Dialogue I: On Performance or Untimely Fabulation

The question of the dark precursor should not be mistaken as an instant in a chronological unfolding of events. In determining intensities “in advance but in reverse, as though intagliated” the dark precursor actually lacks a sense of empirical time and it lacks its article. It is not a mere “one” but a singularity—that is, an actual occasion beyond the measure of time while being in time. What if we conceive of the performative dislodged from a simplified sense of present while accounting for its power of instauration—its capacity for making present that which is in time but never of a mere present moment? With the participants of this Dialogue, we will explore different modes of untimely fabulation, a mode of thinking and literally invoking the in-act of performance across forms of creative practice in philosophy and art. Performance becomes the point of entry for negotiating a sensibility for ethico-aesthetic attunements toward emergence, without knowing in advance how a situation, a body, or relations will play out in their actualisation. The in-act of performance designates a thought and practice in the act of its very own fabulation—that is, of the coming Dialogue.

Christoph Brunner, chair

Corpus Delicti #2 // Untimely Precursors

On 30 July 1881 Nietzsche sent a postcard to his friend Franz Overbeck, enthusiastically expressing his surprise at having discovered he had a famous precursor in the history of philosophy:

I am utterly amazed, utterly enchanted! I have a precursor, and what a precursor! I hardly knew Spinoza: that I should have turned to him just now, was inspired by “instinct.” Not only is his overtendency like mine—namely to make all knowledge the most powerful affect—but in five main points of his doctrine I recognise myself; this most unusual and loneliest thinker is closest to me precisely in these matters: he denies the freedom of the will, teleology, the moral world-order, the unegoistic, and evil. (Postcard to Franz Overbeck, Sils-Maria, 30 July 1881)

In our fictional lecture-performance, Franz Overbeck (Arno Böhler) responds to Nietzsche’s postcard by recommending that he read two young French philosophers: Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault. Overbeck is particularly enthusiastic about Deleuze’s book Nietzsche and Philosophy and Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. He claims that both authors have finally understood that his friend Nietzsche’s work, due to its untimeliness, is a foreign body to what has been called philosophy so far. Having started the “Prelude of a Philosophy of the Future,” Nietzsche’s thought is now at last recognised as being a precursor of thought events, still waiting to be discovered and called into being posthumously.

Such a futuristic mode of thinking and doing philosophy, says Deleuze, “has an essential relation to time.” It is fundamentally untimely, that is to say:

… essentially against its time, a critique of the present world. The philosopher creates concepts that are neither eternal nor historical but untimely and not of the present. The opposition in terms of which philosophy is realized is that of present and non-present, of our time and the untimely (UM II Use and Abuse of History, Preface). And in the untimely there are truths that are more durable than all historical and eternal truths put together: truths of times to come.
(Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy. London and New York: Continuum 2006, 100.)

Franz Overbeck’s reflections in response to Nietzsche’s postcard are interrupted by Susanne Valerie Granzer, who presents a selection of texts by philosophers whose philosophy has been interpreted as a disruption, or sometimes even as a crime against the classical canon of philosophy they inherited: Spinoza, who was cursed for his thoughts, the man in Kafka’s The Trial who was executed without reason, and the poets in Plato’s Republic who were expelled from the state.

The lecture-performance stages philosophy, rendering the words uttered in the performance as a sensual, bodily experience, to be shared with the audience.