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Qui Parle, Volume 26, Number 1, June 2017

Vol. 26 | No. 1 | June 2017

Editorial Statement
Qui Parle’s Editorial Board

On the occasion of our transition to Duke University Press, we, the current Qui Parle Editorial Board, write this statement across the last days of 2016, a year concluding with looming political uncertainty and social fragility. Such a situating exercise—a mission statement, a manifesto, an apology—easily lends itself to the overestimation of any present moment and its particular gravity, effectively isolating it. Here, instead, we write this statement as if drawing a line in the sand—one for stepping over creatively, not for lingering before, as the movement of critique demonstrates: out of crisis, critique, back again, and so forth.

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Critique, Crisis, Cri
Jean-Luc Nancy

If critique supposes the possession of a criterion that allows us to discriminate between true and false or between good and evil, it is no longer certain that our culture possesses such a criterion. As such, the idea of critique now finds itself in crisis.

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Before Truth: Walter Benjamin’s “Epistemo-Critical Prologue”
Kristina Mendicino

Walter Benjamin’s distinction of truth from knowledge in his “Epistemo-Critical Prologue” marks a fundamental break with the truth claims of the empirical sciences, as well as those of any system of philosophy—phenomenological, neo-Kantian, or otherwise—that would be based on conscious cognition. Instead he renders the truth of philosophy as a question of presentation, beginning with one of the most famous propositions of his oeuvre: “It is proper to philosophical writing to stand, with every turn, before the question of presentation anew.” Many commentators have cited this passage, yet few pursue the way Benjamin situates philosophical writing before the question of presentation, thereby suggesting that this question cannot be asked. In this essay, I elaborate the epistemological and ontological consequences of the displacements Benjamin stages between presentation and writing, through an attentive reading to the idioms of his own writerly presentation.

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Police Actions in Aesthetics: Rancière Reading Deleuze and Lyotard on Art
Christopher Fynsk

This essay addresses Jacques Rancière’s attempt to critique notions of resistance invoked by Jean-François Lyotard and Gilles Deleuze. It focuses in particular on Rancière’s efforts to contain Deleuze within a shallow account of the aesthetic tradition of the past two centuries and to disqualify a post-Heideggerian thought of difference in philosophy of art. It ultimately takes issue with Rancière’s effort to police the function of modern art.

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The New Conflict of the Faculties and Functions: Quasi-Causality and Serendipity in the Anthropocene
Bernard Stiegler

The concept of entropy has been applied to life and, in Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s bioeconomics of exosomatization, to human life. These accounts of “negentropy” must be reinterpreted in the age of the data economy, however, from a perspective that starts from the technological or exosomatic condition of all knowledge. This can be opened up from a reconsideration of Kant’s account of intuition, understanding, and reason that must also be a critique of the absence of the technological in Kant’s account of the schematism. Armed with this critique, we can understand the data economy as the use of powerful, probabilistic algorithms premised on reducing the “given” to calculable “data,” a reduction in turn founded on and bringing about the reduction of knowledge to information. The entropic character of the data economy can then be conceived as the elimination of the incalculable and unexpected elements at the root of all knowledge. It is this elimination that suggests to Chris Anderson the idea of the end of theory; in other words, it is what prevents “bifurcations,” that is, the prospect that new knowledge will open futures that would be not just negentropic but “neganthropological.” In the Anthropocene, which is now leading to a state of absolute nonknowledge while producing massively entropic biospherical effects, it is crucial to transform data architectures and the faculties of knowledge in ways that not only undo the reduction of knowledge to information but do so starting from the neganthropological functions of knowledge, systems open to the improbable that would also amount to quasi-causal cosmologies.

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The Commerce of Anonymity
John Paul Ricco

Centered on The Andrew Project (2010–13) by artist Shaan Syed, this article is a theoretical meditation on the politics and ethics of the name, drawing, the portrait, anonymity, and the signature, as these bear on a shared sense of loss and its impossible commemoration. I invoke the figure of the urban stranger and passerby to argue for an aesthetics and ethics of social anonymity that does not rely on or demand identification and that thereby remains open to the risk, surprise, and pleasure of shared existence. In doing so, I theorize intimacy as that which remains unnameable in the “commerce” of our everyday lives.

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Possum Hunting
Colin Dayan

This meditation marks a return to the South and its somewhat raucous racism, a hate so visceral that it can be known only through the tracks of the nonhuman: the possum that suffer in the destruction we have wrought against all species, vegetable and mammalian, everywhere.

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Performing Stillness: Diaspora and Stasis in Black German Vernacular Photography
Tina M. Campt

What changes in our understanding of the experience of black communities in diaspora when we move beyond the binaries of stillness and motion to engage black life through the lens of stasis? This essay explores a collection of vernacular photos of a black German family in the Third Reich using the concept of stasis to unpack the social, historical, political, and visual tensions that structure these images’ depiction of their black German subjects. Viewing these images as complex depictions of stasis (defined not as the cessation of movement but as motion held in suspension and a balancing of multiple forces) offers a generative framework for theorizing the quotidian practices of refusal that constitute black fugitivity.

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    Critical Biography

Breaking Through Memories into Desire
Chris Kraus

It’s doubtful that Acker stayed at her parents’ apartment that February for very long, if she stayed there at all. She and Len Neufeld were no longer speaking, and—perhaps because she found his artistic crush on her awkward—she avoided seeing Jackson Mac Low. Bernadette Mayer and her then-boyfriend, the filmmaker Ed Bowes, were Acker’s closest ties to the poetry scene and the art world, so it’s likely she stayed at their place. On February 18, she and Mel Frielicher read with Ed Bowes and two other friends at a St. Marks Poetry Project Monday Night reading.

The previous year Mayer and Bowes had made two videotapes, Sexless and matter, with Bowes’s unwieldy video camera. They lived in his loft at 74 Grand Street, one block south of Canal. To Mayer, the loft was depressing. Watching the long and static exterior shots...

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Thinking about Method: A Conversation with Talal Asad 
Basit Kareem Iqbal

In this interview, completed in November 2016, the anthropologist Talal Asad (b. 1933) reviews methodological and theoretical questions that continue to animate his work. The conversation is framed by his concept of tradition and touches on themes of temporality and sovereignty, failure and fragility, ethnographic conceits and forms of life.

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    Review Essays

Nontranscendental Transnationalism
Rachel Haejin Lim

A review of Beliso–De Jesús, Aisha M., Electric Santería: Racial and Sexual Assemblages of Transnational Religion (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015).

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Liberalism, Disfigured
Andrew John Barbour

A review of Anderson, Amanda, Bleak Liberalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Read now at Duke University Press

Volume 26.1 is available at Duke University Press and Project Muse. Qui Parle is edited by an independent group of graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley and published by Duke University Press.