Published as

“The Ister: Between the Documentary and Heidegger’s Lecture Course Politics, Geographies, and Rivers,” Divinatio 24/32 (2010): 7-32. Appeared April 2011.


Continental Philosophy | Eastern European Studies | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Film and Media Studies | Human Geography | International Relations | Political Theory | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The Ister, the 2004 documentary by the Australian scholars and videographers, David Barison, a political theorist, and Daniel Ross, a philosopher, appeals to Martin Heidegger’s 1942 lecture course, Hölderlins Hymne «Der Ister»and the video takes us «backward» as the river flows: beginning from the Danube’s delta where it ends in the sea and «journeying» with it to its source in the Alps.

the value of the Barison/Ross documentary for both political theory and philosophy is its illustration of the technological incursions or assaults on the river itself, that is to say: its representation of the ‘uses’ and hence of the changing aspects of the Danube in Eastern Europe beginning with the geographically stark landscape of Istria as the videographers map the drab poverty of the old political world contrasted with new construction sites and the discarded-sandwich-wrapping and ‘new’ poverty of a world of consumers representing the globalized nationalism and eager capitalism (as well as that goes, and these days that is going less and less) of the post-socialist world order. Given the geographic contours of this journeying, this same vision of transition, along and with the river, also includes national conflicts and the mappings and re-mappings of war. Beyond the problem of politicizing Heidegger’s political comments on the politicizing of the polis, there is the problem of metaphysical thinking matched only by (and just because it is the same as) calculative thinking. Metaphysical thinking is techno-scientific thinking.



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