A warmer year

Posted on 2 Jan 2023.
Apollo, the cat Image by Patrycja Fjeld, Gdynia 2022.


It has become something of a common-place for social power-brokers to issue statements to mark the end of an old year and the beginning of a new. Kings do it, prime ministers and presidents do it, and should not also the Ereignis Center for Philosophy and the Arts do it?

Thus, in the spirit of the less-than-haughty and dead-serious we offer the following:

2022 was great (for us, but really, this kind of reservation oughtn’t be necessary, as readers assume, in the absence of an explicit agent, that speakers nominally refer to their selves in their judgements – such reservations must be remnants of classical logic, or what certain venerable philosophers refer to as a “school philosophy” where priority was granted to an objective utterer) for these reasons:

  • Restrictions legitimated by the spread of the corona virus largely ended or were radically reduced in scale and reach, which meant that
  • Participants in the 2022 Ereignis Conference met on-site in Gdynia, in contrast to the previous year’s edition, which was held entirely online. Further,
  • We welcomed our first students, registrants for our pre-recorded modules on Life Technologies, Ethics, and Wallace Stevens.

We carried on developing our learning site, moving from a showcase model to a dual model, keeping much content in the open, while reserving valuable content for registered users and students. As we are doing all coding in-house we’re curious to hear what you think about the present state of our site!

We look forward to 2023! We agree with those who say that one’s ability to set oneself outrageous goals is inversely proportional to one’s ability to fulfill those goals. (This is logic, really.) Nevertheless, we are looking to a year that will see

  • Several new courses offered from Ereignis Institute, our learning site,
  • A third, on-site and technically upgraded Ereignis Conference, and
  • A growing realisation of the inter-connectedness of our contemporary world.

It’s early January 2023 in Gdynia, Poland. Trees, bushes and flowers are preparing for spring. Instead of snow and winter hats we have 14 degrees (Celcius), bare roads, and t-shirts. Opinion is divided on what the cause or causes of this unseasonal burst of warm weather may be. We at Ereginis Center for Philosophy and the Arts limit ourselves to observe that we seem to be heading towards a warmer year, a warmer future. This event, the green winter, can serve to remind us of what it is to have faith. To paraphrase the late Pope Benedict XVI, faith is not a set of norms, books, or rituals. It is not even a community. Faith is an event.

All the best for 2023.

Living philosophy: new essay on Schirmacher’s philosophy of education

Posted on 7 Dec 2022.
Wolfgang Schirmacher Image by Torgeir Fjeld, Dresden 2018.


For Wolfgang Schirmacher philosophy has always been as much about “doing” as about “knowing”; the domains of traditional essays and other forms of philosophical praxis are deeply connected. In a new essay published by Journal of Silence Studies in Education I explore how the philosophy programme at European Graduate School (EGS) can be considered a concrete product of this kind of practical interlacing. “The silence of the educated” is available for free from this link.

Statistical outliers

Posted on 14 Jul 2022.
Russel Brand, October 2014 Image by lacapsamagica.blogspot.com (CC-BY).


These are strange times, also for Americans. We read in the New York Times that – expectedly – opinion in that country on matters such as gun control, abortion, presidential self-management, etc, is divided along party lines. What is strange is how certain voices cannot but surface, providing a more sane view of the current political climate. Eg, toward the end of said NYT article we find the following interview:

Jacqueline Beck-Manheimer, 58, is an independent who has voted for third-party candidates in recent presidential contests. She works at an employment services company in Albuquerque and said her news diet consisted of YouTube shows that presented stories they claim the mainstream media is ignoring, including the channel of Russell Brand, an actor who has become a prominent purveyor of coronavirus conspiracy theories.

Ms. Beck-Manheimer said she was upset about the Supreme Court’s rollback of abortion rights, members of Congress who took corporate campaign contributions, the increased size of the defense budget and profits that pharmaceutical companies made in selling coronavirus vaccines to the federal government.

The government’s problems would be easier to solve, she said, if the news media weren’t invested in sowing division among Americans.

“It’s the media who stokes the culture war,” she said. “It’s all a provocation to distract us from what what’s really going on, and what’s really going on is nothing but big businesses and their money.”

One thing is that “conspiracy theorist” now has become a catch-all to plaster on anyone who has a different opinion than Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post, another is that it is as if pointing out that the pharmaceutical sector, one of the world’s most profitable (see eg this recent link), is making enormous gains on our present obsession with good health, has now become a concern of statistical outliers.

Strange times, indeed.

Schirmacher’s event of technology

Posted on 13 Apr 2022.


