Anders Stephanson


    John Pilson loves boxy, putty-colored computers; he hates those “designed” Macs on which he actually does his video work at home. Drab PCs make good foils for what he likes to think of as “gestures,” unexpected actions or interventions in the anonymous world he calls “corporate cubicleland,” a space Pilson finds endlessly provocative. Empty corridors thrill him. This milieu, which he knows well, even intimately, having worked in the graphics department of a Wall Street investment firm for more than five years, is the setting for his first videos, Above the Grid, 2000, and Interregna, 1999–2000.

  • Jean-Luc Godard

    WHEN THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART commissioned Anne-Marie Miéville and Jean-Luc Godard to create a “reflection on the arts” (and by implication the museum itself), one would have thought the venerable institution was asking for it. But aside from a few oblique jokes and Godard's reference to “the people in New York” who wanted something particular from him “but didn’t know what,” the two collaborators seem to let the Modern off the hook In The Old Place, a forty-seven minute video completed in 1999 but only now premiering, on February 23, at MoMA. The problematic known in the Anglophone world as “

  • Johan Grimonprez

    Johan Grimonprez’s Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y is a televisually stunning, macabre, and intermittently funny meditation on Don DeLillo’s work as it pertains to airplanes, terrorism, and death. It is also, in some sense, about “history” and the possibility of what that might be. This potent mixture caused a considerable stir when the video debuted at Documenta X and, more recently, when seen at Deitch Projects in New York. The film is sometimes a little too clever for its own good (and too fascinated with crashing aircraft), but it is irresistibly watchable and brilliantly paced.

    Some might find the subject

  • Frederic Jameson’s The Seeds of Time

    “WE ARE ALL TIRED OF IT.” This was Fredric Jameson’s peremptory reply when he was asked in the late ’80s about the post-Modernism debate he himself had done so much to initiate earlier in the decade. He was right, of course. The term, if not the concept, had degenerated into MTV lingo. But here he is, nonetheless, resurrecting the debate with a highly charged intervention.

    What has propelled him to do this? Primarily, I think, the geopolitical collapse of virtually all antisystemic resistance to late capitalism and global Americanization. In Jameson’s book, this is also the victory of post-Modern


    When I first met Cornel West, in 1979 or ’80, I had been operating on the Eurocentric assumption that each of the three central philosophical traditions of Western culture—the German, the French, and the Anglo-American—had a proper style and language of its own. So I was wholly unprepared for Cornel’s disquisitions on Hegel, which he advanced, with great verve, in a thoroughly black style and idiom. I was thrilled. Happily, this exotism on my part soon faded. Many serious and not-so-serious conversations followed, though unfortunately they have become rarer as the years have passed: Cornel simply has no time. Having emerged as one of the leading black “organic” intellectuals in the United States, he is often on the road five days a week, speaking to an astonishingly wide range of people in an astonishingly wide range of places. And when we do have a chance now to “dialogue” (a favorite, apposite expression of his), it is not only exhilarating but frustrating: exhilarating because I am reminded that even if Cornel is here there and everywhere, he still reads everything, virtually, and can talk about it all in illuminating ways. As is the case with all great conversationalists, he has the gift of putting others at ease. That is why dialoguing with him is also frustrating: time being scarce, one tries to cover too many things. The present interview is no exception.
    Our conversation here is marked, for better or worse, by obvious friendship. Familiarity, in the best of cases, makes for openness—what diplomats call frankness and others call disagreement. In that spirit I have tried to push Cornel a bit. He has become, in his words, a cultural critic rather than a strict philosopher, by which he means, I think, that his Gramscian and prophetic role has taken over his theoretical pursuits proper. Those who know him know by now the themes he tends to “highlight” (another typical and symptomatic Cornelism). Hence the following conversation reflects an attempt to do more than once again highlight the highlights; it is an attempt to see where he is heading with them.

    ANDERS STEPHANSON: Since our first interview, in 1987, you’ve become a lot more public as a public intellectual. You’ve even graced the pages of Time, which is about as middlebrow American as you can get. So what happens to oppositional intellectuals when the media picks them up?

    CORNEL WEST: You do get “mainstreamed”—there’s a selective appropriation of certain motifs in your work that are considered safe and acceptable. In my case the call for a multiracial alliance along radical democratic lines, and the call for redistribution of wealth downward, take the form of, “He thinks blacks and whites