|Alma mater|| Rutgers Preparatory School |
|School||Continental philosophy, critical theory, deconstruction, existentialism, hermeneutics, post-structuralism|
|Addiction, deficiency, dictation, disappearance of authority, disease, drugs, excessive force, ethics, legal subjects, rumor, stupidity, technology, telephony, tests, trauma, war|
|Allotechnology, "Being-on-drugs," biophony, killer texts, narcoanalysis, supreme-suppression, applied censorship, narcossism, obliterature, toxicogeography|
|Part of a series of articles on|
Avital Ronell ( /
Continental philosophy is a set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical traditions from mainland Europe. This sense of the term originated among English-speaking philosophers in the second half of the 20th century, who used it to refer to a range of thinkers and traditions outside the analytic movement. Continental philosophy includes German idealism, phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, French feminism, psychoanalytic theory, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and related branches of Western Marxism.
Psychoanalysis is a set of theories and therapeutic techniques related to the study of the unconscious mind, which together form a method of treatment for mental-health disorders. The discipline was established in the early 1890s by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud and stemmed partly from the clinical work of Josef Breuer and others. Psychoanalysis was later developed in different directions, mostly by students of Freud such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav Jung, and by neo-Freudians such as Erich Fromm, Karen Horney and Harry Stack Sullivan. Freud retained the term psychoanalysis for his own school of thought.
Feminist philosophy is an approach to philosophy from a feminist perspective and also the employment of philosophical methods to feminist topics and questions. Feminist philosophy involves both reinterpreting philosophical texts and methods in order to supplement the feminist movement and attempts to criticise or re-evaluate the ideas of traditional philosophy from within a feminist framework.
As Jacques Derrida Professor of Philosophy, Ronell teaches at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee.She has written about such topics as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone; the structure of the test in legal, pharmaceutical, artistic, scientific, Zen, and historical domains; stupidity; the disappearance of authority; childhood; and deficiency. Ronell is a founding editor of the journal Qui Parle and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.
Jacques Derrida was an Algerian-born French philosopher best known for developing a form of semiotic analysis known as deconstruction, which he discussed in numerous texts, and developed in the context of phenomenology. He is one of the major figures associated with post-structuralism and postmodern philosophy.
The European Graduate School (EGS) is a private graduate school that operates in two locations: Saas-Fee, Switzerland, and Valletta, Malta.
Saas-Fee is the main village in the Saastal, or the Saas Valley, and is a municipality in the district of Visp in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. The villages in its neighborhood are Saas-Almagell, Saas-Grund and Saas-Balen.
An 11-month investigation at New York University determined that Ronell sexually harassed a graduate student, and the university suspended her without pay for the 2018–2019 academic year.
Avital Ronell was born in Prague to Israeli diplomats and was a performance artist before entering academia.She emigrated to New York in 1956. She attended Rutgers Preparatory School and graduated in 1970. As a young immigrant, Ronell later stated, she frequently encountered xenophobia and anti-Semitism. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Middlebury College, and subsequently studied with Jacob Taubes and Hans-Georg Gadamer at the Hermeneutic Institute at the Free University of Berlin. She received her doctorate of philosophy in German studies at Princeton University in 1979, where her advisor was Stanley Corngold and her dissertation concerned self-reflection in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Hölderlin, and Franz Kafka. When she met Jacques Derrida at a symposium and he asked her name, she introduced herself as "Metaphysics", and he later wrote that he "found this little game rather clever." She subsequently studied with Derrida and Hélène Cixous in Paris. She went on to help introduce Derrida to American audiences by translating his essay on Kafka's "Before the Law", his essay on the law of gender/genre, his lectures on Nietzsche's relation to biography, and a number of other works. Ronell became a close friend of poet and novelist Pierre Alféri, who later influenced Ronell in the titling of several of her major works.
Prague is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, the 14th largest city in the European Union and the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of 2.6 million. The city has a temperate climate, with warm summers and chilly winters.
Israel, officially the State of Israel, is a country in Western Asia, located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest. The country contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel's economic and technological center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed capital is Jerusalem, although the state's sovereignty over Jerusalem has only partial recognition.
Rutgers Preparatory School is a private, coeducational, college preparatory day school serving students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade, located on a 41-acre (0.17 km2) campus along the banks of the Delaware and Raritan Canal in the Somerset section of Franklin Township, in Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. Established in 1766, Rutgers Preparatory School is the oldest independent school in the state of New Jersey and the 16th-oldest in the country.
