Joking Relationships in Capitals of Modernity: Uncles and Nephews in Diderot, Marx, Althusser, Miller, and Bernhard
Joking relationships between uncles and nephews are the royal road to pre-modern communities. As these kinship communities demand affection toward one’s mother and distance toward one’s father, the relation toward one’s mother’s brother demands both affection and distance. This contradiction is resolved by a compromise called joking relationships. In modern societies, this crucial role is attributed to the state. Yet uncles and nephews remain key for such modern texts as Diderot’s 2Le Neveu de Rameau2, Marx’s “Der achtzehnte Brumaire”, Althusser’s “L’avenir dure longtemps”, and Miller’s “Le Neveu de Lacan”. Diderot’s philosophical materialism, Marx’s historical materialism, and Althusser’s and Miller’s structuralist materialism respectively address the pre-1789, post-1848, and post-1968 Paris by tackling the nephews of the composer Rameau, Napoleon, an elder Althusser, and Lacan. Finally, just as the topic seems to die out, Bernhard moves it from Paris to Vienna with his “Wittgensteins Neffe”.
Jernej Habjan has Master Degrees in Comparative Literature and Russian Studies (2005), and a Ph. D. in Sociology (2010), all from the University of Ljubljana. From 2012 to 2014 he was a Postdoctoral Researcher in the DFG research group “Globalization and Literature” at LMU Munich.
with Fabienne Imlinger (ed.), Globalizing Literary Genres, London and New York 2015 (forthcoming); with Suman Gupta and Hrvoje Tutek (ed.), Academic Labour, Unemployment and Global Higher Education, Basingstoke 2015 (forthcoming); with Jessica Whyte (ed.), (Mis)readings of Marx in Continental Philosophy, Basingstoke 2014; From Cultural Third-Worldism to the Literary World-System, in: CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 15.5.2013.
Joking relationships between uncles and nephews are the royal road to pre-modern communities. In modern societies, this crucial role is attributed to the state. Yet uncles and nephews remain key for such modern figures as Denis Diderot, Karl Marx, Louis Althusser, and J.-A. Miller in Paris, as well as for Thomas Bernhard in Vienna.