Notes: Daly, Frances, “The Zero-Point: Encountering the Dark Emptiness of Nothingness” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Daly, Frances. (2013). The zero-point: Encountering the dark emptiness of nothingness. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 164-202.


Daly analyzes many of the recurring images in Bloch’s work to find “zero-points” as both darkness and emptiness within lived experiences but also as the condition for the possibility of hope.

Keywords: philosophy, theory, utopia


“Humanity is conceived as a possibility, as a challenge to become, not as a given, and this means that no actual assumption concerning the content of being can be made” (p. 172).

“Bloch writes persuasively of a need to learn hope as much as we have learned fear” (p. 198).

Notes: Ní Dhúill, Catríona, “Engendering the Future: Bloch’s Utopian Philosophy in Dialogue with Gender Theory” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Ní Dhúill, Catríona. (2013). Engendering the future: Bloch’s utopian philosophy in dialogue with gender theory. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 144-163.


Ní Dhúill argues that gender theory has a Blochian utopic core that uses unclaimed potentials in the past to critique present historical contexts and imagine actionable futures.

Keywords: feminism, gender, philosophy, theory, utopia


“The formulation of possibilities for change, then, is utopian, not in the sense of an unreal or unrealistic fantasy, but rather in the Blochian sense: imaginable alternative futures provide the horizon for the critique of the now” (p. 149).

“The utopian dimension of gender theory is dynamic rather than static. The aim is not to cancel history and instate a new perpetual order, but rather to identify both emancipatory and oppressive tendancies within the history of gender relations, and to offer critical perspectives on oppression and constraint with a view to expanding the scope and effectiveness of emancipation” (p. 160).

Notes: Danielle Endres and Samantha Senda-Cook, “Location Matters: The Rhetoric of Place in Protest”

Endres, Danielle, and Samantha Senda-Cook. (2011). Location matters: The rhetoric of place in protest. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 97(3), 257–82.


Endres and Senda-Cook analyze the ways that place participates in social protest as an argument or as a rhetoric of (re)constructed meaning. Place is thus performed in social protests.

Keywords: activism, affect, communication, embodiment, materiality, place, rhetoric


“(Re)constructing the meaning of place, even in temporary ways, can be a tactical act of resistance along with the tactics we traditionally associate with protest, such as speeches, marches, and signs… place (re)constructions can function rhetorically to challenge dominant meanings and practices in a place. Place is a performer along with activists in making and unmaking the possibilities of protest” (p. 258).

“Place in protest allows us to understand how social movements use both place-based arguments and place-as-rhetoric” (p. 258).

“[M]aterial rhetoric is always temporary. Place in protest acts as a reminder that places are always being reconstructed or deconstructed. We are interested in material aspects of place that are best revealed when we consider materiality as fluid, temporary, and embodied” (p. 262).


Notes: Catherine Chaput, “Rhetorical Circulation in Late Capitalism: Neoliberalism and the Overdetermination of Affective Energy”

Chaput, Catherine. (2010). Rhetorical circulation in late capitalism: Neoliberalism and the overdetermination of affective energy.” Philosophy and Rhetoric, 43(1), 1–25.


Chaput critiques the situated/situation premise within rhetoric as enabling neoliberalist ideologies to operate uninterrogated within them and poses rhetorical circulation, in its insistence on moving between spaces, as an alternative.

Keywords: affect, capital, materiality, neoliberalism, rhetoric, rhetorical theory, theory


“Conceptualizing discursive practices as a form of labor rather than a form of political signifi cation sidesteps anxiety about well-chosen language and emphasizes the life-affi rming activity involved in deciphering issues, inventing paths through those issues, and communicating new ideas to others” (p. 2).

“Put differently, security converts human beings into self-entrepreneurs whose freely chosen education, work, and leisure decisions operate instinctually according to the economics of risk and reward. Such a schema no longer enforces appropriate subjectivities (normalization) but regulates the point at which individual actions impinge on the statistically favored rates of population success (normation)” (p. 5).

