If it is indeed true that Aracoeli returns to topics fundamental to all of Morante’s texts and questions them in an often disturbing manner, our hypothesis is that the novel cannot be reduced to a deep expression of despair, but, rather, succeeds in confronting crucial philosophical and epistemological questions in an original and profound way: through its narrative inquiry into the relationship between mother and child, Morante’s text creates a ‘hallucinatory’ representation of the original mother-child dyad, questioning the classical distinction between subject and object and offering a theory for the genesis of language and meaning.
The protagonist’s journey to Spain in search of his dead mother forms the poetic and theoretical nucleus for the novel’s manifold perspectives and motifs that contaminate and disrupt literary, psycho-analytic and political paradigms as well as categories of identity, gender and sexuality. In particular, the novel’s intricate structure allows different levels to interact with one another, producing asymmetries and contrasts that represent a form of resistance towards the hegemonic and totalizing claims of the logos.
The Berlin symposium sought to re-evaluate the complexity of Morante’s novel by reflecting on the manifold tensions that it stages and that are also present in contemporary philosophical discourse (from feminist to queer to political theory) and authors. It included an international conference combining scholars from different disciplines and cultural traditions, a staged reading and a talk by the poet Patrizia Cavalli.
On the occasion of the death of the philosopher Jacques Derrida in 2004 U.S.-American comedian and performance artist Janice Perry performed Derrida, alone in her apartment in Frankfurt for three days, imitating his movements and gestures, in an attempt to embody some of his theories of deconstruction.
Documentation of this performance led to an edited video montage of the documentary film ‘Derrida’, shown simultaneously with an original video and supplemented by an artist talk/live performance.
With this work-in-progress, Perry gives an introductory overview of Derrida’s philosophy for beginners and reminds those who know him of the layered complexity of his work. Mourning Derrida both mourns the death of Derrida and deconstructs deconstruction itself.