Event Date: 12 January 2011
Flett Lecture Theatre
Natural History Museum
Eugene Thacker -Divine Darkness
Abstract: This presentation will trace the motif of darkness from its use in mystical literature to contemporary extremophile science. It is an enigmatic and yet omni-present concept stretching back through John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, to Dionysius the Areopagite, who talks about ‘divine darkness’ as a way of thinking about the unhuman. Our takeoff point, however, comes from Georges Bataille’s posthumous text ‘Theory of Religion,’ and the way it thinks of darkness in terms of philosophical negation – not just a privative negation, but an absolute negation, one that, in order to be thought, requires the negation of philosophy itself. This idea leads Bataille to understand mysticism (and in particular darkness mysticism) as the privileged mode of non-philosophy.
Eugene Thacker is Associate Professor of Media Studies at the New School, New York. His work ranges from contemporary media and biopolitics, theory, philosophy, and net art to medieval mysticism. His new book, After Life has recently been published (Chicago, 2010) and will be followed by Horror of Philosophy. Previous books include Biomedia (Minnesota, 2004) and the co-authored The Exploit: A Theory of Networks (Minnesota 2007).