9 בינואר 2012

The Last Lecture of Prof. Ilan Gur-Ze’ev January 4, 2012



 Last Lecture, Faculty of Education, Haifa University 


The idea for a farewell meeting was born last Saturday, as one year passed unto another, alongside the bed of Professor Ilan Gur-Ze’ev at Haifa’s Rambam Hospital.  A few days later, at the noon hour on Wednesday January 4, 2012, Gur-Ze’ev was wheeled into room 363 in the Haifa University’s Faculty of Education, his academic home, in order to deliver his last lecture to faculty members, colleagues, his research students, and friends.  In these last moments of living with his terminal illness, Gur-Ze’ev’s voice was weak but he spoke with his characteristic determination and courage.
Following the lecture, he parted with a long embrace from those who had gathered to share their love and thanks. This was the way he wanted to part from this world.  As he left the faculty building, just prior to entering the ambulance transporting him back to the hospital, he said, in a weak voice aided by oxygen: “Thank you. This was the way to say goodbye.  I am so pleased we could do so,” followed by his characteristic shy smile.    As such he expressed his agreement to share this - his last lecture, with slight editing. 
Professor Ilan Gur-Ze’ev passed away the morning of January 5, 2012 at the Italian Hospital in Haifa. He was buried the next day in the Garden of Eden Cemetery of Kibbutz Ein Carmel, near the graves of his mother and brother. Our pain is unbearable.

Arie Kizel



Prof. Ilan Gur Ze'ev 




First, let me express my gratitude to you, my colleagues and friends, for coming to depart from me.  As you know, I so value meeting with one another, and thus giving leave, properly, is so important. 

Initially, I want to talk about how I began and why meeting together is so important. 

The university is not a regular workplace and academic work is a not an ordinary profession.
This is an ideal for the possibility of life in an era in which there are no ultimate authorities, no place or conditions for a progressive approach or telos; in which the distinction between the proper and improper, exalted and mundane, become problematic, especially when there are expectations for justifications from our new progressive colleagues.   

From Wadi Halisa to Haifa University
For me, to make the journey from Wadi Halisa [Tr. Poor area in the city of Haifa] to what we have undertaken, what I have done, has been – against all the odds – to live an erotic life:
To insist, steadfastly, that there be a more worthy meaning,
Amidst the celebration of groundlessness
and rejoicing in the meaninglessness that surrounds us.

My journey started in Wadi Halisa.
I was born Ilan Melech Vilchak amidst primos stoves abandoned by absentee residents whose cries emanated through the walls.
But no less so, cries from neighboring apartments by those living with days of darkness and timeless nights filled with memories of those left behind.
They emitted beseeching cries, and
shouts of madness,
and, from among them, those who refabricated their fragmented souls as they fought to create a normal life – as much as was possible - in a democratic and humanistic society.
My father was one of these survivors, one of the living corpses from
Matthausen Concentration Camp.

Even then I understood that beyond such phenomena, games, and pleasant adventures lie something much more sublime.
Seeking such became for me, Ilan Vilchak, tangible from the early age of four-five.
Thus, it was that at the age of six-seven I found myself
in Kfar Ata, then,
not attending school
rather, reading two books a day.

I was driven to overcome my surroundings, guided by a love for living.
And when they build Haifa University (that phallocentric tower about which I have written a number of times).
I knew that this was where I was destined to be.
Here, where erotic living is possible in an anti-erotic world, there is life as an ideal that I was destined to realize.

Yet, when I returned from abroad at the age of twenty two-three, without any certificates (only one verifying my birth), who was interested in me?
Sofia Menashe (History Professor) was so kind to invite me to meet with her: 
Let’s speak with this fellow, she said, and we’ll see.
And so, diploma-less, I began my wonderful life here at Haifa University.
My thanks to this institution for this limitless opportunity.
This was the starting point from which I stubbornly attempted to make the most of intellectual opportunities within the academic realm – something that has become nearly impossible, due to global and Israeli processes racing toward superficiality as an ideal. 
Thus, I do not think it was accidental that two election campaigns ago a political party distributed stickers proclaiming – “I am a proud member of the mob” – and that the word ‘professor’ is such a threat to them.




Education to Transgression, to Living in the Fissures as an Expression of Love
Today I continue to ask myself
How should we educate our young, as well as ourselves?
We must continue to struggle for a worthy life, one opposing the imperatives of reality.
Here, permit me to note: Reality is not only post-modernist.
It is pre-modernist and in the same degree – modernist.
Rahat, Ofakim, Hadera and large portions of Haifa [Tr. peripheral cities & neighborhoods] are not post-modern.

