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To Smile and Not to Smile

Mythic Gesture at the Russia-China Border

Caroline Humphrey

This article examines the role of smiling as a performative gesture at the northeast border between Russia and China. It argues that the border is a place where ‘myth’ in the sense proposed by Roland Barthes is manifest in the comportment of people when they see themselves as representing the civilization of one side or the other. In this situation, smiling and not smiling are elements of particular communicative registers that enact political myths in life. Highly gendered, these agentive-performative gestures exist amid other functional and affective registers, which can override them. The article also discusses the ‘helpers’ who mediate in cross-border trade, whose image is also sometimes subject to mythic imagination.

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Adrian Van Den Hoven

This article analyzes articles and interviews published in Sartre on Theater and focuses on five plays (Bariona, The Flies, No Exit and The Condemned of Altona) in order to arrive at a coherent conception of Sartre's theater. Sartre views the stage as “belonging to a different imaginary realm“ in which the characters' language, gestures and the props function in a synecdochical relationship in respect to the spectators. It is their task to grasp these “signs“ and bundle them into a coherent and meaningful whole. Because Sartre views the theater as an imaginary realm, he can free himself from the strictures of his philosophy: 1) the irreversibility of time; 2) the fact that life does not give us a second chance; and 3) that death means that our life falls into the public domain. This freedom allows Sartre to deal with temporality in a novel way and to deal with “life after death“ as life simply continued. Conversely, he can scramble temporality for psychological reasons in order to bring out deep rooted personal conflicts, as he does in The Condemned of Altona.

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Religion Matters

Reflections from an AAA Teaching Workshop

James S. Bielo

Good teaching is a craft. It requires constant honing. While perfection eludes most of us most of the time, our best days are intellectually generative, meaningful, and often quite fun. I intend this essay as a gesture in that same spirit.

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Even governmentality begins as an image

Institutional planning in Kuala Lumpur

Richard Baxstrom

This article considers the complexity of contemporary urban life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, through an analysis of planning and the plan itself as a thing in this environment of multiplicity. It argues that the plan functions as a vehicle for action in the present that does not require a singular vision of the future in order to succeed. Plans in the context of governance and urban development gesture to “the future,” but this gesture does not require “a future” in order to function in a highly effective manner. The evidence presented indicates that the primary effectiveness of the plan largely relates to its status as a virtual object in the present. Such virtual objects (plans) bind subjects to the conditions of the present within the desires and limits asserted by the institutions seeking to dominate contemporary life in the city, but this domination is never absolute, singular, or complete.

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Anton Kaes

Every film has its moment. Be it an unforeseen glance, an unmotivated gesture, or a startling sequence unnecessary for narrative progression, such a "moment" reveals in a flash what's at stake—then and now. In the following, I analyze such a moment in Karl Grune's Die Strasse (The Street), a film that Siegfried Kracauer considered one of the defining documents of German modernity. Produced and shown in fall of 1923, the film inaugurated the so-called Strassenfilm genre, which combined the visual language of expressionist cinema (oblique angles, harsh lighting, heavy shadows, painted backdrops, distorted spaces, stylized gestures) with an urban setting. In its gritty exploration of sex, crime, morality, and madness, the street film became the prototype for American film noir of the 1940s. The Street has its "moment" in a brief sequence that discloses the film's underlying theoretical project—the nexus between urban modernity and the disciplining power of vision.

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Krassimira Daskalova

Mihaela Miroiu argues that there was/is ‘a deep incompatibility between feminism and communism’ and that the proclaimed communist measures of gender equality were not feminist in intention and meaning. She insists also that one should differentiate between feminism as an ideal and feminism as ideology. Miroiu further claims that, even if there were some individual feminist gestures under ‘communism’, they didn’t have political consequences.

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An Open Letter

A Call to Peace, Dialogue and Understanding Between Muslims and Jews

Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Rahim

This letter is intended as a gesture of goodwill towards rabbinic leaders and the wider Jewish communities of the world. Our aim is to build upon existing relations in order to improve mutual understanding in places where this is required to further the positive work in building bridges between Muslims and Jews. In the face of the negative and destructive tensions in the Middle East, this letter is a call to positive and constructive action that aims to improve Muslim–Jewish relations.

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Andrew Barnaby

FOOL: There was once a man who had three daughters. (Gestures towards the tableau scene, makes a slight bow, and moves to exit stage; Lear, Goneril and Regan stir slightly without moving from their positions, glance nervously at each other, aware that there is something amiss with the staging as presented; Fool notices and immediately returns to middle of stage.) Ah, right. I guess I should clarify. So this man does have three daughters. Well, not this man exactly. (To Lear) Alfred, how many daughters do you have?

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Michael Kelly

Henri Lefebvre rarely looms large in discussions of Sartre, and vice versa. With the notable exception of Mark Poster, critics have generally ignored the role of France’s leading Marxist philosopher in mediating Sartre’s encounter with Marxism. As a result, Sartre’s well-known footnote in the Critique de la raison dialectique, quoted above, may appear as a characteristically quixotic gesture on his part. The purpose of this article is to argue that this relatively isolated acknowledgement is the tip of an iceberg, beneath which there lies a deep and complex philosophical and political relationship. The text was published in 1957 at a moment when Sartre and Lefebvre came to share an unusual degree of common ground. This itself requires detailed examination, but it first needs to be situated in a wider context embracing most of the lifetime of the two thinkers up until that point.

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Gilbert J. Rose

Examining his childhood portrait over many months within the safety and resonance of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, an older patient recovered lost childhood feelings. His viewing the picture with motoric empathy points up a crucial relation of motion to affect in all nonverbal art, namely, affecto-motor sublimation. How do artist's affects become transformed and embedded in art and music to stimulate affective responses? The artist's kinesthetic somatic tension and release are personal expressive substrates of the affects that accompany the making of art. Using artistic tools to regulate the salience of perceptual features, the somatic tension and release of affect turns into the virtual implicit motion of tonal/visual gestures of music/art; thence, transformed by a receptive receiver back into the somatic tension and release appropriate to his/her own personal, kinesthetic, affective response.