WHO CAN REVOLT?
After listening to todays lecture ’New forms of revolt’ by Julie Kristeva at Bergen University, her own question, posed both at the start of the lecture and at the very end in the Q&A-round, comes to the fore: Who can revolt?
In a both brilliant and horrorfying line of thought Kristeva identified contemporary strands of fundamentalist terror as an adolescent ’need to believe’. A need that finds no revelation in secular post-post-modernity – in showbiz-society, as she termed contemporary hyper-capitalism. This unfullfilled need is hijacked by a violent malady of idealism, that turns the perpetual adolescent into a fundamentalist aggressor performing an apocalyptical masculinity.
Kristeva argued for an understanding of i.e. Islamic State as a malignant evil, a radical combination of nihilism and believing. It is to be taken seriously, not as medieval nostalgia, but as a hysterical consequence of contemporary ideality syndromes. If the immanent urge for identity can’t be fullfilled, nor handled by western showbiz-culture, the adolescent will turn to the new ’gangsters’ of fundamentalism, to the extreme nihilist believe-systems of fundamentalism.
If the position of contemporary revolt is thus occupied by either these gangsters of fundamentalist idealism or are being cloned by showbiz-society as commodified experience- and identity-economy, then: Who can revolt?
If the contemporary subject is reduced to a passified consumer by a totalitarian, but completely evasive system of absolute, but paradoxically absent power. A consumer, barely able to handle the remote control. If the dominant mode of this perceptual adolescence is either an apolyptical masculinity or an anorexic self-destruction of feminity, then: Who can revolt?
Kristeva argues for a kind of inner revolt, an infinite re-evaluation of identity positions. She proposes art and poetry as ways of handling the unbearable conflictuality as a kind of experimental psychosis – opting for creativity as a platform for intimate revolt.
Although this sounds promising from an artist point of view, I am in doubt of her clear dismissal of public protest, her dismissal of opposional politics. We immideatly think that the ’who’ in the question ’who can revolt?’, is to be identified as an individual. But isn’t this exactly where we go wrong? Isn’t this exactly the point where we have lost all faith? Of course, I can not revolt. No one – understood as no individual – can revolt.
How can the scattered individuals become collectivity? This is the urgent question to be answered.
Is adolescent fundamentalism the only possibile path to collective identity? The only path to become we? If so, we are really condemned. Kristeva calls for a restoration of (european) humanities. This restoration must inevitabely include – or simply be – a resurrection of human collectivity, of solidarity and care. A resurrection of we.
In revolt, the individual identity is changed!
In revolt, the false identities of consumerism is shred away.
In revolt, a collective body emerges.
In revolt, you and me become we.
WE CAN REVOLT!
Julia Kristeva: Nye former for opprør.
Onsdag 26. november 2014 kl. 11.15-13.15
Auditoriet «Egget», Studentsenteret i Bergen, Parkveien 1