Hope: Revolutionary Hope – Chapters Nine and Ten

41XCGFX846L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_For the third edition of BOOK CLUB we will review Mary Zournazi’s Hope: New Philosophies for Change. A new post will be published every two weeks focused on each section of the book. For each section, Temporary contributors will initiate a discussion through the comments in the post and anyone may continue the discussion by contributing their own comments and observations on the text.

BOOK CLUB Schedule
October 27: The Elements of Hope – Chapters One and Two
November 10: The Elements of Hope – Chapters Three and Four
November 24: A Politics of Hope – Chapters Five and Six
December 8: A Politics of Hope – Chapters Seven and Eight
December 29: Revolutionary Hope – Chapters Nine and Ten
January 12: Revolutionary Hope – Chapter Eleven

“Writer and philosopher Mary Zournazi brought her questions to some of the most thoughtful intellectuals at work today. She discusses “joyful revolt” with Julia Kristeva, the idea of “the rest of the world” with Gayatri Spivak, the “art of living” with Michel Serres, the “carnival of the senses” with Michael Taussig, the relation of hope to passion and to politics with Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau. A dozen stimulating minds weigh in with their visions of a better social and political order. ”

Hope: New Philosophies for Change may be purchased as a hard copy or is available as a .pdf download courtesy of University of Wollongong’s digital archive.

Excerpt from Prologue: This is a book about hope. To me, ‘hope’ is about a certain generosity and gratefulness that we all need in life. If life is a series of encounters and chance meetings, events and social relations, then hope lies across all of these. It is a basic human condition that involves belief and trust in the world. It is the stuff of our dreams and desires, our ideas of freedom and justice and how we might conceive life. In this book, hope is also about a spirit of dialogue, where generosity and laughter break open a space to keep spontaneity and freedom alive – the joyful engagements possible with others. For in any conversation – individual or political, written, spoken or read – there needs to be the ability to hear, listen and give. If we shut down a discussion through resentment, fear or unwillingness – through adversity or polarised individual or political positions – generosity ceases, and the openness of real discussion and debate is diminished. When a dialogue is not permitted there can be no space for exchange – words and ideas become self-enclosed and the exchange becomes a kind of monologue, a type of depression and narcissism where territories are defended and the stakes raised are already known. Reflections, conversations and dialogues build new social and individual imaginaries – visions of the world that create possibilities for change. They lift us out of despair and let us take new risks in our encounters with each other. What I pose here is the ethical and political responsibility we can share in writing and thinking about hope. This is about collaboration – in writing, in thinking, in politics – how working ideas together, across different styles and traditions, can let new ideas, views and expressions emerge. This involves a sense of trust and a ‘faith without certitudes’ about where hope may lie in thinking about the future. In secular times, when hope has moved out of the religious sphere, the turn towards the future may be found in struggles for individual justice, and in political activity across the globe.


We look forward to the discussions!


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  1. Mark

    I want to begin by saying that I have truly enjoyed reading everyone’s words about the text. I also want to tell you all that I am a rambler and tend to use text to inspire thought. I hope you all enjoy what I have to say. It is by no means an outline. It is simply my feelings on the topics discussed then translated into the chaotic order that I see fit.

    …And it is long. Oops!

    Michel Serres begins the conversation by discussing the years of his personal development; from age 6 to 30 he experienced nothing but war. When Michael Jackson died, I would sit back and think, Michael Jackson became the soundtrack of my life. With each new Michael Jackson album or news story something was changing with me.

    Here is a somewhat brief explanation. MJ (which I will use for short throughout this segment) was born long before me so I want to focus here on MJ as a solo artist. MJ post Jackson 5 (He coexisted as the front man of J5 for a bit before completely focusing on his solo career). It was not until he was 21 years of age with the release of “Off The Wall” that his true solo career began. I was still non-existent, but then came 1982. The birth of “Thriller” and myself. It was definitely scary for some to see me. I was an accident. Born to a 16-year-old girl that I know nothing about to this very day. I was put up for adoption and ended up in a very good situation, as does MJ’s girlfriend in the “Thriller” video. It was nuts out there but in the end, it was just a dream… Maybe! To me, hope is a live and well in 1982. In 1983 I begin to walk, MJ debuts the “Moonwalk”. This is definitely not a coincidence. I could go album to album and tell you something about that year in my life. I won’t do that here. That can be for another conversation.

    What I do want to state here is this, any object or action or even a sound and definitely a scent can trigger a memory. Whether that memory is positive or negative, having a memory is always a positive in my eyes. When that is gone, what do we have? It is important to remember the good times and the bad times. The good times are like little weightless trophies while the bad times teach us a valuable lesson. Failure is as important as success if not more important. We must learn. We must remain hopeful. War is war. Sadness is sadness. Both can be overcome.

