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.
Art and Exceptionalism: A Critique
Arne De Boever teaches American studies in the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts, where he also directs the MA Aesthetics and Politics program. He is the author of States of Exception in the Contemporary Novel (2012), Narrative Care (2013), and Plastic Sovereignties (2016), and coeditor of Gilbert Simondon (2012) and The Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism (2013). He edits Parrhesia and the Critical Theory/Philosophy section of the Los Angeles Review of Books and is a member of the boundary 2 collective. His most recent book is Finance Fictions (2018).