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Terror(ism) and Aesthetics (2015)

Artifactuality and Practical Orientation in Terror(ism): Action, Conceptualization and Artistic Approach


Any research of terrorism includes the analysis of its root causes, usually the previous terror practices of an economic or state power, which have put certain countries, ethnic communities or religious groups at a disadvantage.[1] This is the case when, for instance, the totalitarianism of the capitalist market grows beyond all borders and limits, or when the United States interrelates democracy with its status of a military superpower.

My first thesis is that globalized economic and political pragmatism may be caught in the act even in our “aesthetical” thinking: it invades not only Afghanistan or Iraq, but the realm of culture as well. I admit that economic and political pragmatism is a vague concept, and, consequently, I should elaborate on it more carefully here, but mainly it refers to an orientation in which it is the output that matters and, for this reason, everything is considered production, that is, mainly as social, political and historical construction. By the emphasis put on the concept of artifactuality, the call for papers of this conference also adheres to this orientation.[2] Though, of course, this is not an isolated phenomenon nowadays.[3] New disciplines are emerging, like cultural economy, declaring that economy and culture are necessarily entangled, thus the time we spend with artistic practices is an investment, and the demand and supply of aesthetical pleasure-goods are market phenomena.[4] Among the recent issues of Helikon, the journal of the Institute of Literary Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, we may find one entitled Poetics of Visions of the Future (A jövőbelátás poétikái),[5] in which the references to literature are far overshadowed by the questions about the anticipation of the economic crisis.

In such a context it is not so surprising that our aesthetic approach criticizing the “far too militarized rendering” of the phenomenon of terrorism (quote again from the call for papers) may not go beyond the limits characteristic of a pragmatist culture and its way of answering problems and events. Let us just consider how aesthetics has lost its autonomy as an authority in the research of arts during the last decades, and how it has become a dependant of social history, media history or the history of political thought. In the present historical discourse, of course, this change is interpreted as a fatigue of traditional aesthetics, as the unveiling of the illusion of its autonomy. The global conception of historical construction, the more and more obvious link between poetics and politics and the cultural anthropology of art as a social phenomenon gain more and more ground against the obsolete aesthetic investigations. This happens in parallel with the colonization of the whole world by the capitalist market and with Western democracy claiming superiority over other nations on our planet.

What is illusory in the idea of the independence of art? The answer seems to be obvious: by depriving art from its contexts we assign significance to it arbitrarily and then wantonly regard our interpretation as eternal. If one ignores social and historical contexts focusing on timeless aesthetic principles only, he or she will not understand what is going on in art: one will see only manifestations of stylistic, poetic and aesthetic phenomena, while there are more powerful and comprehensive processes at work, inducing irreversible changes in the structure of economy and society, in political culture, in the development of technological media, etc. However, is it less illusory to explain everything in the same way, and conclude that what is happening or what is possible depends only on the involved contexts? I do not mean that national, international or global changes have no relevance regarding art, but art is not merely their product. Apart from the events of truth–processes, which, according to Badiou,[6] always exceed the situation, experiments of artistic orientation must be studied as well, since these are not simply or exclusively answers to certain historical situations, pendants to certain contexts or mere functions of technological and cultural media.

The strategy of terrorism is usually embraced by those groups of ethnic or religious communities that are hopelessly irrelevant in their miserable conditions maintained by the power arrangements of others. This is why they try, in a very aggressive manner, to connect themselves to something important, something that matters in the world: to the life and death of people, to the towers of the World Trade Center, to the safety of airlines or railways etc. If they succeed in it, they become very significant within a moment: the powerful states have to take them seriously as enemies, media will mention their names and actions in connection with the most important news of the world. In other words, nobody can regard them as irrelevant any more. Of course, in terrorist struggle nothing else matters but the attraction of attention to the significance of the group, or more exactly, everything is seen exclusively from the perspective of the effectiveness of the action: they would kill as many people as they can in order to strike more fear, they would attack prestigious targets to attain greater success. I risk the hypothesis – though it certainly needs a closer examination – that terrorist groups regard their own actions as fight for liberation or a sacred war fought in order to become more significant (even in their own eyes) as representatives of a nation or a religious community.

It must be added immediately that in a certain sense we really have to deal with a religious war here. Not necessarily between the Christian West and the militant Islam but rather between Western secularization and any kind of religious devotement. Secularization is not only the effacement of the power of the church in the Western part of the world, but a turn in orientation as well, which may be characterized by a separation of practice from occurrences. If there is no rain for a long time in a country, it has nothing to do, for a secularized mind, with the conduct of people (more especially with their sins) or with the revenge of God. By excluding divine intervention as well as the idealized subjectivity of man, natural and social sciences (physics, biology, history, sociology, psychology) draw attention to the objective factors that influence any ongoing natural and social process. In this way occurrences become a relational system or network of observable, testable and calculable functions. In other words, there is a functional immanence beyond which nothing that really happens can happen.

Nevertheless, symptoms of insufficiency regarding this functional immanence are appearing today, even in the context of Western culture. According to the post-secular movement in recent philosophy,[7] it seems that secularization is running short on answers. Even though these authors do not speak for a return to pre-secular religiousness, they take into consideration the lessons drawn from secularization instead, they argue ultimately for an immanence enriched by the “traces of transcendence,” thus, in this respect, we are to deal again with a liberation struggle against functional immanence and a challenge of the hegemony of secularist thinkers. The disappointment about the results of secularization consists in the idea that man, once liberated from the arbitrary commandments of an omnipotent God, fell captive to natural, social and psychological laws, and the recurrent principles of functional immanence prevent him from becoming something else or more than a product of these functions. According to post-secular thinkers, we need the traces of transcendence in order to have points of reference when we try to go beyond the arena of objective laws.

Even a secularist philosopher like Badiou, who considers the priority of ethics as a feature of anti-philosophical thinking based ultimately on obsolete religious premises, resonates with these post-secular attempts. Even though the subjective struggle called by him truth-process is linked always to a concrete historical and political situation, it is not part of that situation, it must be regarded as a radical rupture, a break from the objective condition. Terrorism itself as a contemporary phenomenon could be regarded as a militant attempt resorting to armed violence to transgress the immanence of globalized economical and political functions by means of subjectivizing occurrences: terrorist bombers strive to demonstrate that irrelevant groups effaced by economical and political functions are able to raise opposition to the processes of globalized functional immanence and there is hope for the ultimate dislocation of these processes. Muslim terrorists identify this hope with Allah’s will in order to give weight to the idea of influenceability of ongoing events by transgressing functional immanence.

The above mentioned post-secular symptoms draw our attention to the fact that practical orientation cannot be dismissed by the institutional system or the historicity of economic, political and cultural processes. Actuality never consists in the circumstances alone, but also in what we do, how we orientate in those circumstances. Orientation may also have its own patterns or practical examples to be followed, but these are not necessarily part of the situation determined by the given circumstances, but may originate from totally different realms of the followed practices. For this reason, the space of practical orientation cannot be identified with the situation, although these two will or may always overlap to a certain extent. To trace back attempts of artistic orientation to the situation in which the authors work would be similar to deducing the sentences of a new novel from already written or spoken sentences, without following or reading the “subjective” course of the narrative.

Attempts of artistic orientation are put into contexts by a research practice that has chosen the strategy to examine everything exclusively in context, i.e. to understand things as productions of more and more comprehensive or more and more complex processes. We do not want to deny the reality of such production processes, but we maintain the right to wonder if the presumption that every kind of practical orientation is such a production is true beyond any doubt. Is it not an illusion to think that the practice of orientation of contextual criticism can follow or pay attention to all other practices of orientation? Are we not supposed to get acquainted with and apply the gestures of these practices in order to make contact with what is happening in them? Contexts are spaces of understanding, especially of modes of understanding that orient themselves by choosing certain contexts. Attempts of artistic orientation become more exciting, if we are interested in their space of practice instead of interpreting them as productions; if we try to find out in a practical way how to get acquainted with these spaces by learning to follow artistic gestures. It does not mean that we forget to follow the practices of other orientation attempts, but this way we will not try to orient ourselves in a certain space of practice using the skills acquired in other ones.

If the research of artistic orientation practices necessitates entering, and passing between, different spaces of practice, then it is not enough to search for functional elements that can explain in selected contexts not so much the artistic production as such, but rather art as a social, historical, political or economic production. An investigation based on the immanence of the situation or context, on the other hand, must search for functions working in every occurrence to make art interpretable as a functioning. Can the investigation of the functioning of art help us in artistic practices, in reading or writing literature, for instance? Can we say that practice itself is nothing else than the operation of certain functions? The answer is no, because we need totally different skills if we want to follow the working of functionally immanent occurrences than if we want to orient ourselves in literary writing and reading. The (over)emphasizing of artifactuality draws away our attention from the time of artistic practices. Arts have to do not only with technics or technology providing an output (the artifact), but also with kinetic spaces having their own rhythms. This is why I propose a practice research, as hereby suggested, which is interested in and explore the rituals of paying attention by which we can get in touch with the spaces and rhythms of artistic practices.

The connection between aesthetics and terrorism is not only the topic of this conference, but to a certain extent its practice as well. This connection consists not only in the fact that terrorist actions seeking extraordinary attention sometimes make use of “aesthetic weapons,” or that terrorism or its mediation raise aesthetic problems. I am very serious about the observation that we may witness the emergence of an aesthetics that has recourse to terroristic strategy. Let us just consider how aesthetics has become less and less influential in the last decades, how it has become a dependant of social history, media history or ideology critique. Theorists have talked about its end several times, there are no departments named after this discipline any more (not to mention that even former departments of aesthetics have been renamed). In its hopeless situation, aesthetics seems to follow the same strategy as terrorism: it tries desperately, using force against itself as well (not to say “as a suicide bomber”), to connect itself to important issues, and in this way to legitimize its status among sciences. Terrorism, for instance, is such a cool, most important issue today. If aesthetics could offer significant or at least notable insights regarding such a topical issue like combating terrorism, maybe it could compensate for its lost authority.

Maybe my analogy will be considered as a terrorist attack against aesthetics. I do not contest the competence of aesthetics in the study of aesthetic weapons of terrorism or those of its fighters, but the aesthetic intervention would be more convincing if its approach were different not only as compared to the militarized rendering of the issue, but also in comparison with the political or historical approach. Emphasizing artifactuality, aesthetics follows the logic of medial and historical “engineering” rather than the rhythm of artistic practices. What is wrong with this, contemporary researchers may ask. Only the adepts of classical aesthetics thought that art is a totally autonomous field, but in fact they made up this empire for themselves to rule over it. The argument seems plausible, because arts cannot be separated from the reality of social life, but the problem is that the social reality of life tends to become a synonym with the same global pragmatism that has turned aesthetics into the examination of the medial, political and historical production of artifacts. Do all occurrences have a common socio-historical space in which we can establish their relations? Can we reach a level of Foucauldian positivity concerning everything that happens to confirm the reality of such relations? And what about the practical orientation of their research?[8]


A comprehensive political or legal definition of terrorism is hopeless because all U. N. members who are expected to adopt an international convention in combating terrorism try to vote for a definition by which they can avoid to be accused of terrorist actions.[9] The countries of the Third World are arguing for the exemption of liberation movements, but they want that state terrorism as a source and a root cause of political violence in general to be included. Western countries, having a status quo in international politics, take, of course, the opposite side in this debate: on the one hand, from their perspective no bomb attack against civilians can be justified by the political goals of liberation movements, on the other hand, the abuse of state power should not be included into the category of terrorism because it is already regulated by international law, the Geneva convention, for instance.[10] In fact, the only definition of terrorism acceptable for everybody could be the following: any illegitimate action of politically designed violence committed by others than us, who have formulated this definition, has to be considered as terrorism. Beyond the fact that such a definition could not lead to an international convention, it is unacceptable also as an attitude. Thus, behind the successive attempts at legal debate on international terrorism there is an endless series of political conflicts.

