Otto von Busch, “Vital Vogue”
In 1940, the psychoanalyst, political theorist, biologist, and pioneer of body therapies Wilhelm Reich taught at The New School. His course “Character Formation: Biological and Sociological Aspects” introduced students to the outlines of Reich’s theories of psychosomatic dynamics, and how the psyche is caught between the bioelectrical energies of the body and social currents, between freedom and fear, sexuality and fascism. Reich’s focus on embodiment and cognition, material agency and the vibrancy of energy and matter, the ecologies of vital affect and the social desires of fascism, have come to echo throughout our times. It was also during his time teaching at The New School Reich started experimenting more seriously with his recently discovered energy with properties that could charge organic matter, the energy he famously called “orgone.” Today, Reich’s ideas can also bring new light to the vital dynamics of fashion, help shift perspectives to see fashion as an energy sparkling with life, a form of biosocial flourishing, a living force animating desires, a boost of orgone, or more precisely: a vital vogue.
Otto von Busch is Associate Professor of Integrated Design at Parsons School of Design. In his research he explores how the powers of fashion can be bent and hacked beyond consumerism, aesthetic decrees and arbitrary authority. Over the last fifteen years, he has cultivated fashion practices based on shared capabilities, biosocial energy, mutual flirting, and gambles of embodied attentions.