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Fortune in the Wind

An Impersonal Subjectivity

Caroline Humphrey and Hürelbaatar Ujeed

For Mongols, fortune is not just acquired or lost accidentally. Rituals are held to create an upsurge of fortune, to beckon, absorb, contain, and act upon it. This article focuses on two kinds of fortune-sülde (potency) and hiimori (vitality)-and the ritualized means to restore these qualities that otherwise become depleted of their own accord. It is argued that these ideas of fortune are ways of linking subjects to cosmological forces 'out there'. The paradox is that, by binding fortune into their bodies in an attempt to garner invincibility, bravery, and energy, people resonate to pulses that glide among, and fly beyond, their other constitutive physical bodily elements. Such occasions when sülde and hiimori are in play call into being a certain kind of person who seems to be rendered, at least for a moment, at one with the void.

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Gabriel Josipovici

Three Figures

David Herman

This article explores three central figures that recur in Gabriel Josipovici’s critical writing. All three are essentially solitary. First, there is the creative figure – the artist, the composer, the writer – alone in their study or studio. Second, there is a curiously impersonal figure, more elusive, harder to pin down. Not the writer or artist but an anonymous figure walking down the road, Wordsworth’s solitaries in The Prelude and Paul Klee’s Wander-Artist. And, finally, there are Jewish figures, especially from Kafka and the Hebrew Bible. What are these bare, elusive anonymous figures doing in Josipovici’s writing? Why do they come up so often, throughout his work, from the mid 1970s to the present? And are they lifeless or are they full of life, deeply human, rooted in history and literature?

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'Their Hearts Melted and Became as Water'

Lamentations – Ethics after Auschwitz

Victor Jeleniewski Seidler

There is a movement from the impersonal towards a more personal voice that is figured through the widow and so through some sense of the feminine. Is it through the feminine that we can know loss and so give voice to sorrow?

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Reality is What You Can Get Away With

Fantastic Imaginings, Rebellion and Control in Terry Gilliam's Brazil

Ben Wheeler

It is my intention here to explore the fictional and non-fictional texts that may have informed (or are at least isomorphic to) the sentiments articulated in this seminal dystopian film. The film centres on the struggles of protagonist Sam Lowry (Jonathon Pryce), a cog in the impersonal machinery of the bureaucracy that governs Brazil's society who desires anonymity within consensus reality, but in his dreams is a winged warrior fighting noble battles with symbolic adversaries. Sam finds he is increasingly unable to successfully reconcile or differentiate these paradoxical existences as they begin to bleed into one another throughout the film.

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Ceren Belge

This paper examines shifting modalities of government over Bedouins of the Negev. During the first two decades of statehood, Israeli officials approached Bedouins as a relatively quiescent population, based on their understanding that the Bedouins' tribal loyalties guaranteed their aloofness from Palestinian national politics. From the 1970s on, however, Bedouin resistance to Israeli land and settlement policies began to mark the Bedouin increasingly as a 'dangerous population'. As a result, the interest in preserving the Bedouins' cultural specificity gave way to a new emphasis on the need to modernize the Bedouins. The shift in governmental discourse was accompanied by a pluralization in the techniques of government, from an informal 'government of experts' to one in which bureaucratic and impersonal modes of authority competed with expert rule.

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Ways of Knowing

Freedom of Information, Access to Persons and 'Flexible' Bureaucracy in Scotland

Gemma John

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 provides access to information held by public bodies in Scotland. This article explores the way in which it also had the capacity to provide access to persons working for these public bodies. It was through engaging with these persons that citizens could obtain access to information under the new law. Nevertheless, the technicalities of the law had the effect of depersonalizing the actions of those working for the public bodies it covered, such that they were no longer visible as 'persons'. This article argues that the proponents of the law prioritized impersonal legal procedure over the personal exchanges that the law facilitated, thereby ultimately undermining their own objective of transparent government.

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Jan Baars

This article concentrates on the concepts of time that are implied in the study of ageing. As such, it does not directly address the complex issue of autonomy and ageing, but is an attempt to prepare the ground for a more fundamental approach to ageing than is usually the case. Instead of assuming that we know what age is, I intend to think a little more about the concepts of time that are presupposed in speaking about age and ageing. Usually these concepts are approached from a chronological time perspective, which is only one, albeit important, approach to time. Another perspective which is crucial for understanding human ageing is subjective, personally experienced time. These perspectives are not by definition in harmony with each other. Subjective perspectives on time and ageing can conflict with objectifying, chronological perspectives. Human ageing means living in dimensions of time where impersonal forces and regularities clash with personal meanings.

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Jennifer McDonell

This article examines Robert Browning's and Henry James's writings to consider their responses to, and implication in, the production, circulation, and consumption of late nineteenth-century celebrity. For James, there were two Brownings – the private, unknowable genius and the social personality. From the time he first met Browning until 1912, James held to this theory in letters, essays, biography, and fiction; the Browning 'problem' became integral to James's fascinated engagement with other problems at the heart of celebrity culture. Both writers attacked celebrity discourses and practices (biography, interviews, literary tourism) that constructed the life as a vital source of meaning, thus threatening to displace the writer's work as privileged object of literary interpretation. Browning preceded James in insisting that the separation of public and private life was foundational to an impersonal aesthetics, and in exploring the fatal confusion between art and life that has been identified by theorists as central to celebrity culture.

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Introduction

Subjects of Luck—Contingency, Morality, and the Anticipation of Everyday Life

Giovanni da Col and Caroline Humphrey

This introduction illustrates the modalities in which different societies imagine the tension between the impersonal and individual- ized aspects of fortune and fate. After briefly discussing the role of contingency, fortune, and gambling in the formation of subjectivities, we outline how different societies confront the moral conundrums arising from fortune's unequal distribution in the world. We highlight how luck orientations presentify the future by the deployment of what we name 'technologies of anticipation'. Luck and fortune can be seen as conceptual techniques for short-circuiting temporal subjectivities by creating a crack in time-a space of 'compossibility'-where events deemed to be fatal and inevitable become negotiable. We conclude with a reflection on dice, randomness, and acts of gambling in which not merely subjectivities but the fate or fortune of larger social aggrega- tions-including the cosmos-is deemed at stake.

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Nothing in Return?

Distinctions between Gift and Commodity in Contemporary Societies

Michaela Benson and Denise Carter

According to Mauss’ seminal works, it was through obligations laid bare by the gift exchange process—the obligation to give, receive and reciprocate—that pre-modern societies were symbolically reproduced. Mauss’ distinction between those early societies and the encroaching capitalist world has led to questions about whether gift exchange can play a similar role in today’s highly individualised and impersonal contemporary societies. In addition, it has also stimulated a great deal of debate about the relationship between gifts and commodities. If, as many theorists suggest, commodities are a central feature of daily life in capitalist societies, there is the possibility of fluidity between gift and commodity. This invites several interesting questions about the forms and functions of exchange: what forms does exchange take in contemporary societies; what implications, if any, do these forms of exchange have for relationships in contemporary society; and, does gift exchange still have a function in society?