Agamben's pearl, transgressive puppets, Paul(s)...these are not just materials but messianic time-machines.
Each of our presenters on Thursday -- Kathleen Biddick, Jonathan Gil Harris, and Julia Lupton -- challenged us to reconceive the "time" of messianic time as something rather untimely, all three embracing the un- as a site of energetic potential instead of a point of polarization, foreclosure, or a reminder of a dead and therefore irretrievable past. Call it miracle-making. Yet as Biddick spoke against the typological one, Lupton introduced us to Paul Shakespeare, and Harris celebrated the temporality that is not one -- the futurity of the now -- it became clear that the key is not in fixing mechanicity but in embracing it. The compulsion to love in Romeo and Juliet, the opening of Shakespeare to the other Pauls of the Jews and the philosophers, the perverse act of neighbor-love for excarnated Jews and Muslims...these are the traces of the miraculous in the messianic machine. As teachers and students, perhaps even as human beings, we might lose track of this miraculous potential. And for three papers interested in figuration, I think it is appropriate that Biddick ends her essay with the image of a threshold through which "the untimely and undead could pass." The seminar was a success largely due to the presenters' and the audience's participation in exploring its possibilities.
Thank you to the roughly forty attendees from various institutions and disciplines, those who helped organize the event, Twitterers, blog-posters (including a stimulating question about names), and, of course, our prophetic presenters.