What is opinion?
Translator’s note: This is an excerpt of Ulus Baker’s PhD thesis, From Opinions To Images: Towards A Sociology Of Affects. The thesis is composed of three chapters, namely, What Is Opinion?, What Is An Affect?, and What Is An Image?. After he passed away untimely last year, this translation was initiated, and is still continuing. As the translator, here, I adapted the “Abstract” written by Dr. Baker as is in the thesis. The reason behind this choice is twofold: Firstly, it is “the original”. Secondly, the synthetically composed ideas within this excerpt are traversed the whole text through and through. In other words, it looks as if he had written the thesis altogether at once.
This thesis is intending to show the possibility of a marriage between social sciences and documentary filmmaking, which can only be possible through the critique of what we may call “sociology of opinions”, not only restrained in mainstream practice of social research, but also expanding into the textual-interpretative dimensions of human sciences, creating, in our belief, a major epistemological problem: sociology tending to become a doxology, i.e., “an opinion of opinions”. There is also another aspect of such a marriage, notably, the power of the audio-visual media in the life-experience of modernity, creating a need for a theoretical discussion which is lacking in the actual theories of the film. We are thus inclined to show critically what we may call as the “decline of social types” in the parallel evolution of social sciences and of the cinema. We are trying to define the possible marriage between social science and documentary as a tentative “sociology of affects”. The sociology of affects requires the early Tardean critique against Durkheim and his followers, of the “textual” epistemology inherent in the sociology of opinions, and an exposition of the Spinozist doctrine of affects against that of psychoanalysis. We define social-types as part of the wealth of sociological imagination, which is not something “in-itself”, but rather “for” the domain of life-experience to which it is devoted.
Documentary filmmakers, who have been aware of the power of the medium they use, have already developed a rather naïve ethics in their own domain – and this is what is lacking in the practice of social sciences. To avoid such a naiveté, however, we need nothing more a theoretical vigilance which can be present in social sciences. We find the ultimate possibility of establishing such a visual-textual “sociology of affects” in the Vertovian praxis of the kino-eye and in the actual video-philosophy of Jean-Luc Godard, who intends to reshape videography as a “thinking-machine”.
De te fabula narratur
HASAN ÜNAL NALBANTOĞLU
To write about a deceased friend and colleague is not an easy task. It is particularly difficult to disentangle oneself from one’s own recollections of the one who passed away as well as from mythologies weaved around a persona by others and even by himself. In this article ‘in memoriam’ a slightly different attempt is made wherein the selected contours of the overall narrative of the person in question – albeit a decentred one, reflective to a degree of a decentred psyche – will take precedence over the personal remembrances and subjective perceptions of the ‘subject’ and his ‘intentions’.
“Truth” and “opinion”
Since Parmenides, the act of thinking has to privilege either truth or the opinions of mortals. Ulus Baker had strived in favour of the latter; he learnt from the opinions of mortals, tried to empower and validate them. From Parmenides to Ulus Baker, the destiny of thinking follows the same path. The path that ideas can only pursue themselves against other ideas. There is no limit other than the concept itself: thinking.
An odd thinking
This paper, which discusses the relation of thinking with the history of philosophy at a time when philosophy cannot declare the truth but can only offer perspectives towards the truth, is based on Ulus Baker’s reading of Leibniz’s monadology. The relation between different perspectives all of which are “unique” and “irreducible” to one another is one of a creative encounter. This kind of relation of history of philosophy which can be said to reproduce a Deleuzian conception of history of philosophy, is at the same time thinking per se. Ulus Baker’s conception of truth as a symbolic unity revealed not in sameness but in difference, when read together with Leibniz, will point to the “critical” aspect of seeing the universe as a set of multiple perspectives.
“The sorrowful flute”:
Stories, secrets and the subaltern
Written in memoriam of Ulus Baker, this essay recounts and examines a number of folktales and stories, the main theme of which is the revealing of the secret of the powerful by musical instruments (e.g. the “sorrowful flute”). Violating the interdiction, the subaltern shouts down a well the unutterable truth; and the reeds grown at the bottom of the well reveal the prior transgression or crime committed by the law itself. Thus the silenced voice of the subaltern returns through the speaking objects; and such objects speak in place of those whose “talk” is not listened to or who are deprived of the “authority” to deliver a “speech”.
[Here the manuscript breaks off.]
