Styles of Intellectual Audiences

Michael Warner



The essay attempts to rethink the relationships between styles, publics, and politics, as well as the position of intellectuals in it. Any writing, even in the most private form of a diary, as an example from the George Orwell’s novel 1984 shows, is addressed to a public. Paradoxically, the public only exists, as Warner asserts, by virtue of its own address. In this sense, style does perform a political function. However, the critics of the opaque writing of some left ist academics overlook that the public can have a temporal span into the future when they view it only horizontally in terms of its size and deduce the political effi cacy of writing on that account. The confusion of the public with citizens in general leads to the undermining of politics by the headline temporality of journalistic publics. Aspirations of some academics for the role of public intellectuals are faced with the fact that for the most part there are currently no conditions for public circulation between these spheres. As a possible counterweight, Warner recalls the approach of Michel Foucault, not merely as a reminder of how it relocated the limits of the political, but also in order to suggest how the path between intellectual work and politics could be bridged by the method of “problematization”: the development of a domain of acts and practices on the scene of a tentative counterpublic.

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TEORIE VĚDY / THEORY OF SCIENCE – journal for interdisciplinary studies of science is published twice a year by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies). ISSN 1210-0250 (Print) ISSN 1804-6347 (Online) MK ČR E 18677 web: /// email: