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Peter Sloterdijk

SPECIAL ISSUE

CULTURAL
POLITICS

VOLUME THREE ISSUE THREE NOVEMBER 2007

AIMS AND SCOPE Three issues per volume. One volume per annum. 2007: Volume 3 Ryan Bishop, National University of Singapore, Singapore Douglas Kellner, University of California, USA MAIN BOARD John Beck, Newcastle University, UK Verena Andermatt Conley, Harvard University, USA Tom Conley, Harvard University, USA Sean Cubitt, University of Melbourne, Australia Book Reviews Editor: Mark Featherstone, University of Keele, UK Arts Editor: Joy Garnett, Independent Artist, USA Phil Graham, Queensland University of Technology, Australia Chua Beng Huat, National University of Singapore, Singapore Kate Nash, University of London, UK Patrice Riemens, Amsterdam, Netherlands Kevin Robins, City University, London, UK Paul Virilio, Ecole Speciale dArchitecture, Paris, France ADVISORY BOARD Zygmunt Bauman, University of Leeds, UK Iain Borden, University of London, UK James Der Derian, Brown University, USA Mike Fischer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA Coco Fusco, Columbia University, USA Mike Gane, University of Loughborough, UK Free online subscription for institutional print subscribers Full color images available online Access your electronic subscription through www.ingenta.com REPRINTS FOR MAILING Copies of individual articles may be obtained from the publishers at the appropriate fees. Write to Berg Publishers 1st Floor, Angel Court 81 St Clements Street Oxford OX4 1AW UK Steve Graham, University of Durham, UK Chris Hables Gray, The Union Institute and University, USA Donna Haraway, University of California, USA Alphonso Lingis, Penn State University, USA Allan Luke, Queensland University of Technology, Australia John Armitage, Northumbria University, UK

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EDITORS

Cultural Politics is an international, refereed journal that explores the global character and effects of contemporary culture and politics. Cultural Politics explores precisely what is cultural about politics and what is political about culture. Publishing across the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the journal welcomes articles from different political positions, cultural approaches and geographical locations.

Cultural Politics publishes work that analyses how cultural identities, agencies and actors, political issues and conicts, and global media are linked, characterized, examined and resolved. In so doing, the journal supports the innovative study of established, embryonic, marginalised or unexplored regions of cultural politics.

Cultural Politics, while embodying the interdisciplinary coverage and discursive critical spirit of contemporary cultural studies, emphasizes how cultural theories and practices intersect with and elucidate analyses of political power. The journal invites articles on: representation and visual culture; modernism and postmodernism; media, lm and communications; popular and elite art forms; the politics of production and consumption; language; ethics and religion; desire and psychoanalysis; art and aesthetics; the culture industry; technologies; academics and the academy; cities, architecture and the spatial; global capitalism; Marxism; value and ideology; the military, weaponry and war; power, authority and institutions; global governance and democracy; political parties and social movements; human rights; community and cosmopolitanism; transnational activism and change; the global public sphere; the body; identity and performance; heterosexual, transsexual, lesbian and gay sexualities; race, blackness, whiteness and ethnicity; the social inequalities of the global and the local; patriarchy, feminism and gender studies; postcolonialism; and political activism. Cultural Politics is indexed by Baywoods Abstracts in Anthropology; CSA: British Humanities Index; KG Saur Verlag (Thomson): IBR International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences; LSE: IBSS (International Bibliography of Social Sciences); KG Saur Verlag (Thomson): IBZ International Bibliography of Periodical Literature on Human and Social Sciences; CSA: Sociological Abstracts; and CSA: Worldwide Political Science Abstracts Berg Publishers is a member of CrossRef

Cultural Politics invites papers comprising a broad range of subjects, methodological approaches, and historical and social events. Such papers may take the form of articles and case studies, review essays, interviews, book reviews, eld reports, interpretative critiques and visual essays.

Cultural Politics enjoys an agreement with the Chinese journal Cultural Studies, published in Beijing, that allows selected articles to be published in both journals nearly simultaneously, thus furthering intellectual exchange between English and Chinese-speaking academicians and artists.

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David Lyon, Queens University, Canada Katya Mandoki, Autonomous Metropolitan University, Mexico George Marcus, University of California, USA Achille Mbembe, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa Toby Miller, University of California, Riverside, USA John ONeill, York University, Canada Peggy Phelan, Stanford University, USA Mark Poster, University of California, USA Elspeth Probyn, University of Sydney, Australia Andrew Ross, New York University, USA Alan Sineld, University of Sussex, UK Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Columbia University, USA John Street, University of East Anglia, UK Nigel Thrift, University of Warwick, UK Chris Turner, Independent Scholar and Translator, UK Graeme Turner, University of Queensland, Australia Robert Young, University of Oxford, UK Slavoj Zizek, Institute for Social Studies, Slovenia

CONTENTS
CULTURAL POLITICS VOLUME THREE ISSUE THREE NOVEMBER 2007

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Living Hot, Thinking Coldly: An Interview with Peter Sloterdijk RIC ALLIEZ Critique Beyond Resentment: An Introduction to Peter Sloterdijks Jovial Modernity SJOERD VAN TUINEN

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FIELD REPORT

United Society of Believers CARRIE MOYER

What Happened in the Twentieth Century? En Route to a Critique of Extremist Reason PETER SLOTERDIJK

Interest and Excess of Modern Mans Radical Mediocrity: Rescaling Sloterdijks Grandiose Aesthetic Strategy HENK OOSTERLING

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BOOK REVIEW The Global Sphere: Peter Sloterdijks Theory of Globalization LIESBETH NOORDEGRAAF-EELENS and WILLEM SCHINKEL

CULTURAL POLITICS

VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3 PP 275306

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CRITIQUE BEYOND RESENTMENT: AN INTRODUCTION TO PETER SLOTERDIJKS JOVIAL MODERNITY


SJOERD VAN TUINEN IS JUNIOR RESEARCHER AT THE INSTITUTE FOR PHILOSOPHY AND MORAL SCIENCE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GHENT, WHERE HE IS CURRENTLY WORKING ON GILLES DELEUZES CONCEPT OF THE FOLD. HE IS THE AUTHOR OF PETER SLOTERDIJK EIN PROFIL (MNCHEN: WILHELM FINK VERLAG, 2006). FOR MORE INFORMATION, SEE: HTTP://USERS.UGENT.BE/~SVTUINEN.

ABSTRACT This essay serves as an introduction both to this special issue and to the works of Peter Sloterdijk. It starts out from the opposition between the critical and the afrmative projects in modern philosophy. It is my intent to demonstrate how Sloterdijk displaces this opposition in favor of what I propose to call a jovial modernity and a post-Heideggerian philosophy of Gelassenheit or relief. After a general outline of the Sphrenproject, I discuss the shifts in Sloterdijks development of Ernst Jngers critical concept of mobilization and show how his engagement with critical theory has gradually transformed from an aesthesis of the event, through a Nietzschean transvaluation of all values generosity

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instead of resentment as motivating force of critique or retuning of Heideggers concept of the Lichtung, into a poetical and global constructivism. This is followed by the unraveling of three layers that have constituted the 1999 scandal following Sloterdijks reply to Heideggers letter On Humanism: Sloterdijks actual text on humanism and Bildung in the age of genetic engineering; the scandal and the mass-medialization of philosophical critique; and the hypermorality of the last, but still all too dominant generation of Frankfurt School theorists. Finally, I draw some political conclusions by opposing another source of inspiration for Sloterdijks joviality, the Luhmannian theory of complexity, to the bivalent passion for the real that, despite all that has happened in the twentieth century, still seems to inform both the realist projects of philosophical critique and the Heideggerian belief in the Kehre. KEYWORDS: megalopsychia, mediality, critical theory, mobilization, posthistory, humanism, complexity Mehr Licht! J.W. von Goethe The completion of the monumental trilogy entitled Sphren (Spheres, 1998b, 1999, 2004) has denitely put the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk on the map as one of contemporary philosophys most provocative and productive thinkers and writers. The originality, scope, and conceptual athleticism of his works together with his many extra-academic appearance,1 for example as a host of a philosophical talk show on German television, confront us with a genuine philosophical event a philosophicalliterary experiment in thinking after the structural transformation of the mass-mediatized public sphere, the complexity of which is a challenge to anyone interested in understanding what it means to do philosophy today. Yet surprisingly, and notwithstanding the fact that his books have been translated into twenty-seven languages so far parts of Sphren have already been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, and Dutch they have remained largely unnoticed in the English-speaking world. Since his study of the early work of Nietzsche, Thinker on Stage. Nietzsches Materialism (1990[1986]), nothing has been translated into English. It is as if it has simply been assumed that after the 1980s which he had diagnosed in such a playful but merciless way in his Critique of Cynical Reason (1987a[1983]) had ended so turbulently, his later work had lost connection with the present. This special issue hopes to prove that this neglect has been a mistake and makes a modest, and overdue, attempt at lling up this lacuna by critically focusing on the signicance of Sloterdijks work for, rst of all, contemporary critical theory.

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1. JOVIAL MODERNITY
With over 70,000 copies sold within the rst year of its appearance, Sloterdijks debut, Critique of Cynical Reason, almost immediately became the best-selling philosophy book ever in postwar Germany. It is a book which perfectly catches the disillusioned spirit of its age, diagnosing its critical self-consciousness as cynical, that is as enlightened false consciousness.2 If the twentieth century was marked by our passion for the Real, as much later Badiou and iek would also argue, then the success of enlightening and consciousness-raising critical interventions has led us to a premature resignation in the face of an overwhelming cynicism. The problem is that modern debunking and critique have only given us better insight into the misery of our situation, without providing the means for improving it. The Enlightenment is blinded by its own light: a collective realism and an institutionalized rationalism have led to an exhausting self-preservation that leaves all idealistic or utopian critique in its wake. As a consequence, the disillusioned discourse of critical theorists Sloterdijk primarily refers to an aesthetical idealism (2001b: 235ff.) and a priori pain (1987a: xxxiii) in the later works of rst generation Frankfurt School theorists (e.g. Adorno) and an intersubjective idealism (2001a: 307) in those of second generation ones (e.g. Habermas) has converged despite itself with what used to be called a conservative standpoint. Pragmatic paradoxes and aporias have become the modus operandi of contemporary politicians and postenlightened philosophers alike. At worst, philosophical critique has become part of the same alarm economy and textbook gothic as that which dominates massmedial rationality. Throughout his work, Sloterdijk draws on diverse sources to propose alternative modes of enlightenment, rst of all understood as an experience of relief. In the Critique of Cynical Reason, he recognizes such an alternative in kynicism, the frivolous antiidealism that he adopts from such vitalists as Diogenes, Heinrich Heine, and Nietzsche. In short, Sloterdijks kynical text is an extensive performance specic to its argument and inspired by a critical existentialism of satirical consciousness (1987a: 535): a self-condent, watchful miming of critique and a bodily disclosure of truth that ultimately gives or provokes a living stage on which are comprehensible, but only secondarily, the discourses of abstract critique and rationalist idealizations (1988: 20). From the perspective of their performative Outside, less compelling ways of relating to rationalism and even a refusal of the slavery of self-preservation (2001a: 334) then become possible.3 And though he later calls his initial strategy a romanticism of dissidence, the malicious sense of irony and compromising thought of the kynical thinkers will remain central to his work: Philosophers have only differently attered society, it is now a matter of provoking it (2000: 623).

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One leitmotiv that connects Sloterdijks early critique with the critique of political kinetics in Eurotaoismus. Zur Kritik der politischen Kinetik (1989) and, nally, with the critique of extremist reason included in this issue, is the Nietzschean attempt at subjecting post-Kantian critique to a more radical or total critique in the name of a positive conception of life. In Selbstversuch (Self-Experiment, 1996), he explains how he seeks the impossible, namely to combine the antique ontological dogma that all that is, is good with the critical moment of Enlightenment in what one could call a jovial modernism (ibid.: 39ff.). If in antiquity theoretical contemplation was a technique of happiness or relaxation exercise for the soul in joviality the stretching of the soul into a kind of free-oating intelligence or pure contemplation then in modernity theory it has reached its critical phase and become a question of down-to-earth, depressing, and exacting conceptual work, which for Sloterdijk, contrary to the Marxist tradition, cannot be the locus of progressivity (1987b: 146, 2001a: 341ff.).4 Ever since Kant, there has been a gap in philosophy between critical and afrmative projects. The rst consist of the major academic project of philosophical reection and an ever-shrinking concept of truth; the second consist of a comparatively minor and even subversive conception of philosophy as creativity, embodied by Nietzsche, Bergson, and Heidegger. It is only with Nietzschean thinkers such as Foucault and Deleuze that philosophical critique has attempted to become afrmative again. It is they who have set the coordinates for the return of philosophical trust in the world and it is among these that we must situate Sloterdijk. For Sloterdijk, the concept of joviality has a similar meaning to that of generosity, adopted from Nietzsche, whose unreserved gesture of self-publicizing5 had rst broken the philosophers devils circle of resentment, idealism, and critique. Generosity is what is common both to Diogenes deliberately compromising antiphilosophy and Aristotles megalopsychia,6 the greatness of soul or magnanimity which is renewed in the philosophical extravagance of Sloterdijks magnum opus, Sphren. Repeatedly, it is connected to a hyperbolical reason which serves to overcome postmetaphysical philosophical and nonphilosophical mediocrity (2001b: 27ff., 267). 7 Just as Zarathustras schenkende Tugend can only be understood beyond the binary logic of giving and taking, or of self versus world, exaggerating helps us to reevaluate the given that is the result of the canonization of exclusive, dichotomous, thinking (1998b: 13; Oosterling in this issue, p. 363). The problem, in short, with most modern grand narratives is not that they are too grand, but rather that they are not grand enough (2005: 14). Therefore, Sloterdijk explicitly contrasts his exaggerated theory with the tradition of critical theory, understood as an exercise in understatement, and with deconstructivism, understood as the exaggeration of understatement (2001b: 235ff., 2006: 291f.).

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What strikes the reader immediately is his Frenchness: he demands from his reader an undogmatic and generous conception of philosophy and a readiness to apply the classic distinction between form and content in a dynamic way. His texts strike a delicate balance between philosophy and poetics, science and mythology, subtle abstractions and banal jokes. In the face of a culture of unbridled analysis (1987b: 13), new complexities, and a loss of critical overview, he presents a wild philosophy or neosynthetic system to seduce or force the reader toward insights into great cohesions and grand associations (2001a: 30). His method is the juxtaposed sampling of diverse discourses, archives, and media (many of his books are strewn with illustrations, contributing to a plastic or material argumentation), with the aim of overcoming the perversions of analytical spirit or the resignation of philosophical critique to counterfactualism and abstractions in the face of complex reality. The theoretical resources used are extremely diverse and range from psychoanalysis and constructivist philosophy to theology, Indian philosophy, architectural theory, paleoanthropology, ethnology, pop culture, medicine, economics, media theory, systems theory, and cybernetics. In other words, its nonacademic hybris (2004: 865) has more in common with Deleuze and Guattaris Capitalism and Schizophrenia than with the Critique of Pure Reason, Being and Time, or Being and Event. Still, his discourse remains profoundly independent. In fact, just as recent French philosophy developed substantially as a translation of a German phenomenological heritage, so Sloterdijk translates existentialism, structuralism, discourse-archeology, and (de-)constructivism back into something absolutely singular and, maybe, German. So how can modern philosophy, in Sloterdijks view, have access to joviality? The essay included in this special issue gives the reader an indication of his current answer. It is an answer that follows directly from recent books such as Sphren and Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals (2005), in which he implicitly distances himself from earlier strategies. Below, after starting with a general outline of the Sphrenproject, I discuss the shifts in Sloterdijks philosophical quest for alternative modes of enlightenment by tracing the development of the critical concept of mobilization, which is central both to his early works, especially Kopernikanische Mobilmachung und ptolemische Abrstung (Copernican Mobilization and Ptolemaic Disarmament, 1987b) and Eurotaoismus, and his recent works. This allows us to explicate several crucial aspects of the theoretical background to the essay by Sloterdijk and to situate the interview with ric Alliez which precedes it. It also helps us to trace some important inuences in his work, such as Nietzsche and Heidegger, and to contrast it with other critical paradigms, such as the work of Paul Virilio, whose post-Heideggerian approach to technological mobilization is naturally very close to that of Sloterdijk and yet revealingly different, and Alain Badiou, whose extremist according to Sloterdijks analysis of

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the twentieth century in this issue ethics of the real can without exaggeration be regarded as todays fashionable strategy of critique that is most diametrically opposed to that of Sloterdijk.

2. SPHERES
Sphren is a wilfully megalomaniac, archival (it was initially subtitled an archeology of intimacy, 2001a: 137), and philosophico-literary performance in which Sloterdijk undertakes the onto-phenomenological task of staging modern man not as an individualized and rationalized being, but as primarily co-existential and sym-pathetic. It tries to answer the anthropological but explicitly posthumanist question of where man is, instead of what he is, by supplementing, from a perspective in radical media theory, Kants extensive denition of space as the possibility of being together with an intensive denition of being together as possibility of space (2004: 307). From a Hegelian perspective, according to which the history of the world and the history of the spirit (Geist) converge, it is possible to say that in principle all of mans productions have been spatial and that the philosophical concept of spirit from the rst time it was used referred to inspired spatial communities (begelte Raumgemeinschaften) (1998b: 19). Yet the main referent is Heidegger, whose existentialist phenomenology of nearness (Nhe) and being-in (In-Sein) offers the basis for a conceptual framework capable of describing man as the product of a permanent psychotopical tuning. Throughout, Sphren is an investigation of the existential of ecstatical existence lies an essential tendency towards proximity (im Dasein liegt eine wesenhafte Tendenz auf Nhe, ibid.: 336) and being-in is beingwith others (das In-Sein ist Mit-sein mit Anderen, ibid.: 639). Man is, and always has been, rst and foremost an inhabitant of spheres: intimate virtual spacings which are always already implied by classic metaphysical or extensive oppositions such as inside/ outside, subject/object, or friend/enemy (2001b: 172). Because such a relational onto-topology falls outside any established representational logic, Sloterdijk explicitates,8 or helps toward representation, beyond the metaphysical opposition of reality and appearance, a series of epistemo-ontological scenes on which can be staged these existential relations (starke Beziehungen), starting from, to name but a few, the microspherical dyad in the mothers womb (the Ursphre), theories of angels, twins, and doubles, early modern magnetism, ancient macrospherical cosmopolitism, the mediological strategies of the apostles, the nautical ecstasies of Columbus and Magellan, and our egotechnical interior designs in the age of globalization and information technology. Sphren I. Blasen (Bubbles) is intended to be read as a microspherological medial poetics of existence (1998b: 81) and mainly consists of a radical critique of subjectivity, the fundamental neurosis of Western culture (1998b: 85). Heideggers Turn and Foucault/Deleuzes Outside are invoked as welcome corrections,

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but for Sloterdijk they have to be supplemented by a profound theory of intimacy, understood as a mise-en-abyme in what is closest (Abgrndigkeit im Nchstliegenden), and through the subversive effects . . . that the sweet, the sticky have on proud subjectivity (ibid.: 92). Thus, Sphren is a diving school for the vaults of presubjective and preobjective con-subjectivity and other immersive principles (2001a: 295). A typical recurring argument is the critique of the individualist cult of distance and ego-constituting separations in modern psychoanalysis. Like psychoanalysis, which aims at making manifest unconscious facts (Traumdeutung), it is spherologys task to explicitate the tender truths about our atmospherical places of existence (Schaumdeutung, 2004: 32ff.). But by tracing the prehistory of psychoanalysis in the magical ties and magnetic and hypnotic affects and interferences which he nds in the works of Ficino, Bruno, Mesmer, and German idealism (mainly Schelling and Hufeland), Sloterdijk describes transitive relations between selves, rather than reexive relations of the self. Under the banner of a negative gynecology he deals with the metaphysical, mystical, psychoanalytic, and messianic-evangelistic ways of thinking an ecstatic and total inside. It is not a positive gynecology because it must do without the analytical means of representational reason and implies the literal immersion of the subject of research into its object: a bizarre epistemological affair (1998b: 288).9 This is achieved through a revision of the psychoanalytic doctrine of stages of development, in which he argues that the so-called oral stage is preceded by several preoral stages of development in which the foetus already learns to communicate presubjectively with its environment. An immersive communication with something preobjective is the true precursor of what will later be called reality. Psychoanalysis misses the signicance of nobjects (neither subjects nor objects) such as placental blood, intrauterine acoustics, and other medial givens, and ultimately fails to see how a child develops an identity not by recognizing itself at a distance in the mirror but through presubjective resonances. In the prenatal embeddedness of the motherchild bi-unity, an intrauterine symbiosis with the nonself overrules lack in desire with a primary ecstatic excess (or afuence beruss): in terms of the connectivity of ows Sloterdijks concept of the sphere often resembles Deleuze and Guattaris purely relational concept of the desiring-machine (2004: 687, n. 577)). In the rituals through which cultures less object-oriented than ours have dealt with the loss of the original companion, such as those surrounding the placenta, one can recognize immune strategies that serve to preserve some kind of membrane-like bubble transparent, virtual, porous or interior lifeworld (Lebenswelt) relieved of an unliveable outside (Umwelt) (2001b: 172). Sphren I closes with a theological propaedeusis, based on the doctrines of such authors as John of Damascus, Margaret of

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Porete, and Shihabuddin Yahya Sohravardi, of inter-intelligence and perichoretical forms of sociality across a whole spectrum of communes, communitarisms, and communisms from the communion sanctorum to [Marshall McLuhans neo-Catholic vision of] a homogeneous global state without outside as the ultimate structure of communities (1998b: 639). Sphren II. Globen (Globes) furthers this conceptual study of spherological immune strategies on a macroscale and demonstrates how the world spirit (Weltgeist) has been materialized in social uteruses (1999a: 205) in which a primary animism of walls, arches, temples, and other defensive structures has provided an experience of interior spaces (ibid.: 225). Thus we are no longer dealing with little dyadic bubbles but with holistic globes (derived from the Greek sphaira). What denes the history of a civilization for Sloterdijk are the metaphysical, sociopolitical, and technological attempts at extending a virtual interior community centripetally in an ever-increasing inclusion. The globe is the main formal concept of an extensive morphology of anthropological and cultural history (1998b: 78), the aim of which is to offer a truly philosophical theory of globalization (2005: 18ff.). Sloterdijk denes the global as the monstrous (das Ungeheure) or the incommensurable (das Unverhltnismssige), typical articulations of the human taste for the immeasurable or the whole, which is megalopathia (1993: 28ff., 1994: 380f., 1999a: 303, 2005: 13). He distinguishes three great historical globalizations, each of which is a typically Western strategy of relating to and domesticating both in the sense of taming and also of rendering homely the global. The rst strategy is static and primarily metaphysical or cosmological. It consists of a combination of ontology and optimism, a monstrodicy (2004: 870): the great Parmenidean and Platonic contemplations of the whole, the summum bonum, were a kind of geometry of the immeasurable combined with exact optimism (1999a: 389) which continued to determine the metaphysical tradition until Modernity (ibid.: 132). It is rationalist because it imagines the unrepresentable and measures the immeasurable, putting everything that is in an adequate proportion to the rest (1989: 257, 1999: 47ff.). It was a morphological evangelism based on superlatives, celebrating total inclusion and the impossibility of anything really disappearing (1999a: 117ff.). In this context, Sphren II offers a critique of round reason, dening its limits through the tension between immunity and community though communal life offers a vital protection against an outside, it can also turn against itself10 and the success of individual self-assurance in the whole though the contemplation of an inclusive whole guarantees a secure position for each of its members, this guarantee becomes untenable if the whole becomes innite or decentered (ibid.: 410). The second, essentially historical globalization coincides with the history of imperialist capitalism: the terrestrial exploration of the last globe by missionaries, explorers, and colonizers. Freud was wrong to

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depict the Copernican revolution as a humble lesson in the human condition. In fact, it meant the start of a long and dynamic history of entrepreneurial deterritorializations of productive energies from the abstract and ideal toward reterritorializations on the concrete and interesting. The most important fact of modernity is not that the earth orbits the sun, but that money orbits the earth (2005: 79). In following Sloterdijks view, this history of globalization began with the discoveries of Magellan and Columbus and was completed when the rst worldwide currency was established with the gold parity between the US dollar and the British pound-sterling in 1944 and our rst sight of the globe in its entirety from outer space in 1969 the completion of the age of the world picture (2001b: 370f., 2005: 234ff.). The third globalization is what most of us have become used to understanding by this term and refers to the advent of high-speed orbiting around the planet of networked information, transport, and economic systems. Yet this development, following the death of God and the disappearance of a global center of power, has in fact put an end to the age of global holisms and replaced it with an amorphous, posthistorical situation better described as a hybrid complexity of spheres of various forms, (dis-)connections, and scales. In Sphren III. Schume (Foams) Sloterdijk uses the physical and mythopoetic metaphor of foam, a substance of an almost completely accidental and connective structure, to describe an unlimited multiplicity of virtual worlds without a central gravitational pole. First, this metaphor indexes the co-fragility and co-isolation of life in a world of simultaneity (1999a: 49f) where everybody is everybody elses neighbor, but nonetheless still lives in the luxurious position of excluding the Other from the privacy of his apartment. For example Sloterdijk argues that the concept of society is no longer of any use to describe the social scenes where social cohesion is constituted (2004: 261ff). Instead of established sociological categories, or theories of the social contract or the social organism, he prefers Gabriel Tardes recently rediscovered mimetological microsociology: a neo-Leibnizean attempt to generalize the concept of imitation in terms of monadological associations so as to describe all empirical facts as states of coexistence. Accordingly, the scene of modern representative democracy the social was never more than an autogenous illusion, a society in the mirror, and should at least be supplemented by a monadological understanding of agglomerations and conglomerations of foams according to which every thing is a society, even if there is no symbolically mediated communication (2004: 296).11 Second, the metaphor of foams serves to supplement the more common but anorectic notion of network, taking into account not only the virtual connections between local spheres but also the primary expansiveness of such intensive spacings (Verrumlichungen) (ibid.: 257). Following the vitalist Jakob von

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Uexkll, who used the same metaphor for a pluralistic ontology according to which humans are creatures equipped with a primary expansive capacity, a capacity of self-defense through creativity (ibid.: 25055), Sloterdijk stresses the asymmetric creativity and incompressibility of life (2005: 391412). Posthistory sets in after the crystallization of our carefully designed lives in the comfort of the World Interior (Sloterdijks Rilkean metaphor for the West) of capital or Empire (2004: 801ff.), an enormous greenhouse which, contrary to Hardt and Negris analysis of a biopolitical Empire without transcending Outside, ostentatiously manifests its exclusive structure through the utter boredom of the Western(ized) middle class.12 Its inhabitants live in a security which can already be recognized in monospherical Christian metaphysics, but which has now found its secular form in the social security system and the welfare state. Therefore, third, Sloterdijk extensively exploits the frivolity of the metaphor of foam to develop an interpretation of Enlightenment as upswing and indulgence (Auftrieb und Verwhnung). In retrospect, the vitalist or biophilosophical project of Sphren turns out to be a universal history of generosity (ibid.: 885) that explores wealth as a source of ethos (ibid.: 685) and constructs a language for a new empiricism of those medial givens and light things that volatilize immediately when approached with the heavy instruments of a science of solids or a rationalist critique. It closes with a discussion of the existential qualities of the superuous in terms of surpluses of vigilance declining birth rates, increases of productivity and victimological luxury that bear witness to an unprecedented luxury of reection (ibid.: 833ff.). If a philosophical critique is still necessary today, therefore, it will be a critique of pure mood (Kritik der reinen Laune) (ibid.: 671ff.).

