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  • Author or Editor: Ari-Elmeri Hyvönen x
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“Dark times”, which directs our attention to the distortion of the public sphere, is one of the most versatile and prolific expressions associated with Hannah Arendt’s political thought. For Arendt, darkness takes over the public realm when genuinely political questions make way for economic rationalities and empty speech. This chapter analyses how these two forms of darkness (economic-administrative and linguistic) manifest themselves today. The chapter provides a reading Victor Pelevin’s novel Homo Zapiens as a dystopic reflection of contemporary societal realities. Although Pelevin’s immediate context is post-socialist Russia, Ari-Elmeri Hyvönen argues that the novel can powerfully illuminate realities in rest of the capitalist world too, and shed light on the widespread phenomenon of meaningless speech. He further suggests that by introducing surreal elements into his narrative, Pelevin’s book is better able to keep up with the times than novels that imagine overly rationalised forms of dystopia. Reading Arendt and Pelevin together, Hyvönen analyses the fading of public light in the face of capitalist-administrative invisible processes that have, in Arendt’s words, “engulfed every tangible thing” and amplified by “speech that does not disclose what is but sweeps it under the carpet, by exhortations that degrade all truth to meaningless triviality”.

In: Analysing Darkness and Light: Dystopias and Beyond


The Anthropocene has become an umbrella term for the disastrous transgression of ecological safety boundaries by human societies. The impact of this new reality is yet to be fully registered by political theorists. In an attempt to recalibrate the categories of political thought, this article brings Hannah Arendt’s framework of The Human Condition (labor, work, action) into the gravitational pull of the Anthropocene and current knowledge about the Earth System. It elaborates the historical emergence of our capacity to “act in the mode of laboring” during fossil-fueled capitalist modernity, a form of agency relating to our collectively organized laboring processes reminiscent of the capacity of modern sciences to “act into nature” discussed by Arendt. I argue that once read from an energy/ecology-centric perspective, The Human Condition can help us make sense of the Anthropocene predicament, and rethink the modes of collectively organizing the activities of labor, work, and action.

In: Research in Phenomenology