Han, Byung-Chul – 4 Books

2015 – The Burnout Society

  • viral power/ neuronal power. The concept of “viral violence” was first introduced by Jean Baudrillard (2004: 21). To this violence, Byung-Chul Han opposes the “neuronal violence”. The first is a manifestation of terrorists, while the later is common in the behaviors of the tourists and consumers. So, the viral violence 1) is found in disciplinary societies represented by hospitals, madhouses, prisons, barracks and factories; 2) much accent is laid on contemplation and relaxation (for instance to sleep and boredom);  3) this <vita contemplativa> is to be found where God is alive and the homo sacer (the deviant) is living at the margins; 4) and every inhabitant of this world should say no and do nothing; 5) for the world is a world of deprivation and exclusion; 6) in short, everyone in this world is tired with everyone else, for this world is a <We-tiredness> universe. In contrast, the neuronal violence 1) is found in achievement societies represented by fitness studios, office towers, banks, airports, shopping centers and genetic laboratories; 2) much accent is laid on motion and acceleration – like in much loved multitasking and hyperacting behaviors; 3) this <vita activa> is to be found where God is death and the homo sacer (the deviant) is living everywhere, both at the center and at the margins; 4) and this <homo sacer> of this world can only say yes and do something – can do anything as long as it is something; 5) for the world is a world of saturation and exhaustion; 6) in short, everyone in this world is tired with himself and herself, for this universe is a <I-tiredness> world…. Stated in a more poetic language, the burnout society is a pacifist society, where the individuals are acting only like tourists and consumers. For this to be done, these tourists and consumers are allowed to take drugs and energy drinks that on the short run boost they activity and motion, but on the long run plagued them with exhaustion, fatigue and suffocation. This over-saturation and over-exhaustion, in psychiatric manuals, are categorized into diseases like: burnout, depression, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and BPD (borderline personality disorder)

The map:


  • Jean Baudrillard (2004): “From the universal to the singular. The violence of the global”, in Jérô,e Bindé (ed.) : “The future of values. 21st century talks”, UNESCO Publishing/ Berghahn Books, pp. 19-24
  • Byung-Chul Han (2015): “The burnout society”, Stanford Briefs

2015 – The Transparency society

  • transparency/ dramaturgy. The words “transparency” along with “obscenity” were first delineated, in the manner Byung-Chul Han uses them, by Jean Baudrillard (2008: 45). The dramaturgy is the name of the old society characterized by: negativity, existence, secrecy, mystery, direction, distance, imagination and illusions. This society is a panopticon like that described by Jeremy Bentham. On the other hand, the transparency is the name of the new society based on: positivity, exhibition, evidence, nudity, acceleration, intimacy, information and confessions. In total opposition to analogue panopticon, this society is a dialogue panopticon, a new specie of panoptica. In order to make more clear the image of this panopticon, it could be said that the society of transparency is a society of control and surveillance: the inmates collaborate with the guardians, and both of them put themselves on display shamelessly in social media – for this media is, in fact, like a glass fortress, with no surroundings or background, flying in the ether.

The map:

• Jean Baudrillard (2008): “Fatal strategies”, Semiotext(e)
• Byung-Chul Han (2015): “The transparency society”, Stanford University Press

2017 – The Agony of Eros

erotic/ pornographic. Giorgio Agamben used for the first time the word “profanation” (2007: 75), while Jean Baudrillard “pornography” (2008: 30) for what Byung-Chul Han will labeled later “pornographic”. In fact, to Han, Eros is by definition erotic and antithetical to pornographic. The erotic side is characterized by the following traits: i) the individual is either a subject, a master of life; or an object, a slave of death; 2) the erotic life is lived in secrecy and sacralization; 3) whenever there is imagination springing from unconscious, there is passion; 4) love as a Two scene makes the world arise anew from the vantage point of the Other; and 5) when love leads to logos, there are narratives that produce insights and truths. At the opposite continuum is the pornographic that has another five characteristics: 1) the individual is a project, an entrepreneur looking to survive; 2) the pornographic live is lived on display and secularization; 3) whenever there is information springing to the consciousness, there are feelings stirred up; 4) pleasure as an One scene makes the world remain alike from the vantage point of the Same; and 5) when pleasure leads to logos, there are only data behaving like noise. Metaphorically speaking, the pornographic world is like a museum where the sightseers are just passing by and the exhibitions lost all their secrets and enigma. This world is naked and obscene; the sightseers act like porn stars; the objects are just commodities on display and the places are what they are because they are not, being non-places. Like the cat who is playing with a ball of yarn as if it were a mouse, like the lover who uses the faces of his loved one in new ways – for instance, the libertine consumption – like that, the erotic world is replaced with the pornographic world: one is dying while the other is rising to life.

The map:

• Giorgio Agamben (2007): “Profanations”, Zone Books
• Jean Baudrillard (2008): “Fatal strategies”, Semiotext(e)
• Byung-Chul Han (2017): “The agony of Eros”, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2017 – Psychopolitics

biopolitics/ psychopolitics. Michel Foucault coined the word “biopolitics” (1978, Vol. 1: 139), while other authors have talked about psychopolitics – namely: Gilles Deleuze using the concept of “control society” (1995: 177-182) and Bernard Stiegler using the concept of “psychothechnological psychopower” (2010: 124-143). So, Byung-Chul Han considers that biopolitics concern the body and psychopolitics concern the soul. The biopolitics are characterized by: 1) some subjects and some objects found in a relationship ; 2) the subjects use power (or the inhibitive power) in order to constraint; 3) this power is based on orthopedic interventions that aim the technologies of the body (i.e. how to optimize the body); 4) it is also based on the violence of negativity of the conscription (the sovereign power) and/ or the production (the industrial power); 5) in order to arrive to conscription/ production, the inhibitive power uses the shocks; 6) the relationship of this model is represented by the Big Brother as the state apparatus who is using the living memory in a narrative process of the events, of the singulars; 7) this narrative process is recollecting the feelings and the experiences; 8) restated, the biopolitics are like the mole. On the other side, the psychopolitics are characterized by: 1) some projects in a world; 2) the projects use power (or permissive power) in order to gain freedom; 3) this power is based on aesthetic intervention that aims the technologies of the soul (i.e. how to optimize the soul); 4) this power is also based on the violence of positivity of the exhaustion; 5) exhaustion is reached by likes on social media; 6) the world of this model is represented by the Big Data/ Big Business as the market apparatus who is using the death storage of computers in an additive process of averages and information/ data; 7) this additive process is recollecting the emotions and the experiencing; 9) in a nutshell, the psychopolitics are like the snake. And letting apart these classifications, and using a more poetic language, the psychopolitics are a new kind of religion: Facebook is the church, the friends & followers are the devotees, the smart-phone is the confessional and the likes are the Amens!

The map:

• Gilles Deleuze (1995): “Negotiations. 1972-1990”, Columbia University Press
• Michel Foucault (1978): “History of sexuality. Volume 1: an introduction”, Pantheon Books.
• Byung-Chul Han (2017): “Psychopolitics. Neoliberalism and new technologies of power”, Verso
• Bernard Stiegler (2010): “Taking care of youth and the generations”, Standford University Press

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