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Reading Ronell

Reading Ronell

Edited by Diane Davis
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 264
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    Reading Ronell
    Book Description:

    Avital Ronell has won worldwide acclaim for her work across literature and philosophy, psychoanalysis and popular culture, political theory and feminism, art and rhetoric, drugs and deconstruction. In works such as The Test Drive, Stupidity, Crack Wars, and The Telephone Book, she has perpetually raised new and powerful questions about how we think, what thinking does, and how we fool ourselves about the troubled space between thought and action._x000B__x000B_In this collection, some of today's most distinguished and innovative thinkers turn their attention to Ronell's teaching, writing, and provocations, observing how Ronell reads and what comes from reading her. By reading Ronell, and reading Ronell reading, contributors examine the ethico-political implications of her radical dislocations and carefully explicate, extend, and explore the paraconcepts addressed in her works._x000B__x000B_Contributors are Pierre Alferi, Gil Anidjar, Susan Bernstein, Judith Butler, Tom Cohen, Diane Davis, Peter Fenves, Werner Hamacher, Elissa Marder, Jean-Luc Nancy, Shireen R. K. Patell, Thomas Pepper, Laurence A. Rickels, Hent de Vries, Elisabeth Weber, and Samuel Weber.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09095-0
    Subjects: Philosophy, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[viii])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)
    Diane Davis

    Reading Ronell. The simple title names an arduous task—a “mission,” we could say—that is already underway, in medias res, skipping the preliminaries. But what would it take to begin? How might one approach an oeuvre explicitly designed to “resist you,” to get “you” to question what it means to read anything at all? To open a work by Avital Ronell is, in a sense, to eavesdrop on a fundamentally dissymmetrical Conversation¹ in which “your” addresser is first of all an addressee occupying a space of troubled reception: “Writing,” she writes, always takes place “at the behest of another,...

  4. Addressee: Avital
    (pp. 9-20)
    Jean-Luc Nancy

    I address you, Avital. I address myself to you, the living, the vivacious, the vital. But I’m also addressing Abital, wife of David, mother of Shephatiah, whose name is also written as Avital, which is a man’s name and which means “father of the dew.” I address myself to the dew, which in Latin is also the drop, and thus also to the father, because what is a father if not a drop? What is a father if not the morning dewdrop clinging to a leaf or a flower that will exhale at sunrise?¹ I address myself to life, which...

  5. Ronell as Gay Scientist
    (pp. 21-30)
    Judith Butler

    Of course, Ronell is reading Nietzsche throughoutThe Test Drive, so if we decide to focus on this reading, we will find that it defies our focus, because Nietzsche might be said to disperse himself throughout her text.¹ There is, however, a juncture in which it seems that she has a particular reason to follow him, but also to take her leave. It is this double-movement that I propose to trace, because it shows us something about how Ronell experiments and the kind of experiment her writing is. For instance, there are times when she seems very close to Nietzsche’s...

  6. The Courage of the Critic: Avital Ronell and the Idea of Emergence
    (pp. 31-48)
    Peter Fenves

    Few propositions of modern philosophy are as famous or memorable as the one with which Kant begins his “Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?” This proposition containsin nucethe answer to the question: “Enlightenment is the emergence of human beings from the nonage for which they are themselves responsible.”¹ Enough said, one might say; but Kant does not simply stop. As if driven by a fear that his answer is insufficiently clear, he proceeds to explain two of the terms in which it is formulated: “nonage” (Unmündigkeit) consists in an inability to use one’s own understanding without the...

  7. Conference Call: Ronell, Heidegger, Oppen
    (pp. 49-59)
    Susan Bernstein

    I do not understandThe Telephone Book. But how could one understand it? It begins:

    Warning:The Telephone Bookis going to resist you. Dealing with a logic and topos of the switchboard, it engages the destabilization of the addressee. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to learn how to read with your ears. In addition to listening for the telephone, you are being asked to tune your ears to noise frequencies, to anticoding, to the inflated reserves of random indeterminateness—in a word, you are expected to stay open to the static and interference that will...

  8. Take Me to Your Reader
    (pp. 60-73)
    Laurence A. Rickels

    At some mid-career point in the series of my horror film class at UC Santa Barbara, I thought it was time to check out the current scholarship. Because cultural studies had started running its commentary all over the place abandoned by Marxist sociology, there was an outside chance that there would be a compatible reading out there of the mass socius in terms of the mass of murder. I, too, was more interested in the overlaps (and gaps) between slasher or splatter movies and off-screen violence than in another film-studies interpretation of “his” and “her” pleasures as closely read and...

  9. Uncalled: A Commentary on Kafkaʹs ʺThe Testʺ
    (pp. 74-93)
    Werner Hamacher

    The philosophical and religious texts of the European tradition know only a world that follows a call, a world called forth and called on to do something, in which everything has a vocation and everything is addressed as that which it is. They declare, either explicitly or implicitly, every other to be impossible. A short text by Franz Kafka from “Convolute 1920” with notes from the fall of that year, published by Max Brod under the title “The Test,” can be read as an investigation of a world without call—without determination or function, without profession or vocation and without...

