No 24 (2021)

Issue No. 24, April 2021 – Main Topic: How to Do Things with Speculative Pragmatism: Pedagogy, Politics, Philosophy

Texts gathered in this issue are the second part of the How to Do Things with Speculative Pragmatism double themed issue of AM: Journal of Art and Media Studies. While the previous issue, number 23, dealt with art, aesthetics, and Anthropocene, this issue concerns itself with pedagogy, politics, and philosophy. We wanted to provide a forum for academics, theoreticians, artists, and those who complicate boundaries between disciplinary regimes to enter into a dialogue with speculative pragmatism, its ontology, politics, and aesthetics, along with the multiplicity of lines of inquiry, and see what kind of new material–semiotic configurations might emerge. In his book Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (2002), Brian Massumi refutes the notion that a thing is when it isn’t doing. For the thing is always doing, so much so that the thing, any-thing, is constituted through the doing. Every-thing is fundamentally relational. Since the starting point has changed, the key terms of the onto-politico-aesthetic debate change and they are affect, immanence, movement, intensity, emergence, becoming, event, virtual, thinking–feeling, nature–culture, space–time. Speculative pragmatism, a term Massumi introduces in Semblance and Event: Activist Philosophy and the Occurrent Arts (2011), points to the fact that the processual nature of event is always already immanent, so instead of fundamental binary oppositions there are disjunctive syntheses: speculative–pragmatic, aesthetic–political, thinking–feeling.

Those familiar with Massumi’s and Manning’s conceptual apparatus and theoretical platform will object that we performed violence by deciding not only to separate issues according to academic fields but to consider separate academic and non-academic fields at all. According to Massumi and Manning, aesthetics and politics are inseparable; they are two aspects of a single event. We argue that the same can be said of other “fields”. In response to that imaginary accusation (and self-accusation) that to separate the fields is exactly what we are not supposed to do, we can say – that is true. However, the difference itself forces us to do so and without posing disciplinary identity exactly. The authors gathered in this double issue do not yield to such disciplinary identitarianism either, as texts in previous and this issue testify in a redemptive manner for us editors.

This issue, then, deals with pedagogy, politics, and philosophy. Many of the authors contributing to this issue come from various academic fields. Meanwhile, several authors are artists themselves, and we are glad to have had the opportunity to read their texts wherein they attempt to produce concepts from their own practice and put their practice in dialogue with speculative pragmatism and other theories and philosophies.

Ties van Gemert, in his text “Sequencing and Scrutinizing a Line of Thought: Epistemological Questions for a Speculative Pragmatist”, engages in a critical dialogue with the epistemology and metaphysics of speculative pragmatism focusing on Massumi’s synthesis of the subject–object distinction, his theory of judgment, and his deflationary notion of truth. By analyzing Massumi’s conceptualizations in the book Semblance and Event (2011), Gemert argues that speculative pragmatism can be reformulated as a philosophy of panperceptionism.

Marija Bulatović, in “Those Who Want to Play: Pursuing Animal Politics in Upbringing and Education”, problematizes the defined modes of existence of a child, an adult and an elderly individual, and the ways in which play is established in education. Bulatović attempts to find in the human lifespan the moments when, after childhood, an adult gives him or herself over to play, and to propose the manners of overcoming the intergenerational differences in formal education as a space for surpassing the given in the entanglement of education and life.

Nevena Mitranić, in “The Tales of Death and Kindergarten: Becoming in Dark Encounters [COVID-19 Edition]”, autotheorizes her experience with children during her research of kindergarten practices. Mitranić engages herself in the pursuit of thinking and living educational practices in an ethico-aesthetical manner encountering the deeply-hidden secret of death in preschool practices intersected with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  

A group of seven authors, Lima, Germano, Campesato, Esteves, Mapurunga, Bonafé, and Reis, in their text “Between Control and More-than-Human Events: The Listening Experience in the Light of Speculative Pragmatism”, provide an analysis of the relationship between listening and power in a context of information warfare through the concepts of lived abstraction and subjectless individuation. They aim to propose a possible understanding of listening as an act of thought that is potentially articulated outside the noological register of narcissism through the appreciation of a mode of artistic operation that works in a manner of designing listening experiences.

Vinícius Portella Castro, in “From Polyphasic Latency to Polyrhythmic Concretion: Rhythm and Relation in Simondon and Whitehead”, follows the work of Brian Massumi, Luciana Parisi, and Steve Goodman to point out that both Simondon and Whitehead offer implicit rhythmic ontologies, albeit radically distinct. Castro intersects Whitehead’s generalization of subjectivity throughout all scales and Simondon’s generalization of the notion of individuation for all scales by analyzing polyrhythms of African music.   

Matthew Newcomb, in his text “How to Make Your Child Sleep: Designing Rhetorical Experiences”, makes an effort to help parents prepare their children for a night’s sleep by bringing design further into the discussion of rhetoric, adding a design-based angle to new materialism, theorizing rhetoric as an experience, and considering John Dewey’s notion of experience and Brian Massumi’s work on affect in light of design and material rhetoric.

Diego Gil, in his text “Processual Creativity and Partial Incorporations”, follows Deleuze’s perspective of knots and Massumi’s notion of body–environment to propose three series of questions about how to think–feel the entanglements of processual philosophy and somatic practices that do not have just one answer but do have a potential incessant displacement – knot of curation, knot of somatics, and knot of research–creation. 

Anthony Reynolds, in “Becoming Animal of Philosophy: Pragmatism, Pragrammatology, Speculative Pragmatism”, writes about similarities and differences in Derrida’s and Massumi’s appreciation of Charles Pierce’s theory of abduction. Reynolds argues that American pragmatism initiates an effort to recuperate a sense of the animality of thought, that it constitutes a philosophical example of the process that Deleuze and Guattari call “becoming animal,” and that its progress along these lines can best be seen within Massumi’s speculative pragmatism.

The writings collected within the double issue How to Do Things with Speculative Pragmatism enter into processes of becoming with the world and creating new relations, however impermanent they might be. The authors gathered here also provide readers who may be coming freshly to Massumi’s and Manning’s philosophical line of disjunctive syntheses with a sense of both resonance and divergence between speculative pragmatism and the thinkers more familiar to their own fields. Hopefully, edited volumes and other journal issues dealing with this theoretical platform will come to life soon.

Issue Editors

Marija Bulatović and Andrija Filipović

Table of Contents

Main Topic: How to Do Things with Speculative Pragmatism: Pedagogy, Politics, Philosophy

Ties van Gemert
Marija Bulatović
Henrique Souza Lima, Gustavo Branco Germano, Lílian Campesato, Lucia Nogueira Esteves, Marina Mapurunga, Valéria Bonafé, Vicente Reis
Nevena Mitranić
Vinícius Portella Castro
Matthew Newcomb
Diego Gil
Anthony Reynolds

Beyond the Main Topic – Student Research

Natali Rajčinovska Pavleska
Bojana Rodić
Aleksandra Vujović

Artist Portfolio

Stefanie Hessler, Ivana Bašić

Book Reviews

Nataša Lah
Andrija Filipović
Andrija Filipović