Armen Avanessian

by Georg Diez

This is how it happens. One day you are fine, next day you are a speculative realist. One day you go out, next day you know Armen Avanessian. Ideas come and go, people come and go, but sometimes you know there had been a longing, a sense of loss and failure only after the fact, after you come across an idea, after you talk to a person. This was Armen, the most understated Austrian you can imagine, grey hair in a good way, metal glasses in a good way, serious in a good way, funny in a good way. Somebody you had been waiting for. You: The person from the 1980s, the 1990s, the pomo person, stuck in the irony, in the games, in the language that was everything and the reality that was nothing, even though you knew this was not true, and it was not everything that postmodernism was about, it was Derrida`s cruelty as well as Baudrillard`s circus, it was playful and beautiful and free, it was Lyotard and Lévinas and the Other, it was political, even if people do not want to see that anymore – but it was also over for a long time, over in a sense that it had not lost its meaning, but its relevance for today. The questions were different. So was postmodernism a failure? Armen would be sceptical about such a statement as he is sceptical about almost everything. But that is only on the surface, the calm, distinguished scholar who chooses to be on the outside of academia and publish one book after another with the still furious publishing people of Merve instead of boring students and himself to death with stuff that had been thought before. He is not actually a philosopher, he is a literature guy, but when he came across Quentin Meillassoux and all that had not been thought before in this and only this way – he was hooked. He is in a way the spokesman at least in Germany for this new philosophical movement, the first real movement since postmodernism and in a way about to do away with it: relativism, ontological mindlessness, a world that does not exist. The world does exist, very much so; it actually existed well before man and it will exist well after man. This is the starting point for the speculative realists. If philosophy after Kant claimed that we cannot say anything about the world that is not based on our very existence, on our very reason, then this is what Armen would call the correlationist folly. It is strange that philosophy has not been more shaken by all the discoveries that were made by Darwin, Einstein and the likes – but now is the time of reckoning. If we are not the center of the world, we cannot be the center of philosophy. This is a copernican moment. This is Armen`s game.

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