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I've suggested that it might be useful and interesting for us to broach `the global' as a Theory Cluster discussion topic and that, to that end, we could focus on Samuel Weber's `Globality, Organization, Class', which appears in Diacritics 31.3 (Fall 2001).

While Weber's excellent article could get a discussion going from scratch it might also work as a kind of supplement to the article on Benjamin that was the focus of the cluster discussion led by Melissa on 25/09/06 (Scott McCracken, `The Completion of Old Work: Walter Benjamin and the Everyday')

Some random remarks...

McCracken emphasises

Benjamin's elaboration of two different kinds of `experience': (1) Erlebnis, immediate or shock experience, and (2) Erfahrung, a fuller and more reflective state of consciousness... It is the dialectic between Erlebnis and Erfahrung that offers the possibility of the preservation of modern experience and its transformation.
The `context of Erlebnis' is
the city, which offers the boundaries and thresholds that fracture modern experience, disrupting any sense of it as homogeneous.
The threshold of the experiential dialectic - Erlebnis/Erfahrung - is akin to that of dreaming/awakening.

Can globalisation be understood as the becoming-worldwide of that `city' which, for Benjamin, is the `context of Erlebnis'? If so, how does the condition of fractured experience involve a reckoning with the globe as such, i.e. with the earth as a whole, whose planetary spatiality becomes `everyday' technologically and via the media? Is the threshold Erlebnis/Erfahrung implied, for example, in that difference in theoretical tenor which separates the following two evocations of the `global' (which I cite here without further comment). In the first, Spivak says that the globe as such is `inaccessible to experience' while, in the second, Virilio posits the global as `precisely what we are experiencing today':

The `globe' is counterintuitive. You walk from one end of the earth to the other and it remains flat. It is a scientific abstraction inaccessible to experience. No one lives in the global village. The only relationship accessible to the globe so far is that of the gaze. Both the Greek and the Sanskrit words for transcendental knowledge or theory - theoria and darsana - relate to seeing. Culture at work or at play, on the other hand, is not a problem of knowledge, but a regulator of relations. My question, therefore: In what interest, to regulate what sort of relationships, is the globe evoked?

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, `Cultural Talks in the Hot Peace: Revisiting the `Global Village,'' in Cheah and Robbins (eds.) Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling beyond the Nation (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press, 1998), 329

Now, the thing is, with globalization, what we are experiencing today is the finiteness of the world, of a planet confronted by its ultimate exterior, the void of outer space. Whence the sudden foreclosure of a world that is globally finished, confronted by its `extermination,' that is, by the perfect rotundity of its terrestrial substance.

Paul Virilio, City of Panic, trans. Julie Rose (Oxford: Berg, 2005), 63-64

This event notice might interest Theory Cluster readers...

a r t s p a c e
43 - 51 Cowper Wharf Road
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011 Australia
t: +61 2 9368 1899

Re-Framing Art: The Conditions of Theory

2 - 5pm Saturday 9 September
$8/$5 concession

In 2003 the editorial board of the Chicago-based journal Critical Inquiry in 2003 asked invited participants a series of questions as part of their symposium "Critical Inquiry in the 21st Century". Question 1: It has been suggested that the great era of theory is now behind us and that we have entered a period of timidity, backfilling, and (at best) empirical accumulation. True?

Pronouncements of the irrelevance and consequential demise of critical and cultural theory are now commonplace. Re-Framing Art: The Conditions of Theory brings together a group of artists, writers and theorists to address the question of whether we really are now living 'after theory'? What is it we are talking about when we cite 'theory'? Is it now simply shorthand for irrelevant intellectual pursuit displaced by the hegemony of market and cultural individualism salved by new claims to humanism? How did theory become the pejorative of thought? Why the divides between theory and practice, theory and direct action, theory and life? Can it be true that the new urgencies of the 'age of terror' preclude critical reflection? What are the implications of the shift in modus operandi of art writing in Australia from critical exegesis to PR copy? Or of the emphasis upon 'professional practice' modules rather than critical theory within art colleges?

Speakers include: Nicole Anderson, David Brooks, Gordon Bull, Blair French, Alex Gawronski, Adam Geczy, Elspeth Probyn, Cameron Tonkinwise, Ruth Watson

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This blog supports the work of the Theory Cluster, English Department, University of Sydney