Recent notes

Recent notes

e-flux Notes

Jean-Luc Godard, La Chinoise (still), 1967. 

September 26, 2022
Recent notes

Taking up a crucial yet enigmatic factor in contemporary politics, William Mazzarella elucidates the concept of charisma as operating in an energetic zone beyond good and evil, allowing us to appreciate “the puzzling fact that deeply flawed, even repulsive people are routinely experienced as charismatic”—perhaps most spectacularly in the case of Trump. Bayla Ostrach addresses the crisis provoked by the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, offering a comparative study of abortion access in relatively tolerant Catalunya, based on her own fieldwork; identifying the most persistent obstacles to abortion access, she provides recommendations on how to respond to legal, political, and practical threats to safe abortion. And Salla Sariola describes practices of foraging for plants and herbs in Assam, a state in northeast India, reminding us that “food is not just food. It also involves stories, intimate connections with the environment, and the politics of how we find sustenance.”

We continue our series “The Contemporary Clinic” with psychoanalyst Gleb Napreenko, who examines the state of inertia and passivity in Russia, arguing that Putinist propaganda works through the mechanism of foreclosure rather than repression: instead of offering a consistent ideology, it creates a fragmented reality of holes and contradictions. Coming soon: Nadia Bou Ali analyzes a case of psychosis in Lebanon, and Mohamed Tal responds to Evan Malater and Celeste Pietrusza’s earlier essay on imposter syndrome.

In “‘Ethical Anastrophe’ and Antinomies of the Ethical in the War in Ukraine,” theorist Irina Zherebkina raises the difficult question of whether, in times of war, hatred can be a virtue and serve as the basis for moral action. In the wake of the assassination of Darya Dugina, the daughter of so-called Putin “spiritual guide” Alexander Dugin, journalist and filmmaker Andrey Loshak writes of Dugin’s apocalyptic fantasies, going back to his early days, steeped in occult mystery plays and black masses.

Documenta fifteen comes to a close today. Earlier this month we published an open letter from ruangrupa and participating documenta artists, “We are angry, we are sad, we are tired, we are united,” denouncing the atmosphere of censorship and hostility, specifically the advisory committee’s recommendation to stop the screening of the Tokyo Reels. Marion Detjen takes apart the scientificity of the scientific advisory panel’s recommendation, in “What Kind of Science Is This?: On the documenta fifteen ‘Expert Panel.’” Delving into documenta history, Mirl Redmann explores in greater depth the Nazi roots of the institution on the occasion of the death of Gerhard Bott, a major German curator who was involved in four editions of documenta, and was a youthful member of the Nazi party. We also translated an interview with Anselm Franke that originally appeared in Monopol, about the controversies that have surrounded this documenta, and the possible future of the exhibition in times when old structures are proving more and more irrelevant even as they refuse to die.

Finally, Nathan Brown offers a beautiful tribute to Jean-Luc Godard, who passed away on September 13, focusing on the opening scene of Pierre le Fou as illustrative of the filmmaker’s singular method of creating cinematic sense: “We all have those sequences, those juxtapositions of faces and atmospheres, that inhabit us most intimately. But it’s only when the heart really breaks that we find among its shards—fragments of images, of words, of music, of gestures, of feelings—the undivided substance of those who made us who we are.”

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