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reflected in German legal doctrine, paired with the commitment to case-by-case ad Die philosophischen Grundlagen der Meta-Dimension des Rechts auf. Menschenwürde lösen eine Fragestellung aus, die die Grenzen der Disziplin des Grundgesetzes aus rechtsphilosophischer Sicht' in Jan C. Joerden, Eric.

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The second difference, however, is that the Internet still does not produce the stability, security and protection that the traditional archives had. We often think this is an institutional question, or a technological one, but in fact it is an economic one. Internet platforms are privately driven, so they have to make profit. And that means that on the Internet there is no place for the museum, or an archive in any form. Basically, today, if you want to have an archive on the Internet, it should be based on already existing archives.

Only institutions like the MoMA and Tate can establish something like an Internet archive, partially also because they are able to pay for this.

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In the EU, if you want to establish an Internet archive, you get a guarantee of protection of maximum 30 years. So it will cost a lot of money, and there is still a lot of insecurity. What does it mean if you take these two points together? It means that in the contemporary global framework, you have total representation, but from a future perspective, it is all garbage.

What is interesting is that the Silicon Valley people know this very well; they all create secret museums, libraries, documentation centres, etc. There have been many attempts to create electronic archives, but de facto none of these attempts were really successful, precisely because of the general structure of the Internet and its relations of property. It is the classical Marxist situation of collective use and private property. That analysis, if there is any place to use it, very much applies here.


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Everybody uses these Internet platforms, but they belong to only a few companies. There is a tension between the interests of the users and the interests of the companies, but this tension is hidden and not thematized, because people believe that the Internet is a means of communication.

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If we would start to think the Internet as a means of archiving, then this tension would be obvious. It is possible, however, that people would give up the archive in general, that people will be only interested in communication and no longer in archiving. That would mean indeed that they would not be interested in the future, and then the role of the archives would be decreasing.


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  • Partially we already are in this situation: the museums are poor; they cannot compete with private collections. These private collections do not of course constitute the framework for protection that I was describing. The same can be said about libraries and so on. We more and more experience them as too expensive, taking up too much space. It seems to me that today we are in a period of transition.

    On the one hand, the structures I described in my book — in academia, in museums, in the art world — are still existing and function in the same way.

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    Parallel to that we have Instagram, virtual reality, viral videos, and so on. Might one say that the contemporary anxiety emerges from a lack of historical orientation? In other words: since we cannot make sense of the present, or determine our direction for the future, we do not know what is historically meaningful and meaningless.

    And what would this mean for the category of the new? BG: Indeed, we can no longer rely on the tradition. And again, I think this is related to digital media: we are confronted with everything at the same time, and everyone globalized him or herself. But as long as there are archives, it makes no difference for the category of the new. There would only be a difference if the archives would dissolve completely. If that happens, then we no longer have the new, but then we also no longer have philosophy, literature, and art.

    All these phenomena relate to the archives, so if the archives dissolve, then all the other things dissolve as well. It is difficult to say.

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    I think it is a mixture between threat and liberation, in the same way that every utopia is also a dystopia. But I think the fact is that many people welcome this development; that the feeling of liberation prevails, the feeling of being liberated from the archive, but also from literature, art and philosophy. In a sense it would be another step in the history of secularization.


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    • European culture has a complex relation to its religious heritage. You still have the names of the saints, ideals of sovereignty and creativity, and an institutional long-term memory, which all together show that it is really a secularized version of a feudal or religious order. It is possible that we go through a new wave of liberation, which started in the s, found its medium in the Internet, and now rids itself of the final traces of the feudal order. The problem is that the new itself, in European culture, has of course its origin in the New Testament.

      So what is the new? The New Testament is new in relation to the Old Testament. Now, if we have an anti-testamentarian movement, as we have now, almost already full-fledged, then it is all over. And I tell you: people experience that as liberation. I see that a young generation is very happy about it. TL: In your book, you discuss the issue of representation, and also the struggle of minorities or socially oppressed groups that want to be represented in the collection or archive.

      This seems to be a highly topical issue not only with regard to the museum, but for instance also with regard to popular culture, e. Hollywood that is considered to be too masculine, too white, etc. However, you are quite sceptical of the way this debate is usually framed.

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      In other words: whether it is from the perspective of the collection that something appears as new as you argued in your book , or that something from the outside demands access to the collection? BG: They are relevant. But first of all: if there is a pressure from the outside, a struggle to enter the collection, this struggle is almost always successful. Why is that? It is always successful because, as I try to show, it corresponds to a certain kind of inner logic of the collection itself.

      It wants to expand. When the collections are confronted with something they overlooked they are eager to absorb it. In my view, this whole issue has an American background. I suddenly belonged to the cultural majority, because I am a white male.

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      There are 1. So first of all, the problem is: what counts as a minority and what is the majority? These categories are always problematic. The second problem is that the individual artist, writer or philosopher never really represents his or her culture of origin. After all, these artists represent only themselves. The idea that they represent a bigger group is, I would say, a very American idea.

      BG: I agree with that. We have a complicated structure of protest and domestication. To become a famous French poet you first have to hate everything French, to break with the tradition. If you are really and typical French, you will never get into a French museum, and you will never be a French poet of genius, because you will be average French. You will have to break all the rules, hate France, committing some crimes is always helpful — think of Genet — and only then you get the status of being a great French artist.

      The problem with the contemporary struggles is that people want to get access to the collection, but without putting into question yourself and your own tradition. You are struggling against it, put it under control or otherwise it controls you. It is an old story, and eventually leads to Bataille, Foucault and Derrida, for whom the other is writing: it is not you who write, but something in you and through you. People think they are already the other, because they are the other guy. This secularization or banalization of otherness is actually what constitutes the major part of contemporary discourse.

      I just wanted to point out that, in relation to the concept of the new, something changed. My relation to my identity changed. Instead of trying to destroy my identity, becoming other to myself and in this way gain access to the cultural tradition as was always the case , now I simply reassert my identity and raise a claim to be accepted to the cultural archives, without any kind of suffering or inner struggle. TL: Today, even more than when you wrote the book, innovation seems to be applauded throughout society, especially with regard to economic production.

      How do you regard this imperative of creativity in the sphere of economic production? BG: I think creativity is nonsense, total nonsense. The notion of creativity is a Christian notion per se , it is a residue of religion.

      Essays in Art and Culture

      I think that, if you are not a Catholic, and all these people probably are, you cannot believe in creativity. Mankind cannot be creative. The only form of human productivity is combining, putting things together. The Internet was modelled after an elementary Turing machine, and that was actually a full description of what a human mind can do. After all it is just copy and paste. We cannot do anything ontologically new; that is the principle of human activity. So creativity is divine privilege. TL: You argue in your book that it is impossible to distinguish authentic from inauthentic newness.

      For instance, the new iPhone that one needs to have every couple of years; is it the same kind of newness as an innovation in the art world? BG: A new iPhone is not an innovation. It is repetition. The structural condition of innovation is the archive. We have two models in our civilization: the supermarket, and the museum.