Khalip & Collings, "Introduction: The Present Time of “Live Ashes”"
Romanticism and Disaster considers and responds to the timely concept of devastated life by thinking about how the capacity to read, interpret, and absorb disaster necessitates significant changes in theory, ethics, and common life. What if the consequences or "experience" of a disaster were less about psychic survival than an unblinking desire to face down the disaster as a challenge to normative structures? The essays in this volume attend to the rhetorical, epistemological, political, and social effects of romantic critique, and reflect on how processes of destruction and reconstitution, ruination and survival, are part and parcel of romanticism’s grappling with a negativity that haunts its corners. Put in this way, "disaster" does not signal a referential event, but rather an undoing of certain apparently prior categories of dwelling, and forces us to contemplate living otherwise. In confronting the end of things, what are the conditions or possibilities of existence amidst catastrophe? What is a crisis, and what kinds of challenges does it occasion? What can be philosophically gained or lost by analyzing disaster in its multiple sites, contexts, and instances?