One More Ecology, Futureless, but a Present Out of Joint

2019. Talk at the symposium

“The time is out of joint: O curséd spite, That ever I was born to set it right!” Anaximander’s saying says that “that which is present [...] surmounts the dis-order inasmuch as it allows order and reck to belong one to another.” A Danish prince, born to, cursed to, damned to rejoin time in its joints. A German philosopher willing to accept the dis-jointure, the monstrosity of rupture, the insurrection of scattering only as a transition to law and order.

In times of injunction, when being unjoined is reduced to a transition and even this transition to a minimum, it is apparently tempting to harken back to secondary forms. Commentary and translation. Not as subsistences and accidents subordinate to substance but as accessories without which the survival of the work cannot be conceived, at times even as in-scribing over-painting drowning of the work. Heidegger, Hamlet and Shakespeare lose their function as authorial-individual substance and become components of a machine. In 1976 Heiner Müller begins a translation project for the Volksbühne Berlin, The Tragic Story of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, and in the process emerges also the Hamlet commentary or, as Müller termed it, the Hamlet “shrunken head,” the nine pages of Hamletmachine. Together with the actresses and actors at the Deutsche Theater Berlin, Müller in the months of the fall of the Berlin Wall 1989/1990 joined the two components, translation and commentary, which appeared in the last phase of the apparatus of injunction of the GDR, to an eight-hour play on the transition from Stalin to Deutsche Bank. Another transition that leads into the endless fate of machinic capitalism. But precisely in the seemingly secondary, seemingly disposed form of translation and commentary the monster stirs, one can gain time, in standstill and dilation, in “fierce persistence” (Wildharrung).


Gerald Raunig works at the eipcp (European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies) as one of the editors of the multilingual publishing platform transversal texts, and at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste as professor for philosophy.

His books have been translated into English, Serbian, Spanish, Slovenian, Russian, Italian, Dutch, and Turkish. Recent books in English: Art and Revolution. Transversal Activism in the Long Twentieth Century, translated by Aileen Derieg, New York/Los Angeles: Semiotext(e)/MIT Press 2007; Art and Contemporary Critical Practice. Reinventing Institutional Critique, London: mayflybooks 2009(Ed., with Gene Ray); A Thousand Machines, translated by Aileen Derieg, New York/Los Angeles: Semiotext(e)/MIT Press 2010; Critique of Creativity, London: mayflybooks 2011 (Ed., with Gene Ray and Ulf Wuggenig); Factories of Knowledge, Industries of Creativity, translated by Aileen Derieg, New York/Los Angeles: Semiotext(e)/MIT Press 2013; DIVIDUUM. Machinic Capitalism and Molecular Revolution, Vol.1, translated by Aileen Derieg, New York/Los Angeles: Semiotext(e)/MIT Press 2016.