112th Annual Conference - Riverside Convention Center, California
Friday, October 31 - Sunday, November 2, 2014

This page is about the 2014 conference. For 2015 conference info, go to PAMLA 2015.

¿una solución a la “imposibilidad mesiánica” derridiana?: Los universos de ciencia-ficción de Alejandro Jodorowsky

Henri-Simon Blanc-Hoang, Defense Language Institute

Alejandro Jodorowsky’s work seems at first to uphold Jacques Derrida’s assertion of Messianic Impossibility, especially when narratives by this Chilean filmmaker-novelist focus on Latin America’s past or present. However, in his graphic novels of science fiction, the destiny of Jodorowsky’s main characters coincides more with Walter Benjamin’s vision of the Messianic Time.


Historically, Latin America has had its fair share of disillusionment with Messianism, be it political (preservation of the status quo after independence), religious (the return of the god Quetzacoatl) or economical (the disappointment of neo-liberalism). This condition seems to originate from the confusion between Messianicity and Messianism. According to French Jewish philosopher Jacques Derrida, the difference between these two terms is comparable to the distinction between the concepts of Justice and the Law (oral, written and their interpretation), or between the notions of Faith and (organized) Religion. Hence comes the idea of “Messianic Impossibility.” For German Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin, on the other hand, the possibility of a “messianic overturning of the force of Law” exists in the notion of “pure violence,” an event that can be exemplified in the proletarian general strike, “that does not have any aim, but freezes society in its entirety” and therefore brings us closer to the “Messianic Jetztzeit” (“Here and Now”).

In my article, I first show how the artistic production of Chilean filmmaker-novelist-comic book author Alejandro Jodorowsky seems to uphold Derrida’s assertion of Messianic Impossibility, especially when one focuses on the plots of his works that take place in Latin America’s past or present. However, I later suggest that the advent of various heroic figures in Jodorowsky’s graphic novels of science fiction are a closer fit with Walter Benjamin’s vision of the Messianic Time. In my conclusion, I explain how Jodorowsky transposes the archetype of the “wandering Jew” to his science fiction universes in order to solve Derrida’s Messianic Impossibility. At the end of his narratives, Jodorowsky changes his hero into a “wandering Messiah,” allowing him to avoid his insertion into Benjamin’s “homogeneous empty time.”