Eroding the value of human life and obscuring the discernibility of shared futures, the twenty-first century’s unabating civilizational calamities compel desperate attempts to advance individual and social renewal in the navigation of dark times. Mindful of such need, this article examines the transhistorical resourcefulness of Peter Weiss’s Die Ästhetik des Widerstands (The Aesthetics of Resistance) with regard to contemporary challenges. Schooled in antifascism’s failures of the 1930s and 1940s, The Aesthetics abounds in detailed engagements with literary and visual works of art as well as pivotal chapters of European political history to model processes of resistance formation. Weiss’s extensive remediation of Théodore Géricault’s painting The Raft of the Medusa in the transition from volume 1 to volume 2 and the political debate that The Aesthetics’ narrator stages between the Swedish figures Ström and Rogeby near the end of the second volume feature the imagination as a force of aesthetic and political resistance respectively: whereas the narrator’s engagement with Géricault’s Raft yields a vision of common plight and solidarity in defiance of colonialist and fascist catastrophes, his artful modulation of Ström and Rogeby’s exchanges sets a course for the expansion of resistance’s scope. The combined analysis of these segments reveals how The Aesthetics’ interrelation of struggles across historical, geographic, racial, and economic divides proves instructive for new articulations and formations of resistance amid the twenty-first century’s health, social, political and refugee crises.

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