Simon Hajdini

University of Ljubljana

Simon Hajdini is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana. He is the author of two books in Slovene and several research articles in contemporary philosophy, social theory, German idealism, and psychoanalysis. His book What’s That Smell? is forthcoming with MIT Press.

Speaking at the conference

Friday, 23 September, 3pm, Kosovel Hall

Dialectic’s Laughing Matter

Is laughter a reactionary or a revolutionary affect? The talk zeroes in on the key differences between Benjamin’s and Adorno’s respective theories of laughter. Contrary to the latter, who conceptualizes laughter as an instrument of mass dumbification, sadistic ridicule, and false happiness, Benjamin places laughter at the very point of inception of thought, associating it with the possibility of a revolutionary break, and the onset of a new collective subjectivity. For Benjamin, thought as borne of laughter is essentially dialectical. Accordingly, the focus of this talk is not on the dialectics of laughter, but rather on the laughter of dialectics. That is to say, the question at issue here is not how we might think laughter dialectically, but rather how laughter already thinks dialectically, and thus always already structures dialectics at its most fundamental—not merely logically and metaphysically, but also politically.

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