TV works

Lieven De Cauter

Lieven De Cauter (b. 1959), a philosopher and publicist, co-presented the Container series. De Cauter teaches at the Department of Architecture, Urban Design and Environmental Planning at the Catholic University at Louvain, the RITS school for audiovisual arts in Brussels and the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam. De Cauter’s work can be seen as a highly individualized elaboration of the Benjaminian notion of salvation. Archeologie van de kick (Archaeology of the Kick, 1995) unravels the modern field of tension between progress and experience. In almost allegorical fashion, De Cauter traces the cultural and historic preconfigurations of contemporary obsessions, such as self-development and tourism. His doctoral dissertation, De dwerg in de schaakautomaat (The Dwarf in the Chess Machine) was published in 1999, and exposes the messianic undercurrent in Walter Benjamin's thinking.

In De Cauter’s political engagement as well, the idea of the history of salvation is never far away. With theoretical shots in the arm from Giorgio Agamben and others, he regularly expresses his criticism of the American geopolitical parable. The mission statement of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the conservative thinktank that is attempting to legitimize the imperialist aspirations of the United States provided the incentive for an international petition launched by De Cauter and signed by 500 artists and intellectuals. Their efforts culminated in the foundation of the Brussels Tribunal, a moral trial that called on the architects of the war in Iraq to answer for their deeds.

Between 2001 and 2004, De Cauter regularly published incisive editorials for De Standaard newspaper, about the bio-political stranglehold in which America holds the world. Several of these articles were collected in book form in 2005, entitled De capsulaire beschaving (The Encapsulated Civilization), where they were given a broader theoretical framework. Here, ten years after Archeologie van de kick, the tone has grown more livid: the imploded messianic message of the New Imperial Order is plunging the world into a persistent state of emergency.

De Cauter’s literary works are less well known. His short story, Een openbaring (A Revelation) was included in the anthology, Jonge Sla (Young Leaves of Lettuce) published by Kritak (Louvain, 1994). His book of poetry, De Dageraadsmens (The Man of the Dawn), was published in 2000 (Louvain, Uitgeverij P). [Serge Delbruyère]