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Reading Ronell

Diane Davis

Publication Year: 2009

In works such as The Test Drive, Stupidity, Crack Wars, and The Telephone Book, Avital Ronell has perpetually raised new and powerful questions about how we think, what thinking does, and how we fool ourselves about the troubled space between thought and action. In this collection, some of today's most distinguished and innovative thinkers turn their attention to Ronell's teaching, writing, and provocations, observing how Ronell reads and what comes from reading her. By reading Ronell, and reading Ronell reading, contributors examine the ethico-political implications of her radical dislocations and carefully explicate, extend, and explore the paraconcepts addressed in her works._x000B__x000B_Contributors are Pierre Alferi, Gil Anidjar, Susan Bernstein, Judith Butler, Tom Cohen, Diane Davis, Peter Fenves, Werner Hamacher, Elissa Marder, Jean-Luc Nancy, Shireen R. K. Patell, Thomas Pepper, Laurence A. Rickels, Hent de Vries, Elisabeth Weber, and Samuel Weber.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. 1-8

Reading Ronell. The simple title names an arduous task—a “mission,” we could say—that is already underway, in medias res, skipping the preliminaries. But what would it take to begin? How might one approach an oeuvre explicitly designed to...

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Addressee: Avital

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pp. 9-20

I address you, Avital. I address myself to you, the living, the vivacious, the vital. But I’m also addressing Abital, wife of David, mother of Shephatiah, whose name is also written as Avital, which is a man’s name and which means “father of the...

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Ronell as Gay Scientist

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pp. 21-30

Of course, Ronell is reading Nietzsche throughout The Test Drive, so if we decide to focus on this reading, we will find that it defies our focus, because Nietzsche might be said to disperse himself throughout her text.1 There is, however, a juncture...

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The Courage of the Critic: Avital Ronell and the Idea of Emergence

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pp. 31-48

Few propositions of modern philosophy are as famous or memorable as the one with which Kant begins his “Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?” This proposition contains in nuce the answer to the question: “Enlightenment...

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Conference Call: Ronell, Heidegger, Oppen

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pp. 49-59

The Telephone Book cannot call for understanding the way a clearly delineated object might ask for it. But this much I can glean: Heidegger answered a (telephone) call that involved him in Nazism. As we know, he never clarified or...

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Take Me to Your Reader

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pp. 60-73

At some mid-career point in the series of my horror film class at UC Santa Barbara, I thought it was time to check out the current scholarship. Because cultural studies had started running its commentary all over the place abandon...

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Uncalled: A Commentary on Kafka's "The Test"

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pp. 74-93

The philosophical and religious texts of the European tradition know only a world that follows a call, a world called forth and called on to do something, in which everything has a vocation and everything is addressed as that which it is. They declare, either explicitly or implicitly, every other to be impossible. A short text by Franz Kafka...

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Avital Ronell's Body Politics

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pp. 94-112

In a certain sense, one might begin by saying “she told us so,” but perhaps we did not hear her well enough. For a long time now, over many years and in her many important works ranging from the early Dictations to the most recent...


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pp. 113-115

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War Bodies

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pp. 116-130

WAR for AR is primary. This should not come as a surprise. AR knows WAR. Which does not mean that she brings or bears some prophetic utterance, the moving image of a road warrior to come, nor that she asks us to reflect on war’s future...

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The Indefinite Article or the Love of a Phrase

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pp. 131-142

The love in question, we should recall, addresses not just language as such, or words in isolation, but phrases like “une fois pour toutes,” which I have been translating, all too approximately, as “once and for all.” The question is all the more pertinent, because...

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Learning Impossibility: Pedagogy, Aporia, Ethics

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pp. 143-163

Even if inaudible, this question perhaps attends every textual encounter. Before May I read you? or Do I read you?, before even before, this: Can I read you? For even if I do read you, it is not certain that “I can read you”— each term in that locution...

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Testing Existence, Exacting Thought: Reading Ronell with Deleuze

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pp. 164-185

In Spinoza: Practical Philosoph, Gilles Deleuze writes that “existence is a test.” He immediately adds: “But it is a physical or chemical test, an experimentation, the contrary of Judgment. . . . The physical-chemical test of states constitutes...

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The Problems of a Generation or Thinking and Thanking Zwang AND Drang

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pp. 186-204

A work, no matter how recondite, specialized, or antiquarian, manifests a historical compulsion. Of course, we no longer exist in a way that renders manifestation possible: we have lost access to what is manifested and to manifestation itself...

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Roaming (Dis)Charges: "Catastrophe of the Liquid Oozing"

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pp. 205-221

One can approach Avital Ronell as a political scientist of memory transmission whose performative forays—at plague-centers within a grand mal d’archive—negotiate a different relation to the catastrophic. There are vapors one encounters in this prose, drugs without names of the sort that concern AR, and one enters corridors...

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"Vectorizing Our Thoughts Toward 'Current Events'": For Avital Ronell

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pp. 222-240

In Ingo Schulze’s 1999 text “Handy,” published in English as “Cell Phone,” the narrator, who will remain nameless throughout the story, and his wife Constanze have rented a bungalow near Berlin, in the village of Prieros, for their summer vacation. The same day that Constanze has been unexpectedly called back to...


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pp. 241-246


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pp. 247-254

E-ISBN-13: 9780252090950
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252034503

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Ronell, Avital -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Ronell, Avital -- Philosophy.
  • Critics -- United States.
  • Feminists -- United States.
  • Philosophers -- United States.
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