Block5 : Het Intensieve Leven

Talk: Leven als een Beest
Westerkerk, Vrijdag March 30, 2018
22:20-23:00 h
Charles Foster (pending)
Great Discussions: Xtreme Perception
Westerkerk, Vrijdag March 30, 2018
23:00-23:30 h
Charles Foster (pending) & Erling Kagge author of 'Silence' (pending) Moderated by Boudewijn Richel & Nadia Moussaid
Q&A with the audience
23:30-23:45 h
Charles Foster & Erling Kagge

The Age of Anger by Pankaj Mishra – review

A trenchant study of how anger and violence have influenced modern societies will have you fearing the worst

Is there a history of anger – a connection between the bomb-throwers and shooters of the 19th century and the operatives of our own day? In this highly topical polemic, Pankaj Mishra describes a global pandemic of rage. He thinks the phenomenon of continuous terrorist attacks can be attributed to ressentiment – a word taken from the French by Kierkegaard, with no ready meaning in English beyond the sense that chippiness can somehow exist to the power of a thousand, morphing into permanent, murderous rage. The 18th-century philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau may have hated each other, but their tombs are in the crypt of the Left Bank’s Panthéon in Paris. There’s a statue of a smiling Voltaire, while Rousseau’s tomb is decorated with a hand bearing a torch. Mishra concedes that both men remain important to us, but not in the way we’d like to think. Voltaire, in his interpretation, is a precursor of neoliberal snottiness, a nouveau-riche snob, an elitist and admirer of progressive tyrants, while the countercultural, proleish, permanently enraged Rousseau gives good reasons for the current plague of world violence.

Rousseau got the habit of anger on the road from Paris to Vincennes while pondering an essay on the function of culture in the creation of society. He became convinced of the unfairness and inauthenticity of the contemporary world of salons and knowledge. The perception of superficiality turned him into “the world’s most militant lowbrow”. Mishra thinks that the world abounds in anonymous Rousseaus incubating such moments of self-discovery. What do these rebels think of the world’s growing, toxic inequality? How do they react to punitive wars perpetrated by rich nations in the name of freedom and democracy? Or indeed to the casual wrenching of millions and millions from traditional poverty? The new underground men (according to his account, violence still appears to be a predominantly male vocation) inhabit a trackless, confusing modernity in which contemporary life offers little in the way of hope or guidance beyond the smartphone and police batons. They have no reason to care very much when the rest of us think.

Read full interview here