3. CRITICAL THEORY OF MOBILIZATION


Already in Sloterdijks work in the 1980s, the history of Enlightenment is told not only in terms of a metaphysics of knowledge and light, but also as a universal acceleration, a becoming lighter. Freedom of movement has served as the basis of our autonomy ever since the days of the mechanization of the world picture. Borrowing a concept from the German writer and eroticist of steel, Ernst Jnger, Sloterdijk sketches an image of modernity as the process of a planetary mobilization that lends truth to its military connotations and dialectics. We are constantly mobilizing further, always more likely to respond to a summons to action, led by a kinetic utopia in which we will be delivered from any direct confrontation with the real. But, in fact, this kinetic utopianism has led us to equate the means acceleration with the end autonomy. Progress is nothing but movement for the sake of movement and toward more movement. Thus, one can say that the medium for example communication at the speed of light has become the message and that the

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classic humanist subject has disappeared in favor of an increasingly hardened or steeled subjectivity. Even now that the arms race of the Cold War is no longer an issue, the secret services, those specialists in cynical reasoning and the most mobile offshoot of the military, are still the best safeguard against the threat of arms. That is why, according to Sloterdijk, we experience a strange kind of discontent, despite our cynical compliance with almost every increase in pace. In the worlds actual course, which displays an accelerated passion for catastrophe, people, both as executioners and victims of mobilization, experience their dominant form of life as something heading in the wrong direction. Simultaneously, in their capacity as wrongdoers they recognize their capacity to agree with these misguided trends, up to the point of complete identication (1989: 12). Continuing Heideggers critique of the epoch of modern technology, Sloterdijk declares himself a Left Heideggerian, and criticizes our physics of freedom (ibid.: 28) as a nihilism that takes the form of the installation (Ge-stell) of the world by its subjects and their will to power over the world around us. Modernity is the neurotic installing of a continuing growth of potential of movement, in order to keep up positions that make themselves impossible and progressively untenable, precisely because of the conditions and effects of the installation (1989: 45). Most forms of Critical Theory form part of this self-suffocating project of Copernican mobilization, i.e. the emancipation of the subjective and the aggressive stance toward all matters of course (1987b: 59ff.), leading Sloterdijk to the observation that in fact there has never been a Frankfurt critical theory, but only a Freiburg one (1989: 143). A modern progressive ethical impulse such as communicational transparency is always kinetic and, in the end, militaristic. And of course the nest example of offensive kinetic nihilism can already be found in the Communist Manifesto of 1847, where it is demonstrated how capital mobilizes all traditional relations that resist the unchaining of the industrial production process, and how it consequently makes everything that stands and that is solid melt into air (1989: 66, 2004: 851). According to Kopernikanische Mobilmachung und ptolemische Abrstung we can distinguish three kinds of critique in historical Enlightenment. The rst is the Post-Copernican mobilizing movement which still characterizes much of twentieth-century avant-gardism and which consists in the declaration of war by the acting subject against everything that seems naturally given in a premodern way (1987b: 59ff.). However, the unbridled exploration of the pure Outside (1999a: 932ff.) is unavoidably followed by a total dizziness and a withdrawing into Ptolemaic disarmament. This second moment of critique is expressed in a tired nihilism which has abandoned all faith in progressivity in favor of a passive anything goes and a postmodern playing with the old. For Sloterdijk, its most exemplary philosophical expression can be found in the work of Heidegger,

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which is characterized by disinterested yielding or releasement (Gelassenheit) and an inveterate fear of technology in the face of a monstrosity from which only a God can still save us (Der Spiegel, 23/1976: 193ff., 1987b: 63ff., 2001a: 105). However, if in the rst half of the twentieth century the reasons for withdrawing into inactivity and nineteenth-century pessimism were obvious, it is no longer a plausible position today. In fact, the bankruptcy of historicism was already evident in Nietzsches Moment (Sloterdijk 1989: 165ff., 2006: 44ff.), marking a third reective movement that is rst and foremost an aesthesis of events, understood not phenomenologically as a backing out before the phenomena into idle vacuity, but as receiving its impulse for activity only from the things themselves and from being embedded in the actual (wirkliche) world (1987b: 81, 1989: 148f., 2001a: 330f., 2001b: 53, 227). It is an aesthetic reection, because, like the pantomimical critique of cynicism, it implies a comprehensive consciousness of movement within the movement of critique, and thus goes beyond the division between the logical and the aesthetic. In fact, aesthetic judgement is inseparable from theoretical and practical reason, because it functions as their critical physiognomy (1987a: 139ff., 1988: 22, 2001b: 16) and serves an enlightenment of human movements through a wakeful or vigilant being-here-and-now and being-in (1987b: 124ff.). Throughout his works, this aesthetics of the event will remain the paradigm for critique. In his early works, Sloterdijk explains this third kind of critique not so much in terms of Copernican creativity as of a participating wakefulness, which returns what was excluded at the outset of modern reection the interested, prejudiced, projecting, immersive factor (ibid.: 65ff.). It does not consist in the sublation of the opposition between Modernity and its postmodern negation in what would again be a Post-Copernican progressivity, but rather in an immediate relation to the over-complex (2001a: 28). Contrary to the dialectical cynicism of Critical Theory, Sloterdijks early critique of political kinetics lays the emphasis on the possibility, created through crisis, of an evolutionary slowdown of false actions of mobilization (1989: 76f.). Rather satirically, it focuses its attention on the small kinetic excess that is always present, the little speed merchant that, rushing past us and, transgressing all frontiers, dashes into the unwanted. Much like Virilio, that other theorist of military accelerations, Sloterdijk concentrates on the accident that every technological development inherently produces. The critical potential of the accidental, however, cannot be sufciently distinguished from a (young) Hegelian appropriation of the negative. At stake is a critique of eschatological reason (ibid.: 239) or a posthistorical principle of reality (ibid.: 246). Sloterdijk goes so far as to claim that the contemporary way of critique leads to the critique of the way (ibid.: 267). This is alluded to in the title of Eurotaoism, a book that, like all his work, is strongly informed by a non-European, Asian type of

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criticism of metaphysics and subjectivity. The Tao literally means the Way or Road of the principles that lead to an enlightened existence in which man lives in harmony with his social and cosmic relations. Lao Tzu taught how to live within the stream of events as a continuous process of differentiation emanating from one energetic principle. The moral rules of practical reason serve more as an obstacle than as a means. The ideal of Taoism is, formulated in a post-Heideggerian way, being-at-ease-in-movement (2005: 93, 2001a: 350, 2001b: 29ff.). We can thus recognize a Taoist critique in the afrmative point of view from which there is ultimately nothing to criticize. Thats why a true critical theory, if it shall exist, will equate with an authentic mysticism (1989: 274).13 Concerning the relation between modern subjectivity and offensiveness, Sloterdijk arrives at a similar conclusion in his recent books. The process of subjectivation is not so much a becoming an agent of self-control as it is the armoring and disinhibiting (Enthemmung) of the acting self toward a transcending Outside, even a kind of hysterization (2004: 94f). Sloterdijk interprets modern philosophy as a kind of human resource management in terms of the modern subjects autoconsultation and autopersuasion. Subjectivity is the inclination toward an active appropriation of ones own passivity. He illustrates this through the symbiotic relationship between the transcendental subject and his car: a combination of a powering system of passion-like (later also: interest-like) motives with a Reason-oriented operating system (1989: 42, 2005: 99). The essence of our subjectivity is the internal combustion engine, a rational mechanism that transforms fuels into subjective action the French word for petrol, essence, is particularly revealing. Essential for Modernity is the model of the explosion, the process by which given resources can easily be transformed into active energy. Motors are the perfect slaves and ever since the Industrial Revolution revolutions being the motor principle of the world process (1987b: 123) freedom has been dened in terms of energetic rules. A philosophical kinetics should demonstrate how the nest branchings of our thought and feeling are determined by the experience of the internal combustion engine and the reactor (2001a: 322). But despite his earlier interpretations of the dangerous explosiveness of mobilization in the Critique of Cynical Reason the bomb is bluntly declared the telos of modern subjectivity14 Sloterdijk does not become gloomy about the future. Though it is true that in the rst half of the twentieth century the will to power which led to the emancipation of the subject turned into the will to detonate for its own sake and soon, he foretells, this romantics of the explosion will be reinterpreted as a globalized energetic fascism (2005: 287ff.) paradoxically it is exactly this will to dissipate in the welfare states of the second half of the twentieth century which might lead us to more resilient forms of enlightenment. If the age

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of world metaphysics is substantially the time of anti-constructivism (2004: 386), then post-Copernican mobilization, which is the same as terrestrial globalization, must also be understood as the great modern process of the reconstruction of the earth, that is of essentially capitalist reterritorializations on the newly discovered monstrous Outside conceived not only as a danger but also as immanentizable locus of utopias, opportunities, and unimaginable seductions (1999a: 809ff., 856ff., 2005: 175ff.). These reterritorializations start with the elemental change from being at home in a divinely conditioned world of agrarian regularity to maritime mobility and the so-called human condition of nautical ecstasies, i.e. of being collectively at home in a hostile element (1999a: 873ff.). Today, their result must be described not only in terms of the nal victory of the mobilized subject over his surroundings, but also through the nonmilitaristic terms of relief (Entlastung) and de-scarcication (Entknappung). Technologically, we have lifted off from the conditions and oppressions of a rst reality into a second world of our own making. Technological constructivism has led us not to a dangerous neglect of Being, but rather from the human condition to air conditioning, or, in other words, to a full technological explicitation and the ability of further immunizing and extending our atmospherical lifeworld. And economically, modern people live in the Crystal Palace, the giant Victorian exhibition hall for these new technologies dating from 1851, described by Dostoyevsky in his Memoirs from the House of the Dead (1862) as a modern Baal: a monstrous edice with a manconsuming structure in which all the demons of the West the power of money, pure movement, and intoxicating enjoyments receive their tribute. Despite civilizational differences, the globalized and continually reterritorializing earth is one world market under an open, but no longer vertical, sky: a carefully calculated conservatory, or human park, in which naturally given forms of scarcity have become indoor affairs and in which all forms of work, desire, and expression of those who are caught up in its system have been absorbed in the immanence of its buying power (2005: 276). The historical result of this modern reterritorialization is that, both technologically and economically, the interior-principle [has] crossed a critical threshold (2005: 266). In the West, despite recent violent attempts to reintroduce history, we now inhabit a synchronous world, populated by Nietzsches Last Men and regulated by universal human rights to a comfortable life of eternal boredom (ibid.: 26). Any contemporary practice of critique will have to take into account this radical transformation as a reterritorialization, even an ungrounding or relief (2001b: 273f.) of the foundations of critique themselves. This is the subject of Sloterdijks essay in this issue: how levity has acquired the fundamental position (p. 346). The essence of living in wealth is the critical question (2004: 687) which takes us beyond existing political and critical categories such as (in-)authentic, real/false, or faithful/unfaithful. If the Right was

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never interested in mobilizing the foundations of things and thus could not see the change, the Left wouldnt want to gain insight, even if it could. Both are conservative in so far as they are founded on a suppression of the truth of their own prosperity (2004: 681ff.). But, as Sloterdijk asks through a typical Nietzschean twist, isnt it typical of life in luxury, that one is able to avoid the embarrassment of inquiring after ones origin? (ibid.: 690).

4. POST-HEIDEGGERIAN GENEROSITY: NIETZSCHES RELIEF


If Sloterdijks early concept of critique already differed sharply from that of the Frankfurt School or of Heideggerians, this divergence becomes even more strongly emphasized in Sphren. Still primarily aesthetic, critique is not only understood in terms of participating observation, but also through a retrospective revaluation of postCopernican creativity. If today what we call globalization is rst of all the turning of the earth into a total work of art (Gesamtkunstwerk), then philosophys relation to the monstrous must be dened as constructive aesthetic reection (2004: 811, 2005: 415). It is a reexive constructivism, not because it is the well-founded privilege of an aggressive subject, but because it operates on the ipside of subjectivity (2004: 84). The monstrous has not disappeared, but it has been immanentized as an upward abyss (Abgrund nach oben) (ibid.: 495). The ultimate aim of all of spherology, it turns out, has been to afrm this upward abyss which in earlier works Sloterdijk referred to with Nietzsches and then Hannah Arendts a-historic concept of natality, the primordial and perpetual antigravitational thrust of coming-into-the-world, as opposed to Heideggers Sein-zumTode (Sloterdijk 1989: 151f.) and to lead the reader through an enormous post-Heideggerian retuning (Umstimmung, 2001a: 16, 2004: 850): a transvaluation of all values in terms of generosity and abundance (beruss). Instead of an overly anticipatory closure upon the future that might fall victim to heavy metaphysics, an analysis of our existence from the perspective of its dissipative beginning as opposed to its end should make it possible for us to avoid further neurotic or hysterical mobilizations. Contrary to the omnipresent abnegation of the world of its benevolence or the oppressive denegation of levity (2004: 696), critique has to start from an afrmation of and primary trust in the luxury of the state of having arrived.15 Enlightenment is not only a ludicrous wager on the improbable (1987b: 126), we should also realize that the society of the future is condemned to condence (2001b: 233). This means that, contrary to todays miserabilism, a nonconservative critique starts from generosity. With an obvious appetite for perversion, Sloterdijk gives an offensive twist to Heideggers premodern interpretation of technology and globalization as dangerous. Contrary to Heidegger, for whom Nietzsche was the last of the metaphysicians to pose the human subject as the supreme

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end of the will to power, it was precisely Nietzsche who taught us the from the outset relieved (freigesprochene) offensivity,16 even the emancipation of the offensive from the economy of resentment (2005: 121f.). The maturing of the modern sense of abundance is expressed in an ontological constructivism, which treats beings not as Bestand, enframed in a world picture, but as events in a dissipative process of production (2004: 214). And in fact, a literal, stubborn (1988: 9), kinetic (1989: 260, 2001b: 29ff.), and sometimes historical and evolutionary (2001b: 7) reading of Heideggers clearing (Lichtung) allows us to understand the great work of installation art called Earth as nothing but our luxuriously furnished house of Being. In todays automobilized society, we are no longer thrown (geworfen), but rather are we borne along (getragen, 1988: 44, 2001b: 197) in the technological and economical levitation (Leichtung, 1989: 260) of a kinetic (Umwelt) and gives us access to the world (Welt). From the perspective of a theory of constitutive luxury, in which anthropology and phenomenology converge (2004: 709), mans relation to technology is not so much determined by the instrumentalizing will of a Cartesian subject as by the latters immersion in its own media. There is thus not only a dangerous or harmful side to mobilization, but also always already an ecstatic openness to it. Despite the apparent difference in appreciation of mobilizing tendencies between Sloterdijks early and recent works, there is no contradiction between them in this respect. Rather, one could qualify them as different interpretations of Gelassenheit. In Eurotaoism, Sloterdijk explains how postmodern relief17 depends on the readiness to convert the proud active phrases of Modernity into passive or impersonal phrases (1989: 28). But instead of his early preference for meditative, intermedial passivity, he clearly chooses the latter, more generous option in Sphren, which must be read as the paradoxical translation of Heideggers onto-phenomenology into the impersonal systems of cybernetics, or a sensible division of reason between the poles of subject and process (1990: 89). This implies a transition in the understanding of the self from a priori-regulation to a posteriori-regulation (2004: 870). Contrary to Heideggers analysis of the poverty of modern subjectivity as the feedback system of technology where man is not in his proper element Sloterdijk understands cybernetics as the discovery of life beyond property and lack, because it was the rst science to explicitate what could previously only be understood as the intolerable and irrational scum of the real: the functioning of information as a third term between subject and object, which turns reexivity into a mechanism in such a way that both humans and nature now appear as its derived variables (2001b: 218, 2004: 740f.).18 Our lifeworlds are autogenous, anthropogenetic islands: technology-mediated hybrids of world and environment or, in the case of their extreme explicitation, absolute islands such as shopping centers or space

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stations in which nature has been explicitated completely as the not-outside (2004: 490ff.) and in which Being or natura naturans becomes a cultural drama (1989: 154f., 2004: 194). Accordingly, all human facts derive from an impersonal production process of creative self-birth, self-organization, self-extroversion, self-extension, and self-immunization (spheropoisis) which isolates and distances a human sphere from its natural environment and allows for an excessive world and the capacity for creating natures (2001b: 300) to appear. In other words it is through being-in in an intensive space of comfort through proximity, that man is able to encounter Being and to ecstatically reterritorialize on the monstrous (1999a: 42, 2001b: 173, 367). It is no coincidence that inhabiting (wohnen) the house of Being and indulgence (Verwhnung) are etymologically related (1989: 180, 264, 2001b: 197). The human taste for the monstrous, or, in an expression Sloterdijk has adopted from Ernst Bloch, the experimentum mundi (1996: 65, 2001b: 290), is in essence already the generous expression of a primary relief. A brief contrast between this account of mobilization from the perspective of historical anthropology (2001b: 44) and that other left-Heideggerian (Kellner 2000) theorist of accelerated Modernity, Paul Virilio, is exemplary of the critical potential of these principles of generosity and relief. The rarity of Sloterdijks reference to his colleague (exceptions are 1989: 85, 1996: 35ff., 2001a: 243f.) must be explained as a consequence of their contrasting positions relative to Nietzsche. Virilio, as a staunch humanist and self-acknowledged Catholic, focuses almost completely on the self-destructive tendencies of the global suicidal state into which our Welfare State has mutated (2002: 37). We live in the ill-fated society of the accident, where systems of information transmission have become bombs, and in which we are handed over to the lawlessness of globalization (ibid.: 23ff.). Since progress and progressivism have always been inherently linked to movement and critique, any critical analysis of modernity conceived as the drama of total war leaves us with the inability to decide whether critique should be slow or fast. Hence Derridas aporia of speed, rst formulated in No Apocalypse, Not Now (1984), applies: the critical slowdown may thus be as critical as the critical acceleration.19 However, ever since his antiphilosophical kynicism, Sloterdijk has tried to overcome the undecidability of this, in itself, already miserabilistic and conservative choice. Going further than Derridas ambivalent principle of the coup de don (which he never tired of setting to work, even in his reading of Nietzsche; Derrida 1979: 109ff.) and the customary discourses of gifts and poisons, both natality and generosity point toward a practice of production after the reactionary chain of resentment has been broken (2001c: 48, 2001b: 111). They are the principles of a self-praise of life beyond the constraints of two-valued logic and the inescapability of lack, in short, of a political constructivism beyond the alternative of conservative and progressive (1999a:

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410, n. 173).20 As such, they are the only afrmative attitudes toward the future: what Nietzsche called the innocence of becoming is essentially the innocence of dissipation and eo ipso the innocence of enrichment (2001c: 51, 2001b: 100ff.). Therefore, while for Virilio war and the military-industrial complex are the driving forces behind a linearly developing history, this cannot be so for Sloterdijk. Nietzsche is the philosophical mark of a caesura in history between a time of an economy of guilt and resentment and a time of generosity and openheartedness. To think after Nietzsche means not only to avoid describing modernity as a history of escalation, but also to get out of a narrative approach to history altogether (2001c: 50).

5. HUMANISM: A CRITICAL CASE


Nietzsche also constituted the stumbling block that led to the affair with which it has become customary to associate Sloterdijks name ever since the summer of 1999. The occasion for Habermas and several journalists to ring the alarm bell was a lecture given by Sloterdijk at an international conference on Philosophy after Heidegger in July entitled Regeln fr den Menschenpark (Prescriptions21 for the Human Park).22 It consists of a rather untimely philosophicoliterary reply to Heideggers letter On Humanism (1946), in which Sloterdijk offers a critique of Heideggers concept of Lichtung in terms of biopolitics and the political meaning of writing.23 On both issues, it is argued that, despite himself, Heidegger occupies a humanist position. In short, Sloterdijk denes the essence and function of humanism through two intrinsically related projects: rst, that of the domestication and breeding of humans through biopolitical technics, and, second, that of friendship-constituting telecommunication in the medium of writing (2001a: 60, 2001b: 302, 324). Both projects are carried out in false innocence concerning the presupposed knowledge of what it is to be human, a knowledge which is in fact the result of a century-old media conict (ibid.: 309). Even in Heideggers critique of the humanist tradition, this conict remains unthought. Sloterdijk argues that the mediality of language itself remains unthought, thus he implicitly adopts Derridas critique that in Heidegger writing is subordinate to the direct presence of Being through human speech (Derrida 1997: 18ff.). As a consequence, Heidegger is not critical enough of the disciplining and domesticating function of language as the house of Being. In his pastoral discourse (Sloterdijk 2001b: 127), the humanitas of man is directly related to his ecstatic and decentered residence in language through which he shepherds the truth of Being. But this shepherding not only sets man free from his enslavement to the ontic, but also keeps him in servitude (hrig) to prescribed messages from Being, which is obeyed as the sole authority, without critically differentiating between the domesticating, emancipating, and the potentially dangerous disinhibiting tendencies of this communication (ibid.: 316ff.).

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However, with the advent of new media for biopolitical writing such as the Internet and biotechnology, the media conict unavoidably manifests itself again. To be sure, these technics are themselves essentially a product of the humanist biopolitical project of forming human animals into civilized park animals through processes of (se-)lection and reading (out) (ibid.: 327), but they have also internally eroded the classic strategies of manipulation and their media by exceeding any prescribed, idealistic model of the anthropos. Despite the fact that it was Heidegger who paved the way for the liberation of writing or poisis from anthropocentrism, it is ironically rather Heideggers rst and last metaphysicians Plato, the theorist of genetic engineering in terms of shepherding, weaving, and tending, and Nietzsche, the theorist of pastoral power and the bermensch as the great challenge of writing for the future to whom, according to Sloterdijk, we have to refer for the philosophical genealogy of contemporary technics of writing, which he calls anthropotechnics (ibid.: 329) or homeotechnics (ibid.: 227). In their works we nd an understanding of humans as products immanent to an all but harmless production process of self-breeding and self-formation through self-writing, which is more relevant than ever in the context of a posthumanist biopolitical situation that knows no sovereign (ibid.: 334) and where a codex for anthropotechnics (ibid.: 329) is so dangerously absent. In short, they have explicitated a problem that remains the Outside of all classic humanisms. In reaction to this exit from humanism through Plato, Nietzsche, and Heidegger, Habermas sent a letter to various journalists of which, despite his initial denying its existence, a facsimile was shown on the premier German television channel ARD on September 20 with instructions for publishing a number of rather sensational critiques of Sloterdijks text about what is for obvious historical reasons such a sensitive subject in Germany. In the ensuing scandal, Sloterdijk was branded a philosophical parvenu, a popstar of thought, fascistoid breeder of the bermensch, a cynical ideologist of Grand Politics, but also simply the new Nietzsche. The result was rst of all a conrmation of Nietzsches prophecies of what it means to do journalism and critique in a time dominated by increasingly indifference-producing, nonfriendship-constituting, and therefore posthumanist mass media. That this posthumanist mediocrity is becoming more and more compelling, even in philosophy, is proven by the fact that after the rst attacks in Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, many respected academics such as Henri Atlan, Richard Dworkin, Manfred Frank, and Ernst Tugendhat also felt the need to react in various other European periodicals without taking the trouble to seriously read or contextualize Sloterdijks text, which was never meant for publication but of which pirate copies had been circulated by, again, Habermas. These serious authors agreed on two points, namely that Sloterdijk leaves the reader with an uncertainty about what he actually wanted to say and that he had failed to rst study the

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ethical and biological matter of his text. As typical representatives of the silent takeover of philosophy by professionalized ethics, they immediately cried re and quite happily made a grotesque category mistake between ontology and democracy, assuming that they had before them an inferior text on moral rules instead of a post-Heideggerian meditation on the essence of prescriptions. Yet the affair is most of all instructive in that it is reminiscent of the discussion surrounding Habermass Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (1985) and the HabermasFoucault controversies from the early 1980s. At that time Habermas had already shown that for him any serious critique of humanism was automatically antidemocratic. Humanism as a politics of friendship was supposed to be the exclusive basis of democracy as the rational, power-free process of reaching intersubjective consensus and it did not allow for such posthumanist approaches to politics in terms of biopower and dissensus. For many disciples of the Frankfurt School, the critique of humanism, indeed all post-Nietzschean critique which intermingles critique and power as the inside and outside of the same democratic process, automatically equates to antidemocratic sophistry and can thus be pilloried. But other than what happened in the 1980s, when post-Nietzschean philosophy became customarily known as obscure and relativistic, the false innocence of humanism, about which Sloterdijk had warned in his lecture, manifested itself perfectly clearly. Habermas, in spite of his being the theorist of democratic dialogue, decided not to enter into one with Sloterdijk but rather excluded him from the outset and chose the path of indirect, false imputation.24 However, in a judo-like reaction, Sloterdijk took the opportunity to demonstrate the sham-liberal character of the still highly inuential Frankfurt School by creating a metascandal through publishing two letters a decent humanistic practice in itself in Die Zeit, one of which is addressed to the journalist Assheuer, whom he sees as typical of journalistic alarmism, the other to Habermas, who is accused of Jacobinism and a social-liberal version of the dictatorship of morality. Combined, these letters constitute a vehement protest against the progressive convergence of hypermorality and overmediatization (1996: 114, 2000: 14). At the end of his second letter, Sloterdijk therefore proclaims as in fact he had already done in the Critique of Cynical Reason the death of Frankfurt Critical Theory: Critical theory is, on this second day of September, dead. She has long since been bedridden, the sullen old woman, now she has passed away completely. We will gather at the grave of an epoch, to take stock, but also to contemplate the end of a hypocrisy. Thinking means thanking, said Heidegger. I say, rather, that thinking means heaving a sigh of relief (Sloterdijk 1999b: 35).

6. THE NEW POLITICS OF COMPLEXITY


Ultimately, Sloterdijks critical position is founded in the alleviation of the de jure conservatism and miserabilist progressivism which
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cannot handle its de facto state of being-in-the-world. The traditional stance of critical theory toward the new world of light facts is articulated, for example, by Virilio in Ground Zero when he critically describes our world as one that is resolutely accidental that is to say, an enemy to its own substance (2002: 49). Against this standpoint, Sloterdijk argues that such theorists practice criticism in the old style in that they expose the lightness of appearance in the name of the heaviness of the real. In reality, I think that it is through the occurrence of abundance in the modern age that the heavy has turned into appearance and the essential now dwells in lightness, in the air, in the atmosphere. As soon as this is understood, the conditions of criticism change dramatically. Marx argued that all criticism begins with the critique of religion; I would say instead that all criticism begins with the critique of gravity.25 In short, the power of critique will depend on whether one conceives of mobilization as driven by an economy of guilt and lack, based on the conditions of the old and the transcendence of Being over the self; or as driven by an economy of generosity and dissipation, of the active conditioning of the new and the immanence of self-expression, selfpreservation, and self-overcoming. The second option is described by Sloterdijk as to confess to relief as to an evangelical interval (2004: 698, 1998b: 54, 2001b: 284). In Weltinnenraum he speaks of a heavenly Left (himmlische Linke, 2005: 413ff., an allusion to Baudrillards gauche divine), elsewhere of Nietzsches fth gospel as another word for kynicism (2001c: 47).26 Its critical principle, generosity, is attained neither through hatred of life, nor through tearfulness or hope but through a biopositive, nonillusionary but indecipherable, because foetal, reservation of the world (1988: 94). In more colloquial terms: by focusing on becoming instead of history, it knows that revenge and compensation are impossible (2004: 762). Rather, a feasible future leftism will depend on its potential to create surplus value beyond any price and beyond the burning resentment against property and prosperity (2006: 50ff.). To a certain extent we have already answered the question in the title of Sloterdijks essay in this issue, his inaugural lecture for the Emmanuel Levinas Chair held in Strasbourg in March 2005, called What Happened in the Twentieth Century? En Route to a Critique of Extremist Reason. What has taken place is the transition from a cult of the real to a cult of possibility. Sloterdijk adopts Alain Badious characterization of le sicle as marked by a passion for the real. Yet he gives this term not a Lacanian but a Heideggerian content: the major event that took place in the twentieth century was a profane and more contemporary version of a Heideggerian Turn (Kehre), that is a change in the meaning and functioning of the real (2001b: 79ff.). Earlier he had already dened such a Turn as a conjunctural reversal of currents of mobilization and an ontological ebbing of subjectivity (1989: 199ff.). Here it is the change of tide in the ows of money, information, and other regenerative fuels that bears the

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potential of a posthistorical, even a postontological relief (1988: 103, 1999: 49f., 2001b: 78ff.).27 The aim of his essay is to interpret this change of current in terms of an apocalypse of the real, and thus to invite, and almost explicitly seek under the banner of a critique of extremist reason a polemical confrontation with such ethicists of the real as iek or Badiou, who gures as one of the last keepers of the treasure of lost radicalism at the beginning of the twenty-rst century (this volume, p. 329). For Sloterdijk, the real problem: the problem of the real (das wirkliche Problem: das Problem des Wirklichen, 1987b: 106) was put on the philosophical agenda by Nietzsche, when he exclaimed that along with the true world, we have also done away with the apparent!28 Because the principle of the real is the principle of difference (ibid.: 83, 1988: 73), it is the catastrophe of the real that the true world would be nothing but a theater unmasked as theater (1987b: 109, 2006: 292). Yet, in a time when everybody wants to be critical, when everyone wants to be realistic and nurtures a mistrust of all appearance (1987a: 22ff.), the twentiethcentury struggle for the interpretation of the real can hardly be said to have been decided. In his earlier works, again alluding to Baudrillard, Sloterdijk therefore speaks of an agony of the real (1985: 210ff.). In critical philosophy, this is characterized by the attempt to go beyond metaphysics along a path of reasoning which can be understood as humble theory (niedere Theorie): the turn of thinking toward lowlands (Niederungen) that richly compensate it for its losses of idealistic elevation. This is a particular property of young Hegelian philosophy and radical practices of critique, that is those forms of critique that resist the excessive appropriations of rationalism and more moderate forms of critique: a reasoning which praises the way downwards because it still expects from it an ascension to the thing itself (1989: 243, 250ff.). But though this humble theory proceeds through identication with the dirty work, it is the contrary of a prostration of philosophy before nonphilosophical bon sens such as kynicism. Rather, it heroically assumes all the heaviness of what is low and real. What for Sloterdijk binds Marx and Heidegger together is an Atlas-complex: the postmetaphysical continuation of the ambition to understand everything under the guise of bearing everything (1988: 115ff., 1989: 254, 260ff., 1999a: 69f., 2001a: 33f., 2006: 292), or, as Badiou puts it, a political project: grandiose, epic and violent (Badiou 2007: 9) borne by the virtues of courage, perseverance, faith, and discipline (2002: 58ff.). In Zorn und Zeit. Politisch-psychologischer Versuch (2006) a genealogy of the revolution based on a general economy of thymos (pride) and rage, as rst proposed by Nietzsche and Bataille, that traces the concept of revolution back to the hot zone of Augustines early Christian theology of history (2006: 44ff., 50ff., 2001b: 24ff., 97ff.) Sloterdijk analyzes this postmetaphysical hermeneutics of the real, both inside and outside philosophy, as a fundamentalism,

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a dismal science that wavers between resignation and rage (2004: 673). It claims the real as a foundation, or infrastructure (Unterbau) that both keeps us down and serves as a disinhibiting principle in the name of which offensive action is legitimized (2005: 285, 2006: 74f., 171ff., 292). It depends on a primordial lack in the actual appearance of reality even if only formal as in the case in Badious Platonism which must be compensated for by a Realpolitik at any cost (2006: 225). Therefore, while for Badiou the dening episode of the twentieth century took place between Lenin and Mao Zedong (Badiou 2007: 11f.), it is no coincidence that Sloterdijk depicts Lenin as the father of twentieth-century extremism and Mao as his most excessive inheritor (2006: 231, 261ff.). And though far less dangerous, todays extremist automobilizations and holy accelerations still count on what Hegel called the monstrous power of the negative to turn history into an innite depository of resentment (ibid.: 103ff.). They depend on a denial of the break out of modern society from the denitions of reality from the age of material poverty and its spiritual compensation (2001b: 87ff., 2004: 671ff., 723). A fairer image of the real (2006: 353) would demonstrate their nonsituational universalism to be no more than a sovereign anachronism (ibid.: 273, n. 83).29 It is Sloterdijks strategy to outdo negativistic and submissive hyperboles with an emancipated critique of hyperboles that groundlessly celebrates life: Only hyperboles help against hyperboles (2001b: 273f.). Another recurring trope that protects us against one-dimensional negativistic superlatives is the oxymoron: the connection of two opposed qualities in one connective speech act, a reason of composites, of the nonsimple and the nonplain (2004: 877f.). In a time marked by a caesura such as ours, it is a sign of the attempt to be true to the obstinate ambivalence between agro-imperialistic and techno-capitalistic denitions of the real (2004: 88085). Because our reality of hybrid foams and lightness is more and more determined by the real existing appearance (1996: 70) and the real occurring relief (2004: 848) that take us beyond the proletarian or agrarian-pauperistic condition (ibid.: 674), Sloterdijk presents himself as a radical situationist for whom the denegation of the situational and what Luhmann called the reduction of complexity that determined the age of extremes is intolerable (2001a 47, 352, 2001b: 80, p. 330 in this issue). On the one hand, the reduction of complexity is the congenital defect of philosophy, understood as the organized resistance against thought about the monstrosity of being (2001b: 290). In a postparanoid culture of Reason (2001b: 229), on the other hand, the hypermoralism with which an individual subject relates directly to the Whole is impossible. Today, Sloterdijk argues, we dont need a disinhibiting theory, but a critical theory of the negentropic30 factor of density (Dichte) which determines the intimate physical and mental trafc, or in more intimate terms, intercourse (Verkehr), among the localities of the

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globalization process (1999a: 835, 2005: 27, 277ff.). Heideggers vertical kinetics of the Kehre between fallenness (Verfallenheit) and reversion (Umwendung) dont do justice to the contemporary world, in which revolutions have become chronic and in which we have come to occupy a horizontal in-between (2001b: 42ff.). Rather, a grammar of shared situations and being-in-the-middle-of-it should allow for a conception of thinking as the art of nding orientation in a world of complexity (2001a: 351ff.). A contemporary philosophical critique should start with the attempt to image the complex and save itself from a world in which only realists have a chance (2004: 876f.). Ultimately, according to Sloterdijk, such a critique must be guided by Bismarcks dictum about politics as the art of the possible. Bismarck, despite his enormous reactionary legacy, is correct as long as the restricting reality of Realpolitik is not thought of reductively, but as an in situ-principle, derived from the public in-between of the being-together of political animals in shared communities. In other words it cannot appropriate, but must start from and remain immanent to real existing, social, and solidary ties. Though the reader might be surprised by such a conservative formulation, especially because Sloterdijks model for this kind of politics is the boat, or rather, the being-in-the-same-boat a thoroughly capitalistic model for investment, corporate identity policy, and human resource management, that is rst found, after Sophocles canonical metaphor of the ship of state, with fteenth-century Portuguese seafarers it is Sloterdijks argument that we still dont know what this metaphor means today. For example the model of the boat warns us for the political exaggerations that were so typical of the early Heidegger and for the antipolitical acquiescence of the later Heidegger (1993: 58). It offers a post-post-Copernican, complex way of relating to the future as the opposite of a catalogue of miseries, disasters, and mutually exclusive choices, because it is engaged (verlobt) with the prevailing winds, letting itself be borne unconditionally into the Open, while always remaining local and even provincial (1993: 7ff., 1994: 60, 2005: 397ff.). Ultimately, this engagement implies a postmonotheistic, multivalent denition of the real in a new ecology of expression that is no longer determined by the resentment of antiquated bivalence against misunderstood polyvalence (2001b: 223, cf. 1990: 85f., 2004: 411, 722).31 In terms of the Kehre and possible changes of current, we must not seek a true re-turn, re-volution, or re-version but ongoing inversions or constructive explications in the plural (Verwindungen) (2001b: 72ff., 328f.). Such inversions are not countermovements (ibid.: 75) but movements of cooperation, in which problems only appear when circumstances offer their solution: turns of technology against technology, of capital against capital, of war against war, of science against science, and of media against media: (ibid.: 76f) The seafarers of the future navigate in coherences, in which there can no longer be revolutions in the old style, but extraversions from

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moribund and biased structures, new contrarities to be baptized and fatal routines turning movements, through which the meaning of active, conscious, shared life in the multiple mobilized world necessarily changes (ibid.: 80). Most Western individuals dont want to be revolutionized, but insured. After the age of extremes has come to an end, the reality of the posthistorical political stage seems to be that of an omnipresent normalization and drive into the mainstream (die Mitte), a totalitarian and depressing center of gravity (2001a: 150ff.). A contemporary critique that starts from its immersion in reality, however obstinate, must therefore be antigravitational, that is constructivist. Because the mainstream is the most formless of monsters (ibid.: 284), this constructivist relief is rst of all aesthetic. Insofar as philosophy has always been the (in)forming and formatting of and by the monstrous, critical explicitation today must be an aesthetics of being-in-the-mainstream. And what is the ethical mandate of art, if not generosity (2001c: 49)? In his contribution, Interest and Excess of Modern Mans Radical Mediocrity. Rescaling Sloterdijks Grandiose Aesthetic Strategy, Henk Oosterling adopts Sloterdijks analysis of globalization as the megalomaniacal or hyperpolitical installing of a total work of art (Gesamtkunstwerk) in terms of a threefold (energetic, informational, and epistemological) explicitation of mans radical immersion in his own media and discusses the political potential of Sloterdijks merger of aesthetics with politics as based on the Nietzschean and Bataillan principle of excess rather than on lack and scarcity. If today, radical mediocrity is our rst nature, then we need strong criteria to differentiate between miserabilist and afrmative critique. This distinction is anything but self-evident, because, as Oosterling points out, every new mediological explicitation eventually reproduces scarcity through forgetfulness. It depends on the critical difference between mediocrity and inter-esse, between plain comfortable life and self-reective, and therefore radical, mediocrity. In the nal analysis, the psychological surplus of generosity and the substance of creativity consist precisely of this self-reective in-between. Therefore, any feasible critical reection requires, as Oosterling argues, a downscaling of Sloterdijks hyperpolitical understanding of being-in in terms of micropolitical art practices: lack and abundance are of interest because they are directly political and value creating, and not merely something that belongs to insurance companies. Thus, Oosterling formulates one possible answer to the critical questions that must be asked: wherein lies the possibility of resistance in Sloterdijks recent analyses of capitalism? After Sinopean kynicism, post-Copernican aesthesis and Taoist meditation, does his recent work offer us any political strategy? Of what use is the epic neutrality (2004: 881, 1998b: 76) of Sphren, his thinking coldly (2001a: 215f., 306, 2006: 105; see also the interview in this issue) for a reader interested or acting in the eld of

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cultural politics? Sloterdijks own rst answer might well be that for us, the new politics begins with the art of creating words that point out the horizon on board of reality (1994: 60). Though philosophy is its time as apprehended in thoughts, it must be careful not to become all-too-contemporary (2001a: 150). Therefore, he sees his work as a series of attempts, to gather together a knowledge that is pushed away from normalization, but nonetheless consolidated and send it to later generations in the form of a message in a bottle (2001a: 281f.). This issue offers some critical explorations of these attempts. Hopefully, they will be the beginnings of a wider cultural and academic reception.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I would like to thank the contributors, referees, and editors of Cultural Politics for their trust, assistance, and enduring patience during the editing process of this issue. Special thanks go to our translator, Chris Turner, whose excellent work and generous helpfulness have proven to be indispensable for overcoming the sometimes seemingly insurmountable difculties in translating the Sloterdijkean discourse into English. Most of all, Id like to thank John Armitage for the opportunity he has given me and for his inexhaustible faith in the project from start to nish.

