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Experimenting: Essays with Samuel Weber

Experimenting: Essays with Samuel Weber

Simon Morgan Wortham
Gary Hall
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Experimenting: Essays with Samuel Weber
    Book Description:

    The work of Samuel Weber has greatly influenced writers and thinkers across the arts and humanities: including literary, critical, and cultural theory; media, communication, theater, and cultural studies; new media and technology; psychoanalysis; and philosophy. His remarkable and inaugural texts have been especially important to the deconstructive tradition, given his early recognition of the importance of the writings of Jacques Derrida. Taught by Theodor W. Adorno and Peter Szondi, he is equally at home in the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School, in the German literary tradition, or in psychoanalysis. Weber played an important role in the process of translation, publication, and interpretation that brought theoryto prominence in the United States. His work continues to reactivate and transform the legacy bequeathed to us by figures such as Kant, Nietzsche, Benjamin, Heidegger, de Man, and Derrida, not least by exposing the field of philosophy to contemporary questions in the arenas of media, technology, politics, and culture.This volume brings together a number of eminent scholars seeking to assess the intellectual impact of Weber's large body of writings. It also contains two new and previously unpublished essays by Weber himself: 'God Bless America!'and 'Going Along for the Ride: Violence and Gesture-Agamben Reading Benjamin Reading Kafka Reading Cervantes.'

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4780-6
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Experimenting
    (pp. 1-12)
    Simon Morgan Wortham and Gary Hall

    For several decades, the work of Samuel Weber has influenced writers and thinkers across a range of subjects and disciplines in the arts and humanities—including literary, critical and cultural theory, cultural, media and communication studies, new media and technology, psychoanalysis, and continental philosophy. Within such fields, Weber’s “remarkable” and “inaugural” texts have been especially important to the deconstructive tradition, as Jacques Derrida once confirmed.¹ That Weber has proved so influential to so many for so long—longer than almost any other figure of comparable stature currently at work within this tradition—owes partly to the singular position he holds...

  5. CHAPTER 1 “God Bless America!”
    (pp. 13-43)
    Samuel Weber

    In the almost two centuries since Tocqueville published the first volume ofDe la démocratie en Amérique(Democracy in America)¹ so much has changed that it is both astonishing and sobering to discover, again and again, how suggestive and incisive many of the analyses of this book still are. Nowhere is this more striking than where Tocqueville discusses the distinctive political significance of the American judicial system,Du pouvoir judiciaire aux États-Unis et de son action sur la société politique(On the judicial power in the United States and its action on political society). In this chapter, Tocqueville argues that...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Of Debts, Dreams, and Jokes: or, Weberian Theatricality
    (pp. 44-84)
    Simon Morgan Wortham

    It might be said that Samuel Weber made his name by writing on psychoanalysis rather than deconstruction. Early texts published in MLN andGlyphin the 1970s, although by no means devoid of reference to Derrida’s work, were to devote attention to various aspects of Freud’s writing in particular. Subsequently, it was his two books on psychoanalysis which brought Weber critical acclaim.Return to Freud: Jacques Lacan’s Dislocation of Psychoanalysiswas originally written and published in German in 1978, whileThe Legend of Freudfirst appeared in 1982. Indeed, Weber’s next book,Institution and Interpretation, which explores issues of interpretive...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Technica Speciosa: Some Notes on the Ambivalence of Technics in Kant and Weber
    (pp. 85-101)
    Peter Fenves

    When did atechne-term first become a technical term of philosophical discourse? This question can be easily answered: after the ancient Greek philosophers, who adopted the wordtechnêfrom everyday speech,techne-terms first entered the lexicon of “first philosophy” in the extensive introduction to theCritique of Judgmentthat Kant carefully prepared and soon discarded in favor of a shorter introduction that largely does without these terms.¹ The fact that Kant discarded his most complete exposition of the critical program as a whole indicates that he was ambivalent aboutsomething, and the name of this something is, in all likelihood,...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Surfing Technics: Direction and Dispersion in the Age of Information
    (pp. 102-115)
    R. L. Rutsky

    Samuel Weber’s writings generally take as their point of departure the most significant works of Continental thought, from Freud and Lacan to Derrida and Heidegger, Kant and Hegel, Benjamin and Adorno, and others. Yet, what is unique about his work is that, in the course of careful readings of “high theory,” Weber frequently moves from these theoretical texts to topics such as the Gulf War, the “War on Terror,” the media, and contemporary technologies, topics that are generally regarded as involving more pragmatic, “real world” issues than the supposedly airy heights of Continental philosophy. Indeed, Weber’s work is, in large...