How do we think about the philosophical legacy of Martin Heidegger today, and how does the answer to that question influence our assessment of his student Wolfgang Schirmacher’s philosophy of technology? These are the main questions in this talk presented at the Alone Together Conference, the third edition of the International Pandisciplinary Symposium on Solitude in Community, on March 31, 2022. Central to the discussion is Heidegger’s notion of Ereignis, or event, and how it has shaped Schirmacher’s philosophy of technology generally, and his concept of Homo Generator specifically.

Inscriptions 5, n1, is out

Posted on 17 Jan 2022.
Inscriptions 5n1, cover


Inscriptions 5, n1, is out with ten original essays on Being and event. With this issue we inaugurate our initiative for Creative criticism, while modifying our publication practices for visual arts. Read an excerpt from the Editorial here.

It is with trepidation and joy we begin to circulate this fifth volume of Inscriptions. What started as a small project, well hidden in the more obscure corners of contemporary thought, has grown to something quite different: as our readership is growing, so are our demands of ourselves and the journal we make, which in turn generates interest from a widening circle of thinkers, writers, and scholars. This issue is special; it is devoted to Being and Event, the topic of a conference hosted by Ereignis Center for Philosophy and the Arts in June last year. Many essays in this issue are reworked versions of papers presented there, and have benefited from scholarly dialogue initiated at that event. In all cases essays published by Inscriptions are subject to double-blind review by two external peers.

We stand by our founding principles, continuing to insist on scholastic rigour and quality in everything we publish. Nevertheless, those who undertake a project such as ours, partly experimental and wholly entertained outside institutional and corporate sedimented structures, will encounter situations that strongly compel them to modify their path. The observant reader will already have noticed that this issue does not include a section on arts. Our decision not to include artworks in a separate section is due to two considerations. First, while we have been delighted with the artworks we had published thus far we have come to recognise that our format severely restricts the kinds of art we can disseminate and the quality by which we are able to reproduce them. At this time Inscriptions is limited to PDFs: images we publish must therefore have fixed size and fit within the A4 format. This really is a technologically superfluous requirement. As we have continued to publish the artworks from Inscriptions in galleries at our sister site ereignis.no/ we have come to recognise the advantages of online galleries: they enable a wider range of formats (videos, audio files, GIFs, etc.), and they can be maintained with greater ease, and in a way that is much more conducive to a proper display of artworks than a scholarly journal can ever do.

Our second consideration has been a desire to pool our resources to enable us to make the best scholarly journal possible. While this led to some soul-searching we decided to concentrate our efforts on scholarship, albeit with our own particular angle: beginning with this issue we include creative criticism as a new category of scholarly articles, and while these texts will be submitted to the same rigorous double-blind review as other texts we encourage authors to submit articles that challenge the traditional scholastic format: we look for texts that explicitly reflect on methods and practices, including lyrical and personal reflections. While we will continue to pursue our interest in the arts, and also to publish artworks in this journal when appropriate, as well as in the galleries at ereignis.no/, we believe that our reformulated editorial policies will prepare the ground for a better, stronger, and more focussed effort in an emerging area of scholarly open access publishing.

Read the entire editorial at inscriptions.tankebanen.no/.

From Gravegifts

Posted on 19 Nov 2021.
Tor Ulven (1953-1995)


In our hours of drift and idleness we have taken to rereading some Ulven. In the prose book Gravegifts (Gravgaver, 1988) Tor Ulven commented on the 22 November, 1953 recording of Brahms’s “Tragic Overture,” in which Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall for 14 minutes and 7 seconds.

“In these old recordings it seems as if he [Toscanini] tries to play as fast as possible in order to incorporate as much music as feasible before death’s arrival: Brahms’ mild, pastoral serenade in A major rushes furiously by under the ageing orchestral tyrant’s baton as if it was a matter of putting an end to the slow, sunny hours of life as quickly as possible; as if in a fit of nervous rage he had commenced to tear up the entirety of the calendar’s summer leaves in order to arrive more quickly at a different summer, somewhere else. [...] I existed in these roughly 14 minutes while Arturo Toscanini, a former cellist, conducted a tragic overture that contained -- and still contains -- a wisdom to which I must at that time have been a complete stranger, since we would have to survive blindly and without question for years before we attain the level of reflection necessary for us to understand that life essentially is impossible, and by that time it is already too late to become unmade and to never have existed. Thus, we have never seen a newborn resign to destiny and reject the temptations of life (such as milk) with a tired wring of the hand, or to nostalgically long back to a distant past as non-existent.”

Translated by Torgeir Fjeld.

The Doors (of Perception)

Posted on 27 Jul 2021.
Image from the documentary When You’re Strange, dir. Tom DiCillo, 2010


We’re fortunate to have good access to updates on American popular culture on our television. Recently we watched a documentary on the popular music outfit The Doors, When You’re Strange (dir. Tom DiCillo, 2010), which differs from the celebrated biopic on Jim Morrison, featuring Val Kilmer as the protagonist (The Doors, dir. Oliver Stone, 1991), in that it takes a less heroic view on the vocalist. To Oliver Stone, Morrison stood as the countercultural hero of the (Left) 1960s/70s, and his demise symbolised the victory of the dark, reactionary forces of jingoist America over the freedom-loving individual of the youth revolution.

