Kojin Karatani

Kojin Karatani is a Japanese philosopher who teaches at Kinki University, Osaka, and Columbia University. He is the author of Architecture as Metaphor (MIT Press, 1995) and Origins of Modern Japanese Literature. He founded the New Associationist Movement (NAM) in Japan in 2000.

  • Transcritique

    Transcritique

    On Kant and Marx

    Kojin Karatani

    Kojin Karatani's Transcritique introduces a startlingly new dimension to Immanuel Kant's transcendental critique by using Kant to read Karl Marx and Marx to read Kant. In a direct challenge to standard academic approaches to both thinkers, Karatani's transcritical readings discover the ethical roots of socialism in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and a Kantian critique of money in Marx's Capital.

    Karatani reads Kant as a philosopher who sought to wrest metaphysics from the discredited realm of theoretical dogma in order to restore it to its proper place in the sphere of ethics and praxis. With this as his own critical model, he then presents a reading of Marx that attempts to liberate Marxism from longstanding Marxist and socialist presuppositions in order to locate a solid theoretical basis for a positive activism capable of gradually superseding the trinity of Capital-Nation-State.

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  • Architecture as Metaphor

    Architecture as Metaphor

    Language, Number, Money

    Kojin Karatani and Michael Speaks

    In Architecture as Metaphor, Kojin Karatani detects a recurrent "will to architecture" that he argues is the foundation of all Western thinking, traversing architecture, philosophy, literature, linguistics, city planning, anthropology, political economics, psychoanalysis, and mathematics.

    Kojin Karatani, Japan's leading literary critic, is perhaps best known for his imaginative readings of Shakespeare, Soseki, Marx, Wittgenstein, and most recently Kant. His works, of which Origins of Modern Japanese Literature is the only one previously translated into English, are the generic equivalent to what in America is called "theory." Karatani's writings are important not only for the insights they offer on the various topics under discussion, but also as an example of a distinctly non-Western critical intervention. In Architecture as Metaphor, Karatani detects a recurrent "will to architecture" that he argues is the foundation of all Western thinking, traversing architecture, philosophy, literature, linguistics, city planning, anthropology, political economics, psychoanalysis, and mathematics. In the three parts of the book, he analyzes the complex bonds between construction and deconstruction, thereby pointing to an alternative model of "secular criticism," but in the domain of philosophy rather than literary or cultural criticism. As Karatani claims in his introduction, because the will to architecture is practically nonoexistent in Japan, he must first assume a dual role: one that affirms the architectonic (by scrutinizing the suppressed function of form) and one that pushes formalism to its collapse (by invoking Kurt Godel's incompleteness theorem). His subsequent discussions trace a path through the work of Christopher Alexander, Jane Jacobs, Gilles Deleuze, and others. Finally, amidst the drive that motivates all formalization, he confronts an unbridgeable gap, an uncontrollable event encountered in the exchange with the other; thus his speculation turns toward global capital movement. While in the present volume he mainly analyzes familiar Western texts, it is precisely for this reason that his voice discloses a distance that will add a new dimension to our English-language discourse.

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Contributor

  • Imported

    Imported

    A Reading Seminar

    Rainer Ganahl

    From 1993-96, artist Rainer Ganahl held six reading seminars with six different bibliographies in six different countries and entitled this public project; "IMPORTED—A READING SEMINAR, Or How to Reinvent the Coffee Table: 25 Books for Instant Use (7 Different National Versions).” Imported – A Reading Seminar is an extension of that project and gathers together a collection of texts with the common theme of import. For this volume, Ganahl invited a series of authors who have an intimate relation with each country he visited to contribute texts or interviews addressing the consequences of (cultural) exchange, globalization, nationalism, multinationalism, Orientalism, Eurocentrism, tourism, languages, theory, desires, identity, and politics from a variety of perspectives. The interview between Kojin Karatani and Sabu Kohso, included in this volume, addresses important economical and political aspects along with its instrumentality in the construction of nations and of race consciousness; Bill Arning's text demonstrates how the author came to understand through his experience as a curator that sexuality always has a specific cultural context; Coco Fusco deals with issues of prostitution in socialist countries now in the process of transition to capitalism; dealing with displacement of collective identities and their representation, Sami Naïr asks the question: What is it to be Arab? And Sylvere Lotringer: How can one become a foreigner in a foreign country. The resulting volume includes texts in English, Japanese, Russian, German, and French by nineteen different authors. Knowledge of a foreign language helps, but is not necessary. Along with those already mentioned included are texts by Julia Kristeva, Gayatri Spivak, Edward Said, Zeigam Azizov, Lisa Adkins, Dan Bacalzo, Benjamin Buchloh, Karen Kelsky, Dana Leonard, Edward Soja, Victor Tupitsyn, Wulf Schmidt-Wulfen.

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