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Rereading Hannah Arendt's 'What Is Freedom?'

Freedom as a Phenomenon of Political Virtuosity

Ilya Winham

In 'What Is Freedom?', Arendt speaks of freedom as a 'phenomenon of virtuosity', claiming that this phenomenon is the original, hitherto undertheorised experience of freedom in ancient Greece and Rome, and that the idea of freedom began to appear in connection with the will in our philosophical tradition only after freedom as a phenomenon of virtuosity had in practice disappeared in the late Roman Empire - but not from all human activities in which it continued to exist in a hidden form, as the power or 'gift' of humans to begin a new line of action. My interpretation of Arendt's conception of freedom begins from and elaborates on these claims, and shows that she should be taken seriously as a critic of the late antique notion that freedom consists in the decisions we make with our will. I also show that in rejecting accounts of freedom that reduce it to a matter of the will or the intellect, Arendt relies on the notion of an inspiring 'principle' of action that functions in a manner analogous to Hegel's understanding of (moral) action as taking place against a background of unwritten rules (sittlichkeit) and as deriving its 'validity' and 'absolute' character from a spirit, or principle, immanent within it.

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The White Cotton Robe

Charisma and Clothes in Tibetan Buddhism Today

Magdalena Maria Turek

Contextualized in discussions around charisma as originally conceived by Max Weber, this article examines the case of Tsültrim Tarchin, a charismatic adept from Eastern Tibet whose everyday dress consists of a specialized garment, a white cotton robe. Earned as a mark of virtuosity in the Tantric tummo practice and worn as a sign of an ascetic lifestyle, this robe functions as a key instrument in Tsültrim Tarchin’s charismatic actions. More than a repository of power and beyond insignia that signify privilege or superiority, the religious garment I consider in this article does not merely channel the routinized charisma of the lineage. It also effectively augments the master’s personal power through the performativity of its symbolism, while its real potency lies in structuring all meanings within the master’s network of influence.

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The Editors

The modest landmark of the fifth edition of European Comic Art (ECA) entitles us to a mini-retrospective: thus far, we have devoted the journal to explorations of comic art as: innovatory medium in relation to form and subject matter (1.1); expression of national identities (1.2); associated with the development of caricature (2.1); part of a text/image current that underwent significant development in the nineteenth century (2.2). We now move on, in 3.1, to consider the internal workings of comics as an art form, and in particular the question of narration, by means of both theoretical overview and detailed examination of works that display the narrative resources of the medium in striking ways. From their earliest days, comics have been an inexhaustible source of narrative invention, as a deceptively simple mechanism – based on discontinuous frames and on interplay between text and image – has been manipulated to dazzling creative effect. The virtuosity and metanarrative awareness of practitioners, from Rodolphe Töpffer to Marc-Antoine Mathieu, have challenged critics to find theoretical discourses capable of accounting for the complexity and subtlety of comics as a narrative art form. This issue of ECA aims to take the debate forward.