Recent essays

Recent essays

e-flux Notes

Brasília, 1964.

February 21, 2023
Recent essays

Despite fierce repression by the state, the protests in Iran continue. We published a letter from an anonymous collective of university students describing the difficult conditions in universities, between the violence wrought by authorities and the ongoing demonstrations and heroic acts of resistance by students. José-Carlos Mariategui details the storming of San Marcos University, in Lima, on January 21, part of a wave of state violence that has hit Peru. Reporting on the new activist and artistic group Red Nacional de Trabajadores de las Artes y las Culturas (National Network of Art and Culture Workers), or “Red” for short, he argues that “today, in order to organize powerful symbolic actions to criticize the current regime, it is necessary that these voices do not come from all-powerful Lima.” In “Magic Kingdom vs. The Katechon: On the Attempted Coup in Brazil,” Thotti analyzes the strange post-election political upheavals in Brazil: while Bolsonaro was on vacation in Florida, his supporters attacked the capital. “He dreamt there, in Orlando, with Cinderella, not with his supporters back home, who had crafted a messianic role for him that he did not actually want.”

As part of the program Mental Ecologies of War, consisting of moving-image works from Ukrainian artists in war times, Lukas Brasiskis held a conversation with curators Elena Vogman and Olexii Kuchansky. They emphasize the need to reimagine our mental and psychic geographies, while discussing the new cognitive combat, artistic experiments with production and dissemination, the complexities of trauma, and how being oppressed is not the same as victimhood. In Vogman’s words, the program explores “how under the extreme conditions of war certain works transformed their quality of medium into a concrete milieu: a set of relations which retrace a territory, reconfigure the gaze, reinscribe a relation.”

In a major new essay, Benjamin Noys challenges contemporary utopias of matter (in Latour, Bennett, and Haraway) as inversions of older utopias of the text, whose complications are illuminated though a reading of Borges. Seeking a way out of today’s “catastrophic thinking,” he advocates a renewed critical theory where things are hieroglyphs in need of deciphering, and knowledge, not faith, connects us to the world. In light of human society’s worsening impact on the biosphere, we reprinted Michael Marder’s essay from 2013, “Should Plants Have Rights?,” which brings together contemporary science, cross-cultural religious beliefs, and the ethics of plant life to provocatively propose an extension of rights to earth’s flora.

Notes is increasing its cinema coverage. In tandem with the e-flux program on the work of Straub-Huillet, we published Jean-Marie Straub’s “Eliminate the System and the State,” Danièle Huillet’s “How to ‘Correct’ Nostalgia,” and a classic review by Serge Daney of Straub-Huillet’s beautiful landscape film Too Early, Too Late. Lukas Brasiskis wrote an incisive tribute to artist and filmmaker Michael Snow, who passed away on January 5, 2023.

Lastly, today there is a new installment in our column The Contemporary Clinic: Fabrice Bourlez, author of Queer Psychoanalysis (2018, in French), writes about the discord between psychoanalysis and queer and trans theory. While taking the psychoanalytic establishment to task for its prejudices and moralism, and its inability to think the problems of sexuality today, he eschews any simple polemic against or rejection of psychoanalysis. “No matter how we name ourselves, live our sexualities, or live our loves, the unconscious and jouissance, the unique differences of each subject and each history, our dreams and bungled actions never cease to surprise and unsettle us.”

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