Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Sylvère Lotringer (1938–2021)
Art Forum, November 10, 2021

Renowned French thinker Sylvère Lotringer, a lodestar in the twin galaxies of literary criticism and cultural theory, died on November 8 at the age of eighty-three following an illness. Beginning in the 1970s, Lotringer reshaped the American literary scene through the journal Semiotext(e), which he began publishing while teaching at Columbia University. The journal evolved into an independent publishing house of the same name, which through its English translations of their texts introduced American readers to such French giants of philosophy as Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard, and Paul Virilio.
[…]

Los Angeles Times

[…]

In November of 1975, a French literary scholar at Columbia University by the name of Sylvère Lotringer, along with a student, John Rajchman, organized a four-day colloquium that was intended to bring together a wave of avant-garde French theorists with various representatives of downtown New York City demimondes — presumably to discuss themes related to “prisons and madness.”
[…]
It remained delightfully eggheaded until the Village Voice featured the colloquium as its “pick of the week” and more than 2,000 people descended on Columbia for the event. Fights broke out. Panelists attacked each other. During Foucault’s presentation, an attendee stood up and accused him of being a paid agent of the CIA. (He was not.)
[…]
At the center of it all was the affable Lotringer. In the 2014 book, “Schizo Culture: The Book, The Event,” he recalled the chaos of the proceedings: “Foucault vented his furor and frustration at the conference. It was a scandal, he said; he had never seen a worse audience before; New Yorkers were horrible, the conference a sham.”
[…]

See also New York Times (paywall)

And Le Monde (paywall)

Un vrai passeur toujours s’efface devant ce qu’il fait passer ; il relie et fait converger tout en étant lui-même au bord de disparaître. Avec Sylvère Lotringer – qui pensait en ces termes, et est mort le 8 novembre dans sa résidence de Baja California, au Mexique – c’est un vrai passeur qui a disparu. Et quel passeur ! Le rayonnement nord-américain de la pensée française depuis un demi-siècle (dont cette « French Theory » qu’il rassembla, publia et baptisa même) lui doit beaucoup, de même que la popularité, dans certains milieux français, des avant-gardes culturelles américaines de la fin du XXe siècle. Et au-delà, il favorisa l’étonnante diffusion des théories philosophiques les plus subversives, ou les plus intempestives, dans des milieux connexes – artistiques, militants, universitaires, contre-culturels, qu’il aura contribué à inspirer et rapprocher les uns des autres.

Sylvère Lotringer est né à Paris le 15 octobre 1938, de parents juifs polonais émigrés de Varsovie en 1930. Confié par sa mère à des proches, il a passé la seconde guerre mondiale dans l’est parisien en « enfant caché » – comme beaucoup d’autres de sa génération, dont la philosophe Sarah Kofman et l’écrivain Georges Perec, avec lesquels il partagera le souvenir traumatique de cette enfance recluse.

One thought on “Sylvère Lotringer (1938–2021)

  1. stuartelden says:

    Reblogged this on Progressive Geographies and commented:
    Some of the tributes to Sylvère Lotringer

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