The event of interpellation

an aesth-ethic reading of Rilke


  • Dror Pimentel Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem



Rilke, interpellation, event, ethics, alterity


Contrary to Levinas, the event of hospitality does not take place in the face of the other, but rather, in the work of art. Art should therefore not be viewed as provoking pleasure, but rather, as an event of hospitality of radical alterity possessing the power to shake the foundation of its viewers. This is what endows art with an ethical dimension, articulated in re-inscribing aesthetics as “aesth-ethics.” Rilke’s poem “Archaic Torso of Apollo” is as a perfect example of this claim. The statue is teeming with life and sexuality, from which a gaze bursts out, shaking the viewer’s existence by calling him to change his life. As Althusser’s analysis of interpellation shows, the subject is constituted from a call coming from the outside. However, in Rilke’s case, the call does not originate from the Big Other, regulating the order, but from radical alterity residing outside the order.

Author Biography

Dror Pimentel, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem

Prof. Dror Pimentel teaches at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design Jerusalem. Among his areas of expertise are continental philosophy, phenomenology, aesthetics and semiotics. Among his publications: The Dream of Purity: Heidegger with Derrida (Magnes Press, 2009 [Hebrew]); Aesthetics (Bialik Institute, 2014 [Hebrew]; Heidegger and Derrida: Being Written (Palgrave Macmillan NY, 2019). He recently translated to Hebrew Heidegger’s Letter on ‘Humanism’ (Magnes Press, 2018).


Althusser, Louis. “On Ideology.” In On the Reproduction of Capitalism: Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, translated by G. M. Goshgarian, 171–208. New York: Verso, 2014.

Man, Paul de. Allegories of Reading: Figural Language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Proust. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1979.

Heidegger, Martin. “The origin of the work of art.” In Basic Writings, edited by David F. Krell, 139–212. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993.

Levinas, Emmanuel. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. Translated by Alphonso Lingis. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1969.

Rilke, Rainer Maria. “Archaischer Torso Apollos.” In Neue Gedichte, S. 83. Frankfurt a.M.: Insel Verlag, 1907/8.






Academic articles