Narrativity and indebtedness are inextricably intertwined. Absolvere, in Latin, means both to “pay off” a debt and to “relate” a historical event that has reached its conclusion, that is complete (absolutum). In the Arabian Nights, Scheherazade tells many stories about debt and debtors; but it is also her very narration that she evokes as the redeeming of a debt (“I am willing to pay my debt,” she says when resuming her story at the beginning of the Twelfth Night). Following some of Walter Benjamin’s insights, this essay delves into the economy of narration as finance, a word that used to mean “ending.” And it asks: since when has finance become without an end?
Infinance, or Narration and Solvency
peter szendy is David Herlihy Professor of Humanities and Comparative Literature at Brown University and musicological advisor for the concert programs at the Paris Philharmony. His recent publications include The Supermarket of the Visible: Toward a General Economy of Images (Fordham University Press, 2019); Of Stigmatology: Punctuation as Experience (Fordham University Press, 2018); All Ears: The Aesthetics of Espionage (Fordham University Press, 2016); and Kant in the Land of Extraterrestrials: Cosmopolitical Philosofictions (Fordham University Press, 2013). He curated The Supermarket of Images at the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris, an exhibition that opened in February 2020.
Peter Szendy; Infinance, or Narration and Solvency. differences 1 December 2020; 31 (3): 1–11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-8744427
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