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Chapter 3 Archeophilia, Panic, & Authority Arendt & Kojève, MVPs. A tactically sidelined delegate from the Lutheran assembly or party line, she comes in from a slightly differenttextureofconcernsandreadinghabits .HannahArendtshowsuplate in 1958. Prepared to set a refurbished agenda, she publishes the searching essay “What Is Authority?” Taking up the relay, she expresses anguish over the noticeable disappearance of authority. Her investment in the runaway itinerary of authority takes on different tonalities and sets another type of intention than that of her predecessors. Nonetheless, Hannah Arendt, too, tries her intelligent hand at resuscitating authority. Having browsed the history of theoretical engagements with authority, let us now renew our approachtoArendt ’svitalwork,whichinsomewaysprecededherconcernswith violence.Propelledbythesensethatnearlyalltraditionalformsofauthority are collapsing, Arendt traces the destruction of authority to the prepolitical zones of education and child-rearing, where authority in its most general sense has appeared to be a natural prerequisite. The breakdown in authority carries consequences not only for politics and constituted civilization, but also for those whom we diaper and need still to welcome. She revs up her engines with concern for the youngest among us, the most vulnerable, reworking the thought of natality. The little strangers, babies, need to be able to count on the authority of those who tend to them. No child could find stability without the application of authority.{((This intrusion may appear premature; I cannot help myself. She gave me the access code when she foldedinthepersonalwiththepolitical.Listento me, Hannah,areyousure aboutthis?—Maybeshedidn’trealizewhatkindoflicenseshewasissuingor how I could exploit the cleared passageway rhetorically. Hannah? I will be brief, will not get into the minutiae of lament in full force, but, I mean, as a Ronell_Text.indd 67 2/3/12 10:12 AM Baby Step, this unceasing destruction . . . Before Kafka came on the scene with his hair-raising input, the permanent disruption that childhood routinely works up was profiled in different ways. I am going to skip down to the nineteenth and eighteenth centuries, to a time frame when, for all sorts of overdetermined reasons and theoretical needs, childhood was invented. Philosophy’s recruitment of the child in order to pinpoint some of its emerging theorems on memory and human understanding is something I have explored when trying to monitor the empiricist’s need to rally the “ideot and childe.”* The complicity between figures of idiocy and childhood, in unexpected ways rich and telling, was created basically to prompt the adult capacity for reflective memory. Childhood was from the start a stand-in for live feed—for story anterior to memory that showed, together with the lockdown of idiocy, an uninhabitable space where memories could not be retrieved. The constitutive blur of childhood had to be separated from the expanding discursive empires of history and autobiography, for developmental theories of selfhood and its analogs in historical becoming. By the time Hegel’s reflections on childhood rolled in, bringing around concern for a more generally pitched ethical and familial structure, the child in philosophy began serving another function, meant to settle finitude’s score: childhood, henceforth, was summoned to put a nail in the kindred coffin. Hegel puts up a day care center in the Phenomenology for the purpose of setting the mortality timer: the married couple maneuver around loss by means of the consciousness implanted in the child. The child exhausts the parents but also is born as savior. This is an old story, but it doesn’t explain * See in particular Avital Ronell, “Wordsworth Satellite,” in Stupidity (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002). Ronell_Text.indd 68 2/3/12 10:12 AM 69 Archeophilia, Panic, & Authority toddler,Iwouldhavepreferredmereskill,someconsideration,theoccasional hug, and none of the poses of parental authority, always completely off the mark, entirely unhelpful, and, for all intents and purposes, one big joke. The so-called authority of those who tended to me served only to interrupt my already-stressful negotiations with the too-quickly-defeated pleasure principle and the persecutory envois of the reality reps, but let’s leave this objection aside, especially at the start of a chapter, for goodness sake, and reinstall the authority that I purportedly needed in a bad way from day one, whenalittlecalminthehouseholdandsomeskillamongthosewhopresumed toraisemewouldhavedonethejobsufficientlytopropupthegood-enough wardens,but,accordingtomypolls,thisisoffpointforsomeofyouwhocould relaxintotrustundertheveryparentalauthoritythatArendtappearstotake for granted and affirm. I will get back on track, going toward that place of cultural infancy emblazoned by the Greeks and Romans. Forgive me, Hannah , I am reading with you, I swear. Let me prove myself to you. Ahem.))} Relayed by Christianity, our Greco-Roman heritage has depended on three key factors: tradition, religion, authority. In...


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