Atopias: Manifesto for a Radical Existentialism
by Frédéric Neyrat,
Translated by Walt Hunter and Lindsay Turner,
Foreword by Steven Shaviro
On Amazon.com: Atopias
“Everything is in flux, as we are told over and over again. And yet, these are fluxes in which nothing ever really changes. . . . Other thinkers have characterized globalized and financialized capitalism in this way; Neyrat sees it as a dilemma for critical thought as well. . . . In a world where anything can be anyplace, and anything can switch places with anything else, philosophy must insist on its power to be, not everyplace, but noplace. It must never fit in, but always disturb its context, . . . maintaining a relation with the very Outside that our dominant social, economic, and intellectual conditions seek to deny or suppress. . . . Above all, Atopias is a work of ethics, exhorting us to recognize and find room for the many forms of existence with whom we share our planet.”
—Steven Shaviro, from the Foreword
Atopias is a manifesto for a radical existentialism that restores the place of the outside that contemporary theory underestimates. Neyrat calls this outside “atopia”: not utopia, a dreamt place out of the world, but atopia, the internal outside that is at the core of every being. Atopia is neither an object that an object-oriented ontology might formalize, nor the matter that new materialisms might identify. Atopia is what constitutes the eccentric existence of every being.
Etymologically, to exist means “to be outside” and Atopias argues that every entity is outside, thrown in the world without ontological anchor. In this regard, a radicalized existentialism no longer privileges human beings, as Sartre and Heidegger did, but considers existence a universal condition of every being.
Now, when our denial of any outside is at its most damaging, is the moment for such a radical existentialism. Only an atopian philosophy—a bizarre, extravagant, heretic philosophy—can rechannel our fear of the outside. Breaking the immanence in which we are trapped, Atopias opens new ways to consider human and animal subjectivity, language, politics, and metaphysics.
Frédéric Neyrat is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the author of a dozen books in French on philosophy and environmental humanities.
Walt Hunter is Assistant Professor of World Literature at Clemson University.
Lindsay Turner is a poet and translator and holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia.
Steven Shaviro is DeRoy Professor of English at Wayne State University.
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