Onan the illiterate, or the revenge of the aesthetic (philosophy as art and the artist philosopher)

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2008
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Onan the illiterate is primarily an experimental writing project, a project making more use of philosophy than literature as its source material. As a post-poststructuralist experiment, this project emphasizes the aesthetic over the logocentric; unlike poststructuralism, however, Onan the illiterate actually enacts what it proposes-it defies the logocentric. Relating to a character from the Old Testament, "Onan" refers to both coitus interruptus and masturbation. These are very important features of my work and its "revenge" on logocentrism. Coitus interruptus intervenes the properly discursive as ignorance and confusion, while masturbation conveys the affective pleasure of artistic practice. Against the banality of logocentrism (its overdependence on understanding, meaning and interpretation, its overdetermination with regard to teleological argumentation and instrumental ratiocination), Onan flaunts its "illiteracy" for nothing other than the sake of pleasure. Importantly, I define philosophy as the art of thought. Unlike properly constituted thought (poststructuralism included), Onan the illiterate experiments with style in such a way as to disturb the propositional and the argumentative. In this way, not only is experimental philosophy undermined, but also academia and its much-beloved art theory. Not only does the dissertation engage the inadequacies of logocentrism in discussing Onan the illiterate as a project, then, but it also confronts these very inadequacies as they relate to academia, philosophy and the dissertation itself.
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