A Map of Misreading: Paul deMan’s (Mis)reading of Madness in Baudelaire’s “Essay on Laughter.”

One can tell a lot about an author by virtue of things that he or she mentions and highlights in his or her writings.  Charles Baudelaire, a poet and an incredibly talented prose writer, was fully aware of what is at stake in an essay.  And he knew full well that the final “notes” of […]

Blindness And Insight: From Paul and Augustine to Woody Allen’s “Anything Else” – Part I

The movement from blindness to insight is a time honored theme. It has its roots in early Christianity and in the Enlightenment it becomes a guiding principle.   The Christian appropriation of blindness is fascinating. In Corinthians 2 (3:14-16), Paul associates blindness with the Jews and sight with the Christians: Therefore, since we have such hope, […]

A Note on Goya and Sholem Aleichem’s Caricatures

Charles Baudelaire, in his essay “Some Foreign Caricatures,” distinguishes between a “historical” and an “artistic” caricaturist. Writing on Goya, who took the horrors of the Spanish Insurrection and the war with Napoleonic France, Baudelaire notes that Goya opened up the field of caricature by introducing “fantasy” into the comic. And, in contrast to the categories […]

Deconstructing the Deconstruction of Zionism: Gianni Vattimo’s Myth Making and Misreading of Jewishness and Jewish Humor

The “Yale School,” which included such academic personalities as Paul deMan and Harold Bloom, gave America its first taste of deconstruction. What deMan and Bloom popularized, in particular, was the rhetorical reading of texts.  The point was to find, as deMan once said, their keystone (or it’s “center”). By locating it and taking it out, […]

A Note on Nietzsche’s Sarcasm: Stupid and Honest Mystics versus Dishonest and Foolish Philosophers

In the beginning of The Schlemiel as Modern Hero, Ruth Wisse points out that for Rabbi Nachman the Simpleton (that is, the schlemiel) acts “as if” good will triumph over evil.  In his story, “The Clever Man and the Simple Man,” the thinker looks down on the simpleton as an idiot for being so naïve.  The […]

Meir Abehsera’s “Possible Man” – The Holy Fool, The Writer, and the Beggar – Part I

At the beginning of the summer, I had an interesting talk with the Kabbalah scholar Elliot Wolfson about Holy Fools.  The subject that I wanted to discuss with him, which pertains to the Holy Fool, is something he was familiar with in his studies of Habad (Lubavitch) Hasiduth and Mysticism; namely, something called Ruah Shtut […]

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

The last two targeting theories I’d like to look at, before I address Emmauel Levinas, Philip Roth, and Andy Kaufman come from Charles Baudelaire and Paul deMan who, apparently, follows in Baudelaire’s comic footsteps.   (I have written several blogs on Baudelaire and deMan’s reading of comedy.  What I look to do here is to summarize […]