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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 101-102 | volume  | November-December, 2015



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 101-102November-December, 2015
Gallery Reviews

Age of Catastrophe

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Melentie Pandilovski

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Age of Catastrophe

    
    One must enter the catastrophe to reap its benefits without suffering its drawbacks. You cannot prohibit the catastrophe, you must surf it.”
(Paul Virilio)
    Catastrophe Theory is – quite likely – the first coherent attempt (since Aristotelian logic) to give a theory of analogy. When narrow-minded scientists object to Catastrophe Theory that it gives no more than analogies, or metaphors, they do not realize that they are stating the proper aim of Catastrophe Theory, which is to classify all possible types of analogous situations.
(René Thom)
      
    It seems right to start an introduction about a project titled The Age of Catastrophe with quotations from Paul Virilio and René Thom. Namely, the ever-increasing series of natural and man-made catastrophes in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries deafeningly signify the need for an artistic and cultural response to the very phenomenon of catastrophe. Of course, the notion of catastrophe is not a novel one. The famous Mount Vesuvius eruption in the Bay of Naples in 79 AD that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum has been a source of the imagination and has been referenced amply in the past two millennia.
    However, as catastrophe is always a novel and unpredictable situation, it is worthwhile pointing to Henri Bergson who claimed that we have to change our way of thinking when facing new objects. Being aware of the difficulty in doing so, he added that “the idea that, for a new object, we might have to create a new concept, perhaps a new way of thinking, is deeply repugnant to us” (Creative Evolution). And indeed, how are we to determine what is the object of catastrophe? How are we to spatialize it? What happens to the notion of time in times of catastrophe? Is logic always to be followed, or is there room for intuition in the deciphering? After all, “intuition is said to be a mode of sympathy by which one is transported into the interior of any object” (Bergson, The Creative Mind). But can we, in fact, today use the Kantian distinction between intuition from universals? Bergson’s contemporaries such as Benedetto Croce regarded intuition as an organic whole, as a full-on manifestation of consciousness. So what are the sensory and affective constituents of the intuition in order to get deeper insight into the modalities of catastrophe?
    Let us begin by untangling the concept of catastrophe by pointing out to clear examples of






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