“Homomonadology” outlines the emergence and elaboration of Leo Bersani’s onto-ethics/aesthetics over the past half a century, focusing particularly on his interest in the shared references to Leibnizian metaphysics in twentieth-century philosophical and literary texts. The essay begins by detailing Bersani’s early engagement, in Balzac to Beckett: Center and Circumference in French Fiction (1970), with Marcel Proust and Samuel Beckett, as well as Gilles Deleuze’s and Maurice Blanchot’s commentaries on the two writers. Having borrowed Deleuze’s description of Proust as a “Leibnizian,” Bersani moves from the Proustian to the Beckettian text, organizing his reading in such later texts as Arts of Impoverishment (1993, cowritten with Ulysse Dutoit) around Beckett’s allusions to monadology. “Homomonadology” argues that the concept of the Leibnizian monad allows Bersani to articulate an onto-ethics of singularity and correspondences, of nonrelatedness and unity, in a way that comes to inform his post-1980s work on queer theory and queer ethics. It is Bersani’s commitment to ontology that renders his work, despite its influence on a number of fields, something of an anomaly in the contemporary critical field. With his varied sources—Deleuze, Proust, and Beckett among the most important—Bersani becomes, as he puts it in an interview, “an essentialist villain” in scholarly fields often driven by constructivist, antiessentialist imperatives.
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Mikko Tuhkanen; Homomonadology: Leo Bersani’s Essentialism. differences 1 September 2014; 25 (2): 62–100. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-2773436
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