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In Uncategorized on January 21, 2009 at 11:59 am

Why Cynics Are Wrong
by Slavoj Zizek

Obamaback image

Days before the election, Noam Chomsky told progressives that they should vote for Obama, but without illusions. I fully share Chomsky’s doubts about the real consequences of Obama’s victory: From a pragmatic-realistic perspective, it is quite possible that Obama will just do some minor face-lifting improvements, turning out to be “Bush with a human face.” He will pursue the same basic politics in a more attractive mode and thus effectively even strengthen U.S. hegemony, which has been severely damaged by the catastrophe of the Bush years.

There is nonetheless something deeply wrong with this reaction — a key dimension is missing in it. It is because of this dimension that Obama’s victory is not just another shift in the eternal parliamentary struggles for majority with all their pragmatic calculations and manipulations. It is a sign of something more. This is why a good, American friend of mine, a hardened Leftist with no illusions, cried for hours when the news came of Obama’s victory. Whatever our doubts, fears and compromises, in that moment of enthusiasm, each of us was free and participating in the universal freedom of humanity.

What kind of sign am I talking about? In his last published book The Contest of Faculties (1798), the great German Idealist philosopher Immanuel Kant addressed a simple but difficult question: Is there true progress in history? (He meant ethical progress in freedom, not just material development.) He conceded that actual history is confused and allows for no clear proof: Think how the 20th century brought unprecedented democracy and welfare, but also the Holocaust and gulag.

Nonetheless, Kant concluded that, although progress cannot be proven, we can discern signs that indicate progress is possible. Kant interpreted the French Revolution as a sign that pointed toward the possibility of freedom: The hitherto unthinkable happened, a whole people fearlessly asserted their freedom and equality. For Kant, even more important than the — often bloody — reality of what went on in the streets of Paris was the enthusiasm that those events engendered in sympathetic observers all around Europe:

The recent Revolution of a people which is rich in spirit, may well either fail or succeed, accumulate misery and atrocity, it nevertheless arouses in the heart of all spectators (who are not themselves caught up in it) a taking of sides according to desires which borders on enthusiasm and which, since its very expression was not without danger, can only have been caused by a moral disposition within the human race.

One should note here that the French Revolution generated enthusiasm not only in Europe, but also in faraway places like Haiti, where it triggered another world-historical event: The first revolt of Black slaves, who fought for full participation in the emancipatory project of the French Revolution. Arguably the most sublime moment of the French Revolution occurred when the delegation from Haiti, led by Toussaint l’Ouverture, visited Paris and was enthusiastically received at the Popular Assembly as equals among equals.

Obama’s victory belongs to this line; it is a sign of history in the triple Kantian sense ofsignum rememorativum, demonstrativum, prognosticum. That is, it is a sign in which the memory of the long past of slavery and the struggle for its abolition reverberates; an event which now demonstrates a change; a hope for future achievements. No wonder that Hegel, the last great German Idealist, shared Kant’s enthusiasm in his description of the impact of the French Revolution:

This was accordingly a glorious mental dawn. All thinking beings shared in the jubilation of this epoch. Emotions of a lofty character stirred men’s minds at that time; a spiritual enthusiasm thrilled through the world, as if the reconciliation between the divine and the secular was now first accomplished.

Did Obama’s victory not give birth to the same universal enthusiasm all around the world, with people dancing on the streets from Chicago to Berlin to Rio de Janeiro? All the skepticism displayed behind closed doors even by many worried progressives (what if, in the privacy of the voting booth, publicly disavowed racism reemerges?) was proven wrong.

There is one thing about Henry Kissinger, the ultimate cynical Realpolitiker, that strikes the eye of all observers: How utterly wrong most of his predictions were. To take only one example, when news reached the West about the 1991 anti-Gorbachev military coup, he immediately accepted the new regime (which ignominiously collapsed three days later) as a fact. In short, when socialist regimes were already a living dead, Kissinger was counting on a long-term pact with them.

The position of the cynic is that he alone holds some piece of terrible, unvarnished wisdom. The paradigmatic cynic tells you privately, in a confidential low-key voice: “But don’t you get it that it is all really about (money/power/sex), that all high principles and values are just empty phrases which count for nothing?” What the cynics don’t see is their own naivety, the naivety of their cynical wisdom that ignores the power of illusions.

