Phasmid thinking : on georges didi-huberman’s method
Angelaki : journal of the theoretical humanities
This article is an attempt to circumscribe Georges Didi-Huberman’s inimitable practice of theory. It argues that Didi-Huberman’s ethics of looking represents a decided shift away from the traditional position of the critic as a dispassionate, objective observer. A Copernican revolution looms, which inverts the Kantian one: no longer are things adapting to their conceptual scheme, no longer is it the adaequatio rei ad intellectum, but its opposite. Didi-Huberman’s “discourse on method” is to be found in the book Phasmes, where such an “inverted intentionality” is described in terms of the mimicry of the phasmid insects: instead of assimilating the environment to himself, the subject assimilates himself to the environment. Phasmid thinking is the thought of disparateness, i.e., of dis-paring. This means to un-learn or, as it were, to un-prepare oneself in order to see what we believed we were seeing and which we in fact saw precisely because we knew (or believed we knew). In drawing comparisons to similar methodological considerations in Adorno’s “snuggling up to the object,” the article attempts to locate Didi-Huberman’s critical epistemology at the intersection of French and German intellectual traditions.
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