A professor at the University of Virginia for a short time period, Ronell claims she was fired because she taught continental philosophy and "went to the gym on a regular basis: [her] colleagues were shocked by this—it didn't correspond to their image of an academic woman!"She joined the comparative literature faculty at the University of California, Riverside and then at University of California, Berkeley where she taught with Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Jean-Luc Nancy and Judith Butler. She was a close friend of the writer Kathy Acker and identified with Acker's fiction, saying they were "destined to each other." In 1996, she moved to New York University, where she co-taught a course with Jacques Derrida until 2004.
The University of Virginia is a public research university in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was founded in 1819 by Declaration of Independence author and former President Thomas Jefferson. UVA is the flagship university of Virginia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is known for its historic foundations, student-run honor code, and secret societies.
The University of California, Riverside, is a public research university in Riverside, California. It is one of the 10 general campuses of the University of California system. The main campus sits on 1,900 acres (769 ha) in a suburban district of Riverside with a branch campus of 20 acres (8 ha) in Palm Desert. In 1907 the predecessor to UCR was founded as the UC Citrus Experiment Station, Riverside which pioneered research in biological pest control and the use of growth regulators responsible for extending the citrus growing season in California from four to nine months. Some of the world's most important research collections on citrus diversity and entomology, as well as science fiction and photography, are located at Riverside.
The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. It was founded in 1868 and serves as the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system. Berkeley has since grown to instruct over 40,000 students in approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering numerous disciplines.
In 2009, the Centre Pompidou invited Ronell to hold an interview series with such artists and thinkers as Werner Herzog, Judith Butler, Dennis Cooper, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Suzanne Doppelt.Also in 2009, she began co-teaching courses with Slavoj Žižek. In 2010, François Noudelmann also co-taught with her, and co-curated the Walls and Bridges program with her in 2011.
Werner Herzog is a German film director, screenwriter, author, actor, and opera director. Herzog is a figure of the New German Cinema. His films often feature ambitious protagonists with impossible dreams, people with unique talents in obscure fields, or individuals who are in conflict with nature.
Judith Pamela Butler is an American philosopher and gender theorist whose work has influenced political philosophy, ethics, and the fields of third-wave feminist, queer, and literary theory. Since 1993, she has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is now Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory. She is also the Hannah Arendt Chair at the European Graduate School.
Dennis Cooper is an American novelist, poet, critic, editor and performance artist. He is perhaps best known for the George Miles Cycle, a series of five semi-autobiographical novels published between 1989 and 2000 and described by Tony O'Neill "as intense a dissection of human relationships and obsession that modern literature has ever attempted."
Ronell served as Chair to the Division of Philosophy and Literature and to the Division of Comparative Literature at the Modern Language Association from 1993 to 1996,and gave a keynote address at the annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association in 2012.
Ronell argues for the necessity of the unintelligible.In an account of the 1992 Rodney King beating, which Bruce Hainley reviewed in Artforum in 1994 as "the most illuminating essay on TV and video ever written", Ronell argued that the idiom of the "perfectly clear" recurrently serves as a code for the white lie. Instead of referring to herself as the author of a text, she has sometimes described herself as a "signatory," "operator," or even "television." She sometimes focuses on thinkers who clean up after other thinkers, arguing that what she calls "sanitation departments" sometimes undermine the work they are tidying up after.
In 1983, she wrote one of the first critical inquiries to theorize the AIDS crisis.[ citation needed ]
Ronell investigates one of Goethe's most influential works, Conversations with Eckermann , which he did not write but instead dictated to a young schizoid companion, Johannes Peter Eckermann. Heralded by Nietzsche as "the best German book," Conversations with Eckermann contains Goethe's last thoughts about art, poetry, politics, religion, and the fate of German literature and philosophy. Ronell reads Conversations with Eckermann as a return from beyond the grave of the great master of German literature and science.
Ronell starts by exploring Goethe's focus on "a certain domain of immateriality—the nonsubstantializable apparitions ... [of] weather forecasting ... ghosts, dreams, and some forms of hidden, telepathic transmissions." Ronell renames the Goethe-effect what she calls "killer texts"[ clarification needed ] and describes the effect as the textual machination destructive of values, of the "worthier (Werther, from The Sorrows of Young Werther )." The first part opens on Freud's debt to Goethe and reprints the frontispiece of The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. Ronell names Goethe the "secret councilor (Geheimrat)" of Freud and already anticipates her work on the Rat Man in the third footnote where she alludes to the "suppository logic, inserting the vital element into the narrative of the other." In the first section Ronell aims to "attune [her] ears to the telepathic orders that Goethe's phantom transmitted to Freud by a remote control system.
In general, Dictations: On Haunted Writing traces the closure without end of influence's computation.[ clarification needed ] Ronell's task entails a reading practice where the analysis of a text must investigate the endless movement towards closure in dictation. Ronell thus practices what is called anasemic reading, a practice developed by Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, in which the psychoanalyst traces the textual metaphors, rhetorical structures, and linguistic associations of a writer/patient.
"Part Two" presents a case of literary parasitism between Eckermann and Goethe, and opens at the scene of Goethe's table in Weimar "the eleventh of September 1828, at two o'clock."In other words, Ronell re-imagines the scene that Eckermann illustrates at the beginning and ending of Conversations with Eckermann. Ronell starts to address the fiction of the writer as a particularly admirable human being and argues for the necessary passivity of the writer as a human being. Ronell also troubles the notion of a body of work as a totality. Ronell remaps earlier arguments about feminine appropriation in terms of writing, for Eckermann, which "involves recuperating something 'for myself,' for the most part instinctively; it entails repetitive acts of appropriation."
Dictations: On Haunted Writing explores how the work of writing in general adheres to a call dictated from elsewhere, a call formative of desire.
Ronell questions the operations that such ordinary objects as the telephone and book dictate. She signs the text as the operator of the switchboard alongside Richard Eckersley, operator of design, and Michael Jensen, operator of compositor. Eckersley's design departs from his "typographic subtlety and restraint" towards a computer design, marked by new page-making software programs to interpret the text typographically.Eckersley dislodges the text from presumed conventional settings and shifts the focus of reading with inexplicable gaps, displacements between sentences and paragraphs, mirror imaging of pages facing one another, words blurred to the point of indecipherability, and a regular exaggeration of negative line spacing, spilling sentences over into each other. Pushing the limits of an ordinary "Table of Contents" or "Footnotes," the operators set up a "Directory Assistance," in which chapters appear as reference indexes, and a yellow pages entitled "Classified," in which footnotes appear as soliciting advertisements.
Following "A User's Manual," the text begins as if the reader answers a call: "And yet, you're saying yes, almost automatically, suddenly, sometimes irreversibly."Ronell makes clear that The Telephone Book is a philosophical project on questions concerning the telephone, the call, and the answering machines: "always incomplete, always unreachable, forever promising at once its essence and its existence, philosophy identifies itself finally with this promise, which is to say, with its own unreachability."
Ronell takes as her point of departure Nietzsche's articulation that, as long as culture has existed, it has supported and inspired addiction.Often untimely, she develops an argument investigative of the destructive desires that coincide with the war on drugs and with the very addiction to drugs which the war claims to want to vanquish. The result is a text whose performance disturbs simple comprehension and frustrates any reading that wishes to tackle drugs on one side or another of a binary opposition. Ronell appeals to literature as the most advanced testimony to the culture of addiction and closely reads Madame Bovary .
Prior to the title page, Ronell showcases quotes from Martin Heidegger, Gustave Flaubert and Samuel Beckett. The text opens with a series of sixteen "hits" informative of both the structure of doing drugs and of the structure of cultural transmission. The "hits" serve as a series of references which survey the literary and philosophical landscape as relates to drugs. "Toward a Narcoanalysis" consolidates the text's itinerary to an account of the sort of analysis Ronell begins to explore by appealing to Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary . "EB on Ice" performs a first-person account where Ronell complicates the certitude with which the reader can identify the first-person narrator as herself, as EB, or being on ice as being in the refrigerator, as being on methamphetamine. "Shame" highlights something like the downsizing of interpretation as it only occupies eight pages and draws the reader's attention to the possibility that the text experiments with the potential indifference between drugs and texts. "Scoring Literature" makes up the largest portion of the text and includes nineteen subsections along with a "Doctor's Report" of E. Bovary. "Cold Turkey: or, The Transcendental Aesthetic to be Eaten" is formatted as three installations, three nano-installations, and two nano-intervals of a theatrical play where Ronell convokes Ernst Jünger, Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, Marguerite Faust, Marguerite Duras, Freud, Irma, Voice Off, Nietzsche, Saint Theresa, Emma B, Walter Benjamin, chorus, priest, and delusions of a non-addict.
Research assistant and friend, Shireen R.K. Patell, helped bring Finitude's Score to fruition.Finitude's Score collects a series of reflections on the fragile memory left at the close of the millennium. It looks into the projects responsible for devastating humanity and a thinking of the future. Ronell asks why the twentieth century stakes so much on a diction of deficiency. For Ronell, it says that, "we have been depleted." Ronell traces the relegitimization of war, the philosophical status of the rumor, the questionable force of the police, the test sites of technology, the corporeal policies of disease and a thoroughgoing reconstitution of the subject of law. In sum, Finitude's Score reads the desire to finish once and for all, to be done with issues definitively, as the everlasting legacy of the Western logos.
Ronell breaks down stupidity. In particular, she unfolds the complex problematic of stupidity as something that baffles knowledge in general, and therefore as something that especially baffles knowledge about itself. Among other considerations, Ronell finds that stupidity often takes the form of mastery and intelligence's doubles. She further goes to show that stupidity does not acquire the status of concept. It only reaches the level of quasi-concept.[ citation needed ]
Inflected in the title and throughout the work is the concept of the Freudian drive as it inheres in the test. At the limit of the test as that which grounds scientific knowledge, Ronell questions the distinction between the literary and human sciences as this distinction depends upon the constitutive limits of fiction and witnessing. Her work thus questions the structure of the test as it functions to legitimate everything from research to love and trauma.[ citation needed ]
Ronell's work has been both praised and criticized. In 1994, the journal Diacritics published a special edition "On the Work of Avital Ronell", ... Zeugmatically yoking the slang of pop culture with philosophical analysis, forcing the confrontation of high literature and technology or drug culture, Avital Ronell produces sentences that startle, irritate, illuminate. At once hilarious and refractory, her books are like no others." Judith Butler has said she feels deeply indebted to Ronell's influence on her work and wrote in an edited collection Reading Ronell: "The different path that Ronell takes is precisely the path of difference: gay, difficult, affirmative, ironic." The collection’s editor Diane Davis highlighted the "singular provocation of Ronell's 'remarkable critical oeuvre,'" "the devastating insights, the unprecedented writing style, the relentless destabilizations." In the sixth session of The Beast and the Sovereign on February 6 of 2002, Jacques Derrida devoted special attention to Ronell's Stupidity and commends the untranslatable complexity of her "irony."in which Jonathan Culler wrote: "Over the past decade, Ronell has put together what must be one of the most remarkable critical oeuvres of our era
By contrast, in a 1990 review of The Telephone Book for the New York Times Book Review, novelist Robert Coover appreciated the "visual pyrotechnics" of the book's typography but found "the argument… to be that of a fairly conventional academic paper, recognizably party-lined with fashionable Continental voices like Jacques Lacan, Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida," and found the connection that Ronell tried to establish between Heidegger, schizophrenia, and the telephone "weak."In a 2002 review of Stupidity for the Times Literary Supplement, philosopher Jonathan Rée said Ronell's "prose reads like a plodding translation of a French version of Heidegger, but there is hardly a sentence that does not try to stop the show to receive an ovation for its cleverness." Bernd Hüppauf (former chair of the German department at NYU who hired Ronell but was later replaced by her) similarly described her work as "translating incomprehensibility into pseudo-profundity."
In September 2017, a student, later identified as her male former graduate student Nimrod Reitman, filed a complaint in New York University’s Title IX office, accusing Ronell of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, and retaliation over the span of three years as her advisee.In May 2018, the university found Ronell responsible for sexual harassment and suspended her for the 2018–19 academic year. Ronell has not admitted any of the claims made in Reitman's complaint. On August 16, 2018, Reitman filed a lawsuit against Ronell and the university, alleging sexual harassment, sexual assault, and stalking.
NYU is continuing to investigate an allegation of retaliation,following a letter to the university in defense of Ronell from major figures in the areas of feminism, philosophy, literature and history, including Judith Butler, Slavoj Žižek, Joan Scott and Jean-Luc Nancy, dated May 11, 2018. A leaked draft of the letter has been criticized for suggesting that Ronell should be excused on the basis of the significance of her academic contributions and for imputing a "malicious intention" to Reitman. Butler later regretted some wording of the letter.