The reason Obama’s victory generated such enthusiasm is not only the fact that, against all odds, it really happened, but that the possibility of such a thing to happen was demonstrated. The same goes for all great historical ruptures. Recall the fall of the Berlin Wall: Although we all knew about the rotten inefficiency of the Communist regimes, we somehow did not “really believe” that they will disintegrate. Like Kissinger, we were all too much victims of cynical pragmatism.

This attitude is best encapsulated by the French expression “je sais bien, mais quand meme” (I know very well that it can happen, but nonetheless… I cannot really accept that it can happen). This is why, although Obama’s victory was clearly predictable at least for the last two weeks before the election, his actual victory was still experienced as a shock. In some sense, the unthinkable did happen, something that we really didn’t believe could happen. (Note that there is also a tragic version of the unthinkable really taking place: holocaust, gulag… how can one really accept that something like that could happen?)

The true battle begins now, after the victory: The battle for what this victory will effectively mean, especially within the context of two other much more ominous signs of history: 9/11 and the financial meltdown. Nothing was decided by Obama’s victory, but his victory widens our freedom and thereby the scope of our decisions. But regardless of whether we succeed or fail, Obama’s victory will remain a sign of hope in our otherwise dark times, a sign that the last word does not belong to “realist” cynics, be they from the Left or the Right.

In These Times, November 13, 2008.


something old something new…

In Subjection on January 20, 2009 at 1:09 am

written fall, 2008.

There are rare times when a thinker can both explicate and perform the subject of her own critique in writing.  The Psychic Life of Power is one such work, wherein Judith Butler both explores and performs the iterability of the subject by explicitly working in and through concepts from Althusser, Hegel, Nietzsche, Foucault, Freud & Lacan and implicitly through Derrida.  Namely, Butler is working through the trope of the ‘turn’ as it is rooted in Louis Althusser’s exploration of the concept of interpellation, tracing and transforming it through the forenamed philosophers’ theories of subject formation into a bodied agent of political consequence[1].

To follow the strength of Butler’s argument, I would like to follow her performance of the iterable subject through the text (Psychic Life of Power) highlighting a few key concepts and moves therein.  But first, a few words on iterability.

While Butler is notably and professedly a Hegelian and Foucauldian, when interviewed at Berkeley in the 1990’s, Butler named Jacques Derrida as the greatest influence on her own body of work.  This influence, though unspoken in the Psychic Life of Power, is performed in Butler’s workings of what Derrida calls iterability.  Briefly and admittedly reductively, iterability can be thought as the ability of signs to be grafted into new and different contexts while both retaining a trace of their earlier meaning and taking on and forming new meanings in each new context, all the while displacing notions of origin or essence[2]. 

Moving back to the explicit terms of Psychic Life of Power, Butler deploys and employs the workings of Derridian iterability through multiple readings of a body/soul/subject trio, beginning with this trio’s appearance in Hegel’s work on the Unhappy Consciousness.  Here, in Hegel, Butler highlights the bodily subjection of the bondsman to the master where the body of the bondsman ‘performs’ as the extended body of the master in work and productivity.  As the bondsman realizes his own distinct presence in the work of his hands, i.e. in what he produces, he is confronted with the fleeting nature of both what is produced and himself as the producer. He is also faced with his own ongoing erasure as the Master takes credit for the work of his extended contractual body, i.e. the bondsman. In a move to repress this knowledge of death’s inevitability, as Butler writes it, the bondsman splits himself psychically into bondsman and master, performing a denial that echoes Freud’s death drive and Nietzsche’s aesthetic class whose subjectivity is formulated out of ressentiment.[3]

Moving from Hegel to Nietzsche, in chapter 2, via Freud, Butler draws on the violent foundations of morality in On the Genealogy of Morals and points to the inherent ressentiment in all artistic production. We all know the story here, how Nietzsche’s understanding of subject formation is rooted in the bad consciousness of the internalizing slaves, etc.  For Butler this story is important as it pinpoints the creativity implicit in the interiorization of the subject: “As a peculiar deformation of artistry (which is, of course, indistinguishable from its primary formation), self-consciousness is the form the will takes when it is prevented from simple expression as a deed.” [4]  While we might see Nietzsche’s Nobles as those able to express in deed rather than representation, Butler problematizes Nietzsche’s own work (and her own as well) as the results of aesthetic activity.[5]  Without resolving this suggestion that ressentiment is at the heart of all production, the body/soul/subject trio is reframed and recontextualizing in the shift from Hegel’s bondsman, to still a slave morality, but one which is founded in artistic performance and production.

