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Radical Philosophy Review

Radical Dreams and Visions

Volume 12
Art, Praxis, and Social Transformation

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Displaying: 1-20 of 24 documents

1. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Anne F. Pomeroy, Richard A. Jones Editors’ Introduction
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2. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Nicholas Reynolds Family, Inner Life, and the Amusement Industry
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I critically engage Max Horkheimer’s “Art and Mass Culture” from Critical Theory. I split Horkheimer’s essay into three parts, which correspond to the three sections of my essay. The first section details the objective historical conditions that have lead up to Horkheimer’s diagnosis. The second section describes the change in consciousness that corresponds to these conditions, and the third section outlines Horkheimer’s critique of Mortimer Adler and art that belongs to “the amusement industry.” I describe the basic elements of Horkheimer’s aesthetic theory, use several pieces of art as examples of the application of the theory, andprovide contemporary analogues in order to illustrate the relevance of the essay to today’s world.
3. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Samy Azouz Amiri Baraka’s Repertory Theatre Revisited: Art, Praxis, and Engagement versus the Liberal Ethos
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The turbulent 1960s in America testifies to the artistic and intellectual need and move beyond the liberal cult of fantasy and inaction. Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones) views the social and political reality in its dynamism, and not in its immutability or stasis. Black art, within a repressive society, must be perceived as an arm, a weapon and not a means of banter or fun. Werner Sollors considers him as the engagé artist par excellence. The political art that Baraka espouses is drastic and functional, an art that exposes common predicaments and plights. Entailed in Baraka’s dramatic art is the diatribe against art for art’s sake, thefusion of art and activism, and the finality of human action. Baraka considers theatrical playwriting as didactic, telic, and constructive. In this light, art, playwriting, and engagement constitute one monolithic unity that could stand in the face of liberal reactionary politics and arrangements.
4. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Rachel N. Hastings Performative Decolonization: Critical Performance Ethnography, Rize and the Battle to Articulate Race
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The montage of personal and social identities displayed in the documentary Rize indicate that there are multiple historical, psychological, and performative responses to racialized conditions. This essay analyzes how the body is used as an instrument of resistance against a society that operates within and among racial symbol systems. Drawing upon critical ethnography and race philosophies, this essay suggests David LaChapelle’s examination of Krump dancers is a process of performative decolonization. To begin, Rize is articulated as a project representative of critical performance ethnography. Next, a discussion of the genesis of race as a political instrument of oppression is offered. In conclusion, an analysis of the dialectal tension between the spiritual and material realms within the documentary Rize is discussed.
5. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Tommy J. Curry I’m Too Real For Yah: Krumpin’ as a Culturalogical Exploration of Black Aesthetic Submergence
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I am interested in looking at Krumpin’ through what I am calling the “politics of submergence.” If my world is chaotic, if my Blackness is my murderer, can I be expected to create beauty? Can my art be transformative? My paper argues that Krumpin’ is in fact transformative, not to the extent that it perpetuates hope, but maintains its social pessimism. In accepting both the conditions that have sustained the racial marginalization of African descended people, and the impotence of this marginalized group to change the systemic social structures that continue racial subordination in the United States, Krumpin’ announces a reflective mode of racial identity and cultural existence that attends to the suffering of African-descended people in American ghettos.
6. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Kristin McCartney W.E.B. Du Bois and the Sorrow Songs: Unburying Resistance in the Roots of Trauma
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While psychoanalysis credits the entrenchment of systems of subordination to the necessity of socialization and the transmission of dominant values from parent to child, by claiming social symbolics independent of the dominant hegemony, W.E.B. Du Bois calls for resistant forms of identification. Psychoanalyticaccounts of social power relations often assume that the dominant social group produces the only operative social symbolic and that this symbolic is also identical with the nation, but Du Bois’s attention to the slave song allows him to trace the burial of a black American symbolic rather than a traumatic inculcation of the dominant white symbolic.
7. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Gertrude Postl From Gender as Performative to Feminist Performance Art: Judith Butler and Valie Export
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Judith Butler’s idea of gender as performative (introduced in Gender Trouble and now a commonplace in feminist theory) is brought into dialogue with feminist performance art (exemplified by Valie Export, the Austrian media- and performance-artist). Butler’s claim that gender is performative and that it can be changed only through a parodic repetition of performative acts is revisited through the lens of Export’s subversive performance pieces. This “interaction” between theory and art practice shall highlight the political potential of Butler’s work and serve to expand her notion of parody as it pertains more directly to women and the female body.
8. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Fei Shi The Impossible Bodies: Gender and Radical Performances in Contemporary China
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This paper attempts to engage with theoretical discourses to address these intersections of gender, body, and space in the forefront of contemporary Chinese visual artists’ radical performances. From Cui Xiuwen’s scandalous video installation Lady’s of the female bathroom in Tianshang Renjian Hotel to Ma Liuming’s iconic androgynous walk on the Great Wall, contemporary Chinese visual/performance artists have challenged the limits and borders of body as art in radically experimental ways. Feminist art has been liberated from female painting in the post-socialist era, and gender hierarchy and norms have been more profoundly critiqued in these performative events. Pressed by the post-socialist political conditions, market economy, the influence of western art in the era of late capitalism, and the Confucian-Taoist tradition, the Chinese artists have embarked on an experimental journey, attempting to articulate a newness of their complicated lived experiences and to call for social and political transformations.
9. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
D. Rita Alfonso Permeability and Impermeability in John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus
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This essay is about experience, and not only about ideas. I have been drawn to write about John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus for a number of reasons: First, I find his work to be part of a new turn in LGBT art and media that take queer lives as a point of departure, and not only as narrative focus, for their work. These areworks that are not just about being queer, but cross the line into being queer works. Of those who can be said to be a part of this recent turn, I find Mitchell’s work to be both especially philosophical and formally interesting. Not only does his work take up philosophical questions over what it means to be human, and the nature of love and sex, but also his works are produced through an organic, cooperative process that re-frames what it could mean to queer representation, political or otherwise.
10. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Anne Bartlett, Gerard Kuperus, Marjolein Oele Aesthetic Sensibility and Political Praxis: Foucault, Lyotard, and the Darfur Crisis
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This paper develops insights from Foucault and Lyotard to examine the Darfur crisis and the transformative potential of spaces of alterity. We show that Foucault’s quest for an aesthetics of existence is an attempt to found an alternative form of ethics based on wakefulness, sensibility, and suspicion on the part of the subject. In the final part of the paper we link this idea to Lyotard’s sensibility of the sublime. We show how aesthetic sensibility can be transformed in a political sensibility which bears witness to political injustices that result from the incommensurability of different genres of discourse. We illustrate this point using aesthetic representations of Darfur.
11. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Corey McCall “Fiat ars pereat mundus”: The Relevance of Walter Benjamin’s “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” for Understanding the War on Terror
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This essay assesses the prescience of Benjamin’s “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by examining its conclusions in light of the Global War on Terror. Following an initial section in which I provide a brief overview of Benjamin’s essay and revisit its conclusion, I proceed to analyze the various ways that Bush administration officials claimed that they could remake the world in America’s image. The key question at stake in this paper is whether Benjamin’s analyses still prove useful for understanding the relationship between art and politics at this moment in history. This paper begins to extend Benjamin’s analysis of art as a mass medium to contemporary society by investigating various ways that the Global War on Terror was justified to the American people during the Bush administration. Specifically, I am interested in the idea that art remakes the world in opposition to reality, and the relationship between this idea and age-old aspirations to empire.
12. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Doug Morris Mystic River’s Blood-Dimmed Tide
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This chapter interrogates Hollywood film as a powerful public pedagogical machine and as an influential component of the broader media culture, that serves as a primary terrain where the authority of violence and the violence of authority expresses, justifies, and legitimates itself in the U.S. Allegiances to, identifications with, beliefs in, desires for, and attitudes about violence, authority, militarism, and power are largely constructed, imbued, directed and shaped through dominant media formations as they create images and spectacles of violence, either real or fabricated. During a time of continuing imperial aggression, expanding Pentagon budgets, increased international violence, growing authoritarian tendencies, and when an “imperially ambitious” United States has embarked on what Anatole Lieven calls a policy of “unilateral global domination through absolute military superiority,” the inculcation into the mass consciousness of the justification for, identification with, acceptance and pursuit of mass violence through military aggression becomes all the more crucial.
social transformation
13. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Andrew Feenberg Radical Philosophy of Technology: From Marx to Marcuse and Beyond
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The most effective way to silence criticism is a justification on the very terms of the likely critique. When an action is rationally justified, how can reason deny its legitimacy? This paper concerns critical strategies that have been employed for addressing the resistance of rationality to rational critique especially with respectto technology. Foucault addressed this problem in his theory of power/knowledge. This paper explores Marx’s anticipation of that approach in his critique of the “social rationality” of the market and technology. Marx got around the silencing effect of social rationality with something very much like the concept ofunderdetermination in his discussion of the length of the working day. There are hints of a critique of technology in his writings as well. In the 1960s and ‘70s, neo-Marxists and post-structuralists demanded radical changes in the technological rationality of advanced societies. Marcuse proposed the most developed Marxist theory of alternative technology, based on a synthesis of aesthetics and technical rationality. The concept of underdetermination was finally formulated clearly in contemporary science and technology studies, but without explicit political purpose. Nevertheless, this revision of the academic understanding of technology contributes to weakening technocratic rationales for public policy. A new era of technical politics has begun. It is time to reevaluate the history of technology critique in the light of this unprecedented situation.
14. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Michael Minch, Clifton Sanders Democracy as Music, Music as Democracy
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In this paper we argue that there are valuable consonances between democratic theory and music theory, and between democratization and musical performance and enjoyment. We suggest that this connection is not as trite as it may first appear, but that, since democracy is learned and practiced in a myriad ofways, music is one such place to learn democratic citizenship. The paper begins with a normative account of democratic theory that is present in two movements. The first, “foundations,” explicates the essential components, criteria, and conditions of democracy. The second, “flows,” addresses the dynamism of democratization. Here is an account of what democracy looks like in action. We then turn to an explication of music theory and improvisation. Here, we focus on jazz as a way to hear the kind of interplay, responsiveness, accountability, discipline, and extemporaneousness that occurs in good jazz, and in authentic (radical) democracy.
15. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Edward Casey Limit and Edge, Voice and Place
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This piece extends Edward Casey’s meditations on the notion of place. Here he specifically looks at “limitrophic” phenomena, including the U.S.-Mexico border as a means for thinking between edge and limit, place and voice.
16. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Brian Elliott Debord, Constant, and the Politics of Situationist Urbanism
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In the first years of its existence between 1957 and 1960 the efforts of the radical collective the Situationist International (SI) centred on its program of “unitary urbanism.” This program sought to challenge the functionalist character of hegemonic forms of urban planning through novel practices of urban experimentation and contestation. Situationist urbanism arose largely through the collaboration between Guy Debord and the Dutch avant-garde architect Constant. This article explores the political dimension of situationist urbanism and the tensions that led to Constant’s secession from the group in 1960. Through analysis of the affinities and divergences between urbanism in its modernist and situationist forms a case is made for the crucial contribution situationist practices might make to the restoration of public space as a vital arena of contemporary political contestation and community.
radical dreams
17. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Joseph Weiss Transforming Mimetic Play: Adorno’s Resistance to the Formalism of the Death Drive
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At stake in Adorno’s aesthetics in general, and his analysis of musical development in particular, is the manner in which artworks resist the formal, subjective characteristics of the death drive’s play. In order to win back control, as it were, of a mastery that has hardened nature’s particularity, Adorno conceives of a transformed, critical mimesis. Ultimately the work of the contemporary Finish composer, Kaija Saariaho, is revealed as an exemplary instance of a transformed mimetic play which critiques the menacing elements of the death drive, but does not altogether discard it.
18. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Scott Zeman By Grace of Broken Skin: An Aesthetics of Inscriptive Development
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I address the question of the origins and historical meaning of art. Analyzing suggestions from Marx, Derrida, Winnicott, and Todorov, I claim that art doesn’t simply represent conscious, historical events but is also the continuing presentation of the prehistorical break-up of our “original” human family. Indeed,perpetuating yet distancing this archaic scene of community and violence in tension, art performs this mediation not just in history but also as history, as a secretive historiography of splitting and meaning-making. To this end, I analyze some tribal tattooing and scarring practices. Literally carving a world of metaphorical significance out of our disidentification with mother nature and with each other in turn, art speaks hieroglyphically of persistent primitive loss.
19. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Joshua Delpech-Ramey Lost Magic: The Hidden Radiance of Negative Dialectics
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Through a close reading of Theodor Adorno’s Negative Dialectics, in relation to Minima Moralia and to Dialectic of Enlightenment, this paper aims to interpret the tension between, on the one hand, Adorno’s scathing critique of occultism, and on the other, his subtle and elusive suggestions that authentic thoughthas certain elective affinities with modes of mind, such as are traditionally found in magical theory and practice. This surprising affinity has implications not only for how to read Adorno’s critical project, but also for how to assess the relevance of spirituality for revolutionary and emancipatory politics. If immanent critiquelabors for a re-enchanted world, it may yet be linked to a genuinely spiritual vision of reality.
radical visions
20. Radical Philosophy Review: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1/2
Kenneth W. Stikkers The “Art of Living”: Aesthetics of Existence in Foucault and American Philosophy
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In volumes two and three of The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault recovers an ancient ethical tradition of “aesthetics of existence,” or “art of living”—the “elaboration of one’s own life as a personal work of art”—centered on the notion of “care of the self.” This ethic invites one to think of one’s life as one’s primarywork of art, and hence is a matter strictly of personal choice and freedom, while the codified ethics characterizing Christianity and modernity are matters of universal obligation. The paper demonstrates 1) that the “art of living” has been a central theme in the American philosophical tradition at least since Thoreau, 2)that many of the positive features of Foucault’s presentation of such an ethic are found throughout that tradition, and 3) that the American tradition, especially Dewey, resolved more successfully than Foucault some of the problems in aesthetics of existence.