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Qui Parle, Volume 28, Number 1, June 2019

Vol. 28 | No. 1 | June 2019 


Protestant Buddhism and “Influence”: The Temporality of a Concept
Ananda Abeysekara

Critiques of the concept of “Protestant Buddhism” claim to tell a different story about the relation between religion and modernity (“Protestantism”) in South Asia. They seek to reconstruct the temporal relation between the past and the present, contesting postcolonial conceptions of history, time, and religious practice. This story of temporality is staked on the question of “influence,” which has a genealogy that includes not just colonial, missionary, liberal politics but also contemporary legal-political questions about foreign influence on democracy and sovereignty. This article argues that preoccupation with influence inscribes an a priori ontology that already separates the past from the present. This makes it difficult to understand the relation between temporality and a form of life in a discursive tradition, as the question of influence grounds the ostensive plurality of religions in some preexisting ontological difference. Once religion as such is understood as an object of influence, the temporality of the form, which is encountered within power—that is, the formations of particular sensibilities and dispositions within the coherence of a tradition—is rendered marginal if not irrelevant to the embodied life of religion. The article calls for renewed attention to the temporality of sensibilities to think about the temporality of a form of life within the limits of a tradition.

Read now at Duke University Press

Dust and Roses
Jan Mieszkowski

Tracing a trajectory of literary and philosophical texts from the ancient atomists to the late twentieth century, this essay explores the surprisingly consistent role that dust has played in the conceptualization of language. In Lucretius, Sophocles, and the New Testament, dust is as much a standard of representation as it is one object of representation among others. In the most extreme case, it becomes the defining medium of inscription. In Paul Celan’s work, the attempt to articulate a rhetoric of negation that will put language on something other than a dusty footing comes perilously close to demonstrating that all verse unfolds under the aegis of the word dust. The essay closes by suggesting that Jorie Graham’s poetry offers a new perspective on what it would mean to read the surface of a text, particularly when that text is dusty.

Read now at Duke University Press

Proust’s Natural History Museum
Ryan Crawford

This essay takes the last pages of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time at its word: at the moment the narrator achieves a definitive conception of the work he intends to write, he sees society composed, not of people of flesh and blood, but of monsters fit for a museum of natural history. As the novel culminates in images and concepts that are essentially nonhuman, inhuman, or posthuman in character, it demonstrates an exacting knowledge of what the present is only now beginning to realize: after two world wars and humanity’s recent entry into what is called the age of the Anthropocene, certain fundamental relations (between subject and object, between nature and history, between past, present, and future) must be rethought to account for both the eclipse of the human as well as nature’s ultimate survival. This essay seeks to develop a philosophical form that would approximate the novel’s discovery of this posthuman natural history.

Read now at Duke University Press

Queer Procreation: Reading Kleist Plantwise
Katrin Pahl

At the intersection of two fields of inquiry that are highly imaginative and seek real change—the study of human-plant relations and the even less charted study of queer procreation—this article explores queer ways of procreating that humans may learn from plants. In particular, stolon (runner) formation and grafting are considered here because they are vegetal forms of procreation that are not rooted in sexual difference and create collective life forms that are based on dividuality rather than individuality. Both characteristics are mobilized for a queer imagination. Analyzing two plays by Heinrich von Kleist—the comedy Amphitryon (1807) and the tragedy Penthesilea (1808)—the article argues that Amphitryon’s servant, Sosias, multiplies by way of stolons and that the Amazons in Penthesilea are grafted creatures with an ongoing desire to form new grafts. The analysis draws on Gilles Deleuze’s theory of masochism to shift attention away from genital intercourse while sexualizing what in biology is called asexual.

Read now at Duke University Press


What Is Critique?: A Conversation with Eva Illouz
Elisa Russian

In this interview the Franco-Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz retraces her relationship to critical theory from the 1980s to the present. The conversation explores the reasons behind Illouz’s initial reluctance to adopt a critical stance toward capitalism, her rediscovery of Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment in the early 2000s, and her recent call for a postnormative critique.

Read now at Duke University Press

    Artist Pages

Eduardo Taborda and Jesús Gutiérrez

In the figures that I channel here, I have sought to convey a sense of the autochoreography of form: an unrestrained path conscious of itself as both movement and shape, or as a trace that dances as it rhythmically unites intuition and intellect. Form here pulsates and expresses itself, emancipated from the requirement of representing another element symbolically. I am interested in the decolonial possibilities that emerge for the visual arts when thought confronts a familiar but estranged alterity harbored within form, allowing it to have the self-affirming goal of merely being itself, free from the logic of utility. At that juncture drawing also becomes the search for a kind of identity that emerges one moment and comes undone the next, for it is an identity assembled in the shadows of postcolonial encounter.

Read now at Duke University Press

    Review Essay

The Play of the Qurʾanic Trace: Engaging Stefania Pandolfo’s Knot of the Soul
Ali Altaf Mian

A review of Pandolfo, Stefania, Knot of the Soul: Madness, Psychoanalysis, Islam (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018).

Read now at Duke University Press

Cover: Eduardo Taborda, Untitled, 2018. More info. 

Volume 28.1 is available at Duke University Press and Project Muse. Qui Parle is edited by an independent group of graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley and published by Duke University Press.