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Be for meg også: Om forkrøpling og lengsel etter forløsning i moderne litteratur og poetikk
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies (from 2013).
2020 (Norwegian)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Pray for me too : On creaturerliness and messianic longing in modern literature and poetics (English)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is concerned with the ways in which the biblical narrative of the Fall, and more specifically the predicament of creatureliness (connoting innocence as well as depravation), can be traced as a cryptotheological motif within widely dissimilar modernist poetics and literary strategies. Postsecular theory and the return to the apostle Paul in recent political theology provide the backdrop for the seemingly disparate approaches of my case studies. Their common theme may be spelled out as the “groaning of creation” and its call for possibly redemptive responses of literature and language. In the first case study, I argue that the postwar poet Paul Celan, influenced as he may be by the condemnation of informational, “fallen” language in the thinking of Martin Heidegger and Walter Benjamin, reformulates the task of the poet into one of witnessing from within fallen language on behalf of fallen creatures. In the second case study, I compare two novels by the contemporary Norwegian authors Hanne Ørstavik and Kristine Næss, both of them dealing with a crisis of authorial legitimacy. Applying a psychoanalytic perspective, I suggest that whereas Ørstavik’s protagonist seems to suffer from a rigid fixation with a certain calling as mediated by the “paternal function”, Næss’ protagonist suffers from the lack of any such call. In the third case study, I discuss how the spirit of revenge animating the protagonist of Knut Hamsun’s debut novel Hunger (1890), is performatively deactivated. Through a complex series of negotiations on dignity, the sovereign power over “bare life” is transposed into a comic register. The notion of deactivation also plays a decisive role in Giorgio Agamben’s interpretation of Pauline messianism. In the fourth case study, I compare Agamben’s reading of Paul’s “now-time” with the Swedish author Lars Ahlin’s take on the same motif. I argue that while Agamben envisions the messianic calling simply as a deactivation of every calling, Ahlin inscribes it into the ethical relation to the neighbor. Following Walter Benjamin, this thesis outlines two distinct though interconnected visions of redemption: “profanation” on the one hand, releasing the creature from “mythical guilt”, manifested on various levels as the compulsion to repeat; and “remembrance” on the other hand, manifested as a receptivity for the unfinished, failed and thwarted in collective or personal history, demanding correction and fulfillment.

Abstract [no]

