Stages and Plots:
Theatricality after September 11, 2001
THE FOLLOWING discussion took place by e-mail during September 2001. On September 11, the World Trade Center in New York was destroyed and the Pentagon badly damaged in a series of well-coordinated attacks. The participants in the exchange obviously felt compelled to respond to these events, although it was envisaged beforehand that the purpose of the interview would be to discuss more generally the work of Samuel Weber. In what follows, therefore, immediate reactions to events as they unfolded contend— perhaps uneasily, but perhaps also productively—with a series of reflections on Weber’s thinking, writing, and critical practice over a number of years. What characterizes the discussion overall, both in terms of its “content” and its very “taking place,” is perhaps the question of a critical or “theoretical’ discourse acting itself out in relation to a series of phenomena, acts, or events to which it feels compelled to respond. It is a matter of judgment whether this distinctive and distinguishing trait of the discussion pulls it apart, or whether in some way it “tears” it or tangles it together. But such a characteristic trait nevertheless engages a whole set of questions and problems (having to do with repetition, singularity, the uncanny, and so forth) which, in turn, might be taken to characterize the work of Samuel Weber in its entirety. Questions and responses are dated to preserve and to highlight the temporal dimension of the “event”—both of the discussion taking place, and the events on a world-scale that this discussion could not help but address.
Simon Morgan Wortham and Gary Hall (September 10, 2001): Samuel Weber, taking into account a large body of work written over a number of years, the range and scope of your interests is obviously very varied and broad. For instance, you write on psychoanalysis, lit-