childhood fire. the daring of a cruel art

luis antonio baptista


This paper aims to present a reflection on the ethical implications of the notion of origin – a construct understood in the human sciences in the sense of cause, source, beginning—by way of a dialogue with Wadji Mouawad’s stage play Scorched. Borrowing from Walter Benjamin’s thought, the central literary question in the play is to consider origin as a mythical creation. Benjamin’s contribution to an understanding of childhood helps us to think how infantile dauntlessness can confront the mythical forces of literature. Benjamin’s is a childhood that operates through trials and peculiar modes of reading and writing which put obedience and reproduction as features of a mythical universe to the test. Therefore, a childhood that acts to prevent the conclusiveness of history and to assert its capacity to unfold along different trajectories is an insurgency that interrupts time and history’s linearity. In the first section of this paper, I contrast the notions of origin articulated by Walter Benjamin and by the human sciences or commo-n sense. I also include some fragments from Mouawad’s play as examples of a kind of writing that juxtaposes times and meanings which overtake the linearity of history. In the second part, I put Kafka’s oeuvre together with Scorched in order to reflect on the agonism of silence and song--or chant--that traverses the experience of Mouawad’s characters. Finally, I make use of Walter Benjamin’s notion of “constellation" to highlight the ethical proposal implicit in Mouawad’s work.


Literatura; Infância; História; Walter Benjamin



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e-issn 1984-5987 | p-issn 2525-5061