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date: 04 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay examines three twentieth-century intellectuals, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Lacan, and Gilles Deleuze, who, inspired by historical baroque thought or cultural production, developed a body of thought around the concept “baroque” that has in turn pollinated a new field of inquiry that continues to thrive today. These groupings are only partially distinct because, as we will see, the philosophical Baroque draws in some ways from baroque philosophy, although it is more often and obviously motivated by reflections on aesthetics and form. Each of these thinkers was concerned with a distinct aspect or figure of baroque culture or thought. In Walter Benjamin’s case, he drew out significant aspects of the Baroque in his never-to-be-accepted Habilitationsschrift on German tragic drama. In Jacques Lacan’s case, he devoted several weeks of his 1972–1973 seminar on feminine sexuality to the Baroque. Finally, Gilles Deleuze’s contribution came in the form of a book-length study of the German baroque philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Leibniz. In this essay, I summarize what each of these thinkers extracted from his engagement with that specific aspect of baroque culture or thought that fascinated him at the time, before concluding with some thoughts about how these three, in many ways wildly different thinkers, overlap in their consideration of the Baroque.

Keywords: baroque, neobaroque, melancholy, allegory, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Lacan, Gilles Deleuze

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