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 […]

But can the fool(ish) text do Humanity any Good? Maimonides, Derrida, and Gasche (Part II)

Echoing Jacques Derrida’s reading of Stephen Mallarme’s “Mimique,” Gasche writes that: If the mime of “Mimique” only imitates imitation, if he copies only copying, all he produces is a copy of a copy.  In the same manner, the hymen that comes to illustrate the theatrical space reduplicates nothing but the miming of the mime.  Miming […]

On Aggressive Comedy, Souvenirs, And Prehistoric Schlemiels

Comedians can be very aggressive and may sometimes exude rage.  The comic rant, which we are all-to-familiar with, is an illustration of how comedy sometimes becomes indistinguishable from anger. One need only think of the Three Stooges, Larry David, Andy Kaufmann, Lenny Bruce, or even Louis CK to see how rage plays out through comedy. […]

He Says I Look Like a Jew: Anti-Semitism, Misfortune, and Crypto-Jewishness in Robert Walser’s “Jakob Von Gunten”

  What I love about a great novelist is his or her ability to surprise the reader.  However, sometimes the surprise throws everything the reader thought about the writer into question.  This is especially prescient when the main character of his or her novels is often someone we find charming, pitiable, and yet insightful.  What […]

Andy Kaufman and the Inversion of the Comic Target

Andy Kaufman is a better candidate for a Levinasian inversion of the comic target, which I mentioned at the outset of this blog series.   He is a “stand-up” (as opposed to Portnoy, Philip Roth’s “sit-down”) comedian.  In a Levinasian sense, this means that he stands-up and faces us.  And we see, in his response to […]

Baudelaire, Children, and Horror (Take 1)

As can be seen from many of my previous posts, I have been addressing the work of Charles Baudelaire on laughter and the comic. The reason I have spent so much time on this is because I have been attempting to understand Walter Benjamin’s reading of (and identification with) the comic (in general) and the […]

The Schlemiel as Prophet (Take 2)

In yesterday’s blog, we learned from the Talmud Baba Batra that once the last prophet died, prophesy was given over to children, fools, and, as I explained, schlemiels. To understand what this meant, I cited Martin Buber’s reading of the prophet. The prophet addresses persons who hear him, who should hear him. He knows himself […]