Academic journal article New Formations

Enchantment, Disenchantment, Re-Enchantment: Toward a Critical Politics of Re-Individuation

Academic journal article New Formations

Enchantment, Disenchantment, Re-Enchantment: Toward a Critical Politics of Re-Individuation

Article excerpt

All works cited in the essay are listed on pp36-37

Esprit does not exist without objective retentional media, and ... the history of this media is also the history of technics--today, of industry. Esprit9s future can exist only in a geopolitics of cultural technologies that would also be an ecological politics of the spirit/mind: any politics of consciousness (and what is politics if not, from beginning to end, a politics of consciousness?) is necessarily a politics of technics.

Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time 3 (2)


Since the creation of Ars Industrialis in 2005, (3) in both his longer and shorter works Bernard Stiegler has increasingly shifted his focus from the philosophical or socio-philosophical toward a number of more directly political aspects of critical theory and its application to contemporary cultural life. Whereas in his multi-volume works begun in the 1990s and the early 2000s (4) Stiegler concentrates on a radical reassessment of the role of technics in a post-phenomenological world--indeed a world in which the very nature of the human is increasingly in question--he has more recently explored the implications of an increasingly history-less (and therefore uncritical) culture brought about by our collective immersion in time-suspending teletechnologies, and by the advent of a hyper-technical age in which not only the very idea of history (and its relation to the human), but of the cultural values predicated on that humano-historicity, have been and are increasingly being occluded. Stiegler's many publications and public presentations since 2005 have aimed at this occlusion; two of his most dynamic recent publications, Reenchanter le monde [Re-enchanting the World] (5) and Taking Care 1, of Youth and the Generations (6) are aimed directly at assessing and countering it. In these two works Stiegler lays out not a critique of politics but a politics of critique, based on but not merely returning to an Enlightenment idea of critical discourse based on informed opinion and public debate among literate citizens (and thus among informed opinions, based on and emanating from technical knowledge, personal/professional experience, and specified training).

This skill, ars, is thus one of 'critique' itself in a broad cultural sense. As defined by Stiegler and Ars Industrialis, it derives both from ancient Indian 'kriturq', an opposite opinion, suggestion, or argument, and from the Greek kritike (KpiTiKff), '(the art of) discerning'; that is, identifying, discerning, and defining the cultural value of persons or things. Ars Industrialis posits that though we must clearly recognise the current hyper-technological world for what it is, we must also re-introduce into it the possibility of an anamnesis, a remembering of the vital importance of critical engagement within any sustainable cultural environment that does not succumb to passivity. In so doing, Stiegler and Ars Industrialis examine what he calls the 'telecracy', (7) agri-business, and the 'culture industry', as well as the more directly obvious political process itself, suggesting how a new sense of 'grammatisation' (8) can be employed to pull culture back from the brink of disintegration.

I want here briefly to approach these two key texts, Reenchanter le monde [Re-enchanting the World] and Taking Care 1, of Youth and the Generations, in reverse chronological order, since Taking Care is more theoretical--less directly political--in nature, and to focus on the earlier one, two short sections of which are translated in the Appendices.

Taking Care is an in-depth analysis of what Stiegler calls 'the battle of and for intelligence' against 'television pulsionelle', the drive-oriented televisual, which is not limited to television itself but relates to all current and emergent tele-visual technology, which according to Stiegler systematically destroys the critical faculties that must be cared for, nurtured, and exercised in order for culture to survive. …

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