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Critical Time in Modern German Literature and Culture


Dirk Göttsche

The fleeting nature of time is a defining feature of modern and postmodern existence. Identified by Reinhart Koselleck as the temporalization («Verzeitlichung») of all areas of human knowledge and experience around 1800, the concept of critical time continues to intrigue researchers across the arts and humanities. This volume combines theoretical and critical approaches to temporality with case studies on the engagement with the modern sense of time in German literature, visual art and culture from the eighteenth century to the present. Contributions explore key areas in the cultural history of time: time in art and aesthetic theory, the intellectual history of time, the relationship between time and space in literature and visual art, the politics of time and memory, and the poetics of time. Essays question the focus on acceleration in recent critical discourse by also revealing the contrapuntal fascination with slowness and ecstatic moments, notions of polyphonous time and simultaneity, the dialectic of time and space, and complex aesthetic temporalities breaking with modern time-regimes.
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Ralf Simon – The Temporality of Hospitality


← 164 | 165 →


The Temporality of Hospitality1

The guest as a figure of the third

The guest is a complex figure. As a duty based on natural rights, hospitality is necessary to the development of culture: a guest may not be turned away. But if the guest is ever assimilated, he is no longer a guest: once “integrated”, he becomes one of “us”. As a guest, that is, he may not be turned away, but must still remain a stranger. The guest is thus a figure who cannot be turned down and cannot be integrated – the guest is simultaneously A and not-A. He is a figure of the third.2 ← 165 | 166 →

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