The most familiar scientific approach to this topic describes the act, the conceptualization and artistic representation of terrorism as certain forms of engineering specialized in different media or media-configurations. Of course, this engineering does not have an individual subject, so we have to deal with processes of social, political and media history which overshadow the gestures of practical orientation even in the research of social practices. We pay attention to the functions, relations and contexts – the artifact, including practice, is always a product of entangled background processes.

When I argue with this idea, it is not the salvation of individual freedom what is at stake, but rather the consideration of an ethical dimension: the imperative of practical orientation. I try to show that practice cannot be considered as an artifact of certain background functions. Functioning and practice have different rhythms, to get in touch with them one needs to perform different rituals of paying attention. Even research as practice highlight a certain way of creating connections depending on one’s gestures of attention tuned to certain rhythms. The connections between these rhythms are practically not relations, but rather passages from the space of one rhythm to the space of another by changing one’s practice. If the organizers try to replace the far too militarized approach to terrorism by a conference on terror(ism) and aesthetics, then similarly, I would prefer to replace the contextually/functionally-immanent approach of arts by a research of practical orientation.

The failure to conceptualize terrorism is typical for secularized modes of approach, which try to treat any occurrence as a functionally-immanent web of relations. Maybe this failure will induce us to try orienting ourselves among the various practices attempting to transcend this functional immanence, which are irreducible to a common space of action. Cryptotheology offered by post-secularists,[11] Badiou’s truth-processes based on the ritual of the Marxist revolution, and religious terrorism are different orientating practices that put us face to face with the different spaces of practice of the humanist looking for freedom, of radical anti-humanism and of the fundamentalist jihad, which are transcendental to one another.

Until we cannot follow these attempts (i.e. one another’s rituals) as practical orientations, there is no chance to discover common spaces of ritual, which are “common” not because they belong to a single relational network, but because we get in touch or make a contact with one another in their rhythms. Art can help us in this respect, since reading, watching or listening to works of art makes it possible for us to become experienced in different spaces of practice; they urge us to learn various ways of paying attention and by this to follow the rhythm of those occurrences as well, which displace our scientific, technological and political ways of establishing relations. This practical passage between the spaces of different practices as a possibility of creating connections irreducible to the web of relations, does not mean that different rhythms are tuned to one another, which is an ethical or practical impossibility, but it offers the possibility for us to learn how to orient ourselves at least in several spaces of practice, where our gestures — the gestures of an author and a reader, the gestures of a Muslim and a Christian, the gestures of a man and a woman, the gestures of a physicist and a theologian — are tuned to the same rhythm. We will never share all our spaces of practice with everybody, but this is not necessary or desirable to have common rituals with others who live in the same house, in the same country or on the same planet. To have a chance of coexistence it is enough to make connections in some practical ways.


Maybe a chapter of Herta Müller’s novel Atemschaukel will help us to find our way among terror action, conceptualization and artistic approach as different practical orientations, which can be regarded as forms of artifactuality only within the frame of conceptualization.[12] Otherwise we have to realize that each of these attempts throws us out of the rhythm of the other two, there is no way to get in touch with them in the “same time”.

The title of the chapter is “Schwarzpappeln” (“Black Poplars”). I quote the first paragraph:

Es war die Nacht vom 31. Dezember zum 1. Januar, die Neujahrsnacht im zweiten Jahr. Wir wurden um Halbnacht vom Laudsprecher auf den Appellplatz befohlen. Flankiert von acht Wachsoldaten mit ihren Gewehren und Hunden trieb man uns die Lagerstrasse entlang. Ein Lastauto fuhr hinterher. Im hohen Schnee an der Rückseite der Fabrik, wo das Brachland anfing, mussten wir uns vor dem gemauerten Zaun in Reichen aufstellen und warten. Wir dachten, das ist die Nacht der Erschiessung.[13]

