Monthly Archives: August 2022

Publications de Derek Moss

2022 Le monstre du wokeness. La Revue Nouvelle 2.

2021 Un rituel de déboulonnage de statue.  La Revue Nouvelle 7.

2021 Un désir de traces.  La Revue Nouvelle 6. Traduit en anglais et publié ici (en février 2022) :

2021 Angoissé.e.s de tous pays, unissons-nous !  La Revue Nouvelle 5.

2021 Mes voisons sont fous. La Revue Nouvelle 2.

2021 Effets secondaires. La Revue Nouvelle 9.

2020  Guide de survie pour les académiques (et des autres) en période de pandémie. La Revue Nouvelle 8.

2020 Trumpsformation. La Revue Nouvelle 6.

2020 Un enseignant a disparu. La Revue Nouvelle 4.

2020 Ode aux grands anxieux. La Revue Nouvelle 3.

2019 Le syndrome de l’éponge. La Revue Nouvelle 8. 

2019 Un anthropologue à la table. Bruxelles : Editions Lamiroy. 34p. Traduit en anglais et publié ici :,through%20intolerances%20of%20various%20kinds.

My summer visit to the University of Negative Capability

A few weeks ago, I was invited to visit the University of Negative Capability (UNC) based three hundred kilometers east of Somewhere. It is a gleaming campus planted in the middle of a very inhospitable lava desert. Change of scenery — geographical and cognitive — guaranteed. Like the poet John Keats, who urged us to live “in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason”, everything is designed to nurture students and researchers with the acceptance of fragility, impotency and indeterminacy. I, who am never sure that I will be able to reach the end of my day, have found there a haven of epistemic tranquility, a bubble of gnoseological wisdom where small drops of “I-don’t-know” are happily diffused. Let me be clear, UNC does not promote the idea that there are no certitudes, nor that anything goes, as social networks (that splendid and terrifying henhouse of the present time) function today. Rather they put at the heart of the processes of learning and experimentation the way in which truths have been and are elaborated with patience and anxiety, scrupulously kneaded in the dough of uncertainty. 

In the main Hall, under the photos of the founders of the institution, one can read: “She tried to understand the others’ points of view, but never succeeded,” “Thirty years spent struggling to solve an equation. Without success,” or “Distracted by so many fields of knowledge that he was passionate about, he didn’t manage to finish his article. Bravo for his effort.” The University’s authorities make it straightforward: here, there are no academic rankings and citation indexes that turn science into a war scene, no hyper-competitive scholarships that often lead to neurasthenia, rather it is all about hard experimental work on a human scale, honesty (about one’s own abilities and those of others) and care (for others and for oneself). Here, we “keep trying”, Madame the Rector tells me with a laugh.

These same perspectives inform the pedagogy. The courses, in all disciplines, consist of bringing uncertainty and vulnerability back into thinking. To make the fiasco, the debacle, the flop, the unexpected, serendipity, cardinal values discussed together. To be “angst-gether”, to be lost collectively in this unpredictable mess that is science. Such a researcher could not do anything emerge from her assiduous experiments. Another suffered so much on the writing of her text. What teachers track down with students are the snags, the hiccups, the glitches of the intelligence. That’s where it got stuck. What they note and cherish are the improbable deployments, the aborted attempts, the impasses, the obstacles encountered. And the failures are celebrated as so many achievements. “You didn’t make it? Well done!” “You produced incredible efforts and it didn’t work out the way you planned? Mazel Tov!

Anecdotally, there is a padded room on campus, dotted with soft cushions, where researchers and students yell, vent, bang their heads against the walls (if necessary), where they can express their negative emotions in the face of hesitation and mystery. 

On the plane back home, after having swallowed a whole box of Xanax, I fell asleep lulled by the sound of the jet engines. Stunned, I dreamed of I-don’t-know-what.

[The reader will have understood that this text is speculative fiction, an exercise dear to Donna Haraway].



“The less anguish, the less spirit”, Kierkegaard

There are many of us. We are legion.

How many years we have spent, in the greatest secrecy, palpitating, hyperventilating, ruminating, trembling, biting our nails, jumping up and down, sweating, suffocating! Camouflaged and silent, as if our emotions were shameful, our sole fault and only the product of family histories. What a therapeutic via dolorosa! How many depressions have been diagnosed! How many pills ingested! So much alcohol poured on the embers of anxiety!

But anxiety is also a political affect. It says something about the world we live in today. A world of lonely individuals where happiness is measured in numbers and things. Where self-esteem is reduced to numbers and well-being to a match between a project and means. Where the subject exhausts herself for abstractions, the society, a company, an institution. A carnivorous and unequal world where toxic virility and its privileges dominate. A world of the short term whose temporality does not suit the rhythm of human and non-human beings. There is a long list of grievances to address to the patriarchal-capitalist system that irrigates our existences.

That is enough.

Worriers of all countries unite!

As there is in panic a real transforming potential. Our brains are like nuclear power plants. Let us put the fuel of anxiety at the service of empathy, sensitivity, warmth, altruism, humanity. Let us get out of the guilty isolation to share our collective and militant panic attacks. Let us be “angst-gether” and proliferate in a solidary network of worried people. Let us form a community of rebellious anxious people. There is something friendly and creative in the violence of anxiety. The tingling, the palpitations and the chest pains are the clay of powerful social and political passions.

Because the world needs us. We, the anticipators. We, the ruminants of thoughts and emotions. It needs us to give it the ingredients for survival. We, the angst cows, are the dairy future of this planet that is going to ruin. Perhaps we can prevent the coming human horror. Not by force. Pride. Obstinacy. Willpower. Overcome yourself. Overcome your fears. No. Just through kindness. Porosity to the suffering of others. Sweetness. Sweet milk. Rounded corners. A world in which our anxieties can gently bounce off each other until we forget ourselves. A world where the systemic loyalties that inhabit us and maintain inertia will have been unraveled so that we can finally say calmly:

No. Enough is enough.

(Initially published in La Revue Nouvelle under the pseudonym Derek Moss).