THE ECSTASY OF LANGUAGE: ÉKSTASIS AND THE DIFFEREND IN THE RHETORICAL SUBLIME

After his work on language in The Differend, in which the stuttering and arresting of phrasing is accompanied by a feeling that something remains to be said, philosopher Jean-Franҫois Lyotard turned to the aesthetic of the sublime in order to thinking through this impasse found at the limits of language, largely through the art of the avant-garde. The aesthetic of the sublime, in its 18th century Burkean and Kantian inflections, continued to hold a prominent place in Lyotard’s thought until his vocation as a philosopher came to an end with his death in 1998. Yet, despite the extensive writing devoted to the sublime by Lyotard, the work of Pseudo-Longinus, a major figure in the history of the sublime, remained largely uninterrogated. By reading Pseudo-Longinus’ Perí Hýpsous alongside Lyotard’s The Differend, I attempt to provide a reason for Lyotard’s neglect of the former due to its tendencies to further tighten the situation of the differend rather than unravel it.

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