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The epochal sublime

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how breaks, ruptures and transitions are conceived of an ontological level. They are evidenced through factors across a range of domains which are presented as indicators of change but the underlying rupture must exceed these particular trends in order to be regarded as such. There’s something might and terrifying about the overarching transformation, as we spiral into an unknown that eludes our concepts and understanding. There’s a great example of this on pg 145 of Braidotti’s PostHuman Knowledge but lots of other thinkers have a similar tendency:

Whichever frame of understanding you may attempt to adopt to make sense of these developments, all thinking appears inadequate to the scale of the issues and their schizoid nature. Thinking seems equally insufficient to address the painful, glaring scale of the injustice, the violence, the disrespect and the indignity of how we deal with each other and with the world.

If this sense of the transformation is as charged as I’m suggesting, could it be an obstacle to theorising change? Do we have to abandon the epochal sublime if we want to account for change in a way that transcend the empirical without losing a grounding in it?

(Thanks to Richard Sandford for a stimulating conversation last week which prompted the idea to connect this rumination to the idea of the sublime)

Categories: Becoming Who We Are Covid-19 Post-Neoliberal Civics

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