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The Test Drive

The Test Drive

With Photographs by Suzanne Doppelt
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    The Test Drive
    Book Description:

    The Test Drive deals with the war perpetrated by highly determined reactionary forces on science and research. How does the government at once promote and prohibit scientific testing and undercut the importance of experimentation? To what extent is testing at the forefront of theoretical and practical concerns today? Addressed to those who are left stranded by speculative thinking and unhinged by cognitive discourse, The Test Drive points to a toxic residue of uninterrogated questions raised by Nietzsche, Husserl, and Derrida. Ranging from the scientific probe to modalities of testing that include the limits of friendship or love, this work explores the crucial operations of an uncontestable legitimating machine. Avital Ronell offers a tour-de-force reading of legal, pharmaceutical, artistic, scientific, Zen, and historical grids that depend upon different types of testability, involving among other issues what it means to put oneself to the test.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09230-5
    Subjects: Philosophy, Education, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-2)
  3. Part 1 Proving Grounds
    (pp. 3-60)

    Whether you mean to prove that you can do it, or we are driven by what Maurice Blanchot calls “the trial of experience,” and he submits himself endlessly to Nietzsche’s loyalty tests, or she is a runaway replicant whose human factor is being scrutinized, or the sadistic coach has us revving up for an athletic contest; whether you are entering college, studying law, or trying to get out of an institution; whether they are giving you the third degree; whether you are buffing up on steroids, or she had unprotected sex, or he doesn’t know what he has but he’s...

  4. Part 2 Trial Runs
    (pp. 61-130)

    In the interview accorded to Salomon Malka, Levinas announces, “I prefer the word épreuve to expérience because in the word expérience a knowing of which the self is master is always said. In the word épreuve there is once the idea of life and of a critical ‘verification’ which overflows the self of which it is only the ‘scene.’”¹ When Levinas overhauls experience or experiment with the type of endurance implied by épreuve, he opts for a kind of trial: a test site in which the self is placed at absolute risk. The call for “verification” – the quotation marks indicate...

  5. Part 3 On Passing the Test
    (pp. 131-150)

    FOCUS GROUP In a book that was supposed to wrap it all up for him following the extravagance he had permitted himself with Zarathustra, Nietzsche speaks of physics as just another interpretation of the world: “It is perhaps just dawning on five or six minds,” he calculates, “that physics, too, is only an interpretation and exegesis of the world (to suit us, if I may say so!) and not a world-explanation.”¹ By no means intending to underwrite a mere dismissal, Nietzsche sets physics close to religion, which he understands as another, if unquestionably neurotic, interpretation of the world. In Beyond...

  6. Part 4 The Test Drive: On Nietzsche’s Gay Science
    (pp. 151-246)

    TEST PATTERN We do not always know how to calculate the importance of a work. In some cases, there is nothing even to guarantee that the work will arrive. Some works seem to set an ETA – there is a sense that it will take them years to make their arrangements, overcome the obstacles of an unprotected journey, get past the false reception desks blocking their paths. In the more assured and seductive version, these works follow the itinerary of Walter Benjamin’s secret rendezvous – targeting the “geheime Verabredung” that a work has made with the singularity of a destination: in the...

  7. Part 5 Trial Balloon: Husserl to Front Weatherman #414
    (pp. 247-276)

    Philosophy as a rigorous science – they’re all saying that the dream is over, “der Traum ist ausgeträumt.” I’m not ready to give it up, no matter what Merleau-Ponty thinks. He says that in my Crisis book I have thrown in the towel. And then when my friends created a fuss, he said that it was unconscious. Ahem. I don’t think so. I am Edmund H., father of them all. Martin is a problem. My little disciple Martin H. with his very hip Existenzphilosophie. Now I have to toss in words like “existentiell” just to catch the attention of the younger...

  8. Part 6 Testing Your Love, or: Breaking up
    (pp. 277-326)

    Supposing I were in love, or, let us say, I am deeply transferentially engaged. Supposing the transference went sour. Well, not sour; I am still transferred onto this other, unavoidably. But I feel betrayed. At some level I don’t care about the schoolboyish ideologies of betrayal: my middle name is betrayal. That’s another story. I am in love; I am betrayed; the other is my fate. (I am also drawn to the other’s partner, but that, too, is another story. I keep on skidding off the other’s desire track.) I am amorously caught on an object. Demobilized. The loner and...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 327-360)
  10. Index
    (pp. 361-372)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 373-374)