This essay reviews Santiago Zabala’s book Why Only Art Can Save Us: Aesthetics and the Absence of Emergency (2017). The review considers Zabala’s Heideggerian approach to art and contemporary debates about the state of exception and asks, from a political point of view, whether Zabala is not too quick to leave other debates about the state of exception (in the work of Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin, and Giorgio Agamben, for example) aside in his discussion of the state of exception. Such an approach is important from a strictly internal perspective, to assess Heidegger’s thinking about the emergency and map it out in relation to those other thinkers. Second, it is important from an external perspective, when one is thinking about the politics of art and its association with exceptionalism.

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