  9. CHAPTER 5 IT, Again: How to Build an Ethical Virtual Institution
    (pp. 116-140)
    Gary Hall

    “IT, Again” arises out of a long-standing engagement on my part with questions of digitization. Fittingly for a text composed and concerned with what, for shorthand (and for reasons that will soon become clear), I will callinformation technologies(IT), this essay is woven out of the links and connections between a number of nodal points of interest: capitalist neoliberal economics, the knowledge economy, deconstructive pragmatics, papercentrism, the crisis in tenure and publishing, the academic gift economy, ethics, politics, disciplinarity, judgment, cognition, and the institution of the university. “IT, Again” is experimenting with these points and issues in the sense...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Ambivalence: Media, Technics, Gender
    (pp. 141-158)
    Marc Redfield

    Just as it has become increasingly clear that the “return of religion” cannot be understood simply as an archaism within modernity’s deterritorializing dynamic, so it has also become clear—at least to those who worry about such things—that the “aestheticization of the political” cannot be understood simply as a historical phenomenon, consignable to the mass politics of the early twentieth century, or to the print-based bourgeois cultures of an even more bygone era. The analogy is not an arbitrary one. If, as Jacques Derrida has argued, a profound connection exists between mediatization and Christianity because of the latter’s emphasis...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Modernism and the Medium: On Greenberg and Weber
    (pp. 159-182)
    Andrew McNamara

    For all the talk about feeling, pleasure, and beauty, the aesthetic remains at its root a proposition, and a “disturbing” one at that. Admittedly, what is disturbing also has a strong allure; and it is this allure, this critical provocation, that proves most disturbing. Yet when Kant proposed considering the aesthetic as anidea, he did not aim to limit it to a cognitive proposition. Instead, he highlighted how the aesthetic poses a more general consideration: How does one come to terms with the aesthetic? While Kant argues that the aesthetic can legitimately be considered an idea, he complicates it...

  12. CHAPTER 8 It Walks: The Ambulatory Uncanny
    (pp. 183-208)
    Susan Bernstein

    Samuel Weber’s work has a remarkable range. He has written on Freud and Lacan, Nietzsche and Heidegger, Balzac and Hoffmann. His work addresses all the crucial issues of critical theory, from questions of hermeneutics and deconstruction to problems of professionalism and the structure of the university. Weber is one of the most timely writers in the field on literary studies, able to articulate issues of tradition with contemporary cultural and critical polemics. He is tremendously active in the professional community; he has lectured in France, Germany, Holland, Australia, Singapore, and of course the United States. He has taught in Berlin...

  13. CHAPTER 9 On Risk-Taking in the Psychoanalytic Text: The Reality-Test
    (pp. 209-217)
    Avital Ronell

    Sometimes they have to prove their mettle or demonstrate a hypothesis; at other times, they audition for the part, make a demo, try another way, or determine paternity; there are the endless admissions tests, the existential breathalyzers, the proven and tried version of things, the loyalty tests and medical scanners, Kafka’s trials, the sprawl of lab culture, and weapons testing: whether you roll back to the time of the persecution of witches—testing nature, testing the body, pressing forward to push out the truth in the medium of torture and pain—or draw blood in the clinic, it seems as...

  14. CHAPTER 10 Going Along for the Ride: Violence and Gesture—Agamben Reading Benjamin Reading Kafka Reading Cervantes
    (pp. 218-230)
    Samuel Weber

    InState of Exception,¹ as in many of his other writings, Giorgio Agamben refers to the work of Walter Benjamin at particularly decisive points in his argument. In this book, whose title indicates an indebtedness to Carl Schmitt that Agamben shares with Benjamin, the author elaborates a theory of the “state of exception” as the notion through which a certain Western tradition of “bio-politics” seeks to assimilate the heterogeneity upon which it depends and thereby to treat it as the integrating element of its own “death machine” (145). The “state of exception” thus serves as the pretext of a violence...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 231-262)
    (pp. 263-266)
    (pp. 267-270)
  18. Index
    (pp. 271-274)