A Time for the Humanities: Futurity and the Limits of Autonomy

By James J. Bono; Tim Dean et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
“Human” in the Age of
Disposable People:
The Ambiguous Import of Kinship
and Education in Blind Shaft

Rey Chow

The most massive form of poverty in today’s world is the one we see in
underdeveloped countries, where the combination of the destruction of
traditional activities, the domination of foreign financial institutions,
the establishment of a so-called New World Order, and so on, leads
to a situation … in which millions of human beings are superfluous.
Nobody needs them—they are, so to speak, disposable people … they
are facing—and we are facing once more—the prospect of an extermi-
nation whose forms are not only violent but specifically cruel1

ÉTIENNE BALIBAR

In China there is a shortage of everything—but no shortage of hu-
man beings!

OWNER/MANAGER OF A COAL MINE, BLIND SHAFT


Homelessness as a Modern World Condition

In the essay “Letter on Humanism,”2 published soon after Germany’s defeat in the Second World War, Martin Heidegger refers to the condition of homelessness as “coming to be the destiny of the world.”3 By homelessness, Heidegger means something more than not having a roof over one’s head, even though the notions of dwelling and shelter are not at all excluded from his thinking. Heidegger’s assertion of homelessness as the condition—not merely of the defeated but also of the victorious—of the modern world is part of a critique of the status of

From Sentimental Fabulations, Contemporary Chinese Films, by Rey Chow
Copyright © 2007 Columbia University Press. Reprinted (with modifica-
tions) with permission of the publisher.

-94-

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