Sep 092011

Here’s an essay on hauntology (word derived from one of Jacques Derrida’s puns). I place it here as a addendum to my essay on the history of philosophy just published. Haunting, hauntology, the ghostly feeling of immateriality–new metaphors for the way we feel today, what is also called nostalgia, or nostalgia for being. Philosophers are really poets of Being. They are always thinking up new metaphors for the relationship between Self and Other. Today it is haunting. We are haunted by Being. In this case, the idea is not so new, as the author points out.  This essay is by Andrew Gallix and it first appeared in the UK Guardian.


Today, hauntology inspires many fields of investigation, from the visual arts to philosophy through electronic music, politics, fiction and literary criticism. At its most basic level, it ties in with the popularity of faux-vintage photography, abandoned spaces and TV series like Life on Mars. Mark Fisher — whose forthcoming Ghosts of My Life (Zer0 Books) focuses primarily on hauntology as the manifestation of a specific “cultural moment” — acknowledges that “There’s a hauntological dimension to many different aspects of culture; in fact, in Moses and Monotheism, Freud practically argues that society as such is founded on a hauntological basis: the voice of the dead father”. When you come to think of it, all forms of representation are ghostly. Works of art are haunted, not only by the ideal forms of which they are imperfect instantiations, but also by what escapes representation. See, for instance, Borges‘s longing to capture in verse the “other tiger, that which is not in verse”.


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