A STATEMENT, AN INVITATION
Taking our cue from the Bulgarian philosopher, Tvetzan Todorov, we understand the object of “poetics” to be not just a set of formal qualities and traditions particular to poetic works but coherent conceptual and practical concerns from which a “possible literature” or “way of life” emerges. Each work becomes a manifestation of this possibility, a construction which cannot encompass its result. We believe the myriad crises we are experiencing today necessitate an expansion and reconfiguring of critical possibility beyond existing academic forms. We aim to better understand how aesthetic practice already contains and develops its own notions of such fundamental possibilities. We aim to make things of which we do not yet know what they are.
The function of this project will be to gather multiple works into a conversation wherein the resources of aesthetic practice and poetics call the structure of critique into question—that is, to direct critical attention not only to the critical object but to the directing of attention itself: its function, its value, its methods, etc. Critique, in our contemporary situation, should be broadly conceived as not just limiting (or challenging) what is available to reason but as the very subjective or collective position we claim in order to respond to conditions of devalued public institutions, pervasive violence, ecosystem collapse, etc. We emphasize practice because it is through the experience of constructing and reconstructing a distinct stance-in-the-world that practitioners can develop a critical relationship to their situation that is not determined by any particular discourse. We seek works on all scales that stake themselves as living experiments and not just ideological arguments, political allegories, etc. This can range from the noise rippling through an everyday task to a diagram for a 21st century collective housing project.
Conversely, we are interested in the kinds of poetics already at work in fields beyond what is typically categorized as “aesthetic,” such as the physical and social sciences, economics, linguistics, mathematics, etc. We see this project as an opportunity to extend the field of aesthetic practice, such that “poetics” can be read as a common ground or concern for all kinds of life practices. In a time when many educational and cultural institutions are in peril, we see this as a necessary and affirmative gesture.
What is most important is that the critical possibility of the work is understood in terms of the practice the work exemplifies, exhibits, or draws into question.
L y n H e j i n i a n C h r i s t o p h e r P a t r i c k M i l l e r