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Dark Hermeneutics

Despite the current rising tide of titles which contain the qualia “dark” like Timothy Morton’s “Dark Ecology” or David Roden’s “Dark Phenomenology” this blog aims at a slightly different “Dark dot dot dot”.

“Dark Hermeneutics” is not a revival of a classical method of reading and interpreting literature – it is not a zombie. It is more or less the chance to combine deconstructivism and Object-Oriented-Ontology to understand poetry/literature beyond humans (and without correlationism). A meaning is always withdrawn and what one can read is only language’s appearance of the object it describes. Neither repelling reality, nor grasping it fully hermeneutics seems to find its ground zero in “Kant’s unknowable thing-in-itself” or Heidegger’s “Dasein”. As Graham Harman puts it “human Dasein is locked in a hermeneutic circle and thus never comes face-to-face with some naked, ahistorical truth.” (Harman 2016: 130)

Therefore a question arises which is crucial to all “Dark random noun”-approaches: Can the noun, nature, phenomenology or in this case hermeneutics tell us something about the noun, e.g. hermeneutics? In this sense hermeneutics would be “naturalized” and hence re-positioned as “a descriptive, empirical method” (Roden 2013: 1). But who wants to “naturalize” hermeneutics? Me neither … Instead of rejecting hermeneutics within the posthuman and postmodernist theoretical background and instead of defending it in a neo-conservative way, this blog tries to re-think hermeneutics through current realist approaches like Object-Oriented-Ontology, New Materialism and Speculative Realism. Texts for “Dark Hermeneutics” are more likely seductive or “fatal” as “significant”. (Baudrillard 2008: 139)

This blog will explore the possibilities of dark hermeneutics, close reading methods, deconstructivism, discussions of French Theory, Literature and Object-Oriented-Ontology and many more. Theory-driven yet focussed not only on literature but on any cultural artifact, that could be understood through “dark hermeneutics”. So the first question will be: Can hermeneutics tell what hermeneutics is ?


By Martin Bartelmus

Martin Bartelmus is a Postdoctoral Scholar of German Literary, Media, and Cultural Theory at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. He studied German Literature, Philosophy, Political and Social Studies at Julius Maximilians University Würzburg and received his PhD in Media and Cultural Studies as part of the DFG graduate program “Materiality and Production” from Heinrich Heine University. His PhD-Thesis is entitled Cultural Born Killer: Poetics of Killing around 1900. Before joining the department of German Literature at Heinrich Heine University for his current postdoctoral position, he worked as a curator for the Museum of Natural History of the Benrath Palace and Park Foundation and as a freelancer for the Julia Stoschek Collection. He is interested in Animal and Plant Studies, killing in literature and film, French theory, Object-Oriented Ontology, and literature without humans.

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