Locating itself between the brackets which Engels added to the end of the unfinished chapter 52 on ‘classes’ in the third volume of Capital, this paper attempts two possible lines of filling this lacuna in Marx’ corpus. Questioning, on the one hand, the twin claims (i) that the concept of ‘class’ is too loose and (ii) that it is either trivial or problematic, together amounting to say that it must be abandoned, the first line displays the conceptual links of ‘class’ through a genealogy that focuses mainly on the transformation from Hegel’s ‘spiritual masses’ to Negri’s ‘multitude’. The accompanying exposition shows that the concept of ‘class’ is one of movement rather than hypostasis, which makes it basically a term for dissolution rather than composition. On the other hand, the twin claims that (i) class is an ‘invention’ and (ii) that the idea of a classless society is messianic are taken seriously in a positive sense, construing the former as a ‘call’ and the latter as a ‘here and now’. The paper leaves with the very problematicity of this ‘calling-oneself-so-and-so-here-and-now’.
All the wars of the world
ARAS ÖZGÜN, CAN GÜNDÜZ, ÖZGÜR GÖKMEN
This article attempts to discuss and contextualize Ulus Baker’s theoretical works in relation to his life practice, following the social, economic and political transformations of the 80’s in Turkey and elsewhere. In the light of these transformations, it traces Baker’s theories from political philosophy to cinema, from his interpretation of Spinoza to the political notion of autonomy and his critical concept of “society of opinions”. By bringing all these different elements of Baker’s works together, our idea is to show that, unlike the common belief about his “fragemented” and “scattered” intellectual life suggests, his theoretical works strictly followed certain strategical and tactical lines, and these strategies and tactics have to be associated with the practical notion of being a public intellectual.
Struggle, event, media
In this essay there is an attempt to follow a neo-Leibnizian or neo-monadological paradigm to understand contemporary capitalism. The neo-monadological paradigm replaces the paradigm of representation as can be witnessed in the dynamic of the emergence and the constitution of post-socialist political movements and the way television (signs, images and statements) functions in contemporary economy. How to understand concepts of labour, production, cooperation and communication when capitalism is not only a mode of production but a production of worlds? To speak in these conditions about ‘production’, it is necessary to construct a radically different method than we find in political economy, economics and sociology. The question is not of the ‘end of work’ nor of ‘everything turning into work’. It is rather that we have to change the principles of valuation, the ways in which we understand the value of value. We need a new concept of ‘wealth’ a new concept of ‘production’. To create these new concepts, it is necessary to forget the philosophy of subject and that of labour, which restrain us from understanding cooperation between minds. How should we then translate the concept of the multitude into politics? A fertile starting point might be Gabriel Tarde’s sociology of ‘difference and repetition’, which allows us to understand that some of the key concepts of Tarde, like those of invention, imitation, memory and sympathy, might be very appropriate for explaining the mode of the cooperation of the multitude.
The news from both sides of the River Main,
Frankfurt: State, politics and law at Brecht’s learning
play Die Maßnahme
Whenever we talk about so called Frankfurt School or Critical Theory, there is always a kind of hiatus, a gap that accompanies to it. It is hard to describe to this hiatus at first hand, i.e. the pragmatic-political activities and aspects of the Institute members. It is usually misconceived that the Critical Theory has nothing to do with practical politics and the School members did not involve in actual political matters. The critique of ideology, totalitarian state or mass society in their works was only in mediated form and did not bear the stamp of practical politics. The historical misrepresentation of Frankfurt School goes back to Bertolt Brecht in whose infamous Tui Roman the School members are pictured as “free floating intellectuals”. On the contrary to this widely accepted misrepresentation, the Institute members had actively participated at the restructuring of Bonn republic from the beginning. They contributed to the denazification process in the humanities and supported the foundation of a new republic which has based on transatlantic democratic values. Theirs were a kind of “measures are taken” logic which has aspired to prevent unhealed German disease, a disease mixture of authoritarian German personality, family structure and self-asserted metaphysical nation.
