Zabala's extraordinary book strikes at the very heart of our spiritual predicament. From austerity politics to security measures, everything is legitimized with the axiom that we live in a state of emergency. The first task of the critique of ideology today is thus to dispel this myth of emergency - something that Zabala does brilliantly, combining theoretical stringency with immense readability. SLAVOJ ZIZEK

Santiago Zabala’s Why Only Art can Save Us is a crucial publication for anyone concerned about the future and necessity of art in the twenty-first century. Its main claim is that the possibility of art lies in its aesthetics of emergency. Although we live in a time of social, political and environmental emergencies, Zabala makes the convincing case that we tend to repress the emergencies we live in.The aesthetics of emergency discloses the concealment of emergency as the essential emergency, helping us to recover the sense of emergency. This aesthetics proposes a major shift in our understanding of art, which is less about representation than existence. CHRISTINE ROSS

Why is the absence of emergency the greatest emergency? This question is at the heart of Zabala’s new book, which develops further his “ontology of remnants,” i.e., what remains of Being in the twenty-first century. Art, like communism, is not an aesthetic or political subject matter for Zabala but rather an ontological event where Being emerges as remnants. This is why instead of aesthetic contemplations he calls for existential interventions meant to change the world. The artworld, as well as the philosophical community, will benefit from Zabala’s best book so far. GIANNI VATTIMO

Santiago Zabala’s Why Only Art Can Save Us is a timely and provocative exploration of art in the age of emergency. Today, the real emergency we face is not so much the populist emergencies of media spectacles that confront us ad nauseum day in and day out; rather, it is the emergency that arises from concealing the destruction and oppression neoliberal democracy, militarism, and global capitalism inflict. It is here where art can save us. Extending his previous work with Gianni Vattimo on hermeneutic communism and weak thought, Zabala offers up an anarchic view of interpretation in place of hermeneutic thinkers who ‘stress the interpretative nature of truth’. Art at its most potent, Zabala brilliantly argues, creates a shock of the new that enacts an uncontrollable tension and an existential transformation. Zabala mounts an important challenge to aesthetic theories that reduce art to mere cultural objects of representation that are contemplated and enjoyed without ever awakening in us the essential emergency of our time. This view of aesthetics, he maintains, censors the emergency of the dominant framing powers organizing contemporary existence. Emergency aesthetics, on the other hand, work at the margins of the dominant frame, demanding our intervention. By prompting existential encounters, the art of emergency responds to the ‘lack of a sense of emergency’ by exposing the emergency of neoliberal democracy and global capitalism. Why Only Art Can Save Us is a major contribution to political philosophy and the philosophy of art. ADRIAN PARR


Columbia University Press


interview in Arcade
Interview with Columbia University Press Blog Edtors part I
Interview with Columbia University Press Blog Edtors part II


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