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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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Afterness and Rettung

Afterness and Rettung

Can Anything Be Rescued by Defending It?

(p.72) 4 Afterness and Rettung

Gerhard Richter

Columbia University Press

This chapter argues that there can be no gesture of rescuing that is not deeply inscribed in the logic of an afterness. The felt need to rescue something always implies an afterness. Wishing to rescue something—whether from disappearance, destruction, violation, or transformation—places the one who would rescue in a position after the fall, regardless of whether this fall has already occurred and now calls for decisive action or whether this fall has not yet come to pass but is regarded as likely or imminent. By pursuing the vexed concept of Rettung (“rescue,” “saving,” “salvation,” “redemption”) in the actual and conceptual dialogue between Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin, this chapter highlights the postlapsarian status of the gesture of rescuing as a way of approaching the categories of historical experience and rescuing critique in a new way. These categories emerge as correlates of the relentless demand in thinking to show oneself responsible to the ways in which rescuing something or someone is inseparable from a confrontation with this action’s most successful dialectical failures.

Keywords:   rescuing, afterness, Rettung, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, critique, rescue, fall

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