In an interview for Frieze, Simon Critchley talks to Dan Fox about community, collaboration, avant-garde rituals, being "religious without religion," and his forthcoming book The Faith of the Faithless (Verso, 2012).
Your forthcoming book is called Faith of the Faithless. Could you explain its central themes?
Part of it is on experimentalism in art and politics: are Utopian conceptions of community practicable? I look at the history of certain heretical groups—such as the Cathars, the Diggers, 19th-century Utopian socialism—and the Situationists. I talk about The Invisible Committee, the French group who wrote The Coming Insurrection —who are trying to recover a conception of Communism—and make a link between them and various activities in contemporary art around the idea of collective intelligence. What sense can we make of collaboration as an artistic practice? Part of it is an almost mystical idea of the group, what Sartre called the ‘group-in-fusion'. I'm looking at a number of artists associated with what has been branded ‘relational aesthetics', as well as the idea that collaboration—anonymity—is sustained by a faith that something will come about through those processes. Artistically and politically, the avant-garde has always been concerned with figuring ideas of the group based around a kind of faith.
Speaking to ITN news today following Julian Assange's bail hearing, Tariq Ali, author most recently of The Obama Syndrome, reiterates that Assange should never have been denied bail in the first place and alludes to pressure from a very angry Washington ...
Visit the Guardian to read a statement in support of Assange and Wikileaks, signed by John Pilger and others. The statement, entitled "WikiLeaks: the emperor wears no clothes," states: "we pledge to not simply bear witness but to actively participate in this fight."
As dissent spills onto the streets in protests, strikes and riots on both sides of the Atlantic—in particular London, Athens, Rome and Georgia—The Verso Book of Dissent is greeted by another enthusiastic review, this time from the Austin Chronicle. Richard Whittaker, reviewing The Verso Book of Dissent alongside About to Die: How Images Move the Public, opens with a general lament:
Sometimes it really feels like the body politic refuses to be woken from its slumber. Between grave injustices and horrifying events, it seems near-impossible to stir an apathetic electorate. Yet occasionally, if too rarely, a shocking image or a radical thought can still provoke debate and even action.
Whittaker goes on to praise The Verso Book of Dissent as "a near-definitive anthology":
Co-editors Andrew Hsiao and Audrea Lim have undertaken the mammoth task of collating a near-definitive anthology of the voice of opposition to oppression. There are the obvious inclusions: An excerpt from Émile Zola's J'Accuse, a sliver of Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, and a few beats from Tupac Shakur. Yet to find obscure voices like Uighur poet Abdukhaliq, and to see him link philosophical arms with Andrea Dworkin and Marvin Gaye, is testament to the power of the urge for equality.
Thanks, Rainn Wilson, I'll never again be able to look at Žižek without thinking of Zach Galifianakis.
But Žižek is funnier.
Also, Mr. Wilson: pot/kettle?