Originated by the philosopher Jacques Derrida, deconstruction is an approach to understanding the relationship between text and meaning. Derrida's approach consisted of conducting readings of texts with an ear to what runs counter to the intended meaning or structural unity of a particular text. The purpose of deconstruction is to show that the usage of language in a given text, and language as a whole, are irreducibly complex, unstable, or impossible. Throughout his readings, Derrida hoped to show deconstruction at work.
Post-structuralism is associated with the works of a series of mid-20th-century French continental philosophers and critical theorists who came to international prominence in the 1960s and 1970s. The term is defined by its relationship to the system before it—structuralism. Structuralism proposes that one may understand human culture by means of a structure—modeled on language —that differs from concrete reality and from abstract ideas—a "third order" that mediates between the two.
Hélène Cixous is a professor, French feminist writer, poet, playwright, philosopher, literary critic and rhetorician. Cixous is best known for her article "The Laugh of the Medusa", which established her as one of the early thinkers in poststructuralist feminist theory. She founded the first centre of feminist studies at a European university at the Centre universitaire de Vincennes of the University of Paris.
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is an Indian scholar, literary theorist, and feminist critic. She is a University Professor at the Columbia University and a founding member of the establishment's Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.
Carla Harryman is an American poet, essayist, and playwright often associated with the Language poets. She teaches Creative Writing at Eastern Michigan University and serves on the MFA faculty of the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College. She is married to the poet Barrett Watten.
A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by literary technique, tone, content, or even length. The distinctions between genres and categories are flexible and loosely defined, often with subgroups.
Geoffrey Bennington is Asa Griggs Candler Professor of French and Professor of Comparative Literature at Emory University in Georgia, United States, and Professor of Philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, as well as a member of the International College of Philosophy in Paris. He is a literary critic and philosopher, best known as an expert on deconstruction and the works of Jacques Derrida and Jean-François Lyotard. Bennington has translated many of Derrida's works into English.
Simon Critchley is an English philosopher and the Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research.
The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism is a 1964 collection of essays by Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden. Most of the essays originally appeared in The Objectivist Newsletter. The book covers ethical issues from the perspective of Rand's Objectivist philosophy. Some of its themes include the identification and validation of egoism as a rational code of ethics, the destructiveness of altruism, and the nature of a proper government.
Weimar Classicism was a German literary and cultural movement, whose practitioners established a new humanism, from the synthesis of ideas from Romanticism, Classicism, and the Age of Enlightenment.
The linguist Ignace Gelb coined the term "grammatology" in 1952 to refer to the scientific study of writing systems or scripts. Grammatology can examine the typology of scripts, the analysis of the structural properties of scripts, and the relationship between written and spoken language. In its broadest sense, some scholars also include the study of literacy in grammatology and, indeed, the impact of writing on philosophy, religion, science, administration and other aspects of the organization of society. Historian Bruce Trigger associates grammatology with cultural evolution.
Stupidity is a lack of intelligence, understanding, reason, wit, or common sense. Stupidity may be innate, assumed or reactive – a defence against grief or trauma.
Johann Wolfgang (von) Goethe was a German writer and statesman. His works include four novels; epic and lyric poetry; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; and treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour. In addition, there are numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him extant.
Martin Hägglund is a Swedish philosopher, literary theorist, and scholar of modernist literature. He is Professor of Comparative Literature and Humanities at Yale University. He is also a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows, serving as a Junior Fellow from 2009 to 2012. Hägglund is the author of Dying for Time: Proust, Woolf, Nabokov (2012), Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life (2008), Kronofobi: Essäer om tid och ändlighet and This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom (2019).
Diane Davis is a post-structuralist rhetorician and professor of Rhetoric and Writing, English, and Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She was the Director of the Digital Writing and Research Lab at UT from 2009 - 2017 and is now the chair of the Department of Rhetoric and Writing. She holds the Kenneth Burke Chair of Rhetoric and Philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where she teaches intensive summer seminars on Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas.
Anne Dufourmantelle was a French philosopher and psychoanalyst.
We ought not to have attributed motives to the complainant, even though some signatories had strong views on this matter," Butler wrote. "And we should not have used language that implied that Ronell’s status and reputation earn her differential treatment of any kind.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Avital Ronell|