Speculative Poetics
Project Overview

 
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Speculative poetics connects the language-based poststructuralist philosophy of recent decades with the contemporary interest in ontology. Speculative thought (be it Hegel's, Benjamin's, or, more recently, Quentin Meillassoux's) calls for a self-determination in its practice of language. In this sense, linguistic and philosophical approaches to language ontology are interested in poiesis, which provide an ontological reinterpretation of the correlationist myth of the world's creation by language: language changes the world.

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2) Language, literature, and thought are part of the world. Thinking literature thus consists in situating natural language, literary artifacts, and poetic thinking on a single plane. According to Alfred North Whitehead and Isabelle Stengers, speculative philosophy demands experimentation with language; every use of words that takes them to be ready-made for use must fail. Speculative poetics thus investigates literature as the laboratory of language. Non-arbitrary language evolves recursively, that is, in ever referral back to itself, language develops the world further.
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3) Literature is neither pure style nor empty sign; it is knowledge about and in the world. Rather than thinking poetics exclusively in aesthetic categories (of experience), it must be recognized that the dimension of the poetic goes far beyond the production of texts. Poetics becomes speculative when its philosophical horizon combines with speculative grammar (Thomas of Erfurt), speculative linguistics (Leiss) and speculative semiotics (Peirce) and considers the poietic function of language.
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4) Without poiesis, there is neither aisthesis (perception of the world) nor noeisis (thinking of the world). That is why a theory of language stands in need of a poetics of thinking. The poietic dimension of language, overlooked by a philosophy long dominated by aesthetics and visual culture (Bildwissenschaft), concerns its world-creating function. To show that there is always a poietic moment in language and thinking is not an aesthetization of theory. The attempt to poeticize philosophy rejects the dualism of sensibility and thinking that has determined philosophy since the invention of aesthetics. The aim is thus to find alternatives to a necessarily correlationist aesthetic regime that has reigned unchallenged for more than two hundred years.
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5) Post-aesthetic, post-conceptual, and post-medial art imply a poetics that has literature return to its philosophical origins: con-temporary literature "projects into presence a temporal unity that is in principle futural or horizontal and hence speculative" (Osborne). Under the banner of contemporary art, the literary takes on the task of creating a global, social, and political present. As a unit of time, the present is a poetic fiction, and as such, it cannot be produced either factually or medially. Speculative thinking about literature implies a methodology that is historical in a way that replaces the chronologies of literary history with an asynchronous poetics of time.
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6) Walter Benjamin’s thought allows us to derive, positively, the necessity of semontology and speculative poetics, virulent since Romanticism, from the finitude of our experience, its crisis, and its ultimate being-rendered-impossible in modernity. Poiesis creates the opportunities that can become conditions of experience, and its speculative moment develops opportunities for an access to (absolute) knowledge. To explain that which is, speculative materialism does not take recourse to a concept of equivalence, to a philosophy of becoming, or to a science of causal explanations; it chooses an experimental path. Facts are contingent (and necessarily so). This is the site of a poetics: to create something that could not be understood to be necessary until it was created; something whose emergence cannot be explained causally but seems to take randomness as its model; something, finally, that in this artistic act of poiesis opens up a space of truth.
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7) What orients contemporary poetics is a speculative horizon that, thought in terms of Meillassoux's post-metaphysical materialism, lets the future return to itself and thereby makes it possible to access an unforeseeable past. An asynchronous poetics of time continues to develop the achievements of modernity and at the same time takes up classical problems. New perspectives are needed, both methodologically and historically: instead of confronting post-modernity by returning to modernist positions, conceptions of, for example, literary and philosophical altermodernity must be developed.
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8) The altermodern present tense novel not only gives literature a new form of narration but also enriches the tense system of our language as such. Only in the reconstruction of literary fiction can we experience that language creates our chronological idea of time and how it does so. Speculative poetics seeks to record something that is never just the achievement of an individual author or work but is due to literature at large
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9) Thinking and writing—and, according to Hegel, reading—of propositions that are not merely predicative but speculative entails a drift: the subject merges with its objects. Our (meta-noietic) reading makes us who we are. This transformation is equally takes place in writing, in an overwriting, in an auto-overwriting of the subject who has become another in the process. In this overwrite, knowledge for the subject becomes true knowledge. The consequences of such a poietic truth are always also ethical; the transformation the subject undergoes in reading and writing, for example, reorients its action (poetonomy). After the demise of the academic aesthetics of autonomy, any kind of emancipatory and transformative political action is predicated on the transition from subjects' local ethical situation to global action. Accordingly, one of the basic tenets of accelerationism holds that the only possible solution of today's social, economic, and ecological problems is to transform the world, which has to be thought in all its complexity.
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10) Philosophy thinks literature, literature produces theory, and language is itself a form of knowledge: speculative language (Derrida), poetical ontology (Podoroga), and literary expertise (Sachverstand, Elke Erb) are immanently connected. To make this connection a productive one writers, literary theorists and practitioners of speculative philosophy must collaborate, and the production of texts and theories of one’s own must be combined with the translation and publication of relevant works of theory. Speculative poetics advocates the practice of "switching cards" among different disciplines and forms of knowledge. Thus, to make the knowledge of literature productive also means that we do not yet know what literature is.
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