Moving this iterable body/soul/subject trio through the work of Foucault, Butler locates a transmigration of the soul from interiority (as in Hegel & Nietzsche) to the subjectivated body of Foucault’s finding[6].  This necessary step, shifting the meaning of soul from an interior to an exterior formulation, gives Butler the now newly iterated context of performativity (specifically gender performance) that she will deploy in the final chapters of The Psychic Life of Power.  With one final recontextualization of the body/soul/subject trio through Althusser’s concept of interpellation, Butler has brilliantly managed to carve out space for a politically charged subject whose body performs both its own subjection and its most heightened possibility for freedom from that same subjection.  If you will follow Butler with me to p.99 in the text, she writes: “What is brought into being through the performative effect of the interpellating demand is much more than a ‘subject,’ for the ‘subject’ created is not for that reason fixed in place: it becomes the occasion for a further making.  Indeed, I would add, a subject only remains a subject through a reiteration or re-articulation of itself as a subject, and this dependency of the subject on repetition for coherence may constitute that subject’s incoherence, its incomplete character.  This repetition, or better, iterability thus becomes the non-place of subversion, the possibility of a re-embodying of the subjectivating norm that can redirect its normativity”[7]

Here, in Butler’s own words and rhetorical performance, iterable subjectivation finds its destination in the “incomplete redirecting of normativity”.  This redirecting was made possible by her own performative dislocations of the body/soul/subject trio as it is found in variation, through Hegel’s Unhappy Consciousness, Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals, Foucault’s theorization’s on the subjectivation of the body and Althusser’s working of the ‘turn’ or interpellation.  While the performative subject of Butler’s own critical iterabilities is not without flaws, equipped with the trope of the ‘turn’ and this iterable subject formation, Butler and others following her work, can and have formulated not only the politicized arm of Derridian deconstruction, but equally viable political subjectivities whose agency is both bound and formulated by the structures they are working to reconfigure.   What this does from, for, with and to Nietzschean ressentiment is now up for discussion.

[1] On the turn, Butler writes: “Considered grammatically, it will seem that there must first be a subject who turns back on itself, yet I will argue that there is no subject except as a consequences of this very reflexivity.” Butler, Judith.  The Psychic Life of Power. Stanford University Press, 1997. P. 68

[2] For Jacques Derrida’s full working and unworking of iterability, see “Signature, Event, Context” in Limited Inc, which is a compilation of writings between Derrida and John Searle on and around the concepts of speech act theory, first outlined by J.L. Austin in How to Do Things with Words.

[3] What is at stake here for Butler is both self-renunciation and performativity.  “The renunciation of the self as the origin of its own actions must be performed repeatedly and can never finally be achieved, if only because the demonstration of renunciation, whereby the performance, as an action, contradicts the postulation of inaction, that it is meant to signify.  Paradoxically, performance becomes the occasion for a grand and endless action that effectively augments and individuates the self it seeks to deny.”  Butler, Judith.  The Psychic Life of Power. Stanford University Press, 1997.  p.49

[4] Ibid, p.76

[5] Not that Nietzsche did not, indeed, recognize his own complicity in slave morality as well.  Numerous passages in the Genealogy of Morals find Nietzsche almost joyous over the results of artist production, including his own.  Butler not only recognizes this duplicity and complicity, she uses it to raise the stakes for the performative subject she seeks to iterate.

[6] For more on this transition from interiority to exteriority, see Butler, on the chapter “Between Freud and Foucault”.  The following quote, for the sake of brevity, may help illustrate the points she is working therein: 

       p.89 “In the final chapter of the first volume of The History of Sexuality, Foucault calls for a “history of bodies” which would inquire into “the manner in which what is most material and vital in them has been invested.”  In this formulation, he suggests that power not only produces the boundaries of a subject but pervades the interiority of that subject.  In the last formulation, it appears that there is an “inside” to the body which exits before power’s invasion.  But given the radical exteriority of the soul, how are we to understand “interiority” in Foucault?  That interiority will not be a soul, and it will not be a psyche, but what will it be?  Is this a space of pure malleability, one which is as it were, ready to conform to the demands of socialization?  Or is this interiority to be called, simply, the body?  Has it come to the paradoxical point where Foucault wants to claim that the soul is the exterior form, and the body the interior space?” [Italics, mine].

