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Thinking Through Tragedy and Comedy A Symposium on Performance Philosophy and the Future of Genre

Gregor Moder

The paper analyzes the question of catastrophe in two seemingly heterogeneous frameworks: in Beckett and Žižek. Among the interpretations of Waiting for Godot, which wrongfully appears to be an easily analyzable play, the prevailing one is to inscribe it into the framework of Heidegger's or Sartre's existentialism and read it as a tragicomedy. The author, to the contrary, argues that it belongs to a specific form of comic, taking place in the aftermath of the catastrophe. Contrary to Simon Critchley's thesis of (Beckett's) comedy as the contemporary form of tragedy, the author argues for the comic of comedy, grounding his reasoning on Alenka Zupančič's thesis about the political implications of the comic. The second part of the paper concerns the concept of catastrophe in the recent works of Žižek, where it is closely tied with his formulation of radical politics: a radical political action demands from us the perspective of the aftermath of the catastrophe. The thesis is that the overlap of Beckett's and Žižek's idea of catastrophe is not just a case of accidental homonymity.

Gregor Moder works as a researcher at the Philosophy Department of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. His main focus is on German idealism, philosophy of art, and theory of ideology. His doctoral dissertation was recently published in German under the title Hegel und Spinoza. Negativität in der gegenwärtigen Philosophie (Vienna&Berlin: Turia+Kant, 2013).