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Dreaming, Writing, and Restlessness in Twentieth-Century Literature
I sleep, but my heart wakes,says the Song of Songs. The other nightnames the sleepless night we spend in dreams.From The Interpretation of Dreams to Finnegans Wake, many of the great writing projects of the first half of the twentieth century articulate experiences of waking in the very depths of sleep, where no Ican declare itself present though the heart still beats. After World War II, in the cold light of the closure of the age of dreambooks, Beckett and Blanchot discover with new clarity, and new fatigue, that what wakes when the Isleeps doesn't sleep when the Iwakes.Revisiting Freud's argument that the dream is a form of writing, The Other Night looks at how life becomes literature in this wakefulness. Though we seem to be seeing things in our dreams, we are actually confronted with a kind of writing. This writing is not in our power, and yet it is ours. We are responsible for it in the same strange way that we are responsible for our lives.
Explorations in Historical Poetics
Since the mid-1980s, attempts to think history and literature together have produced much exciting work in the humanities. Indeed, some form of historicism can be said to inform most of the current scholarship in literary studies, including work in poetics, yet much of this scholarship remains undertheorized. Envisioning a revitalized and more expansive historicism, this volume builds on the tradition of Historical Poetics, pioneered by Alexander Veselovsky (1838-1906) and developed in various fruitful directions by the Russian Formalists, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Olga Freidenberg. The volume includes previously untranslated texts of some of the major scholars in this critical tradition, as well as original contributions which place that tradition in dialogue with other thinkers who have approached literature in a globally comparatist and evolutionary-historical spirit. The contributors seek to challenge and complement a historicism that stresses proximate sociopolitical contexts through an engagement with the longue duree of literary forms and institutions. In particular, Historical Poetics aims to uncover deep-historical stratifications and asynchronicities, in which formal solutions may display elective affinities with other, chronologically distant solutions to analogous social and political problems. By recovering the traditional nexus of philology and history, Persistent Forms seeks to reinvigorate poetics as a theoretical discipline that would respond to such critical and intellectual developments as Marxism, New Historicism, the study of world literature, practices of distant reading, and a renewed attention to ritual, oral poetics, and genre.
Reflections On Philosophic Tradition
Originally written for an exhibition Jean-Luc Nancy curated at the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon in 2007, this book addresses the medium of drawing in light of the question of form--of form in its formation, as a formative force, as a birth to form. In this sense, drawing opens less toward its achievement, intention, and accomplishment than toward a finality without end and the infinite renewal of ends, toward lines of sense marked by tracings, suspensions, and permanent interruptions. Recalling that drawing and design were once used interchangeably, Nancy notes that "drawing" designates a design that remains without project, plan, or intention. His argument offers a way of rethinking a number of historical terms (sketch, draft, outline, plan, mark, notation), which includes rethinking drawing in its graphic, filmic, choreographic, poetic, melodic, and rhythmic sense. If drawing is not reducible to any form of closure, it never resolves a tension specific to drawing but allows the pleasure of drawing to come into appearance, which is also the pleasure in drawing, the gesture of a desire that remains in excess of all knowledge. Situating drawing in these terms, Nancy engages a number of texts in which Freud addresses the force of desire in the rapport between aesthetic and sexual pleasure, texts that also turn around the same questions concerning form in its formation, form as a formative force. Between the sections of the text, Nancy has placed a series of "sketchbooks" on drawing, composed of a broad range of quotations on art from different writers, artists, or philosophers.
"I suggest that although at any given place and moment the aesthetic expressions of a political system just are that political system, the concepts are separable. Typically, aesthetic aspects of political systems shift in their meaning over time, or even are inverted or redeployed with an entirely transformed effect. You cannot understand politics without understanding the aesthetics of politics, but you cannot understand aesthetics as politics. The point is precisely to show the concrete nodes at which two distinct discourses coincide or connive, come apart or coalesce."-from Political Aesthetics
Juxtaposing and connecting the art of states and the art of art historians with vernacular or popular arts such as reggae and hip-hop, Crispin Sartwell examines the reach and claims of political aesthetics. Most analysts focus on politics as discursive systems, privileging text and reducing other forms of expression to the merely illustrative. He suggests that we need to take much more seriously the aesthetic environment of political thought and action.
Sartwell argues that graphic style, music, and architecture are more than the propaganda arm of political systems; they are its constituents. A noted cultural critic, Sartwell brings together the disciplines of political science and political philosophy, philosophy of art and art history, in a new way, clarifying basic notions of aesthetics-beauty, sublimity, and representation-and applying them in a political context. A general argument about the fundamental importance of political aesthetics is interspersed with a group of stimulating case studies as disparate as Leni Riefenstahl's films and Black Nationalist aesthetics, the Dead Kennedys and Jeffersonian architecture.
Identities, Sexualities, and the Theater of Gender
More than any other area of late-twentieth-century thinking, gender theory and its avatars have been to a large extent a Franco-American invention. In this book, a leading Franco-American scholar traces differences and intersections in the development of gender and queer theories on both sides of the Atlantic. Looking at these theories through lenses that are both “American” and “French,” thus simultaneously retrospective and anticipatory, she tries to account for their alleged exhaustion and currency on the two sides of the Atlantic. The book is divided into four parts. In the first, the author examines two specifically “American” features of gender theories since their earliest formulations: on the one hand, an emphasis on the theatricality of gender (from John Money’s early characterization of gender as “role playing” to Judith Butler’s appropriation of Esther Newton’s work on drag queens); on the other, the early adoption of a “queer” perspective on gender issues. In the second part, the author reflects on a shift in the rhetoric concerning sexual minorities and politics that is prevalent today. Noting a shift from efforts by oppressed or marginalized segments of the population to make themselves “heard” to an emphasis on rendering themselves “visible,” she demonstrates the formative role of the American civil rights movement in this new drive to visibility. The third part deals with the travels back and forth across the Atlantic of “sexual difference,” ever since its elevation to the status of quasi-concept by psychoanalysis. Tracing the “queering” of sexual difference, the author reflects on both the modalities and the effects of this development. The last section addresses the vexing relationship between Western feminism and capitalism. Without trying either to commend or to decry this relationship, the author shows its long-lasting political and cultural effects on current feminist and postfeminist struggles and discourses. To that end, she focuses on one of the intense debates within feminist and postfeminist circles, the controversy over prostitution.
Olivier Messiaen's Breakthrough Toward the Beyond
Present-day music studies conspicuously evade the question of religion in contemporary music. Although many composers address the issue in their work, as yet there have been few attempts to think through the structureof religious music as we hear it.The work of Olivier Messiaen is well known for its inclusion of religious themes and gestures. On the basis of a careful analysis of Messiaen’s work, this book argues for a renewal of our thinking about religious music.Starting from an analysis of his 1960s oratorio La Transfiguration de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ, van Maas arranges a moderated dialogue between Messiaen and the music theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, thephenomenology of revelation of Jean-Luc Marion, the rethinking of religion and technics in Jacques Derrida and Bernard Stiegler, and the Augustinian ruminations of Søren Kierkegaard and Jean-François Lyotard. Ultimately,this confrontation underscores the challenging yet deeply affirmative nature of Messiaen’s music.
inquiry into the self, art, and transcendence
The book first argues that religious feeling persists in the secular western mind; that it has taken refuge in the unlikeliest of camps, indeed with the supposed debunker of religious creed: the rationalist existential ego.