The 1991 biopic suffers from this narrow frame, and in the Stone film Morrison’s brilliant bandmates Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist, and Morrison’s own favourite on slide guitar, Robby Krieger, are placed firmly in the background, as props for the ever-present and mysteriously genial Morrison.

DiCillo’s documentary takes a more complex view, both on the band, and on Morrison himself. First, there is no doubt left that the particular sound and approach was a team effort, and that when the group later tore apart the responsibility lay squarely on Morrison’s shoulders. Second, the documentary seems truthful in its portrayal of Morison’s shy character. He stood with his back to the crowd for the first concerts, not daring to face them; he talked disparagingly of photo sessions and portraits of himself; and, most importantly, he saw himself as a literary poet, dedicated to writing and the written word. Never was he as happy as when he was able to write sensitive and meaningful words to be read or heard as literary achievements, when he recorded his own spoken word poetry, or when Simon & Schuster decided to publish a collection of his poetry. The stage and its fame was alluring, but his awkwardness with crowds and other people made Morrison a stranger, even in the midst of adoration and hero-worship, a state of affairs that was sadly perpetuated with Stone’s 1991 biopic.

So was it fame that murdered Morrison? Or was it alcohol? DiCillo’s documentary leaves it open. In a country so infatuated with popularity and monetary success the urge to write poetry or participate in any other kind of high cultural endeavour for its own sake must seem strange indeed. And Morrison was strange, to his times, and, ultimately, to himself. The frontier mentality is brought out well in his relationship to his father, a combatant in the Vietnam war. On one of The Doors’s first albums Morrison had declared in the liner notes that his family was “dead.” In return, or so it may seem, his father, when asked later about his superstar son, answered journalists that Jim should immediately end his musical career, as he had no talent for it. The skirmishes continued into the family, and in the end an uprooted Morrison died alone in his bathtub in a Paris hotel, drunk beyond his wits, and far away from his adoring culture.

He kept looking for his literary roots, his Rimbaud, his Chopin, and his Oscar Wilde.

John Fiske has passed

Posted on 20 Jul 2021.
John Fiske


To those interested in Media Studies, and particularly early Cultural Studies of Television, John Fiske was a powerhouse. Sadly, he passed on July 12, 2021, due to complications following heart surgery.

Fiske revived what was then called “Telecommunications Studies” and made it become an integral part of the larger (and burgeoning) domain of Cultural Studies. Fiske wrote on television, race, and power, and is probably best known for the books Television Culture and Understanding Popular Culture, both widely used 101-level introductions.

Fiske taught at several universities in his native UK and in Australia before relocating to teach at Wisconsin. Fiske was among the first to regard television programmes as texts that could be decoded, and in this respect he was one of a number of scholars who took post-structuralist theories as crucial to their understanding of how popular cultural artifacts are made meaningful.

Here’s a quote that captures the type of cultural analysis we find in the work of Fiske and his generation (from his Wikipedia entry): “Culture (and its meanings and pleasures) is a constant succession of social practices; it is therefore inherently political, it is centrally involved in the distribution and possible redistribution of various forms of social power.”

An obituary on Fiske is available from U Wisconsin: https://commarts.wisc.edu/in-memoriam-john-fiske/.

Being/Ruptured: Bruce Lee’s liberation as event

Posted on 12 Apr 2021.


The liberation of Bruce Lee was and indeed is an event that doesn’t promise to heal the rupture of the self, the fighter, or being, but that seeks to overcome divisions in order to incorporate them and make them part of the totality that is us. View the presentation “,” given at the 3rd Wrocław Chinese Martial Arts Congress 11 April 2011. Approx. 20 mins.

About Torgeir Fjeld
I am a writer, publisher, and educational administrator with PhDs in Cultural Theory (Roehampton, 2012) and Philosophy (EGS, 2017). My latest books are Introducing Ereignis: philosophy, technology, way of life and Rock Philosophy. I have published many articles in journals such as Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, International Journal of Žižek Studies, Teaching Philosophy, Journal of Silence Studies in Education, and Oxford Left Review. I am currently Head of the Ereignis Center for Philosophy and the Arts, Publisher at Tankebanen forlag, and Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed journal Inscriptions. I have taught at many universities in North America, Europe, and Africa, including the University of Minnesota, Roehampton University, the University of Gdańsk, and the University of kwaZulu/Natal. On this page you will find a section entirely dedicated to poetry in translation. This page has a cookie policy.
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