NOTES
1. He is one of four Germans besides Jrgen Habermas, Hans Kng, and Pope Benedictus XVI present on the list of 100 leading intellectuals worldwide published by the English and American magazines Prospect and Foreign Politics (10/2005). 2. In the following, quotes are taken from published translations where such exist. Where none exist, I use my own translations. 3. See for a more in-depth discussion of kynicism the foreword to the English edition of the Critique of Cynical Reason by Andreas Huyssen, The Return of Diogenes as Postmodern Intellectual (1987a: ixff.). 4. Nietzsches concept of workers of philosophy in Beyond Good and Evil, KSA 5.211. 5. In anticipation of my discussion of the critical principle of generosity, it is important to remember that, according to Zarathustras lesson of Schenkende Tugend, even if one abundantly gives oneself, one is not oneself given. Rather, giving is a process of sich aussetzen, sich kompromittieren, sich mitteilen, sich austeilen, vorgeben, freigeben, and ausgeben through transsubjective kinds of communication. Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, KSA 4.11, 4.137, 4.405; cf. Sloterdijk 1988: 22ff., 2001b: 37, 99, 2001c: 46ff. 6. As one of the greatest virtues, megalopsychia constitutes the mean between the excess of vanity and the deciency of pusillanimity. Nicomachean Ethics, Book II, 6.

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7. In an unpublished interview (Scheltema, Amsterdam, March 2006) with me, Sloterdijk dened critique as the art of returning into mediocrity and as the protection of mediocrity against the irreversibility of hyperboles. 8. This concept of explicitation combines Heideggers poisis (bringing forth into the open) with what Bruno Latour calls articulation (Sloterdijk 2004: 208ff.). See also Oosterlings remarks in this issue. 9. Sloterdijk refers to Sphren as a medial poetics of existence (1998b: 81). Ever since Der Zauberbaum (1985), he writes about human facts from a materialist perspective of mans immersion in media as a medium amidst media. This approach is as much indebted to psychoanalysis as it is to Marshall McLuhans pioneering studies of the intimate relationships between self-consciousness, the body, and its technological extensions in Understanding Media (2003: 31, 301). 10. An excursion on merdocracy (1999a: 34053) offers a playful media theory of the sociopolitical problem of air conditioning in sedentary cultures, especially those mediated by obscene politics and mediocre journalism, the inhabitants of which can no longer get out of the way of the noxious emanations of their own faeces and thus attain their self-identity and coherence through political miasmas (1999a: 358). It is in such passages that Sloterdijk comes closest to authors like Baudrillard or iek, though his conclusions are quite different, because he doesnt accept the colloquial distance between the scene and the obscene which only allows for politics on the level of the symbolic. Rather, he gives priority to an ethico-political approach of the forgotten and nonrepresentable scenes of the intimate that are central to all mass-mediatized micropolitics. See for an in-depth discussion: Tuinen (forthcoming a). 11. For a discussion of Sloterdijks use of Tarde, ibid. 12. Sloterdijk has argued Negris work to be a mysticism of beingagainst that needs the invisible Whole as opponent and ultimately ends in the requiem of leftist radicalism, because it is no longer able to think situational solidarity (Die Nachkriegszeit ist zuende: interview with Sloterdijk conducted by Frank Hartmann & Klaus Taschwer in Falter, 23/04, 06/02/05; cf. 2004: 825ff., 2006: 134). 13. Another important Asian inuence, though less explicit, is Rajneesh, the Wittgenstein of religion, whom he compares to Lacan, that other psychocharlatan who combined psychoanalysis, theatrality, and provocation two forward looking ways of rendering oneself impossible. Also recognizable in his works are the ego-criticism of the Indian Vedanta, the Buddhist Anatta doctrine and Nagarjuna, the yoga and tantric schools, and the neo-Hindu syncretisms of Aurobindo and Krishnamurti (1996: 105ff., 2001a: 16ff.).

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14. The bomb demands of us neither struggle nor resignation, but self-experience. We are it. In it, the Western subject is consummated (1987a: 131). 15. http://www.cicero.de/97.php?ress_id=7&item=850 (accessed 04/27/07). 16. On the economy of acquittal (Freispruch) in terms of natality, 1988: 163ff. 17. Earlier I preferred to translate Gelassenheit with yielding in order to stress its more passive character in Sloterdijks early work. Relief refers to exoneration, relaxation, enlightenment, as well as levitation, and better captures the meaning of Gelassenheit in his later work. 18. This unpersonal approach to Gelassenheit is also referred to as escapology, after the title of the Robbie Williamss album from 2003, because it connects postmodern hedonism to the study of life as relief phenomenon and as that which normally escapes our attention (2004: 736). 19. Quoted by Redhead (2002: 93, 166). Cf. Derrida: The future can only be anticipated in the form of an absolute danger (1997: 4). 20. Sloterdijk is at his most Deleuzian when he calls the traces of language of such a life Spinozistic, because they are expressions that serve as an advertisement for their own force and as the self-impartation of the successful (2001c: 47f.). 21. For the German original, http://menschenpark.tripod.com/ (accessed 04/27/07); for a stylistically slightly revised version 2001b: 302ff. For reasons that follow from my exposition, I prefer to translate the original Regeln with prescriptions rather than rules. Sloterdijk is neither a political nor a moral philosopher. However, his concept of Regeln carries a strong juridical and medical meaning. Here I will especially emphasize the rst, but the reader should keep in mind Sloterdijks immunological intentions and his strong functions as physician of culture. (2001a: 9). 22. http://menschenpark.tripod.com/ (accessed 04/27/07), 2001b: 302ff. 23. A proper reading of the text would therefore need to set it in relation to the works of two post-Heideggerians who have strongly informed Sloterdijks work: Foucault and Derrida. See for such an exposition: Tuinen (forthcoming b). 24. Therefore, as Alliez has argued, the Sloterdijk Affair might also be called the Habermas case. See: Le Monde des dbats, October 1999. Despite repeated invitations by third parties, Habermas refused to communicate about their differences (2001b: 61). He also prohibited a reprint of his initial letter to Die Zeit (9/16/1999) in a Dutch dossier of the debate, to which Richard Dworkin, Rdiger Safranski, Slavoj iek, Bruno Latour, Lorenz Jger, Antje Vollmer, Henri Atlan, and others contributed

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25. 26.

27. 28. 29.

(Sloterdijk, Peter. 2000. Regels voor het mensenpark. Kroniek van een debat. Amsterdam: Boom). http://www.bookforum.com/archive/feb_05/funcke.html (accessed 04/27/07). Sloterdijk adds that, as Diogenes Laertius writes in The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, Diogenes of Sinope, son of a banker, was charged for debasing the coin and can therefore be regarded as a forerunner of Nietzsches transvaluation of all values (2001c: 46). On Sloterdijks concept of the Turn, see 2001b: 60ff. and Tuinen 2006: 93ff., 119ff., 145ff. Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, KSA 6.81. As Badiou has analyzed, on the one hand, we are in the realm of suspicion when a formal criterion is lacking to distinguish the real from semblance. (Badiou 2007: 54). What is necessary is a passion for the real, a differential and differentiating passion, devoted to the construction of a minimal difference, to the delineation of its axiomatic. (Badiou 2007: 56). Being the generic as such, the real is a subtraction from objective reality that legitimates a much realer subjectivity. The romantics and pedagogy of the clandestine in Badiou denies any objective realism. It is profoundly Platonic when he says that politics is the art of the impossible. Yet it is not an idealistic philosophy because he abnegates philosophy the privilege of its own truth and reduces it to a formalism. For Sloterdijk, on the other hand, poetics may be the art of the impossible (1988: 29), but politics is the art of the atmospherically possible (1999: 1,003). It therefore goes that air is the best possible residence for theories of all sorts (1988: 96). For him, philosophy understood as megalopsychia is not just a modus vivendi, but a discipline that possesses its own and its own subject and object, the subject being the athletic soul that stretches according to the form of the world (the sphere) in which it lives (2005: 16, 286). It offers an ontology of the present from the perspective of the immersive and extatical relation between the here and the there nothing else than Nietzsches pathos of distance. Philosophy has therefore always been traversed by questions of inhabitation, yet it is not idealist precisely because it is tied to situations and participates in the complex. As an author who is rst and foremost interested in the complexity of things, nally, Sloterdijk is no political author in a classical sense: I myself am interested neither in war nor in politics as the waging of war with the means of peace. In this sense Im not a political writer . . . Political writers are those who have an enemy, who array themselves in some kind of intellectual battle . . . and for them there is no true theory, but only encampment discourse. Every morning marks the issuing of an order, a brieng and the observation of hostile operations Tuinen 2004: 27ff.).

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30. In the 1950s, the physicist Erwin Schrdinger called the life force negentropy to indicate its opposite direction from the push of thermal decay. 31. After Luhmann, the most important theorist of complexity present, though often only implicitly, in Sloterdijks work seems to be Michel Serres, for whom the model of the boat operates as a natural contract, a principle of cordiality in which, in opposition to a social contract, the subject is the collective itself (Tuinen 2007).

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1985. Der Zauberbaum. Die Entstehung der Psychoanalyse im Jahr 1785. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1987a. Critique of Cynical Reason. Trans. Michael Eldred with a foreword by Andreas Huyssen. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1987b. Kopernikanische Mobilmachung und ptolemasche Abrstung. sthetischer Versuch . Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1988. Zur Welt kommen zur Sprache kommen. Frankfurter Vorlesungen. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1989. Eurotaoismus. Zur Kritik einer politischen Kinetik. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1990. Thinker on Stage. Nietzsches Materialism. Trans. J.O. Daniel. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1993. Im selben Boot. Versuch ber die Hyperpolitik. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1994. Falls Europa Erwacht. Gedanken zum Programm einer Weltmacht am Ende des Zeitalters ihrer politischen Absence. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1996. Selbstversuch. Ein Gesprch mit Carlos Oliveira. Mnchen: Carl Hanser Verlag. 1998a. Der starke Grund zusammen zu sein. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1998b. Sphren I. Blasen. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1999a. Sphren II. Globen. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1999b. Die Kritische Theorie ist tot. Die Zeit, 37: 35f. 2000. Die Verachtung der Massen. Versuch ber Kulturkmpfe in der modernen Gesellschaft. Franktfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. (with Heinrichs, Hans-Jrgen). 2001a. Die Sonne und der Tod. Dialogische Untersuchungen. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 2001b. Nicht Gerettet. Versuche ber Heidegger. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 2001c. ber die Verbesserung der guten Nachricht. Nietzsches fnftes Evangelium. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 2004. Sphren III. Schume. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 2005. Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals. Fr eine philosophische Theorie der Globalisierung. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 2006. Zorn und Zeit. Politisch-psychologischer Versuch. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. Tuinen, Sjoerd van. 2004. Terrorisme is een bewijs van te veel communicatie. Interview with Peter Sloterdijk. Filosoe, June/ July: 27ff. 2006. Peter Sloterdijk. Ein Prol. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink Verlag. 2007. La Terre, vaisseau climatis. cologie et complexit chez Sloterdijk. Horizons philosophiques, 17/2, 61ff.

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forthcoming a. The Breath of Relief. Peter Sloterdijk and the Politics of the Intimate. In Dominiek Hoens, Sigi Jottkant, and Gert Buelens (eds), Catastrophe: On Borders, Cuts and Edges in Contemporary Theory. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. forthcoming b. Peter Sloterdijks Transgenous Philosophy. Post-Humanism, Homeotechnics and the Poetics of Natal Difference. Theory, Culture & Society. Virilio, Paul. 2002. Ground Zero. Trans. C. Turner. London: Verso.

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RIC ALLIEZ (1957) IS SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW AT MIDDLESEX UNIVERSITY IN LONDON. HE IS A MEMBER OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD OF MULTITUDES AND EDITOR OF THE COLLECTED WORKS OF GABRIEL TARDE. HIS MAJOR PUBLICATIONS ARE: CAPITAL TIMES, VOL. 1 (UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA PRESS, 1996); THE SIGNATURE OF THE WORLD. WHAT IS DELEUZE AND GUATTARIS PHILOSOPHY? (CONTINUUM, 2004); DE LIMPOSSIBILIT DE LA PHNOMNOLOGIE. SUR LA PHILOSOPHIE FRANAISE CONTEMPORAINE (VRIN, 1995); (WITH J.-C. BONNE) LA PENSE-MATISSE (LE PASSAGE, 2005) (WITH JEAN-CLET MARTIN): LIL-CERVEAU. NOUVELLES HISTOIRES DE LA PEINTURE MODERNE (VRIN, 2007). SEE ALSO: HTTP://WWW.MDX.AC.UK/ WWW/CRMEP/STAFF/ERICALLIEZ.HTM.

ABSTRACT Subsequent to a dialogue concerning the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijks Regeln fr den Menschenpark (Rules for the Human Park), the following interview with ric Alliez introduces the reader to Sloterdijks appreciation of contemporary cultural politics. However, the focal points of the interview are Sloterdijks core cultural conception of Nietzschean-inected thought and his own Sphere Theory, his ideas on immunization, notions of ecology, anthropotechnics, and the question of Being. As these central themes of Sloterdijks current work and the title of this interview indicate, Sloterdijks belief in living hot, thinking coldly is also considered by Alliez alongside Sloterdijks contribution to cultural and political theory.
KEYWORDS: Regeln fr den Menschenpark , Nietzsche, Sphere Theory, immunization, ecology, anthropotechnics

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CULTURAL POLITICS DOI 10.2752/175174307X226870

PETER SLOTERDIJK IS A GERMAN PHILOSOPHER, BEST KNOWN IN THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING WORLD FOR CRITIQUE OF CYNICAL REASON (1987). HE IS PRESIDENT OF THE STATE ACADEMY OF DESIGN, PART OF THE CENTER FOR ART AND MEDIA IN KARLSRUHE.

LIVING HOT, THINKING COLDLY: AN INTERVIEW WITH PETER SLOTERDIJK


RIC ALLIEZ

RIC ALLIEZ

ric Alliez: Lets begin with the worst of beginnings: the so-called Sloterdijk Affair.1 The worst of beginnings whichever way you look at it. The Affair that bears that name reduces the philosophical work of Peter Sloterdijk to a single lecture Regeln fr den Menschenpark a lecture which was, in fact, published after the triggering of the Affair in order to exhibit the implausibility of the reading made of it (Sloterdijk 1999a). For we must immediately note the impossibility both in terms of content and form of dialogue with the reader Habermas. Dialogue is impossible because Habermas refuses to engage in it: you no longer belong to the circle of intellectuals of sound mind and we could refer back here to the primal scene in Book Gamma of the Metaphysics in which Aristotle expels the sophist from the philosophical stage . . . But its impossible, too, if we think of the way the dialogue begun in the early 1980s by Habermas with Foucault, Derrida or Lyotard developed, because whats lacking is a common polemical space, a minimal community of thought capable of sustaining such a dialogue . . . Because whats in question is the very denition of philosophy (in its excess over the regulated circulation of arguments), the very denition of politics (in its excess over the production of consensus) . . . Now, that excess is for Habermas the exclusive and necessary mark of a lack, of a lapsing from democracy synonymous with neoconservatism. With the Sloterdijk Affair, its even argued that a radical neoconservatism is at issue, reference being made to the most dubious pages of the most irresponsible of philosophers: Nietzsche . . . Quod erat demonstrandum. We must, then, review the general meaning of this Sloterdijk Affair, going back over the course of it for the non-German reader. Knowing that the reader could have been thrown somewhat by the summary versions provided by some columnists. I quote, not entirely at random, a text printed in bold type: The former German ultra-leftist has gone over to radical neo-conservatism. But (sic) the hatred of democracy is still present. Facing him, humanism is not disarmed (sic) . . .. Peter Sloterdijk: Starting out from current events would be the worst of things for a philosopher of a classical orientation. But isnt it the best of beginnings for a philosopher who involves himself in his times? If we have, as you suggest, to go back over the Sloterdijk Affair or, as it has sometimes been called, the SloterdijkHabermas Scandal let me say briey why I think that Affair, which I see as a manifestation of disquiet on the part of the contemporary intelligentsia at the national and European levels, is an ideal starting point for our discussion. This is because, with Nietzsche, Ive always thought that free thinking is essentially an affair and that it always will be. An affair in all possible senses of the word: drama, event, project, offense, negotiation, noise, participation, excitation, emotion, collective confusion, struggle, scrimmage, mimesis, business, and

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spectacle. As a consequence, if there is a Sloterdijk Affair in the German media and in the French newspapers, with epicenters in Israel and Brazil (bastions of a globalized Habermasianism), and if its given rise to a broad and relatively agitated debate on what is at stake and at risk in the new biotechnologies, a debate triggered by my remarks at Elmau and Basle, then I cant and wont withdraw from my responsibilities, even if, from the standpoint of my philosophical project overall, I regret the way my actual argument has slipped from the center to the periphery of the debate. Insofar as this discrepancy, this polarization on a relatively marginal aspect of my work, isnt a mere error and an innocent hermeneutic accident, its worth our taking some time over the phenomenon. Youve located precisely the origin of the polemical complex at work in the said Affair: I nd myself caught, in fact, in an impossible controversy with an adversary whos omnipresent and absent at the same time. So in the months of September, October, and November 1999, the German public had the opportunity to participate in an asymmetric dialogue between a real philosopher, sublime and silent, by the name of Jrgen Habermas, and a known sophist, Peter Sloterdijk, who, in the patent absence of his opponent, carried on his little conversation alone with that impossible Other. Hence that primal scene of academicism mentioned in your question. A scene in which we were able to observe how true philosophers go about excluding the sophist from the eld of the pursuit of truth, so as to ensure sovereign control of the terrain for the masters and possessors of true discourse. Ill add that, one primal scene may conceal another: behind Aristotles nger looms the menacing shadow of that reeducation camp in the country reserved by Plato in The Laws for the enraged, unrepentant atheists. Excommunication procedures have certainly changed today, but they havent particularly got any milder . . . To arrive at the effective exclusion of the sophist, the true philosopher of our age resorted to a clandestine stratagem that would doubtless have effected that delicate operation for him if it could have remained secret, but which was inevitably to produce a lethal effect if the public became aware of it. Having, then, read and reviled the text of the sophists lecture, Regeln fr den Menschenpark, the philosopher of truth was to charge another sophist, a journalist associated with the confraternity of true discourse, a contributor to the Hamburg-based weekly, Die Zeit that is to say, his faithful disciple Thomas Assheuer with denouncing the sophist Sloterdijk. The charge sheet was to be read out loud and clear, the offenses being precisely those the philosopher did not dare to pronounce publicly. Two weeks later, the scandal ordered by the master of Starnberg was served up to him accompanied by the most violent mental storm to affect Germany since the end of the student protests and ultra-Left turbulence of the 1970s. But at that point the young sophist Assheuer, who no doubt aspired to be received and recognized among the true philosophers, had to face up to the cruel

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truth: Habermas who hasnt neglected to read Carl Schmitt never had the foolish idea of descending into the arena in person. Does one really need to ght a duel to make the distinction between friend and enemy? Cant the true philosopher have himself represented by a true substitute? Now, at this point, this latter becomes aware of his masters cunning: the philosopher will not come in to back his cause and the disciple will not be invited to sit on the right hand of truth. The rest of the story is better known in Germany than in France. The young sophist was to take his revenge. A few weeks after the Affair exploded, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of September 16 published extracts, wholly compromising for the sender, of a letter from J. Habermas to T. Assheuer. It contained a violent critique of the Elmau lecture. These extracts prove in the most conclusive way what Habermas had denied in his response to Die Zeit namely that he had pressed his Hamburg lieutenant to launch an attack on the authentically fascist sophistry of the orator of Elmau, whom one could no longer, according to the pronouncements of the master of Starnberg, regard as a person of sound mind. Alarm and consternation among Habermass last friends: the Master of the inclusion of the other the title of one of his latest books is unmasked as having practiced a tactic of exclusion of almost unprecedented brutality in postwar Germany and as having developed an outlandish not to say downright insane reading of a philosophical text. I say almost, having in mind a certain precedent, which we must now analyze. Like you, I have in my sights here that action-packed battle conducted by Habermas and his people against those French thinkers whove been dubbed, practically and reductively, post-structuralists or neo-structuralists, and who offered Habermas the ideal opportunity to go to war on yet one more occasion against his eternal enemy, Nietzsche, and all those who refuse to treat the philosopher of Sils Maria as a dead dog. By a pleasing coincidence, the premier German television channel ARD, in a programme marking the seventy-fth anniversary of the founding of the Institut fr Sozialforschung in Frankfurt (mythic headquarters of the School of the same name) this is September 20 showed the letter desperately concealed by Habermas and his henchmen on camera the letter which gave the lie to his ofcial version of the affair: he had lied to the public by brazenly downplaying his role in setting up the scandal. We touch here on the political heart of the affair: for Habermas did not lie when he lied. He simply one too many times perhaps defended, by means that seemed justied to him, given the dictates of militant democracy, what he sees as the space of consensual truth against what he perceives as the irruption of the word of the sophist, of a discourse thats polyvalent, essayistic, seductive, harmful, French, and irresponsible. Having said this, its clear that were back once again as in the early 1980s at the heart of

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a struggle for the denition and redenition of philosophy itself. Your remarks make that point with all the requisite clarity. Let us nonetheless because we have to dene the eld of philosophy by seeking to make something out in the troubled waters of the admissible and the inadmissible. Its the case that, since my beginnings in philosophy, Ive been too steeped in the lessons of Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, Adorno, Bloch, Sartre, Foucault, Canetti, and other master-thinkers for my generation not to be persuaded of this exigency: truth games of the philosophical type, if they are not to sink into anodyne salon conversation, cannot and must not be conned within the frames of an epistemological establishment or within the institutions of a politics of knowledge thats given once and for all, even if that politics comes with the best of recommendations, and claims the purest moral and political intentions. If theres a common doctrine toward which the above-mentioned great teachers and these proud researchers may converge, it would doubtless be the following: modern philosophy, in its fruitful times, exposes itself to a metabolism with that which is not philosophy social struggles, madness, pain, the arts, politics, accidents, clinical practice, and technologies. For 200 years, everything that has red authentic thinking has come from nonphilosophy irrupting into philosophy a movement inaugurated by Schopenhauer and the Young Hegelians. The slogan of those times was to turn ideas back the right way up, to stand them on their real foundations. Hence the well-known schema of base and superstructures. Thinking, henceforth, would mean engaging in a battle for the meaning of the real. But the battle over the real is not over, even after the decline of Marxist theory (which was the logical heart of that battle for a century). It is present more than ever in our activities and our constructions of the world. To the point where, for the rst time in the history of mentalities, everyone wants to be a realist . . . Im convinced we cant at the present time be said to need one more denition of philosophy: we have too many of them already, all useful and all useless. We must, rather, provide evidence that la pense de la diffrence, thinking without epithets, still exists. We must interrupt the arrivistes danse macabre of realism. In my view, the real danger for thought today is the rise of a neo-scholasticism normalizing almost the whole of academic production, which coexists in a dangerous liaison with omnipresent mediatization, a phenomenon that has replaced reection (one would, in the past, have dared to say existential reection) and theoretical work with a neoserious attitude and/or an anticonformist conformism. What is dangerous is this kind of totalitarianism lite, which has left its mark on the Zeitgeist throughout the Western world. Consequently, I would be much more interested not in a denition of philosophy, but in its de-denition, in a de-scholasticization, a de-conformization, even indeed a de-professionalization of reection, provided it were a wise subversion of pseudo-professionalism. As a philosophical writer whos dened the essay as a denitive form of

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the provisional, I have in my sights an essayistic notion of philosophy of the highest possible level. Isnt philosophy a thing much too ne, much too real to be left to the philosophers alone? Each one of us mocking philosophy as best he or she can. I should like to come back now to the formula you put to me, to this language game thats supposed to sum up my intellectual entelechy between an ultra-Leftist starting point and a nishing point named radical neoconservatism. Lets put aside for a moment the ignorant, disparaging aspects of such a construction, and lets forget the Habermasian stamp upon it. This is an amusing and revealing equation because it reveals a highly signicant phantasm quite commonly found among the new conformists, whether they present themselves as people of the Left or as prudent representatives of the liberal Center-Left. In my view, they hallucinate a trajectory thats dual in character: it is copied phantasmatically from their own itineraries (what have they become if not conservatives?) and they know those itineraries fail radically to meet the imperatives of an intelligence freed of the ballast with which they have burdened themselves. That hallucination isnt, then, without a certain interest, and even a certain truth, if I may be so bold, because those who argue this way are admitting, in an indirect and yet quite clear way, that they have, at a certain point in their mental development, stopped thinking. And how could it be otherwise, since they have found the truth, have locked themselves away in divine reunion with it? They havent moved, in fact, since the post-May 68 period. They couldnt move because they effectively came home sure of themselves, sure of their rights and their property. But did that mean they could totally lose the sense of movement when others, once of the same ilk, were moving away from them? It was tempting at that point to conclude that the others movement led from a possibly shared and in spite of its excesses (the ultra-Leftism they have thrown off) potentially good starting point to an intrinsically bad end point, an end point not at all shared, which diabolizes any departure from their stock-in-trade, which is the regulated production of consensus (the extremes say the same about the Other). He who distances himself from the axiomatics of an eternal but rebranded Left, anchored in the fundamentum inconcussum of good conscience and its timeless commitments, is consequently doomed to move closer to the Right of yesteryear (which is historically their own truth) or, worse still, to team up with the neoconservatives who, it is (quite wrongly) imagined, would reserve an extremely warm welcome for the deserters from the ultra-Left. Everyone has experienced this kind of disorientation: youre in a train in the station and suddenly theres movement; you dont know if its the train alongside thats started up or your own train. To dispel the dizziness and distinguish between the movements, you have to recover a sense of stability. This has been part of the cognitive biogram of Homo presapiens and Homo sapiens since we

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lived in hordes on the savannah. Were programmed to lend the most extreme attention to the slightest movement picked out against a stable horizon. We might speak here of the origin of difference by the irruption of an unexpected presence or development against a at horizon. But how are we to orient ourselves in a world where that horizon has begun to shift? How are we to think in a world where the sun has stopped revolving around the earth and where things have stopped revolving around the subject? Here lies the whole irony of the discourse on the alleged neoconservatism of those allegedly irresponsible individuals whove chosen to project the immediate data of the ultra-Leftist consciousness of 1968 into somewhat less . . . immediate directions. Those who havent moved for a long time and who nonetheless claim an important position for themselves at the head of the hierarchy of ideas, are at loggerheads and thus in a constant clinch with those whove espoused the movement of our times at the level of existential experiment and at the level of the concept, to undertake a renewed analysis of that permanent revolution that expresses itself in an unparalleled social, technological, artistic, and scientic dynamism. I note in passing that I fell in love with this French expression pouser le mouvement (was it in a text by Virilio that I stumbled upon it?). A rather sublime expression, which can translate one of the richest ideas of Heideggerian thought when it ventures to conceive Being as movement, as thrownness [Geworfenheit] and consignment or dispatch [Geschick] and as correspondence to that movement. We must, therefore, expect frictions between those who espouse thrownness and who, as a consequence, distance themselves from commonplaces (which have, in any case, lost all usefulness), and those whove settled into their posts and remain comfortably in their places, inducing in themselves the illusion of movement by watching the trains go by. To cut a long analysis short I dont want to become interminable I shall refer to the little book of dialogues with Carlos Oliveira, a young Spanish philosopher of a socialist orientation who has chosen for himself a pantheon of rather singular thinkers John of the Cross, Marx, Derrida, and the German Idealists that has just appeared in a French translation entitled Lessai dintoxication volontaire.2 Toward the end of these dialogues, youll nd a number of passages concerned with analyzing the moral and conceptual disorientation of the classicist Left (classical is too inhabited by the nasty word class . . .), together with certain hints for better understanding the driving forces behind this Babylonian confusion of political languages thats evident nowadays a confusion which means that quite often even potential allies no longer recognize each other as such. In spite of all these risks, Lessai dintoxication volontaire was very favorably received in France. Roger-Pol Droits observations in his article in Le Monde des livres were in my view very indicative: the inevitably light tone of this recorded conversation didnt detract from

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the understanding of the philosophical issues. I mention this fact also because I had read his Loubli de lInde with a great deal of sympathy and I share Roger-Pol Droits revulsion at the incredible ignorance European philosophers display toward Indian philosophy and, more generally, the thought of Eastern and non-European civilizations. These are subjects that have been close to my heart since my return from India in 1980. Ive even asked myself at times under what conditions Raymond Schwabs formula regarding an Oriental Renaissance (1984) could take on new meaning for our times . . . There remains the (essential) fact which other articles published since in France seem to indicate, such as Bruno Latours (1999) or your piece in Le Monde des dbats (1999) that my analysis of the ideological confusion and disarray of the old Left may present some interest on the other side of the Rhine. Dare I add that I would have been astonished had that not been the case? . . . A last word on my alleged radical neoconservatism, the senile malady of the initial ultra-Leftism. I freely concede that this is a particularly economical summary of the Affair that bears my name. But why economize on intelligence? This particular economical individual seems to draw his knowledge of my deep motives from downright occult sources. Otherwise, how could he declare, on the basis of my Elmau lecture, over which he can be said to have cast a lofty eye, that the hatred of democracy is still there? Is it so difcult to recognize that the task of the philosopher, one of his roles in our modern societies, is to produce, for oneself and ones fellow citizens, an analysis of the weaknesses and aws in our system of organization of communal life? Does one show hatred of democracy by thinking not only that it can cope with the description of its real or potential failings, but that it must also determine, so far as is possible the limits never being laid down in advance the course of its future development? Does one show scorn for democracy by conceiving it as a set of arrangements of the collective intelligence (Pierre Lvys ne book comes to mind here) and by believing rather classically that its an intelligent machinery that prospers only when subjected to permanent criticism? In short, Im sure that democracy, when it devises for itself some other course than mere survival on principle, lives by the good ofces of those who arent disposed to idealize it (and we know how much those idealists know how to exploit it as though it were their efdom: do they not derive copious benets from it?). Its only too clear what a democratic decit there would be if we allowed the conformists of every stamp to stie free thinking to the point of prohibiting the questioning and problematizing contained in an uncompromising critique. Ill permit myself to refer here to the article Du centrisme mou au risque de penser, in which I attempted to explain the devastating effects of the Kohl era on the culture of debate in our country that implosion of the political space, that advent of a boundless conformism that is the unthought element of the Habermas System.

