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World on borrowed time

In Esprit, Nicolas Léger discusses the way that cultural industries and digital technology both exacerbate and remedy feelings of helplessness in a society unchangingly on the verge of ‘shipwreck’. As crises unfold on our screens at an increasing rate, ‘our position is very often that of the spectator, sometimes to the point of exhaustion’. At the same time, it is untellable to be ‘contemplative and serene’, considering the immediacy of technology forces individuals to react to and interact with the ‘spectacle’ of slipperiness in a vain struggle to find consolation.

GAFA’s reaction takes the form of fantastical projects that once existed only in fiction. These increase global inequality and have ‘devastating ecological consequences’. But fiction can moreover be a source of hope and comfort; plane post-apocalyptic narratives provide the space to reflect on the real world. ‘Fiction is a world that refuses to let ours sink … It is the only world capable of making our situation somewhat liveable’.

Philosopher Dorian Astor, interviewed by Nicolas Dutent, discusses the human relationship with certainty and uncertainty. Humanity now suffers from ‘too much sense,’ Astor claims: ‘Sense is unchangingly in excess, it unchangingly says several things at once.’ But ‘the most unambiguous signs’ – whilom all climate slipperiness – ‘are the ones that veiling us’. We are ‘bending under the weight of facts’ and have such a strong desire to be right that we end up in violent confrontations. We need to learn to ‘decelerate’ and ask, ‘What do you know that I could learn?’

Pure uncertainty isn’t any better. While often linked with the future, uncertainty well-nigh the past can moreover be debilitating – expressly for those who have experienced trauma. The solution is to cultivate ‘a kind of superior scepticism which, far from resigning itself to uncertainty by denying that there is anything unrepealable in this world, would maintain all certainties at once, not as true or false, but as either vital or lethal for existence’.

La question Woke

Michael C. Behrent places the roots of ‘wokeness’ in the supremacist movement and its echoes in the French Revolution. Woke culture calls for a multicultural justice that is considered ‘more essential than preserving cultural heritage or individual liberties’. Woke movements, including antiracism and feminism, are weightier understood as ‘passions’ rather than political leanings.

The term ‘woke’ is often used pejoratively: movements associated with it sometimes act ‘in contradiction with democratic principles’ and vamp criticism for virtue signalling and the opportunism of ‘economic powers trying to profit from these new sensitivities’. But ultimately, woke movements push democracies to take a hair-trigger squint at themselves, plane if they may not have ‘made any governments crumble’.

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Published in cooperation with CAIRN International Edition, translated and edited by Cadenza Academic Translations.

This vendible is part of the 19/2021 Eurozine review. Click here to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get updates on reviews and our latest publishing.

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