Skapningens sukk og klage. Denne avhandlingen undersøker litterære og språkfilosofiske gestaltninger av dette motivet, som hører hjemme i et bibelsk narrativ om skapelse og fall; kall og forkrøpling. Det «kreaturlige» konnoterer uskyld så vel som fordervelse, innskrevet som det er med et før og et etter, åpenbart og skjult, men også med en messiansk intensitet, en lengsel etter forløsning. Med støtte i Walter Benjamins tenkning skisseres to estetiske redningsmotiver. Profanering: en avspenning av straff og ressentimentstrukturer som pålegger skapningen «mytisk skyld». Erindring: en reseptivitet for det uferdige og forstummede i den personlige eller kollektive historien. Hos samtlige forfattere som inngår i avhandlingens undersøkelse, Paul Celan, Hanne Ørstavik, Kristine Næss, Knut Hamsun, Rainer Maria Rilke og Lars Ahlin, framleses en poetikk som handler om å vitne for falne og forkrøplede skapninger.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstads universitet, 2020. , p. 48
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2020:17
Keywords [en]
Hamsun, Celan, Benjamin, Agamben, Ørstavik, Næss, Ahlin, creatureliness, remembrance, profanation, messianism, political theology, postsecularism, the Fall
Keywords [no]
Hamsun, Celan, Benjamin, Agamben, Ørstavik, Næss, Ahlin, creatureliness, remembrance, profanering, messianisme, politisk teologi, postsekulær teori, syndefall
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Comparative Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-77452ISBN: 978-91-7867-111-3 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7867-116-8 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-77452DiVA, id: diva2:1422356
Public defence
2020-05-29, Fryxellsalen 1B 306, Karlstads Universitet, 13:00 (Norwegian)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-05-06 Created: 2020-04-07 Last updated: 2020-05-06Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The Ambiguities Of Creatureliness: From Hamann To Celan
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Ambiguities Of Creatureliness: From Hamann To Celan
2017 (English)In: Literature & Theology, ISSN 0269-1205, E-ISSN 1477-4623, Vol. 31, no 3, p. 255-268Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article relates the post-war Jewish poet Paul Celan's notion of creatureliness to the narrative of the Fall as modulated by the preromantic philosopher J.G. Hamann, conceived not as transcendental spirit's fall from self-presence into the temporal, material world, but rather as an alienating process taking place in language itself, making creation hostage to instrumental reason. The article traces the influence of Hamann's poetics of attentiveness on the language theories of Walter Benjamin and Martin Heidegger, and shows how Celan is both fascinated by and engages critically with the idea of poetry as a "pure'' performative, pre-lapsarian language of revelation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press, 2017
Keywords
Literary Theory and Criticism; Religion
National Category
Religious Studies Languages and Literature
Research subject
Religious Studies and Theology; Comparative Literature
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-65853 (URN)10.1093/litthe/frw031 (DOI)000409171500001 ()
Available from: 2018-01-25 Created: 2018-01-25 Last updated: 2020-04-14Bibliographically approved
2. Det forsvunne barnet: Om skapelse og forkrøpling i kallet – romanen (2006) og Bare et menneske (2014)
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Det forsvunne barnet: Om skapelse og forkrøpling i kallet – romanen (2006) og Bare et menneske (2014)
2018 (Norwegian)In: Kallsvariasjoner: Postsekulære kall i skandinavisk litteratur / [ed] Stine Holte, Oslo: Novus Forlag, 2018, p. 67-98Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this study I compare two novels by the contemporary Norwegian authors Hanne Ørstavik and Kristine Næss, both of them staging authors suffering from a crisis of authorial legitimacy. I connect this crisis to the religious theme of calling combined with psychoanalytic theory on the “paternal function”. Interestingly, Næss’ protagonist seems to long for what Ørstavik’s protagonist has become a hostage to: Law manifested as a loving authority setting the world. I partly ascribe the suffering of the protagonists to the collapse of social and public ecologies for being-in-the-world, due to a failure in the dialectical interconnectedness of the imaginary and the symbolic. I also suggest, though, that both of the novels stage another form of calling, not mediated through the paternal function, rather coming from the thwarted and muted in life. Both novels seem to articulate a wish to move towards untouchable traumas within the protagonist’s family histories, in order to lift a spell – the compulsion to repeat.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oslo: Novus Forlag, 2018
Keywords
Ørstavik, Næss, Kristeva, kall, autoritetskrise
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Religious Studies and Theology; Comparative Literature
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-77446 (URN)978-82-8390-005-7 (ISBN)
Available from: 2020-04-06 Created: 2020-04-06 Last updated: 2020-06-01Bibliographically approved
3. Forhandlinger om verdighet i Hamsuns Sult
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Forhandlinger om verdighet i Hamsuns Sult
2019 (Norwegian)In: Norsk litteraturvitenskapelig tidsskrift, ISSN 0809-2044, E-ISSN 1504-288X, Vol. 22, no 1, p. 7-31Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article, the religious narrative of the Fall charging Hamsun’s Hunger (1890) is related to the motive of creatureliness that figures in the thinking of Walter Benjamin – as an ongoing subjection under the transformations of sovereign power in modernity. In comparison with Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910), it becomes clear that the motive of kenosis – God making himself the likeness of a servant – does not surface on the level of the fable in Hunger the way it does in Rilke. Whereas on the one hand Rilke’s Malte recognizes God in the figure of the stooping, blind newspaper vendor, on the other hand the protagonist in Hunger, desperately fighting to separate himself from fallen creation, finds himself animated by an urge to punish the correspondingly crippled character in the novel. Nevertheless, the article traces a kenotic or “self-emptying” movement even in Hunger, albeit on a performative level: As the negotiations on dignity are played out ad absurdum, the arbitrariness of sovereign power’s exclusion of “unworthy” life is displayed, thus being emptied out or deactivated in a comic register.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Universitetsforlaget, 2019
Keywords
Hamsun, Benjamin, Rilke, Creatureliness, Profanation
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Comparative Literature
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-77445 (URN)10.18261/issn.1504-288X-2019-01-02 (DOI)
Available from: 2020-04-06 Created: 2020-04-06 Last updated: 2020-04-08Bibliographically approved
4. Att leva i men inte av världen: Paulus som messiansk tänkare hos Lars Ahlin och Giorgio Agamben
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Att leva i men inte av världen: Paulus som messiansk tänkare hos Lars Ahlin och Giorgio Agamben
(Swedish)In: Svensk teologisk kvartalskrift, ISSN 0039-6761Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

What does it mean to live in the world, albeit not of the world? This Pauline dictum plays a decisive role in several texts published during the 1960ies by the Swedish author Lars Ahlin. It also structures the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s analysis of messianic time in his 2000 book on Paul, The Time that Remains. By way of comparing Ahlin’s and Agamben’s readings of Paul’s “now-time”, this article on the one hand shows the relevance of Ahlin’s thoughts to post-secular theory. On the other hand it problematizes some of the conclusions Agamben draws from his analysis. Ahlin and Agamben seem to converge in seeing Paul as a spokesman of the radical transience of worldly affairs, which implies rejecting the existence of eternal values. Whereas Ahlin, however, seems to believe in a truly living God transcending the created world and human systems of value, Agamben on his part rejects every notion of transcendence. In his notion of messianic time as a “happy life”, Agamben seems to promote the possibility to repeal the fallen state of man already here and now. Ahlin on his side insists on the unfulfilled aspect of the history of redemption, which implies a turn to ethics, as well as a reformist political stance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Centrum för teologi och religionsvetenskap
Keywords
Ahlin, Agamben, Paulus, Luther, politisk teologi, kairos
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
Research subject
Religious Studies and Theology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-77448 (URN)
Available from: 2020-04-06 Created: 2020-04-06 Last updated: 2020-04-27

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