Distributed for Seagull Books
Western culture has been marked by deep divisions between action and contemplation, intervention and passivity, and decisiveness and withdrawal. Conceived as radical opposites, these terms structure the history of religion, philosophy, and political theory, and have left their imprint on the most intimate processes of individual decision-making and geo-political strategies. But, in On Tarrying, Joseph Vogl argues for a third way, a mode of thought that doesn’t insist on these divisive either/ors. Neither an active refusal to engage with the world nor a consistent strategy of resistance, tarrying, as defined by Vogl, defers, multiplies, and suspends the strictures of decision-making.
In his far-ranging reflections Vogl shows that the traditional insistence on the exclusivity of these terms impoverishes and distorts the range of human responses to a world full of possibilities. His readings of texts by Freud, Sophocles, Friedrich Schiller, Robert Musil, and Franz Kafka provide rich examples of how to resist the binary of activity and passivity through tarrying. This important book offers the first-ever extended analysis of tarrying as a mode of subversion and presents provocative new readings and interpretations of significant works of German literature and thought.