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A: Since the appearance of Kritik der zynischen Vernunft (1983)3 and Der Denker auf der Bhne (1986),4 which is a commentary on The Birth of Tragedy, two of your works that are translated into French, its been possible to see you as the only German philosopher likely to lay claim to Foucaults assertion that he was simply Nietzschean . . . Id like you, then, to expand on the sense of that reading of Nietzsche, if possible, on the priority you seem to accord to the young philosopher of The Birth of Tragedy to the detriment of the thinker of the will to power; your (by no means simple) relationship to Heideggerian interpretation; and, lastly, and above all, what you mean by Dionysian materialism: what kind of higher materialism is in play here and how does this notion specify the general category of vitalism if Nietzsche is, indeed, in your eyes, the philosopher of life par excellence. PS: Simply Nietzschean. Thats a phrase that would certainly re my imagination, even if I didnt know whod said it. Its an obvious fact to me that the Nietzsche event was that earthquake, that cerebral upheaval, which overthrew the entire intellectual tradition of old Europe. In Ecce Homo, we nd very explicit traces of the epochal consciousness Nietzsche had of the distant effects he bore within him. Im thinking particularly of the famous pronunciamento: One lives before me or after me,5 which sounds like the interior monologue of a Messiah busy with the reform of the calendar made necessary by his appearance. If one were looking for an example that proved megalomania and sobriety can coincide, this is surely it. For we must admit that its a matter of record for us: we do, indeed, live after Nietzsche. Lets hold to the idea that this coincidence of the megalomaniac and the sober is philosophy itself. The philosopher is that grandiloquent human being to whom it occurs that the grandeur of the ideas he formulates exceeds his grandiloquence. In Aristotelian terms, hes the zoon logon (megalon) echon. It would, of course, be possible to replace the term grandeur with less shocking expressions: substantiality, efcacity, pertinence, validity, precision, creativity, potency, operativity. But, whatever the expression chosen, we accept that there are, in any event, thinking beings through whom something happens that affects the state of reality as such. Which amounts to positing that real thought is a production. Parenthetically, it seems necessary here to ask the following question: if philosophical megalomania is a reality, wouldnt it be entirely reasonable to conceive the parallel existence of a specically philosophical megalo-depression? Is this to say that the thought of our century will have been, to a very large extent, merely the drama of the inter-pathology of ideas and thinkers? Intermadness [inter-folie] a concept to revisit. So, simply Nietzschean what can that mean in the conditions of contemporary thought? Lets begin by noting that the formula is, rst, a chronological statement which says that were situated in

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a time after someone. In this, its entirely in line with the title of Giorgio Collis famous book, Dopo Nietzsche. We know the social sciences and contemporary philosophy have formed the habit of dating themselves within a period after a master-thinker. The postFreud period of J.B. Pontalis comes to mind; the post-Saussure of the structuralists; the post-Foucault of the new genealogists and archivists; the post-Braudel of the psychohistorians, and, more recently, the post-Luhmann period (at least in Germany) of the analysts of social systems and subsystems. But this mere observation that modern thinking is marked by its historicity and that the proper names of the major authors serve us as markers in the chaotic ow of discourses doesnt go far enough. We have to go further and delve into the content and method of a radically contemporary thinking. Hence the following questions: What is thought (la pense) if one thinks after Nietzsche? And how does one think if one thinks within the sphere of inuence and on the horizon of Nietzschean thought? The answer to the rst of these questions must indicate why that thought is at the center of modern civilization. For, after Nietzsche, one thinks (most of the time without realizing it) the conditions of possibility and the conditions of reality of life. One tries to understand how life, a life, our lives (and our thinking about these lives) are possible and, among the answers given to this question, theres one that relates to philosophy. (Let us, for the moment, dene philosophy as that agency of wisdom whose task is to manage the question of truth within an advanced civilization.) The answer consists in the proposition that life, a life, our shared life is possible by virtue of the fact that human beings are endowed with a sense of truth. This sixth sense enables them to live a life more or less successfully and be part of a development: rst, because it provides them with the means to adapt to a given environment (accommodation of the intellect to things) and, second, because it inspires in them the respect for the rules that make up the religion of the tribe (accommodation of behavior to the divine law). This is also why, after Nietzsche, the theory of truth the old royal discipline of philosophy transforms itself into an element of an expanded metabiological reection. (Here again its tempting to make use of the schema of de-denition: life and theory are things too important to abandon to the biologists alone.) In my most recent work, Ive set about integrating psychoanalysis, the history of ideas and images, systems theory, sociology, urbanism, etc. into a metaparadigm I call General Immunology or, alternatively, Sphere Theory. If one takes the new denition of life (of a life) given by the immunologists at this centurys end, according to which life, a life, is the success phase of an immune system, one immediately grasps how these studies lend themselves to a Nietzschean reformulation of the question of truth. From the standpoint of Nietzschean or post-Nietzschean philosophical metabiology, truth is understood as a function of

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vital systems that serves in their orientation in the world and their cultural, motivational, and communicational autoprogramming. At this level we are dealing with a philosopher/biologist Nietzsche, the author of the famous phrase, We have need of lies . . . in order to live.6 In my terminology, one would say that the truths (which I shall term rst-order) are symbolic immune systems. Lives are condemned to perform a permanent effort of raising their morphoimmune shields against the microbiological invasions and semantic lesions (we call these experiences) to which they are exposed. Now, I think this way of considering individuals systems of opinions has moral implications of considerable scope. It teaches, not a duty of reserve, but a decision to act with reserve. In postconsensual society, I regard this kind of ethics as indispensable. If we turn now to the second question that of the how or the methodical approach of a properly Nietzschean thinking we note immediately that theres a second level in Nietzschean thinking on truth, which is strictly different from the rst. Here, Nietzsche is the philosopher-adventurer: he abandons the terrain dened by concern with the vital system and immunitary illusionism, whether that of the individual or the social body. He advances into a region where he discovers (second-order) truths, the effect of which is indifferent to the vital interests of human beings or, worse, which is directly opposed to those interests. There is, then, a second face of truth. If the rst were that of a protective mother, the second assumes the features of the Medusa. Faced with the former, one melts; confronted with the latter, one freezes. The meta-immune or contra-immune function of the (second-order) truth consequently triggers an internal crisis in the human beings who have ventured too far into these forms of knowledge that transcend life or are denitively harmful to life. One might thus venture that modern philosophy (the philosophy that has killed God, the ultimate expression of the will to be integrated into an incorruptible space) is the equivalent at the level of cognitive systems of what doctors call the auto-immune illnesses. (Sokal and Bricmont can pull out their notebooks here for an augmented edition of their book! Since I dont dare believe theyd accept the invitation to join my seminar on the role of scientic metaphor in the development of cutting-edge theories . . .) Thought reaches its maximum degree of discomfort here, for this challenge is addressed to the pride of the animal endowed with logos. Knowing we can think strictly unbearable things, do we for that reason have to give up the adventure of thought because most of the hard truths arent assimilable as such by human beings, by all human beings? Shall we deduce from this that life should at all costs strive to avoid the truths external to it? Midi-Minuit is the hour of the meeting with the other Nietzsche, with the metaphysician of the artistic function of life, who formulated the battleeld for inhuman truths in two sentences. First: We have art in order not to die of [the] truth; and: Let knowledge advance, let life perish!7

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We shant take this analysis of the conict between the thinkable and the bearable any further here. Theres a very useful book by Rdiger Safranski (Wieviel Wahrheit braucht der Mensch?) that may serve as an introduction to this particular problematic. I simply point out that this too cursory survey contains all the elements of an answer to the question why I may have accorded priority to the earliest Nietzsche. It was, in fact, the young Basle philologist who opened up the battle of the titans of our age around the essent by showing that the Dionysian isnt in itself bearable, that its life itself thats incapable of bearing itself as it is and which, as a consequence, invents more pleasing representations representations that please us. To use the vocabulary of The Birth of Tragedy, life transgures itself. One might say it invests the secondary process. (In this connection: who doesnt see that all the principles of Viennese psychoanalysis can be found in the text of the young Nietzsche, including its keyword, primal scene, found there in the plural: Urszenen des Leidens, which we might render as the archi-dramas of suffering?) By way of a rather bizarre mythological apparatus, not well received by Greek scholars, Nietzsche outlines a science that is to come a science that could bear the name of vitalist constructivism (which was recognized at a certain point in the debate around Nietzsches work under the somewhat mediocre label of active nihilism). Its mainly this hard Nietzsche that interests me, the philosopher who tried to think without any regard whatever for the stabilization of his own system of vital illusions. That particular Nietzsche offers a poignant interpretation of his idea that the philosopher is the physician of civilization, for, in order to train in that perilous profession, he throws himself into radical experimentation in vivo on the system of illusions on which his life and perhaps human life in general is founded. This is, ultimately, what I mean by the term Selbstversuch, self-experiment . . .8 What the simply Nietzschean thinkers of a generation more fted than our own called la pense du dehors. In my most recently published book, the second volume of Spheres (1998b), which is on macrospheres or globes (let us not forget that the sphere of all physical spheres for more than 2,000 years bore, in old Europe, the ne name of Cosmos and that the sphere of all mental or vital spheres was called God), I ventured the paraNietzschean proposition: The Sphere is dead. I attempted to outline there the programme of a vitalist or supervitalist philosophical thinking, that is to say, an introduction to the specically modern dilemma, as it expresses itself in this antithesis: (A) We think to immunize ourselves (and here it is the mental immune system that thinks let us say, the individual and collective poetico-hallucinatory system; the immune cogito). (B) We destroy (or transcend) our mental immune system when we think (and it is real, operative, external thought that gains the upper hand there; it thinks, a masterless thinking). This dual model of thought carries far beyond the traditional

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critique of ideologies, into an area beyond the vrai naf and the faux naf. In my view, the famous parable of paragraph 125 of The Gay Science, in which the death of God is proclaimed, invokes precisely the need to invent a new poetics of immunizing space. And this can be done only in an exteriority that will forever be radically ahead of any construction of an interior. How shall we console ourselves . . . we who are the murderers of all murderers?9 By making love? By engaging in politics? By building well-heated houses and planning functional hospitals, which are, indeed, essential? (In the terms of a theory of religion: the probability of encountering God in the world having become much more remote than the opposite proposition, its necessary to replace divine, heavenly, and private immunity with a technical, earthly, political immunity. I should point out that in my view this substitution is the hard core of the process of modernization.) All this bringing us back to the impossible dialogue between Nietzscheans and anti-Nietzscheans. I propose the following scenario: the former warm themselves in life and like (or put up with) cold in thought; the latter are cold in life and seek to nd some warmth in thought. The former have broken the sound barrier of human and humanistic illusionism and no longer (or only indirectly) obey the traditional exigencies of the Lebenswelt; the latter apply themselves to building the new cathedrals of communication, and they heat those cathedrals using the pleasant illusions maintained by the neo-humanist, neo-idealist, or neo-transcendalist schools, etc. This amounts to saying that we dont live on the same isothermal lines. A: Hence this inevitable and necessary tactical or strategic dimension in the materialist use you make of the early Nietzsche . . . PS: Precisely. If only to break with the rather too exclusive attention paid by research, where this author is concerned, to that doctrine of the will to power that was monstrously twisted by the jackbooted, helmeted readers of the 1930s. Now, the writings of the young philologist seemed to me haunted by what Ive called his Dionysian materialism. This provocative expression signaled my intention to read the Nietzschean corpus as forming part of the subversive tradition of those marginal thinkers whove managed to keep themselves apart from the idealist closure. In the 1980s, this notion of materialism which I employed with a touch of humor had, in spite of everything, retained a last hint of its initial aggressiveness. It seemed always useable to me as a positional and oppositional beacon in relation to an intellectual environment that displayed hostility to everything that could evoke the vitalism of the early years of the century. This is to say how delighted I am at the edition of the works of Tarde youre publishing . . . I wasnt unaware, either, that this materialist terminology was going to create denite

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unease among Heideggerians of a neo-pietist persuasion. Having proposed an iconoclastic and Left-wing reading of Heideggers work in Critique of Cynical Reason, I didnt at any cost wish to be confused with that de-virilized, conservative Heideggerianism . . . As for Heideggers enormous (not, it must be said, a particularly Nietzschean quality) and, in certain respects, admirable Nietzsche, I must stress Ive never accepted his claim to have gone beyond Nietzsche. On the contrary, it was, in my view, in Nietzsche that one should look for paths leading somewhere,10 toward an open future for thought. Dionysian materialism: the formula expresses the need for a rapprochement between the post-Marxist and post-Nietzschean currents, a highly implausible encounter in the academic and public context of the time. Its true that I havent explicitly gone back to this formula in the fteen years since the publication of Thinker on Stage. And yet its become virtually second nature to me, and if I didnt use the expression often, thats because Id formed the habit of considering all my problems and all my interventions in the affective light of this concept without having any further need to develop its purely theoretical dimensions. I carry the notion on my head like a miners lamp; without it I couldnt follow the seam that keeps leading me on. Now, to come back to the question: there is, for certain, a strong epistemological linkage between concepts like Dionysian materialism and vitalism, a linkage made even more interesting by the fact that the life sciences and life technics11 have just passed into a new phase of their development. Were arriving at a point where the most committed idealists are obliged to admit the productive and ideoplastic nature of the process of conceptual labor. More specically, where the expression superior materialism that you propose and use in your writings is concerned, Im very sorry that the work of Gotthard Gnther isnt known in France. Gnther is the author of an amazing book and more than the title of it, The Consciousness of Machines. A Metaphysics of Cybernetics (1963), deserves to be translated. He also wrote an enormous work in several volumes aimed at dening the principles of a non-Aristotelian logic (197680). This is a mass of impregnable ideas, and it has become a source of constant inspiration for the necessary reform of the philosophical grammar of old Europe. After the shock induced by Nietzsche, a shock with multiple effects, that reform is continuing, of course, in the works of contemporary thinkers: Deleuze, Foucault, Derrida, Luhmann . . . But in Gnthers work the concept of a formless matter embodies, in my view, all thats been thought between Hegel and Turing on the relation of things to mind. It tests out a trivalent or multivalent logic thats so potent it could rid us of the impotent, brutal binarism of the mind/thing, subject/object, idea/matter type . . . A: Its easier now to see how you can be regarded as the most French of the German philosophers . . . Whether its to deplore

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your dependence on whats been called neo-structuralist thought (Manfred Frank) and la pense 68 (Ferry and Renaut), or to include you afrmatively in that movement of biopolitical/biophilosophical thought that has its anchorage points in Deleuze and Foucault. What thoughts do these French positionings of your work inspire in you? What are your relations with that darker, nighttime concept of the political that casts its gaze on the hidden ecology of universal pain, referred to in your Nietzsche book (1989: 76)? Whats the meaning of this appeal to an expressive ecology of a new kind, to which you give the name Psychonautics? PS: It seems to me that in transposing the opposition Ive just outlined between thinking in the cold and the warming function of ideas to the level of the geopolitics of ideas, one sees immediately why Im so French. Actually, it isnt my fault if the French thought of this century has produced a set of exceptional authors who embody the cold tendency of contemporary thought in entirely impressive forms. I conne myself merely to naming Lvi-Strauss, Foucault, and Deleuze. This is the crystal sky above discourse, above the order of discourse of the human sciences at this close of the twentieth century. And its no accident if reading Nietzsche was a turning point for most of them. As for me, it was the great stroke of luck of my intellectual life that I encountered these French Nietzscheans at a point when it was inconceivable to read Nietzsche in Germany. More precisely, it was the encounter with Foucault in Les mots et les choses that catapulted me into a space of reection that went beyond my original philosophical training, steeped as it was in young-Hegelian and Marxist thinking, particularly in its Adornian version. I was immediately dazzled by the aura of serenity and rigor that emanated from Foucaults work, yet I felt an indescribable sense of nausea reading it. I realize today that my distress was a reex, or rather an alarm signal indicating to me that Id been pulled irreversibly into a decisively non-Hegelian, nonKantian mode of thought. I was taking my rst steps in a mental space where the logic of reconciliation through a nal synthesis no longer operated. For anyone raised in the Hegelian faith, in the Principle of Hope, in the comfort of teleological thought and the necessity of the categorical imperative, in the happy-endism of the philosophy of history, in the as-if-messianism of Benjamin and Adorno, and in the certainty that the great refuser is morally superior to the collaborators with the data of experience (which was, in fact, the spiritual source of the Frankfurt School in its rst incarnation), reading Foucault was a bit like having your heart torn out by an Aztec priest with a tip of obsidian. If I had to characterize the Foucault of that period of my intellectual history, Id say that he seemed to me like someone who no longer philosophized with a hammer, but with a blade of obsidian. For obsidian has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.12

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As a result of the shock of that treatment and the ashbacks that made me relive the experience, rifing back through it with curiosity Im thinking here of my trip to India I moved right away from the archipelago of dialectics, of phenomenology, of Frankfurt politico/neo-Messianic thought and entered a quite other space that I now recognize as being identical to the eld of conceptual creation opened up by Nietzsche. It may perhaps be useful to remind the reader that, if this kind of thought coexists necessarily with a practice of writing, that practice has nothing whatever to do with the caricaturally simplistic ideas of those who doggedly persist in believing that philosophy is rst and foremost a matter of content, the rest being a mere rhetorical dressing-up of that same content. I think, quite to the contrary, that resolutely modern philosophy invests the extinction of the metaphysical distinction between form and content as one of its constitutive aspects. This is why its highly probable that a philosophy [une pense] that doesnt exist in its writing wont count as a philosophy [une pense]. To anyone wishing to test out this proposition, I can recommend the Wittgensteinian corpus, since that master of analytic thinking, who never knew the pleasure of the text as ow of sentences (he was incapable of chatting), only ever produced logical crystals, in the sense that the heights of clarity he achieved are above all heights of formulation. With this paradoxical effect: the fact that Wittgenstein is the only philosopher-writer of our century to have managed to gain recognition by the hardest academicism is down to academicians not having realized they were dealing with a writer, with an artist of the concept who might be hailed as the inventor of minimal art in philosophy. For my part, and insofar as an author can speak of his intentions, if I had to characterize my philosophical work, Id say its positioned and moves in an oscillation between the incredibly soft and the absolutely hard. The reader of Spheres I (1998a) nds herself grappling with an author-psychonaut undertaking a descent into the symbiotic hell, into the womb of the Great Mother. That reading may reveal itself to be of a pitiless gentleness. By contrast, in volumes II and III, one traverses passages of cosmic coldness: its the visit to the world of human beings by a cosmonautical, extraterrestrial intelligence. This visitor from Outside describes the mental machinations of traditional and modern societies with a perfectly cold eye, for he isnt afraid to take the metaphysical constructions of security, in which human beings have installed themselves, for what they are. Between the very gentle and the very hard is played out what Ive termed the hidden ecology of universal pain. I like to think that in a hundred years time therell be an author capable of writing the book we might be said to need today on a general ecology of suffering, technologies, and illusions. So far as Deleuzes work is concerned, which isnt far removed from a similar project, I realize that at the time I quite simply missed the encounter with it. Its only in recent times that Ive begun to read

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him in a more coherent way. Although friends pointed out to me almost twenty years ago a certain kinship between his approach and my intentions, I wasnt able to achieve the resonance for myself. Its different today. I began reading A Thousand Plateaux and Critique et clinique, as well as Spinoza, philosophie pratique, with tremendous pleasure, and sometimes feeling I learned more in an hours reading than in a year of ordinary research. Which is to say how much the encounter is useful to me for a better understanding of what Im looking for philosophically without ever being sure of having found it . . . The trace of Deleuze will be perceptible in the third volume of the Spheres project, which is called Schume [Foams]. Youll see how I try to combine the biophilosophical propositions of the French writers with my ideas on general morpho-immunology (or spherology). The theme of the hidden ecology of universal pain will be further developed as a result. A: Do you want to say something more about the pretext-lecture of Elmau? PS: A last word, then . . . on what was at stake there in philosophical terms: from the standpoint Ive termed anthropotechnical. An expression, I may remark in passing, that whipped up a storm among the German square-heads (the expression belongs to a broader eld of concepts in which its antonym theotechnic also gures, but one should also add hippotechnic, caninotechnic, felinotechnic, rhodotechnic, narcotechnic, etc. to reestablish the complete lexicon of an analysis of the hominization-domestication-biopower complex). Most readers in Germany, France, and elsewhere didnt feel it necessary to point out that my lecture makes practically no reference to what the media coverage of the Sloterdijk Affair put at the center of the debate. Yes, that lecture for we are talking about a lecture here doesnt speak about biotechnology, genetics, bioethics, etc., and, if it ventures on to that terrain, it does so allusively, in the manner of a marginal note (no wonder, then, that some commentators can claim to be unsatised!). What interested me was the clearing Heidegger speaks of. My reections were on that superphenomenal phenomenon that projects us into the openness where everything shows itself: the place from which the world is only world. Whos afraid of the clearing? As I conceive it, its the gap of an opening or a distance between human intelligence and the environment its the site of the human ekstasis that brings it about that we are in-the-world. What is the clearing precisely? How was it carved out in the forest of being and by what techniques? This is the question we have to pose, at fresh cost to ourselves, to nd a way to a philosophical and historical anthropology that measures up to our contemporary knowledge. (Ive just published a short text in Germany on the natural history of the principle of distance as a relation of human beings

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to nature in a recent number of the magazine Geo ([September 1998]). Which may shock Heideggerians by my desire to work for the birth of a philosophical anthropology of a new type: these remarks are, in fact, an integral part of a reection on the foundations of a biocultural discourse of the clearing. The theory of neoteny13 has to do with this reection in the Elmau lecture.) So Ive attempted to render Heideggerian onto-anthropology in a paraphrase whose benevolence is anything but ironic. For Nietzsche and Plato have invited themselves to the symposium to comment on the ideas of Heidegger, to put forward their opinions on the drama played out in the clearing. The title of this drama? Anthropotechnics or: How human beings produce themselves. And suddenly everyone wants to be invited, everyone dramatically wants to be part of the debate, to take part in it. When I reread the mountain of articles prompted by the lecture, I noticed that the typical sentence was of the negative order of the acknowledgement of fact: what I was saying wasnt new; my remarks were so lacking in originality that it wasnt at all clear why anyone should waste their time on my text. The dynamics of these statements seem to me entirely clear: our opinions will remain exactly the same both before and after the reading of a philosophical text. We want a knowledge thats independent independent of any thought, and even more so of any disturbing thought. We shall turn, then, to the experts, for the expert is precisely the person who no longer needs to think: he has already thought. The whole secret of his profession consists in having us share in his postreexive serenity. As guardian of collective nonthought, his profession is a very liberal one. Hence this concert of experts afrming in unison: Sloterdijk has perhaps sparked a debate, but to conduct that debate properly we must begin by excluding this provocateur who has said nothing new except perhaps . . . but no, and leave us in peace! One of the most interesting versions of this clich was provided by Henri Atlan on the occasion of an interview he gave to Le Monde des dbats (Atlan 1999). Strange for a declared Spinozist . . . Disinclined to waste his precious time with the anacoluthons of my prose (it must be remembered that the expert is a salaried individual), his media grammatology was apparently to be satised with an antithesis as crude as it was symptomatic: where the problems posed by the biotechnologies were concerned, one could speak either as a philosopher (and if thats the case, you cant say much thats particularly relevant, given that its easier to quote Plato than to produce a clone) or as a technical medical man (in which case one will have complete mastery of discourse since, by denition, the expert has mastery of knowledge: in this case, what it costs to clone a human being). In short, Monsieur Atlan nds it difcult to admit there might exist a discourse, that is to say, in principle a movement of thought, which proposes, philosophically and rigorously, to question technology as a form of production of self-evident facts,

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the order of experts as controllers of knowledge, and the claim of certain experts (the most eminent) to control both their discipline and its philosophical premisses . . . The fact remains that Henri Atlans contribution is precious on at least one point and, in my view, not the least important. It is so in as much as it emphasizes with all the requisite vigor that German edginess about these topics the product of a criminal, abject euthanasian eugenics that is part of our history is one thing, and the challenge of the biotechnologies and biopolitics of the future is another. Whether many people like it or not, it is this radical difference that provides us with food for thought. Translated by Chris Turner

NOTES
1. This interview was conducted by ric Alliez by e-mail and completed in January 2000. It was rst published in Multitudes 1 (2000). Alliez is here making an allusion to Bergsons Les Donnes immdiates de la conscience, translated into English as Time and Free Will (1996). 2. Paris: Calmann-Lvy, 1999. German: Selbstversuch (1996). 3. Translated by Michael Eldred and published in 1988 as Critique of Cynical Reason. 4. Translated by Jamie Owen Daniel and published in 1989 as Thinker on Stage, subtitled Nietzsches Materialism. 5. This is a paraphrase. The passage referred to in Ecce Homo reads in translation as follows: The unmasking of Christian morality is an event without equal, a real catastrophe. He who exposes it is a force majeure, a destiny he breaks the history of mankind into two parts. One lives before him, one lives after him (1979: 133). 6. The Will to Power, section 853. 7. Fiat veritas, pereat vita. This is quoted in section IV of the Foreword to Nietzsches On the Use and Abuse of History for Life (1873). 8. Selbstversuch (1996) is the original title of Lessai dintoxication volontaire. 9. Wie trsten wir uns, die Mrder aller Mrder? (Nietzsche 1959: 167). 10. An allusion to Chemins qui mnent nulle part, the title of the French translation of Heideggers Holzwege. 11. These two terms in English in original. 12. An allusion to Pascals Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connat point. 13. A zoological term referring to the capacity of certain species to procreate in a state of biological immaturity. In his book, Das Problem der Menschwerdung (Jena, 1926), the anthropologist Ludwig Bolk developed the hypothesis that human morphology

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reects foetal states that have become permanent. This theory was integrated into the work of the last of the masters of German sociology and historical anthropology, Dieter Claessens (see Das Konkrete und das Abstrakte, Frankfurt a.M., 1980). In France, Dany-Robert Dufour has led the way in stressing the importance of the concept of neoteny (see Lettre sur la nature humaine lusage des survivants, Calmann-Levy, 1999). [Information communicated by P . Sloterdijk.]

REFERENCES
Atlan, Henri. 1999. La biologie de demain nest pas leugnisme nazi. Le Monde des dbats, November. Bergson, Henri. 1996. Time and Free Will. An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness. Whitesh, MO: Kessinger Publishing Co. Gnther, Gotthard. 1963. Das Bewusstsein der Maschinen. BadenBaden/Krefeld: Agis-Verlag. Latour, Bruno. 1999. Un nouveau Nietzsche. Le Monde des dbats, November. Lvy, Pierre. 1994. LIntelligence collective. Pour une anthropologie du cyberespace. Paris: La Dcouverte. Nietzsche, F. 1979. Ecce Homo. Trans. R.J. Hollingdale. Harmondsworth: Penguin. 1873[1980]. On the Use and Abuse of History for Life. Trans. with an introduction by Peter Preuss. Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company Inc. 1959. Die frhliche Wissenschaft. Munich: Goldmann. Schwab, R. 1984. The Oriental Renaissance: Europes Rediscovery of India and the East, 16801880. Trans. G. Patterson-Black and V. Reinking. New York: Columbia University Press. Sloterdijk, Peter. 1983. Kritik der zynischen Vernunft. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1986. Der Denker auf der Bhne . Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1988. Critique of Cynical Reason . Trans. Michael Eldred. London: Verso. 1989. Thinker on Stage: Nietzsches Materialism. Trans. Jamie Owen Daniel. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press. 1996. Selbstversuch: Selbstversuch. Ein Gesprch mit Carlos Oliveira. Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag. 1998a. Sphren I. Blasen. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1998b. Sphren II. Globen. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1998c. Das Phnomen Adam. Geo, vol. 9: 436. 1999a. Regeln fr den Menschenpark. Ein Antwortschreiben zu Heideggers Brief ber den Humanismus. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1999b. Du centrisme mou au risque de penser. Le Monde des dbats, November.

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VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3 PP 327356

REPRINTS AVAILABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE PUBLISHERS.

PHOTOCOPYING PERMITTED BY LICENSE ONLY

BERG 2007 PRINTED IN THE UK

PETER SLOTERDIJK (1947) STUDIED PHILOSOPHY, GERMANIC STUDIES, AND HISTORY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MUNICH. HE RECEIVED HIS PHD FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF HAMBURG ON AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN THE WEIMAR REPUBLIC IN 1975. IN 1980 HE VISITED BHAGWAN SHREE RAJNEESH IN POONA, INDIA. IN 1983 HIS BESTSELLING CRITIQUE OF CYNICAL REASON APPEARED, A BOOK HE NOW RENOUNCES FOR ITS ROMANTICISM OF RESISTANCE BUT WHICH ALREADY INVOLVES MANY OF THE THEMES THAT APPEAR IN HIS RECENT WORKS, SUCH AS THE SPHREN-TRILOGY (1998, 1999, 2004). OTHER KEY PUBLICATIONS ARE THINKER ON STAGE (1986), EUROTAOISMUS (1989), IM SELBEN BOOT (1994), NICHT GERETTET (2001), AND IM WELTINNENRAUM DES KAPITALS (2005). SINCE 1993 HE HAS BEEN PROFESSOR AT THE ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS IN VIENNA AND SINCE 2001 HE HAS BEEN PRESIDENT OF THE STATE ACADEMY OF DESIGN IN KARLSRUHE. HIS FAME PEAKED DURING THE MEDIA SCANDAL THAT FOLLOWED HIS LECTURE ON HUMANISM AND BIOPOLITICS IN THE AGE OF GENETIC ENGINEERING CALLED REGELN FR DEN MENSCHENPARK (1999). SINCE 2002 HE HAS BEEN THE HOST, TOGETHER WITH GERMAN PHILOSOPHER RDIGER SAFRANSKI, OF THE MONTHLY PHILOSOPHICAL TALK SHOW DAS PHILOSOPHISCHE QUARTETT ON GERMAN TELEVISION. FOR A FULL BIBLIOGRAPHY OF HIS PUBLICATIONS AND OTHER INFORMATION, SEE HTTP://WWW.PETERSLOTERDIJK.NET/.