    Zournazi brings up the term “walking wounded” in the very first question of chp 9. Is it as simple as the wars that happened around Serres? Is his time any different than our own? Yes, the wars Serres refers to far more effected history when it comes to what we are taught in the school house, but other “wars” change the scope of the way we live as progression takes ahold of the new world. For example, in 1981 AIDS was finally worth mentioning within the United States when the Center for Disease Control acknowledged something was going on in Los Angeles. That “war” found hope in an NBA basketball player that was a hero, cheats on his wife, gets HIV, and somehow comes out on top as a spokesman for defeating AIDS. (I am also mostly sure his wife stayed with him) Revolutionary hope with cream and sugar! At least the war on synthesizers was less dramatic. (I am still thankful for synthesizers). MJ had plenty of wounds. I can only hope he learned from them. Same with MJ#2.

    Can we find a revolutionary hope from war? I am optimistic that we can! Is the revolution within war or the outcome of the war? Maybe it exists in the way we grow and learn from our mistakes? Maybe war is the wrong word here.

    What happened in Ferguson was obviously terrible, definitely not a war, and does not need to be discussed much more here, but I will say this, optimism stems from togetherness and community. Knowing we are fighting the same fight makes a common goal far more attainable. That happened in Ferguson. I hope it still is happening. Is calling something a “war” a bit much? How do we define war? “A war on AIDS!” A war on cops!” A war on drugs!” Holy shit! Why be so dramatic? Is this a direct reflection on media and technological advances in our culture? You are damn right it is! If the media does not blow it up, no one will give a shit! The newspaper industry is dying for obvious reasons. The underground newspapers need to rise up and tell the truth. We need to return to hope. Be proud of the good things, acknowledge the great things and find resolution for the bad.

    Many look to religion for hope. That is not easy for me to do. It is not physical, it is tangible, but is it a mask? Massumi and Zournazi discuss the masking of pain with modern medicine. Was religion that medicinal crutch before modern medicine became available? Painkillers did not come about until somewhat recently when you look at the grand scheme of human existence. Is this a good thing? Are we weaker than the people that came before us because we have that crutch? The people that had no choice but to deal with it and toughen up, or pray? I think weaker is an understatement. I also think we are bit dumber as well. Painkillers and spellcheck have both slowed my ability to function and spell correctly when writing without a computer in front of me. …And to make it a bit more about me, my confidence is not as it was when I was young, naive, and climbing trees. I question myself more often. I still follow through, but mainly because I am not necessarily afraid to fail, but I am more confident that failure will be the result.

    On page 216 Massumi states, “ I think affective expressions like anger and laughter are perhaps the most powerful because they interrupt a situation.” This is an obvious statement, but maybe the most important statement to retain. To take the tension out of a room with one brilliant laugh can change the emotion within the present. (Many of us here experienced the power of laughter and the impact of a topless man not to long ago). This may be my crutch. Not the painkillers, not the religion, but the laughter.
    Has commodification slowed our progress of remembering? Mass-production has, in my mind, slightly shattered sentimentality. I collect. I have many things that help tell or trigger a story about my adopted family. This is important for the history as well as the present. It is my optimism and it is at times, my laughter. Our culture is far more interested in the monetary value than the value of sentimentality. I am not sure a single person would argue that. This is a topic I could go on about, but I will leave it at that for now. We are all consumers. I am okay with that. I type this on my MacBook with my iPhone right next door.

    It is important, in my mind, to think locally, to think smaller. We are global thinkers. It is not easy to exist in the present. We hope for change. How can we change the present when the present dissolves in the immediate? If our hopes are to grand, the result is failure. Small victories in the present lead to great things. Stepping-stones and togetherness lead to great things.

    Another grave (no pun intended) interest of mine is death. At the conclusion of chapter 11 the topic of defending life comes up. When someone dies, typically of old age, we comment with something like “She had a good life” or “He dies a happy man.” How is this defined? What is the rating scale? Massumi, when discussing the theory of Spinoza and Nietzsche he states that what he believes they are getting at is, “… joy as affirmation.” It is simply about being. It is to exist. What you believe is your beliefs, but it is you that must live them. The quote that has me hopeful. Somewhat jumping for joy with optimism yet quiet and seated, “Because it’s all about being in this world, warts and all, and not some perfect world beyond, or a better world of the future, it’s an empirical kind of belief.”

    Life definitely has a direct reflection on my work and how I see and experience the world. We are all “walking wounded” “warts and all” and that is okay. We must live in the present to reinforce our time, our lives, and our existence. Maybe the MJ’s had the right idea. Persevere. Have a comeback!

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