This time terrorism is perpetrated by the state, it is however no less recognizable than the actions of terrorist organizations independent of or fighting against a state. The commander of the hard labor camp and his men do something amazingly nonsensical to the prisoners: on New Year’s Eve, that is in hard frost and deep snow they put them to dig planting holes for black poplar saplings. But in terror actions everything has a precise course: the terrorist commander appears as an absolute pilot like the pilots of the airplanes that hit the towers of the World Trade Center. Terror suspends all valid laws, rules and limits including the most “natural” ones in order to take total charge.

The commander chooses one of the most universal and ancient holidays, when people all over the world rest and celebrate, for a highly painful work, obligatory and unrealizable at the same time. It is the most inconvenient time of the year for planting trees. He keeps the prisoners under the most harsh control even while sleeping and while absent in corpore (when he wakes up, he leaves the camp). We should also have in mind that the prisoners do not know for hours what they are doing. Interpreting certain “clues” they think that this is the night of their execution, since they are lined up in front of a stone fence by armed soldiers and their dogs, they have to clear away the snow, surely to make easier the gathering of the bodies, for which a truck is waiting.

What is absolutely confusing at first sight, and then seems to be a willingly nonsensical idea, turns out to fit into the smooth practical rhythm of the tricky maneuvers of the absolute pilot. The preparatory arrangements of the act of terror may be strategic or logistic moves with all their rules and accessories, and the causes or purposes of terrorism can be various, but their carrying into effect, their execution follows the gestures of a super pilot. It is unimportant that he has hardly acquired the skill of piloting a passenger airplane or that of planting trees. The success of his terror action depends on whether or not he can take absolute control in order to employ effectively in the practice of terror every system involved: a passenger airplane can be used as a suicide bomb, independently from the opinion of passengers; the planting of trees can be turned into torture. Have a look at Mr. David, the processed picture of Michelangelo’s sculpture on the conference logo:


Berszán image 1 (Michelangelo s David turned into suicide bomber by Banksy)

Michelangelo’s David as turned into suicide bomber by street artist “Banksy”


What is striking in this picture is not the clearly recognizable suicide bomber but the caricature of a gesture revealing that in a terror action anything may be used, even Michelangelo or this terror of sarcasm against terrorism.

Herta Müller’s protagonist narrator finds out what kind of trees were planted (finally in late spring) in the camp by listening to the explanations from uncle Edwin’s tree encyclopedia. The article that conceptualizes things in a scientific manner is read aloud by uncle Edwin who judges it in a totally different way than the ex-prisoner remembering that New Year’s Eve in the hard labor camp. Following the characterization of the tree species growing very quickly “Mein Onkel Edwin ahnte nicht, wie richtig, besser gesagt treffend, die Beschreibung war, als er mir das Wort SCHIESST vorlas.”[14] Neither did he know why his listener doesn’t consider the name of the tree SCHWARZPAPPELN (black poplar) “amazingly untrue”: “Wieso nennt er sich SCHWARZPAPPEL mit seinen weissen Stamm,”[15] uncle Edwin said. The chapter ends with the thoughts of the ex-prisoner who knows that what normally is impossible can become amazingly true: “Ich habe nicht widersprochen. Nur gedacht hab ich mir: Wenn Man einmal unterm schwarzlackierten Himmel die halbe Nacht auf die Erschiessung gewartet hat, ist der Name nicht mehr verlogen.”[16]

The problem with scientific conceptualization is that it has the aim to isolate its object by defining it apart from everybody. But depending on what was happening to one or to the other, or what are we practiced in, the “same thing” could mean totally different experiences. Not only different interpretations, but different rhythms. This is what makes a comprehensive definition of terrorism impossible, too. Ever newer waves of the definition campaign come always after a terrorist attack. Moreover, the previous position of the state against which the attack was performed is always changed by the experience of terror.[17] This time they had to deal not only with the context of interpretation, but with a practical connection. When the definition of terrorism is based not only on political strategy, but on something “that has happened to us” also, we develop a different kind of connection with the events.

