You know how it is with social-network groups–they are frustrating more often than not, and many of them have to be dismantled after a while for lack of participation and related issues. Not so many people are generous enough with their time and ideas to want to participate in working groups that might expose them to real conversation, and we need to take that into account and keep it in mind. Still, provided I know you (I do want to keep trolls and spam away from this), I am inviting you to join one or the other of them, or both.
Those two groups are important to me for the following reasons: it seems to me the future of critical theory at least in the US is at stake. Things are looking bad, from where I am, and that includes several dimensions of the problem: the lack of ideas and the thorough routinization of the contemporary theoretical field, the lack of investment in the humanities by institutions that ought to know better, and the complicity of so many professionals (our own colleagues, ourselves) with the dire state of affairs. And I believe, looking at things, that there will be no salvation coming from biopolitical thought, no salvation coming from robotics or a.i. and singularity studies, no salvation coming from political philosophy or Marxism or neo-Marxism, no salvation coming from any kind of identity-powered studies, or from science studies or new media studies, etc., etc., and even if we are not looking for salvation—I am not–we can at least look forward to having some fun and some interesting moments in coming years. It seems to me either we create them for ourselves or they won’t come into existence. In any case, there is a conversation to be had. I am inviting you to it.
I think we are at the verge of what we could call the resurgence of an existential turn (certainly beyond conventional subjectivism, I am not talking about repeating the previous one)—partially as a result of the ruin and loss of momentum of everything else. It seems to me there are two main references from the tradition that stand in need of attention and care when it comes to an existential turn: Lacanian analysis and late Heideggerianism. I do not want to dismiss other very important aspects of contemporary thought, i. e., certain developments in Marxism, the ongoing publication of Derrida’s seminars or, indeed, theoretical developments in the African American field, but I think the Lacanian text and the late Heideggerian text are essential for a new and exciting theoretical avatar—if, indeed, we can have it (not at all clear to me at this point.) You may have of course the impression that other things could be cited here, that I am reducing too drastically the field of productive discourse. You may be right, but all I am proposing is that those two fields of engagement–late Heideggerianism and Lacanian theory–need attention.
One more thing: I am inviting you to working groups. They will not be particularly work intensive, if only because we all understand that all of us have, if not excessive, at least demanding work constraints, and we do not totally dispose of our own time (although I do try to dispose of as much of it as I can for free intellectual engagement.) But, to the extent this is an invitation to working groups, of course a minimal investment in work is expected from every member. Otherwise, frankly, you should not be a member, you should not join.
This is not at all whimsical. Those of us who have experience in virtual conversation know very well that the presence of more than a few silent or inactive members in any given group has a paralyzing effect on the active members—I do not know the technical reason for it, but it is intuitive enough: if I expose myself and share my ideas with you, I expect at least minimal reciprocity and recognition. If you do not provide it, I start feeling like I am in some Amsterdam shop window acting up and you are looking at me from the street. It is no good. Even the Amsterdam mayor recently forbade the practice. It is ok if there are, say, twenty members, and four or five fall silent for a while because of whatever reason, provided the other 15 are reasonably active. But if we were to have four or five active members and fifteen inactive ones, the group would collapse in a matter of weeks. So we want to avoid it.
Looking forward to hearing from you if you are truly interested. I do not expect many, and membership of course will not be limited to people who read this blog. If you are interested, please let me know through private channel (email, etc.), and I will send you a registration link. The groups are #The EreignisTexts and #LacanianTheory.