In my contribution, I adopt Sloterdijk’s analysis of globalization as the megalomaneous or “hyperpolitical” installing of a total work of art (Gesamtkunstwerk). I rephrase his threefold (energetical, informational, and epistemological) “explicitation” of man’s radical immersion in his own media as “radical mediocrity” and argue that this has become our first nature. But then, what is the political potential of Sloterdijk’s merger of aesthetics with politics as based on the Bataillan principle of excess rather than lack and scarcity? Should we not differentiate between miserabilist and affirmative critique? This distinction is all but self-evident, because every new mediological explicitation eventually reproduces scarcity through forgetfulness. It depends on the critical difference between mediocrity and inter-esse, between plain comfortable life and self-reﬂective radical mediocrity. In the final analysis, the “psychological” surplus of generosity and the substance of creativity consist precisely of this self-reﬂective in-between. Therefore, any feasible critical reflection requires a downscaling of Sloterdijk’s hyperpolitical understanding of being-in in terms of micropolitical art practices. I will concentrate on one possible answer to the critical questions that must be asked: wherein lies the possibility of resistance in Sloterdijk’s recent analyses of capitalism?
Interest and Excess of Modern Man’s Radical Mediocrity: Rescaling Sloterdijk’s Grandiose Aesthetic Strategy
HENK OOSTERLING (1952) IS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY OF DIFFERENCE, INTERCULTURAL PHILOSOPHY, AND AESTHETICS AT THE ERASMUS UNIVERSITEIT ROTTERDAM. HE IS ALSO DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRE FOR PHILOSOPHY AND ART, CHAIRMAN OF THE DUTCH AESTHETICS FEDERATION, AND SECRETARY OF THE DUTCHFLEMISH ASSOCIATION FOR INTERCULTURAL PHILOSOPHY. HE HAS PUBLISHED EXTENSIVELY ON FRENCH PHILOSOPHY. HIS BOOKS INCLUDE: DOOR SCHIJN BEWOGEN. NAAR EEN HYPERKRITIEK VAN DE XENOFOBE REDE (KOK AGORA, 1996), RADICALE MIDDELMATIGHEID (BOOM, 2000), AND INTERKULTURALITÄT IM DENKEN HEINZ KIMMERLES (VERLAG BAUTZ 2005). SEE: HTTP://WWW.HENKOOSTERLING.NL.
Henk Oosterling; Interest and Excess of Modern Man’s Radical Mediocrity: Rescaling Sloterdijk’s Grandiose Aesthetic Strategy. Cultural Politics 1 November 2007; 3 (3): 357–380. doi: https://doi.org/10.2752/175174307X226898
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