[7] Ibid, p.99.


In philosophy as biography, Subjection on January 15, 2009 at 8:57 pm

what if we are on the verge of reinventing auto-bio-graphy.

not even re-inventing, but venting, airing, exposing.

i’ve been reading corpus, by jean-luc nancy…

i’ve been reading. corpus.

bodies . corps . concentrations . mass . bodies .

there is so much to say that i can hardly speak for myself.  quoting, then:

“freud’s most fascinating and perhaps (i say this without exaggerating) most decisive statement is in this posthumous note: psyche is ausgedehnt: weiss nichts davan.  “the psyche’s extended: knows nothing about it.”  -p 21

“it’s even more surprising, then, that a certain psychoanalytic discourse would seem to insist, while denying its object, on making the body “signify,” rather than flushing out significtion as something that always screens off the spacing of bodies.  this kind of analysis ‘ectopizes’ (or ‘utopizes’) the body beyond-place: it volitalizes it, indexing it to the incoporeality of sense.  hence, it would seem, hysteria is instituted as exemplary: a body saturated with signification.  and hence no more body… i would prefer to take hysteria as the body’s becoming totally parasitical upon the incorporeality of sense, to the point that it silences incorporeality, thereby showing, in its stead, a piece, a zone, of a-significance.  (because ultimately we would have to know whether the hysteric is engaging mainly in translation and interpretation or in something contrary and much deeper, namely, a resolute blockage of the transmission of sense.  discourse incarnate, or a blocking body: who doesn’t see that there is no hysteria without a blocking body?)  -p 23

“all bodies are part of this breakthrough, of this departure of bodies in all bodies; which is why material freedom – matter as freedom – is not a freedom of gesture, still less of voluntary action, without also being the freedom of two shades of mica, of millions of dissimilar shelss, and of the indefinite extension of the principium individuationis, such that individuals in themselves never stop being in-dividuated, differing ever more from themselves, hence being ever more alike, interchangable with themselves but never reduced to substances, unless the substance, prior to sustaining something (self or other), comes to be exposed here: in the world.”  -p 35

“completely astonished, Kazik discovered that he was condemned to a life of dragging his left foot slightly, that one of his eyes made out forms and colors with great difficulty… he learned that when someone says ‘that’s my fate,’ in fact he usually thinks of the pile of flesh he’s hauling around.  Aharon Markus, the pharmacist, volunteered that mankind, having existed on this earth for millions of years, was perhaps the only creature alive still imperfectly adapted to his body, of which he was so often ashamed.  and, as the pharmacist remarked on occasion, man might be said to naively await the next stage of evolution, when he and his body would be separated into two different creatures… it has to be noted that Neigel didn’t understand much of what was being said about a man’s relationship to his body: to be admitted into the SS, a candidate had to have perfect health; the filling of a single tooth was enough to disqualify the candidate.” 1) David Grossman, Voir ci-dessous: Amour, tranlated from the Hebrew by Judith Misrahi and Ami Barak, (Paris: Seuil, 1991). -p 51

“there’s nothing here to discourse about or communicate but bodies, bodies and bodies.”  -p 57

  “the very idea of ‘creation’ is the idea, or thought, of an originary absence of Idea, form, model, or preliminary tracing.  And if the body is par excellence the thing created, if ‘created body’ is a tautology – or, rather, ‘created bodies,’ for the body is always in the plural – then the body is the plastic material of spacing, without form or Idea.  It’s the very plasticity of expansion, extension, where existences take place.  The image (that it thus is) has no link to either the idea or, in general, to the visible (and/or intelligible) ‘presentation’ of anything at all, the body’s not the image-of.  But it’s the coming to presence, like an image coming on a movie or a TV screen – coming from nowhere behind the screen, being the spacing of this screen, existing as its extension – exposing, laying down this areality, not as an idea given to my own vision as a punctual subject (and still less as a mystery) but right at my eyes (my body) as their areality, themselves coming into this coming, spaced, spacing, themselves a screen – less ‘vision’ than video.” – p 63-65

i’m skipping, omitting, changing the form of the body.  but it’s a start and for here and now that is enough.

sons of bitches.

