Pieter Hoekstra: “Blanchot, Judaism, and ‘The Impossible Necessary'”

Pieter Hoekstra

MA Student, Divinity School

“Blanchot, Judaism, and the ‘Impossible Necessary’”

Wednesday, November 14, 12:30 PM, Swift 200

In this essay I engage two critiques of Blanchot’s interpretation of Judaism, both found in Kevin Hart’s work: first, that Blanchot allegorizes Judaism out of history, and second, that his interpretation of Judaism is fundamentally no different from his formulations of writing and atheism. My argument is that Sarah Hammerschlag’s interpretation in The Figural Jew, in addressing the first critique, also gives us the tools necessary for more robustly developing the second. While Blanchot’s interpretation of Judaism does not fail to take account of history per se, it abstracts Judaism to the point that recourse to Jewish thought appears hardly necessary—we can see separately that the ethical content of Judaism is just as easily found in Blanchot’s understandings of community and writing, among other phenomena. In light of this analysis, I will take up the question of whether Blanchot’s work ought to be considered a part of modern Jewish thought.

Refreshments provided

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