Yet, there is strong resistance against huge waves accompanying reality.
The fact that there is not one reality but rather different socio-economic realms
devouring one another,
influencing one another,
is an opportunity that gives us the hope that we can educate to a life between these realms.
To advance an education that will guide our children to transgress social borders,
Without being victims,
or becoming the regular product of the educational system that manufactures normalized victims who reproduce the system.

Those are our children who find tasteless things on internet sites
and accept solutions that are part of the system itself
exactly like resistance.
Like the New Age culture that is supposedly a counter-reaction but is in fact part of the capitalist culture and accompanies it.

I claim that we must educate our young and ourselves
to transgress borders
to live in the fissures
in transition.

This is impossible without the existence of Eros.

Every worthy human encounter must be infused with the love of life, with love. Of course it is possible to direct the love of life in endless directions. After all, fascism, too, spoke of love.

But, I am speaking about love of life with responsibility for others,
with responsibility for strengthening one another,
and as a partner neither to self-reproduction nor as acceptance  of the existing order;
rather as an understanding that the existing order and oneself, as I am,
are the starting points for realization of love. 

Therefore, it must be improvised, not dogmatic, and overcome all dogma,
beyond any previous forms.
Not to be subsumed in the presence of the temptation of normalized education offering us - ‘Come, be subsumed’.
A tempting offer,
with substantial success
even within the realm with the rites of individualism.

Love, love, and love must be expressed concretely as a joint activity
as refusal to cooperate in certain circumstances,
when the horizon lies high above the existing order.

I do not know to what degree you succeeded in overcoming the difficulties I raised for you, as readers, perhaps not often, 
but now I want to return to one theme that is relevant here.

Love,
the presence of Eros,
must be seen in relation to its greatest enemy and its closest consort, the desire to return home,
to nothingness.

Such began the story, in its entirety.
Eros interrupted the continuity of nothingness.
Anaximander, in the 6th century, knew that Being is a farce,
that the ideal situation is one of nothingness.
Thus all that exists is material, not abstract,
temporal, and incomplete.
Existence is, therefore, to be punished.
He was punished twice. Once with worldly destruction, as in “they deserve it”; and, second, no less difficult,
to be reborn.

I understand this in a different way:
Being is the encounter with the wondrous.  
Its birth is in love.
And the purpose of Being is love, with a desire to return to Nothingness.
It has endless expressions, from suicide to the consensus.
This togetherness is a
return to the womb
the ethnocentrism,
unification -
though unification is not worthy in every situation.
Above all else it is important for love to be present in a way that makes it supreme,
So as to enable us to offer praise, while critiquing who were,
who we are.

Other ways that education can challenge normalcy are developing.

The challenge is to counter immersion of ourselves in the fashionable and in frozen identities.
Important doors are opening for education to love.

To summarize my part of this encounter, as I depart from you after so many years of passion as part of this endeavor,
let me say goodbye, with infinite thanks,
for the opportunity to be part of this community.
In the hope you will continue to educate to be critical,
to educate to inspiration
and above all
to do so out of love.



Editing – Dr. Arie Kizel
Translation – Dr. Peter Lemish



Ilan Gur Ze'ev's Academic site

Ilan Gur Ze'ev, 4/1/2012 (Faculty of Education, Haifa University) From Channel 2

Hebrew version of the last lecture

http://uv-blog.uio.no/mt/humanped/2012/01/minneord-for-ilan-gur-zeev.html


PESGB News


Ilan Gur-Ze'ev


It is with great sadness that I inform you that our colleague Ilan Gur-Ze'ev passed away yesterday in Haifa, Israel at the age of 56.  He suffered from a fast acting cancer that was diagnosed only weeks ago.  He insisted in his last days on coming to the University for a final meeting with colleagues in order to say farewell in dignity and with love.   Ilan was a model of intellectual honesty and courage, and a dear friend to many, who taught even at the end to seek meaning amidst the greatest adversity.  He will be sorely missed.  May his memory be a blessing.



Ilan and his son, Nimrod



תגובה 1:

Eduardo Duarte אמר/ה...

Ilan was one of the most brilliant philosophers I have known, and also a wonderful human being who had an unwavering commitment to the cultivation of the highest level of critical theory. I was fortunate to spend time working with him on various projects, meeting with critical theorists from around the world at research groups he organized at Oslo, Madrid, Oxford, Miami, and elsewhere. I saw him for what turned out to be the last time for a memorable dinner at the Monkey Bar in Manhattan, a year ago, when he was 'on tour' (as I teased him) from the University of Haifa. I'm very grateful to have known and spent many hours talking with Ilan, and will miss him very much.

Eduardo M. Duarte, Hofstra University, USA