On_Crisis_Sleep_and_the_Time_of_Grace.docx - Elvira Blanco...

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ElviraBlancoMay of 2019Draft: On Crisis, Sleep, and the Time of GraceIn this essay, I will wonder what happens when a crisis is met not with a callto immediate action but by an attitude of postponement and delay. I willexplore Janet Roitman’s reflections on crisis and Joseph Vogl’s theory oftarrying to ask whether tarrying as an ethical attitude can initiate a differentform of dealing with crisis, and what alternative modes of thinking aboutcritical situations derive from it. I will problematize this further by exploringthe role of sleep in Anna Della Subin’s 2017 essay on the Egyptian revolutionNot Dead But Sleepingand in Alice Rohrwacher’s 2018 filmLazzaro Felice,inorder to explore sleep as a radical form of postponement.Crisis is a flexible term, employed to refer to a variety of unstable oradverse circumstances, from the “existential crises” that accompany turninga certain age, to an environmental crisis of planetary proportions. Thesedissimilar uses of the same word hold an essential assumption in common:that “crisis” carries a moral mandate to judge the difference between thepast and the future, as anthropologist Janet Roitman has argued, in order toproduce history from “the negative occupation of an immanent world:whatwent wrong?” (“Crisis”; my italics). Crisis marks a dissonance between thewasand thewill be––it stands at the “moment of truth,” the moment whentheoughtis revealed.
In her essay on the concept of crisis forPolitical Concepts: A CriticalLexicon, Roitman argues that this has become the defining category of ourcontemporary moment: “crisis serves as the noun-formation ofcontemporary historical narrative; it is a non-locus from which one claimsaccess to history and knowledge of history.” Crisis signifies a “turning point”or “moment of truth” (the revelation of a truth, of the real) that assumes acertain teleological view of history; she thus synthesizes the effect ofmobilizing crisis as that of generating adiagnosticof the present. The worditself, as she explains, comes from the Greek medical term that defines theturning point of a disease, when a decision has to be made regardingtreatment. We can say that crisis has always entailed a judgment leading toan essential decision; at the same time, a crisis always implies a norm fromwhich a comparison can derive that leads to said judgment. As aphilosophical concept, therefore, crisis involves “judging time in terms ofanalogous intervals and judging history in terms of its significance.”Interrogating crisis ––why do we name an event “critical” and not another,what teleology is assumed when “crisis” is mobilized in a particular context––is therefore to interrogate the production of history.The temporalization of history, argues Roitman, citing ReinhardtKoselleck’s extensive work on the subject, is the process by which, after the18thCentury, time “is no longer figured as a medium in which histories takeplace, but rather is itself conceived as having a historical quality—history nolonger occurs in time; rather, time itself becomes an active, transformative

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Term
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Rip Van Winkle, Joseph Vogl

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