Date: April 10, 2015

Response to Political Concepts

On Legitimacy or Maybe Opacity

David Sugarman

4/10/15

 

Ruby says: I want to answer Penelope’s question.
Anna says: Women! Homosexuals! The Disabled! Arabs!

List of people writing things down:

Berengere
Penelope
(Me)

People Not Writing:
Anna
Kim
Oliver
Eoghan
Chad
Nuri

Anna says: I want you to answer Penelope’s question.

Who is listening?
Eoghan has his arms crossed.
Gina is nodding.
Kim looks nervous?
Oliver, diligent.
Anna touches her lip.
Berengere’s hair is growing long—it looks nice!

Ruby read three books before she understood Glissant at age 4.

“Twinkling eyes.” Who said this? What was the context? Follow up.

Penelope says: This isn’t an actual comment.
Eoghan says: This might be stupid.
Are there more carrots? Have I had more than my fair share of bread?

Who has nodded thus far:
Eoghan
Kim
Gina
Anna
Chad

Sam has recently read Invisible Man.

[Enter Vignesh]: Hello everyone.

Anna says: That’s what I’m sort of starting to think about.
Chad says: That’s just me being useless.
Gina says: There’s nothing to uncover.

Ruby commends Eoghan’s comment on “the medial.” Eoghan responds: Mmhmm. Ruby says: Can you say more? I don’t think Eoghan can say more.

Nuri is now writing. Chad is writing. “There’s no colon!” someone says. “That’s interesting to me!” Have I had more than my fair share of bread?

 

 

Political Concepts: O p a c i t é

Ruby Lowe

Electric Text 8 April 2015

 

“Continual return is to exegesis as chaos is to disorder”

Anonymous (Twentieth Century)
Epigraph, Faulkner, Mississippi

 

Édouard Glissant Poetics of Relation (1990)

The opaque is not the obscure, though it is possible for it to be so and be accepted as such. It is that which cannot be reduced, which is the most perennial guarantee of participation and confluence. We are far from the opacities of Myth or Tragedy, whose obscurity was accompanied by exclusion and whose transparency aimed at “grasping.” In this version of understanding the verb to grasp contains the movement of hands that grab their surroundings and bring them back to themselves. (191-2)

The thought of opacity distracts me from absolute truths whose guardian I might believe myself to be. Far from cornering me within futility and inactivity, by making me sensitive to the limits of every method, it relativizes every possibility of every action within me. Whether this consists of spreading overarching general ideas or hanging on to the concrete, the law of facts, the precision of details, or sacrificing some apparently less important thing in the name of efficacy, the thought of opacity saves me from unequivocal courses and irreversible choices.

As far as my identity is concerned, I will take care of it myself. That is, I shall not allow it to become cornered in any essence; I shall also pay attention to not mixing ;it into any amalgam. Rather, it does not disturb me to accept that there are places where my identity is obscure to me, and the fact, that it amazes me does not mean I relinquish it. (192)

 

Jacques Derrida Monolingualism of the Other: Or, The Prosthesis of Origin, Paris/Baton Rouge (1998)

One more word to expatiate a bit. What I am sketching here is, above all, not the beginning of some autobiographical or anamnestic outline, nor even a timid essay toward an intellectual bildungsroman. Rather than an exposition of myself, it is an account of what will have placed an obstacle in the way of this auto-exposition for me. An account, therefore, of what will have exposed me to that obstacle and thrown me against it. Of a serious traffic accident about which I never cease thinking. … A Judeo-Franco-Maehrebian genealogy does not clarify everything, far from it. But could I explain anything without it. But could I explain anything without it, ever? No, nothing, nothing of what preoccupies me, what engages me, what keeps me in motion or in “communication,” nothing of what summons me sometimes across the silent time of interrupted communications, nothing, moreover, of what isolates me

in a kind of almost involuntary retreat, a desert that I sometimes have the illusion of “cultivating” by myself…. (69)

It is the monolanguage of the other. The of signifiers not so much property as provenance: language is for the other, coming from the other, the coming of the other. (68)

 

Édouard Glissant Faulkner, Mississippi (1996)

What is hidden makes us feel what is disclosed or revealed all the more strongly. ln Faulkner’s work, it is what “we don’t understand’’ that helps us approach the dark and luminous mass of what we think we have understood. (142)

The Faulknerian genius, occupied with deferring and at the same time revealing what torments the consciousness of Whites in the county, instinctively chooses to treat Blacks as if they had opaque, impetratable minds, even the most important Blacks in his works. (70)

True, it is said more than once (someone will repeat) that Whites are incapable of understanding Blacks. We do not hear the parallel implied that “Blacks are incapable of understanding Whites.” It is as if only the Whites feel the need to understand. (65)

Efforts to create descendants and a foundation are thwarted by two obstacles: opposition and refusal by the Blacks (the extended family) and the curse of the Whites (“the exasperated Hand”).

This is what Quentin Compson says about it: “The last. Candace’s daughter. Fatherless nine months before her birth, nameless at birth and already doomed to be unwed from the instant the dividing egg determined its sex.”

The people of the county who act against each other and against their opacity, only have themselves as their point of origin, and they leave no descendants. Through this, they refuse familial inheritanceand legitimacy, the indispensable base of every foundation. (126)

Legitimacy, the drama of its depletion, and the path of its restoration are the first principles of traditional tragic theater. This is because, in Western culture legitimacy guides the individual’s destiny and is the indistinct path linking a community to a Genesis, establishing it in its sovereign right. (128)

 

Alain Badiou, Saint Paul: The Foundations of Universalism, