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  • IntroductionDry and Heavy: Or, Another Poetics and Another Writing—of History and the Future
  • Nahum Dimitri Chandler (bio)

This wood dry, but it still heavy…so dry, bone dry… lend me your axe. Will you lend it to me?

—Burning Spear, Dry and Heavy (1977)

Addressed by the occasion of this special issue, I am ineluctably led to attempt to gather my own senses of horizon and thereby offer a remark of our horizons—in that undelimitable sense of us or we—amid the worldwide rumblings of ongoing irruptive strife and disaster, both within and among the human and across the supposed natural world in general, at the midpoint of the second decade of this century. In just such a way, one may be led to open anew a kind of implicit epistemic question with regard to the terms of the discourse that is offered in this volume: Is there a conception of our historicity, in all senses, that can account for the resurgent engagement across the past [End Page 1] decade and a half that has sought to rearticulate W. E. B. Du Bois as a touchstone within the history of modern thought, the latter conceived on a global scale of reference?

In brief, in the essays assembled here, the answer given to us in the form of renewed and persistent demonstration—at the letter of the text, so to speak—is a simple yet highly differentiated, yet recursive, affirmative: eight times, if you will. Why? How? On what basis might such an affirmation already be, or become, true? Gathering its incipient mark in the form of a conference held in June of 2007 at Shinagawa in Tokyo, Japan under the title “W. E. B. Du Bois and the Question of Another World,” following an earlier conference organized under the same heading that had been held in Sendai, Japan in 2006, the imperative that led to the emergence of this issue acquired its distinctive and original force across the decade that opened with the advent of a new millennium.

Of History

That imperative is the insurgent and historically radical reproblematization of the limits of the concept of the so-called human in all its social forms, from 9/11 to 3/11, to the Arab Spring, to the body of Michael Brown and his virtual and real affective affines, to the persisting resistance of all contemporary practices of thought to the undoing of gender, to the emergent possibility of the radical displacement of the earth as of water, to the ongoing and tendentious entrepreneurialism of all practices of knowledge—with regard to this latter, in particular within all that is encoded in the reprojection of the idea of the human as genome—that marks the present generations, across the globe. Let us, then, recall the putting at stake of such limit by way of a few of the contemporary names, which yet still remain exemplary, of those (not only those we presume as human and also not only humans) so easily forgotten in disaster, earthquake and its aftermaths, for example—Aceh and Sri Lanka, southwestern China, Haiti, Chile, Japan, Nepal—that have remained in our time excessive to the grasp of reason and all of its avatars, just as it has been across the centuries of our entire epoch. At such a juncture and with such references, always multiple and multiplying—remarking not only a so-called [End Page 2] present but also from one turn of the century, that is the fateful twentieth, to the turn of another, our own, and the possible breadth of a new millennium—how ought we carry the necessity to carry on, to maintain, our responsibility, that is to give, in the practice of thought?

Across two conferences held astride the first decade of this century and the three special issues of this journal—the present one marking the third—concluding here astride the second decade, it may be offered that we have recognized in the work of W. E. B. Du Bois an order of attention that might allow us a distinct solicitation to the engagement of such imperative—both then (the time of his writing) and now...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1539-6630
Print ISSN
1532-687x
Pages
pp. 1-22
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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