Hope: The Elements of Hope – Chapters Three and Four
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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When we trust each other to hold, share, and maybe even temporarily inhabit, our personal realities and imaginations, we are showing love. I was struck by this idea, put forth by psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva in Chapter 3 (p. 67), because it positions love as a vulnerable-making, communicative act, wherein we loosen our attachment to the self (my thought, my feeling, my story) in order for someone else to hear it and respond to it.
From the perspective of someone influenced by yoga, meditation, and strands of Buddhist thought, I am drawn to the idea that in the very act of telling, we constantly exchange our original (relatively static) understanding of a story for a collective (more evolving/impermanent/dis-stable) understanding.
Love as communication, or communication as love, then, is entwined with the hope (faith?) that this second understanding, one of movement/carrying the dialogue forward, will be more valuable than what we gave up.
A few questions to open up conversation here:
1. How could this relationship of sharing be fairly applied to larger and more complex conversations; cultural, political, and ecological structures, e.g.?
2. If the ability to share also requires the ability to be comfortable with one’s alone-ness/individuality (p. 68), how can we account/make space for a democratic questioning of the collective story, when we feel the need to revolt/turn back?
3. What is the role of personal meditation/contemplation (in other words, tuning in to “at-one-ness”) within dialogue/engaging each other?
In chapter four, Mary Zournazi speaks with Nikos Papastergiadis, a Greek-Australian who spent quite a bit of time in the UK. His own writing addresses the experiences of migrants, particularly in the arts. And so, they begin with a discussion of hope in relation to exile and migration – and these topics in relation to Modernity. He notes “Modernity is a turbulent process of change – and migrants are part of that process, for good and for bad.” As someone who has read and worked closely with John Berger, Papastergiadis is thinking about this in relation to experience and perception. In the second section of this chapter this becomes clearer as he describes ‘faith with certitudes’ as an expression of love, whereas hope in general maybe synonymous with a love for life.
Here a discussion is picked up that recurs throughout the book (that I find really insightful) that has to do with how hope is a process more than a finite solution. He states, “To have real hope doesn’t mean that you’ll ever be satisfied, and it doesn’t mean that you are aiming for one particular thing in this world and once you get that then everything else will be fine. It doesn’t mean that once you achieve wealth, or even a revolution, that struggle is over.”(84) So, faith and hope must be constantly renewed. But that also means, every small step is as significant as the whatever the perceived goal is – which is yet again just another step along the long road of….progress? Interestingly, I don’t remember any point in the book where the notion of progress is addressed directly…