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY? EN ROUTE TO A CRITIQUE OF EXTREMIST REASON


CULTURAL POLITICS DOI 10.2752/175174307X226889 327

Inaugural Lecture, Emmanuel Levinas Chair, Strasbourg, March 4, 2005


PETER SLOTERDIJK

ABSTRACT Peter Sloterdijk rst presented the following text as his inaugural lecture for the Chaire Emmanuel Levinas, March 4, 2005 at the University of Strasbourg. To a certain extent, it bears homage to that great thinker of the complex Other. However, other than taking a political stance, Sloterdijk prefers the perspective of a curator who is concerned about conserving the past centurys critical impulse, which todays consumerism and the collapse of Left-wing traditions tend to render ghostly. In the rst two parts of his essay, Sloterdijk argues that if in

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contemporary diagnoses the twentieth century appears as a time of confusions, this is because it is an Age of Extremes (Eric Hobsbawm): an age of revolts against complexities by the critical reference of all actual or objective states of affairs to a basic cause or fundamental factor. The subject of this extremist reason is dened by its vassalage, apostolate, and mediality in relation to a commanding and disinhibiting reality. Its forerunners are champions of good crime such as Marquis de Sade and the young Hegelians; its exemplary twentieth-century cases are Lenin and Mao. Alain Badiou is right to note that the memory of their critical projects is rapidly giving way to the uncontested status of todays global neoliberalist ideology. Yet, Sloterdijk argues, this is not necessarily a bad thing, not even for critical thought. In the third and fourth parts of his essay, his explicit aim is to translate Badious thesis that the twentieth century was marked by a passion for the real into the context of his own project of spherology. The twentieth century consists primarily of the activation of the real in a passion for technological and economic antigravitation. The result is the slow but unavoidable emancipation of Western civilization from the dogmatic opportunism of the real as power-of-the-base-from-below toward a free-moving position intermediate between the heavy and antigravitational tendencies. Economically, the ending of scarcity (Entknappung) and, technologically, the exoneration (Entlastung) of the burdens of human life by the intrusion of new motive forces into human propulsive arrangements have led to the death throes (Agonie) of the belief in the base/superstructure division and the radicalism or fundamentalism derived from it. If the twentieth century can still inspire us today, this is because its reprogramming of the pitch of existence (Daseinsstimmung) paves the way for a critique of extremist reason, a post-Marxist theory of enrichment, a new interpretation of dreams, and a general economy of energy resources based on excess and dissipation. KEYWORDS: passion for the real, extremism, excess, gravity, anthropology.

CULTURAL POLITICS

1. ATTEMPTS TO PUT A NAME TO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY


Human civilizations have at times been described as the outcomes of a permanent struggle between memory and forgetting. If we take an image of this kind as our base, we might see the positive contents and characteristics of cultures as the reefs that, thanks to the sedimenting work of repetition, tradition, and archiving, stand out from the sea of forgetfulness. If the currents change within that sea, then great segments of the protruding blocks may be engulfed, and objects of tradition that we regarded until recently as topical and current may sink below the water line.

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In the following thoughts, I start out from the assumption or, more exactly, the observation, that in present-day culture, so far as the Western hemisphere is concerned, something like a reversal of the currents has in fact occurred and, as a result, relations of memory with the recent past have changed within a matter of a very few years. I am alluding here, on the one hand, to the synergies between victorious consumerism and the image-worlds of the high life, together with the superstructures of neoliberal doctrine built upon these, the consequence of which is to put paid to the greater part of our dark, pathos-laden memories; on the other hand, a collapse of Left-wing traditions may with good reason be diagnosed, giving grounds for fearing that these could subside forever into the capitalist Lethe before we have an opportunity to gauge the extent of the reef systems that are sinking and have, in large part, already disappeared. When I speak of fear here, I should like the term to be understood in the rst instance merely as the symptom of a concern for conservation, not as an adherence to any particular political standpoint. You may judge how justied these thoughts may be from a remark by Alain Badiou, one of the last keepers of the treasure of lost radicalism at the beginning of the twenty-rst century. In the introduction to his remarkable book Le Sicle, which bears the publication date 2005 and plainly does not speak of the century to come but of the one just past, that author felt obliged to cite a sentence by Natacha Michel that runs: Le XXe sicle a eu lieu.1 This would be stupid or trivial were it not the antithesis of another unspoken proposition that can easily be divined: that the twentieth century ultimately never took place. With all its wars, struggles, and atrocities, it has become a mere phantom that can no longer be reconstituted from the feelings of present generations and whose only apparent future is as an arsenal of myths and a chaotic repository of scenes of violence. If any of its great themes were to continue to be of signicance to later ages, that would only be because it could serve for a long time yet as a treasure trove of materials for entertainment lms in tragic settings. It is, to some extent, behind the backs of the present generations that the twentieth century has turned ghostly, without our being able to point to any single event by which the earnest and the passion of past time were extinguished in us not the Chernobyl disaster, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the controlled descent of the Mir space station, the sequencing of the human genome, the introduction of the euro, the attack on the World Trade Center, or any other occurrence in recent history. The unfathomably banal proposition, the twentieth century took place can best be appreciated by relating it to Hegels dictum that the life of the mind is not the life that shrinks from death and keeps itself untouched by devastation, but rather the life that endures it and maintains itself in it (Hegel 1977: 19). Raised to this level, the proposition gives rise immediately to an excessive logical and human

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demand: it demands of thinkers that they stand before the petrifying gaze of the Medusa and meditate upon it as an icon of present being a demand that corresponds to the spirit of the century, in which the basic affect of philosophy changes from astonishment to horror. Admittedly, ancient astonishment was never wholly free from dark affects, and it must already have been something of a strain for the ancients to hold to the ontological dogma that all that is, is good; only in tragic excesses could an utterance such as Philoctetuss I found the Gods evil impinge upon the general commandment to be positive. But only in the most recent modernity more precisely, in the philosophical witches kitchen of the interwar years, and completely only after 1945 could the thesis be explicitly expressed that Being itself was in no sense the Good and, indeed, that the Good must be wrested from Being, insofar as something asserted itself which, from the outset, would be conceived as other-than-Being, to refer to Emmanuel Levinass post-ontological or meta-ontological gure of thought [Denkgur], the claims of which extend further than we can elucidate here, and the logical implications of which possibly reach beyond the discursive means of contemporary philosophy. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, it required Hegels sublime cool-headedness to conceive a spirit that possessed the virtue, in its learning processes, to look the sun and death impassibly in the face. The thinking of the rst years of the twenty-rst century has lost the strength for such lofty indifference [Indifferenz]. We nd ourselves compelled to go back to La Rochefoucauld and assert with him that: Le soleil ni la mort ni le XXe siecle ne se peuvent regarder xment. It is against the background of these remarks that the question in the title of this lecture is to be elucidated. When we say, above, What happened in the twentieth century? we do not expect an answer in the form of a historical report. We know from the outset that no enumeration of transformations for good or ill can provide sufcient information as to what gave the twentieth century its dramatic and evolutionary substance. The difculties of doing justice to this period do not lie only in the fact that the century presents itself retrospectively as a Medusan, extremist one particularly in the unleashings of violence of its rst half. The crucial complications that stand in the way of a reconstruction of the twentieth century are linked to the fact that this (questionably) so-called age of extremes was, in truth, even more an age of complexities. Seen from the standpoint of the present, that denition is apparently self-evident and would remain the emptiest of all possible commentaries on this object if it were not given a specically historic content by the fact that the dominant discourses and actions of the period had themselves fought a raging battle against the emergence of complexity. The formula, the reduction of complexity, by which, since Luhmann, one aspect of all system functioning has been characterized, has a quite particular meaning for the twentieth century. It is time now

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nally to realize that all the Medusan extremisms of that time had the character of fundamentalisms of simplication to which the fundamentalism of activism and of the myth of renewal through revolution also belong that bitter, proud attitude of the radical break with the preexistent world, which has, admittedly, generally lost its appeal among Europeans, and yet still has local effects in our present age, particularly in the maquis of the most recent Left radicalism. Wherever, in the course of the twentieth century, we came upon manifestations of the extreme, there on each occasion the insurrection against complexity was in play that is to say the insurrection against the formal law of the contemporarily conceived real and this always in the name of the real itself, extremely reductionist ideas of which had been formed in every camp. Because a quasi-formal gigantomachia had lodged itself in the heart of the twentieth century, as a duel between the logics of complexity and of polemical simplication, it will come as no surprise that this age now appears in retrospect as a century of confusions, a time bereft of any general overview and an era of the exaggeration of chance standpoints in which the main form of exaggeration consisted in the reference of all things to an allegedly all-powerful cause or basic factor (an observation which the publicist Carl Christian Bry had already articulated most lucidly in his forgotten masterwork, Verkappte Religionen: Kritik des kollektiven Wahns 2 [Disguised Religions: Critique of Collective Madness], without ever deecting any of the adherents of the reductionist-extremist religions from their faiths). That alleged Age of Extremes which, in reality above all on account of its extremisms was an age of confusions, has never fallen silent about itself. As an age of total speech [Gerede], it has already said everything that is to be said about itself everything and its opposite and this observation too was made long ago, as for example can be deduced from Karl Jasperss 1931 book, The Spiritual Situation of the Age, where similar statements are to be found throughout. What the author argues there on the phenomenon of the frontless war resurfaced half a century later among disappointed Leftists, or Leftists suffering from a belated complexity that went by the name of New Opacity, except that now the source was no longer named or known. It would for this reason be a difcult, if not indeed hopeless, task and would furthermore condemn us to a methodologically false approach, were we to appeal predominantly to what was said and written in the period itself to learn what kind of century we are dealing with. In most cases, we would merely be confronted again with the hyperboles which saw the activists and prophets through in their hand-to-hand combat with events. This applies even to that darkest of all hyperboles, formulated from the standpoint of the exemplary victims of the centurys madness, the murdered Jews of Europe: the denition of the twentieth century as the age of that great collapse of civilization symbolized in such

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names as Auschwitz and Treblinka. Even were one empirically to bring to light the whole truth about the Shoah and entirely penetrate the sources of the annihilation conceptually, one would still presumably have understood only a small segment of the overall drama of the twentieth century. We have really gained little with Eric Hobsbawms formula, The Age of Extremes, even if we add that this short twentieth century runs from 1917 to 1990, which would make it coextensive with the history of the Soviet experiment. Its core process, argues Hobsbawm, consisted wholly and solely in the titanic battle between liberalism and egalitarianism, in which the latter presented itself as a two-headed fascist and communist monster. Hobsbawms theses seem to echo another great interpretation of the twentieth century (proposed by Ernst Nolte and modied by Dan Diner), according to which it was shaped by its central conict, the global civil war. And, indeed, Hobsbawm himself gives the lie to the title of his own all-too-successful book when he explains in its decisive chapter why it was not so much the pure drama of the battle of ideologies that decided the fate of the age, but the silent overturning of all traditions, triggered by the break with agrarian culture and the triumphal march of urbanization. This point does, however, cast light on the present situation in which, in a highly industrialized country like Germany, only 2 percent of the population still live from agriculture, while even in an imaginarily agro-centric nation like France, the corresponding gures no longer exceed an order of magnitude of 56 percent. If we look back over the other all-embracing interpretations that have been proposed for the twentieth century, either during the period or retrospectively, the awkward situation remains that, in each case, individual events, themes, or features have been elevated into a picture of the age or a dominant symptom. None of our contemporaries in this year 2005 can comfortably put herself back into the period around 1950, when the expression the atomic age was uttered with a powerful historical-philosophical quavering of the voice, in the conviction which then prevailed that we were, at last, close to grasping the essence of the period. At that time the atom and its splitting were spoken of with the same troubled piety, with the same ontological lascivity even, with which the genome and genetic engineering began to be spoken of around the year 2000. Arnold Gehlens proposal, also advanced around the middle of the century, that the present age be understood as the era of crystallization is remembered today by just a few experts, although what was at issue was an ingenious conceptualization that sought to point to a transformation in the aggregate state of social facts toward postrevolutionarily, pacied nal forms. Even a bold title like the sexual revolution has lost much of its color today (or, more exactly, it has fallen prey to the culture of memory, as one could see in the most recent media campaigns on the ftieth anniversary of the Kinsey Report) and a similar fate can be predicted for the

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currently topical slogan, the Grey Revolution. So far as the era of decolonization is concerned, it is remembered only by a few Third World experts. For the historians among the political scientists, the twentieth century may signify the era of translatio imperii from the British to the Americans (the British withdrawal from their commitments in the Balkans and the Levant in February 1947 will be cited as a key date in this connection). Europeans, by contrast, are inclined to tie their twentieth century to the sequence that runs from August 1914 to May 1, 2004, that is to say to the complete cycle of the rending and restoration of European integrity. This view may be said to have a certain dramaturgical plausibility in its favor; one consequence, though, was that Europeans looked back, all things considered, over a lost century, without being able to be entirely certain that, after this passage through self-destruction, they had found their way to a more adequate conception of themselves and their role in the world. To make one further comment, in conclusion, on what is called globalization, which had, at the end of the twentieth century, monopolized all discourse on the contemporary age, let us simply say here that the expression, insofar as it is used in a meaningful way, is synonymous with the condensation of the world in a great system of articiality that is distancing itself increasingly quickly from the problems of the twentieth century, which already seem to us like entirely phantom concerns. We shall have an opportunity here to test the supposition that the current forgetting of the twentieth century has in fact fullled the innermost intentions of that century itself.

2. THE APOCALYPSE OF THE REAL: ON THE LOGIC OF EXTREMISM


The foregoing thoughts prompt the conclusion that the core process of the twentieth century is to be come at neither with the means of event-based history, nor with those of the history of discourse or ideas. The essence of the period does not reveal itself unadorned in a single event or trend; nor can it be condensed in an absolutely privileged text (or selection of great texts), however eminent the philosophical and poetic articulations the century produced. Retrospectively, one has, rather, the sense that in almost all the historical self-expressions of the time a certain bias is expressed. One senses everywhere the hypnotizing of the actors by the programmes, the dazzling of the contemporary witnesses by the dramas. We must grant, then, that Alain Badiou is right when he argues, in the above-mentioned Le Sicle, that the passion of the twentieth century is not to be found in ideologies, messianisms, or phantasms: the predominant motif of the twentieth century was rather, in his view, that terrible passion du rel that expressed itself in the action of the protagonists as the will to activate the true directly in the here and now. I am convinced that this view of the complex of the twentieth century in fact affords fruitful access to it. Not only is this to defend

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the dignity of philosophy, which persists in the belief that in the tumult of battles there is still also a struggle over the truth of concepts, but it is also to afrm the idea that the real is only ever given to us through the lter of changeable formulations and that the mode of our purchase on reality fuses into a single amalgam with that reality. What we have here is, ultimately, a contemporary reprise of the Platonic doctrine that the ceaseless titanic struggle over Being is fought out within thought itself and nowhere else and that only in thought can we see what the reality of reality is founded upon. This thesis is reected in Nietzsches dictum on Greek tragedy that it is the charm of these battles that whoever sees them must himself also ght. In the propositions of the classics is expressed, as in Badious synthesis, the abyssal insight, that between understanding and ghting there is a convergence that is not easily avoidable and may even be inevitable. According to Plato, to think is necessarily to take sides in the logical civil war in which truth goes into battle against opinion. According to Nietzsche, to think even means to comprehend that the thinker herself is the eld of battle on which the parties to the primal conict between energies and forms clash. In Badious efforts to rescue radicalism, too, the ideal of apathic theory is rejected using contemporary means, by showing how, behind the currently prevalent false appearances of liberal pacism, a thoroughly polemical praxis is at work. In what follows I should like to resituate the thesis that the twentieth century was marked by the passion du rel in a context marked by my own investigations into the emergence of lightweight elements, atmospheric facts, and the immune system investigations that have found concrete expression mainly in the Sphren [Spheres] trilogy and in the recently published Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals. Zu einer philosophischen Theorie der Globalisierung (2005). The central idea of this spherological project is articulated in the statement that modernity can be understood only as the age of a struggle over the redenition of the meaning of reality. In contrast, however, to the polemical ontologies that dominated the discourse of the twentieth century, I attempt to show that the main event of this time consisted in Western civilizations escape from the dogmatism of gravity. The proposition that the passion du rel was the main concern of the twentieth century may also be regarded as entirely appropriate. But only the supplementary conclusion that the activation of the real now also manifests itself in a passion for antigravitation enables us to understand, on its own terms, the meaning and course of the battles over the real. The drama of the century reveals itself adequately only if we interpret the most visible battles, both physical and discursive, as forms of expression of something generally dying out. I am speaking of the death throes of the belief in gravity, which, since the nineteenth century, has manifested itself in ever-renewed battles, reactions, and fundamentalisms.

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The spherological approach is based on a hermeneutics of antigravitational or unburdened, exonerated3 existence that has both a destructive and a constructive dimension to it. While, from the constructive perspective, the discovery of atmospheric facts and of the hidden realities of the immune system is discussed, the general theory of antigravitation and exoneration focuses, in its destructive thrust, on the ideological productions which, since the days of the French Revolution, have riveted human beings to the ontological hardships of modernity: the hardships of lack, want, scarcity of resources, violence, and crime. At the heart of all these theories, which for the most part present themselves as anthropologies, economics, and theories of barren nature, statements on reality (alias nature or history) are advanced, which, in the process, limit the eld of human freedom to the hesitant gesture of subordination to the law of the real. Wherever the new realisms nd their voice, human beings are declared the vassals and vehicles of overpowering forces of reality, whether these are styled in naturalistic, voluntaristic, economistic, vitalistic, drive-theoretical, or genetic idioms. It is precisely this vassalage and mediality in relation to a commanding reality that it falls to us to elucidate further in the philosophical exercises of the year that lie before us. This is precisely what I wanted to capture when I gave this lecture the thematic subtitle Critique of Extremist Reason. I mean to devote this cycle of presentations, talks, and readings to a logical constellation, the investigation of which can, I hope, be seen as a homage to the man after whom this Strasbourg chair is named: Emmanuel Levinas. I assume, moreover, that that logical constellation lends itself particularly to the verication of Hegels saying that philosophy is its times grasped in thought. I have never concealed my view that Hegel can be said to be right on this only in an ideal-typical perspective, but misses the mark entirely from an empirical standpoint, since philosophy, as we have known it for almost 200 years in public and academic life, is, for the most part, simply the most thoroughly organized ight out of time. Only the fact that each period ees from itself in a different way produces an involuntary contribution of philosophy to the characterization of each period. The honor of philosophy as present voice of truth is only ever rescued by the marginal gures who were once described, not without reason, as the dark authors of the bourgeoisie. So far as the emergence of the aforementioned passion du rel is concerned, I think I can show that it cannot be conned to the twentieth century. This passion undoubtedly reaches its height in that period of battling realisms, but the dispositions that made such battles possible and inevitable go back quite clearly to the era of the French Revolution. This not only created the archetype of modern, offensive fundamentalism in the form of Jacobinism and not only brought into the world the schema of unnished revolution, which has since retained its force as the matrix of radicalism; it

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also encouraged the activistic and materialistic ontologies that must be read as the effective textbooks of the modern society of labor and struggle. For this complete caesura in the history of mentalities I have elsewhere suggested the somewhat dramatic term apocalypse of the real,4 in order to point up the fact that the transition to modernity involved more than merely a generational change within the metaphysical tradition of old Europe. No one has summed up what changed at that point in the economy of European thought more lucidly than Nietzsche, who managed to compress the history of ideas if not indeed the history of being of the nineteenth century into telegraphic format with his How the Real World at last Became a Myth. That fateful text sums up the logical central event of this period by registering the way in which the notion of a beyond had imploded. (Those interested in an extended version of this communiqu can refer to Karl Lwiths From Hegel to Nietzsche: Revolution in Nineteenth Century Thought for a masterly and comprehensive account.) The signicant element of this event lies in the fact that during the nineteenth century the traditional relations between the esoteric and the exoteric are reversed. So long as the idealist metaphysic of old Europe, shaped by theology, held sway, the center of gravity of all esoterism lay in the discovery, to be kept secret at all costs, of the fact that neither God nor gods existed and that, as a consequence, all representations relating to a higher, otherworldly realm [Jenseits] were pure invention, mere castles in the air erected by fear, weakness, and human yearning. Until the nineteenth century, atheism, that highly dangerous wisdom, had to remain hidden as true occultism, whereas for one and a half millennia metaphysical theology was able to play the role of public opinion. But then the page was turned: what had been secret teaching became the exoteric, became public opinion, while, in a countermove, an alternative esoterics formed that presented itself as an empirical theology or ethnology of the otherworldly, to contradict the neo-realist, pragmatic spirit of the age. We must stress that the concept of the Unconscious could only begin its career in this neo-esoteric context; that concept, which became current around 1800, signals the fact that the otherworldly is near at hand and that the hidden side of nature begins right on the doorstep of consciousness. The neo-realist break in nineteenth-century thought nds expression in a ood of revelation literatures devoted to the task of obtaining for the previously repressed or dissimulated dimensions of reality their due place in the parliaments of knowledge. This literature presents itself as scientic in tenor; yet, where its performative form is concerned, it is also prophetic, insofar as it reveals by more than mere description the realia to which it brings a new thematic treatment: the grounding of the world in the will, human labor, class struggles, the movements of capital, natural selection, and sexual libido. The advent of the realm of the real is heralded unceasingly,

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and the public is called upon to prepare itself for its coming. It was these speech acts of modern realism that were foremost in Eugen Rosenstock-Huessys mind when he characterized the masterthinkers of the nineteenth century Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, and Freud as dysangelists. We may doubt whether this expression designates the content of the neo-realist messages precisely, since its spokespersons certainly do not see themselves merely as bearers of bad news. But what Rosenstock-Huessy discerns correctly is the prophetic and apostolic habitus of the new discourses: without exception, they connect the epistemological apocalypse of the real with a moral adventism that describes the realm of the real as closeat-hand and already present in the depths. (To allude at this stage to the Medusan dynamic of the neo-realist practice of disclosure [Enthllung], which becomes manifest only later, we shall permit ourselves the remark that where prophets and apostles of the real begin to speak, the martyrs of the real cannot be far behind and the persecution of the enemies of the real will not be long in coming either.) It is part of the dynamic of the neo-realist discourses described here that they are essentially polemical and not merely in the commonplace sense that the better is always the enemy of the good. The new realisms see themselves, each and every one, as gures in an evolutionary or revolutionary tableau that allots them an inevitably exterminist function. To some degree, nineteenth-century evolutionism offers historicized variants of an ontology of an ancient oriental type based on forces in struggle, an ontology that was never entirely extinguished even under the dominance of monotheism and had survived in cryptic, dualistic undercurrents of Western metaphysics. 5 The nineteenth-century neo-realistic ontologies of struggle differ from classical dualism mainly in conceiving the antagonistic dimension not as an eternal opponent standing over against them symmetrically, but as historically antecedent. This leads to an ontologically asymmetrical conception of the opposing object as obstacle, whether this is dened as an embodiment of circumstances, a complex of ideas, or a social group. No one grasped this more clearly than the young Marx who, in an important note on the essence of the new active critique, observed that this sought not to refute its object, but to annihilate it. The exterminism inseparable from the modus operandi of the polemical radicalisms of the twentieth century has its source in the evolutionarily inclined conict ontologies, according to which the truth of the real must itself be activated against the still existent, but already transcended and merely provisional, apparent reality. In order for the reign of the real to come about, an end must be put to the dominance of the unreal, which has so far been able to retain power thanks to an illusory concealment and distortion of reality. These remarks relate particularly to the situation of young-Hegelian thought, in which the irruption of the real manifested itself on the

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widest front. With it, the triumphal march of the realisms became a public, political fact, despite all neo-idealist restorations. Out of this came the moment of critical theory, the productive period of which runs from 1831 to 1969 (if we take the deaths of Hegel and Adorno as limiting dates). If we wished to examine the earlier origins of this current of thought, it would be sufcient initially to go back to Lenins well-known reference to the Three Sources and Three Component Parts of the Marxist worldview, where specic reference is made (alongside English sensualism and German idealism) to eighteenth-century French materialism. What Lenin did not mention, or was not aware of, is that the master-thinker of that tendency was the Marquis de Sade, in whose writings the Advent of the Real is presented as a future kingdom of crime. De Sade is the occult genius of modern radicalism because he was the rst to demonstrate how the activists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries would imagine their marriage with the active principle of reality. For Sade, as for Spinoza, nature assumes the function of omniactive substance. If it is the task of modern thought to develop substance as subject, and if, consequently, nature must become a person [Mensch] to realize itself fully and achieve its most extreme possibilities, then human beings must, conversely, also wish to become nature or, more exactly, must put themselves, as agents of nature, in a medial relationship to this latter. The nature of the moderns creates its own apostolates. This turn toward a medial or apostolic naturalism would perhaps give no further cause for concern had Sade not dened the essence of nature as that of the absolute criminal. (The German Romantics in fact developed a quite different variant of medial naturalism, according to which nature is the healer that communicates itself through the corresponding media.) However, because nature as such embodies for him a principle of criminal indifference and pure arbitrariness in the search for pleasure, a principle that can be activated as soon as the restraining effect of religion is eliminated, man can successfully naturalize himself or become a medium for the absolute criminal only when he transforms himself into a sovereign criminal more than this, when he becomes an apostle of crime, in order to proclaim with every act of his life the gospel of primal criminality. It is not enough to commit crimes; one must also actively teach crime and, indeed, as Dolmanc, the hero of La Philosophie dans le boudoir, explains, do so rst within the context of secret societies, but then, also, in the context of a republican constitution. This propheticism of crime is articulated in the rst naturalistic manifesto of modernity, Franais, encore un effort si vous voulez tre rpublicains [Frenchmen, One More Effort If You Want To Become Republicans]. In this extraordinary pamphlet, which must be read alongside the great texts of the French Revolution as the Declaration of Human Rights of excessive liberalism, not only is the emancipation of the criminal initiative proclaimed, but the essence of reaction in its specically modern sense is dened for the rst time:

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reaction and restoration are now seen at work wherever the powers of the religious ancien rgime put up obstacles, old and new, to the free development of the principle of nature that has been released within individuals. This means quite simply that the natural subject, who is to be emancipated realistically, can come into his own that is to say be liberated to accede to his pleasure principle only if he turns against his own prehistory and his moral inhibitedness. The essence of subjectivity is interpreted here as something that can be activated only by a specic disinhibition, i.e. by the expulsion of the inner ancien rgime and its inhibiting agencies. We might argue that Sade, two generations before Bakunin, was the true discoverer of the superego, insofar as he succeeded in ventilating the true identity of the prohibition, namely as repressive priestly rule over true nature; at the same time, he might be said to be the patriarch of radicalism, since he formulated the categorical imperative of every revolt: the abolition of the ancien rgime in the psychopolitical sense. Since then, every activist has been able to profess this maxim: you may do what you will insofar as what you will fulls an instinct [Trieb] of the great criminal that is nature. Realism now no longer means the humble correspondence of the intellect to an order of things outside us; it implies the activation of the real in the sense of a progressive intensication of causes for the production of new effects. Uncommitted crimes await their perpetrators, in the same way that as yet unaccomplished revolutions await their activists. What the twentieth century understood as grosse Politik (the expression goes back to Nietzsche) for that reason always assumed the form of the great good crime for Lenin and Stalin, as much as for Hitler and Mao. The realist is the agent, the medium, and the apostle of a force that, only after having lost its inhibition, achieves what is termed its free expression. Is it still necessary to say that with Sade, also, from the aesthetic standpoint, there begins that modern expressivism in which the real will itself be dened as the constant passing-over of forces into their expression? The schema of force and expression can, however, be transposed without difculty on to what is called history, which summons up its media as much as does active nature. According to the activists belief, however, history is not so much a criminal as a surgeon amputating the sick tissue of the past. The decisive point in this rapid philosophical portrait of the divine marquis is that from him alone can we understand the structure of modern radicalism. To be radical, as neo-realist authors since Marx assert, means to grasp things at their roots. But the root and the Sadean paradigm shows this is sought in a dynamic fundamental domain of the essent, which is constructed from the bottom up. Because the roots are to be conceived as basic forces, becoming radical means uniting with the forces situated at the base of situations to drive them toward new, freer, more uninhibited forms of expression, whether these manifest themselves as crimes, revolts,

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revolutions, works of art, or acts of free or excessive love. The vegetal metaphor of roots connects, moreover, with no complications worthy of mention, with the architectonic metaphor of foundation or base. Just as true radicalism sets in train new expressive activity from the roots up, so true fundamentalism seeks to overturn or restore the base in order to change things in the superstructure. Radicalism and fundamentalism are synonymous insofar as they both seek alliance with the lower dimensions it being of no consequence whether these are seen as forces or values. Both are based on the assumption that what is below has a greater degree of reality than what is above. Inasmuch as they are indebted to the metaphysics of gravitation, both are derivatives of one and the same ontology, according to which substantial, heavy, weighty things press downward, so as to form the oor on which all the rest must be supported. In what follows I shall attempt to show how and why this ontological fundamentalism inherent in all modern realisms and their exacerbated radical forms is based on an erroneous conception of the real, a conception that is admittedly understandable, but nonetheless to be rejected. If, in his time, Marx argued that all criticism begins with the critique of religion, that argument implied that it is sufcient to identify religion as a superstructural phenomenon to be able to situate it as lying on a base of relations of production. The critical operation implies the destruction of the object by referring it back to the deeper ground and dissolving it in the real. Only in rare moments does Marx deviate from this reductive practice and suggest the possibility of a rescuing critique, when he describes religion as the heart of a heartless world. Such thinking does not in fact proceed critically but dogmatically, for what purports to be criticism is merely the assertion of propositions from an inadequate ontology of the basal. In reality, all criticism has necessarily to begin with a critique of gravitation but this requires that thought renounce the dogmatic opportunism of the real as power-of-the-base-from-below and place itself in a free-moving position intermediate between the heavy and antigravitational tendencies. There are also good reasons to argue that the question of antigravity is by no means on a weak footing in modernity if an image with such clear reference to the ground may be permitted here. We shall see from the following reections that in the course of the most recent social evolution, upward-striving forces have taken on considerable scope and thrust extending far beyond the Ascensions of religious illusion. I think I shall be able to demonstrate this by investigating the antigravitational dynamic of the real itself as the technical transformation of the world unfolds. To this end, I take up Nietzsches formula on the transvaluation of all values, to transpose it away from the conict over value on to an event that I consider to be the real innovation of the twentieth century: the construction of the Western system of the easing of living conditions [Lebensentlastung] on the basis of the Steuerstaat6 and

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the civilization of mass comfort based on fossil fuels. It is possible to have an untrammeled view of these phenomena only if we stand back far enough from the rachitic dogmas of Left radicalism. We must prepare ourselves for an inversion of radicalism for a turn toward the airy, the rootless, and the atmospheric. Whoever wishes to get down to the deepest foundations today must ascend into the air. So far as the light, quasi-immaterial objects are concerned, we shall have to show that, despite their counterpoising to any ground, they are more elementary than the ctions of gravity by which the twentieth centurys passions du rel were bewitched. Since these reections require support from a general theory of antigravitation, I shall in what follows present the outlines of an interpretation of technology as agency of exoneration [Entlastung]. I shall, subsequently, attempt to supplement the anthropological theory of exoneration with a postMarxist theory of enrichment.

