Nils Plath (Brown University, Max Kade Visiting Professor 2022):
“Time Built: In and Out of Ruins”, Vortrag, Brown University
Monday, April 11, 4:30pm, Brown University, Department for German Studies, 190 Hope Street, Room 102, Providence, RI
The ruin is generally considered as a building that shows signs of temporal decay or destruction. This „highly significant fragment“ (Walter Benjamin), a negative sign of a decayed past as well as an allegorical sign of transience, is far more than a continuity-providing historical sign that is important for memory. The presence of past and future in ruins, the simultaneous presence and absence of incompatible times made present in them, makes them signatures of a paradoxical temporality. At the same time, ruins as disparate units of fragments embody the impossibility of any promise of totalizability. If one considers them as a means of expression in the aesthetic staging of a consciousness of upheaval, then one can recognize in the ruin a temporal as well as representational-reflexive figure of the first rank. This lecture will look at the literary depictions of ruins in writings of J. W. Goethe, B. Brecht, H. E. Nossack, et al..