/ecm diskurs 43: Rethinking Left-Wing Melancholia
Friday, December 13, 2019, 7pm
University of Applied Arts Vienna
Vordere Zollamtsstraße 7, Flux 1
Lecture: Enzo Traverso Historian, Cornell University, NY
Moderation: Nora Sternfeld /ecm-director team, Vienna
For almost two centuries, the left-wing culture—anarchist, socialist, and communist—carried out a memorial prescription: to select the events of the past in order to inscribe them into the future. It was a “strategic” memory of past movements and struggles, a future-oriented memory. Today, this dialectic between past and future has broken, and the eclipse of utopias engendered by our “presentist” time has almost extinguished this left-wing memory. The dialectical tension between the past as a “field of experience” and the future as a “horizon of expectation” has become a kind of mutilated, “negative dialectic.” In this context, a melancholic vision of history as remembrance of the vanquished deserves to be rediscovered. This hidden tradition of the left includes many significant thinkers, from Auguste Blanqui to Rosa Luxemburg, from Walter Benjamin to Daniel Bensaid. Its creations are not only textual but also aesthetic and find an accomplished expression in both cinema and painting. Neither passive nor resigned, this multifaceted work of mourning may stimulate and empower our critical thought.
Enzo Traverso is the Susan and Barton Winokur Professor in the Humanities at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. His work deals with modern European intellectual history. His books, all translated into several languages, include Fire and Blood: The European Civil War (2016); Left-Wing Melancholia: Marxism, History and Memory (2017), and The New Faces of Fascism (2019).
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