On November 19th there will be a workshop at Sheffield University organised jointly by the Bakhtin and the Bloch centres dealing with questions of the relationship between critique and faith. The central question will be how much it is possible to develop a rational critique of the existing order without having an alternative mythology to offer. The success of the Tea Party in the US, for example, shows just how much myth and fantasy is impervious to rational critique and evidence. Does this mean that the only way to combat such movements is through developing a progressive mythology as an alternative pole of attraction? Bloch’s book Heritage of Our Times addressed precisely this issue in the 1930s with regard to a critique of emergent fascism and it is perhaps time to ask whether his analysis might have something to say to us in a new period of economic and social dislocation.
The Politics of Utopia: Marxism, Myth and Religion
Friday, 19th November 2010
Workshop jointly organised by the Centre for Ernst Bloch Studies and the Bakhtin Centre
Humanities Research Institute
10.00 – 11.00 Reception and coffee
11.00 – 12.30 Peter Thompson (Sheffield): “The Communist Hypothesis and the Invariant of Direction. Badiou, Bloch and the political theology of the impossible”
Craig Brandist (Sheffield): “Semantic Palaeontology and the Passage from Myth to Science and Poetry: The Work of Izrail´ Frank-Kamenetskii (1880-1937)”
12.30 – 13.30 Lunch
13.30 – 15.00 Esther Leslie (Birkbeck): “Mountains and Crystals: Utopia in the Snows of Weimar”
Richard Howells (King’s): “Creation and Creativity: Utopia and Navajo Design”
15.00 – 15.30 Coffee
15.30 – 17.00 Caitríona Ní Dhúill (Durham): “Experiments with the name of God: Bloch’s reading of mystery”
Johan Siebers (IGRS/University of Central Lancashire): “Gratia naturam non tollit: Outline of a Blochian environmental philosophy”
17.00 – 18.00 Wine reception
18.00 – 19.30 Film screening and discussion in the Exhibition Space as part of ‘Homeland’ (details below)
Pasolini’s Accatone attempting to film a narrative in front of live performance events. Characters speak in front of the chaotic events going on behind thus turning them into the continuous narrative we see in Hermitos Children.
Más Se Perdió (we lost more)
Más Se Perdió (we lost more) structurally unites a series of historical and cultural references in contemporary Havana, Cuba. A variety of cinematographic approaches are used to explore the spaces of the derelict National School of Ballet, to document young athletes at an outdoor stadium, and to record a street scene with construction workers the latter in reference to Chris Marker’s film Letter from Siberia (1957). Each place maintains some relationship to notions of utopia; however, the autonomous soundscape of the film is suggestive of underlying conflicts contained within these visions.
The Whistleblower’s Pocket Guide to Dissent in the Public Sphere
Freee will broadcast a recording of their spoken choir performance, The Whistleblower’s Guide to Dissent in the Public Sphere. The manifesto is a rewriting of Blast, the Vorticist manifesto of 1914. Long overlooked, and despite its conservative version of avant-gardism, the Vorticist manifesto is unexpectedly militant. Freee’s updated version of the manifesto might borrow the terms of contemporary political thinkers, but the rhetoric of British avant-gardism proves itself to be more up to date than one might expect.
Inert Gas Series: Box (audio), with Julian Claxton
The work consists of a telephone conversation between Julian Claxton (Plan 9) and conceptual artist Robert Barry. The conversation discusses the location and planned re-making of Barry’s Inert Gas Series: Krypton, 1969. Barry’s original artwork is presented alongside an attempted remake of this work by Huddlestone, working from memory and also through the telepathy of Julian Claxton back in the UK.
A Place of Their Own (Paula McCloskey & Sam Vardy)
The Luxury of Imagining
Using a recorded broadcast featuring multiple voices, the starting point for this piece is a desire to contemplate some of the inherent contradictions, dichotomies and paradoxes that are replete in discourses of utopia. The ‘transmission’ strives to create an-other, parallel space to conjure up other possible worlds and/or ways of being. This ‘text’ plays with ideas of imagined futurity (as potential) and of the possible present (the (in)controvertible ‘now-ness’ of the event).
The Politics and Aesthetics Reading Group, Maresa MacKeith, Ange Taggart
It is not enough to portray what exists, it is necessary to think what is wished for and what is possible.
The Politics and Aesthetics Reading Group is a collective which meets regularly to read/think and take action, creating a space that supports the reading and dissemination of philosophical/political theory. The group will collaborate with Maresa MacKeith, and Ange Taggart. In Response to Bloch’s writing on The True Architect in The Principle of Hope, Volume 3, the reading group, Maresa and Ange will, together, explore notions of humanity, hope, vulnerability and capital.
Sourcing a piece of Galena from an online healing crystal store, Shaw will make a drawing of the crystal to be reproduced in the adjoining publication, with a sound recording of the drawing being broadcast on the radio. Here Becky aims to escape the ‘edges’ of the radio and the publication by the two elements referring to each other; proposing a route between the space of the material and the hopes and dreams of the immaterial.
H.G. Wells’ significance in the development of literary forms of utopian discourse is incomparable. However, it was as a public intellectual that Wells was able to move towards a more socially and politically orientated space of utopian debate and discourse. For Wells, radio was a tool for intellectual speculation as mass communication on an unprecedented scale, to address listeners with political challenges driven by ambitions to achieve concrete utopian transformation. Smith proposes a script derived from H.G. Wells’ radio broadcasts for the BBC in the 1930s and 1940s.