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Mythographer of Paradoxes: How Friedrich Kittler’s Legacy Matters
Journal Article
Critical Inquiry journal cover image

Friedrich Kittler’s farewell words of 15 July 2011, delivered at the original building of the Institute for Cultural History and Theory at the Humboldt University of Berlin, where he had taught during the final eighteen years of his academic career, are of course not among his most intellectually important texts. Rather, this address belongs to those documents whose specific status and relevance depends on a temporal relation to their author’s life dates. Kittler’s death on 11 October 2011 made the improvised Sophienstraße address his last public statement and thus gave it the aura of a legacy. What he said to his students and a few colleagues on that occasion is a random snapshot that, due to the posthumously dramatic perspective from which it conjures up his personality for us, has become a monument. As such, as a monument and as a legacy, I want to comment on those few sentences pronounced shortly before the end of his life by one of my dearest and most admired friends from my own German generation of scholars and intellectuals.

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