Die Maßnahme was most popular product of Brecht’s learning play period. The Learning plays were envisaged by Brecht not only for audience, rather for the actors’ themselves. The play is about four Russian revolutionary agitators who were send to China by the communist party. Their task was to make political propaganda and conciousness rising activity among the workers and urban poor. The first three revolutionaries belonged to party cadres but the younger one who has come from the border region has joined in later to guide to others. The experienced agitators were highly disciplined and followed the party line and orders, for the younger one behaved by heart and followed mere his inner voice and intangible concept of justice. Though party militants warned the young agitator again and again, he repeated the same mistakes again and again. Those were not whatever mistakes at which the responsibility belonged only to who the action hold. On the contrary, the unintended consequences of actions were bounded whole agitators, above all the party. Three experienced agitators thought that they something got to do. They have reached at a consensus necessity to some measures should have to be taken. Theirs were the point of Leninist party. To be on the left has nothing to do with abstract notion of justice or rescuing the poor before the oppressors. To be on the left was first of all to follow the party line and party orders: “We are nothing without the party”.
The Measure which has to be taken was put into action. Three revolutionaries has liquidated the younger agitator, for he did not follow the party orders and endangered the revolutionary activity. The Actual scene is the rendering account of three agitators before the control choir (i.e. the communist party). They argued for legitimacy and inevitability of their decision. But the public did not subscribe to this point of view and resisted always to this message. Brecht intervened to the text several times and attempted to meet the challenges. But he failed at each attempt. The audience refused to accept to or identify with murder of a younger revolutionary in the name of practical political necessities. It has refused to accept that party was the origin and final arbiter of truth. The Challenge of the audience did not change so much with conjuncture. The measure which had to be taken could never be justified with murder of a young revolutionary. The measure cannot annihilate or substitute law as a universal norm, nor can a state or ideology ignore it simply. Law and measures are juxtaposed to each other. That was true the lesson we have been taught by Die Maßnahme.
Few remarks upon the emergence
of political space in ancient Greek
This article first of all surveys in broad terms the peculiarities of Greek city-states. By the way it engages to mention the impact of it upon some eminent twentieth century political thinkers. After having surveyed the main researchers of Greek political thinking in Turkey, two vast ongoing research projects concerning the structures of Greek political space are being compared, namely one by Copenhagen Polis Center of M. H. Hansen, the other one is the comparative anthropological approach of M. Detienne. In order to locate the features of M. Detienne’s approach properly, the contribution of “Paris School” of J. P. Vernant in classical studies is analyzed in general.
The vision of Orpheus: A journey at the Trace
of Ulus Baker’s Photogramme’s
This article is a research of the possibility and limits, comprehensiveness of Ulus Baker, a trace of all themes and photogrammes of writer. Ulus Baker’s language is without preservation and an intervention to perceptual fields of visuals which is formed on the trace of ‘other’ (l’autre) and the extraction of reality that is seized by others. As aware of this basic conflict, to speak about what Ulus Baker is writing and the doze of violence in Ulus Baker writing, I will trace all photogrammes which shows that Baker’s writing is just like floods of rain which always exemplifies a last statement. This article aims to apply an archeological dig on Ulus Baker’s articles allegational registrations, psychoanalysis, ignoramus, problematic of “us and others” in topography of expression with orphik and declinations of Derrida, the cinema sense which perceives the loss of innocence as a fact, Spinoza, Marx, localness, identity, the history and “impossible time” theory of Derrida.
Writing is framing (parergon); All declarations that frames writing has indicators that are seperated from represantations of images which has a “lost present”. In this sense, writing is just an erased action. (la rature). What stains (la salissure) writing is the signature which is the word of ‘other’ and the perspective of others that infects the alienation of subject. The vision and the signature of Ulus Baker is an intervention, a prologue to writing which is being wiped up at the threshold. This vision has an act which contains existence and life and exposes it by adding it into the time notion. Therefore, every article written by Baker is a prologue that developes allegational registrations for writing. Consequently this process is an address to retreat from the writing self and developing new allegational registrations. As a result of this, “see”ing and “look”ing gains a vital function at the building stage of writing. Writing exists within sensorialness of seeing and looking: like the view of Orpheus. His view, that turns over all perspectives of time notion, also defines a space-time notion which builts up linguistic codes of production of a composition.
