The Invisible Flights of the Birds

∞ “The Invisible Flights of the Birds” (pdf) – John Paul Ricco

Paper Summary: The space of disappearance (the invisible flight of the animals) is not the place of negativity (including as trace). As such, disappearance keys thought, less to the metaphysical than to the ecological. The latter understood in terms of the irreducible separation and ultimate extinction of incommensurable and irreparable whatever singularities. That is what makes the latter lovable, and worthy of our attention, care and ethical use. Therein lies the virtue and value of disappearance: it is the provocation of/for thought and for the ascetic, non-sovereign transformation of the self in its thinking at the limits of intelligibility and in its inherent inconclusiveness. The aesthetic is antithetical to negativity, and therein lies its virtue and potential value.

John Paul Ricco (Toronto) is the author of The Logic of the Lure, and The Decision Between Us: art and ethics in the time of scenes. Recently published essays include: “Mourning, Melancholia, Moonlight,” in CR: The New Centennial Review; “The Commerce of Anonymity” in Qui Parle; and chapters in the collections: Nancy and the Political (Edinburgh); and Porn Archives (Duke). His essay: “Moths to the Flame: Photography and the Capitalocene” will be in the edited volume Capitalism and the Camera (Verso, 2021). That essay, along with “The Invisible Flight of the Birds,” are part of a book project he is completing on extinction aesthetics, titled The Collective Afterlife of Things. He is Professor of Comparative Literature, Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Toronto. Web site: