Of an apocalyptic tone recently adopted in democracy

2019-08-02

In recent years the lasting and multiple history of the relations between literature and democracy seems to be drafting a tense new chapter. If it is true that both share trust in language as a possibility for constituting non-exclusionary modes of interaction between different subjects and discourses, this foundation currently clashes with a national and global scenario frequently described as a collapse or a disaster (be it through rupture with a previous state or as its very consequence and exponential pervasiveness). The numerous recent elections of groups and governments defined by authoritarian and violent discourses, expressed within a cynical rhetoric (in the sense suggested by Peter Sloterdijk), have made the hatred of democracy described by Jacques Ranciére transform itself into a democracy of hatred. As such, acts of censorship are promoted in the name of freedom of expression; the dismantling of institutional policies directed towards indigenous groups, black and brown people, women and lgbtqi+ is justified through a supposed equality that would already have been ensured by law; distortion is presented as the restoration of historiography; vigilance over teachers and students becomes a requirement to avoid institutional indoctrination; and protests are only authorized as long as they stand for the preservation of order. The mere act of teaching arts and Humanities in schools and universities is now seen as a suspicious and anti-democratic activity.

In this scenario, the conditions of enunciation are constrained by the unfaltering hegemony established through new technical devices of production, mediation and distribution of discourses, from apps and social media to drones, from digital algorithms to the extensive use of depositions that are delivered as “smoke screens”. It is symptomatic that an entirely other textual tropology must arise to account for these phenomena, expressed through concepts such as “fake news” or “post-truth”.

As a result, aspects held dear by literary practice, such as fiction, performativity, modes of producing the sensible and the economy of affects, are directly rattled or influenced by the arrival of these unprecedented modes of interaction between language and politics.

From a complementary perspective, contemporary times have borne witness not only to new clamor in defense of democracy, but also for its reinvention and urgent expansion. As such, along with the series of historical struggles over the definition of that which can exist under the order of the common, for the survival of deviant cultures and for the recognition of their modes of existence, the times now call for non-human agencies in questioning these issues of uncommon scale. Ongoing massive environmental destruction and the appearance of so-called hyper-objects or of a capitalist economy in global scale determine the urgency of creating perspectives that overcome anthropocentric and theological models of governability and community. At these crossroads, the connections and tensions between literature and democracy reaffirm their relevance, now implicated in the very possibility that there might be an à-venir.

The journal Remate de Males is open to receiving papers that tackle these themes and contribute to the understanding of the current state of affairs, while rethinking the role of the arts and their associated institutions, tracing genealogies of the contemporary, analyzing recent cultural production and reaffirming the pertinence of works from the past, among other topics that have to do with the end and the ends of democracy and literature in the face of a present that imposes itself with extreme violence.

 

Editors: Marcos Natali (USP); Mariana Ruggieri (Unicamp – Postdoctoral Researcher), Tiago Guilherme Pinheiro (Unicamp – Postdoctoral Researcher).

Deadline  for article submissions: December 1, 2019.