Interdisciplinary thinker Samuel Weber lectured about politics, poetics and the media at School of Art and Design


Samuel Weber, a leading American thinker across the disciplines of literary theory, philosophy and psychoanalysis, gave three open lectures at TaiK on 13-16 December.

The lecture series focused on the topic of singularity in regard to media, politics and poetics. Weber's visit to Finland was organized by the interdisciplinary Figures of Touch research project.

- Figures of Touch is fairly interdisciplinary, as is my own work. Trying to understand the world in which we live in goes beyond specialization, and you can't understand what's going on if you don't think broadly. The financial crisis, for example, is not just financial. It's also a political crisis and many other things. We can't ignore disciplines, but at the same time we cannot be bound by them.

Samuel Weber, who was trained in literature, later became interested in a variety of topics such as the theory of media and language. His current work is based around the concept of singularity.

Time is money

The professor's three open lectures dealt with three different topics, which were titled "Aesthetics, Media and Terror-Clouds", "Money is Time", and "On the Singularity of Poetic Knowledge".

During his lecture on money, time and credit, Weber discussed the recent financial crisis and how it seems to be linked to the near and distant past, starting from the reformation. The professor also talked about the current sovereign debt crisis and how so many Americans seem eager to endorse politics that are against their own interests.

- In the United States, to spend is to save and to save is to be saved, Weber stated while talking about what he calls economic theology.

A career between different disciplines and languages

Weber is known for his major role in introducing the thinking of figures such as Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Jacques Derrida to the United States.

- The experience that I as an American have had with other cultures and languages is very important. Living among foreign languages gives a very different perspective from living in your own language.

Samuel Weber's visit to Finland also included a seminar organized by the Figures of Touch research project together with Media Aesthetics, a research group from Aalto University's Department of Media.

Weber is the Paul de Man Chair at the European Graduate School (EGS) and the Avalon Professor of Humanities at Northwestern University. Earlier he has also been a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Director of the Northwestern University’s Paris Program in Critical Theory.

Text: Vuokko Aro


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