May 21, 2020 - e-flux journal - new e-flux journal readers
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May 21, 2020

e-flux journal

Books drying out in the British Museum after water damage from extinguishing fires caused by bombs in 1941.

new e-flux journal readers

www.e-flux.com/readers/

Dear friends,

We are continuing to peruse back issues of e-flux journal through the filter of Covid-19. Here are twelve new e-flux journal readers: thematic collections of essays from across the entire history of e-flux journal grouped around topics and themes relevant to this unusual moment. These new constellations of essays have been compiled by you: our readers, and we are keen to hear more and welcome your ideas and suggestions for further e-flux journal readers. The over 1,000 essays contained in 110 issues of e-flux journal can be grouped in nearly infinite ways, and are freely available online. Your suggested reader should include a one-word title, a short abstract (100 words), and links to 8–9 e-flux journal texts.

Please send your suggestions to reader [​at​] e-flux.com.

Yours truly,
e-flux journal


Compulsion
Compiled by Isabel Valli

Medieval chronicles describe several episodes of an inexplicable epidemic running across Europe, with hundreds of people dancing involuntarily and unstoppably, sometimes for months. Considered at the time to be driven by supernatural forces, the dance plague is understood today as a form of mass hysteria or collective mania, a bodily expression of distress in the flesh of the laborers, following outbursts of black death and famine that were too deadly to be dealt with rationally. These phenomena speak of the known role of trauma and pose questions on the still unclear consequences of the current pandemic on mental health.


Dizziness
Compiled by Georgia Perkins

Dizziness: a feeling of disorientation, a loss of balance, or our capacity to “navigate the unknown.” Ruth Anderwald, Karoline Feyertag and Leonhard Grond argue that “dizziness, marked by an increasing feeling of loss of control and vulnerability, is a midway state at the point where everything and nothing seems possible, where certainty and uncertainty are in superposition.” In Dizziness—A Resource, the editors turn to the potential reading of dizziness as method; as a generative means to shake “normative assumptions and perceptions,” as well as unsettle dominant modes of knowledge production and orientation.


Marbles
Compiled by Geli Mademli

The rapid acceleration of our digital transactions during the global pandemic, next to our urged reluctance to navigate physical surfaces, drastically invested the material world with more narratives of degeneration and ruination. As technology employs crisis discourse to establish practices of standardization regarding our understanding of objects, how can the “user” resist the virtual homogeneity performed by alleged accessible online archives? Equally alluding to relics of antiquity, the playfulness of a childrens’ toy, and systems gone derailed, “marbles” is an applicable term for objects and texts that manifest or contain ontological oppositions (tangible/intangible, mutable/immutable, digital/analog, multiplicity/singularity, representation/inscription, original/fake), highlighting the complexity of our present encounters.


Re-Membering
Compiled by Alison Kennedy

To re-member is to reassemble the limbs of history. How shall we put together this pandemic event? Shall we affect amnesia—and not recall awkward heroes, principles, and politics? The grief about contemporary loss of truth—of not feeling truly at home—manifests as nostalgic attempts to re-present critical events through staged recreation. At the same time, to write about present activities is to create distance between oneself and the event—to move from participant to observer. Who authors what history? The following essays have been selected for their insights into the re-creation of memory, forgetting, and identity.


Magic
Compiled by Sonia D‘Alto

From an anthropological and philosophical perspective magic is presented as a transcendental escape from the contingency of the world. Nowadays it is a metaphysical alternative to the technique, presenting itself not only as mitopoiesis but also as counterculture. We can meet the magic in the archaic, the weird, the animistic, or on the contrary, it could be caused by a reaction to the technological. After all, the most advanced technology borders on magic and on the extraordinary. Magic declare the effective existence of another world, using invisibility into the regime of visibility. Magic is a world-making activity.


Home
Compiled by Carlos Kong

The pandemic has radically unsettled our relationship to what we call “home.” Amid mandated lockdowns (“stay at home!”), quarantining reframes the function of familiar space and our experience of it. Homes are fully transformed into uncanny sites of precarious labor, neoliberal production and consumption, and biopolitical control—alongside the domestic’s usual bliss, monotony, and terror. In the era of “working from home,” screens become the new networked hearth; walls no longer demarcate the eroded bounds of the private and public realm.


Rebirth
Compiled by Alice Labor

“I’m telling you this
we needed to stop.
(…) We all felt it
that it was too furious,
our frenzy. Being inside of things.
Outside of our selves.
(…) We needed to do it together.
(…) And there is gold, I believe, in this strange time.
Perhaps there are gifts.
(…) A common fate
holds us here.
(…) we will return with expanded awareness.
(…) Our hand
will be more delicate in the doing of life.”
—Mariangela Gualtieri, “March the Ninth Twenty Twenty”


Rest
Compiled by Camila Charask and Catalina Imizcoz

Our call to rest is a call to an activism of rest, which in Spanish can be poetically enunciated as una militancia del descanso; that is, rest as a political stance, as bearing public value. The following texts are split between an oneiric exploration of rest as a re-worlding strategy, on the one hand, and an understanding of the conditions that necessitate rest as a civil technology, on the other. Socially, it is within rest that the need for an exhausting collective parasitising disappears and that the (re)productive choreography—in which able bodies relentlessly subscribe to shaping entrepreneur subjectivities—becomes unmasked.


Autonomy
Compiled by Felice Moramarco

From Immanuel Kant to Margaret Tatcher, the (neo)liberal notion of autonomy has coincided with one’s independence from external agents. With the widely adopted policies to contain the Covid-19 outbreak—self-isolation, dismantling of social bounds, and desertification of common spaces—this model of autonomy seems to have found an unexpected ally for its ultimate realization, although simultaneously unveiling its total unsustainability. It has become in fact evident that in order to be autonomous, humans need to be in constant interaction with other agents, rather than independent from them. Thus, contrarily to what (neo)liberalism has professed for centuries, autonomy implies an absolute openness towards the other.


Contamination
Compiled by Önder Özengi

Contamination is a concept that is commonly used defining being in a situation where one is affected by a relation—a relation that transforms one’s existing positions into un/predictable ones. For anthropologist Anna Tsing, contamination is the answer to how gathering became happening; it works through collaboration; without it we all die. Contamination is related to being in a transformative relation with a thing/human/non-human, being vulnerable to others, and an unavoidable need for collaboration. Precarity appears here not only as a lack of stable relation based on dependency to others, but also the condition of being that puts indeterminate collaboration and interdependent relations necessarily in the play.


Utopia
Compiled by Marcus Hurwitz
A shattering interruption of unacceptable forms of everyday life is taking place. Forcing a turn of breath (Celan)—take pause and listen. How can this event be understood? How does one experience metanoia today? Utopia must (Il Faut) be a re-reimagining and transformation of this interruption: the possibility of a different form and practice of everyday life. Let us invoke a fearsome phrase of Brecht that Bloch used against Adorno: “something is missing.” Who better to imagine the way and demonstrate this “something,” whatever it may be, than artists? Before Duchamp, had anyone ever imagined using a Rembrandt as an ironing board?


Online
Compiled by Fernanda Cubas Pinella

In the fourth essay of this reader, Boris Groys explains that the goal of technology, according to Heidegger, is to “immunize man against change, to libertate man from his dependency on physis, on fate, on accident.” Undeniably, coping with quarantine in the digital era has its advantages. Technology enables us to remain socially connected through our internet persona, as well as to continue to fulfill from home many of the daily tasks that have been affected since the Covid-19 outbreak, such as working and learning. Is internet our vital lifeline during this confinement period?

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