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Arjen Mulder, Joke Brouwer (eds.)

The Politics of the Impure
Towards a Theory of the Imperfect

Design: Joke Brouwer, Illustrated (colour), Paperback, 208 pages, 16 x 23 cm
English edition, ISBN 978-90-5662-748-5, € 27.00

In collaboration with V2_Insitute for the Unstable Media

The Politics of the Impure‘Life is basically simple. It may grow more and more complex, but it need not lose this simplicity. Complexity needs to be perfected, simplicity is man’s perfect state.’ Said Piet Mondrian, expressing the belief system that informed the then new world order, that of twentieth-century modernism. This belief was informed by the vision of technology as a tool of reduction, purifying nature from a state of randomness into one of cleansed controllability and perfection. It was not just the art of modernism that was all about purity and the search for abstraction, the same logic and politics of purity were also at work in rationalized agriculture, refi ned food, urban planning, population control, and the experience of the Other, both as the goal and the legitimization of the means to reach that goal. With amazing, world changing consequences – but also with devastating effects for the environment, climate, cultural diversity, biopolitics, and city and country life.

It is crucial to understand that our progression through the twentieth century towards our contemporary global Crystal Palace (Peter Sloterdijk) of purity and transparency has been constantly accompanied by an almost physical desire for the pure, not just Mondrian’s crystalline structures, but also the addictive taste of white sugar and white bread. This book investigates this urge for the pure, but also advocates a much deeper need for the impure, not to reinstate a new organicism, the nth back-to-nature movement, but to trace that progression to a point where all modernist values reverse, where technology becomes an agent for the impure and the imperfect. Technology, long an agent for homogeneity and purity, is now turning into one for heterogeneity and global contingency.

With contributions by Arjun Appadurai, Bruce Sterling, Gunnar Heinsohn, Lynn Margulis, Lars Spuybroek, Raj Patel and others

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