Psychoanalysis and Performance

By Patrick Campbell; Adrian Kear | Go to book overview
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13

THE UPSILON PROJECT

A post-tragic testimonial

Gregory L. Ulmer

The emerAgency

The emerAgency is a virtual organization. At its literal moment of conception the emerAgency consisted of a neon sign, or, rather, a representation of a neon sign made in Photoshop and posted on the world wide web (www.elf.ufl.edu). In this story the emerAgency will have come to life as a consulting practice, staffed by student volunteers (from all levels of schooling), demonstrating the workings of the emergent apparatus of electracy (electracy is to digital technology what literacy is to print). The reality of this organization is created at the point of reception.

Part of the difficulty of this name is its descent into calligraphy: its shape - with the A rising above the small letters - creates a silhouette that is part drawing. A passage from Walter Benjamin, composed in the 1930s, is one of the motivations for the name of the project.

Theses On The Philosophy of History

VIII

The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism. One reason why Fascism has a chance is that in the name of progress its opponents treat it as a historical norm. The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are ‘still’ possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge - unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable. 1

Are we still amazed that the things we are experiencing are still possible in the twenty-first century? The choice of name for the consulting organization suggests an affirmative answer to such questions. Some of the purposes of our practice are

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