Notes: David Miller, “A Marxist Poetics: Allegory and Reading in The Principle of Hope” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Miller, David. (2013). A Marxist poetics: Allegory and reading in The Principle of Hope. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 203-218.

Summary:

Miller takes on critiques of Bloch’s “idiosyncratic style” and argues that his use of allegory as almost a kind of anachronism show that the form of the book utilizes and critiques modernity.

Keywords: theory, utopianism

Quotations:

“What the form of the book offers, then, is a different system of reality that exists as the shadowy and veiled counterpart to the everyday world of habitual experience…. Under this pattern of thought, the ‘real,’ including all the intellectual and theological disciplines that purport to define and explain it, is the index and degraded pattern of the better world that exists beyond its surface textures. In other words, the form of the book encompasses both social critique and utopian projection” (p. 206).

Notes: Daly, Frances, “The Zero-Point: Encountering the Dark Emptiness of Nothingness” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Daly, Frances. (2013). The zero-point: Encountering the dark emptiness of nothingness. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 164-202.

Summary:

Daly analyzes many of the recurring images in Bloch’s work to find “zero-points” as both darkness and emptiness within lived experiences but also as the condition for the possibility of hope.

Keywords: philosophy, theory, utopia

Quotations:

“Humanity is conceived as a possibility, as a challenge to become, not as a given, and this means that no actual assumption concerning the content of being can be made” (p. 172).

“Bloch writes persuasively of a need to learn hope as much as we have learned fear” (p. 198).

Notes: Ní Dhúill, Catríona, “Engendering the Future: Bloch’s Utopian Philosophy in Dialogue with Gender Theory” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Ní Dhúill, Catríona. (2013). Engendering the future: Bloch’s utopian philosophy in dialogue with gender theory. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 144-163.

Summary:

Ní Dhúill argues that gender theory has a Blochian utopic core that uses unclaimed potentials in the past to critique present historical contexts and imagine actionable futures.

Keywords: feminism, gender, philosophy, theory, utopia

Quotations:

“The formulation of possibilities for change, then, is utopian, not in the sense of an unreal or unrealistic fantasy, but rather in the Blochian sense: imaginable alternative futures provide the horizon for the critique of the now” (p. 149).

“The utopian dimension of gender theory is dynamic rather than static. The aim is not to cancel history and instate a new perpetual order, but rather to identify both emancipatory and oppressive tendancies within the history of gender relations, and to offer critical perspectives on oppression and constraint with a view to expanding the scope and effectiveness of emancipation” (p. 160).

Notes: Catherine Chaput, “Rhetorical Circulation in Late Capitalism: Neoliberalism and the Overdetermination of Affective Energy”

Chaput, Catherine. (2010). Rhetorical circulation in late capitalism: Neoliberalism and the overdetermination of affective energy.” Philosophy and Rhetoric, 43(1), 1–25.

Summary:

Chaput critiques the situated/situation premise within rhetoric as enabling neoliberalist ideologies to operate uninterrogated within them and poses rhetorical circulation, in its insistence on moving between spaces, as an alternative.

Keywords: affect, capital, materiality, neoliberalism, rhetoric, rhetorical theory, theory

Quotations:

“Conceptualizing discursive practices as a form of labor rather than a form of political signifi cation sidesteps anxiety about well-chosen language and emphasizes the life-affi rming activity involved in deciphering issues, inventing paths through those issues, and communicating new ideas to others” (p. 2).

“Put differently, security converts human beings into self-entrepreneurs whose freely chosen education, work, and leisure decisions operate instinctually according to the economics of risk and reward. Such a schema no longer enforces appropriate subjectivities (normalization) but regulates the point at which individual actions impinge on the statistically favored rates of population success (normation)” (p. 5).

“From this perspective, rhetoric is not an isolated instance or even a series of instances but a circulation of exchanges, the whole of which govern our individual and collective decisions. Understanding rhetoric as circulating within an overdetermined ecological space helps illuminate the biopolitical reaches of contemporary capital, while the social connectivity of aff ective energy produced through communicative labor helps explain the persuasive capacity of these reaches” (p. 8).

“The rhetorical  situation, that is, makes rhetoricians comfortable within the disciplinary status quo of rhetorical production understood as transpiring within  discrete sociohistorical, political, and cultural situations. Th e negative  aff ectivity of the rhetorical situation— its organization and  interpretation of life structures in terms of fi xed origins—stems, in part, from its reproduction of philosophical divisions: materiality and consciousness; reason and emotion; objects and subjects; past and future; the situated place and the open space” (p. 18).

“In the rhetorical circulation model, success derives from a better understanding of diff erently situated positions and an enhanced ability to engage diff erently situated people, processes that open dialogue rather than win debates” (p. 19).

Notes: Catherine Moir, “The Education of Hope: On the Dialectical Potential of Speculative Materialism” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Moir, Catherine. (2013). The education of hope: On the dialectical potential of speculative materialism. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 121-143.

Summary:

Moir develops Bloch’s speculative materialism within contemporary philosophical contexts, exploring its relationships and departures from other material thought.

Keywords: materiality, new materialisms, philosophy, speculative materialism, theory,

Quotations:

“Bloch’s speculative materialism is dialectical and, as such, approaches the thought-being question in dialectical materialist terms, where being determines thought” (p. 122).

“We can therefore say that speculative philosophy responds to an injunction to think being in a non-correlative, non-identical way, without denying any relation between thought and being” (p. 126).

“[W]e might say that Bloch’s materialism can be called immanently speculative in that it locates the condition for the possibility of speculation in the material itself” (p. 131).

