We’re reading Michael Taussig’s ubiquitous essay on the “Space of Death” this morning in my introductory social science seminar, and in the course of trying to find something interesting to launch the discussion, I happened up this brief New Yorker piece about Taussig’s apocalypse seminar at Columbia.
The discussion moved on to Freud, Adorno, diarrhea-related fatalities, the banality of long-term catastrophe versus the excitement of instant apocalypse, Surrealism, a friend who started doing yoga after her father died, drowning polar bears, Jon Stewart, and, finally, swine flu and whether it is a sign of a real or a “mediated” apocalypse.
Taussig interrupted. “If you were living in Mexico City, how on top of your game would you really be?” he asked. “How well could you cope with catastrophe unfolding around you? That’s really where I’d like to leave this class.”
“Oh!” he said, as students solemnly loaded their backpacks. “Don’t forget! Potluck tomorrow! Eight o’clock!”