“From this perspective, rhetoric is not an isolated instance or even a series of instances but a circulation of exchanges, the whole of which govern our individual and collective decisions. Understanding rhetoric as circulating within an overdetermined ecological space helps illuminate the biopolitical reaches of contemporary capital, while the social connectivity of aff ective energy produced through communicative labor helps explain the persuasive capacity of these reaches” (p. 8).

“The rhetorical  situation, that is, makes rhetoricians comfortable within the disciplinary status quo of rhetorical production understood as transpiring within  discrete sociohistorical, political, and cultural situations. Th e negative  aff ectivity of the rhetorical situation— its organization and  interpretation of life structures in terms of fi xed origins—stems, in part, from its reproduction of philosophical divisions: materiality and consciousness; reason and emotion; objects and subjects; past and future; the situated place and the open space” (p. 18).

“In the rhetorical circulation model, success derives from a better understanding of diff erently situated positions and an enhanced ability to engage diff erently situated people, processes that open dialogue rather than win debates” (p. 19).

Notes: Catherine Moir, “The Education of Hope: On the Dialectical Potential of Speculative Materialism” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Moir, Catherine. (2013). The education of hope: On the dialectical potential of speculative materialism. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 121-143.


Moir develops Bloch’s speculative materialism within contemporary philosophical contexts, exploring its relationships and departures from other material thought.

Keywords: materiality, new materialisms, philosophy, speculative materialism, theory,


“Bloch’s speculative materialism is dialectical and, as such, approaches the thought-being question in dialectical materialist terms, where being determines thought” (p. 122).

“We can therefore say that speculative philosophy responds to an injunction to think being in a non-correlative, non-identical way, without denying any relation between thought and being” (p. 126).

“[W]e might say that Bloch’s materialism can be called immanently speculative in that it locates the condition for the possibility of speculation in the material itself” (p. 131).

“The absolute is, therefore, what Bloch calls not-yet. Absolution is materially possible, but not certain. The injunction of speculative materialism to know the absolute thus consists not only in thinking what is whether we are or not, but also what is possible now that we are” (p. 137).


Notes: Roland Boer, “The Privatization of Eschatology and Myth: Ernst Bloch vs. Rudolph Bultmann” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Boer, Rudolph. (2013). The privatization of eschatology and myth: Ernst Bloch vs. Rudolph Bultmann. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 106-120.


Boer works through the conversations between Bultmann and Bloch around their readings of religious texts, showing Bultmann’s as a deliberately depolitical and Bloch’s as intentionally political.

Keywords: capital, philosophy


“Existentialism is a means, a language that gives voice to the deep logic of middle-class capitalist ideology. With its focus on the private and sacrosanct individual, it effaces the world” (p. 114).


Notes: David Harvey, “Calculating Risk: Barebacking, the Queer Male Subject, and the De/formation of Identity Politics”

Harvey, David O. (2011). Calculating risk: Barebacking, the queer male subject, and the de/formation of identity politics. Discourse, 33(2), 156-183.


Harvey discusses the rhetorical challenges of barebacking discourses and works to departicularize them from queer experience by articulating how these discourses operate.

Keywords: barebacking, biopolitics, queer, queer theory, queer rhetorics


“The definitional ambiguity about the practice will shed light on what I understand as a queer mode of world-making that blurs the connection between the behavior of barebacking and its connection to a specific and namable mode of being” (p. 158).

“Considering barebacking as an intricately vitiating force may be unsettling, but accepting the validity of such an insight need not an exclude an acknowledgment of the dangers associated with barebacking. Moreover, the manner of calculation in relation to barebacking is not limited to its practitioners; it includes the discourse by which these persons are narrated, accounted for, and figured. Risk again animates these discussions, as many fear the risk barebacking poses not only in the war against HIV/AIDS but also in the campaign for gay equality” (p. 159).

“A biopolitical import can be gleaned within this tacit disagreement between discourses of print and media and discourses of the queer everyday if we understand the mechanics of prescriptive culpability operating behind finger-pointing discursive models. These models ultimately serve to locate and isolate the particularized bodies that behave outside their laws of calculability, laws that are instantiated upon the discovery of a physiologically and sociopolitically hazardous mode of sexuality” (p. 175).