Four Remarks on an Emergent(z) World

Discussions of the state of emergency so often render the world in dismal and bloody hues sketched by some transcendent hand that they function as little more than occasions for lyrical indignation or, worse, simply fuel the exquisite sense of urgency that drives the activist — and therefore putatively transcendent — economy of demonstrations, symbolic protests, etc. To be sure, times are grim. But they have been so for most of the world, for a very, very long time. And neither pessimism nor optimism will enable this moment to be seized for what it might be. Nor, as someone once said, do we lack communication. What seems to me glossed over in usual accounts of the state of emergency is a proposition that may seem too terrible to consider but which, if one is inclined to embrace politics as risk and not retreat, is also a chance. My first suggestion is simple: if it appears to ‘us’ as if the present is an exceptional moment in the history of the world, this is not because it is indeed an exceptional experience for the world, but because ‘we’—what it means to say ‘we’—have come unusually close to a sense of the world.

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