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  • Introduction
  • Shepherd Steiner

This special issue of Mosaic celebrates the journal's 50th anniversary and gathers together a number of papers and events presented at a symposium to mark that occasion. The symposium, titled Living On, was initiated by Dawne McCance and held at the University of Manitoba on March 9-11, 2017. The theme and title come from Jacques Derrida's "Living On: Borderlines" (1979) and were to acknowledge a range of issues including the journal's interdisciplinary mandate, Mosaic's own recent conference on lifedeath (48.1-48.4), and the increasingly fraught and troubled times that we all face. More pragmatically still, Living On was to point to the journal's next half-century and its life under a new editor in the wake of McCance's seventeen years at the helm. Finally, Living On was to showcase the critical work of select participants from a diverse set of fields from which Mosaic welcomes contributions.

But things never go exactly as planned. Much is lost in the transition from lecture to print. The issue itself departs from the initial call for reflections on the futures of architecture, art, literature, music, and philosophy. In many cases, the theme of living on simply serves as a spur for thought. At other times the issue happily approaches the form of a festschrift in honour of McCance's tenure. Moving a set of presentations to publishable form has its hiccups, too, and not only for authors weighed down by administrative and teaching responsibilities or other professional commitments. In the case of this issue not all of the participants—including Geoffrey Bennington, [End Page xvii] Peggy Kamuf, Patricia Patkau, H. Peter Steeves, Danielle Meijer, and Axelle Karera—could submit their memorable contributions. For instance, "Literal Life," Kamuf's impassioned account of her daily participation in demonstrations against the Trump Travel Ban of January 20, 2017, does not appear although it will be remembered. This, too, is the case with the sobering word plays of Bennington's lecture, "Living Off"—not only the land or grid but also the image and text where life is underwritten by a vampiric function of prosthesis or attachment. Similarly, how can one convey the visual impact of Patkau's "Work/Play," other than by saying that this architect's sensitivity to site understood as an accretion of histories, as place in the present tense, and as an openness to the unexpected uses to which architecture will be put is precisely a paradigm for living on?

Paradigms for living on: one could say the same of the other contributions that do not appear as much as those that do.1 Living on as it is instanced again and again in these pages is really about these difficult, troubled, and always unexpected breaks or ellipses in continuity and flow. Living on has death built into its very bones. Its language is periodic and discontinuous. As David Farrell Krell suggests in this very issue, its main drivers are "accident and contingency" ("Living" 42), and now more than ever, technological change which ushers in the new with frightening rapidity. Living on now means living in the thick of a new set of relationships, ecologies, institutions, or systems of support. Life is lived on credit, a temporary visa, the reserve, death row, or borrowed time, more and more on screen, "meds," after work. And as should be clear from these turns of phrase, living on bleeds into "survivance," a word coined by Derrida to capture something of the spectral form that now haunts the living. Living on addresses this limit condition that defines so much modern experience, and it speaks to a set of very real life-worlds here in Canada—classed, gendered, raced, generationally-keyed, and indigenous life-worlds whose borderlines seem more conducive to crystallize and conjure an image of things as they are. In an important sense and in spite of its good, honest origins in the multicultural landscape of Canada's Centennial year, Mosaic at fifty is a very different creature than it once was. The cracks show, as undoubtedly they should with anything that lives on.

The issue begins with a set of installation shots from...


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