Kritika Kultura, the international refereed journal of language, literary, and cultural studies of the Department of English, Ateneo de Manila University will host a lecture by Dr. Mark Raftery-Skehan titled “Unbearable Affinities with the All-too-human: Richter and Littell’s Intimate Representations of a Nazi.” This event will be on Apr. 4, 2016, 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at SOM 111, Ateneo de Manila University. The lecture is open to the public.

For this lecture, Raftery-Skehan will do a text/image analysis that focuses on Gerhard Richter’s photo-realistic Onkel Rudi (1965) and Jonathan Littell’s novel Les Bienveillantes (2006).  In his abstract, Raftery-Skehan notes that “both works are disturbingly personal representations of figures associated with Nazism, and thus with the most heinous crimes, achieved through the equivalent pictorial and literary forms of a portrait photograph of Rudi, and the fictional memoir of an SS officer, Aue.”

To understand why the artist and the novelist each chose such a rendering, Raftery-Skehan “[will] explore a second text/image equivalence in their narrative and pictorial modes of blurring—in Richter smearing his image, and in Littell’s unreliable narrator, whose otherwise historically accurate accounts are interspersed with hallucinations and self-delusions.”

Raftery-Skehan will demonstrate how “the intimate, human portrayal thrusts us into the consciousness of the Nazi, the blurring in each case serving to projected into the blind, blinkered and self-deceptive nature of that historical consciousness. Rudi’s incongruous show of good cheer for the portrait photograph, and Aue’s willingly delusional consciousness regarding his murders, suggest their blithe obliviousness to the grim reality in which they partook. A third parallel exists in the works; lest the sense of common identity with the Nazi—which is entirely necessary to and potentially warrants the demonstration of the blind and false consciousness of the Nazi—cause us to empathise excessively with the figure, both works juxtapose the figure with the conventional illustrious or heroic figure of the military portrait and the tragic hero.”

Dr. Mark Raftery-Skehan is a Visiting Professor at the Departments of Philosophy and of English, Ateneo de Manila University. Having been involved in projects translating Derrida and Mallarmé, he is now finalizing a work on the idea of a textual imagination in Hegel and Derrida. His research explores modernist French literature and art, text/visual relations, Derridean deconstruction and Heideggerian critique of metaphysics, and the phenomenology of space and place.