Building Education for the Commons

GCAS Professor & Artist Sigrid Hackenberg

Dr Sigrid Hackenberg

Dr Sigrid Hackenberg

GCAS Poetics, Performance, Philosophy Seminar

Dr. Andrzej Jachimczyk

Dr. Andrzej Jachimczyk

Guest speakers: Dr. Andrzej Jachimczyk, Dr. Julia Hölzl, Dr. Cara Judea Alhadeff,

Dr. Michael Anker, Dr. Lorena B. Fernandez

Welcome address & course introduction Oct. 5, 2014

by Dr. Sigrid Hackenberg

For Creston Davis

Welcome to the Poetics, Performance, Philosophy seminar. This is, indeed, a very special occasion—offering us the opportunity to engage in the possibility of a conversation regarding the futures of philosophy, our lives, projects, and friendship(s), a conversation that aspires to a contestation, a radical rethinking, a radical compassion that would call us toward an unconditional surrender.

To a gathering of friends, colleagues, and researchers, a gathering that we should not take for granted, that is, to not take each other for granted, an instance where conversations may linger well beyond the time and space designated for this particular moment, and where in spite of numerous setbacks, difficulties, and reversals, we may celebrate each other’s accomplishments and dream of the “in/possibility”(1) of possibility where, according to Levinas, the (im)possible becomes possible

E. Levinas

E. Levinas

(2), in a future commons of the “now” which is in the process of endlessly being re-invented. The key being the celebration of each other’s accomplishments, the accomplishments of friends, and strangers, of “those who think differently,” as the Marxist theorist and revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg, so aptly stated, “Freiheit is immer Freiheit der Andersdenkenden (freedom is always, and exclusively, the freedom for the one who thinks differently),” that is, “of dissenters.”

Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg

(3) The Global Center for Advanced Studies, in this sense, marks a radical break in “business as usual,” in how we imagine ourselves, the future and/or future(s), in the plural, of the university, philosophy, art, politics, community, the survival of the planet at large. Perhaps, it offers us a momentary respite, a place, or space, however fleeting or transient it may be, where we may invoke a community of writers and lovers (4), artists, dancers, poets, singers, composers, choreographers, theorists, philosophers, filmmakers, performers, and activists leaning towards a community of strangers who are infinitely in the process of dissolving and undoing, “unworking”(5) themselves.



I have dreamed of such a community since the day I first began teaching in New York, when I was twenty-six years old, many years ago, but I’m afraid that I have only experienced rare glimpses of it and on too rare occasion. I dream of a university and an “art world,” or should I say, a “world of art,” where we need not step all over each other to climb to the top, or stick a knife in each others’ backs to get there, the there, that is, after all, nowhere we would like to be, the everywhere of the Same, in the too familiar story that is “divide and conquer.”

I am dreaming of the possibility of such a community in The Global Center for Advanced Studies, a community that Creston Davis, the Founder and Director of GCAS, has made possible; I am dreaming of Agamben’s “community to come”(6), Nancy’s “the inoperative community”(7), Blanchot’s “the unavowable community”(8), and Derrida’s “university without condition”(9), just as I dream of Nietzsche’s “Übermensch” (overman), Badiou’s “manifesto for philosophy,” the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s “Ten-Point Program”

(10), Ettinger’s “matrixial borderspace”



(11), Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, Haraway’s “cyborgs” (12) and Cixous’ “tout-puissance-autre (Omnipotence-other).”(13) I dream of a conversation where we may invoke such visionaries as Malcolm X, Shulamith Firestone, Huey P. Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Luce Irigaray, Edward Ryon Makuahanai “Eddie” Aikau (14), Wolfgang Schirmacher, Jimi Hendrix, Audre Lorde, Monique Wittig, and the singer-songwriter, Lana del Rey, among numerous others.

That is a conversation wherein we may re-imagine philosophy as an invocation of the unconditional, a desire, the desire of desire, the desire for desire(15) according to Kojeve’s Hegel, and, as the radical feminist philosopher Mary Daly would have it, as “pure lust (16), as an insurrection, a militant, and sensuous act. Philosophy in this sense does not only call forth the promise of pure desire but also calls forth the radical promise of inspiration, a radical form of inspiration.

Philosophy as a literary phenomenon, as fiction, as a chameleon-like configuration may thus lead us to the possibility of infinite reversal(s), a reconsideration of the possibility of philosophy as radical surrender, passivity (passive energy/solar energy), humility, and infidelity (infidelity to the institutions and systems that entrap and enslave us), not only as a “technology of the self,”(17) and/or “face-to face”(18) encounter, that is, to say, not only as a radical movement toward exteriority, the outside, but as a radical movement toward interiority, ourselves, the strangers in ourselves(19); more urgently, as a radical surrender and reversal of “the will to power,” that calls forth, a will to powerless(ness), exposure, vulnerability.(20)

But I’m getting ahead of myself, for today, at this very moment we shall turn our attention to the seduction that is “absolute knowledge”(21), not a contradiction in terms or precisely, in Hegelian terms, we shall celebrate the “force” that is pure contradiction reveling in philosophy’s seduction, the allurement that is philosophy.

In this instance, I will need to return to my first encounter with philosophy during my doctoral studies at the European Graduate School, when I read Hegel for the first time. That is to say when I first read Alexandre Kojève’s Hegel. Or better yet, when I first encountered Faulkner’s Hegel, that is when I first read Hegel through Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury” and “The Wild Palms” or any number of Faulkner texts that I had previously fallen in love with in my early twenties when I was living in San Francisco. San Francisco, the “city of the golden west,” the “golden” city of the “west,” as it has been rightly called, and the city of my early university days. It is thus that I read Hegel through the lens of fiction. But this, of course took place two decades later when I was in my forties. I read, ingested, reveled and caressed Hegel’s texts as if they were lovers.

Philosophy in this instance, unknowingly, surprisingly took on the guise of fiction for me, and it follows that Hegel became my lover. As it is, I possess an endless string of lovers in whom I indulge with perfect satisfaction, and Hegel persistently remains at the top of the list. Hegel as a lover has never disappointed me. Every text that I have laid my eyes on reads like an extended love letter, an aphrodisiac, the Phenomenology of Spirit, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, and Science of Logic, you name it, it is like Lana Del Rey’s, “Oh, baby! […] you fit me better than my favorite sweater”(22), quoted in the ballad, “Blue Jeans,” from Del Rey’s studio album, Born to Die (2012). It should not surprise us that, Del Rey studied philosophy at Fordham University, and I dare say that her newest album, Ultraviolence (2014), is comparable to Hegel’s Phenomenology both in its sheer force of imagination and invocation of Spirit. In philosophy, we are habituated to the production of “grand narratives,” “little narratives (petit récit)”(23) (Lyotard), “regimes of truth”(24), or, “games of truth”(25), as Foucault would have it. We may, in this instance, ask the question, “Who is afraid of Hegel”?

This brings to mind a series of paintings by the late American Abstract Expressionist artist, Barnett Newman, aptly titled, “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?”(26) Following Newman’s insistence or stance, there is no reason for us to fear Hegel, for Hegel’s philosophy continues to be one of the profoundest, most revolutionary projects that philosophy has endeavoured. In this sense, Hegel remains aptly, and urgently, contemporary. We should approach Hegel as Andrzej Jachimczyk urges us, as a provocation, a project that needs to be continuously re-invented and re-imagined. It is thus in Reading Hegel After Nietzsche, that Jachimczyk shows us that “Hegel is a philosopher of incessant becoming, openness, expectation, and the future […].” (27)


  1. Julia Hölzl, “In/Possible Relation: Being, Time, Death,” Poligrafi 65/66 17 (2012): 124.
  2. Levinas describes this as “an order where everything is pending, where what is no longer possible historically remains always possible […].” See Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2002), 55.
  3. “Rosa Luxemburg,” accessed Oct. 4, 2014, http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Rosa_Luxemburg.
  4. See Maurice Blanchot’s reference to a community of friends and lovers, “the dispersal of a presence,” “always ready to dissolve itself,” calling forth, “the arid solitude of anonymous forces (Régis Debray),” in The Unavowable Community, trans. Pierre Joris (Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1988) 33. See in addition, Sheri I. Hoem, “Community and the ‘Absolute Feminine,’ ” Diacritics 26.2 (1996): 49-58, accessed Oct. 4, 2014, https://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/diacritics/v026/26.2hoem.html.
  5. Blanchot, The Unavowable Community, 33.
  6. Agamben notes, “THE COMING being, is whatever being.” Giorgio Agamben, The Coming Community, trans. Michael Hardt (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1993), 1.
  7. Nancy states, “one must say that ecstasy (community) happens to a singular being.” See Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community, ed. Peter Connor (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1991), 7.
  8. In “The Community of Lovers,” Blanchot notes, “May ’68 has shown that without project, without conjunction, in the suddenness of a happy meeting, like a feast that breached the admitted and expected social norms, explosive communication, could affirm itself (affirm itself beyond the usual forms of affirmation) as the opening that gave permission to everyone, without distinction of class, age, sex, culture, to mix with the first comer as if with an already loved being, precisely because he was the unknown-unfamiliar.” See Blanchot, The Unavowable Community, 29-30.
  9. Jacques Derrida, “The University Without Condition,” in Without Alibi, trans. Peggy Kamuf (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002), 202-237.
  10. The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense Ten-Point Platform and Program was written by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966. First published in the 2nd issue of The Black Panther newspaper on May 15, 1967, “The Ten-Point Platform: ‘What We Want Now! What We Believe’ ” made a number of political demands. Following is an excerpted version:

What We Want Now!

  1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.
  2. We want full employment for our people.
  3. We want an end to the robbery by the white men of our Black Community.
  4. We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings.
  5. We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society.
  6. We want all Black men to be exempt from military service.
  7. We want an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of Black people.
  8. We want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails.
  9. We want all Black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their Black Communities, as defined by the Constitution of the United States.
  10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.

“The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense Ten Point Program,” accessed, October 4, 2014, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten-Point_Program.

  1. Bracha L. Ettinger, The Matrixial Borderspace, (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 2005).
  2. Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,” in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991), 149-181.
  3. Jacques Derrida, Geneses, Genealogies, Genres and Genius: The Secrets of the Archive, trans. Beverley Bie Brahic (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), 12.
  4. “Eddie Aikau Foundation,” accessed October 4, 2014, http://www.eddieaikaufoundation.org/eddie.htm.
  5. Kojève notes, “Human history is the history of desired desires.” See Alexandre Kojève, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit, ed. Allan Bloom and trans. James H. Nichols (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980), 6.
  6. Mary Daly, Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1984).
  7. Michel Foucault, Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault, ed. Luther H. Martin, Huck Gutman and Patrick H. Hutton (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1988).
  8. Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 207.
  9. Notably, Kristeva poses the following question, “By What Right Are You a Foreigner?” See Julia Kristeva, Strangers to Ourselves, trans. Leon Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 95.
  10. Alhadeff notes, “My pedagogical and art-based research explores possibilities of radical citizenship by actively cultivating vulnerability through corporeal inquiries.” See Cara Judea Alhadeff, Viscous Expectations: Justice, Vulnerability, the Ob-scene, (New York/Dresden: Atropos Press, 2013), 29.
  11. In the Phenomenology’s “Introduction,” Hegel notes, “when consciousness itself grasps this its own essence, it will signify the nature of absolute knowledge itself.” See Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), 57.
  12. Lana Del Rey, “Blue Jeans [lyrics video],” in Born To Die (Interscope Records (USA), Polydor Records (UK), 2012), accessed October 4, 2014, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty7ln5WdPBg.
  13. Lyotard notes, “We no longer have recourse to the grand narratives—we can resort neither to the dialectic of Spirit nor even to the emancipation of humanity as a validation for postmodern scientific discourse. But as we have just seen, the little narrative [petit récit] remains the quintessential form of imaginative invention, most particular in science.” Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), 60.
  14. See Michel Foucault, “The Political Function of the Intellectual,” trans. C. Gordon, Radical Philosophy no.17 (Summer 1977): 12-14.
  15. See in particular Foucault’s Feb. 29, 1984 lecture. Michel Foucault, The Courage of Truth: The Government of Self and Others II; Lectures at the Collège de France 1983-1984 (Volume 8), ed. Arnold I. Davidson and trans. Graham Burchell (New York: Picador/Macmillan Publishers, 2012), 157-190.
  16. The series was painted by Newman between 1966 and 1970, and includes four large-scale works: Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow, and Blue I, II, III, IV. See “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue,” accessed October 4, 2014, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who’s_Afraid_of_Red,_Yellow_and_Blue.
  17. Andrzej Jachimczyk, Reading Hegel After Nietzsche, (Dresden/New York: Atropos Press, 2013), 4.

©2014 by Sigrid Hackenberg


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