new system, which he calls biopower or gov- ernmentality, establishes life itself as a political object through more or less rationalised attempts to intervene upon the vital characteristics of human existence: He writes: To develop his argument, Agamben draws on the influential work of German political theorist Carl Schmitt, who, in Political Theology , claims that sovereignty consists not in the exercise of total control, but in the ability to declare an exception to the rule.
Such a state of exception, Agamben explains, strips legal subjects of their constitutional rights, ren- dering them as merely living bodies or bare life. However, it would be wrong to assume that the Holocaust is the only or ultimate instance of modern biopower for Agamben, since he is interested in how the state of exception haunts not only those regimes usually identified as totalitarian, but modern demo- cratic polities, too.
Thus, in Homo Sacer, he discusses the predicament of the Nazi camp intern alongside a host of more contemporary bodies that also inhabit the indistinct space between life and death, including the comatose patient, the subject of euthanasia and the detained migrant.
This text explores the boundary between human and animal — a barrier that, for Agamben, is indistinct since the human always defines itself in relation to the animal.
The production of the human requires the creation of bare life — whether understood as merely living flesh, the animal, or some barbarous, less-than-human exist- ence. Here he explores the constitutional mechanisms that, in all modern democracies, enable the declaration of the emergency.
In particular, he remembers the military order delivered by George W. Bush on 13 November sub- jecting non-citizens suspected of terrorist activities to indefinite detention and trial by military tribunals.
Contra Schmitt , for whom the state of exception is established to protect and lead back to the constituted norm, Agamben contends that there is no essential connection between legal right and the violence that reduces humanity to bare life. At stake here is not only the develop- ment of theoretical methods that enable a lucid analysis of the present articulation of exceptional powers, but also a personal refusal to accept as normal and humane practices of biopolitical control that seek to register and identify the very stuff of life.
Interestingly enough, these are the same countries where cultural studies has achieved its strongest institutional uptake. Although it would be disingenuous to suggest a correlation between the war-making activities of these states and the earlier ascendancy of cultural studies within their universities, it would also be naive to claim that this success can be abstracted from questions of governance.
In some cases, it has also prompted a return to a humanist ethos and more socio- logical modes of analysis, either because these are perceived as more amenable to funding bodies or because they are understood to offer minimal protections against the demands of utilitarianism.
For a start, there are different versions of what it means to be political in cultural studies, including Gramscian notions of connection with organic intellectuality, demands for greater attention to political economy, feminist emphases on the personal and bodily aspects of political life, and calls for pragmatic engagement with government and community.
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