3. THE TRANSVALUATION OF ALL VALUES: THE PRINCIPLE OF EXCESS


If one wanted to learn more of the general premisses of exoneration in the age of its technical intensication, the best place to look would be among the early French socialists, namely Saint-Simon and his school, in whose journalism not for nothing was their newspaper named Le Globe the rst features of an explicit policy of pampering [Verwhnung]7 from a species-theoretical standpoint are to be found. The formula, the era of exoneration, which is still current in theory and practice today, goes back to Saint-Simonianism.8 According to that formula, with the advent of large-scale industry in the eighteenth century, the hour had come to end the exploitation of man by man and to introduce, rather, the methodical exploitation of the earth by human beings. In the given context the epochal content of this turn can be appreciated: with it, the human race, represented by its vanguard, the various strata of industriels, was identied as the beneciary of a comprehensive movement of exoneration or, in the terminology of the day, as the subject of an emancipation, whose goal was set out in the age-old, evangelical expression of the resurrection of the esh within ones time on earth. Such a thing could be conceived on only one condition: that the typical distribution of the burden in agro-imperial class societies, the exoneration and liberation of the ruling few by the exploitation of the serving many, had to be revisable on the basis of an exoneration of all classes by a new general servant, the earth, considered as a resource brought under control by large-scale technology. What the key Saint-Simonian term exploitation means from a process-logic perspective could not be explicitly articulated until the philosophical anthropology of the twentieth century particularly as a result of Arnold Gehlens efforts developed a sufciently abstract concept of exoneration.9 Since this concept has been available to cultural studies, it has been possible to formulate some general comments

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on the trends within high-technological social complexes that have somewhat more purchase systemically and psychologically than the palpably nave nineteenth-century theses on emancipation and progress. If we link the phenomenon and concept of exoneration back to Saint-Simonian exploitation, it becomes clear that the effect described is not to be achieved by the many without a shifting of exploitation on to a new bottom stratum [Unten]. Against this background, we may advance the thesis that all narratives of the metamorphoses of the conditio humana are narratives of the changing exploitation of energy sources or descriptions of metabolic regimes (Sieferle 2002). This proposition is not only one dimension more general than Marx and Engelss dogma that all history is the history of class struggles; it is also far more in keeping with the empirical evidence. Its generality extends further insofar as it encompasses both natural and human (labor power) energies; it squares better with the facts in that it rejects the bad historicism of the doctrine that all states of human culture are linked together in a single evolutionary sequence by reason of (allegedly creative or dynamic) conicts. Moreover, in spite of its high level of abstraction, it involves no deformation of the data that have come down to us from history. There was such a deformation in the polemical and didactic Communist Manifesto, which passed over in silence the reality of class compromises, in order normatively to generalize the comparatively rare phenomenon of open class struggles, at the risk of ascribing exemplary signicance for the redistributive battles of wage-earners to the slave and peasant uprisings of past history, with their desperate, aconceptual, and often vandalistic tendencies. The narrative of the exploitation of energy sources reaches its current hot spot10 as soon as it approaches the event complex that long-standing and recent social history together term the Industrial Revolution a false designation, as we know today, since what is involved here is, in no sense, a process of overthrow in which above and below change places, but the explicit recognition of product manufacture through mechanical substitution for human movements. The key to the transition from human labor to machine labor (and to new humanmachine cooperation) lies in the coupling of power systems with execution systems. In the age of physical labor, such couplings remained latent, insofar as the worker himself, as biological energy-converter, formed a unity of power and execution systems. However, after a seriously signicant innovative leap in mechanical power systems had taken place, they could pass to the stage of explicit elaboration. This is the beginning of the epic of engines: with their construction, a new generation of heroic agents bestrides the stage of civilization, and as a result of their emergence, the rules of the energy game for traditional cultures change radically. Since engines have been among us, even physical and philosophical concepts like power,

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energy, expression, action, and freedom have assumed radically new meanings. Although we are normally concerned with domesticated forces here, the mythology of the bourgeoisie has never totally lost sight of their unfettered, potentially catastrophic side, alluding to this by drawing parallels with the pre-Olympian race of violent titanic deities. Hence the deep fascination exerted by exploding machines and, indeed, explosions in general. Since the neo-Titans made their appearance in our modern lifeworlds, the nations have transformed themselves into hostcountries for power machines. An engine is, to a certain extent, a headless energy-subject brought into existence out of interest in the use of its power. It has, however, nothing of the actor about it, being unencumbered with thoughts or explanations and possessing only the qualities associated with propulsion. As decapitated subject, the engine does not move from theory to praxis, but from standstill to operation. What in human subjects who move into action has to be performed by disinhibition, is performed in engines by the starter mechanism. Engines are perfect slaves, untroubled by any thought of human rights, even when they are made to operate night and day. They do not listen to abolitionist preachers who dream dreams of a day not far off when engines and their owners will enjoy equal rights and the children of human beings and machines will play together. In order to integrate engines systematically as cultural agents, fuels of a quite different nature are needed from the food that kept alive the human and animal vectors of muscular labor in the agro-imperial world. Hence, in the epic of the engines, the most dramatic sections are the cantos on energy. One may go so far as to ask whether the formulation of the abstract, homogeneous concept of energy, of energy sans phrase, by modern physics is not merely the scientic reection of the normalization principle by which the nonspecic coupling between food and organism has been replaced by the precise relationship between fuel and motorized machine. With the evacuation of power from the organism begins a passage in the grand narrative of the processes and stages of the exploitation of energy sources that has all the prerequisites for dictating a still ongoing last chapter. The grand narrative of exoneration among the moderns begins, as is well-known, with the story of the massive invasion of the rst generation of mechanical slaves which, from the eighteenth century onward, became naturalized in the emerging industrial landscapes of North West Europe under the name of steam engines. These new agents were particularly evocative of mythological associations, as the operating principle of these machines, the expansive pressure of locked-in water vapor, was redolent of the Titans of Greek theogony, condemned as they were to remain prisoners beneath the earth. Since water vapor is produced in the rst instance by the burning of coal (not until the nuclear power stations of the twentieth century is an entirely new agent introduced), that fossil fuel could not but

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become the heroic energy vector of the early years of the industrial age. It is one of the numerous dialectics of modernity that the powerful pampering-agent [Verwhnungsagens] coal had generally to be unearthed through the infernal efforts of underground mining. The miners of the coal-hungry nineteenth and twentieth centuries could then be called on as living witnesses to the Marxist thesis that the wage contract is merely the juridical mask of a new slavery. Promethean coal was joined from the end of the nineteenth century by those further fossil-energy vectors, oil and natural gas both of them agents of exoneration and pampering of the highest order. In their extraction, forms of resistance of a quite other type than those involved in mining had to be overcome. It was at times possible to observe an effect that might be described as an accommodation on the part of nature, as though this latter herself wanted to make her contribution to putting an end to the age of scarcity and its reection in ontologies of lack and miserabilisms. The primal scene in this acceding of natural resources to human demand was played out in 1859 in Pennsylvania when, during drilling near Titusville, the rst oil well and with it the rst oil eld in the New World was opened up, in a very shallow deposit scarcely more than 20 meters deep. Since then, the image of the erupting oil well, which the specialists call a gusher, has been among the archetypes not only of the American dream, but also of the modern way of life, as made possible by easily accessible energies. A soaking in oil is the baptism of contemporary man and Hollywood would not be the broadcasting hub of our current mythology had it not shown one of the greatest heroes of the twentieth century, James Dean, a leading character in Giant (1956), bathing in his own oil well. The continually swelling stream of energy from as yet unexhausted fossil reserves not only enabled constant growth to take place that is to say the positive feedback between labor, science, technology, and consumption, over a period lasting more than 250 years, including the repercussions we describe as the psychosemantic conversion of populations on the basis of lasting exoneration- and pamperingeffects it also drew such respectable categories of the ontology of old Europe as Being, Reality, and Freedom, into an abrupt change of meaning. The activist connotation of the always-also-being-able-to-beotherwise meanwhile lodged itself in the concept of the real (a connotation of which, up to then, only artists, as guardians of the sense of the possible, had had an inkling), by contrast with the ndings of the tradition, in which the reference to real-ity was always shot through with the pathos of the being-that-way-and-no-other, and hence required that we bow before the power of nitude, severity, and lack. For example, an expression like bad harvest was, for an entire age, fraught with the admonitory seriousness of the classical doctrine of the real. In its way, it was a reminder that the prince of this world could be none other than death supported by his usual

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escort, the horsemen of the apocalypse. In a world like todays, shaped by the basic experience of a superabundance of energy, the ancient and medieval dogma of resignation has lost its validity there are now new degrees of freedom that reach right to the level of the profoundest sense of existence. No wonder, then, that Catholic theology, which thinks in essentially premodern and miserabilist terms, has entirely lost its connection with the facts of the present, even more than the Calvinist and Lutheran doctrines, which have at least a semimodern approach. Logically, in the course of the last hundred years, the concept of freedom also had to free itself from its traditional meanings. Against its current harmonics, it sounds out dimensions of meaning of a new kind, particularly the denition of freedom as the right to an unrestricted mobility and to a festive wastage of energy (Sloterdijk and Heinrichs 2001: 3212). With this, two former seigneurial rights receive a democratic generalization: wilful freedom of movement and capricious expenditure, at the expense of a subject nature, though naturally only where the climatic conditions of the great greenhouse are already in force. Because modernity overall is a gure standing out against a ground of the primary color of excess, its citizens face the challenge posed by the sense of permanent abolition of boundaries [Entgrenzung]. They can and must be aware that their lives are unfolding in an age in which there is no normality. Thrownness into the world of excess is paid for with the sense that the horizon is slipping. The sensitive zone in the reprogramming of the pitch of existence in modernity concerns, then, the experience of the ending of scarcity, which the inhabitants of the Crystal Palace come up against at an early stage and which they hardly ever appreciate adequately. In the agro-imperial age, human beings reality-feelings were calibrated to the scarcity of goods and resources, because they were based on the experience that work, embodied in arduous agricultural labor, was just sufcient to create precarious islands of human articiality within nature. The ancient theories of the successive ages of the world themselves say just this, in resignedly informing us that even the great empires collapse and the most arrogant towers are leveled by invincible nature within a few generations. Agrarian conservatism expressed the ecological-moral consequences of this in a categorical prohibition of waste. Because the product of labor could not normally be increased, but at best complemented by campaigns of pillage, it was always clear to the people of the ancient world that the value generated constituted a limited, relatively immutable quantity that was to be protected absolutely. In these conditions, the wastrel was inevitably regarded as a madman. For that reason, the narcissistic expenditures of great lords could be interpreted only as acts of hubris their later reinterpretation as culture could not yet be foreseen. These views have ceased to hold since, more than 200 years ago or so, with the breakthrough to a style of culture based on fossil

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energy, a sinister11 liberalism came on the scene and began decisively to reverse all signs. Whereas, for the tradition, waste represented the ultimate sin against the spirit of subsistence, because it put at risk an always scarce reserve of survival resources, in the age of fossil energy a thoroughgoing change has occurred in the meaning of waste and it may now calmly be said that it represents the primary civic duty. Not that reserves of goods and energy increased to innity overnight; but the boundaries of the possible are constantly being pushed back: this gives a fundamentally different coloration to the sense of being. Only Stoics now think in terms of reserves. For the common Epicureans in the great comfortable hothouse, reserves are precisely what can be assumed capable of constant increase. Collective readiness to consume more has succeeded, within a few generations, in rising to the rank of a premiss of the system: mass frivolity is the psychosemantic agent of consumerism. From its blossoming we can see how levity has acquired the fundamental position. The prohibition on waste has been supplanted by the prohibition on frugality this nds expression in the constant appeals to stimulate internal demand. Modern civilization rests not so much on the exit of humanity from the unproductivity for which it is itself responsible (Brckling 2004: 275) as on the constant ow of an undeserved wealth of energy into the space of enterprise and experience. In a genealogy of the theme of waste, we would have to stress how deeply the verdict of the tradition on the luxurious, the idle, and the superuous was rooted in theological evaluations. In monotheistic doctrine, everything superuous could not but be displeasing to God and nature as though they too thought in terms of reserves.12 It is remarkable that even the proto-liberal Adam Smith, ready as he was to sing the praises of the markets boosted by luxury, held to a highly negative concept of waste which is why, throughout his Wealth of Nations, there runs the following refrain: waste is a giving in to the passion for present enjoyment (Smith 1979: 441). It is part of the habitus of unproductive people; that is to say of priests, aristocrats, and soldiers, who, by dint of a long-ingrained arrogance, subscribe to the belief that they are called upon to squander the wealth generated by the productive mass of the population. Even Marx does not get away from the agro-imperial ages concept of waste when, following Smith, he maintains the distinction between the laboring and the wasteful classes, though admittedly with the ne distinction that it is now the owners of capital far more than the feudal parasites who assume the role of malign wastrels. He does, however, concede with Smith that, as a result of the new economic ways, there is a surplus product in the world that far exceeds the small margins of surplus of agrarian times. The author of Capital stylizes his bourgeois as a vulgarized aristocrat, whose cupidity and turpitude know no bounds. In this portrait of the capitalist as rentier, no account is taken of the fact that, with the system of

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capital, the novel phenomenon of the working rich also begins its career the working rich who balance out present enjoyment with the creation of value. Equally neglected is the fact that, in the modern welfare and redistributive state, unproductivity shifts from the top of society to its base bringing into being the virtually unprecedented phenomenon of the parasitic poor. Whereas, in the agro-imperial world, one could normally assume that those without means were exploited producers, the poor of the Crystal Palace bearing the title the unemployed live more or less outside the sphere of value creation (and their upkeep is not so much a matter of justice to be demanded, as of national and human solidarity).13 However, their functionaries are forever asserting that they are exploited individuals, who, on the basis of their privations, should properly be compensated. Though Liberals and Marxists both made serious attempts to interpret the phenomenon of industrial society, the fossil-energy phenomenon was not perceived in either system; still less was it plumbed conceptually. Insofar as the value of labor, exaggerated in doctrinaire fashion, was the lead factor in all explanations of wealth, the dominant ideologies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries remained chronically incapable of grasping that coal, needed and used in industry, was not a raw material like any other, but the rst great agent of exoneration or relief. Thanks to this universal nature-worker (which the alchemists had sought in vain for centuries), the principle of afuence made its entrance into the sphere of civilization. Nevertheless, even if, under pressure of the new evidence, one is prepared to conceive the vectors of fossil energy and the three generations of engines that are its offspring steam engines, internal combustion engines, and electrical motors as the primary relief-agents of modernity, even if one will go so far as to welcome them as the genius benignus of a civilization beyond lack and muscular slavery one cannot deny the fact that the inevitable shift of exploitation of the fossil-energy age created a new proletariat through whose suffering the alleviated conditions in the Palace of Prosperity were made possible. The bulk of present exploitation has been shifted on to working animals, which, thanks to the industrialization of agriculture, have now entered upon the era of their mass production and exploitation [Verwertung]. On this topic, gures are more eloquent than sentimental arguments: according to the German Federal Governments Report on Animal Protection for 2003, almost 400 million hens were slaughtered in Germany in 2002, to which may be added 31 million turkeys, and around 14 million ducks; where larger mammals are concerned, 44.3 million pigs, 4.3 million cattle, and 2.1 million sheep and goats were put to their nal intended use. Similar gures may be supposed for most market societies, and to these national statistics we must also add an enormous quantity of imports. Animal proteins constitute the

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largest legal drugs market. The enormity of the gures exceeds any emotional evaluation even analogies to the holocausts perpetrated by the National Socialists, Bolsheviks, and Maoists cannot fully do justice to the infernal routines of the production and exploitation of animal life (we do not here comment on the moral and metaphysical implications of the comparison between large-scale human and animal exterminisms). If we take into account that the mass farming of livestock has as its precondition the explosive increase in production of animal feeds made possible by the agro-chemical industry, we can see that the ooding of the market with meat from animal bioconverters itself goes back to the oods of oil that were released in the twentieth century. Ultimately, we feed on coal and oil, once these have been transformed into edible products by industrialized agriculture (Sieferle 2002: 125). In these conditions, we can expect in the course of the next century to see increasing agitation among the populations of the great hothouse in the form of an internationalized movement for animal rights, already largely in place today, which will stress the indissociable connection between human rights and cruelty to animals.14 This movement could turn out to be the spearhead of a development that ascribes a new meaning to nonurban ways of life. If we had, then, to put a name to the axis around which the transvaluation of all values in the developed civilization of comfort revolves, then only the reference to the principle of afuence could provide the answer. There is no doubt that current afuence, which demands always to be experienced against a horizon of intensication and of abolition of boundaries, will remain the distinguishing feature of future situations, even if the fossil-energy cycle reaches its end in a hundred years or somewhat later. It is already broadly evident today which forms of energy will be made possible by a postfossil era: it will predominantly be a range of solar technologies and renewable fuels. Yet, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the detailed form of these energies is still not known. The only thing certain is that the new system many call it, succinctly, the coming solar economy must take us beyond the constraints and pathologies of the current fossil-energy resource politics (Scheer 2004). With the solar system we are inevitably speaking of a transvaluation of the transvaluation of all values and since the turn to current solar energy will put an end to the intoxication of the consumption of past solar energy, we might speak of a qualied return to the old values for all old values were derivatives of the imperative of budgeting on the basis of energy renewable within an annual cycle. Hence their deep relation to the categories of stability, necessity, and lack. At the dawn of the second transvaluation of values, a global climate of civilization is looming, of which we may say with some likelihood that it displays postliberal features; it will bring to power a hybrid synthesis of technical avant-gardism and eco-conservative moderation. (To speak in the color symbolism of

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4. BEYOND THE EXPENSIVE AND THE GRATIS: FOR A NEW ALLIANCE WITH THE NATURE-WORKER
If we examine, from this standpoint, the question of what happened in the twentieth century, then it is clear that that era must in many

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politics, it will be black/green, though to interpret this merely as a restoration would be a mistake.) More and more, the conditions for the exuberant expressionism of wastefulness that characterizes present mass culture will be removed. Insofar as the demands that the principle of afuence awakened in the industrial age remain in force in the postfossil era, technical research will have to occupy itself predominantly with the sources of an alternative wastefulness. In future experiences of afuence, there will inevitably be a shifting of the center of gravity toward immaterial ows, because growth in the material sphere will be prohibited on eco-systemic grounds. We shall presumably see a dramatic reduction of material ows and with it a revitalization of regional economies. In these conditions, what is as yet premature talk today of the global information or knowledge society might well be tested out. It will then be mainly in the eld of virtually immaterial data-streams that the decisive afuence will be seen. It is to these alone that the label of globalism will genuinely apply. How postfossility will reshape the current concepts of enterprise and freedom of expression can at the moment be predicted only vaguely. It is probable that, from the standpoint of the future soft solar technologies, we shall retrospectively condemn explosionbased Romanticism or, more generally, the psychical, aesthetic, and political derivatives of the sudden release of energy as a world expressive of an energy fascism globalized by mass culture. This latter is a reex of the directionless vitalism that arises out of the impoverished perspective of the fossil-energy-based world system. Against this background, one can understand why the culture industry in the Crystal Palace evinces a profound disorientation beyond the demonstrable convergence between boredom and entertainment. The joyful, mass-cultural nihilism of the consumer scene is precisely as bereft of perspective and future as the high-cultural nihilism of the prosperous private individuals who build up art collections to give themselves personal signicance. High and low are, for the time being, living by the maxim: Aprs nous le solaire. After the ending of the fossil-energy regimes, it might be that what geopoliticians of the present have described as a shift from the Atlantic to the Pacic space in fact takes place. This shift would, above all, bring about the transition from the rhythm of explosion to that of regenerations. The Pacic style would necessarily develop the cultural derivatives of the transition to the techno-solar energy regime. Whether this would simultaneously full the expectations of worldwide peace-processes, planetary equalization of resources, and the defeat of global apartheid, only the future can tell.

PETER SLOTERDIJK

respects be regarded as a time of fullments. Badiou has rightly stressed the extent to which the century broke with the prophetic habitus of the preceding one. It is the century of triumphant impatience, capable of anything except waiting for things to mature in their own slow way. It is the century of immediate accomplishment, in which the martial law of the measures taken substitutes for patience, postponement, and hope. Retrospectively, we must remember that, contrary to what Ernst Bloch said, the twentieth century never knew a Principle of Hope, but only ever a Principle of Immediacy, made up of two collaborative components, the Impatience Principle and the Gratis Principle. To the sociopsychological mysteries of the twentieth century belongs the unleashing of impatience, without which neither the realistic excesses of the rst half, nor the mass-cultural relaxations of the second can be understood. This epochal impatience is, in our view, the product of the combined effects of neo-realist praxis and generally effective lightenings of the material burdens of life [Entlastungen], but also of the intrusion of the new motive forces into human propulsive arrangements. The theme of power is able to become omnipresent in the twentieth century because the technical organs of the exercise of power simultaneously forge their new alliance with the available energies. To do justice to the twentieth century as a period in which the aspirations of yesteryear were taken seriously, we must grasp its resolute presentism and understand the reasons for the transition from a time of expectations to a time of deeds. As we have pointed out, however, this cannot be done if we limit the time-window of the analysis to the period between 1914 and the present. Even the extension of the search for motivations, as above, to the time of the French Revolution is insufcient. The real dynamic of the twentieth century cannot in any sense be explained by the emergence of radicalism alone, in which the new subjects or agents sought to turn themselves into the media of coming nature or future history. We must, rather, go back as far as the era of Renaissance arts and baroque universal magic to see the decisive lines of force that become visible in their triumphant splendor in the twentieth century. This allusion to early modern magic is not an accidental one, for whoever wishes to track the dynamic presentism of contemporary culture with all its features of explosiveness, impatience, immediate gratication, and self-satised dissatisfaction, must focus on the crystallization phase of a new mental structure that runs from the sixteenth century to the twenty-rst. I am speaking here of a reversal, in the course of which the formulation and formatting of human desire [Begehren] shifts from a religious to a secular object. The summum bonum that points the direction for desire in general has, since the sixteenth century (with some preludes in the fteenth and fourteenth), translated itself from the striving for redemption

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to the search for relief of burdens [Erleichterung]. With this shift of emphasis, immanent situations came to assume supremacy. A monstrous interest in so-called natural magic was thereby released, which, on a rst reading, had no other meaning than to give human beings the means to break out of the prison of the old needs (that this did, on a second reading, lead to the discovery of the rst depth psychology and to a symbolic technique of self-birth, is a point we shall mention here only in passing). As a result, the life of modern human beings as such can assume the form of a treasure hunt. The treasure is imagined as the universal means for easing lifes burden, and it need only be found for its benecent effects to be felt at once. To understand the developments of the European dynamic of enrichment, it is necessary to recall once again the paradoxical course taken by exploratory movements [ Suchbewegungen]. We nd here an effect we might describe as the irony of exploration: scarcely had the modern magia naturalis taken shape as the epistemological matrix for the quest for means of relief, than it took on the form of an unbridled endeavor, in which the enormous efforts involved overrode the imagined result of the quest and seemed to nd justication only in regard to phantasmatically anticipated outcomes. This can be seen in the immeasurable investment baroque thought and experimentation made in so-called alchemy, which is today forgotten or regarded with ridicule particularly the art of transmutation into gold. This branch of alchemy, doubtless its most fascinating outgrowth, was based on the grandiose precapitalist phantasm that the quintessence of value or the substance of treasure itself could be directly produced. Were this the case, those who mastered gold production would be able to turn the hunt for treasure into a scientically controlled manufacturing process. In this way, they would free themselves from the vagaries of external fortune and install themselves directly at the source of wealth. Here the predominant fairytale theme of the modern world surfaces with crystal clarity: from this point on, it is always a question of working so as not to have to work again. In the new regime, every effort has only a provisional character; the sense of all exertions lies in the striving for effortless homeostasis. One is patient for the last time, in order nally, after the great discovery, to have to be patient no longer. The profoundest dream of Europe is the worklessness that arises out of material prosperity. I suggest we should see the major event of the twentieth century as lying in the fullment of the alchemical dream. We have seen that it is part of the style of the age that none of these fullments is successfully achieved without simultaneously bringing to light the horrors concealed within the dream. To the irony of exploration is added the irony of realization. It is clear that the confusion of work and questing was from the beginning inherent in the pursuit of wealth. As soon as that pursuit itself had to assume the form

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of organized work, the concept of wealth as such also changed, and from the gure of treasure there emerged little by little that gure of capital, against which the acumen of the economists and of the critics of political economy was, from the late eighteenth century onward, to be tested. The more the economists mastered the subject, the more the sense of the treasure hunt generally fell away, and the concept of treasure came merely to lead a gloomy existence on the fringes of the capitalist (and socialist) imaginary as the private fortune of the capitalist something that aroused both envy and amazement. The last character-mask of treasure was perhaps the ill-fated Count of Monte Cristo, who, as a discoverer of treasure, was already completely a gure of the past, but as avenger was entirely the man of the future. I shall conclude these remarks with the observation that a General Economy, which, even after Bataille and the allusions of the ecologists and deep ecologists, contemporary thought still awaits, will not be able to avoid coming back to the concept of treasure that is so frowned upon today. From the fate of the alchemists we must, of course, now learn the correct lessons. In the future, the treasure function the sudden and, as it were, magical relieving of lifes burden is not to be sought in the gold fetish: in todays conditions this would be equivalent to inviting people to take up forgery or to try their luck in casinos or on the stock exchange. In the light of historical experience we cannot, however, deny that without the intervention of the most immense of all treasures (to which we have referred above), there would be no capitalism, no widespread prosperity, no welfare state, and none of those things which make up the modus vivendi of the current Western comfort system. The treasure that is integrated into capitalism was not found in pirates trunks or alchemists cabinets, but in the strata of the earth. That treasure, though occasionally described as black gold, is not on the money side of the economic process, but on the labor side, to invoke the Marxist dualism of capital and labor. It is, however, in no sense part of the usual concept of the worker, because it is not a person, but a pure vector of energy. The concept of treasure, which we must now take up in post-Marxist terms, requires, then, a new, explicit term that allows us to express both its belonging to the sphere of labor and also its essential difference from the previously so-called proletariat or from any other gure of wage-dependence. The active treasure we are speaking of here, coal and oil (and later, also, other forms of biosynthesis), embodies the Gratis Principle in a typically modern way because, unlike its predecessor, the earth as bearer of slow growth, it is suited to rapid combustion and the production of instantaneous effects. It is the real agent of the Immediacy Principle. It will be clear that the agent we are enquiring after and which can be neither capital nor labor is none other than postconventionally, postmetaphysically understood nature in its dual specialization as fossil vector of energy and laboratory of organic syntheses. The

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name we are looking for can only be nature-worker. The soughtafter General Economy can, as a result, be elaborated only in the form of a tripolar theory that devotes itself to articulating together work, capital, and the nature-worker. We know since Nietzsche, and again since Bataille, that the role of the Prime Squanderer has always been played by the sun. It is, for the foreseeable future, the greatest embodiment of the virtue of giving, which represents the absolute counterprinciple to the acquisitive principle of capitalism. A postcapitalist world-form and a corresponding ethics can start out only from a new interpretation of the sun. Understandably, current capitalist intelligence has nothing to say about an agent like the sun, since even after the ecological caesura it remains thoroughly shaped by that habitus in which the interaction between capital and labor is absolutized and the contribution from the third side, the side of the nature-worker, is passed over in silence. Let us, for the moment, merely state that the golden age of this ignorance is coming to an end. If the twentieth century brought the realization of modernitys dreams on to the agenda, without having interpreted them correctly, we may say of the twenty-rst that it has to begin with a new interpretation of dreams. In that interpretation, the question will be how humanity is to continue the hunt for treasure, without which we should not be able to say what Being-in-the-world means for us. Translated by Chris Turner

NOTES
1. The twentieth century took place. [Trans.] 2. Originally published in 1917. Most recently available in an edition of 1979 published by Franz Ehrenwirth Verlag, Munich [Trans.]. 3. The German term here is entlastet. Following the lead of Dr. Christian Thies of the University of Rostock, I have generally translated the concept of Entlastung, which is taken from the later work of Arnold Gehlen, as exoneration. 4. P . Sloterdijk, Heideggers Politik: Das Ende der Geschichte vertagen. Strasbourg, Heidegger Conference, December 5, 2004, pp. 4ff. 5. On the presence of the gure of Zarathustra in European literature before Nietzsche, see Michael Stausberg (1998). 6. A state deriving its revenues from the taxation of a market economy. 7. The German term here is Verwhnung, which, in this broader context, might also perhaps be translated as featherbedding [Trans.]. 8. The reference here is to exoneration in the sense of relief from material want. It should be noted that this is quite different from that Golden Age of Exoneration of which Saul Bellow wrote,

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9.

10. 11. 12.

13.

a time in which all are allegedly absolved of personal guilt [Trans.]. For a discussion of this concept, see Sloterdijk, Sphren III. Schume, chapter 3, section 2, Die Mngelwesen-Fiktion, pp. 699700. I show there that, on the basis of his institutional interests, Gehlen has developed only the illiberal strand of consequences from the concept. Hot spot in English in the original. The German adjective here is unheimlich. Das Unheimliche is the Freudian Uncanny. Since . . . superuity is displeasing both to God and nature, and everything displeasing to God and nature is evil. Dante, Monarchy, I, 14, in Monarchy and Three Political Letters (London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1954), p. 22 [cum . . . omne superuum Deo et naturae displiceat . . . et omne quod Deo et naturae displicet sit malum]. See Rolf Peter Sieferle, Gesellschaft im bergang, pp. 139 40: The aim of the current demand for social justice is to conscate property from the productive sector, so as to redirect it socially to the unproductive sector. Since the propertyless (and perhaps even the unproductive or unemployed) might tend to be in the social majority, we might be said to have a remarkable change before us: the democratic state is becoming the agency of extra-economic compulsion and is attempting to tax the productive capitalist economy in order to support the unproductive, parasitic poor.

14. The life story of an exemplary agitator on this front is told in Peter Singer (1998).

REFERENCES
Brckling, Ulrich. 2004. Unternehmer. In Ulrich Brckling, Susanne Krasmann, Thomas Lemke (eds), Glossar der Gegenwart, p. 275. Frankfurt, a.M.: Suhrkamp. Hegel, G.W.F. 1977. Phenomenology of Spirit. Trans. A.V. Miller. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lwith, Karl. 1964. From Hegel to Nietzsche: Revolution in Nineteenth Century Thought. New York: Columbia University Press. Scheer, Hermann. 2004. The Solar Economy: Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Global Future. London: Earthscan Publications. Sieferle, Rolf Peter. 2002. Gesellschaft im bergang. In Dirk Baecker (ed.), Archologie der Arbeit, pp. 11754. Berlin: Kadmos. Singer, Peter. 1998. Ethics into Action: Henry Spira and the Animal Rights Movement. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littleeld Publishers.

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Sloterdijk, P . and Heinrichs, Hans-Jrgen. 2001. Die Sonne und der Tod. Dialogische Untersuchungen. Frankfurt, a.M.: Suhrkamp. Smith, Adam. 1979. The Wealth of Nations, Books IIII, Andrew Skinner (ed.). Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. Stausberg, Michael. 1998. Faszination Zarathushtra. Zoroaster und die europische Religionsgeschichte der frhen Neuzeit, 2 vols. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter.

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VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3 PP 357380

REPRINTS AVAILABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE PUBLISHERS.

PHOTOCOPYING PERMITTED BY LICENSE ONLY

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HENK OOSTERLING (1952) IS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY OF DIFFERENCE, INTERCULTURAL PHILOSOPHY, AND AESTHETICS AT THE ERASMUS UNIVERSITEIT ROTTERDAM. HE IS ALSO DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRE FOR PHILOSOPHY AND ART, CHAIRMAN OF THE DUTCH AESTHETICS FEDERATION, AND SECRETARY OF THE DUTCHFLEMISH ASSOCIATION FOR INTERCULTURAL PHILOSOPHY. HE HAS PUBLISHED EXTENSIVELY ON FRENCH PHILOSOPHY. HIS BOOKS INCLUDE: DOOR SCHIJN BEWOGEN. NAAR EEN HYPERKRITIEK VAN DE XENOFOBE REDE (KOK AGORA, 1996), RADICALE MIDDELMATIGHEID (BOOM, 2000), AND INTERKULTURALITT IM DENKEN HEINZ KIMMERLES (VERLAG BAUTZ 2005). SEE: HTTP://WWW.HENKOOSTERLING.NL.

HENK OOSTERLING
ABSTRACT In my contribution, I adopt Sloterdijks analysis of globalization as the megalomaneous or hyperpolitical installing of a total work of art (Gesamtkunstwerk). I rephrase his threefold (energetical, informational, and epistemological) explicitation of mans radical immersion in his own media as radical mediocrity and argue that this has become our rst nature. But then, what is the political potential of Sloterdijks

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merger of aesthetics with politics as based on the Bataillan principle of excess rather than lack and scarcity? Should we not differentiate between miserabilist and afrmative critique? This distinction is all but self-evident, because every new mediological explicitation eventually reproduces scarcity through forgetfulness. It depends on the critical difference between mediocrity and inter-esse, between plain comfortable life and self-reective radical mediocrity. In the nal analysis, the psychological surplus of generosity and the substance of creativity consist precisely of this self-reective inbetween. Therefore, any feasible critical reflection requires a downscaling of Sloterdijks hyperpolitical understanding of being-in in terms of micropolitical art practices. I will concentrate on one possible answer to the critical questions that must be asked: wherein lies the possibility of resistance in Sloterdijks recent analyses of capitalism? KEYWORDS: philosophy, art, media critique, ecology, micropolitics, globalization

Upon taking the stage at the Tate Gallery in December 2005, Peter Sloterdijk began his lecture on the relation between art and politics, dealing with surrealism and terror, with the following statement: I like very much the pronunciation of the word enormous. It gives me a feeling for what I really am, that means, a person working on monstrosity. No more, no less. Philosophy demands that all of us produce a new and convincing interpretation of that strange state of mind we call megalomania. In every generation megalomania has to be reinterpreted by its carriers. Its not a choice, megalomania is choosing you and you have to cope with that as well as you can. The stress has to be put not on the word mania but on the fact that it is a kind of suffering. The real term should be megalopathia, to be patient of big questions. As soon as you can accept this existential condition you will feel a little bit better, but you are not healed of course.1
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There is no cure, only a taste for the enormity of our problems.

