Jeremy Fernando reads, and writes;
and is the Jean Baudrillard Fellow at The European Graduate School.

He works in the intersections of literature, philosophy, and the media; and has been described by Walter Mason as having an « erudition and grasp of theory balanced by a playful approach to popular culture and, in real life, a sartorial elan that does, indeed, match his sobriquet ».

After pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), where he also received a Masters of Arts in English Literature, Fernando attended The European Graduate School where he graduated from both the MA and PhD programmes. His dissertation, entitled The Suicide Bomber; and her gift of death, under the supervision of Avital Ronell, was successfully defended in August 2009.

Born in Singapore, Fernando is convinced that William Gibson’s notion of ‘Singapore as a Disneyland with the Death Penalty’ should not be read so much as a critique but as challenge to think the possibility that the death penalty is precisely Disneyland. For, it is precisely absurdity that opens possibilities in the relationality between the two — despite and perhaps in spite of the impossibility of doing so — keeping in mind that every duality brings with it an echo of a duel, if not by necessity, at least its possibility. After all, as Hannah Arendt continues to teach us, « the greatest enemy of authority is contempt, and the surest way to undermine it is laughter ».

And it is this approach to thought, to thinking — a thinking that owes a great debt to many others, especially, Avital Ronell, Hélène Cixous, Jean Baudrillard, and Werner Hamacher — that results in Denisa Kera calling Fernando « the last romantic thinker in Singapore ».

He sees himself first and foremost as a reader: reading being understood as the relation to an other that occurs prior to any semantic or formal identification, and therefore prior to any attempt at assimilating what is being read to the one who reads. As neither an act nor a rule-governed operation, reading needs to be thought as an event of an encounter with an other — and more precisely an other which is not the other as identified by the reader, but heterogeneous in relation to any identifying determination. Thus, a pre-relational relationality where what the reader encounters may only be encountered before any phenomenon; hence a non-phenomenal event or even the event of the undoing of all phenomenality. And, it is this attempt to radically reconstitute reading — positing blindness as that which both allows reading to take place and is also its limit — which Fernando attempts in Reading Blindly (Cambria Press, 2009). The text has been described by Christopher Fynsk as « a rich and always-challenging meditation, where reading is understood from an ethical turn that prompts us to rethink ethics itself », as well as a work that is « responsible for initiating a new generation of reflections that make our philosophical certitudes tremble », by Avital Ronell. She continues, « Fernando locates the constitutive blindness that stalls the ethical imperative while giving it new meaning ».

Much of Fernando’s work involves the attempt to conceive of writing as scratching (scribere), tearing, opening; which is an attempt at maintaining the question, the quest — movement, journey, trans-, meta- — in what is inscribed. So, even as writing may be of the order of death, there is always already necromancy at play: for, one can only know that one has written by, and through, reading. Fernando reads the relationality between writing and reading in Writing Death (Uitgeverij, 2011), through a meditation on the possibility of mourning; of whether there is a subject, or even object, that one mourns — of whether one is mourning, can only mourn, the very impossibility of mourning itself. The manuscript is framed by two attempts at mourning — Avital Ronell's ‘The Tactlessness of an Unending Fadeout’ and Jeremy Fernando's ‘adieu’. In-between — for this is where both pieces posit the possibility of attending to the passing, the memory, the fading of the person — lies an attempt to think this impossibility. The text is continually haunted by the question of whether one is mourning the person as such, or a particular version of the person, a reading of the person. And in reading another, in attempting to respond to the other, one can never have the metaphysical comfort that one is reading accurately, correctly; in fact, one may always already be re-writing the person. Thus, all one can do is attempt to mourn the name of that person, whilst never being certain of whether her name even refers to her any longer. According to Ryan Bishop, Writing Death « brooks no questions and gives no answers. Fernando's gathering of scatterings in the form of mini-meditations unfolds the weaving of textus that makes writing possible and makes death comprehensible in all of its paradoxical mystery and awe-ful presence. His is a book of catalysts: use them with care ».

