Friday 26.5.2023. / 19.00 / MULTIMEDIJALNI INSTITUT – MaMa / LECTURE

Sami Khatib: “The Organization of Pessimism”: From Leftwing Melancholy to Messianic Nihilism

In 1940, Walter Benjamin noted that it is the function of political utopia to cast light on the sector worthy of destruction. His counter-intuitive take on utopia is not about ideal societies, wishful thinking or political hopes but about the (however defeated) necessity to destroy, dismantle and abolish structures of oppression. Political thinking does not lack utopian visions but, rather, suffers from too much intellectual wealth of ideas. Building through demolition, constructing through destruction, forming through de-forming, figuration through de-figuration – these paradoxical formulae contain the formal structure of Benjamin’s messianic nihilism. While tracing its profane, non-theological sources (Brecht, Bloch, Kraus, Marx), this talk is interested in contemporary political strategies that follow from these unstable thought figures.

Sami Khatib is a substituting professor at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HfG) and a founding member of the Beirut Institute for Critical Analysis and Research (BICAR).

Moderated by: Ozren Pupovac