How cubism and Dada radically reimagined the social nature of language, following the utopian poetic vision of Stéphane Mallarmé. At the outset of the twentieth century, language became a visual medium and a philosophical problem for European avant-garde artists. In Total Expansion of the Letter, art historian Trevor Stark offers a provocative history of this “linguistic turn,” centered on the radical doubt about the social function of language that defined the avant-garde movements. Major cubists and Dadaists—including Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and Tristan Tzara—appropriated bureaucratic paperwork, newspapers, popular songs, and advertisements, only to render them dysfunctional and incommunicative. In doing so, Stark argues, these figures contended with the utopian vision of the late nineteenth-century poet Stéphane Mallarmé, who promised a “total expansion of the letter.” In his poems, Mallarmé claimed, “the act of writing was scrutinized down to its origins.” This scrutiny, however, delivered his work into an indeterminate zone between mediums, social practices, and temporalities—a paradox that reverberates through Stark's wide-ranging case studies in the history of the avant-garde. Stark examines Picasso's nearly abstract works of 1910, which promised to unite painting and writing at the brink of illegibility; the cubists' “hope of an anonymous art,” expressed in newspaper collages and industrial colors; the collaborative, cacophonous invention of “simultaneous poems” by the Dadaists in Zurich during World War I; and Duchamp's artistic exploration of chance in gambling and finance. Each of these cases reflected the avant-garde's transformative encounter with the premise of Mallarmé's poetics: that language—the very medium of human communication and community—is perpetually in flux and haunted by emptiness.
In Canto XVIII of Paradiso, Dante sees thirty-five letters of Scripture - LOVE JUSTICE, YOU WHO RULE THE EARTH - 'painted' one after the other in the sky. It is an epiphany that encapsulates the Paradiso, staging its ultimate goal - the divine vision. This book offers a fresh, intensive reading of this extraordinary passage at the heart of the third canticle of the Divine Comedy. While adapting in novel ways the methods of the traditional lectura Dantis, William Franke meditates independently on the philosophical, theological, political, ethical, and aesthetic ideas that Dante's text so provocatively projects into a multiplicity of disciplinary contexts. This book demands that we question not only what Dante may have meant by his representations, but also what they mean for us today in the broad horizon of our intellectual traditions and cultural heritage.
"German--and particularly French--sources of the revolution that has occurred in literary theory during the past thirty years have long been recognized. The Russian contribution to these events has been hinted at previously, but Cassedy documents in detail the extraordinary work of Potebnya, Veselovskij, and other figures virtually unknown in the West. . . . An important contribution to intellectual history and literary theory."--Michael Holquist, author of Dostoevsky and the Novel "An astonishing number of complex movements and ideas--from Humboldt through Russian and French Symbolists to Heidegger, Husserl, Roman Jakobson and the deconstructors, from symbology to logology and iconology--begin to fit together in this wide-ranging and provocative book. . . . Cassedy's book will outrage some readers, delight others, and enlighten all."--Caryl Emerson, author of Boris Godunov: Transpositions of a Russian Theme
In Jacques Derrida: Opening Lines, Marian Hobson gives us a thorough and elegant analysis of this controversial and seminal contemporary thinker. Looking closely at the language and the construction of some of Derrida's philosophy, Hobson suggests the way he writes, indeed the fact he writes in another language, affects how he can be understood by English speakers. This superb study on the question of language will make illuminating reading for anyone studying or engaged with Derrida's philosophy.
Beginning with a sustained critique of the so-called 'end of philosophy', Badiou goes on to propose a new definition of philosophy, one that is tested with respect to both its origin, in Plato, and its contemporary state. The essays that follow are ordered according to what Badiou sees as the four great conditions of philosophy: philosophy and poetry, philosophy and mathematics, philosophy and politics, and philosophy and love. Conditions provides an illuminating reworking of all the major theories in Being and Event. In so doing, Badiou not only develops the complexity of the concepts central to Being and Event but also adds new ones to his already formidable arsenal. The essays in Conditions reveal the extraordinary and systematic nature of Badiou's philosophical enterprise.
The first collection of critical writing on the work of experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton. Hollis Frampton (1936–1984) was one of the most important experimental filmmakers and theorists of his time, and in his navigation of artistic media and discourses, he anticipated the multimedia boundary blurring of today’s visual culture. Indeed, his photography continues to be exhibited, and a digital edition of his films was issued by the Criterion Collection. This book offers the first collection of critical writings on Frampton’s work. It complements On the Camera Arts and Consecutive Matter, published in the MIT Press’s Writing Art series, which collected Frampton’s own writings. October was as central to Frampton as he was to it. He was both a frequent contributor—appearing in the first issue in 1976—and a frequent subject of contributions by others. Some of these important and incisive writings on Frampton’s work are reprinted here. The essays collected in this volume consider Frampton’s photographic practice, which continued even after he turned to film; survey his film work from the 1960s to the late 1970s; and explore Frampton’s grounding in poetics and language. Two essays by the late Annette Michelson, one of the twentieth century’s most influential writers on experimental film, place Frampton in relation to film and art history. Contributors George Derk, Ken Eisenstein, Hollis Frampton, Peter Gidal, Barry Goldensohn, Brian Henderson, Bruce Jenkins, Annette Michelson, Christopher Phillips, Melissa Ragona, Allen S. Weiss, Federico Windhausen, Lisa Zaher, Michael Zryd
Annette Michelson's erudite and incisive readings of the revolutionary films of Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov, collected for the first time. This posthumous volume gathers Annette Michelson's erudite and incisive readings of the revolutionary films of Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov, giving readers the opportunity to track her sustained investigations into their work. Michelson introduced American audiences to Soviet cinema in the early 1970s, extending the interpretive paradigm she had used for American filmmakers of the mid-twentieth century—in which she emphasized phenomenological readings of their work—to films and writings by Eisenstein and Vertov. Over four decades, Michelson returned again and again to what she calls, following Eisenstein, “intellectual cinema”—the deliberate attempt to create philosophically informed analogues for consciousness. The volume includes Michelson's major essays on Eisenstein's unrealized attempts to make movies of both Marx's Capital and Joyce's Ulysses, as well as her authoritative discussion of Vertov's 1929 masterpiece The Man with a Movie Camera. Together, the texts demonstrate Michelson's pervasive influence as a writer and thinker, and her role in the establishment of cinema studies as an academic field. This collection makes these canonical texts available for a new generation of film scholars.
Poetry has long been regarded as the least accessible of literary genres. But how much does the obscurity that confounds readers of a poem differ from, say, the slang that seduces listeners of hip-hop? Infidel Poetics examines not only the shared incomprensibilities of poetry and slang, but poetry's genetic relation to the spectacle of underground culture. Charting connections between vernacular poetry, lyric obscurity, and types of social relations—networks of darkened streets in preindustrial cities, the historical underworld of taverns and clubs, the subcultures of the avant-garde—Daniel Tiffany shows that obscurity in poetry has functioned for hundreds of years as a medium of alternative societies. For example, he discovers in the submerged tradition of canting poetry and its eccentric genres—thieves’ carols, drinking songs, beggars’ chants—a genealogy of modern nightlife, but also a visible underworld of social and verbal substance, a demimonde for sale. Ranging from Anglo-Saxon riddles to Emily Dickinson, from the icy logos of Parmenides to the monadology of Leibniz, from Mother Goose to Mallarmé, Infidel Poetics offers an exhilarating account of the subversive power of obscurity in word, substance, and deed.