Introduction to 11.4
Contemporary academics are the first generation of scholars who encounter the archive not only as a physical place within which we can find and generate a past but also as a feature of any blogging platform. Faced with seemingly limitless storage capacity for videos, photographs, music, and words, those of us in digitizing cultures record and save our digital traces even as we rarely take the time to imagine for whom these traces are saved. We are all archivists now, encountering the joys and challenges of tagging items and experiences that necessarily exceed the terms through which we might recall and share them.
It is appropriate, then, that this issue of Theory & Event begins with "Theorizing Shiny Things," Kathy Ferguson's account of working in the Emma Goldman Papers Project at University of California, Berkeley. Ferguson recounts the chance associations occasioned by her wanderings in the archive. Yet, this way of putting the matter, of rendering the archive into a static location, is not quite right: for Ferguson archives are dynamic political agents; they make things happen. Archives may resist the efforts of organizers and story-tellers to confine them into clear categories and onto coherent paths. The stuff of archives, the "shiny things" of Ferguson's title has its own politics, a politics that might be thought (or, for Ferguson, danced) in terms of particularities as much as aggregations. The items invite and challenge, enabling a speech they likewise disrupt.
Umut Şumnu and Ermin Özgür Özakin also theorize a specific materiality, the bridge over the Bosphorus. In "Just a Tic in the Face: Suicides at the Bosphorus Bridge," the authors emphasize a dynamic instability between model and copy, face and tic, bridge and gap. These conceptual pairs enable a critical reading of the bridge and the burden it bears for the production of a certain Turkish identity as suspended between Europe and Asia.
The next two papers move to theater and film, the first as a metaphor for understanding the events of September 11, 2001, the second as a vehicle for considering the human relation to law. Glen McGillivray orients "theatricality" in its Greek root, theatron or "looking place." Theatricality links knowing to seeing, installing a metaphor that produces the globe as coherent object that is seen. Even prior to its extraordinarily visible destruction, the World Trade Center participated in such a regime of visibility, one that McGillivary details in terms of its history of cartography and trade.
Bruce Rosenstock's "Philosophy Goes to the Movies, or How the West Was Won" stages a fantastic encounter between Stanley Cavell and Slavoj Žižek. Through a close reading of John Ford's 1962 film, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Rosenstock takes up a debate he views "as old as the Christian West: is redemption won through the Law or from the Law"?
Issue 11.4 also includes a symposium on Legitimation Crisis, by Jurgen Habermas. The symposium grew out of an impulse to think again with texts that might have had a particular force in a specific setting. Do such texts speak to us again, from outside or within an archive into which we might have too easily consigned them? Thomas L. Dumm, William E. Connolly, and Wendy Brown consider Legitimation Crisis in light of present conflicts around truth, capitalism, and reason. Jodi Dean responds.
There are five reviews in this issue. William W. Sokoloff's essay, "Critique, Democracy, and Power" considers Nikolas Kompridis, Critique and Disclosure: Critical Theory between Past and Future, and Kathleen R. Arnold, America's New Working Class: Race, Gender, and Ethnicity in a Biopolitical Age. Jason Adams reviews a volume edited by John Moore and Spencer Sunshine, I Am Not a Man, I am Dynamite: Friedrich Nietzsche and the Anarchist Tradition. J Maggio explores the edges of democracy in a review of Benjamin Arditi's Politics on the Edges of Liberalism: Difference, Populism, Revolution, Agitation. Ali Aslam reads Felicity D. Scott, Architecture or Techno-utopia: Politics after Modernism. The issue concludes with Paul J. Carnegie's commemorative look at The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity Pact, by Jean Baudrillard who died in 2007.
Jodi Dean is a Professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY. She is the author, most recently, of Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies (Duke University Press, 2009).