Today I was talking to a friend about writing a book on a particular figure, in part to “get them out of your system” — or at the very least, to clarify their influence somewhat so that it hopefully becomes something more contained or consciously controlled. For me, probably the best figure to write about for that purpose is the one I actually did write about: Zizek. At this point, he is probably still the greatest single influence on my thought (aside from teachers), but going forward, his influence is less likely to become an endlessly proliferating thing because I have clarified what is important to me about him. Writing a study of Derrida may also be helpful to me in a similar way.

And so I ask you, my dear readers: do you have any figure who falls in this category? (And am I being clear on what I mean?)

7 thoughts on “Influence

  1. For me, Claude Lefort, Michel Foucault, and Carl Schmitt are thinkers to whom I continually return. The “historical” thinker I’d be most likely to write about is Montesquieu.

  2. The one figure I continually turn to is Heidegger; though, Agamben and Žižek are two more contemporary figures I’m frequently inspired by. As for a more ‘historical figure,’ I would have to say Kierkegaard. He is one figure that I have to get out of my system – though I feel that I start writing about him, I’ll never stop.

  3. Bergson and Deleuze continue to be the most influential and I would rather like to cut through Deleuze’s work to the heart of what I find important about him. I have a hunch it is somewhat different from what is currently in fashion (or even from what was in fashion).

  4. Kierkegaard…and maybe Sartre as well. Hopefully the influence and frustration I’ve experienced through reading these two will flesh out into something useful over the next few (phd) years.

  5. I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Is the idea that if one doesn’t manage to consciously control / contain some figure’s influence on oneself, then one is less able to criticize, improve on, and perhaps move on from that figure? Or that one will end up, unwittingly and certainly undesirably, acting as a sort of unreflective mouth-piece for the figure? I guess I’m not clear on why one would want to get a figure out of one’s system. (Is it like having a song you like stuck in your head: you still like it, but you’d rather it wasn’t floating around on repeat?)

    I need to become clearer on Wittgenstein’s influence on my thinking on ethics — actually, first I need to get clearer on Wittgenstein’s understanding of ethics. Of what I think I understand (re: W on ethics), there is much I like, but much I don’t… and the odd thing is, I think that I don’t like what I don’t like for Wittgensteinian reasons. I imagine the root of the problem is Wittgenstein’s religiosity and his conception of the mystical.

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