#1 Tavia Nyong’o: A Defense of Utopia'
9 July 2022, 6pm

Tavia Nyong’o, A Defense of Utopia, 9 July 2022

Between Bridges is pleased that performance studies scholar Tavia Nyong’o will inaugurate THESES ON HOPE with his lecture A Defense of Utopia, followed by a conversation on the question of Utopia and apocalypse in the arts of the present. Nyong’o writes:

“Part of the challenge for followers of Ernst Bloch has been to explain again to each new generation of readers that his concept of utopia is not a science fiction or a fantasist’s scheme for a perfect society. Instead, the spirit of utopia that is being identified here inheres in ordinary life, as ordinary life, whenever and wherever that life takes a shape that impels it to ‘lead a life of its own.’ That is to say, this is a concept of utopia for the artist, or better, the artisan. Or even better, it is a concept of utopia in which the distinction between artist and artisan has been abolished, and the smooth surfaces of handmade objects are once again scored and striated with the patterns and symbols of unruly desires. The spirit of utopia, put another way, seeks to identify a common, continuous, and mostly unconscious participation in utopian wishes, to affirm a shared sense that something’s missing, and to record and preserve the concrete manifestation of this activity, this revolution in everyday life. Insofar as this is a common approach, it is not and cannot be identitarian. There is not a utopian caste or class, or even individual utopians in the easily understood sense. The ordinariness in which the utopian is located is not an ordinary ordinariness, but an ordinary that has been in a special sense estranged. Poetry can aid in attuning us to this turning of language towards itself as an aspect of its concrete and direct use. The mystical, even the messianic strands in Bloch, which has always presented an obstacle against his reception by respectable philosophy, are precisely the strands that my reading of him through queer of color critique will insist on.”