By Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan
This is often an unique studying of Mikhail Bakhtin within the context of Western philosophical traditions and counter-traditions. The e-book portrays Bakhtin as a Modernist philosopher torn among an ideological secularity and a profound spiritual sensibility, perpetually eager about questions of ethics and impelled to show from philosophy to literature as differently of knowing.
Most significant reviews of Bakhtin spotlight the fragmented and it seems that discontinuous nature of his paintings. Erdinast-Vulcan emphasizes, as an alternative, the underlying coherence of the Bakhtinian venture, interpreting its inherent ambivalences as an intersection of philosophical, literary, and mental insights into the dynamics of embodied subjectivity. Bakhtin's flip to literature and poetry, in addition to the dissatisfactions that influenced it, align him with 3 different "exilic" Continental philosophers who have been his contemporaries: Bergson, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas. Adopting Bakhtin's personal open-ended method of the human sciences, the booklet phases a sequence of philosophical encounters among those thinkers, highlighting their respective itineraries and impasses, and producing a Bakhtinian synergy of principles.
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Extra info for Between Philosophy and Literature: Bakhtin and the Question of the Subject
I have to be, for myself, someone who is axiologically yet-to-be, someone who does not coincide with his already existing makeup” (AH, 13; see also 16). The position of the subject at its own borderlines is the very condition of free ethical choice. 17 Did Bakhtin experience a “secular conversion” at some point between these two texts? This account of the transition from the “aesthetic/metaphysical” to the “ethical” modality of the latter would be entirely in keeping with Julia Kristeva’s early introduction of the Russian thinker to the Western world as a poststructuralist avant la lettre, a proto-Derridean figure, who had anticipated and laid the ground for the conception of intertextuality and opened the gateway to a new radical epistemology.
Just like a hero authored by a writer of fictional narratives, the living human subject is “authored,” configured, contained, and rendered whole by an internalized other. In precisely the same way, the human subject’s sense of itself is always confined to a partial “internal” perspective, which can only be transcended through an external vantage point. “I myself cannot be the author of my own value, just as I cannot lift myself by my own hair” (55), or, as we might say, by my own bootstraps. 7 It is the same need for a unifying “transgredient” perspective, a definable structure, a plot, as it were, that generates the narrative coherence we call the self, since THE A RCHI TECTONI C S OF SUBJECT IVIT Y 29 the “aesthetic validity” of the subject can only be obtained through the framing gaze of the authorial other (AH, 59, 188–89).
Rather than attempt to portray “being,” he would portray “passing” in the minutest detail, at the highest resolution: “not the passing from one age to another, or, as the people say, from seven years to seven years, but from day to day, from minute to minute” (867). His own sense of himself as a subject, he says, is “always in apprenticeship and on trial” (611). It is not the “rhythm” but the “loophole” that is the ultimate truth of subjectivity. To conclude, then, the centripetal-aesthetic mode of being—that sense of wholeness, pattern, and rhythm, which is produced by the authorial other—is inherently incompatible with the centrifugal-ethical mode of being, which cannot be contained, enframed, and rhythmicized: “The subiectum of lived life and the subiectum of aesthetic activity which gives form to that life” are, Bakhtin asserts, “in principle incapable of coinciding with one another” (AH, 86).