Politics of divination. Neoliberalism as theology of chance
In cooperation with ASCA, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis
Since the 2008 financial crisis, the neoliberal ideas that arguably caused the damage have been triumphant in presenting themselves as the only possible solution for it. How can we account for the persistence of neoliberal hegemony, in spite of its obviously disastrous effects upon labor, capital, ecology, and society? With Joshua Ramey, Joyce Goggin, Amir Vudka and Patricia Pisters.
In his new book The Politics of Divination Joshua Ramey argues that part of the persistence of neoliberalism has to do with the archaic and obscure political theology upon which of much of its discourse trades. This is a political theology of chance that both underwrites and obscures sacrificial devotion to market outcomes. Joshua Ramey structures this political theology around hidden homologies between modern markets, as non-rational randomizing ‘meta-information processors’, and archaic divination tools, which are used in public acts of tradition-bound attempts to interpret the deliverances of chance.
Ramey argues that only by recognizing the persistently sacred character of chance within putatively secularized discourses of risk and randomness can the investments of neoliberal power be exposed at their sacred source, and an alternative political theology be constructed.
Joshua Ramey will be present to introduce his book, followed by two responses by Amir Vudka and Joyce Goggin. The evening will be moderated by Patricia Pisters, whose short film “Follow the Gold” will be shown as an intermezzo to start the discussion with the audience.
About the speakers
Joshua Ramey is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Grinnell College (Iowa, USA), where he teaches 19th and 20th century continental philosophy, critical theory, aesthetics, and political economy. His research is in contemporary continental philosophy, critical social theory, political economy and political theology. His first book was The Hermetic Deleuze: Philosophy and Spiritual Ordeal (Duke University Press, 2012), and his most recent book is Politics of Divination: Neoliberal Endgame and the Religion of Contingency (Rowman and Littlefield, Intl., 2016). He is co-translator of François Laruelle's Non-Philosophical Mysticism for Today (with Edward Kazarian, Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming). He has published articles on a range of thinkers and artists including Adorno, Zizek, Badiou, Hitchcock, Warhol, and Philip K. Dick. His current research is on the political economy of reciprocity, and he is actively engaged in a number of projects that aim to bring higher education to communities outside the mainstream university.
Joyce Goggin is a senior lecturer in literature at the University of Amsterdam, where she also conducts research on film and media studies. She has published widely on gambling and finance in literature, painting, film, TV, and computer games. Her most recent published work includes “Everything is Awesome”: The LEGO Movie and the Affective Politics of Security” Finance and Society, “Trading and Trick Taking in the Dutch Republic: Pasquin’s Wind Cards and the South Sea Bubble,” in Playthings in Early Modernity: Party Games, Word Games, Mind Games (Western Michigan University, 2017), and a co-edited volume entitled The Aesthetics and Affects of Cuteness (Routledge 2017).
Amir Vudka holds a PhD from Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis (ASCA) and is a lecturer at the Department of Media Studies of the University of Amsterdam. He is a film programmer at Theater De Nieuwe Regentes (The Hague), the artistic director of Sounds of Silence festival for silent film and contemporary music, and director of Palestinorama! festival for Palestinian cinema and culture. He has published extensively on film, philosophy and mysticism. He is currently working on a publication on the golem and the theological roots of techno-utopianism and technophobia, and a publication on media addictions.
Patricia Pisters (moderator) is professor of film at the Department of Media Studies of the University of Amsterdam and director of the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis (ASCA). Publications include The Matrix of Visual Culture: Working with Deleuze in Film Theory (Stanford University Press, 2003); and The Neuro-Image: A Deleuzian Film-Philosophy of Digital Screen Culture (Stanford University Press, 2012). She writes about the role of film and media in respect to collective consciousness. Currently she is working on a book project about the psychopathologies of contemporary media culture; and on a multi-media project about the filmmaker as metallurgist and alchemist of our times. www.patriciapisters.com
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