Dr. Maurice Ebileeni- "Void as a Site for Criticism"

Dr. Maurice Ebileeni- "Void as a Site for Criticism" Introduction: Dr. Jose Maria Sanchez de Leon Serrano
Activity Date: 
Monday, Feb 9, 2015

This presentation revisits Friedrich Niezsche’s infamous announcement from The Gay Science (1882) “God is Dead” and shows how its consequences frame literary experimentations in classical modernist texts.
The colloquium began with Jose Maria Sanchez de Leon’s introduction, providing some explanations about the philosophical background of Maurice's reflections on modernist literature. This background is the one designated by Nietzsche's famous dictum "God is Dead". Jose Maria interpreted this statement as the description of a situation in which all given sets of beliefs that endow reality with sense collapse. Whereas the most common reaction to this situation is to ignore it, repress it or even fervently reject it, Modernist literature emerged precisely as the effort to explore its different aspects thoroughly.
Maurice Ebileeni began his talk with narrowing down the philosophical problems associated with Nietzsche’s announcement to three basic presuppositions - God, void, and the neurosis of human consciousness - to produce a three-dimensional space for analyzing the challenges modernist authors confronted at the turn of the twentieth century.
Then Maurice focused on the difference between earlier literary conceptions of the absence of God and Nietzsche’s that also lead to the invention of the idea of void. In this new cultural climate, void did not replace the idea of God, but it added an antithetical dimension that must be included in serious considerations of the world. It could no longer be assumed that the universe was inherently orderly because it had been designed as such by a divine force. The invention of the idea void suggests that it could be fundamentally chaotic.
In the end, Maurice focused on excerpts from major modernist texts by Joseph Conrad, William Faulkner, and Samuel Beckett to demonstrate how these authors variedly portray configurations of void both conceptually and structurally. The colloquium ends with a reading of the opening paragraphs from James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man to see how the idea of void also works stylistically.