The Loose Mass, The Open Society, and the Co-operative Commonwealth: Altermodernities Between the Wars
By Randi Koppen,
In their book Commonwealth from 2009, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri look forward to a commonwealth of the future, a true democracy of the multitude; reconceptualized forms of sociality and conviviality; a new culture and new modes of life, whose realization will require nothing less than “anthropological transformation.” While this new democracy is yet to come, for Hardt and Negri it has antecedents in a partially submerged history of altermodernity: a critical tradition in political modernism that proposes different alternatives to capitalist modernity while attempting to circumvent the negative dialectic of modernity/antimodernity.
By Jo Gill,
In the near-century since the publication of The Bridge (1930), Hart Crane has been widely recognized as the poet of urban modernity, or, in his own words, as a “suitable Pindar for the dawn of the machine age." He has been acclaimed as celebrant and critic, by turn, of America’s myth of itself and as a pioneer cartographer of the queer spaces of the modern metropolis. Paradoxically, perhaps, it is his rendering of the late nineteenth-century Brooklyn Bridge (designed by John Roebling, started in 1869 and opened in 1883), which has been taken as central to his vision of early twentieth-century America’s tensile complexity.
By Christopher Schmidt,
“Marvelous and somehow sad, flamboyant, and threatening.”
The words are Elizabeth Bishop’s, writing in a letter to describe the extraordinary tropical plant life encountered at the Sítio Burle Marx, the hundred-acre home and nursery of Roberto Burle Marx, Brazil’s best-known landscape architect and a key figure in the country’s modernist movement. Although Bishop had already lived in Brazil for ten years when she wrote this, the Sítio Burle Marx, located on the western outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, was and continues to be an incomparably rich showcase for botanical exotica collected on the designer’s many scouting expeditions to remote Brazilian biomes.
By Rowena Kennedy-Epstein, University of Bristol
In a 1947 letter to Ernst Boas, the son of anthropologist Franz Boas, the American writer Muriel Rukeyser confesses, “May I tell you how, as it begins to open before me, how much this inquiry into your father’s life is meaning to me? The stories are very beautiful, the clues to further meaning are illuminating. I begin to see the power of the connections. I am very happy to be doing this.” In the same letter she writes that she is pregnant, a “happy” complication to the work.