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Naturally Hypernatural I: Concepts of Nature

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Edited By Suzanne Anker and Sabine Flach

Nature, a topic central to art history, is concurrently a dominant concept in contemporary art, art theory and its related disciplines such as cultural theory, philosophy, aesthetic theory and environmental studies. The project Naturally Hypernatural questions lines of tradition and predetermined categories that coexist with the topic of nature. Currently, nature in art surpasses the simple depiction of art as a material or object. To clarify and analyze the interrelations between nature and art is the aim of the project Naturally Hypernatural. Concepts of Nature – the first volume of this project – argues that contemporary art is predominantly concerned with concepts of nature regarding the depth of their implications in order to reveal and analyze their internal structure.

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On Nature and Human Coldness

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TOM HUHN

Adorno and the Big Chill: The Cold Intimacy of Genocide and Culture Industry

There’s no gentle way to begin, nor should there be. No pleasant way to begin to talk of genocide. This is the first problem we encounter in trying to approach some of Theodor Adorno’s various remarks on what has come to be called the holocaust. The rubric under which I’d like to approach this particular problem is the theme of human coldness. The question I pose is whether we might rightly fault nature, and especially our fear in relation to it, as the source of our unrelenting chill toward others as well as toward ourselves. The holocaust is taken to be the absolute expression of human coldness.

A key difficulty of the subject reveals itself in the very hazard of approach: we feel the prohibition that we ought not warm ourselves to the subject. That is, the subject requires, mimetically, that we harden and steel ourselves in the face of it. It’s as if our understanding, our thinking approach to the idea, demands that we likewise become changed by it. For this is what the movement, the dynamic of thinking, yields: transformation. Thinking, à la Hegel for example, is best described as beginning in the very transformation of what is given into something else. For such thinkers as Adorno and Benjamin, to come near an object or an idea is mimetically to fashion and to transform oneself...

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