Biography  |  Bibliography  |  Articles  |  Lectures  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Quotes  |  Links  

Judith Balso - Biography

Judith Balso, Ph.D., is a professor of poetry at the European Graduate School EGS, where she conducts an annual workshop on poetry with an established poet. Each year she brings in a different poet to talk about their work and the poetic process. Among the poets she has invited in the past are Jacques Roubaud, Alessandro De Francesco, and Philippe Beck. Judith Balso received her Ph.D. from Marc Bloch University, Strasbourg in 1997. She currently teaches at the Collège international de philosophie in Paris and at the European Graduate School EGS.

Judith Balso's intellectual work revolves around a study of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. She is the author of Pessoa, le passeur métaphysique (2006), Le Portugal de près: Textes et documents (1976), and Pessoa (Les conférences du Perroquet) (1991).

The enigmatic poetry of Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) was written by a mysterious figure under different names: Alberto Caeiro, the master; Fernando Pessoa in-person; Ricardo Reis and Alvaro de Campos, the disciples. All these poets are not the pseudonyms of the author, but four heteronyms, a literary concept invented by Pessoa to designate his 'travels' from one identity to another. According to Judith Balso, the origin of these multiple births of the poet is to be found in the crisis of philosophy, which Pesoa lived through with deep anxiety. The future of poetry as he sees it is in separating it from metaphysics.

Judith Balso in a recent conference it was reported that "in her paper ‘Communism: a Hypothesis for Philosophy', claimed in no uncertain terms that we can't ask philosophy to complete politics or, as she put it, to answer questions that only politics can answer." (Graham 2009). The conference featured many contemporary philosophers such as Slavoj Zizek, Alessandro Russo, Alberto Toscano, Antonio Negri, Terry Eagleton, Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou.

As Judith Balso shows, Alberto Caeiro, the master, tries to do this through creating a sort of homogeneous semantics where thought and vision coincide. This anti-metaphysical strategy proposed by Caeiro is a paradigm of the position that everything that exists can be seen and that we can think only what we can see. Judith Balso compares this perspective to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophy as a therapy against metaphysics, so it is possible to say that Caeiro assigns to poetry the same task assigned by Ludwig Wittgenstein to philosophy of language. Through this analysis, Judith Balso offered a new vision of Pessoa as a metaphysical herald of this century.

Judith Balso is also active politically and has been writing in the name of emancipatory politics since the 1970s. More recently, she has insisted on creating new political movements distanced from the state. Judith Balso gives a unique and emancipatory perspecitve to the timeless questions of politics and philosophy. Through a unique and rigirous perspective her work shines a new light on important questions of our time.

Judith Balso is a professor of poetry at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where she teaches an Intensive Summer Workshop.