0. WORKING ON MONSTROSITY
We can imagine Sloterdijk almost physically performing a judgement of taste by literally examining the palatal, alveolar, and labial qualities of the English word enormous, caressing the elongated, rounded sound represented in writing by or. Wasnt it Gaston Bachelard who in his phenomenology of the spherical made the observation that the value of perfection attributed to the sphere is entirely verbal

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(Bachelard 1994: 235)? In shifting to the content level, Sloterdijk introduces the focus of his judgement of taste: monstrosity. Both enormous and monstrosity are variations on one of the crucial ideas that haunt and inspire his spherological discourse: das Ungeheuer. Although in earlier interviews he preferred the synonym das ganz Groe, at the Tate it was once again monstrosity. Adopting this concept from Martin Heidegger, who borrowed it from Greek tragedy,2 Sloterdijk no longer relates the monstrous to mythical gods or a Christian God. It is a secularized version of Heideggers In-Sein: to inhabit the monstrous (dem Ungeheuren einwohnen) (SI: 643).3 For Sloterdijk, authentic philosophy cannot be but a hermeneutics of the monstrous (NG: 166; ST: 291).4 Conventional thinking means only the organized form of resistance against any reection on the monstrous (ST: 290). In order to get a grip on Sloterdijks enormous diagnosis of our time one has to take at least three giant steps. First, given the fact that the tensions between the local and the global and accompanying technology are articulations of the monstrous, one has to familiarize oneself with his analysis of contemporary globalization. This process consists of three stages. After a metaphysical globalization that begins with the pre-Socratic global mapping of the universe, a terrestrial globalization starts in 1492 with the nautical ecstasies of European powers which led to the discovery of the different continents. The last sentence of Sphren I Where are we when we are in the monstrous? (SI: 644) resonates in the preface of part II: globalization is understood as the geometrization of the unmeasurable, i.e. as geometry in the monstrous (SII: 47): Thinking the sphere means to be realized as a local function of the monstrous (SII: 25). In writing its genealogy, Sloterdijk implicitly rejects the unique character of current digital globalization. It is just another explication (Explikation) of a millennia-long process. Rather than labeling this explication as a progressive development, Sloterdijk qualies it with Gilles Deleuzes notion of pli, or fold, in mind (Deleuze 1993) as explicitation.5 World history is a discursive invention of the second phase. In the third phase man is beyond history (WIK: 247). The monstrous becomes a qualication of a posthistorical world, i.e. a totality that allows neither full understanding nor total comprehension. It is the enigmatic name for a network of immune systems, of cocoons, and capsules: after the biological mother womb and the political nation state, man has erected an ecological Greenhouse with a foam-like texture, consisting of cocoon-like bubbles, glued together. To enhance Sloterdijks imagery: the mother-child cocoon has been blown up to global proportions, exploded, and reconditioned as airy foam. Megalomania suits Sloterdijks state of mind. Mania, however, contains too much madness. Sloterdijk therefore corrects himself by replacing megalomania with megalopathia not as much emphasizing the aspect of suffering as the aspect of patience and endurance: to

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be patient of big questions.6 One specic Heideggerian overtone, prominently present in his earlier works especially Eurotaoism (Sloterdijk [ET] [1989]) but expelled from his last project, resonates: monstrosity demands to be endured (Gelassenheit). It is too vast for man. It is beyond all discourses: It is a work of art, but much more than a work of art; it is grand politics, but much more than grand politics; it is technology, but much more than technology . . . (NG: 367). The next step demands a tailoring of his concept of the enormous to relational proportions by downscaling these to an individual level. In the concluding sentences of Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals (2005) Sloterdijk proposes Aristotles concept megalopsychia. This sensibility an existential condition has to become the second nature of citizens of posthistorical foam city. It sensitizes them to their current mode of existence: generosity and abundance. According to Nietzsche, Sloterdijks other main inspiration, 7 every second nature over time becomes rst. Modern generosity and, for that matter, modern tolerance needs an update. Different concepts are proposed by Sloterdijk to actualize this notion. The most frequently used is creativity. In the very last sentences of the Sphren-plus project, Sloterdijk wonders why megalopsychia would not be adequate, just because [our contemporaries] nowadays say creativity instead of magnanimity. Creative people . . . are those who prevent the whole from falling back into pernicious routine (WIK: 415). Ill come back to these harmful routines. For the time being I restrict myself to registering that Sloterdijk puts his shirt on an aesthetic category: not autonomy but creativity. One more step is needed. After having read 2,988 pages, one starts to wonder what exactly the political relevance of Sloterdijks trilogy-plus is. What does his introduction to a general science of revolution (SV: 64) mean? How are revolution and resistance articulated within an aesthetic strategy? What kind of politics is left when the outcome of spherological diagnosis is the principle of abundance (beruss)? In the land of plenty, grilled chickens y around to be grabbed at will. Mere distribution of scarce resources is no longer needed. I will start with the exploration of Sloterdijks politico-aesthetic strategy in the strict sense: in his writing. After having analyzed its rhetorical aspects I contextualize his claim of abundance in political economy, anthropology, media theory, and ontology. Then I return to aesthetics and politics. I specify in my own terms his mediatheoretical underpinning of anthropology. In order to rephrase his critique of the indifference and mediocrity of the masses (Sloterdijk [VM] [2000]) in mediological terms, I need to make a distinction between the reactive and afrmative conditions of being-in-media. The first condition reproduces lack and is qualified by me as radical mediocrity; the latter is open, reective, and labeled as inter-esse.8 Hyperpolitical megalopsychia becomes micropolitical

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inter-esse. In having rescaled and miniaturized megalopsychia to these mediological proportions, Sloterdijks politico-aesthetic strategy is better understood as the micropolitics of public space, i.e. art as public space.

1. ART AND POLITICS: GETTING BEYOND GRAND NARRATIVES


Sloterdijks spherological project is monstrous indeed! More adequate a qualication cannot be found for his trilogy-plus Sphrenproject. The number of pages is enormous, the use of neologisms excessive, the conceptual avalanche overwhelming, the historically embedded, methodological legitimization overpowering. The explicitly pseudo-Hegelian overtones that give Sloterdijks text coherence and consistency are triggered by his desire to outdo Oswald Spenglers failed morphology of world history (SI: 78). For him, writing a history of the sphere as a form means constructing a genealogy of the sphere insofar as it informed and formatted collective consciousness and culture from the beginnings of Western civilization. Instead of reproducing a historical approach based on negativity (Hegel) and resentment (Spengler), Sloterdijk adopts an afrmative approach (Nietzsche). He turned his back on reactive nihilism and its implied cynicism earlier in Critique of Cynical Reason (1987; rst published in German: 1983). This shift from cynicism to kynicism rehabilitated the hero of antiphilosophy and cosmopolitism Diogenes of Synope, the philosopher in drag, who was presented by Nietzsche as the madman with his lantern wandering around asking the townsmen in the market whether they know the whereabouts of God. He has not been seen lately. Do they already know he is dead? The death of God, rst proclaimed by Hegel (1952: 523, 546), opened a new space in human consciousness: the sublime. Burke problematized this affective tension, Kant transcendentalized it and in a postmodern turn it was rephrased by Jean-Franois Lyotard as the ambiguous rationale of the avant-garde art that methodically shocks the bourgeoisie out of its tastes. Lyotards sublime still resonates in Sloterdijks notion of monstrosity when he merges aesthetics with politics (Oosterling 1999).9 At the end of Sphren III our current immune sphere the Greenhouse or Crystal Palace is described in terms of an artistic superinstallation in which public space has gained a museum-like quality. This mega installation can be described as a total work of art, or Gesamtkunstwerk, if this had not been occupied by aesthetic ideology (SIII: 811). Benjamins analysis of Nazism as the political Gesamtkunstwerk par excellence10 problematized the relation between art and politics indeed. Therefore Sloterdijks delimiting the concept of art in order to identify the system of society with the system of art must surpass all previous interpretations of the concept of the total work of art . . . (SIII: 813). Is globalization perhaps an option? Or McLuhans global village? For Sloterdijk these are not suitable candidates.11

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This sphere of all spheres only exists politico-economically as an inclusive concept of markets (WIK: 231), the coherence of which is guaranteed by joint ventures. Isnt this reason enough for Sloterdijk to draw the same conclusion as Lyotard did, i.e. that the grand narratives have come to an end? On the contrary. Sloterdijk makes an unexpected move: he would rather reproach the grand narratives for not being big enough (WIK: 14). Understanding how Sloterdijk overtrumps the modern grand narratives demands an understanding of his use of aesthetics at different levels of his writing.

2. RHETORIC: FICTION, METAPHOR, HYPERBOLE, ESSAY


So how does Sloterdijk get beyond the grand narratives of modern enlightenment, i.e. of state-building, emancipation, and globalization? If these narratives are no longer viable, how can Sloterdijk still claim the truth for his own grand narrative on spheres? Why, for instance, has he chosen the sphere as an all-encompassing image? Is the form, i.e. the gure of the sphere form and gure are synonyms (ST: 177) not chosen arbitrarily and externally as an analytic tool in his hermeneutics of the monstrous? It is instructive to consult his philosophical sources of inspiration: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, and Deleuze.

a. ction and metaphors


Truth, Nietzsche states in Posthumous Writings, is a mobile army of metaphors, metonymies, anthropomorphisms, in short a sum of human relations that, poetically and rhetorically intensied, transferred, and adorned, after steady use occur to a people as founded, canonical and obligatory: truths are illusions . . . (1980: 880, 881). Objectivity is at best the convergence of as many perspectives as possible. Likewise our collective consciousness is lled or formatted by the spherical. Objectivitys ction, over time, gains a truth value. This canonized ction cannot be unmasked without using the very same ction in the process of unveiling. Sloterdijk investigates this aporetic quality in his writing. Heideggers phenomenological notion of truth (aletheia) i.e. simultaneous disclosure and unconcealment of Being is beyond the conguration of the objective and subjective. We are always already attuned to truth, always already in the mood. For Heidegger, Dasein is not a subject but a project. To Foucault, truth was initially a product of discursive formations, but it was eventually downscaled to a truth game, a collective practice in which knowledge, power, and subjectivity converge. That truth is an expression of a will to power is acknowledged by both Foucault and Deleuze. When Nietzsches view is linked to Deleuze and Guattaris denition of philosophy, Sloterdijks shift to creativity becomes self-evident: Philosophy is the art of forming, inventing, and fabricating concepts and With its concepts, philosophy brings forth events (Deleuze and Guattari 1994: resp. 2,

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199; see also WIK: 14). Reecting on the inconceivable monstrous, in short, demands the creation of new concepts in order to mobilize a projected truth. This creation of truth is neither a subjective projection nor pure description of a given reality. It is a revealing of what has been concealed for a certain period in order to forge different political alliances and congure yet unseen epistemological coherencies. Truth is a projective practice. So Sloterdijks aesthetic intervention rst and foremost takes place at the level of his writing. He strategically applies stylistic gures and uses rhetorical devices against the aforementioned philosophical background. Is the sphere, for instance, a metaphor? Given the Deleuzean inspiration Sloterdijk felt while writing the third volume of Sphren especially12 we can compare his use of the sphere with Deleuze and Guattaris use of the notion of the machine. Machine is not a metaphor (see Deleuze and Guattari 1977: 36). Given the representational quality of the metaphor, this would still presuppose the very metaphysics that is under attack. And again it was Nietzsche, the thinker on the stage, who taught Sloterdijk that For the true poet, metaphor is not a rhetorical trope, but a representative image which really hovers in front of him in the place of an idea (Nietzsche 2000: 19). Sloterdijks conceptual avalanche covers this necessary illusion (ST: 188). In a staged retrospective conversation at the end of part III a conversation on this oxymoron between a historian, a theologian, and a literary critic, all waiting for the philosopher to join in the literary critic counters the others critique by stressing the working of the text: you neglect the information that is stored in the rhetorical construction (SIII: 87). The author, the literary critic goes on, has used a superlativist and supremacist form of classical philosophical reason. But this does not really solve the aporetic tension. It only shows that this is the breeding ground for truth.13

b. critique of hyperbolic reason: hypocritical thinking


Being a hermeneutic thinker, Sloterdijks truth-nding means moving toward an as yet undisclosed truth. What, then, is exactly the specic rhetorical device that is applied in order to overtrump the grand narratives? In the introduction to Sphren I it appears to be the hyperbole. A hyperbolic phenomenology14 resonates in Sloterdijks spherology. Political overtones can be heard: by exaggerating the given divisions of society, [philosophy] makes us aware of the exclusions and offers them up for a retuning once more . . . Through philosophical hyperbole the chance arises to revise denite options and to decide against exclusion (SI: 13). Exaggerating helps us to revalue the apparently given that is the result of the canonization of exclusive, dichotomous thinking. A decisive analysis of the relation between hyperbole and truth is not given in Sphren. For this, we have to turn to Nicht Gerettet, published during the nalization of the trilogy. In this philosophical

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physiognomy of Heidegger, Sloterdijk dissects Adornos and Heideggers de(con)struction of metaphysics.15 The relation between aesthetics and epistemology is rephrased in terms of hyperbole and truth. Citing the Roman rhetorician Quintilian, Sloterdijk points out that a hyperbole becomes a stylistic virtue once the topic has surpassed a natural measure (naturalem modum excessit, in Quintilians words). The topic is the monstrous, an excessive world. It is better for reason to speak hyperbolically than to remain modestly in the background in the search for truth. Quintilians words are paraphrased: the justication of the hyperbole is its appropriateness to excessiveness [Angemessenheit an das Malose] (NG: 256). Sloterdijk wants to break the nihilistic spell of negativity and, as we shall see: lack and scarcity by constructing a literary machine as a hyperbolic system that deconstructs the internalized hyperboles of metaphysics that are taken for granted. When his interlocutor in Die Sonne und der Tod proposes the word excess (bersteigerung), Sloterdijk reacts approvingly: I like the expression, because it reduces transcendence to exaggeration (ST: 31). Metaphysics turns out to be canonized rhetoric. That is why metaphysics can only be criticized inter-hyperbolically. The genitive of in critique of hyperbolic reason has to be understood as both objective and subjective: in the nal instance, in criticizing another hyperbole it exposes itself as such. Surpassing Critical Theory, Sloterdijk undermines his own critique. In a technical sense he has become hypocritical. We are all collaborators. No one has an alibi (NG: 367).

c. essay: exemplary singularity


The reference to Quintilian for understanding hyperbole as an adequate rhetorical device for evoking and projecting truth, bears witness to Sloterdijks proximity to the French philosophy of difference.16 Although he is hardly mentioned in Sphren, it was Lyotard who, in referring to another Roman rst-century rhetorician Longinus prepared an understanding of the sublime for postmodern discourse. Both Quintilian and Longinus shifted the emphasis from the audience where it lay in Aristoteles Poetics to the rhetorician; from reception to production. In criticizing the modern avatar of this production unit the genius Lyotards attention shifts to the work of art in its working of the text. Not only does Lyotard subsequently connect the sublime to the Heideggerian event; he as Foucault had done before him with reference to Montaigne comes to the conclusion that the essay is the most adequate genre for postmodernity (Lyotard 1986).17 For him, it is the genre that best expresses micronarratives. For Sloterdijk, however, the essay is a hypergenre. It hyperbolically establishes a singular truth. The essay is radically democratic: it seeks its own rules. In Kantian terms, it reects on the exemplary position of the singular. In writing on singularity one is condemned to polyvocity (Sloterdijk 1993b: 62). That is why for Lyotard the essay is a micropolitical

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tactic. Given its hyperbolic quality and Sloterdijks characterization of politics after modernity as hyperpolitics, the essay is a hyperpolitical genre. Hyperpolitics intervenes in a world that is understood as logic of functions, relations, liquefactions, . . . as a mode of thinking on groundless complexity (Sloterdijk 1993a: 76). Rhetorical exaggeration eventually evokes in its audience the substantial topic of the spherology. As the outcome of a revaluation of all values (WIK: 349), abundance turns out to be the projected truth of Sloterdijks spherology. Taking expression to be the indiscernible unity of form and matter, style and content, Sloterdijk aims at mobilizing the truth by evoking the content of his thesis excess and abundance in his grandiose attempt at a tale bigger than any Grand Narrative.

3. POLITICAL ECONOMY: EXPENDITURE OR DISSIPATION?


Now we understand how he is writing, the question remains as to what the writing is about. In order to convey the idea that reality is ruled by abundance, Sloterdijk has to reach beyond modern and postmodern discourse. In spite of the empirical evidence of our abundant wealth, even within postmodern discourse, abundance is not so easily accepted as a basic trait of human behavior and thought. On the contrary, economic and political practices still thrive on the opposite idea: scarcity. It is scarcity that legitimizes the economists contention that the efcient distribution of scarce resources to everyone serves the common good. But the discourse of scarcity and lack has become so excessive that victim culture is ourishing. Victimism is a trend that is enhanced within the current compensation culture as the vibrant nucleus of a global risk society. Herein freedom is facilitated by security and insurance. Abundance is everywhere, but it is ideologically neglected and even denied by a culture that makes money out of fearful anticipation and translates complaints into claims. Political culture both the Left and the Right sustains and enhances this attitude. The former still interprets the world in terms of oppression and exploitation; the latter laments the loss of values in terms of decadence.

a. afuent society and miserabilism


The scarcity option is declined by Sloterdijk as miserabilistic. The laments of miserophiles, their bel canto miserabilism (SIII: 690) thrives on an anthropology of lack. Its advocates are by no means negligible: The respected Pierre Bourdieu is downgraded to an agent of the miserabilistic Internationale whose interests are looked after by poverty lawyers. Benjamin too is dismissed as misre conservative (SIII: 781). Our main problem in the afuent society is our self-image, our self-denition, and our self-esteem. Revaluating the surplus requires a theory of constitutive luxury (SIII: 676), questioning the apparent primacy of scarcity. Is it an ontological,
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ideological, or discursive illusion? Is it an integral part of our being, of our political economy, or just paradigmatic for a certain period? Even worse, is Sloterdijks proposal to appreciate abundance over scarcity utopian? A genealogy of scarcity proves him to be right. Although he does not mention this book, Foucaults The Order of Things can be taken as a guideline. His archeology of human sciences reveals that the concept scarcity came to the fore in eighteenth-century discourse (Foucault 1970: 256). The systematic introduction of scarcity was shaped between the classical and modern episteme by economists like Say, Ricardo, and Smith. Deconstructing scarcity and advocating abundance can therefore be understood hyperpolitically as a critique of economic discourse. In the course of modernity substantial arguments for abundance over scarcity have been made by others as well. In France this afrmative approach is part of a deep-seated tradition. In the 1920s the debate was set in motion by Marcel Mauss. During his anthropological research on North-American tribes he became acquainted with the potlatch: a periodic ritual in which the powerful dissipate their wealth. By outdoing their rivals they not only reestablished their power, but they also renewed the economic cycle for another year. Mausss anthropological research was philosophically adapted by Georges Bataille, who passed the word to a generation of thinkers of differences, among whom were Kristeva, Lyotard, and Deleuze, but more particularly Foucault and Derrida (see Derrida 1978). Expenditure of wealth, however, is different from dissipation: the mediocre dissipation [durchschnittliche Verschwendung] of today cannot be compared with the generous refutation of lack as such (ST: 334). Dissipation still functions within a discourse of scarcity that favors recycling and asceticism as the main solutions to our problems. Within this perspective, dissipation has a pejorative quality. It is still burdened by exactly those guilty and shameful feelings Schama describes in The Embarrassment of Riches (1987). Bataille, however, develops an afrmative view on expenditure (dpense). Once we shift our gaze to the process level, the instant gratication of overowing enjoyment appears to be an afrmative feature of dissipation. Spending time excessively not only annihilates the surplus of economic transactions even the most necessary goods are destroyed, ecstacizing the participants of the ritual to the point of self-loss or even annihilation. A Bataillan analysis of soccer hooliganism is instructive. All our addictions bear witness to the paradoxical fact that dissipation is collectively productive. The astonishing, though powerinvested, statement of the American president in his State of the Union address in 2005 America is addicted to oil is only one further miserabilistic confession that apparently ts the logic of both scarcity and autonomy, but in the nal instance explains how expenditure drives the global economy. Surrounded by abundance,

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globally connected, leading comfortable lives, we realize that a paradigmatic ethico-economic shift is needed in order to share our wealth. The we, this will be evident, are the wealthy inhabitants of the ve-storey-high Greenhouse (WIK: 33348), the Crystal Palace as a mega installation that has been slowly, but rmly, erected during the complex triple globalization. Sloterdijk counters the uncomfortable aspect of our afuent society, triggered by guilt and resentment, by advocating sources of alternative dissipation (WIK: 362). Experience-based knowledge being transformed into free-oating information, and facts into data, Sloterdijk foresees a future where all that is solid melts into air as Marx wrote of modernization. Matter dissolves into immaterial ows. This is an inescapable conclusion of a genealogy of globalization: after the second globalization, territory is no longer a safe harbor for human communities. The earth deterritorializes and reterritorializes in the air. Current extraterritorial globalization, driven by an urge to move forward (Auftrieb), forces us to levitate our existence. Enlightenment as an overall explicitation cuts through the Cartesian dichotomy of mind and matter. In becoming less heavy, lighter, both consciousness and body are enlightened. Air conditioning takes on a very literal meaning. Coal and oil will be replaced by solar energy.

b. revaluation of all values: a formal-ontological primacy of excess


Although Bataille is not referred to in Sphren, statements like the following do suggest that a modied Bataillan perspective is adopted: Isnt it more true to say that life fundamentally is an overreaction, an excess, an orgy. Man is an overreactive animal par excellence. Making art means overreacting, thinking means overreacting, marrying means overreacting. All decisive human activities are exaggerations. Walking upright is already a hyperbole . . . (ST: 32). Disproportionate excess (Unverhltnismige) is the bottom line of human life. Given the pseudo-Hegelian overtones in Sloterdijks texts, it is perhaps instructive to understand the excess in formal-ontological terms. In Hegels Science of Logic the extreme or the measureless (das Malose) is a transitional concept at the very end of the logic of Being where, after the negation of quality by quantity, both are sublated in measure. Once measure loses its qualitative guarantee and becomes sheer quantity, it becomes a knotted, highly complex network of measure relations. Its dialectical dynamics nally dissolve into excess as an upbeat to absolute indifference. In the rst movement in the logic of Essence (Wesen) that follows the logic of Being, this absolute indifference, in trying to understand itself, has to acknowledge that it is sheer appearance. In following dialectical negation and sublation, the overcoming of absolute indifference leads to the realization of the human condition world spirit in its

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historical articulation in terms of the reective concepts of identity, difference, contradiction, and nally ground. Once dialectics loses its universal authority, excess as a false innity of the logic of Being is afrmed.18 The hyperbole is a rhetorical device that is applied to recongure the excess coherently. The hyperbolic text sensitizes its readers not to become indifferent to the truth. Sloterdijks hermeneutics of the monstrous, aiming at a revaluation of all values, does not ignore indifference. He afrms this as the nihilistic excess of values in a kynical way in order to overcome the postmodern dissolution of truth. Playing on Blochs Principle of Hope Sloterdijk hyperbolically proposes the principle of abundance as the still-concealed truth of modernity. Man can acknowledge this condition through his worldliness and by communicating its monstrosity hyperbolically. In a revaluation of all values, excess becomes abundance, a condition discursively evoked by exaggeration: The justication of the hyperbole is its appropriateness to excessiveness (NG: 256). But why does this revaluation of values suddenly pop up? Although the sublation of excess into indifference is understood in terms of nihilism, this nihilism does not imply, as is often proposed, the absence of values. It is rather the result of a radical evaluation of any sovereignty that was once beyond evaluation: in the nal instance, of God. It is the excess of values that can no longer be coped with in a consistent and coherent way. This leads to a chaotic metastasis of values, as is for instance nowadays illustrated by the rules and regulations that govern public space. Metastasis also sheds light on the debacle of multicultural society and the logic of the risk society. The subject has to become indifferent in order to cope with the excess of meaning and means.

4. RELATIONAL ANTHROPOLOGY: LACK AND TOO MUCH


We always already inhabit the dimension of excess (ST: 337). Following Hegel, excess is, in formal ontological terms, a presupposition for reecting identity. Sloterdijk redenes this formalontological transfer in his anthropology. In Die Verachtung der Massen eroded individualism has made indifference the one and only principle of the masses (VM: 88). Identity and indifference have to be understood as synonyms (VM: 86) once all ontological differences gods, saints, sages, and the talented are negated. Modern mans contemptuousness (Verachtung) is pacied in the differential indifference that forms the formal secret of the masses and of a culture that organizes a total middle (VM: 87).19 The latter can even become totalitarian (VM: 95). If hyperbole as a rhetorical device evokes truth, and if expenditure is the hidden rationale of economic life, what then are the implications for an afrmative anthropology? Though Hegel was the rst to proclaim the death of God in his grandiose effort to secularize Christian negativity, it was Nietzsche who radically drew

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its consequences: Man has to acknowledge being as rst and foremost an afrmative will to life that legitimates itself via a will to truth as a will to power. Excess is an afrmation of these vital forces: The element of human beings is the too much [das Zuviel] (SIII: 709). This is, however, not mans essence. Surplus is at best mans fth element, his quint-essence. Given this quintessential excess we need to revalue our present human condition, not by feeling guilty, but by acknowledging and practicing generosity and creativity. Hence Sloterdijks hyperbolic proposal of a theory of a constitutive luxury. Most people have no problem acknowledging that modern life has gradually become more comfortable. Over the last two centuries an apparently innite range of possibilities for applying scientic research to daily circumstances has raised the level of comfort exponentially. For wealthy cosmopolitans the struggle for life has been reduced to a minimum. Once we cross the 10 percent poverty threshold, we enter the ve oors of the Greenhouse (WIK: 334, 335), populated by people who no longer sweat. They are stressed and fearful, but properly insured. This comfortable situation has consequences for anthropology. Is man as an animal rationale mind governing body, in spite of evident shortcomings still an option? For Nietzsche man was a nicht-festgestellte Tier, an animal not fully realized. Nietzsches denition, when incorporated into Schelers view on human behavior as openness to the world, enabled Arnold Gehlen to qualify human beings as Mangelwesen (SIII: 699, literally a being of lack): in spite of all the luxury that surrounds him, man is a being whose element is a constitutive lack of the necessary means of subsistence. This, however, triggers institutional compensation: family, school, gang, army, church, nation, in the nal instance culture. These normalizing, disciplinary institutions form immune systems, wherein lack is transformed into a productive force, as happened with asceticism based on resentment. Ascetics, enjoying excessive discipline, transform the reactive element of lack afrmatively into a value in itself. Gehlen regards the lack of means (Mittellosigkeit) as an essential trait. In Sphren III. Schume (Foams) all intellectual and rhetorical forces are mobilized to free Nietzsche from Gehlens miserabilist grip. Although every newborn lacks the means to survive and therefore has to be protected and guided, the abundance of sensorial stimuli is unlimited. The senses, being a-specic, are overowing with stimuli. Sloterdijk reverses Gehlens thesis by focusing on relations that are enabled by media and mediations. These even constitute relations as an openness, a creative force that channels excessive abundance: what we call the open is the dimension of wealth in its existential reex (SIII: 760), wealth being the ability to participate in an explicitation . . . (SIII: 756). Given the anthropological premise of plenty, during their lifetime individuals are

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embedded in ever-changing immune systems to prevent them from collapsing under a constitutive abundance, called addiction. Immune systems decline over time. They engender their own aporias and become auto-immune. In an article20 on urban culture Sloterdijk explores an alternative lifestyle of expenditure. One of his critical remarks concerns the redenition of freedom caused by the primacy of mobility and the abundance of cheap energy. Automobility is qualied as a Heideggerian existential. In Eurotaoism total mobilization is positioned as our rst nature. In this kinetic anthropology the car is the technical double of the principally active transcendental subject (ET: 42). But automobility has produced its own auto-immune disease: Total mobilization suffocates urban life and comes to a standstill in a thousand-mile-long trafc-jam. It is evident that an immune system will dissolve once man does not acknowledge and foster its auto-immune tendencies. But more than these aporias, Sloterdijk emphasizes another, more relevant anthropological implication. In line with Deleuzean thought, immune systems reveal the foundation of mans being as relationality. In opening up to the world the child is always already beyond itself. It is embedded in a bi-unity of motherchild, an extra-uterine symbiosis that overrules lack. In order to accentuate relationality over lack at the very end of Sphren I. Blasen (Bubbles), Lacans theory of desire is countered by Kristevas primacy of the motherdaughter relation (SI: 542). This symbiosis is an ecstatic immanence (SI: 641).21 The shift from a male-dominated, monomaniacal perspective to a female-oriented, open, one was already made in Eurotaoismus. There, Heideggers implicit negation of life being-toward-death is overruled by Hannah Arendts natality: A coming-into-world (zurWelt-kommen) (ET: 205) that includes both bi-unity and creativity. Within Sloterdijks general science of revolution, natality is the second radical. The rst revolutionary radical was civil society as part of modern nation-state building within the second, territorial globalization. The third radical Sloterdijk writes this in 1994 is a conversion of souls prepared by philosophy (SV: 61, 62). This at least echoes the idea that in order to change the world, collective consciousness Hegels World Spirit has to convert itself. In Sphren the perspective has slightly changed. Modifying Latours question as to whether we have ever really been modern, Sloterdijk wonders whether we have ever been revolutionary (SIII: 87). The revolutionary impact is no longer presented as a reversal, but as a radical unfolding, a making explicit, emphasizing the making. The result of this explicitation is a comfortable life for the inhabitants of the Greenhouse, which is fully dependent upon technological, juridical, and insurance-based mediations.

5. ENLIGHTENMENT AS MEDIOLOGICAL EXPLICITATION


I see myself as a human being who functions amid technical media as a medium in the second degree, if this is a plausible proposition
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(ST: 15). If we want to understand the radical implications of a theory of constitutive luxury, we cannot neglect Sloterdijks media theory, based on McLuhans thesis that media are extensions of our senses, organs, and limbs. Media theory underpins his anthropology. This mediology miniaturizes and literally ex-plains, i.e. extends megalopsychia generosity and creativity in mans use of his media. Cartesian res extensa is drawn beyond its opposition to res cogitans. Mediologically, both are reinvested in a relational condition. Sloterdijks grandiose estimations of the revolutionary effects of mediatization need a rescaling, because I think there is a blind spot in Sloterdijks media theory. His hyperpolitical aesthetics must be invested in micropolitical art practices. In order to expose this blind spot, a systematic distinction is needed between a being-in-media driven by lack (radical mediocrity) and one that reectively afrms abundance. I will characterize this, emphasizing the interest of the in-between and referring to the Heideggerian undertow in Sloterdijks work, as inter-esse. Preliminary to this distinction is a further differentiation of the notion of Enlightenment.

a. Triple Enlightenment: silent takeover of the mind


Mediological enlightenment (WIK: 261) not only enlightens the mind; it also makes bodies less heavy and connects minds and bodies via interfaces in a more transparent way to and in the world. I call this Triple Enlightenment. Next to the conventional Enlightenment of our collective consciousness (1) emancipation from our selbstverschuldete Unmundigkeit (self-inicted immaturity) enlightenment explicitates itself through scientic knowledge, the explicitation of which in its turn is technology. Ever-accelerating means of transportation literally enlighten our bodies (2) as do means of telecommunication (3). Territorial distances are annihilated a supernova right in front of our noses; intercontinental chatter new virtual ones created atomic universes; virtual public space. In this way speed of transportation and transparency of communication enlighten body and sight. The three aspects of enlightenment are fully dependent upon each other. The last two have always been part of Enlightenment, but only in retrospect can we acknowledge their constitutive value. But the steam engine, combustion engine, jet engine, television, pacemaker, computer, and Internet to mention only the most obvious have initially ruptured existing immune systems. Enlightenment has this psychotraumatic price (NG: 341). Gradually, however, these mediations are internalized. Modern mans life becomes more comfortable. Once the immunity of the system is restored or a new immune system installed, this comfort becomes part of normalization and subjectivation. Speeded up in capsular nodes (cars, trains, planes), communicating via interfaces (computers, cellphones, GPS), extending their potentialities, human beings feel less heavy, i.e. freer.

