As we enter 2012…

Nothing is more unfitting for an intellectual resolved on practising what was earlier called philosophy, than to wish, in discussion, and one might almost say in argumentation, to be right. The very wish to be right, down to its subtlest form of logical reflection, is an expression of that spirit of self-preservation which philosophy is precisely concerned to break down. […] Such naivety is at work wherever philosophy has even a distant resemblance to the gestures of persuasion. These are founded on the presupposition of a universitas literarum, an a priori agreement between minds able to communicate with each other, and thus on complete conformism. When philosophers, who are well known to have difficulty in keeping silent, engage in conversation, they should always try to lose the argument, but in such a way as to convict their opponent of untruth.

(Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia)

dis/con/sensus – some ideas


Politics is litigious. It is a deviation from the normal order of things. It is a denaturalising gesture, a rupture and an interruption. (See Jacques Rancière, Dissensus)

Politics is dissensus.

Consensus is the loss of thought. It is politics understood as the affair of government.

The futility of noisy protests that everyone agrees with…? (That leads to more consensus.)

Art as a means of disclosing the ‘necessary’ and ‘inevitable’ as contingent? (See Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism, p. 16). The denaturalising function of art.

What constitutes consensus and dissent today? In what forms are they practised? What kinds of sociality do they entail?

Doing is a torrent against all enclosure. Our power to do things differently, our power to create a different world, is a flow that exerts a growing force against the walls that hem us in, a constant breaching of these walls. Capital runs around mending these breaches (granting land reforms, redefining the norms of sexuality, for example), but the flow of our power will not be contained, simply because our collective life depends on it. (John Holloway, Crack Capitalism, p. 261)

What are the links between art and politics? Is art (and can it be) political? Does it do?

What is the place of the university? Is the university a consenting or dissenting institution?

dissent (vb): early 15c., from L. dissentire “differ in sentiments, disagree, be at odds, contradict, quarrel,” from dis- “differently” (see dis-) + sentire “to feel, think” (seesense). Related: Dissented; dissenting.

dissension (n): early 14c., from O.Fr. dissension (12c.) and directly from L. dissensionem (nom. dissensio) “disagreement, difference of opinion, discord, strife,” noun of action from pp. stem of dissentire “disagree”

consensus (n): 1854 as a term in physiology; 1861 of persons; from L. consensus “agreement, accord,” pp. of consentire (see consent). There is an isolated instance of the word from 1633.

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