  10. Avital Ronellʹs Body Politics
    (pp. 94-112)
    Elissa Marder

    In a certain sense, one might begin by saying “she told us so,” but perhaps we did not hear her well enough. For a long time now, over many years and in her many important works ranging from the earlyDictationsto the most recentTest Drive, Avital Ronell has been trying to open our ears to the ramifications of the politics of the body. Recent events in world history and science are only confirming what she has been telling us all along. Before AIDS, terrorism, drugs, information technology, and viruses were on everyone’s lips, she was tuning in to...

  11. Serial
    (pp. 113-115)
    Pierre Alferi

    A broken coin

    a black box

    a brass bullet

    seven pearls:

    what happened to mary?

    who will marry mary?

    A lost express

    a hidden land

    a ghost city

    a house without a key;

    my beloved adventurer

    bound and gagged.

    The man who disappeared—

    purple mask and leatherstocking

    red glove and clutching hand

    velvet fingers and iron claw

    crimson stain

    black x.

    A flaming disk

    a grey ghost

    a shielding shadow

    the shadow screaming:

    hands up!

    burn ’em up barnes!

    A voice on the wire

    a voice from the sky:

    play ball!

    ten scars make a man:

    fighting fate

    breaking through...

  12. War Bodies
    (pp. 116-130)
    Gil Anidjar

    WAR for AR is primary. This should not come as a surprise. AR knows WAR. Which does not mean that she brings or bears some prophetic utterance, the moving image of a road warrior to come, nor that she asks us to reflect on war’s future, on how bad it might become or how horrible it will get. Instead, she engages and confronts a near and constant danger, the vulnerabilities and inflicted wounds of old (and young) in the militarized zones of knowledge. That is why it may be possible to date, with a fair degree of precision, when war...

  13. The Indefinite Article or the Love of a Phrase
    (pp. 131-142)
    Samuel Weber

    The love in question, we should recall, addresses not just language as such, or words in isolation, but phrases like “une fois pour toutes,” which I have been translating, all too approximately, as “once and for all.” The question is all the more pertinent, because Derrida’s writing is a constant love affair with phrases. Phrases that come and go, but that leave their mark, always singular and yet always related to one another. A family of phrases. One such, in what would seem to be an entirely different register, is “la démocratie à venir”—“democracy to come.” It is a...

  14. Learning Impossibility: Pedagogy, Aporia, Ethics
    (pp. 143-163)
    Shireen R. K. Patell

    Even if inaudible, this question perhaps attends every textual encounter. BeforeMay I read you?orDo I read you?, before evenbefore, this: Can I read you? For even if I do read you, it is not certain that “Icanread you”—each term in that locution is pressured, shaken, fissured by the very passage of reading.

    And if you were the one who vitally gave me reading, reading as a strange, depropriative task, the question is even more pressing: can I read you? How?

    I shall here be direct about the acute scene of writing in which...

  15. Testing Existence, Exacting Thought: Reading Ronell with Deleuze
    (pp. 164-185)
    Hent de Vries

    InSpinoza: Practical Philosophy, Gilles Deleuze writes that “existence is a test.” He immediately adds: “But it is a physical or chemical test, an experimentation, the contrary of Judgment. . . . The physical-chemical test of states constitutes Ethics as opposed to moral judgment.”¹ The motif of testing, as opposed to judging in its propositional definition, which is both Kantian and legal, not to mention moral, also appears earlier in Deleuze’s writing, as does a repudiated “dogmatic” image of the test, which, in the words ofDifference and Repetition, manifests a naïve commonsensical and epistemic “representation” of what constitutes genuine...

  16. The Problems of a Generation or Thinking and Thanking Zwang AND Drang
    (pp. 186-204)
    Thomas Pepper

    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...

  17. Roaming (Dis)Charges: ʺCatastrophe of the Liquid Oozingʺ
    (pp. 205-221)
    Tom Cohen

    One can approach Avital Ronell as a political scientist of memory transmission whose performative forays—at plague-centers within agrand mal d’archive—negotiate a different relation to the catastrophic. There are vapors one encounters in this prose, drugs without names of the sort that concern AR, and one enters corridors within her syntax that beckon, or unravel, into acceleratingpassages. One could assemble a file of these, trip over their accumulation and vanishings, get off in uncharted spots at which the body writes under other names, under the radar of swooping policial cropdusters. Peel back the analytic riffs and one...

  18. ʺVectorizing Our Thoughts Toward ʹCurrent Eventsʹʺ: For Avital Ronell
    (pp. 222-240)
    Elisabeth Weber

    In Ingo Schulze’s 1999 text “Handy,” published in English as “Cell Phone,” the narrator, who will remain nameless throughout the story, and his wife Constanze have rented a bungalow near Berlin, in the village of Prieros, for their summer vacation. The same day that Constanze has been unexpectedly called back to her work in Berlin, five or six strangers arrive in the middle of the night and demolish the front portion of the wooden fence that surrounds the property. The narrator reports: “the fact was that not even a symbolic barrier protected the bungalow now. Given the situation, it was...

  19. Contributors
    (pp. 241-246)
  20. Index
    (pp. 247-255)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 256-256)