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The Moment

A History, Typology and Theory of the Moment in Philosophy and Literature


Thomas Wägenbaur

Written representations of momentary phenomena such as the Fall, the kairos, epiphany, the nunc stans, the sublime, dialectical and historical moments of change and moments of deferral are always doomed to fail. However, representational failures at writing have always been turned into a performative success: more writing. The author's reading of the various textualizations of the moment is not historical, but genealogical (Foucault) and not typological, but economical (Derrida); it reveals the moment as an inevitable trope: the deconstruction of a representational moment in a given text reinscribes this moment as the text's performative momentum. This ever shifting meaning of the moment has been followed through literary and philosophical texts from Plato to Beckett.
Contents: Theories of representation vs. performance - Hermeneutic interpretation vs. deconstructive reading - The correspondence between romanticism and postmodernism - The romantic and postmodern performative moment of absence as the momentum of all texts.