Utopia and Political Theology

Broj 2 - Godina 5 - 06/2015

Uvodnik

Although utopias of different kinds have always stirred people’s imagination, it seems that the twentieth century rise of political theology brought about a particularly intense proliferation of utopian narratives. On the other hand, catastrophic failures such as that of the communist project gave rise to various subsequent reconsiderations of the utopian dream, dystopian nightmare and the thin line dividing the two. ..

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Izdvojeno

In attempting to represent political transformations, we often encounter a moment that seems to resist narrativisation, a moment of obstinate inconsistency which various theoretical, historical and fictional accounts cannot properly absorb except by way of indicating the parameters of a rupture. Here, I present a position which views these unrepresentable moments as structurally necessary features of revolutionary events. It is not simply that, at such historical junctures, we are faced with an abundance of information and that the unrepresentability or narrative deficit is the consequence of this surplus; on the contrary, the founding act that accompanies any radical transformation necessarily involves a certain temporal contraction. To the extent that narrative relies on a linear chronology, it fails to capture this moment of contraction. Indeed, this is why works of political philosophy associated with a founding contract (for example Hobbes’s Leviathan and Rousseau’s Social Contract) cannot fully suppress the moment of circularity in which the rhythm of chronological time skips a beat and, to paraphrase Rousseau, one requires an effect to perform the function associated with its own cause. If the moment of founding can be represented at all, it is only by way of paradox and metaphor....

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Bilo mi je samo devet godina, ali nikad neću zaboraviti dan kad su dali zeleno svjetlo projektu za izgradnju umjetnog jezera i kad smo postali sigurni da će naša kuća nestati pod vodom. Sva sredstva i sve žalbe bili su iscrpljeni i čekali smo još samo da otac uđe u kuhinju i obavijesti nas da je i zadnja presuda bila u korist umjetnog jezera. Vani je padala obilna kiša i monotono šljapkanje očevih cipela kad je ušao u kuću kao da je poručilo, pripremite se, sve će ovo uskoro preplaviti voda, bit će teško hodati ovuda, promijenit će se boje i teksture, ova se lampa nikad više neće upaliti jer žarulje ne gore pod vodom.Sve nas je to pogodilo. Ali njega, koji je otpočetka bio vrlo uključen u borbu, potpuno je pokosilo. Odnos mojih roditelja sve se više pogoršavao i ishodovati odluku koja bi zaustavila umjetno jezero bilo je jedino što je još moglo spasiti stvari, spriječiti naglu poplavu koja samo što nije potopila našu obitelj. Majka i otac to su znali i bili su svjesni da poraženo šljapkanje cipela koje se hodnikom polagano približavaju kuhinji znači kraj jedne ere. ...

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This essay starts from the premise that André Breton’s First Manifesto of Surrealism constitutes the ‘event’ of that movement (i.e., ‘event’ as defined in Alain Badiou’s Ethics), an event subsequently betrayed by its subject, André Breton, in his encounter with Nadja. Situated between rupture and repetition, the opportunity of the event returns in the Second Manifesto of Surrealism. Taking as its target Breton’s novel Nadja, the essay addresses the issue of event as repetition and explores the ramifications of the ‘failure’ to ‘imagine’ one’s continued fidelity to the event. Consequently, this article reads Nadja as a ‘failure’: the failure posed by representation itself, but also the failure of representation to completely annihilate the promise of a “beyond” encrypted in the project of surrealist imagination. Thus, I would like to play off the idea of failure in two complementary ways. First, I look at the ‘failure’ that is more significant than any achievement. Second, I address the failures at particular missed moments in history, expressed as a series of ‘returns’ in Nadja. Finally, the point of tension between the two types of failures in Nadja elicits a reading of Breton as a reactive, rather than an immortal Subject....

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The words ‘utopia’ and ‘zombie’ are likely to conjure up strong images in the mind of the reader. The first makes one think of perfection, of happiness, of something new and better; the other, of the monstrous, of death and decay. Despite the fact that these images are arguably the most common, one can question their validity: can it be said that utopias are always perfect, and are the undead always monstrous? In this paper, I aim to explore the concepts relating to both utopias and zombies and the possible connections between the two, including a reading of the undead in light of the ultimate utopia: Paradise. In the light of these analyses, I propose a more positive approach to the figure of the zombie, which will be discussed as a counterpoint to the commonly held views of (religious) utopias. Keywords: utopia, dystopia, Christianity, Revelation, Paradise, Second Coming, zombie, post-zombieA man, dressed in an old, torn and dusty suit, is seen in the distance, staggering between the tombstones as he makes his way towards the two young people, who have come to the cemetery to visit their father’s grave. They notice the man, but make fun of him; to them, the figure is not dangerous. Until he attacks them. Part of the opening sequence of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), it was in this film that audiences were introduced to the now iconic figure of the shambling, flesh-eating undead. Cinemagoers saw the dead come back to life, crawling out of the earth as if it were Judgement Day. These creatures may have looked human, but were unmistakably evil, attacking and feeding on anything they could find. This negative image of the zombie existed in horror media before Romero’s reinvention of the narrative in the shape of the voodoo zombi of Haitian origins, and this vision has persisted ever since. The undead are the monstrous Other and perhaps the ultimate threat to humanity: as their numbers grow, they replace and incorporate humankind as new people are added to the ranks of the zombie. These beings may appear human, but they are dangerous and should be avoided at all cost. It seems indeed easy to apply a reading to this monster that shows them in a negative light and although the number of interpretations of the undead has grown over the years, the concept of the Other, of a being that has lost itself and is only capable of mindless feeding, has persisted. What I aim to offer here are some ideas on different interpretations of the undead, most notably a more positive reading. Film makers and academics alike have almost universally presented the zombie as a monstrous Other, something which should be avoided and killed. Any relation to the perfection of a (religious) utopia would therefore appear impossible, yet it is the potential of the undead to be seen as more than brainless monstrosities that I wish to address here. What I would like to put forward is a more positive approach to the figure of the zombie, ultimately arguing that the undead may be the only way in which humanity can achieve Paradise. In order to facilitate such a discussion, I will start by examining the terminology used. Reference has already been made to images of perfection and monstrosity, respectively, and it will be beneficial to explore the concept of both utopia and the zombie in more detail, before moving on to a discussion of the idea of the perfect undead. ...

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