Paradises - Abstract for online academic journal: 10 September 2011
Why does man need Paradise?
To compensate its limits and taste eternity. To leave human time and space, to enjoy immobile and detached – yet always round and full – perfection. Or, maybe, to project into the otherworld the lack of sense that permeates the secular world, struggling towards some happiness so wished-for as it is postponed?
In Nietzsche's proclaimed "Death of God", the sky seems to lose its meaning, dissolving into some dark, hollow and terrible void. 'Which Paradise?', we might be wondering.
Though, in our modernity made of 'posts', the desire for Paradise seems to be a common feeling. The contemporary paradise is 'lost' and 'damned', it is a paradise that does not reveal imaginary projections and celestial dwellings, but rather falls back on Rimbaud's embodied as well as parodic celestial dream. A paradise that crumbles and dissolves, announcing a message alive with its absence, a bare paradise that shrinks until it touches its opposed and specular end, a sort of Dantesque giants' pit.
In contemporary perception, paradise has not, however, lost its role as a comfort zone, a land for rest, a refuge for a tired ego shaken by daily hyperstimulation. Or it may have taken up an 'exercising' function with which to break the barriers of one's own corporeity, to test the limits of feeling and push oneself beyond the threshold, no longer looking for support in celestial transcendence but experiencing the limits of one's own immanence.
The labour of "making live", in Foucault's biopolitical sense, yesterday caused the multiplication of paradise heterotopias, a revisiting of ancient gardens of delights, enchanted citadels and wonderful architectures. Today, the same desire to discipline the body into a happy and lazy space leads to building exotic holiday villages, spas and thermal resorts, super equipped seven star hotels.
Or, when the body is master, in a dream of paradisiacal eternity, the archaic practice of make-up is ready to take over, now enriched with fillers, artificial colours, and even prosthetics and plastic surgery, ramifications of an ego that seems to have defeated the inexorable passing of time. And a new way of taking one's revenge, which is able to simulate eternity, may coincide with a body ever so managed by man's all powerful mind and free from its materiality: bodies driven to the limits of survival, skeletal bodies, anorexic bodies.
A corner of paradise at powder's or pill's length? Perhaps this is still the most classical way of disconnecting from reality and experiencing possible alternatives, interrupting the monotonous passing of life. The 'false skies' generated by opium and morphine seem to give way to new 'technologies' aimed at pressing the accelerator of experience into a stopless run.
Even those who might prefer an alternative to reality, at mouse's length, can get lost in the second lives offered by the web and watch their identity miraculously multiply itself into a kaleidoscope of attractive and persuasive images. And are they second lives or the negation of the very sense of living?
This is the scenario against which the seventh issue of Other modernities will be set. Within the suggested themes, we propose the following lines of investigation:
- The theological paradise: interpretations, projections, re-writings;
- Illusions of paradise: false skies in (post)modern art, literature, cinema, music and advertising;
- Artificial paradises: drugs and extreme sports;
- Corners of paradise: natural and urban heterotopias: holiday villages, spas, luxury hotels, etc.;
- Dressing up in paradise: plastic surgery and body manipulation; anorexia and eating disorders;
- The paradises of others: imaginaries, representations and geographies.
Naturally, if different proposals on the subject should be put forth by potential contributors, the Scientific Committee will thoroughly evaluate them, aiming to widen the exploration undertaken with this issue to include any articulated and original suggestions.
The editorial office would like to highlight the following deadlines.
Authors should send in their proposals in the form of a 10 (min.)-20 (max.) line abstract with a short biosketch to firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than 10 September 2011.
The editorial office will inform authors whose contributions are accepted by 15 September 2011.
Contributions must be received by 15 January 2012.
The issue will be published by the end of May 2012.
Reviews or interviews to authors or researchers dealing with the issue's subject will also be welcome. In order to make the contributions as consistent as possible, the editors are fully available to be contacted by authors by email or through the editorial office.