Taking its departure from Norbert von Hellingrath’s interpretation of the significance of Rousseau for Friedrich Hölderlin, the following paper argues, through a close reading of the poem “Rousseau,” that Hölderlin, contra Hellingrath, conceives of his relation to Rousseau in philological rather than prophetic terms. Looking closely at the complexities of Hölderlin’s manuscript while contrasting the philological approaches of Freidrich Beißner’s Grosse Stuttgarter Ausgabe and D. E. Sattler’s Frankfurter Ausgabe, I demonstrate that an explicitly philological moment is inscribed into the text of the poem itself, and that it addresses its reader as a specifically philological reader, while at the same time seeking to establish a “friendship of words” with Rousseau’s prophetic utterance.
Agamben’s self-professed epigonism underwrites his entire project, serving as an even more fundamental methodological concept than the signature, paradigm, and archeology. In Infancy and History, Agamben maintains that transcendental experience is no longer a viable source of philosophical insight; philosophers go astray referring their thinking back to an authentic yet esoteric experience that, itself unspeakable, grounds positive philosophical assertions. Neither mysterious nor ineffable, the experience founding philosophy is the completely patent, non-latent, experience of language’s pure exteriority. Rather than “deconstructing” metaphysics by exposing its hidden contradictions, philosophy must “deconfabulate,” telling fables about philosophy to undo its enchantments, since it is through the fable that the spell of silence, which itself originates in fable, can be broken. This “epigonal” method, which follows after the tradition rather than seeking a new grounding, is itself justified through Agamben’s account, in The End of the Poem, of the Italian, as opposed to Germanic, physiognomy and of a specifically Italian relation to language going back to Dante. To be Italian is to embrace the “deadness” of one’s own language, rejecting the myth of the resurrection of the original potencies of a dead classical language through a living, modern language.
Using REED London as a case study of how we, as pre-modern performance and theatre historians, are using digital methods to aggregate its materials, access and analyze a remarkably broad array of archival documents, and amplify their importance to a broader spectrum of humanities scholars and potential collaborators than we cannot have been able to do through more traditional means.