The world that surrounds me inheres in me (Journal of Visual Culture & HaFI, 13)

This is the thirteenth instalment of a collaborative effort by the Journal of Visual Culture and the Harun Farocki Institut, initiated by the COVID-19 crisis. The call sent to JVC’s editorial board, and a wide selection of previous contributors and members of its extended communities, described the task as follows: “There is a lot of spontaneous, ad hoc opinion-making and premature commentary around, as to be expected. However, the ethics and politics of artistic and theoretical practice to be pursued in this situation should oblige us to stay cautious and to intervene with care in the discussion. As one of JVC’s editors, Brooke Belisle, explains: ‘We are not looking for sensationalism, but rather, moments of reflection that: make connections between what’s happening now and the larger intellectual contexts that our readership shares; offer small ways to be reflective and to draw on tools we have and things we know instead of just feeling numb and overwhelmed; help serve as intellectual community for one another while we are isolated; support the work of being thoughtful and trying to find/make meaning…which is always a collective endeavour, even if we are forced to be apart.'” TH



The world that surrounds me inheres in me

By Yve Lomax


No matter the hubris that would claim so, human life isn’t a form of life that preeminently stands above all others. Human life is inextricably immersed with myriad forms of life and to the extent that sometimes it is even hard to say human life. Yet there is no denying that a phenomenon called Man came about; he would posit a centre and, placing himself there, give himself the entitlement to ravage everything since everything belonged to him. And this Man would become a spectral being. It would haunt what is called human and not only its exploits but also as being there beyond all versions and giving measure to what is deemed the superior and the inferior, the finest and the worst.

How tired the world has become of this human and its spectre.


The cry is heard in the silence of the drilling having stopped, the planes not flying, the roads empty of fast cars and the vibrations of the daily trudge become hush.

How tired of humanity we are.

In the silence, again: enough.

No form of life or mode of being can ever stand separately as above all others. All forms of life are immersed in a world where life is nothing other than its possibilities. And the same configuration can be found if I say, the world has no existence outside of its expressions. But of this world I cannot say where it begins or where it ends, and the same goes for life. However, I can say that you are that expression.

For sure, forms of life can meet dead-ends and know catastrophe, but what never stops coming are possibilities that are remarkably unauthorised. Each possibility of life (world) has nothing preceding it and to which it refers for identity and definition or, come to that, haunts it as the purest of possibilities.

Life isn’t the same no matter the shape or size. Always arising as a being of potential, life is said in many ways—this is what life can be. Some put it like this: life … is always already homonymically shared in a plurality of forms.

The prevailing silence makes this mode of sharing palpable; the atmosphere is thick with it and, believe me, no spectre haunts it.

Here I am, immersed.


Yve Lomax, 4 May



Yve Lomax is a writer, visual artist and editor. Her most recent publications include: Nearness (2019); Figure, calling (2017); Pure Means (2013); Passionate Being: Language, Singularity and Perseverance (2010).
May 5th, 2020, 02 / Rosa Mercedes

Jodi Dean on work in neofeudal times, via Los Angeles Review of Books: “When work is imagined — and some on the left think that we should adopt a ‘postwork imaginary’ — it looks like either romantic risk-free farming or tech-work, ‘immaterial labor.’ By now, the exposés on the drudgery of call center work, not to mention the trauma-inducing labor of monitoring sites like Facebook for disturbing, illicit content, have made the inadequacy of the idea of ‘immaterial labor’ undeniable. It should be similarly apparent that the postwork imaginary likewise erases the production and maintenance of infrastructure, the wide array of labor necessary for social reproduction, and the underlying state structure.”

May 23rd, 2020, Tom

Naomi Klein on the “Screen New Deal” (via The Intercept): “Calling [Bill] Gates a ‘visionary,’ [New York governor Andrew] Cuomo said the pandemic has created ‘a moment in history when we can actually incorporate and advance [Gates’s] ideas … all these buildings, all these physical classrooms — why with all the technology you have?’ he asked, apparently rhetorically. It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the ‘Screen New Deal.’ Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future.”

May 11th, 2020, Tom

Andrea Bagnato on Red Zones, isolation, metaphors, blame, risk and coexistence (at e-flux architecture): “[…] the current manifestation of confinement is better thought of not so much as epidemic control, but as a form of risk displacement: a minority of workers is made to keep the economy going so that a majority of the population can stay at home. And the reverse is true as well: millions of people have to put up with extended confinement so that the risk posed by industrial workers doesn’t grow out of control. In the necropolitical calculations of the State, the physical health of workers and the mental health of everyone else are both a price worth paying.”

May 5th, 2020, Tom
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