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AfternessFigures of Following in Modern Thought and Aesthetics$
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Gerhard Richter

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231157704

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231157704.001.0001

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The Logic of Afterness

(p.1) Introduction

Gerhard Richter

Columbia University Press

This book explores the concept of “afterness” as a privileged trope and experiential category of modernity in a variety of iterations and modulations. More specifically, it analyzes certain structural and conceptual features of afterness that traverse the spectral reverberations of any act of following. Taking its point of departure from Walter Benjamin’s own preoccupation with the concept of Nachleben (living on, living after, surviving, afterlife, or following) in modernity, the book illuminates the notion that in the realms of aesthetics, politics, experience, media, and speculative thinking, modernity can be understood as a question of the after. Through a series of close readings of writers such as Benjamin, Martin Heidegger, and Jean-François Lyotard, it argues that much hinges on our interpretation of the after. It also considers how the figure of afterness sheds new light on discourses of religion and secularization in modernity.

Keywords:   afterness, modernity, following, Walter Benjamin, Nachleben, aesthetics, Martin Heidegger, Jean-François Lyotard, after, religion

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