Deleuze’s multiplicity, difference and becoming(s):
Overcoming “Being as One”
ADİLE ARSLAN AVAR
Deleuze (and Guattari) calls the dominant philosophy that is marked by the representational thought as “State Philosophy”. The latter is defined by an image of thought, “root-tree”, that creates a plan of interiority whereby all major concepts of philosophy, such as Being, Subject, Reason, State are connected to each other. The essential concern of representational thinking is to establish a correspondence between things and words. It appears as having a double identity, one of two dimensions of which is thinking subject, and the other is the concepts created and imposed on the object by the subject. Object, subject and concept being supposed to provide proper correspondence are submitted to the service of logos, hierarchical ranking and Law. The thought structured according to the image of “root- tree,” does not enable one to grasp multiplicities, discontinuities, and becoming. On the other hand, “the question of Being” introduced by Heidegger cannot open the way beyond the representational thought since it is conditioned by the equation between Being and logocentric language and thought, and also dominated by an arborescent image (“root- tree”). By raising the question of whether the links between Being and power are implicit and therefore inevitable, Deleuze questions the idea of Being as One. Instead of submitting multiplicity, difference and deviances to “Being as One”, he introduces “Becoming”. Furthermore, thought should be captured from the “root-tree” by replacing it with a new, “rhizomatic” image of thought that would be a plane of immanence reversing the established, dogmatic image of root-tree from within through lines of flights and deterritorializations. Rhizome is open to all becomings. The later does not draw on a single meaning; it is plural. That is, there are multiple and reciprocal becomings: becoming- woman, becoming- animal, becoming- child, becoming- molecular, etc. In becomings, there is no seed, embryo, origin, root or tree that would be culminated in One in a way of submitting multiplicity, difference and becomings to a single root or process. For Deleuze (and Guattari), what is crucial is to open thought to its outside by connecting it “real” problems and creating new concepts. Indeed the task of philosophy is to create new concepts that would make thought a nomadic war machine, and to deterritorialize thought that has been reterritorialized on State.
Affect, emancipation and bodies:
Walter Benjamin as a “Spinozist”
This article concerns the affects and their relation to thought, body and life that is derived from the works of Baruch Spinoza and assessing the relation between Spinozian themes and thought of Walter Benjamin, specifically the ones stated in On Hashish. Like many I believe Spinoza’s philosophical endeavor swirls around the question of “What Bodies Can Do?” and the article offers a close textual analysis of some concepts like substance, mode, attribute, the nature and metaphysics of immanence, the notion of naturalism, affect, adequate ideas and the politics of joy which are must to understand this problematic. After the introduction of these concepts, I emphasized the importance of parallelism of thought and affect in Spinoza’s writings and it is evident that this notion of parallelism enables us to offer more contemporary outlook. In this sense, I think it is possible to say that one of the most compact Spinozist affinities is the one with Walter Benjamin and especially the excerpts in his study titled On Hashish ready to serve this end. Yet, it is inevitable to make a brief depiction of main themes in Benjamin’s thought and clarifying what experience, awakening, dream-world, phantasmagoria and philosophy of history means might be helpful to comprehend Spinoza’s notion of parallelism and even what kind of affinity might there be. Benjamin’s experiments with drugs between 1927 and 1934 either alone or with close friends displays a delicate and rich textual statement of his own reflections which he would call “drug protocols”. It is clear that Benjamin’s thoughts and drug protocols resonate with Spinoza’s philosophical program and basically the article tries to emphasize this affinity.
Social sciences, documentary cinema, video:
Walking on the paths of Ulus Baker...
According to Ulus Baker, the twentieth century has been lived within the idea of ‘opinion,’ which determined some of the major themes in social sciences. He argued that, consequently, social sciences have been turned into a kind of doxology. And, as an encounter to this situation, he suggested “sociology of affects.” Hence, he has formulated his sociology of affects through an audio-visual pedagogy, utilizing video apparatuses and thinking through images of documentary cinema. Therefore, in this essay, I focused on his problematization and formulation of the relations among video, documentary cinema and social sciences to constitute sociology of affects by walking on the paths of his thoughts...
Timescapes: The logic of the sentence
Timescapes investigates non-linear editing as a constituent force of what is held in common against the power politics of segmenting memory, communication and the spaces of imagining; video production is understood here as memory work, which develops the potential of mnemonic narrative and assesses geography not through the representation of a filmed object, but rather through narrative structures and editing strategies arising through the emotions of the image streams.
Timescapes/B-Zone investigates mnemonic potentials of the video image in the editing process and the relationship between mobility and subjectivity within a geographical region that is conjoined by the construction of European infrastructure projects on the one hand and by migration routes on the other. The authors/producers of the project work in Ankara, Hakkari, Tavsanli, Athens, Thessaloniki, Belgrade, Cologne and on the “Highway of Brotherhood and Unity” between Munich and Thessaloniki. In addition to its trans-national meanings, this situation corresponds to a dispersed space of communication: a place-to-place relationship, an “A_B” space or a “relative” space, which had to be continuously translated in the project.