Any social and political arrangement depends on acceptance. If a substantial part of a people does not accept the authority of its rulers, then those can only remain in power by means of force, and even that use of force needs to be accepted to be effective. Gramsci called this acceptance of the socio-political status quo “hegemony.” Every stable state relies primarily on hegemony as a source of control. Hegemony works through the dissemination of values and beliefs that create acceptance and that serve the interests of the state and/or the ruling elite (the “hegemones”). Hegemony is most efficient if it remains invisible. A key hegemonic belief is the idea that there is no alternative to the current socio-political status quo, that there is no alternative, or that the way things are is “natural. The current hegemony – that is, the set of values and beliefs that bolster the current socio-political status quo – is a hegemony of psychopathy: it promotes “cultural psychopathy” and destroys empathy and compassion, thus threatening everything that makes us human. The hegemony of psychopathy is responsible for massive human suffering. It must be fought and replaced with a counter-hegemonic set of values and beliefs that promote compassion and care. Fighting hegemony requires fighting the “pillars” that support it. Most important among these are the mass media and culture industry, and mainstream economics. The former is responsible for a continuous stream of hegemonic propaganda; the latter – among others – for providing a pseudo-scientific justification for the false belief that there is no alternative. This essay closes off with some considerations on tactics and strategy in the struggle against the hegemony of psychopathy, but does not – and cannot – offer any concrete advice.
For more information, visit The Hegemony of Psychopathy at punctum books.
The core argument of this book is that art is a form of cognitive engineering and that the physical environment (or objects in the physical environment) can be shaped to maximize emotional and sensory experience. Many types of art will benefit from this handbook (because cognition is pervasive in our experience of art), but it is particularly relevant to immersive experiential works such as installations, participatory/interactive environments, performance art, curatorial practice, architecture and landscape architecture, complex durational works, and works requiring new models of documentation. These types of work benefit from the empirical findings of cognitive science because intentionally leveraging basic human cognition in artworks can give participants new ways of seeing the world that are cognitively relevant. This leveraging process provides a new layer in the construction of conceptually grounded works. Hack the Experience is a dense bouillon-cube of techniques that you can adapt and apply to your personal practice, and it’s a book that will walk you step-by-step through skill sets from ethnography, cognitive science, and multi-modal metaphors. This is a book for artists, but it is also for curators, art school faculty, landscape architects, gallerists, archivists, post-disciplinary multi-hyphenates, museum program staff, and anyone who wants to know about the ways art and cognitive science come together to engage an audience.
For more information, visit Hack the Experience at punctum books.
Memoirs about being sick are popular and everywhere and only ever contribute to pop narratives of illness as a single event or heroic struggle or journey. Visceral: Essays on Illness as Metaphor is not that. Visceral, to the extent that it is a memoir, is a record not of illness but of the research project being sick became. While rooted firmly in critical disability and queer practices, the use of personal narratives opens these approaches up to new ways of writing the body—ultimately a body that is at once theoretical and unavoidably physical. A body where everything is visceral, so theory must be too. From the gothic networks of healthcare bureaucracy and hospital philanthropy to the proliferation of wellness media, off-label usage of drugs, and running off to live a life with, these essays move fluidly through theoretical and physical anger, curiosity and surprise. Arguing for disability rights that attend to the theoretical as much as the physical, this is Illness Not As Metaphor, Being Sick and Time, and The Body in Actual Pain as one. A sick body of text that is—and is not—in direct correspondence to an actual sick body, Visceral is an unrelenting examination of chronic illness that turns towards the theoretical only to find itself in the realms of the biological and autobiographical: because how much theory can a body take?
For more information, visit Visceral at punctum books.
Covert Plants is an essay anthology that contributes to discourse on the implications of new plant knowledge for the arts and culture. This stretches to changes in our perception of ‘nature’ and to the adapting roles of botany, evolutionary ecology and environmental aesthetics in the humanities. It seeks expression of vegetal life rather than representation. It proceeds from the conviction that a rigorous approach to thinking with and through vegetal life must be interdisciplinary. Representations of vegetal life often include plant analogies and plant imagery. These representations have at times obscured the diversity of plant behavior and experience. This anthology probes the implications of vegetal life for thought and how new plant science is changing our perception of the vegetal, around us and in us. How can we think, speak and write about plant life without falling into human-nature dyads, or without tumbling into reductive theoretical notions about relations between cognition and action, identity and value, subject and object? A full view of this shifting perspective requires a ‘stereoscopic’ lens through which to view plants but also simultaneously to alter our human-centered viewpoint. Plants are no longer the passive object of contemplation, but are increasingly resembling ‘subjects’, ‘stakeholders’ or ‘actors.’ As such, the plant now makes unprecedented demands upon the nature of contemplation itself. Moreover, aesthetic, political and legal implications of new knowledge regarding plants’ ability to communicate, sense and learn require investigation. By doing this, we can intervene in current attitudes to climate change and sustainability, and revise human philosophies, ethics, and aesthetics of plant life.