Hauntology

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Hauntology is a concept within the philosophy of history first introduced by Jacques Derrida in his 1993 work Spectres of Marx and further developed within various critical disciplines in the early 21st century. It is closely related to Derrida's deconstruction of Western philosophy's metaphysics of presence, which argues fundamentally that being is not equivalent to presence.[1] Claiming that there is no temporal point of pure origin but only the time of the always already, deconstruction identifies "haunting [as] the state proper to being as such."[2] "Hauntology," then, describes the resulting state of temporal and ontological disjunction in which "the priority of being and presence [is replaced by] the figure of the ghost as that which is neither present, nor absent, neither dead nor alive."[3]

Derrida's writing in Spectres is marked by a preoccupation with the "death" of communism after the 1989 fall of the Soviet Union, in particular after arguments by theorists such as Francis Fukuyama asserted that capitalism had conclusively triumphed over other political-economic systems and reached the "end of history." Taking inspiration from the pervasive ghost imagery in Karl Marx's writing, Spectres has been said to concern itself with the question, "if communism was always spectral, what does it mean to say it is now dead?"[4]

Origins[edit]

The word "hauntology" is a neologism which functions as a deliberate near-homophone to "ontology" in Derrida's native French.[5]

The concept has its roots in Derrida's discussion of Marx in Spectres, specifically Marx's proclamation that "a spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism" in The Communist Manifesto. Derrida also calls on Shakespeare's Hamlet, particularly a phrase spoken by the titular character: "the time is out of joint."[6][7][8] Derrida's prior writing on concepts of trace and différance in particular, and his work on language and deconstruction as a whole, serves as the foundation of his formulation of hauntology.[9]

Critical developments[edit]

Recent uses of hauntology describe a state in which late capitalist civilization, persisting after postmodernism's "end of history," has become inundated by the perpetual pastiche and recycling of retro cultural and aesthetic forms, therefore obscuring the possibility of novelty in contemporary art, culture, and politics while producing a stagnant sense of historical disjunction.[10][11] Theorist Mark Fisher has specifically presented the term to describe a sense in which contemporary culture is haunted by the "lost futures" of modernity resulting from the shift into post-Fordist economies in the late 1970s and the subsequent rise of neoliberalism, which he argues has "gradually and systematically deprived artists of the resources necessary to produce the new."[12]

Hauntology has been utilized as a critical lens in various forms of media and theory, including electronic music, political theory, architecture, Afrofuturism, and psychoanalysis.[13][14][15] In contrast to the nostalgic revivalism perceived as a dominant characteristic of postmodernity, hauntological art and culture is typified by a critical foregrounding of the historical and metaphysical disjunctions of contemporary culture as well as a "refusal to give up on the desire for the future" in the "closed horizons of capitalist realism."[16] Along these lines, theorists and critics such as Simon Reynolds and Fisher have made use of the term in relation to popular music and culture at large.[17][18]

Related topics[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Buse, P., & Scott, A., (ed's), Ghosts: Deconstruction, Psychoanalysis, History, London : Macmillan, 1999.
  2. ^ Mark Fisher - The Metaphysics of Crackle: Afrofuturism and Hauntology
  3. ^ The Guardian - Hauntology: A not-so-new critical manifestation
  4. ^ Mark Fisher - The Metaphysics of Crackle: Afrofuturism and Hauntology
  5. ^ "Half Lives". Archived from the original on 7 July 2007. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  6. ^ Specters of Marx, the state of the debt, the Work of Mourning, & the New International, translated by Peggy Kamuf, Routledge 1994
  7. ^ Buse, P., & Scott, A., (ed's), Ghosts: Deconstruction, Psychoanalysis, History, London : Macmillan, 1999.
  8. ^ The Guardian - Hauntology: A not-so-new critical manifestation
  9. ^ The Guardian - Hauntology: A not-so-new critical manifestation
  10. ^ Mark Fisher, Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures
  11. ^ The Guardian - Hauntology: A not-so-new critical manifestation
  12. ^ Mark Fisher - The Metaphysics of Crackle: Afrofuturism and Hauntology
  13. ^ Mark Fisher, Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures
  14. ^ The Guardian - Hauntology: A not-so-new critical manifestation
  15. ^ k-punk - Hauntology Now
  16. ^ Mark Fisher, Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures
  17. ^ Mark Fisher - The Metaphysics of Crackle: Afrofuturism and Hauntology
  18. ^ Simon Reynolds - Haunted Audio

External links[edit]