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Together and yet alone

mumok insider

Book recommendations from curator Franz Thalmair – together and yet alone

In these times of physical distancing, it is worth reflecting once more on the topic of community. Three books available in English editions may help with this. In The Disappearance of Rituals, philosopher Byung-Chul Han, born in South Korea and now living in Germany, champions his thesis that community is created in rituals whose disappearance reveals an atomization of society. Encapsulating the idea that European is who it wants to be in Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime, Bruno Latour formulates not just a declaration of war to those who deny climate change but also a plea for an inclusive community. Finally, based on her own relationship to dog Cayenne Pepper, Donna Haraway demonstrates in The Companion Species Manifesto how living together can be thought of over and above one’s own biological and cultural boundaries.

Byung-Chul Han
The Disappearance of Rituals: A Topology of the Present
Cambridge, UK: Polity, Autumn 2020
In his forthcoming book, Han talks about rituals as a community of response capable of harmony, of a common rhythm. For without feedback, man is reflected back on himself and is isolated for himself. Response is not an echo of the self; it is inherent in the dimension of the other.

Bruno Latour
Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime
Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2018
“Is [Europe] a province? Fine; that is just what we need: a local experiment, and yes, a provincial experiment in what it means to inhabit an earth after modernization with those whom modernization has definitively displaced.” (p. 105)

Donna Haraway
The Companion Species Manifesto
Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2003
Haraway believes that “all ethical relating is knit from the ... thread of on-going alertness to otherness-in-relations. We are not one, and being depends on getting on together.” (p. 50)
Prickly Paradigm