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How dangerous is the Ir-rational?

Oct 30, 2009

Doomed to a constant oscillation between the realms of the Unknown and the illusion of meaning, we advance regressing. Echoing various other scholars, the American philosopher William James marked “the recesses of feeling the darker, blinder strata of character” as the only places in the world in which “we catch real fact in the making.” Yet, instead of curiously exploring what cannot be known, we push it further away enveloped with fear and anxiousness. The “darker strata” regularly produce angst, aversion, or awe. In this one day symposium, scholars and artists will shed “light” on what has been relegated to the sphere of unreason: magic, the irrational, spectrality, the daemonic. Who is afraid of the irrational? What is “magic philosophy” and who needs it?  How much reason is reasonable? 

18:30: Keynote by Michael Taussig

The symposium ends with a keynote by the distinguished anthropologist Michael Taussig. In a synthesis of ethnology, media theory, performance, philosophy and history, Michael Taussig’s work investigates commodity fetishism, the impact of colonialism, shamanism and folk healing, slavery, terror, mimesis, magic, and colour, to name only a few of his areas of interest.  Since his first book, The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in Latin America in 1980, to his most recent publication What Colour is the Sacred? in 2008, the Columbia University Professor has combined fieldwork and theory in a unique genre of “ficto-criticism.” In this talk Michael Taussig will address the notion of fear in combination with the ir/rational. 



Organization: Sladja Blazan (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and ICI Berlin

In cooperation with the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung

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