Prologue : on the freedom of non-identity -- Otherwise than human (toward sovereignty) -- What is human recognition? (on zones of indistinction) -- Desubjectivation (Michel Foucault's aesthetics of experience) -- Becoming animal (some simple ways) -- Derrida's cat (who am I?).
What is it to be seen (naked) by one's cat? In “L'animal que donc je suis” (2006), the first of several lectures that he presented at a conference on the “autobiographical animal,” Jacques Derrida tells of his discomfort when, emerging from his shower one day, he found himself being looked at by his cat. Th experience leads him, by way of reflections on the question of the animal, to what is arguably the question of his philosophy: Who am I? It (...) is not so much that Derrida wants to answer this question as to be free of it. His task here is to determine the sense of it— where it leads, for example, when it comes to the nature of the diff erence between himself and his cat. Unlike animal rights activists (and unlike philosophers Martha Nussbaum and Cora Diamond, who have recently addressed this issue), Derrida does not want to erase this difference but wants to multiply it in order (among other things) to affirm the absolute alterity or singularity of his cat, which cannot be subsumed by any category (such as the animal). His cat is an Other in a way that no human being (supposing there to be such a thing, which Derrida is not prepared to grant) could ever be. And here is where “the question who?” leads as well, namely, to a path of escape from absorption into any identity-machine. As Derrida puts it in A Taste for the Secret: Who am I when I am not one of you? In a hospitable world one would be free not to answer. (shrink)
Marcel Duchamp once asked whether it is possible to make something that is not a work of art. This question returns over and over in modernist culture, where there are no longer any authoritative criteria for what can be identified (or excluded) as a work of art. As William Carlos Williams says, “A poem can be made of anything,” even newspaper clippings.At this point, art turns into philosophy, all art is now conceptual art, and the manifesto becomes the distinctive genre (...) of modernism. This book takes seriously this transformation of art into philosophy, focusing upon the systematic interest that so many European philosophers take in modernism. Among the philosophers Gerald Bruns discusses are Theodor W. Adorno, Maurice Blanchot, Arthur Danto, Stanley Cavell, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard, Jean-Luc Nancy, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, and Emmanuel Levinas.As Bruns demonstrates, the difficulty of much modern and contemporary poetry can be summarized in the idea that a poem is made of words, not of any of the things that we use words to produce: meanings, concepts, propositions, narratives, or expressions of feeling. Many modernist poets have argued that in poetry language is no longer a form of mediation but a reality to be explored and experienced in its own right. But what sort of experience, philosophically, might this be? The problem of the materiality or hermetic character of poetic language inevitably leads to questions of how philosophy itself is to be written and what sort of communitydefines the work of art—or, for that matter, the work of philosophy.In this provocative study, Bruns answers that the culture of modernism is a kind of anarchist community, where the work of art is apt to be as much an event or experience—or, indeed, an alternative form of life—as a formal object. In modern writing, philosophy and poetry fold into one another. In this book, Bruns helps us to see how. (shrink)
Recently, a number of Anglo-American philosophers of very different sorts--pragmatists, metaphysicians, philosophers of language, philosophers of law, moral philosophers--have taken a reflective rather than merely recreational interest in literature. Does this literary turn mean that philosophy is coming to an end or merely down to earth? In this collection of essays, one of the most insightful of contemporary literary theorists investigates the intersection of literature and philosophy, analyzing the emerging preferences for practice over theory, particulars over universals, events over structures, (...) inhabitants over spectators, an ethics of responsibility over a morality of rules, and a desire for intimacy with the world instead of simply a disengaged knowledge of it. (shrink)