Episode 21: Breaking the Waves (Disputaziuns Susch, The Magicians of the Mountains)
The third episode in the series of chapters from Disputaziuns Susch, an annual conference scheme hosted by Art Stations Foundation CH and Grazyna Kulczyk, has Elisabeth Bronfen looking at Virginia Woolfe’s ‘Breaking the Waves’ and comparing Woolfe’s feeling of ‘walking a tightrope over nothingness’ to Heidegger’s notion of individual existences as ‘being thrown’ into the world. Also the horizon (see episode two) is returning to the debate.
Disputaziuns Susch, from the beginning in 2017, has been a multi-disciplinary annual endeavor, bringing together scholars and artists, philosophers and authors, neuroscientists and historians – thinkers who will be asking questions and counter questions – in its 2019’s editions circling around the possibilities for universal truths versus a relative view of human temporality and finitude, rational thinking and the notion of men as ‘symbolic animals’, creating a universe of symbolic meanings, versus our being-in-the-world, perceiving the world via our relationship to time. Taking the Davos disputation in 1929, between Ernst Cassirer and Martin Heidegger, as a starting point, this ‘continental divide’ (as Peter E. Gordon called it) or ‘Weggabelung der Philosophie’ as per Henning Ritter – 90 years ahead, in Susch, 40 minutes away from Davos, once again in times of disorientation, disillusion, with radical movements on the rise, we are repeating the question that led the historical debate: Was ist der Mensch? What is it to be human? This vast theme is broken down into several more specific discourses, concerning especially the relationship of philosophy, politics and art.
Diputaziuns Susch 2019 speakers were: Grażyna Kulczyk (founder and president of the board, Art Stations Foundation CH), Mareike Dittmer (director Art Stations Foundation CH & chair Disputaziuns Susch), Aleksandra Mir (Poland-born artist, Swedish-American citizen based in London), Timotheus Vermeulen (Dutch scholar and critic, associate professor in Media, Culture and Society at the University of Oslo, Norway), Tadeusz Slawek (Polish lyricist, essayist, translator, literary critic and professor). Elisabeth Bronfen (Swiss/German/American literary and cultural critic, professor and chairholder for English literature at the University of Zurich and global distinguished professor at New York University), Marcus Steinweg (French-German philosopher, professor at Kunstakademie Karlsruhe), Mark Sadler (Scottish artist & writer, guest professor at UdK, Berlin) & Jörg Heiser (German philosopher and art historian, director Institut für Kunst im Kontext, Berlin)