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Reviewed by:
  • Commemorating Epimetheus
  • Laine M. Harrington
Les Amis . Commemorating Epimetheus. S. Pluháček, trans. West Lafayette, IN, Purdue University Press, 2009. Pp. 93.

Commemorating Epimetheus, a text by a collective known as Les Amis (which translates as "the friends"), honors Epimetheus, one of Prometheus's lesser known brothers. Similar to the way in which ancient Greek discourse has been critiqued by numerous authors for its oft-embraced polarities, Prometheus and Epimetheus are set up as mythological binary figures—that is, two brothers with names that speak to different callings: respectively, "he who thinks before" and "he who thinks after" (3, 2). This book, then, is a commemoration of the past as much as of Epimetheus, remembered brother who "thinks after" the ways of the Earth, sharing in "the memory of what has been [...] so as to care for the present and the future" (2-3). What is particularly compelling about this telling is the language of the text, rendered in English by S. Pluháček and reminiscent of works by Luce Irigaray such as Elemental Passions. The authors have shattered the logos of the early Greeks by preconceiving such poets as Heidegger, Irigaray, and Derrida.

Knowing little about the source text has the potential of being a distraction. However, the possibility that the authors "thought before" the likes of the aforementioned philosophers presupposes the problem of chronology. Might we, then, also read this text as a pre-originary story of ancient discourse? That is, in the "thinking before" of he who "thought after"? This, indeed, is the question.

Acknowledging the innocent beginnings of agri-cultural existence (indeed, in Heideggerian terms, the opening of a clearing in which to dwell) and the divinity of everyday love (in Irigarayan terms, the presence of dia-logue, indirection, and silence), the authors evoke Epimetheus, hearkening back to the "earlier ways of our being-in-the-world" (14). Such a "time before" implicates space for non-agri-cultural wanderings. As the authors indicate, our "current lovelessness" suggests there exists at our core a fear of wandering (25). The themes of sharing, caring, meeting, dwelling, and loving are presented to commemorate Epimetheus's wisdom on these matters— and, are carried out beautifully so.

But what might all of this mean for a land that has gone a different way, toward a "Promethean desire to no longer be dependent upon the earth" (17)? Indeed, both the timeliness and timelessness of this text offer hope. For, as these authors (and our other pre-originary poets) ask, "Is not the future the coming of the startlingly unexpected, the unknown—indeed, the unknowable and that which cannot be expected?" (77).

Herein, the fearless wanderings of Epimetheus "think after" and upon the ways of the Earth, prior to such things as profit, property, boundary, and appropriation. Within his kind of thinking-after, however, thankfulness and care embed themselves. Certainly, the différance projected herein conveys a sense of care that both "differs" and "defers," suggesting creative play as we come to terms with "(the worlding of) [our] world," our "knot of existence so firmly tied together" (45, 93). Would that we could make such a leap.

Laine M. Harrington
FIDM/San Francisco
...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
p. 123
Launched on MUSE
2012-09-24
Open Access
No
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