“The absolute is, therefore, what Bloch calls not-yet. Absolution is materially possible, but not certain. The injunction of speculative materialism to know the absolute thus consists not only in thinking what is whether we are or not, but also what is possible now that we are” (p. 137).

 

Notes: Johan Siebers, “Ernst Bloch’s Dialectical Anthropology” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Siebers, Johan. (2013). Ernst Bloch’s dialectical anthropology. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 61-81.

Summary:

Siebers outlines the structures of thought operating in Bloch’s principle of hope, showing it as rooted in an anthropological thought that yet does not elevate the human.

Keywords: anthropology, materiality, philosophy, theory, utopianism

Quotations:

“History is the new as the mode of realization of the not-yet” (p. 63).

“The upright gait is, in Bloch’s philosophy, the principle of practical reason and functions as the criterion for action. The basic form of the proposition ‘S is not yet P’ expresses both the structure of the process of knowledge as well as the process of being and in a general way indicates what can be known. Identity, the unum necessarium in human and natural striving, builds the horizon of hop” (p. 64).

“Bloch’s philosophical anthropology and anthropological philosophy outlines the place of human existence in reality anew—in  a realist and materialist manner which sees idealism as a distortion of realism, materialism, not their truth. Philosophy is no longer contemplative. It is performative or, as it has been called here, dramatic. It is the praxis of hope, with yet uncharted possibilities” (p. 78).

Notes: Vincent Geoghegan, “An Anti-humanist Utopia?” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Geoghegan, Vincent. (2013). An anti-humanist utopia?. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 37-60.

Summary:

Geoghegan explores the relationship between subject, nature, and natural subject in Bloch (by way of Bacon and Burke) to ask after an anti-humanist utopia.

Keywords: capitalism, neoliberalism, philosophy, posthumanism, theory, utopianism

Quotations:

“Bloch’s outline of a possible new relationship between humanity and nature draws upon a critique of the existing relationship in capitalism and a personal canon of historical conceptions—mythological, religious, philosophical, artistic—of a natural subject” (p. 45).

“The historical figure of a natural ‘subject’ is deemed to be both a semi-mythologized expression of this dynamic materialism and a prefiguring of an authentic natural subjectivity lying in the future” (p. 45).

“A distinction (admittedly polemical) can be made, whereby a self-critical can be distinguished from a self-loathing utopian anti-humanism” (p. 49).

Notes: Wayne Hudson, “Bloch and a Philosophy of the Proterior” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Hudson, Wayne. (2013). Bloch and a philosophy of the proterior. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 21-36.

Summary:

Hudson outlines the several of Bloch’s insights within his utopian work.

Keywords: philosophy, theory, utopianism

Quotations:

“Against such domestication, it is necessary to insist on the unavailability of Bloch’s work, and the fact that there is a continuing delay in the course of its reception as only some aspects of Bloch’s work are really taken up. An abnormal time structure is fundamental to Bloch: a time structure linking anticipatory insights to later developments and this time structure applies to his own work” (p. 23).

“Taking up Bloch’s legacy here requires a willingness to admit both a constructive function for philosophy at the level of method and the irreducible role of normative postulates in philosophical rationalism” (p. 25).

“In Bloch’s process philosophy, the exact nature of the process, including its ‘where to,’ is not known and must be experimented for in natural and social history. Here Bloch’s contribution is to insist that philosophical speculations can be metaphysically constitutive of how reality becomes, and that objective imagination [objektive Phantasie] can and should play a crucial role” (p. 29).

“Bloch challenges us to envisage a wider conception of rationality, able to take account of various sorts of cultural symbolism, and also the complexly distributed, impure materials of the real world” (p. 30).

Notes: Peter Thompson, “Introduction: The Privatization of Hope and the Crisis of Negation” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Thompson, Peter. (2013). Introduction: The privatization of hope and the crisis of negation. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 1-20.

Summary:

Thompson defines the exigency for this book as recovering Bloch from anonymity, defining his principle of hope and spirit of utopia within the context of contemporary events.

Keywords: materiality, philosophy, speculative materiality, theory, utopianism

Quotations:

“Hope, for Bloch, was they way in which our desire to fill in the gaps and to find something that is missing took shape” (p. 3).

“The process that would take us from a static concept of being to one of becoming and of coming to possess ourselves was at base a material one, but it was also one in which our desires, ideas, hopes, and dreams fulfilled a fundamentally important material function in overcoming the ‘ontology of the not yet'” (p. 4).

“Hope therefore learns, but it also teaches as well as constitutes its own conditions” (p. 7).

“The vast majority of utopian thinking could be said to rest in abstract utopias, in abstractions from the process in which the utopia becomes something really existing, whereas the concrete utopia is one which exists and does not exist at the same time because it is in the process of its own creation” (p. 13).

Notes: Sara Ahmed, “A Killjoy Manifesto” in Living a Feminist Life

Ahmed, Sara. (2017). A killjoy manifesto. Living a feminist life. Durham: Duke University Press, 251-268.

Summary:

Ahmed develops a killjoy manifesto that assembles the figure of the killjoy from principles of how a feminist is in the world.

Keywords: feminism, feminist theory, killjoy, theory

Quotations:

“A manifesto not only causes disturbance, it aims to cause this disturbance. To make something manifest can be enough to cause a disturbance” (p. 251).

“To think of killjoys as manifestos is to say that a politics of transformation, a politics that intends to cause the end of a system, is not a program of action that can be separated from how we are in the worlds we are in. Feminism is praxis. We enact the world we are aiming for; nothing less will do” (p. 255).