A Crisis is an Opportunity

Lilly Markaki

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The cultural tourist knows many worlds have ended before and we are, everywhere, already standing in the midst of ruins. Sometimes new life is, in fact, discovered to begin right there: “Catastrophe,” observed Benjamin in 1940, “is the continuum of history.” But, did the inhabitants of these past worlds ever experience a ‘crisis’ or did catastrophe — for which René Thom gave us, in 1968, a mathematical theory — happen sometimes too fast, too secretly, too intelligently, perhaps, to offer any chance of resistance? “The wells went dry. But they did not suspect, even then, walking, to prayers, to market — swimming along in strange morning light whose quality was already changing,” writes Jenn Blair as Guiseppe Fiorelli of the people of Pompeii, whose remnants laid buried in volcanic rock for over 1,500 years prior to the city’s excavation. Had they suspected, had they been critical enough to read in things their signs — bifurcation points, themselves ‘critical’ in the physico-mathematical sense — the stage would have been set of crisis, but also for krisis: deliberation, decision, and, eventually, the action that might counter the movement of catastrophe:
“What makes crisis desirable,” we are reminded by The Invisible Committee, “is that in the crisis the environment ceases to be the environment. We are forced to re-establish contact with what’s there, to rediscover the rhythm of reality.” A crisis is an opportunity. As such, it involves also imagination — why the moderns do it so well, perhaps, and we so badly. A crisis is an opportunity. And, taking this as its main premise, this paper, at once factual and speculative, is but an opportunity to think the opportunity of crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - Sept 2020
EventCRiSiS: 7th biennial conference of the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies - University of Leuven, Belgium
Duration: 17 Sept 202019 Sept 2020


ConferenceCRiSiS: 7th biennial conference of the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies

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