Introduction GLITS-e Vol. 8
GLITS-e is dedicated to publishing the work of Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers at Goldsmiths College, University of London. The aim of the journal is to showcase the range of work produced at the university and presented at Goldsmiths Literature Seminars (GLITS) held throughout the year. For this year’s issue of the journal, the central theme is tension.
This issue opens with Federica Muré’s critical work “Images of discordance. Configurations of tension in Walter Benjamin’s reading of Dürer’s Melencolia I vis-à-vis Erwin Panofsky and Fritz Saxl’s Melencolia ‘yet-to-come’”, followed by the creative criticism “Yet strong pleasure rises from every sentence: Anne Carson invokes the spirit of Virginia Woolf” of Susan Watson. After these are the detailed study “Paving the Path Towards Liberation. A Few Preliminary Considerations on the Logical and Soteriological Function of Analogy in Classical Sāṃkhya” of Lorenzo Pizzichemi and the Liam Randles’ creative contribution “The Red Stain”.
The theme of this issue of GLITS e-journal (Vol. 8) is ‘tension’: tension as both the content which the works centre around and the process through which the works are created, both of which challenge one-dimensional attitudes and conventional writing styles.
The term ‘tension’ is a fecund one and proliferates in times of crisis such as the one we are currently living amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Tension is a central and crucial phase in a process where decisive change is imminent. As changing or critical points, such times comprise a perilous balance of contradictory stimuli or inclinations, whether it is a matter of life and death in the course of illness or less dramatically of literary or critical genres.
Thus, tension has a twofold inner impulse: on the one hand, it aims at attaining intelligibility and certainty; on the other hand, it pursues the opportunity of intervention in an unstable situation granting critical as well as productive potential. The anguish of suspense, typical of uncertain times can, for example, be overturned into an absurd form of delight if one thinks of the classical dramatic structure organised around a climax of maximal suspense.
Federica Muré “Images of discordance. Configurations of tension in Walter Benjamin’s reading of Dürer’s Melencolia I vis-à-vis Erwin Panofsky and Fritz Saxl’s Melencolia ‘yet-to-come’” explores Walter Benjamin’s understanding of the image’s potential to act as an axis for conflicting tendencies via a juxtaposition with Dürer’s 1514 Melencolia I. By setting up a fruitful dialogue with Panofsky and Saxl’s advocacy of Melencolia’s ‘new meaning’, as well as with Warburg’s insights on the configurations of extremes which govern the melancholic, this article offers a confrontation between Benjamin’s intra-image dialectics and the ideational meaning ascribed to the image by Panofsky and Saxl, whose interpretation hinges on the ultimate resolution of conflicts in a Melencolia yet-to-come.
Particularly tensive is the concluding section in which Benjamin’s diagnosis of melancholy’s dialectics identifies a means to problematise one-directional and one-sided hermeneutics of the limits between the visual and the ideational; between the contingency of the image’s representational surface and its gesturing towards a metaphysical exceeding.
If in Federica’s article ‘tension’ represents the inner core of the text, then, in Susan Watson’s “Yet strong pleasure rises from every sentence: Anne Carson invokes the spirit of Virginia Woolf” tension is the methodological ‘engine’ moving forward her creative criticism of the work of Anne Carson. Tensive is, in fact, the link between the creative and the critical sections that Susan combines in her article. In her attempt to analyse the “Appendix” and “Ordinary Time” Susan found herself unintentionally adopting the style of Anne Carson, providing a fresh perspective into the impact of Virginia Woolf’s essays and diaries upon Anne Carson’s work.
The result of such tension is an article that explores the layers of deeper meanings that can be uncovered by tracing the quotations back to their sources and viewing them in the context of the works from which they are taken.
In his “Paving the Path Towards Liberation. A Few Preliminary Considerations on the Logical and Soteriological Function of Analogy in Classical Sāṃkhya” Lorenzo Pizzichemi shows us how ‘tension’ is clearly a well-known philosophical paradigm in Classical Sāṃkhya sources. By using Īśvarakṛṣṇa’s Stanzas on Sāṃkhya and the glosses of its Commentators Gauḍapāda and Vācaspatimiśra, Lorenzo analyses the Sāṃkhya analogical manner of distinguishing between prakṛti, (materiality in its unmanifest and manifest condition) and puruṣa (contentless consciousness), in their ‘tensive’ interplay.
These two antithetical and opposite ‘masses of being’ charm each other, thus generating a ‘flow’ which aims to restore the previous situation of ‘equilibrium’ where they were separated. Fundamental in Lorenzo’s analysis is the role played by the analogies offered by the numerous authors examined. These analogies, according to Lorenzo’s hypothesis, are not only poetic and artistic tools, but rather, in Sāṃkhya, an epistemic device which ‘paves’ the path towards the ‘permanent liberation’ from transmigrations through its logical and soteriological function.
The last contribution is Liam Randles’ short story “The Red Stain”. This is a creative contribution to the GLITS issue that revolves around the idea that the (red) stain symbolises both loss and/or Maria’s (the protagonist) tenuous grasp on reality. The tension between the stain and Maria’s struggle to conceive and understand her reality creates a constant sense of dread which the reader cannot shake off.
Each of these articles demonstrates a precise commitment to the theme of tension by re-interpreting it in various literary and stylistic forms. Tension, thus, remains a triumphant paradigm for discussing, challenging, and surpassing antagonisms in both methods and contents. In this sense, all the articles in this issue pinpoint new manners of being readers and writers, new manners that are ‘yet to come’.
Filippo Ursitti is a PhD student in Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London. He holds a MA in European Philosophy from Royal Holloway University of London and a BA in Philosophy from the Università degli Studi di Perugia. His research is an attempt to re-evaluate the intellectual and philosopher Günther Stern-Anders through a comparison with the Frankfurt School and its critique of technology. Apart from his current research, he is interested in Marxism, Neo-Marxism, Critical Theory and Critical Theory of Technology. He is the 2020-2021 editor of GLITS-e and the organiser of the 2021 GLITS interdisciplinary conference.