Autofiction of the Cognitariat: Self-Criticism of a Bourgeois Dog


Artists and intellectuals living in precarious conditions (or: belonging to the cognitariat), find themselves at the crossroad between precarity and privilege. Julian Radlmaier’s Selbstkritik eines bürgerlichen Hundes (Self-Criticism of a Bourgeois Dog GER, 2017) deals with this issue in a very explicit, self-reflexive way. Its protagonist is a filmmaker on the dole who is sent by the German workfare program to work seasonally as an apple picker. Once at the orchard, when the other workers attempt a revolt, he discovers that his attachment to his status as an artist impedes him to join their struggle. The autofictional form of the film, I demonstrate, reflects a subjectivation dynamic that turns into a spiral of perceived debt, guilt, and political paralysis. By internalizing
a widespread anti-intellectual bias, the film offers a paradigmatic account of why it is difficult for members of the cognitariat to solidarize with other segments of the precariat or the working class: the difficulty depends largely on the internalization of neoliberal capitalism’s ambivalent consideration of immaterial, cognitive, and creative work.

Author Biography

Elisa Cuter, Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf

Elisa Cuter is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Filmuniversität Konrad Wolf in the project “Cinematic Discourses of Deprivation”. She is the author of Ripartire dal desiderio (minimum fax, 2020), and one of the editors of Precarity in European Film (DeGruyter, 2022), the first volume in the book series she co-curates “Film, Class, Society”.