That is a Strange Review…

As Stuart Elden remarks regarding this review in borderlands of Nathan Widder’s Reflections on Time and Politics. Part of the problem, the writer maintains, is the

categorization of such work as ‘continental’, as if this term referenced a mere thematic instead of a tradition of phenomenological and hermeneutic methodology. Widder is no continental philosopher, not, at least, according to how I understand that distinction. Instead, Widder seems to be working through the problems of time and politics from a fairly conservative, analytic background, relying on linguistic and logical analyses of the work of key theorists on these topics.

Just last week one of my new colleagues, who truth be told was being more genial than this sounds, since this took place at a dinner party, argued that some esoteric point I was making about the word esoteric was “analytic” since, you know, I was defining the word. (Really? I was thinking through the history of the word and its etymology—few things strike me as more Continental. I believe we Continentalists–if there is a “we”–have even filed all the requisite trademarks and patents.) I’m not sure what the alternative was, but in any case, I hope to practice “linguistic and logical analyses” in my own work on time and politics–surely something to be discouraged among the young! In fact, what struck me about Widder’s book was precisely how it would be slammed by such a made-up analytic interlocutor. As I’m finding putting together my own book on topics similar to Widder, it’s really impossible to find a form that works for the topic of temporality, and Widder’s method is certainly one way to go.