About

Utopian Discourse is a blog inspired by the topic of my dissertation, now completed and online:  “Messianic Light: Utopian Discourse in the Work of Theodor W. Adorno, Luce Irigaray, and Giorgio Agamben.”   (The proposal is still online, too. See Proverbs 26:15)

The purpose of the blog was originally twofold:  (1) to learn blogging by doing (and presumably making mistakes), before needing to know it for work; (2) to work out some of my thoughts about utopia, utopian discourse, and related matters, more or less in the manner of thinking out loud.  In other words, it began as an experiment, and has hung around, a bit like the cat who used to live in our garage.   (We finally taught GC – short for Garage Cat – to use inside manners. Maybe something like that will happen here as well. The work blog has been up and running as Wimminwise, the blog of the Women’s Center at LPTS for some time, and is no longer my responsibility.)

HAT at workPrimary author HAT (shown here hard at work perusing a map that includes Utopia), is a fairly typical Hoosier, 50-ish, Bible reading, Presbyterian Sunday School teaching and choir singing, small fuel efficient car driving, Critical Theory appreciating, more unemployed than not, still pretty much 2nd wave feminist, generally out lesbian, housewife, social science-religion-humanities student and swim mom. (Swimming is not that much like studying, at least superficially, but they are both lifetime sports.)

The subtitle is taken from the “Finale” of Theodor W. Adorno’s Minima Moralia:

The only philosophy which can be responsibly practised in face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption. Knowledge has no light but that shed on the world by redemption: all else is reconstruction, mere technique. Perspectives must be fashioned that displace and estrange the world, reveal it to be, with its rifts and crevices, as indigent and distorted as it will appear one day in the messianic light. To gain such perspectives without velleity or violence, entirely from felt contact with its objects – this alone is the task of thought. It is the simplest of all things, because the situation calls imperatively for such knowledge, indeed because consummate negativity, once squarely faced, delineates the mirror-image of its opposite. But it is also the utterly impossible thing, because it presupposes a standpoint removed, even though by a hair’s breadth, from the scope of existence, whereas we well know that any possible knowledge must not only be first wrested from what is, if it shall hold good, but is also marked, for this very reason, by the same distortion and indigence which it seeks to escape. The more passionately thought denies its conditionality for the sake of the unconditional, the more unconsciously, and so calamitously, it is delivered up to the world. Even its own impossibility it must at last comprehend for the sake of the possible. But beside the demand thus placed on thought, the question of the reality or unreality of redemption itself hardly matters. [Theodor W. Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life, trans. E.F.N. Jephcott (New York: Verso, 1974) 247.]

Last updated November 18, 2014 by Heather Anne Thiessen.