Pasi Väliaho: Passion, Projection, Speculation ca. 1700

May 18, 2017, 6.00 pm

Event — The lecture is part of the lecture series »Feeling Out of Joint. Das Unbehagen an der Affektpolitik«. This talk takes a historical look at some of the concerns we are facing today with the triumph of the neoliberal economy – an economy that is underpinned by a post-democratic political reality populated by atomistic individuals programmed in their desires to compete for possession and wealth but at once overwhelmed by fears, dangers and risks. The talk goes back to what historians call the »financial revolution« that took place in England at the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the ensuing financial crisis that shook Europe in the late 1710s. It was during this time that speculation with future gain was first established as a key mode of capital accumulation (in close relation with colonial trade) with significant socio-psychological consequences. The »revolution« was accompanied with the rise of a new kind of »possessive individual« attached to expectations, calculations and imaginary gains, and driven by passions, needs and self-interests – as well as, curiously, with particular media historical developments. Namely, those involved in trading with futures were called »projectors,« and the virtualization of things and relations via speculation became understood with regard to the key entertainment medium of the time: the magic lantern, which first materialized the kind of virtual and fictional imagery that our current media culture is based on. This talk discusses these coincidences; how both economic relations and images were released from their material constraints as (imaginary or optical) projections, and how simultaneously, the forces of egoistic passions were triggered within the individual as a form of government. Here, we might find resonances with our current (visual) media economy in which selfishness and the pursuit of one’s impulses and desires have been, once again, unleashed as political and economic weapons.

For further informations about the lecture series: »Feeling Out of Joint. Das Unbehagen an der Affektpolitik«.



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Bernd Bösel and Marie-Luise Angerer