In Law, Subjection on January 14, 2009 at 12:23 am

funny. has bitch listed as, of course, a female dog.  but under the subheading ‘offensive’ you’ll find

1) a woman considered to be overbearing

2) a man considered to be weak or contemptible

but as no one (well, not that badiou is everyone) is talking about women today, perhaps there’s no purpose in bringing all this up.


lacanian ink #32, badiou has a really delightful little piece on aleatory sons.  and i do mean delightful.  this piece is almost poetic.  at least i think Badiou should consider it so… for a man concerned with false sutures, with ‘improper ties’ between philosophy and poetry (think deconstruction)  in fact there are moments when he comes so close to the work of Avital Ronell, well… you do wonder if the son got in this purist’s eyes.  and perhaps blindness is the works’ very strength.  perhaps without a certain closing of the eyes, this piece couldn’t have been written at all. but then, i am getting ahead of myself.

in ‘The Son’s Aleatory Identity in Today’s World” Badiou plays the role of a concerned (albeit disconcerting) father figure. he begins this role with the claim that between freud’s totem and taboo and moses and monotheism and the lives of our present day sons, some serious ground has been lost.  in the cited texts, the original freudian construction had boys hating their jouissance loving fathers quite literally to death.  post-burial, the return of the father, in law, brought order, regularity and simply job descriptions for men-to-be.  this regularity bred (yes it did) love.  love for order, love for harmony.  love for (are we forgetting a few historical ‘heartbreaks’ or just reading metaphorically?)… you get the idea.  

but, here, now, in Badiou’s view, that idea, those ideas, they are all gone.  today, according to “The Son’s Aleatory Identity…” sons have no clear track.  or they have three + 1 tracks… none of which lead to decapitation or patricide, rendering them, therefore, clearly insufficient. Badiou describes these tracks as follows:

first, right from the start, track one is perversion – think tattooing, marking, a physical, mental and technical working to differentiate the (fore)skin in order to bring sons into their own by right.rite… right.  as we’ve seen from badiou before, this perversion looks very much like what badiou nicknames pornography: i.e. anything which is a rejection of its intended purpose, (purpose in this case being the  making of a subject.)  

the second option looks just like terrorism, mainly because it is. in option 2, perversion inverts to traditional dogmatism and we have sons sacrificing themselves for ideas and ideals which are not only planes in the sky but pie in the sky as well.  (these are terrible puns, but it is late… in the day and otherwise.)

the third and presumably final option is simply that of the sell-out.  badiou calls him something more glamorous but essentially this son is a harvard grad with a secured job on wall street attached to his diploma.  he’s been groomed for this.  protected by, what badiou calls a policing (see Avital Ronell’s “Trauma TV” in Finitude’s Score for stellar work on the police force) that structures society and separates the wheat from the chaff while meritoriously concealing a deep seated nihilism.

the point of all three of these options is, for badiou, that the real points have all been blunted.  we are left with miserable, and clearly fatherless sons: perverts, terrorists and sell outs abound and there is nothing to be done about it. 

or almost nothing.  badiou ends the article with the +1: Rimbaud, who, it seems, lived the bastard trinity himself… yet rose above.  found his true father.  learned to kill, and thereby reinstall a saving symbolic.   he, like philosophy was saved by “‘His body!  The dreamed-of redemption, the shattering of grace meeting with new violence’.  “This,” writes Badiou, “could be the maxim of our common efforts in the service of the new initiation of our sons.”    

as we’ve seen and read before from badiou, whether he is calling to the lawless or the fatherless, (the point being always, with lacan, that they are the same), the shadow of the cross is never far behind.  this time, when law recedes, grace – and grace by the sword no less – can be found to (in full christian chorus) ‘bridge the gap’.  but what gap is badiou bridging?  is ‘aleanation’ being equated with grace?  if so, if you’ll follow me following blanchot, something interesting may be seen:

“luck and grace, in being compared, help to determine certain relations to the law.  grace is unjust, an unjustified gift that does not take what is right into consideration, while confirming it nonetheless…  the law is empty authority, before which no one in particular can maintain himself and which could not be softened by mediation, the veil of grace  that would make this approach tolerable… the circle of the law is this: there must be a crossing in order for there to be a limit, but only the limit, in as much as uncrossable, summons to cross, affirms the desire (the false step) that has always already, through an unforeseeable movement, crossed the line.”  (The Step Not Beyond, Maurice Blanchot p. 24) 

in all of this law and grace and line crossing we are back to the stake, to the totem, with freud.  the empty authority of the father must be surpassed, the father must be killed, but only to return in such a way (as law redoubled after death) that shows he was never lost or cut off to begin with…


“the law says ‘in spite of you’ [“malagre toi”] familiarity that indicates no one.  grace says, ‘without you, without your being there for anything and in your own absence’, but this familiarity which seems to designate only the lack of anyone, restores the intimacy and the singularity of the relation.” (Blanchot, Step Not Beyond, p 25)

here what Blanchot writes, is that the subject Badiou is building, searching out, hoping for in Rimbaud, in grace, is a ‘lack of anyone’.  it is an empty subject.  one who was singled out not by merit (that would be law), not by familiarity (that would be favoritism, or…) but by sheer… luck?

“luck joins these two traits.  luck comes only through playing.  and the game does not address itself to anyone in particular.  he who is lucky is not lucky and is not so for himself or because of himself.  the ‘without you’ of luck frees, through the familiar address, for the anonymous” (Blanchot, Step Not Beyond, p. 26)

In this de.scription, Blanchot addresses what Badiou has yet to formalize.  the empty, anonymous recipient of “grace, the rupture and the new violence” are the same bastard sons Badiou had hoped to make into subjects. yet, by reinstating a randomly violent, virilent father, luck-loving father, could these sons really be anything but hollow receptacles, anonymous ‘without you’s’ targeted by a grace without stability, a father’s love that knows nothing more of his son than that he is a body, a replica, a random recipient of his, the father’s, good graces?  yet, perhaps this is Badiou’s dream.  perhaps this is the hollowing out he has been up to since his book on st. paul.  it might, in fact, be his savior made in fumbling textual flesh: and is that what all this sword raising is heading toward?  hollow subjectivities?  haven’t we seen these before (in marx, in the march of history, in hegel, in…)?  and if this hollow recipient of the event, of truth, is not on Badiou’s hit parade, what is he doing with luck, grace and law that doesn’t end in a pew?

By now, with ‘grace meeting with new violence’ and ‘the new initiation of our sons’, I’m simply (and surely not the only one) thinking: Where are these boys’ (overbearing) mothers?  

Wouldn’t a few good bitches just clean up this whole messy problem of contemptible and weak fathers?

Or did I miss something?  because really, Alain, even web.ster could see that one coming…


cavorting with johns

In Subjection on January 11, 2009 at 10:48 pm

i didn’t read him for years, mainly because, ostensibly and albeit contestedly, foucault couldn’t stand him.

you could say i am a devoted friends.  or… here, at the end of nausea, you  might instead call me a betrayer.  but i’m not the point.
“in the first place, starting from 1801, I understand nothing more about his conduct.  it is not the lack of documents: letters, fragments of memoirs, secret reports, police records.  on the contrary i have almost too many of them.  what is lacking in all this testimony is firmness and consistency.  they do not contradict each other, neither do they agree with each other; they do not seem to be about the same person.  and yet other historians work from the same sources of information.  how do they do it?  am i more scrupulous or less intelligent?  in any case, the question leaves me completely cold.  in truth, what am i looking for?  i don’t know…”

“…I am beginning to believe that nothing can ever be proved.  these are honest hypotheses which take the facts into account: but i sense so definitely that they come from me, and that they are simply a way of unifying my own knowledge.  not a glimmer comes from Rollebon’s side.  slow, lazy, sulky, the facts adapt themselves to the rigour of the order i wish to give them; but it remains outside of them.  i have the feeling of doing a work of pure imagination.”          Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre.  p 13

*i think the idea is that there are no ideas.  there is stuff.  there can be emotions.  is that what Jean-Luc is saying (and what is with the hyphenated johns)…

“singular essences are mobile, volatile, and always different than themselves and defer their essential nature – however they never cease to promise sameness.  it is the latter property which is endowed with the spark of an idea: this stone, that fern and this woman.”     “Strange Foreign Bodies”, for Lacanian Ink #32, p 129

but this brings me back to foucault.  does it bring sartre as well? if the body is the cage/seat/site of the soul (foucault) and the body is strangeness, with the promise of sameness… it is just body but body not flesh and blood and guts but body as body, full body.