The artistic (this time literary) approach differs from the scientific conceptualization not because it employs other kinds of media or media-configurations in the engineering of its artifacts, but due to the fact that instead of concentrating on conceptual relations and their history, it teaches how to follow totally different occurrences in the time of writing and reading, i.e. by the practical gestures of the writing and reading. If instead of possible interpretations of the terrorist action and the victims’ experiences we follow the rhythm of events, we can learn how to orientate ourselves in various spaces and rituals of paying attention. I would like to enhance this orientation in the field of aesthetic research as well. To be able to avoid a coercive application of globalized pragmatism, aesthetics should become relevant in the study of the rhythm of artistic practices, without the need of connecting with socially important phenomena in order to assure its own importance.

To undertake this research it is not necessary to cut off art from the reality of life by creating the illusion of an aesthetic paradise; it is enough to turn back to the events of life following the rhythm of artistic practices. This may also mean that we turn away from the rhetoric of discourse, from the technology of mediation, from possible interpretations of social historical contexts, from the mechanisms of political or economical processes and from all other issues to which aesthetics has resorted in order to assure its significance. In contrast with the above listed methods, art makes it possible to get in touch with occurrences through practical orientation, by practicing intense and extremely refined gestures of attention that resonate with the rhythm of the followed event: as the prisoner is waiting on the night of execution, as the terrorist pilot maneuvers the “plane” of his plan, or as the pickaxe springs back from the hard frozen ground. If we do not accept the idea that medial, political and historical constructions are the level of positivity of all practical orientations, aesthetics may be understood as the passage between spaces of practice irreducible to each other or to a common network of relations.



  • Amin, Ash, and Nigel Thrift, eds. The Blackwell Cultural Economy Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.
  • Badiou, Alain. Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil. Translated by Peter Hallward. London and New York: Verso, 2001.
  • ———. Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism. Translated by Peter Hallward. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003.
  • Berszán, István. Gyakorláskutatás. Pozsony: Kalligram, 2013.
  • Bielik-Robson, Agata. Na pustyni: Kryptoteologie późnej nowoczesności. Kraków: Universitas, 2008.
  • Concepts of Terrorism: Ana­lysis of the Rise, Decline, Trends and Risk. COT Institute for Safety, Security and Crisis Management.
  • Derrida, Jacques, and Bernard Stiegler. Echographies of Television. Translated by
    Jennifer Bajorek. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002.
  • Du Gay, Paul, and Michael Pryke. “Cultural Economy: an introduction.” In Cultural economy, edited by Paul du Gay and Michael Pryke. London, Thousand Oaks, and New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 2002.
  • Friedrichs, Jörg. „Defining the International Public Enemy: The Political Struggle behind the Legal Debate on International Terrorism.” Leiden Journal of International Law 19 (2006): 69-91.
  • Grice, Andrew. “Blair Frustrated as UN Fails to Agree on Anti-terror Action.” Indepen­dent, 15 September 2005.
  • Habermas, Jürgen. Notes on a Post-secular Society.
  • Hites, Sándor, ed. A jövőbelátás poétikái. Helikon (2009/4).
  • Laurence, Charles. “British Diplomats Push Annan for a ‘No Excuses’ Definition of Terrorism.” Sunday Telegraph, 24 July 2004.
  • Müller, Herta. Atemschaukel. München: Carl Hanser Verlag, 2009.
  • Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007.
  • ———. Varieties of Religion Today: William James Revisited. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2002.
  • Terror(ism) & Aesthetics: Call for Papers.
  • Wadhams, Nick. “London Attacks Should Spur New Efforts toward Terrorism Convention, Diplomats Say.” Associated Press, 8 July 2005.



