Fellow-Vortrag VI: Prof. Dr. Christopher Driscoll (Bethlehem, PA)
“You will ask: Why death? Why not some alternative? Flight or prison? Well: prison would be an unendurable travelling through Time, flight an equally unendurable travelling through Time with Space added. Both these things are familiar: Death alone, in spite of all the experience that humanity has had of Death, is the utterly unfamiliar.” -Joseph Conrad
English Modern writer Joseph Conrad is a spectre, neither living nor dead, but a perpetual haunting for westerners in the form of his literary legacy and the anti-heroic stories he wrote, which force readers into a confrontation with the banality and smugness of western arrogance. By this reading, Conrad also serves as an analogy for western notions of loss, melancholy, and (cultural) death, writ large, today. At once alive yet under seeming threat from an “other” that over time has been rendered as “all” others, westerners – whoever we may be – might find wisdom in lamenting the death of Conrad. This lecture turns to lesser known works of Conrad just before his death (in 1924), along with fellow authors’ thoughts on Conrad’s death, to explore the relationship of anti-heroes, negative identities, and their god of death.
Christopher Driscoll, PhD
(Rice University, 2014) is visiting assistant professor of religion and Africana studies at Lehigh University. Some of his research interests include race, religion, identity, culture, and humanist and existential thought. He is cofounder of the American Academy of Religion’s Critical Approaches to Hip Hop and Religion Group; contributing editor for The Marginalia Review of Books, and contributor to The Huffington Post, TheHumanist.com, and other publications. Routledge published his first monograph, White Lies: Race and Uncertainty in the Twilight of American Religion, in 2015. Find him online at shadesofwhite.org.