“my hands touch each other, and my body recognizes itself as coming toward itself from an outside that the body is itself.  the body takes in the outside world.  this chiasm of the flesh is very well described by the most perceptive phenomenologist of the body – and this chiasm which makes us sensitive to how we are women to the world… “inside” is to be und between outside and outside, and this in-between – the in-between of its hide-out, of its cave and its myths and ghosts – is in the end nothing but another out.”

“the body does not contain anything… the body exposes itself to the depths of its guts, between the fibers of its muscles and along its vessels.  it exposes the inside to the outside and always escapes further, deeper into the abyss that it is.  however this is the truth of the world: it comes out of nothing, it is created, which means that is is unproduced, unformed, and not constructed.  it is an alteration and a spasm of nihil.  the world is an explosion and an expansion of an exposure (which can be called ‘truth’ or ‘meaning’).  the chiasm of the body and of the world exposes exposure to itself – and with it, the impossibility to finally bring the world to the spirit, and bring meaning to significance.”

“the body is strangeness which is not preceded by familiarity.”     again, Nancy, “Strange Foreign Bodies” pp 125-126

and so there are just objects.  extremely complex, but then again that complexity belies connectivity, which insinuates meaning and means all the wrong thing…

there is more to think about. here.

increasing diversity, or…

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2009 at 2:14 pm

nytimes 1/10/09

increasing embarrassment at our inability to handle.understand.address representation…


In philosophy as biography, Subjection on January 9, 2009 at 3:19 pm

it’s a false choice.

memoir or philosophy.  if i start, i start from i.  to pronounce on my life as i saw it or life as i see it: it’s a false choice.

i’m reading de beauvoir.again.

did she see the overlap?  

in memoirs of a dutiful daughter, a surprise ending reveals a daughter who is not simone, but her best friend, Zaza.  the question raised is of the subject proper and asking this question properly, proprietarily, (what is not) simone’s story ends in hysteria.  the loving daughter cannot find her feet as her mother continues to sweep them out from under her, moving her to berlin (of all places) each time she seems to be on solid ground. simone writes herself, writes Zaza, as prey to propriety.

yet in the second sex, in true historical form, simone writes woman into a propriety that suffocates as it hopes to suffice, to explain, to show contingencies when at all possible.  a venerable act..? it is the same act she performs in the dutiful daughter.  a tracing, an anthropology even, of how one woman, how all women, fall prey to propitiation.  

true, i’ve not reached the conclusion yet.  and to be painfully honest, i skipped over bits of the history.  buying the contingency argument, i’m not convinced that knowing in which ways men broke women’s hymens before sex is all that critical to how i will see myself when i wake up tomorrow.  but isn’t that something closer to denial than i’d like to admit?  (clearly) i’m not anti-historical, after all…

what’s the problem here?

i’m bother by a question i can’t answer.  not without considerable compromise.  the claim made by beauvoir and others is that women are women in childbearing.  it is the body that differentiates, and it is the body designed for the purpose of procreation that matters.

sowould i accept sexual difference if i’d accept my own salvation?  (1 Timothy 2:13-15)

 isn’t this feminist argument essentially an echo of what is already given as proper?

i.e.: ‘women will be saved through childbearing’

saved.  apparently in greek (sozo) this can mean:

1)to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction

1a1) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one
suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health

1b1) to preserve one who is in danger of destruction,
to save or rescue

but my sources are suspect.  i got them from a biblical translation site, and when i googled the word ‘sozo’ on my own, only other biblical sites came up.  something’s fishy.  something’s rigged.

but didn’t i know that to start?  can it make sense to read the bible in search of something other than propriety?



isn’t this something of what nancy is up to?  this mitsein, this community.  isn’t he tracing old texts, old terrain on this front?

i can’t answer these questions today.  you could say i’m barren on the subject…

inaugural overlap, sort of…

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2009 at 1:46 pm