By Roland Bleiker (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0230244378

ISBN-13: 9780230244375

ISBN-10: 1349542261

ISBN-13: 9781349542260

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My aim here is not to summarise postmodern approaches to international relations. There have been several highly insightful attempts to do so. The most authoritative among them is a classic essay by Richard Devetak as well as more recent but equally compelling essays by David Campbell, Anthony Burke and Jenny Edkins. 61 I am using the term ‘postmodernism’ in its broadest sense here: as a series of inquiries that stress the need to come to terms with what Nietzsche called ‘the death of God’, the disappearance, at the end of the medieval period, of a generally accepted world view that provided a stable ground from which it was possible to assess nature, knowledge, common values, truth, politics, in short, life itself.

But the nature of war has changed fundamentally since then. In an age where weapons of mass destruction dominate the spectre of war, where the boundaries between soldiers and civilians have become largely blurred, wars have no more winners. Only losers. And on all sides. 119 As a result, one finds few contemporary compositions that are infused with the triumphant spirit of, say, Handel’s Fireworkmusik. Instead, an aesthetic anti-war attitude has become a central and constant element of the musical scene.

Abstraction here takes on a very different role than in international relations scholarship. It seeks to free our senses from the compulsion to equate knowledge with the rational recognition of external appearances. This sensual transgression of mimetic conventions is perhaps at its most extreme in those visual instances where figuration is given up altogether. Abstraction then draws attention to the fact that a figurative painting runs the risk of leading the eye to the temptation of recognition.

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Aesthetics and World Politics by Roland Bleiker (auth.)


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