[1] Concepts of Terrorism: Analysis of the Rise, Decline, Trends and Risk, COT Institute for Safety, Security and Crisis Management,

[2] “The prime goal of the conference is to provide new critical perspectives and conceptual tools for the analysis of the complex and controversial phenomenon called ‘terrorism’ from the direction of aesthetic theory, and thereby to displace the far too militarized rendering of the issue. The insights of historical and political studies, as well as the practical demands of security politics are fully acknowledged. However, an aesthetic approach might complement and critically enhance such investigations and efforts. Aesthetics is to be understood here in a broad sense, including theories of passion and affect, as well as theories of rhetoric and mediation. The scope of the conference will therefore not be limited to ‘artistic’ representation, but inversely, the ‘artifactuality’ implicit in all modes of representation will be rigorously considered.” See Terror(ism) & Aesthetics: Call for Papers,

[3] See Jacques Derrida and Bernard Stiegler, Echographies of Television, trans. Jennifer Bajorek (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002), to which the organizers make reference.

[4] Paul du Gay and Michael Pryke, “Cultural Economy: an introduction,” in Cultural economy, eds. Paul du Gay and Michael Pryke (London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 2002); Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift, eds., The Blackwell Cultural Economy Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004).

[5] A jövőbelátás poétikái, ed. Sándor Hites, Helikon (2009/4).

[6] Alain Badiou, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, trans. Peter Hallward (London and New York: Verso, 2001); Alain Badiou, Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism, trans. Peter Hallward (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003).

[7] Charles Taylor, Varieties of Religion Today: William James Revisited (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2002); Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge: Belnap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007); Jürgen Habermas, Notes on a Post-secular Society,; Agata Bielik-Robson, Na pustyni: Kryptoteologie późnej nowoczesności (Kraków: Universitas, 2008).

[8]If we are practice researchers we approach scientific research as rites of paying attention or gestures of contact-making. Relations are not the base or nature, but a form of the contact-making attempts. By practical orientation we decide — on the gestural level — what kinetic space we enter. In this sense physics is an ethics of rigorous observing, measuring and calculating or a rigorous ethics of observing, measuring and calculating. (For more details, see the chapter on “Irodalomfizika” (“Literary Physics”), in my book: Berszán István, Gyakorláskutatás (Practice Research) (Pozsony: Kalligram, 2013), 317-29.

[9] „Defining Terrorism & Its Root Causes: references to the definition of terrorism and the root causes as discussed in the UNGA debate ‘Measures to eliminate international terrorism,’” October 1-5, New York, United Nations,

[10] Jörg Friedrichs, „Defining the International Public Enemy: The Political Struggle behind the Legal Debate on International Terrorism,” Leiden Journal of International Law 19 (2006): 69-91.

[11] I borrow the term “cryptotheology” from the subtitle of Bielik-Robson’s Na pustyni: Kryptoteologie późnej nowoczesności.

[12] Herta Müller, Atemschaukel (München: Carl Hanser Verlag, 2009).

[13] Müller, Atemschaukel, 71.

[14] “Uncle Edwin had no idea how correct, or more precisely how felicitous the description was, when he read aloud the German word SCHIESST” (Müller, Atemschaukel, 74, my translation: I.B.). Schiessen has a double meaning: it means ‘to grow very quickly’ and ‘to shoot down’.

[15] “How can it be called black polar, if its bark is white?” (Müller, Atemschaukel, 75, my translation: I.B.).

[16] “I didn’t argue with him. I just thought, that if one has ever stood half a night under the black colored heaven waiting for his extermination, and then the pickax made his hand bleeding, for his ears this name is true” (Müller, Atemschaukel, 75, my translation: I.B.).

[17] It is very interesting to follow this turn, for instance, in the position of Great Britain after the terror attack in London in July 2005. See Nick Wadhams, “London Attacks Should Spur New Efforts toward Terrorism Convention, Diplomats Say,” Associated Press, 8 July 2005; Charles Laurence, “British Diplomats Push Annan for a ‘No Excuses’ Definition of Terrorism,” Sunday Telegraph, 24 July 2004; Andrew Grice, “Blair Frustrated as UN Fails to Agree on Anti-terror Action,” Independent, 15 September 2005.