Hartmut Rosa

„Resonance has this Structure that Touches, Catches and Affects People.” – Interview with Sociologist Hartmut Rosa

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During the conversation with the German sociologist Hartmut Rosa there was especially one term that came up quite often: Resonance. If acceleration is the challenge, than resonance might be the solution. Resonance means more to Rosa than usual; he reinvents the term. Against the background of acceleration in society Rosa deals with one of the great philosophical topics: The loss of meaning as a problem of modernity. “The major tales disappeared that are explaining us why we are here in this world. I want to undermine this with my theory of resonance. I believe if people tell us that nothing makes sense anymore, it’s not the major world explanations that are missing but rather a space for resonance.” As an example he describes a couple that just fell in love with each other. So they don’t think about the question of meaning anymore: “The function of love can be replaced by any other resonance experience. It might be art, nature, music, a garden or even a pet. Resonance has this structure that touches, catches and affects people.”

Referring to his observations Rosa tells us that it’s especially these meaningful relations of resonance what people are missing currently. “I think the core of the problems is when people have to fight with the feeling of senselessness. They feel that they operate and function but they don’t achieve anything with it. Mainly they have to deal with cold surfaces – it might be working with a machine or to sit in an office filling in documents all day long.” The consequence may be depression and burn-out. For this reason Rosa demands a stronger consideration of resonance experiences, particular in economy. “Every day we are confronted with tasks that we have to solve quick, efficient and without any resonance. Hence we create ourselves certain oases of resonance: Drinking a beer on Friday night or going to a concert, where we can switch gears. Rosa thinks one should “reintegrate resonance taking it out of the oases and putting it back to daily grind.”

Rosa emphasizes that there is neither intention nor it’s possible to call up instantly such a resonance. “It’s impossible to create resonance at a certain time. I think a universal problem is the objective of making things available. My interpretation is that there is always an uncontrolled moment in art, in terms of production as well as of reception. You cannot say tomorrow I’m going to be creative at 2 pm. It always has to come along with the sweeping moment that I call resonance. The uncontrollable is part of this moment.” Right the contrary Rosa criticises the demand of making those oases of resonance available. It seems like this attempt is not only doomed to failure only, but it devalues the magic of resonance, too. Nevertheless Rosa could imagine “to create certain conditions to make it easier to access but without creating artificial oases of resonance. It shouldn’t be like if someone feels bad then he can go to the relaxing-room or the art-room. Rather it has to percolate through whole working structures.”

Please access the full interview here (German only).

Blog Post by Claudia Helmert and Benjamin Stromberg
Picture Source: Hartmut Rosa, © juergen-bauer.com



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