Essay in the Vera List Center’s latest publication, Speculation, Now
Speculation, Now: Essays and Artwork
Edited by Vyjayanthi Venuturupalli Rao,
with Prem Krishnamurthy and Carin Kuoni
With an Afterword by Arjun Appadurai
What needs to change in our understanding of reality for reality to change? In the face of radical uncertainty, an awareness that things could be otherwise is beginning to organize common frameworks for action and debate. Interdisciplinary in design and concept, Speculation, Now illuminates unexpected convergences between images, concepts, and language. Artwork is interspersed among essays that approach speculation and progressive change from surprising perspectives. A radical cartographer asks whether “the speculative” can be represented on a map. An ethnographer investigates religious possession in Islam to contemplate states between the divine and the seemingly human. A financial technologist queries understandings of speculation in financial markets. A multimedia artist and activist considers the relation between social change and assumptions about the conditions to be changed, and an architect posits purposeful neglect as political strategy. The book includes a n extensive glossary with more than twenty short entries in which scholars contemplate such speculation-related notions as insurance, hallucination, prophecy, the paradox of beginnings, and states of half-knowledge. The book’s artful, nonlinear design mirrors and reinforces the notion of contingency that animates it. By embracing speculation substantively, stylistically, seriously, and playfully, Speculation, Now reveals its subversive and critical potential.