Leo Bersani’s writings on aesthetics, often coauthored with Ulysse Dutoit, repeatedly deploy the trope of withdrawal, finding in the aesthetic works they discuss, such as Jean-Luc Godard’s film Contempt, a paradoxical double movement of bringing into view while projecting the erasure of form and distinction. In their reading of Contempt, Bersani and Dutoit adumbrate a uniformity that would depend on the elimination of measurement, reference, and subject-object relations. In doing so, they transfigure the idea of antirelationality often attributed to Bersani, associating the death it surely names with the illumination of Being.
damon ross young is an associate professor of French and film and media at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Making Sex Public and Other Cinematic Fantasies (Duke University Press, 2018) and coeditor, most recently, of a special issue of Representations titled Proximities: Reading with Judith Butler (2022).
Damon Ross Young; Withdrawal. differences 1 May 2023; 34 (1): 283–293. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-10435927
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