Therefore the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing. . . Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. (Amos 5:16, 18)
Giogio Agamben has written an exquisite essay on the university in the wake of COVID-19; It is a lamentation, a wailing, a mourning for the darkness that has been called forth from the pandemic. It is a provocative piece of impudence at a time when such things may be punished by social actors and risk averse institutions. "Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time." (Amos 5:13). Agamben has chosen to speak; it is not clear who is left to listen. And yet the movement toward the reconstruction of the university as simulacra--the way that it parallels the movement toward the reconception of political space as a complex living analytics better understood through models than in flesh and blood--is worth pondering. The techno-populism that the university has become is likely the best simulation of the transformation of society that one can observe as the moment. What comes after pondering, and after observing in these times, is truly best left to silence.
The essay, Requiem per gli studenti, follows (first published in Diario della crisi of the Instituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici 22 May 2020) along with my own brief reflections and a crude English translation.