Questions asked in Realpolitik to Dingpolitik

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Latour, Bruno. “From Realpolitik to Dingpolitik – or How to Make Things Public.” In Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005 (accessed July 23, 2008).

Questions put in Latour's text:

  1. Yes, public matters, but how?
  2. We wish to use this metaphor to ask the question: “what would an object-orientated democracy look like?”
  3. Who is to be concerned?
  4. Who is to be considered?
  5. How to represent, and through which medium the sites where people meet to discuss their matters of concern?
  6. From now on, the powers of science are just as important to consider: How do they assemble, and around which matters of concern?
  7. Where has political philosophy turned its distracted gaze while so many objects were drawn under its very nose?
  8. Can we do better?
  9. Can we trace again the frail conduits through which truths and proofs are allowed to enter the sphere of politics?
  10. Don’t worry, even with such an inferior type of proof we might nonetheless come to conclusions, and this one will not be arbitrarily cut short?
  11. Could we do better and manage to really conclude a dispute with “disputable” assertions?
  12. “Facts are facts are facts”?
  13. Why should we suddenly imagine an eloquence so devoid of means, tools, tropes, tricks, and knacks that it would bring the facts into the arenas through some uniquely magical transparent idiom?
  14. Not only do Icelanders manage to remind us of the old sense of “Ding,” but they also dramatize to the utmost how much these political questions have also become questions of nature – are not all parliaments divided by the nature of things as well as by the din of the crowded Ding?
  15. Has the time not come to bring the “res” back to the res publica?
  16. Is this not a more engaging political slogan?
  17. Can we devise an aesthetic of matters-of-concern, of Things?
  18. Who could dram of a better example of hybrid forums than the scale models used by architects all over the world to assemble those able to build them at scale 1?
  19. Or the thin felt pen used by draughtsmen to imagine new landscapes?
  20. What are the shapes of the assemblies that can make sense of all those assemblages?
  21. But once we have moved beyond the image wars, once we have regained a good grasp of the intermediaries necessary to represent anything, once we have moved back to things could be extend the same attention to mediators the most despised political activity, namely political spin?
  22. Is it possible to tackle the question of political representation with care and respect?
  23. Is it possible to tackle it uncritically?
  24. Do we really want to take politics positively?
  25. Are we not asking from the assembly something it cannot deliver so that talking positively about politics horrifies us because its our limitations we’re not prepared to accept?
  26. If it’s true that representations are so indispensable and yet so opaque, how well prepared are we to handle them?
  27. When hearing the call for assembling at the thing, are we able to accept that we are radically unfit to take a seat in it?
  28. Do we have the cognitive equipment required for it?
  29. Are we not, on the whole, totally disabled?
  30. Instead of the radiant citizen standing up and speaking his mind by using his solid common sense, as in Rockwell’s famous painting “Freedom of Speech,” should we not look for an eloquence much more indirect, distorted and inconclusive?
  31. After all, was not Demosthenes, as much as Moses and many other legislators, speech-impaired? Are we not all, when our time comes, to speak up?
  32. Why is politics always about imitation?
  33. If it’s true that a parliament is a complex machinery of speech, of hearing, of voting, of dealing, what should be the same suggested to the ding politik?
  34. What would a political space be that would not be “neo”?
  35. What would a contemporary space be?
  36. What would a contemporary style of assembly look like?
  37. We promise nothing more grandiose than a store of aides for the invalids who have been repatriated from the political frontlines – and haven’t we all been badly mauled in recent years?
  38. Why not render them comparable to one another?
  39. How do they manage to bring in the relevant parties?
  40. How to they manage to bring in the relevant issues?
  41. What change does it make in the way that people make up their minds to be attached to things?
  42. In this show, we hope visitors will shop for the materials that might be needed later for them to build this new Noah’s Ark: the Parliament of Things. Don’t you hear the rain pouring relentlessly already?
  43. “Would you please stay as far away as possible?”
  44. What if the disagreement were not the sort of issues that divide people in the normal state of things but were bearing instead as the very way to assemble at all?
  45. What if we had to imagine not an assembly of assemblies, not even an assembly of ways of assembling but an assembly of ways of dissembling?
  46. Would not that be a call of disassembling instead?
  47. What if one of the causes of fundamentalism were that all those other ways of gathering find themselves, in the end badly representing?
  48. As if the usual garment of politics were too narrow for them?
  49. Difference we could absorb – we thought we could absorb under the decaying but still solid dome of the Holy Roman Empire – but indifferences?
  50. How to devise an assembly of ways of dissembling instead of sending a convocation to gather under the come dome “One Politics Size Fits All”?
  51. Can we enlarge our definition of politics to the point that it accepts its own suspension?
  52. But who can really be that open-minded?
  53. And yet, do we have another course of action?
  54. Or rather, how can we make it navigate when it’s made of a fleet of diverging but already intertwined barges?
  55. In other words, can we overcome the multiplicity of ways of assembling and dissembling and yet raise the question of the common world?
  56. Can we make an assembly out of all the various assemblages in which we are already enmeshed?
  57. But which type of monster is it?
  58. Why do we attach so much importance to the difference between the Body Politik and Phantom?
  59. Going back to things and speaking positively of the “phantom of the public,” is this not, in the end, terribly reactionary?
  60. Would you not embrace such a solution as a gift from heaven?
  61. Are they progressive or reactionary?
  62. Enlightened or archaic?
  63. In the vanguard or in the rearguard?
  64. The questions are no longer, “Are you going to disappear soon?” “Are you the telltale sign of something new coming to replace everything else?” “Is this the seventh seal of the Book of Apocalypse that you’re now breaking?”
  65. An entirely new set of question has now emerged: “Can we cohabitate with you?” “Is there a way for all of us to survive together while none of our contradictory claims, interests and passions can be eliminated?”
  66. What should now be simultaneously present?
  67. “Comment s’en de barrasser?”
  68. And yet where is the alternative OS?
  69. Who is busy writing its lines of code?
  70. How many contemporary elements can you build side by side, generating the series of simultaneities?
  71. But accepting a fragile and provisional roof to probe one another’s attachment to things?
  72. Can fundamentalism be undone?
  73. When will the Horsemen of the Apocalypse sop meddling in politics?
  74. So what is Dingpolitik?

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