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Modern life has undergone a silent takeover: Technology has converted explicitated modern mans soul without his realizing it. As a result of this triple enlightenment, man and machine, mind and matter have integrated. Machine is no longer a metaphor. Man has become a psycho-technological and techno-psychological being.22 Media are incorporated to the point of becoming indispensable means of subsistence. As a result, our moral categories are transformed. Do modern subjects still nurture the idea that they have an instrumental relation to their media? They can abandon them when they have no more use-value. Nowadays freedom is synonymous with frictionless immersion in a media environment. Enforcing your own rules being auto-nomos is transformed into a will to access and exposure. Heteronomy is no problem. The lightness of being is no longer unbearable.23

b. Dasein is design: radical mediocrity as rst nature


If relational anthropology is in need of an ontology of prosthetic realities (NG: 361), mediatization explains how our souls are converted: by being-in-media. Being-in-the-world is now being-inmedia, a medium being more than just an instrumental, kinetic connection between separate beings. The identity of the relata is constituted in and by the relation. Intention is articulated by its extensions, inner life by its prosthetic explicitation. Medical technology replaces and transforms vital functions of both body and mind. Cars and cellphones do not simply facilitate social life; they actually constitute sociability. The proposed transformation of Aristotelian megalopsychia has to take into account the constitutive workings of mediological extensions or prostheses (NG: 361). How does second nature become rst (SIII: 809)? After the initial illness that always accompanies the introduction of a new medium, end-users consume the comfort, the abundance of their media. But once this mediological abundance constitutes the end-users milieu or immune system, the incorporated media will become as invisible as they are indispensable. Proximity without distance roots both body and soul in media. In retrospect this mediological relationality always has been an inextricable quality of mans condition. Every medium becomes the message, i.e. mans milieu. The medium becomes an experience in itself. It produces yet unknown forms of entertainment and even lifestyles (see Pine II and Gilmore 1999). It is no longer a means to an end. That is why the idea of quitting automobility and interactivity feels like being crippled, blinded, or deafened. It is as if we are invited to cut off a healthy leg and pierce a properly functioning eye or ear. Nowadays Dasein seems reduced to a rooted or radical mediocrity (see Oosterling 2004b, 2005a). The mediocrity of the masses expressing contemptuousness, so severely criticized by Sloterdijk, is an indication of a constitutive lack. Given their indifference, individuals nowadays no longer realize that their rst nature

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was initially second nature. In medial performance, memory of this rst nature is absorbed in the actual awareness triggered by the second. In comfort one does not ask where it comes from when it has become a habit (SIII: 403). Unreective being-in-media takes its users beyond history. It is at this crucial point that a medium becomes a harmful routine. Once the abundance of new mediological conditions is internalized, needs that were previously nonexistent are ontologized. They become primary needs. Autonomy has become automobility, freedom frictionless access, Dasein design. As a result the unprecedented possibilities or better, virtualities of an internalized extension reproduce lack on another level. Every new mediological explicitation eventually reproduces scarcity through forgetfulness. In order to add a normative component to being-in-media, I make a distinction between a miserabilist and an afrmative mediological condition. As a result of forgetfulness the former prolongs the illusion of autonomy based on lack. Only the second, which advocates openness, enhances the reectivity which Sloterdijks museological attitude presupposes (SIII: 810). In part I of Sphren, for living in each other in ecstatic immanence it sufces to be a male or female modern mass-media being (SI: 640). But when he notices that the mediocre, medial, and vulgar effaced the horizon (SI: 642), it is evident that for Dasein to be a passion in the face of the monstrous (NG: 223) reectivity has to be part of our medio-crity. This is acknowledged at the end of part III: Actually reectivity and being spoilt (Verwhnung) are inextricably linked. Once imaginations concerning lack have become second nature, it is hard to see how they can perform this change of perspectives on their own (SIII: 809).

c. Ontology of the in-between: abundance as inter-esse


The lightness of being-in-media does not naturally make the experience of abundance reective. As long as the in-betweenness of radical mediocrity does not reect on itself, comfortable life can easily turn into an experience of lack. For Sloterdijk, mediocre people are part of the They (das Man), Heideggers qualication of inauthentic existence (SI: 643). Notwithstanding the collective productivity of addictions, the current level of addiction to all kinds of media even oil bears witness to the fact that autonomy is no longer adequate as a category with which to understand ourselves in terms other than indifference. Autonomy being sheer illusion a Nietzschean ction for Sloterdijk, authenticity obviously is still an option. What is needed is a reective attitude as an existential in which mediocrity is experienced in its afuent generosity. As Hegel argues: reectivity sublates indifference. Ontologically, radical mediocrity is a condition of being-in-between. In foam city we, glued foam bubbles, share the in-between. 24 An afrmative approach acknowledges that Homo sapiens is an interesse (Zwischenwesen). Although Sloterdijk criticizes our efforts

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to make ourselves interesting, which means to make-oneselfbetter-thanthe-others (VM: 87), with reference to Heideggers They, an authentic human condition is at hand. Heidegger makes a distinction between an inauthentic condition of the interesting as shallow entertainment and a being-in-between (Zwischen-sein) as Inter-esse: Interest, inter-esse, means to be among and in the midst of things, or to be at the center of a thing and to stay with it. But todays interest accepts as valid only what is interesting.25 Inter-esse is the cement (Kit) of relationality or Being-with (Mit-sein). In The Human Condition Hannah Arendt took Heideggers distinction one step further by rephrasing subject-oriented interests as interesse: These interests constitute, in the words of the most literal signicance, something which inter-est, which lies between people and therefore can relate and bind them together. Most action and speech is concerned with this in-between . . . (Arendt 1958: 182). This ontology of the in-between this esse of the inter needs to be explicitated within radical mediocrity. In the nal analysis, the psychological surplus of generosity and the substance of creativity Aristotles megalopsychia consist of this self-reective in-between. Unreected inter-esse asks for the combination of de-interesting and re-interesting in a nondual type of morality (SIII: 411).

6. MICROPOLITICAL ART: INTERMEDIALITY AS THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE GESAMTKUNSTWERK


From the imperative that we have to become lighter (i.e. enlightened), Sloterdijk draws political consequences. Strategies that favor heaviness over lightness in terms of resignation (Gelassenheit) and recycling, and ideologies that still dene human relations in terms of oppression are declared miserabilistic. Scapegoats are the Green parties and the Old Left. But is it enough to afrm the antigravitational ows and criticize gravitational conservatism? Does Sloterdijks jovial perspective sufce to convert radical mediocrity? What kind of politics does he propose? Is resistance still an option? There was an implicit acknowledgement of resistance in Critique of Cynical Reason albeit romantic but in Die Sonne und der Tod it is no longer dened as resistance to oppression and injustice in the political sense (ST: 262, 284, 287). After criticizing Lacan, resistance to the effort of the analyst to unlock the xated reality principle of his patient is no option either. Perhaps the deconstructionists rsistance or restance as a principally nonanalyzable rest can be recognized in the refusal to follow the rules of ones own game (ST: 285). Sloterdijk favors an avant-garde-inspired notion of resistance. Within his general science of revolution, this is understood as explicitation. Avant-garde practices connect art and politics. Inhabiting the Greenhouse a thermotope (SIII: 396) means we are still haunted by scarcity. In the absence of a convincing

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thermic socialism, for the time being we have to be content with a thermic aesthetics (SIII: 405). His afnity with the avant-garde not only explains Sloterdijks aversion to the mediocre They; it also sheds light on the political premise of his exaggerative reasoning: revising definite options and deciding against exclusion. The approving remarks on Joseph Beuyss artistic practice give us a clue.26 Sloterdijk explicitly refers to Beuyss concept of the social sculpture (Sozial Plastik) (SIII: 661, 811). Every generous citizen has to become an artist, as Joseph Beuys once proposed (SIII: 811). Like Foucault, Sloterdijk favors creativity over autonomy. If aestheticization is needed for enduring monstrosity, is Foucaults proposal of an aesthetics of existence then an option? Can we recognize Sloterdijks exaggerative reasoning in Foucaults attempt to connect truth games with spirituality beyond religious interpretations as the form of practices which postulate that, such as he is, the subject is not capable of the truth, but that, such as it is, the truth can transgure and save the subject (Foucault 2004: 17)? In our comfortable Greenhouse the great divide between life and art, art and nonart, high and low culture is superseded. The superinstallation as an inclusive concept of articiality [Knstlichkeit] (SIII: 813) that integrates all subcultures demands an aesthetic attitude: one transfers the form of the museum to the system as a whole and moves around in it as a visitor (SIII: 818). Cruising public space demands museological sensibility. But how is this stimulated? Does society become a Gesamtkunstwerk? Sloterdijk has already excluded this option. The Crystal Palace is beyond a total work of art, because the risk has to be avoided that a culture that organizes a total middle becomes totalitarian (VM: 95). Reecting the inter is better served by the desire that installs a total work of art. Bazon Brock qualied this as an inclination [Hang] towards the total work of art (see Szeemann et al. 1983). A genealogy of the Gesamtkunstwerk starting with German idealism via Wagner and Wiener Werksttte, Arts & Crafts, Merzbau, Bauhaus, and Surrealism27 shows that it never realized itself to a full extent without becoming totalitarian. However, in its constant failure to totalize art as life, it fully explored the space in between disciplines, media, and in between the artist and his audience. The inter is the cement of a Gesamtkunstwerk. This is articulated in interdisciplinary, multimedia, and interactive art practices. To borrow Adornos phrase, the totalization (das ganz Groe) is the false. The truth is in its failure. In failing it shows us its truth: the inter. Sloterdijk favors art practices that relate precisely by resisting their own rules. That explains his emphasis on surrealism in his Tate lecture. More than any other art style, surrealism and especially Dal is interdisciplinary, multimedial, and interactive. In the past fteen years these elements have been conceptualized in art-theoretical debates as intermediality (see Oosterling 2003a, 2003b, 2004a).28 Concepts such as relational architecture (Rafael

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Lozano-Hemmer) have been invented to express the binding force of installations in public space. More than dropping an art object in open space, intermedial art practices reect upon and intend to transform the way people relate to each other via art. It is no longer art in public space, but art as public space. The consequences for the acceptance of a mediological condition based on generosity are far reaching in the moral domain (SIII: 807) because freedom and a sense of justice can no longer be understood without the phantasm of equality of all with regard to luxury in material terms (SIII: 820). Ex negative, this phantasm focuses Sloterdijks politico-aesthetic strategy. We are entering an era of new games of enlightenment (VM: 63). Their target is aesthetic reectivity. In a Deleuzean turn, this means that being rooted in media (i.e. radical mediocrity) has to be enlightened to the point of becoming an enlightened rhizomatic inter. No roots, just routes. This conversion has far-reaching anthropological implications. Against the background of the intended megalopsychia, creativity no longer resides in, but in-between individuals. Creativity is rst and foremost relational. Cooperation, participation, and interaction no longer presuppose individuals. These come to the fore in creativity.

NOTES
1. See: http://www.tate.org.uk/onlineevents/webcasts/spheres_ of_action/. 2. It is this concept of the deinon that Heidegger takes from Hlderlins work. He transformed it into das Unheimliche (uncanny). See Heidegger (1982: 150). 3. Alongside the three volumes of Sphren I. Blasen, II. Globen, III. Schume [SI,SII,SIII] he published Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals. Fr eine philosophische Theorie der Globalisierung [WIK] in order to clarify the phenomenon of globalization and its aesthetico-political implications more specically. Since there are no published translations available yet, all quotes are my translations. 4. See Sloterdijk [NG] (2001: 1646); Sloterdijk and Heinrichs [ST] (2001: 291). 5. In his Tate lecture Sloterdijk himself translates the German Explikation as explicitation: to unfold in the sense of explicitly making things. 6. In Im selben Boot. Versuch ber Hyperpolitik, Sloterdijk makes a distinction between megalomania and megalopathia. Aristotle transformed Alexandre the Greats megalomania into megalopathia as a lived experience that engenders big questions. The polis has become part of global space. For two millennia megalopathia has been philosophys raison dtre. See Sloterdijk (1993a: 29). See also SII: 303, n. 130. He renes this concept in later interviews by dening late modern philosophy as megalo-depressive, as

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7.

8.

9.

10. 11.

12. 13. 14. 15.

16.

17. 18.

19.

an inter-pathology or inter-mania. See the Alliez article in this volume, pp. 30726. It is this inter that I will explore in this article. Nietzsche rst came to the fore in Critique of Cynical Reason in which he has the highest reference index, followed by Diogenes, Marx, Freud, and Hitler. Thinker on Stage, Nietzsches Materialism (1989) is fully focused on Nietzsche. And up to the last pages of Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals Sloterdijks verbal avalanche is spiced with Nietzschean phrases updated by references to French neo-Nietzschean thinkers. The word Inter-esse is German for interest. However, it also means to be interested in. In a philosophical context this connotation is used in a literal sense: being (esse) in between (inter). Lyotard is mentioned only once in Sphren together with Badiou and other thinkers of difference. They are criticized for their political innitism (SII: 410). I come back to this point in the last paragraph of this section. See the concluding remarks of Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1935). Neither is Negri and Hardts Empire, their name for the Crystal Palace. Their proposal is rejected by Sloterdijk as too totalitarian a project for revolutionary ends (SIII: 825). See the interview with ric Alliez, this volume, pp. 30726. Sloterdijk by the way does not join the debate. The three are waiting in vain at the end of the book. He refers for this method to Gnther Anders (1980). See also NG: 362. The essay What is solidarity with metaphysics in the moment of its downfall? has as its subtitle A notice on critical and exaggerated/hyperbolic (bertriebene) reason (NG: 235). In Critique of Cynical Reason (1987) he refers exclusively to Michel Foucault, with just an incidental remark on Derrida. But in Sphren Foucault is sidelined by Kristeva, and even more by Deleuze and Guattari, who are by then denitely Sloterdijks most favored traveling companions. In this text Lyotard deals with different kinds of literary genres. Here a parallel can be drawn with Fatal Strategies (1983) by Jean Baudrillard, published in the same year as Critique of Cynical Reason. The latter criticizes dialectical thinking too and replaces sublation with excess. At the very beginning of this text, the end of dialectics is proclaimed and the advent of an era envisaged, the dynamics of which will no longer be ruled by dialectical sublation. It is the logic of excess that rules. For me the enigmatic expression eine totale Mitte is a synonym for radical mediocrity that will be explored in the next paragraph.

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20. See www.petersloterdijk.net/german/topoi/stadtenergetik. html. 21. It is, however, surprising that he does not mention Kristevas nondiscursive semiotik in order to stress the importance of the acoustic-tactile embedding of desire that subverts its discursive articulation. 22. See the writings of the present director of the McLuhan Institute: Derrick de Kerckhove (1997: 46). 23. Sloterdijk understands spherology as a delightenment (Abklrung), i.e. a dis-enlightenment of our burdened existence. The delight of wine tasting in which context the term Abklrung means clarification is implied in this spherological decanting (SV: 1223). 24. This is the topic of another trans-Heideggerian Nancy (2002). See Oosterling (2005a). 25. In Heideggerian terms, the ephemeral interest as an indifferent attitude needs to be transformed to existential inter-esse. See (1978: 347). See also Being and Time, o.c., p. 124. 26. Utero-topically as a community art analogous to the group as utero-tope [Uterotop] (SIII: 392); thermo-topically in the guise of Beuyss work of art The honeypump (SIII: 404) that reminds us of a sweet life; as an example for the era of the uplifting that can be seen as a critique of heavy reason (SIII: 733). 27. His lecture at the Tate focuses mainly on surrealism. 28. The outcome of this research can be found at www2.eur.nl/fw/ cfk (accessed 12/5/06).

REFERENCES
Anders, Gnther. 1980. Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen: ber die Seele im Zeitalter der zweiten industriellen Revolution. Band 1. Ch. Mnchen: Beck Verlag. Arendt, Hannah. 1958. The Human Condition. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. Bachelard, Gaston. 1994. The Poetics of Space. Boston: The Beacon Press. Baudrillard, Jean. 1983. Fatal Strategies. New York: Semiotext(e). Benjamin, Walter. 1935. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. See http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/ modern/The-Work-of-Art-in-the-Age-of-Mechanical-Reproduction. html (accessed 12/5/06). de Kerckhove, Derrick. 1997. The Skin of ulture. Investigating the new electronic reality. London: Kogan Page. Deleuze, Gilles. 1993. The Fold. Leibniz and the baroque. London: The Athlone Press. Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Flix. 1977. Anti-Oedipus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia. New York: Viking Press. 1994. What is Philosophy? London and New York: Verso.

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Derrida, Jacques. 1978. From Restricted to General Economy: A Hegelianism without Reserve. In Writing and Difference, pp. 25177. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Foucault, Michel. 1970. The Order of Things. An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New York: Vintage Books. 2004. The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collge de France 19811982. New York: Palgrave. Hegel, G.W.F. 1952. Phnomenologie des Geistes. Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag. Heidegger, Martin. 1978. What Calls for Thinking. In David Farrell Krell (ed.), Basic Writing. Heidegger. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. 1982. Parmenides. In Gesamtausgabe Band 54. Frankfurt a.M.: Klostermann. Lyotard, Jean-Franois. 1986. Le postmoderne expliqu aux enfants. Paris: Editions Galile. Nancy, Jean-Luc. 2002. Cration du monde ou la mondialisation. Paris: Galile. Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1980. Smtliche Werke. Kritische Studienausgabe, vol. 1, G. Colli, M. Montinari (eds). Mnchen: DTV. 2000. The Birth of Tragedy. Trans. Ian C. Johnston. Nanaimo: Malaspina University College. Oosterling, Henk. 1999. Philosophy, Arts and Politics as Interesse. Towards a Lyotardian post-kantian aesthetics. Issues 9 April, Jan van Eyck Academy, Department of Theory, pp. 83101. Available online http://www2.eur.nl/fw/cfk/teksten%20intermedialiteit/ indexeng.htm. 2003a. Beyond Autofundamentalism. In Suppor t of Commobility. In Paul Meurs and Marc Verheyen (eds), In Transit, Mobility, City Culture and Urban Development in Rotterdam , pp.12443. Rotterdam: NAi. 2003b. Sens(a)ble Intermediality and Interesse. Towards on Ontology of the In-Between. Intermdialits, no. 1, Spring, CRI Montreal, pp. 2946. Available online http://cri.histart.umontreal. ca/cri/fr/INTERMEDIALITES/p1/pdfs/p1_oosterling.pdf. 2004a. Cosmopolitan Interest: Art as Public Space. Open. Cahier on Art and the Public Domain, no. 7, (No) Memory. Storing and Recalling in Contemporary Art and Culture, NAi Publishers, pp. 106, 107. 2004b. Radikale Mediokritt oder revolutionre Akte? ber fundamentales Inter-esse. In E. Vogt and H.J. Silverman (eds), ber Zizek, pp. 16290. Vienna: Turia+Kant. 2005a. From Interests to Inter-esse. Nancy on Deglobalization and Sovereignty. SubStance. A Review of Theory and Literary Criticism, # 106, Vol. 34, no.1: 81103. 2005b. Radical medi@crity: Xs4all. Babel. Illustrierte #7, Entausscheidung, Berlin. Available online http://www.mail-

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archive.com/nettime-l@bbs.thing.net/msg02523.html; http:// www.constantvzw.com/news_archive/001009.html. Pine II, B. Joseph and Gilmore, James H. 1999. The Experience Economy. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Sloterdijk, Peter. 1987. Critique of Cynical Reason. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. [ET] 1989. Eurotaoismus. Zur Kritik der politischen Kinetik. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. 1993a. Im selben Boot. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. 1993b. Medien-Zeit: Drei Gegenwartsdiagnostische Versuche. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. [SV] 1996. Selbstversuch. Ein gesprch with Carlos Oliviera. Mnchen/Wien: Carl Hanser Verlag. [SI] 1998. Sphren I. Blasen. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. [SII] 1999. Sphren II. Globen. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. [VM] 2000. Die Verachtung der Massen . Versuch ber Kulturkmpfe in der modernen Gesellschaft. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. [NG] 2001. Nicht gerettet. Versuche nach Heidegger. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. [SIII] 2004. Sphren III. Schume. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. [WIK] 2005 Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals. Fr eine philosophische Theorie der Globalisierung . Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. Sloterdijk, Peter and Heinrichs, Hans-Jrgen. [ST] 2001. Die Sonne und der Tod. Dialogische Untersuchungen. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. Szeemann, Harald et al. (eds). 1983. Der Hang zum Gesamtkunstwerk. Europische Utopien seit 1800 . Frankfurt a.M.: Verlag Sauerlnder.

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BOOK REVIEW

THE GLOBAL SPHERE: PETER SLOTERDIJKS THEORY OF GLOBALIZATION


LIESBETH NOORDEGRAAF-EELENS AND WILLEM SCHINKEL
Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals. Fr eine Philosophische Theorie der Globalisierung, Peter Sloterdijk, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 2005, 415 pages, 25.50, HB ISBN 3518416766
LIESBETH NOORDEGRAAF-EELENS IS AN ECONOMIST AND PHILOSOPHER AT ERASMUS UNIVERSITY ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS. WILLEM SCHINKEL IS A SOCIOLOGIST AT ERASMUS UNIVERSITY ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS.

Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals (2005) delivers what its subtitle promises: a philosophical theory of globalization. This book and the theory it expounds extends the morphological philosophy of space put forward previously by Sloterdijk in the Sphren-trilogy (p. 14),1 which discusses a philosophical history of what he calls terrestrial globalization. For Sloterdijk, the globe as a philosophical concept (Globus, Kugel, sphaira) is a result of terrestrial globalization (p. 37) the processes of materialist expansion that produce the world system. Terrestrial globalization marks the middle stage of a threetier process. It is the only part of humanity that Sloterdijk

>

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nds worth calling world history in a philosophical sense (p. 28). Terrestrial globalization follows a cosmic-Uranian or morphological globalization marked by the Greek metaphysical discovery of the globe as apparent in their love of the spheric form and is followed by the electronic globalization, in which we are currently enmeshed. It marks a stage in the history of European (Christian-capitalist) colonial expansion which historians tend to pin down to around 1492 to 1945 (p. 21). In its emphasis on the intersection of philosophical and materialist processes through which the globe comes into view, the book continues a philosophical style that radically differs from continental hermeneutics, critical theory, or Deconstruction. Instead, it offers a self-proclaimed metanarrative that seeks to overcome the aw of former metanarratives, which, Sloterdijk says, were not meta or global enough (p. 14). Im Weltinnenraum shows the earth to have gradually become an excentric globe, focusing on being-inthe-world-of-capital because economic globalization has, Sloterdijk argues, proven to be the most effective totalization, the contraction of the earth by means of money in all its appearances (p. 17). In the rst part of the book, Sloterdijk pays attention to what one might call three discoveries and one invention: the discoveries of space, water, risk, and the ensuing invention of the modern subject. Sloterdijk discusses how geographers and seafarers mapped this modern vision of the world. The very notion of humanity as a single species becomes possible only after Magellan, Columbus, and others of their kind. Monogeism the emergence of the single globe involved a number of changes. For one, the processes of terrestrial globalization produce a changed sense of locality and subjectivity. In the modern age, the earth becomes the planet to which one can return (p. 41). Not the inside, but the outside, the faraway, the there is what tempts (p. 175). The interior becomes a mirror of the exterior (p. 44), as becomes apparent in cabinets of curiosities and in curiosities-collections. When the interior is the mirror of the exterior world, living conditions condition knowledge conditions (p. 45). Thought thus becomes oriented toward space, faraway places, toward the unknown but knowable. It transcends traditional world spaces. Terrestrial globalization becomes apparent in its most formalized form in Jules Vernes Phileas Fogg, whose travels around the world in eighty days (1874) mark, as Sloterdijk says, the birth of the modern tourist: Fogg travels, with blinds closed, to places he knows (from the prospectus); Fogg also knows what they look like, for the point of his travels is not education but travel itself (p. 66). The message is: the earth is round and can be rounded. Yet the modern age also understands that the earth is really an incorrect name for our planet. Rather, water is discovered as the leading element. This discovery of water means that the conquest of the globe takes place over water, resulting in the modern shift from shoreland-thought to ocean-thought (p. 71). The maritime age

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dawns, and the liquid element is homologous to the ows of global capital which stream between the Old and the New World (p. 133). Modern global capitalism starts with the maritime age. Crucial herein, says Sloterdijk, is the discovery, next to space and water, of risk. Speculation and the globe form the conditions of a world system of capitalism (p. 74). If seafaring brought with it an enormous potential for trade, this was paralleled only by the huge possibilities for speculation. The adventures on the ocean were full of potential opportunities but in austere, faraway markets (p. 75). The modern entrepreneur is thus born as a speculator on a mostly liquid globe. He becomes a debt-producer. Debt is no longer a moral decit, but a source of economic prot. Cartography becomes an object of power; whoever owns the best image of the world, owns the world (pp. 159, 167). The main fact of the new age is not that the earth goes round the sun, but that the money goes round the earth (p. 79). The principle of tele-vision stems from an age in which one must of necessity look ever further, in accordance with the motto with which Charles V sailed the oceans: plus ultra (ever further). The discoveries of space, water, and risk thus lead to a new form of subjectivity. Because of this new conguration of space and place that has been discovered by Magellan and others, the modern subject emerges. Sloterdijk quotes Heidegger (Holzwege, 1950) from Die Zeit des Weltbildes, who says that the essence of the modern age is the conquest of the world as a picture. This conquest through the image starts with modern cartography and ends with 21st-century mediatization. Globalization, for Sloterdijk, is a process (Geschehen) in which Being and Form meet in a sovereign body (p. 21). The topological message of modernity is that people are living beings, living at the edge of an uneven round body a body which, as a whole, is neither a mothers body nor a container, and which has no protection to offer (p. 54). The modern subject, aided by researchers, priests, entrepreneurs, politicians, and many others, is a rationally motivated actor (p. 92). Sloterdijk argues that this is an autopersuasive subject (p. 102), or a subject that is in constant need of ideology, and, especially from 1968 on, consultancy (pp. 912, 1027). The core of modern subjectivity lies in the shift from theory to praxis (pp. 93ff.). A subject, according to Sloterdijk, is someone able to suspend inhibition for acting. In what is an obviously Foucault-informed analysis, Sloterdijk argues that subjectivity entails an internalized pressure from outside. The subject becomes constituted in the production of the authority that orders him or her (p. 93). Modern subjectivity thus hinges on the organization of the suspension of inhibition to action. The modern philosophy of the autonomous subject reies the idea that it is the individual, which overcomes his or her inhibitions to action, yet it authorizes this by means of Reason or history, through ideology, or, as is presently the case, consultancy. This subject is an entrepreneur, a product of action-thought, of progress, of the new (p. 108).

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Dostoevskys Raskolnikov is the prototype of the innovative subject, who, through his crime, becomes an action-person (p. 117). This kind of subjectivity is the consequence and presupposition of the conquering of the world. It is the action-man that strives for total inclusion of the globe within a single imperialist/capitalist world system. Sloterdijk nonetheless argues that total inclusion is a ction (p. 26). The Crystal Palace of global capitalism to which we turn below is at once an outside to another inside. In other words, from the perspective of those outside the Crystal Palace, the palace is an outside to other insides. The rst to encounter the failure of the project of total inclusion were the translators of the modern world, who came across a Babel-like multitude of languages that could not be integrated into one system (p. 213). Modern imperialism is explained by the conquering of other subjects on a dark continent or an outside of another kind that is characterized by a lack of subjectivity and therefore of humanity (p. 176). Humanity became a project to be established worldwide. Global capitalism took resources and brought humanity. The modern discoverers were the forerunners of todays technicians of corporate identity (p. 129), and the subjectivity of taking (p. 189) became the hallmark colonization. It is characterized by risk, since every subject is a potential threat, a point of autonomous initiative, of incalculability (p. 95), and the project of humanity as global subjectication therefore remains, as Sloterdijk puts it, no picnic (p. 106). The second part of the book, the great interior, presents a theory of the global inner space of capital. This theory of the inside is necessary as globalization repositions humankind: not by complete global inclusion, as is often claimed, but by local exclusion. Local immunities are created to cope with globalization. Before Sloterdijk begins with the description of the global inside, he pays attention to the change in human social relations. As distance disappears, or at least shrinks, everyone becomes everyone elses neighbor. Ironically, this process strengthens misanthropic tendencies and reproduces the original similarity between neighbor and enemy (p. 220). The misanthropic Glasshouse spawns terrorism. Knowing how to make use of the telerealistical situation that has been created, terrorists are experts in spreading a climate of fear. Through performances that go beyond the fantasies of Hollywood screenwriters and production studios (p. 282), they realize large consequences by means of small actions. Most interesting in the second part is Sloterdijks description of the new modus vivendi of people adapting to life between the local and the global and he offers Dostoevskys Crystal Palace as an architectural metaphor for the current situation. Here, Sloterdijk describes the replacement of the nation state by a global comfort system that mediates between the self and place. About one third of the population lives in the Crystal Palace: people with better life chances and more purchasing power are included while the

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poor parasites are excluded (p. 305). According to Sloterdijk, a new form of apartheid is born through apartheid by capitalization (p. 307). Once within the Crystal Palace, however, no one leaves, as everything the consumer needs is present (p. 275). Probably unexpectedly, but not surprisingly, Sloterdijk considers communist states as secondary, albeit less luxurious, building sites of the Crystal Palace (p. 276). Moreover, communist states and the Crystal Palace each have their own rules for living. In the global inner space of capital, collective certainties are replaced by groups of privately insured individuals (p. 241). Politics is banished from the palace, not political elections but the mood uctuations of the inhabiting consumers determine what will happen (p. 268). In addition to their political choices, the inhabitants have also lost their energy source. Due to the revaluation of all values the crucial position of labor has been replaced by fossil energy: people are baptized in oil. The ontological consequences of this are as follows: the denition of freedom as the unlimited possibility of mobility; reality as a choice (it could have been different) instead of necessity and the replacement of scarcity by waste (pp. 355ff.). How long this ontological change will stand depends upon the time it takes to replace oil with solar energy. The consequences of the revaluation of all values are opaque and diffuse. Yet a number of characteristics are evident: people will, for instance, earn money without working; enjoy political security without warfare, immunity without suffering, knowledge without learning, and be famous without substantial performance (pp. 334ff.). Living in the Crystal Palace is not difcult as people live a comfortable life in solidarity. But the Crystal Palace is hard to defend. This is because, for Sloterdijk, globalization creates new borders and new immunities that put into question traditional dichotomies. In political terms: Leftist values are realized through the promotion of a Rightist programme. Solidarity and success ask for asymmetry, exclusivity, selectivity, protectionism, and irreversibility (p. 413). For Sloterdijk, the United States (US) founds the Crystal Palace. However, the USs perspective on world politics is founded on a kind of militarized management that guarantees the functioning of the global comfort system. Yet to survive as a country based on immigration, which implies welcoming people to the American dream, the Crystal Palace must be turned into a fortress. Of course, one can criticize the US from this standpoint, but Sloterdijk is aware that (energy) resources are necessary to keep the palace comfortable. He then leaves the reader with the question of whether Europe could emancipate itself without using military power (p. 390). This makes Sloterdijks book more personal than the Sphren-trilogy, and much of this is due to the essayistic style of Im Weltinnenraum. Here, he addresses the current situation and its antecedents, all the while reframing global geopolitical questions in terms of a philosophy of space that recognizes the necessary exclusion accompanying every inclusion. This work is thus as much a new kind of critical theory as

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it is a work of political theory, and it raises awareness of historical links such as, to name but one, that between Phileas Fogg and US President George W. Bush. Where it leaves the reader wanting is in the realm of cultural politics. Sloterdijk assumes the necessities of inclusion and exclusion, but does not explain the cultural political consequences of the borders between the inside and the outside. Thus, in conclusion, while Sloterdijk searches for ways to maintain a balance between inclusion and exclusion without waging war, he fails to avoid what might be called the reication of spatiality. For Sloterdijk and for us, then, questions of inclusion and exclusion, of the inside and the outside, not only remain contested but also do so on a global scale. His eulogy of asymmetry (pp. 406ff.) hence does not grasp more complexity than a bipolar antagonism such as Schmitts friend/enemy distinction.

NOTE
1. All references to page numbers refer to Im Weltinneraum des Kapitals. (All translations are these authors own.)

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