Afterness: Figures of Following in Modern Thought and Aesthetics (Columbia Themes in Philosophy, Social Criticism, and the Arts)
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Gerhard Richter's groundbreaking study argues that the concept of "afterness" is a key figure in the thought and aesthetics of modernity. It pursues questions such as: What does it mean for something to "follow" something else? Does that which follows mark a clear break with what came before it, or does it in fact tacitly perpetuate its predecessor as a consequence of its inevitable indebtedness to the terms and conditions of that from which it claims to have departed? Indeed, is not the very act of breaking with, and then following upon, a way of retroactively constructing and fortifying that from which the break that set the movement of following into motion had occurred?
The book explores the concept and movement of afterness as a privileged yet uncanny category through close readings of writers such as Kant, Kafka, Heidegger, Bloch, Benjamin, Brecht, Adorno, Arendt, Lyotard, and Derrida. It shows how the vexed concepts of afterness, following, and coming after shed new light on a constellation of modern preoccupations, including personal and cultural memory, translation, photography, hope, and the historical and conceptual specificity of what has been termed "after Auschwitz." The study's various analyses—across a heterogeneous collection of modern writers and thinkers, diverse historical moments of articulation, and a range of media—conspire to illuminate Lyotard's apodictic statement that "after philosophy comes philosophy. But it has been altered by the 'after.'" As Richter's intricate study demonstrates, much hinges on our interpretation of the "after." After all, our most fundamental assumptions concerning modern aesthetic representation, conceptual discourse, community, subjectivity, and politics are at stake.
Press, 2002), 335–343, here 335. 52. The general difference between error and mistake, particularly as it relates to the rhetorical criticism of Paul de Man, is pursued in Stanley Corngold, “Error in Paul de Man,” in The Yale Critics: Deconstruction in America, ed. Jonathan Arac, Wlad Godzich, and Wallace Martin (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983), 90–108. 53. Ernst Bloch, “Something’s Missing: A Discussion Between Ernst Bloch and Theodor W. Adorno on the Contradictions in
fully coinciding with the diagnosis of progress or regression, if these are to be understood as salient determinations within a binary opposition. Rettung, as this view implies, seems to harbor a dark underbelly even when it shines most brightly, even when its achievement of rescuing something—and, by rescuing something in particular, also affirming the general concept of rescuing as such—appears to be beyond doubt. Yet, from a Benjaminian perspective, Rettung never can be merely progressive or
unforgivable silences, the by-no-means self-evident relationship between his life and his work, the status of art and the aesthetic in his pre-1930s work, the very idea of intellectual compensation in a work of art, and the relation of art to fundamental ontology.9 But what interests me here is the way in which the transformative art that Marquard ascribes to Heidegger in the context of his seminar on Schiller can be thought as a figure of translation. One way of reading Marquard’s interpretation
of an instrumentality that is also an expropriation, a seeming reinforcement of the speaking subject that is always also its beginning dissolution and necessary reinscription elsewhere. This is the gift, in both the English and the German sense of the word—a present and a poison—that language has in store “für uns.” To say, however, that language can be experienced as both translation and expropriation is not to reduce the workings of language to the private realm of subjective experience. On
by six German soldiers during World War II on the Russian front, stages a series of unpresentatable essences; it is in singular and idiomatic respects distinct from the ways in which the Chicago-based filmmaker Daniel Eisenberg confronts the multiply mediated layers of memory and presentation in relation to the city of Berlin in such experimental films as Persistence (1997) or how Italian filmmakers Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi meditate on the relation between war and its effects on