Immersive Subjectivity: Autistics, Narcissists, Conspiracy Theorists
We live in a period of epistemic upheaval. Artificial intelligence, ecological disaster, and the decline of liberal democracy are often discussed as “the end of the world as we know it.” It might be more accurate, however, to speak of them as ends to the world as Western thought has represented it, for it is the modern idea of the world— and the concept of representation upon which it was based—that is challenged by technological, ecological, and political change. The underlying hypothesis of this project is that immersion, as both an epistemological and an ontological paradigm, is replacing representation. I propose to study three contemporary figures that embody the crisis of representation on the level of the subject: the autistic, the conspiracy theorist, and the narcissist. If a lack of representational distance sets these three types apart from socio-cognitive norms, theirs is an immediacy of action and experience which makes them, for better or worse, fit for a world after representation.
Tobias Haberkorn studied literature, aesthetics, cultural theory and mathematics at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris, Freie Universität Berlin, and Technical University Darmstadt. He earned a Ph.D. with a study on the notion of “too much” as a cognitive and poetological category in modern European narrative, particularly in the writings of François Rabelais and Michel de Montaigne. He was a culture editor at Zeit Online and has translated essays and plays by Didier Eribon, Alain Badiou, Ryan Trecartin, and others into German. In 2019, he was a Milena Jesenská Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna and a Kellen Fellow at the American Council on Germany.
Das Problem des Zuviel in der Literatur. Welt in Sprache bei Rabelais und Montaigne, Amsterdam 2020; Christian Maurel, Für den Arsch, translated from the French by Tobias Haberkorn, Berlin 2019; “Die Sintflut kommt”, in: Zeit Online, 4 November 2018; “Trump, das Antirätsel”, in: Zeit Online, 25 August 2017.
As media turned social, control over attention flows shifted to opaque, self-regulating algorithms. Knowledge seems to have become simultaneously broader and more superficial, more specific and more manipulative, increasingly fake and deeper. This talk looks at modes of attention that allow individuals to strive and survive in a world saturated with trash and erudition.