Another relationality that haunts Fernando’s work is that of terror and thought. For, if choice, decision, judgment, is an inherent part of thought, this suggests that thinking runs the risk of possibly effacing otherness. He first addresses this relationality in Reflections on (T)error (Verlag Dr Müller, 2008), questioning the assumption that terrorism is the enemy of globalisation and capitalism; positing instead that terrorism is the very hinge around which globalisation revolves. For, by ensuring that the fantasy of total exchangeability is never fulfilled, terrorism sustains the very logic of capital itself. The text is a meditation on the problems of confining the thinking of terrorism within the logic of exchange, which keeps us in the cycle of exchangeability: we remain within the game of surplus value and one-upsmanship; and human lives are the very stake with which this game is played. It is only through looking at terror as such — as a singularity — that this cycle might be avoided; not by opposition nor by distancing oneself from it, but rather by complete immersion in terror itself. Fernando continues this meditation in The Suicide Bomber; and her gift of death (Atropos Press, 2010), where he attempts to defend the indefensible: the suicide bomber as a figure of thinking; where, (s)he is a figure that foregrounds the singularity of each event; and it is this un-understandability — which is part of understanding itself — that the suicide bomber never lets us forget. In this manner, (s)he remains an unending question for us; a question that even questions itself as a question. And if one maintains the question, one is always already other to everything, other even to one's self. In this way, the gap between the self and the other is maintained such that this space is never taken hostage. For, the moment this space of negotiation is gone, we are in the realm of terror. The text has been described by Hubertus von Amelunxen as « a brilliant study about the blank spot within the becoming of teleology, and the game of 'finitude' ».

A belief that form and thought are intermingled, quite possibly indivorceable, continually prompts Fernando to attend to different modes of writing, and his work can be found in various places, including journals such as Qui Parle, Berfrois, CTheory, Full Bleed,and Queen Mob’s Teahouse; literary reviewers The Berlin Review of Books and The Singapore Review of Books; and magazines like TimeOut, Prestige, and VICE. Experimenting with other media has led him to film, music, and the visual arts; and his work has been seen in Seoul, Vienna, Hong Kong, and Singapore. In 2006, his short film Ne Kan She Ma (co-written and co-directed with Kenny Png) received the Special Jury Mention at the Sidewalk Cinema Festival in Vienna. He has been invited to perform a reading at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin in September 2016; and in November 2018, to deliver a series of performance-talks at the 4th edition of the Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento in Buenos Aires.

To further explore the relationship between form and thought, in 2011, he co-founded Delere Press with the charcoal artist and writer Yanyun Chen, in an attempt to curate a space in which visual and written texts can converse in equal standing.

One such attempt to attend to the distinct modes of thought that are brought forth by different media occurs in his book, Requiem for the Factory (Delere Press, 2012), with the photographer Kenny Png. Requiem is composed of a conversation between two forms of writing — language and light — which is mediated through a layout by Yanyun Chen. This occurs in a tale that attempts to explore the relationality of a self to her self through the figure of a factory. Told through an « I » that refuses to remain stable, one is never sure whether this is a moment when the tale is recounted, recalled, or whether it is being told at the moment of telling. And this is why this requiem has to be narrated. For, what is foregrounded is not only the fact that memory, history, is fictional, but more pertinently that the self — and the « I » — can only be uttered, perhaps even known, through fictionality. This is not to say that the self is imagined in the sense of being unreal, but that the imaginary is in the very fabric of reality itself. This is a tale of two writings that are speaking to, and with, each other, whilst also speaking in their own realms at the very same time. Responding to his text, the Italian poet Alessandro De Francesco writes: « Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote that philosophy should be done ‘dichten’, as poetry. Jeremy Fernando manages to give this program a form, a direction ».

More recently, Fernando has been described by Hélène Cixous as « a natural inhabitant of the testament country. But not as a ghost: you seem to be highly alive as you ‘are’ writing death — writing death to death — »