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Hauntology: An Interdsciplinary Intro with David Brazil, Terry Castle, Josh On

October 29, 2010; 6:00 p.m.

Gallery B

What is hauntology? And what does French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s philosophy of history mean for literature, photography, and politics? Three presenters explore the implications of hauntology—the notion of how the present is haunted by both past and future—for visual art and beyond.

Following Derrida’s interpretation of Hamlet in his 1993 book Specters of Marx, poet and writer David Brazil will discuss “hauntings” in literary texts as figures by which we might think through the question of our own responsibilities to the dead. Brazil’s chapbooks include The Book Called Spring, Aevum, and Spy Wednesday. With Kevin Killian, he edited The Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater: 1945–1985, and co-edits the Xerox periodical TRY! with Sara Larsen.

Stanford University professor of English Terry Castle will consider collecting, and the psychic and intellectual urges that lie behind it, in the light of hauntology. Her reflections will focus on photography, including the tintypes and old photos that she herself collects. Among her many publications, Castle is the author of a book on the uncanny, The Female Thermometer: Eighteenth-Century Culture and the Invention of the Uncanny, and on the “spectrality” of homosexuality in The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture.

Artist and web designer Josh On will address some of the specters of socialism haunting American politics and culture today. He will look at Specters of Marx as viewed from Derrida’s standpoint in 1993, and then in light of Obama’s presidency and the current economic crisis. Involved in socialist activism in San Francisco since 2000, On created the website theyrule.net, an interactive representation of the interlocking directories of powerful American corporations, and helped run a series of talks about art and politics at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Artist and musician Scott Hewicker, co-curator of the exhibition, will introduce the program. It will be followed by performances of hauntological music organized by Hewicker for the museum’s L@TE Friday night program.