Foreign Agents in New York
19 July 2003
Spazio Culturale Antonio Ratti
Referring to his editorial and academic experience, Sylvère Lotringer articulates a reflection over the relationship between theory and reality. Best known for bringing the French Theory overseas, the philosopher stresses the differences between his epistemologies and the post-structuralist thought: where these lasts leaded back everything to the text and considered every element as a linguistic signified which is readable with the instruments of semiotics, Lotringer wants to “keep the people away from the text”, elaborating the thought from elements that are already within things. New York in the 80s held already the XXI century, and did not need the theory to develop it. Theory had the task of recognizing it. The way to resist the death -and the failure- of the avantgarde and its regime of exclusivity and seduction is to use theory in a non-prescriptive way, but as a tool. “Juxtapose, stop being European. Stop making synthesis”.
Sylvère Lotringer (1938-2021) was a French literary critic and lecturer. He was a professor in Columbia University and founded Semiotext(e) editions. He was one of the major theorists of Post-structuralism in the american context, and applied French Theory to american literature and to artistic and architectural avantgarde.