Feliz Lucia Molina on Avital Ronell

Avital Ronnell. Photo courtesy of the European Graduate School
Avital Ronell. Photo courtesy of the European Graduate School.

Founded in 1994, the European Graduate School is a program led by philosophers, film makers, writers, poets and artists, located in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. A fun camp of critical theory and continental philosophy, its teachers and students gather from around the world in a secluded Swiss Alp town for three-week-long intensive study and lectures that continue late into the night at Metro Bar, Happy Bar, Popcorn, or wherever else. Fortunately, all of the official lectures are videotaped and archived.

Task turns against itself, a giving up, a losing momentum of the assignment. What might it mean to have a dissertation rejected or received by an institution? What is our work? When do we sign for a text’s arrival? A catastrophe. A trip to Marseille. The destructive character. The “tr/opium” other who speaks through us while we are high. “We have to lose Nietzche in order to find him,” said Heidegger. We can only ever be underprepared. We are inheritors of Benjaminian motifs; Benjamin returns as a sequence for which we are somehow syntactically linked as though by rumor. Autonomously together, we can only endure the struggle task and mission. According to Cixous, one must adopt the unsayable. Let us overcome the Hallmark holiday card, for we must always have melancholy. —Feliz Lucia Molina


Avital Ronell studied at the Hermeneutics Institute in Berlin with Jacob Taubes, ultimately earned her doctorate at Princeton University and then worked with Jacques Derrida and Hélène Cixous in Paris. She currently is chair of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literature at New York University and is a professor of philosophy at the European Graduate School, where she teaches an Intensive Summer Seminar. Her books include Loser Sons: Politics and Authority, Fighting Theory: In Conversation with Anne Dufourmantelle, The Test Drive, Stupidity, Crack Wars: Literature, Addiction, Mania, The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech and Dictations: On Haunted Writing.

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