Call for Papers: ilinx – Vortexes, Streams, Turbulences
ilinx. Berliner Beiträge zur Kulturwissenschaft is a newly founded scientific journal that is to be published annually in the form of thematically focussed issues by Philo Fine Arts. ilinx originates from an initiative of doctoral candidates and postdoctoral researchers in the extended environment of the Institute for Cultural Science of the Humboldt-University in Berlin. It is committed to the generation of critical discourse on current topics of relevance.
ilinx – ancient Greek for whirlpool and whirling – stands for a self-reflexive form of interdisciplinary thinking, in which the investigated material and the employed theory encounter each other as equals. Vortexes form for a short time in places where multiple streams converge. They are local, temporary and mingle heterogeneous elements (theories, material, methods, disciplines, actors, artefacts, times, spaces). Established orders and codes are transformed in the process. Roger Caillois subsumed under the term ilinx all forms of play, “that are based on the desire for inebriation [Rausch] and whose allure resides in their ability to momentarily disrupt the stability of perception [...]”. This inebriating and turbulent moment is also suggested by the metaphorical imagery of the whirlpool. Vortexes stir up dust, generate waves, becloud; but they also clarify. They create turbulent force fields – suction, undercurrents, and rapids – in which relationships are destabilised and reorganised. They entrance and entrain; carry off, along, toward, and away.
Vortexes, Streams, Turbulences
The first issue of ilinx – with the thematic focus on “Vortexes, Streams, Turbulences” – looks at configurations of destabilisation, interruption, disruption, inebriation and vertigo as formative moments of culture. Since antiquity these concepts have been credited with the potential for generating knowledge. Plato, for instance, sees the origin of philosophical inquiry in a vertiginous moment that calls the basic principles of knowledge into question. Modern thought also emerges from the experience of a fundamental vertigo, which Descartes assigns not only a methodological function, but an epistemological one as well. His consequential formation of a methodical and linear mode of thought is preceded by the dizziness and the tumble into fathomless depth that the method of radical doubt leads to. This exemplary experience also shows the precarious and dangerous dimension that accompanies the dissolution of an ordered perspective.
Against this backdrop, the first issue of ilinx examines vortexes, streams, and turbulences, in the multiple dimensions of epistemology, the history of science, the lifeworld [Lebenswelt] and cultural techniques.
1. Epistemological questions concern those moments during the production, generation and emergence of knowledge that result from a temporary interruption of rules, order, and normative codes. New knowledge often arises unexpectedly when unintended, irregular, accidental, and allegedly negligible factors disorient systematic research. Hence, the epistemological figure of turbulence is to be discussed here in terms of the following questions: What kinds of vertiginous and fuzzy forms of knowledge production exist? What is the role of the unintended or of the self-dynamic within the course of research? How do these moments in turn account for the emergence of fuzzy objects and epistemic things (Rheinberger)? What role do the accidental and serendipitous play in the formation of knowledge? To what extent do contingency and turbulence constitute the self-organisation of a given system and its dynamics? Does the figure of turbulence allow for the description of fundamental states of the world (order/chaos)? Finally, to what extent does the epistemological dimension of ilinx embody the intersection between thinking and playing?
2. The second section focuses on the history of knowledge concerning physical vortexes, streams and turbulences. This line of inquiry encompasses the discourses, instruments, media, architecture and experimental settings made to investigate and control these phenomena. Their observation and modelling has led to new epistemological dynamics and contingencies, whose performative power has in turn shaped material and symbolic forms of culture. Potential areas of inquiry include vortexes and turbulences within fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and early ether theory, including their knowledge architecture and experimental spaces (water channels, wind tunnels, meteorological networks). Another possible area of inquiry concerns the specific poetics and aesthetics of the vortex, ranging from Edgar Allan Poe’s novel “A descent into the Maelstrom” to the streamlined shape of cars, ships and airplanes. Pivotal questions are: Where, how and from what streams do vortexes evolve? Which moments in the history of science and knowledge are geared to the creation, operationalization or control of ilinx? Does the calculation of turbulence and fuzziness, based in probabilities and aimed at prognoses, lead to a generalized “meteorological way of knowing” (Serres)? Is the knowledge of physical currents and vortexes applicable to a “physics of society”?
3. The third focus is on ilinx-phenomena pertaining to the lifeworld [Lebenswelt] and the cultural techniques involved. On the one hand, this section inquires about (non)everyday experiences, which can be described with the figure of the entraining vortex – e.g. the confusing irritation of a fleeting flirt, the seducing encounter with a fetish, the inspiration of a subcultural anomaly, but also the shock of a traumatic accident or the sudden collapse of a socio-economic system. On the other hand, questions should also be raised concerning the practices that have arisen for dealing with turbulence, rush and inebriation [Rausch]. ilinx can be produced through various techniques – e.g. different forms of movement, the violation of established norms or the use of drugs and other media. The cultivation of ilinx-like experiences ranges from childlike spinning-games through religious rituals, sporting events and political personality cults to the thrill of the stock market. Possible areas of investigation within this section are: everyday irritations, social turbulences and extraordinary situations, social experiments and aesthetical self-experiments (Romanticism, Vorticism, Situationism, Beatniks etc.) and cultural techniques of inebriation (dance, festival, play, mass mobilisation). Where and when do phenomena and situations emerge which seduce, decentralize, carry away and destabilize? How is ilinx produced and cultivated, but also problematized and banned? In what ways are vortexes, vertigo and inebriation operationalized in popular, artistic, scientific, and political practices?
Ideally, contributions should attempt to reflect on these figures of turbulence, by configuring material, methods and theories according to the demands of the specific object of investigation. In case of doubt, priority should be given to the appropriateness of the approach, with regards to the problem discussed, over disciplinary traditions.
There are two different forms of texts:
1. Essays of appr. 15 pp. (30.00 – 35.000 characters) related to the topic of the issue. These texts are selected through a peer-review-process and will also be published on the ilinx-homepage, a while after publication of the journal.
2. Short Cuts (short and rather essayistic texts, artistic contributions or presentations of current research projects) not longer than 15.000 characters. Topics are not constricted to the thematic focus of the journal. Experimental uses of text and image are explicitly requested.
Please send your abstract in English or German (not longer than a page) to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 28. The deadline for completed contributions is April 30, 2009.
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