Chapter

Paul de Man at Work: What Good is an Archive?

J. Hillis Miller

in The Political Archive of Paul de Man

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780748665617
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780748676637 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748665617.003.0012
Paul de Man at Work: What Good is an Archive?

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This chapter suggests that de Man can be understood by studying the various versions of his writings by way of the Archive. De Man was prophetically aware of the way assumptions about ‘the human’ and about related concepts such as pan-organicism can get us in big trouble. Paradigmatic within aesthetic ideology is the assumption that language is human and within human control, whereas language, as de Man patiently showed by way of what Benjamin is really saying, is an inhuman machine — a machine that, performatively, promises and contradicts itself.

Keywords: Paul de Man; archives; language; Benjamin; aesthetic ideology

Chapter.  4514 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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