Ravishing Transports


  • Paula Marsó Literary Researcher and Translator, Hungary




influence; stimulus; contamination; Genius; supplementarity; autobiography; J.-J. Rousseau; J. Derrida.


Influence is an important notion in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s thinking. However, the event of influence is related to contamination, corruption, and alteration in Rousseau’s philosophical system. At the very beginning, the first Discourse (1750) presents the critique of culture and social taste. The author points out the damaging influence of ‘public opinion’, ‘riches’, and ‘powerful actors’ on the morals of a society. These entities corrupt the social morals and set a depraved example to follow. On the other hand, there is a clean and progressive way of influence between individuals without moral abuse. This is the case of the Genius, who comes to the world exclusively under influence of another Genius. There is no Genius – whatever this notion is supposed to mean – in itself. His birth is the result of a strong influence: it came to the world in a ‘ravishing transport’ as the entry “Genius” describes its genesis in A Complete Dictionary of Music. Purely positive influence is a ‘stimulus’ as Rousseau names it in Dialogues. My paper describes what the ‘stimulus’ means and how the uncorrupted ‘inhabitants of the other sphere’ are disposed by this stimulus. The example of the Genius demonstrates more eloquently the process of the positive influence, which is also a possibility to a sourceless beginning. To illustrate this idea and make it more concrete I will reference Julie’s paradise in Rousseau’s masterwork, Julie, or the New Heloise. In Julie’s garden, called Elysée, we have the topology of a perfect wilderness, a landscape at first sight uncontaminated by human artefact. The structure of the vegetation testifies of a beginning without beginning. The décor looks like a setup with no human intervention. This idea of creation is close to the idea of insemination, and more precisely to the ‘dissemination’ key word of Derrida’s work, Dissemination. My article is a lecture regarding the entry “Genius” in A Complete Dictionary of Music and a thought-experiment about how this entry can be interpreted in a deconstructive context.

Author Biography

Paula Marsó, Literary Researcher and Translator, Hungary

Paula Marsó is a Hungarian literary researcher and translator. After studying philosophy of art in Hungary and France, she defended her doctoral thesis in 2011 on “Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Le problème de l’écriture”, published in 2013. She has translated several texts by Roland Barthes, Henri Bergson, Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and J.J. Rousseau. Fascinated by the richness of Rousseau’s work, she translated his last completed book into Hungarian: Dialogues: Rousseau, Judge of Jean-Jacques, a work completely unknown in Hungary.


Derrida, Jacques. Dissemination, trans. Barbara Johnson. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1969.

Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore, London: The John Hopkins University Press, [1967] 1997.

Hendel, William T. “The Theatrical Representation of Landscape in Rousseau’s La Nouvelle Héloïse.” Paroles Gelées UCLA French Studies 21, 1 (2004): 47–53. https://doi.org/10.5070/PG7211003157 DOI: https://doi.org/10.5070/PG7211003157

Rouseau, Jean-Jacques. Sur le goût (OC, t. V), Paris: Gallimard – Pléiade, 1995.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Rousseau, Judge of Jean-Jacques: Dialogues, trans. Judith R. Bush, Christopher Kelly, and Roger D. Master, Hanover, New Hampshire: Dartmouth College Press, 1990.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. “Genie”, In Dictionnaire de musique, edited by Bernard Gagnebin et Marcel Raymond, Œuvres completes, t. V, 837–838. Paris: Gallimard, 1995.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Dictionnaire de musique, Paris: Gallimard – Pléiade, 1995;

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. A Complete Dictionary of Music, trans. William Haring. London: J. Murray, 1779. https://archive.org/details/0043COMP/page/n183/mode/2up. Accessed on July 17, 2023.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Discours sur les sciences et les arts (OC, t. III). Paris: Gallimard – Pléiade, 1964.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Lettre à Christophe de Beaumont, Paris: Gallimard – Pléiade, 1964.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Nouvelle Héloïse (OC, t. II). Paris: Gallimard – Pléiade, 1964.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. “Lettre XI. À milord Edouard”, In Julie ou La Nouvelle Héloïse, edited by Bernard Gagnebin et Marcel Raymond, Œuvres completes, t. II, 470–488. Paris: Gallimard, 1984.




How to Cite

Marsó, P. (2023). Ravishing Transports. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (31), 45–54. https://doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i29.570



Main Topic: The Concept of ‘Influence’ in Art and Aesthetics