A Short Intro to my Seminar Marrano Apocalypse: Reading the Marrano Register.

It seems to me our present is marked by the threat of climate change and what is quickly becoming visible as a hysterical response at the social and political level, which will presumably continue to intensify as hysterical.  But hysterical demands are by definition insatiable.  One of the consequences, at the same time one of the presuppositions, is that no discourse of belonging suffices today–climate change destroys the very conditions of belonging, rooted as they are in a notion of homely inhabitation.  For the same reason, university discourse in the humanities (as Lacan teaches, a discourse of knowledge that is intimately related to the discourse of the master, which is the discourse of power) is working on fumes, and those fumes are getting exhausted.  For instance, we can perhaps now start to see, retrospectively, the extent to which the rise of so-called “theory” in the 1990s can be understood as a reaction formation to an already terminal crisis of disciplinary knowledge in the different humanities fields (certainly literary studies, but also art studies, cultural studies, even continental philosophy and its poststructuralist avatars).  I see the moment as one of both ongoing and impending “apocalypse without apocalypse,” that is, nihilist destruction without an accompanying revelation.  It will not stand us in good stead.  So something else is needed–a third way, neither theory nor hysterical responses to the blind and empty conditions of contemporary university discourse (and its explicitly political and moralistic determinations.)  For me that third possibility follows an existential determination, not in the existentialist sense of the 1950s and 1960s, but in some other way.  Let us initiate reflection on that third way, which may after analysis end up being a fourth way, by calling it “the marrano register.” 

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