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186 Thomas Pepper The Problems of a Generation or Thinking and Thanking Zwang AND Drang In memory of the victims of the Bush Wars 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. Nothing, today, can be manifested. Except, possibly, the fact that humanity is not yet just. The indecency of a humanism that goes on as if nothing had happened. The task of extremist writing is to put through the call for a justice of the future. Henceforth, justice can no longer permit itself to be merely backward looking or bound in servility to sclerotic models and their modifications (their “future”). A justice of the future would have to show the will to rupture. “A thinker,” Flaubert said, “should have neither religion nor fatherland nor even any social conviction. Absolute scepticism.” Radically rupturing, the statement is not merely subversive. It does not depend upon the program that it criticizes. How might one free oneself from the cowardliness pressing upon social convictions of the present, subjugated as they are to reactive, mimetic, and regressive posturings?1 (CW, 21) i-viii_1-256_Davi.indd 186 4/10/09 3:14:52 PM 187 The Problems of a Generation Ungrounded Prolegomena of the Abgrund, or Where We Stand What is a prophet? And what do compulsion, Zwang, Drang, mean? In writing on and in and with the topos Avital Ronell, these are the most urgent questions that come to the fore. Let me be perfectly clear: in asking “what is a prophet?” I have nothing of the religious in mind—at least not in any sense related to the parodic transcendental cover-up of the wars— “history,” as it is called, sadly enough—of the positive-negative monotheisms of Abraham, themselves born of two acts: one of blind obedience to a command to murder the son, the second the erection of the Father’s No-No in some communal act of killing and eating him, committed out on some camping trip—the West—destined to go bad. No, no, go not immediately to the beatifying transcendentalism of those acts of forgetting—nor remember them out of compulsion to repeat (them and the memory of) the Same. My first question, “what is a prophet?,” is an entirely earthly one.2 Some time ago, speaking with a Deleuzean day-tripper friend, I thought I was catching him in the act of smuggling this unconcealed transcendental bomb of prophecy into his immanentist armoire. Annoyed by what I saw as a subreption unworthy of the intelligence of this friend and interlocutor from whom I have learned and continue to learn, I called him on it, point-blank: “What is this ‘prophet’ and ‘prophecy’ shit?,” I asked, “and how dare you think you can get away with it!?” To my overheated question my friend replied calmly: “A prophet is one who sees the present more clearly in the present, and enunciates what it sees.”—And this regardless of whether the munchkins (see the preface to DIC) around at the time of this statement are capable of understanding—or, I add, even of recognizing the event-character of—the statement as such, of recognizing its assertion as a statement, as an act in its own right.3 Moments like this stick with you. Especially against the everyday gray of the administrative-nihilistic dominant of our time in which, proximally and for the most part, colleagues, students, so-called journalists and politicians, publishers, editors, writers, and keynote speakers have forgotten (enter multiple choice): a. what language is, and the ethics its sharing dictates; b. that it exists; c. how to use it; d. how to read it; e. how to know if and when you are dealing with it. * * * i-viii_1-256_Davi.indd 187 4/10/09 3:14:52 PM 188 thomas pepper Avital Ronell has been with for many years. Here it is deliberate that the ablated object position of the preposition accompanying this intransitive verb is left empty. We shall have to take recourse to the logics of Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit in order to understand the primordiality of “being with” and “being in” in respect of being-there’s (Dasein’s) being in the world as such. What is at issue is the very matter of being with as a condition of possibility for Dasein with...


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