What do Louis CK, Andy Kaufmann, Emmanuel Levinas, and The Miriam Katz Project have in Common?

Today, I was incredibly delighted to see a post by the Jewish arts and culture website Tablet on my facebook page with the following tagline and question: Art historian Miriam Katz thinks of comedians as spiritual guides, and she wants to bring stand-up into the serious world of galleries and museums: What do you think […]

(Art) Existence Without a World (Levinas)

Schlemiel Theory has a great interest in the work of the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas (especially his work on the aesthetics, ethics, and idolatry). The tension between Levinas’ two takes on art should be of great importance to anyone working in Jewish philosophy, aesthetics, and ethics and should be explored in depth. Take a look at […]

The Possibility of Laughter: Laughing Creatures and Fecundity in Levinas, Derrida, and Dara Horn’s “In the Image” – Part I

Laughter is an ambiguous thing. It can either exclude one or include the other. And, in relation to time, one might think it relates solely to the present moment. Laughter is all about the new. Henri Bergson associated it with progress and “Creative Evolution.” And Leo Strauss argued that laughter was the key element of […]

Facing Failure: A Levinasian Reading of Bernard Malamud’s Fiction – Part I

The schlemiel is often thought of as the Jewish fool who, in the traditional joke, is paired up with a nudnik and a schlimazel. The schlemiel, as the traditional joke goes, is asked to get a bowl of soup by the schlimazel. When the schlemiel gets right near the table, and it seems as if […]

Comic Exposure to Targeting: A Levinasian Reading of Andy Kaufman and Phillip Roth’s Portnoy (Part II)

The reflection on and implementation of comic targeting has a long history which stretches back to the origins of Greek philosophy.   The reflection on the target is of utmost importance for thinkers who wish to establish this or that kind of hierarchy or agonistics between appearance and reality, the mind and the body, being and […]

Comic Exposure to Targeting: A Levinasian Reading of Andy Kaufmann and Phillip Roth’s Portnoy (Part I)

“Eternal nothingness is O.K. if you’re dressed for it.” (Woody Allen) Comedy is inseparable from targeting.  Take a look at any joke and you will notice that it most likely has a target.  And, sometimes, the comedian or author may make him or herself into a target.  Whether one targets oneself or a target other […]

Schlemiels Can’t Do Camp

At the end of my last blog post, I suggested the possibility of Jewish Camp.  But is that possible?  Aren’t the two mutually exclusive?  This is what Susan Sontag suggests when she argues that Jews and Homosexuals are the creators of two modern sensibilities that are at odds with each other: a moral and an […]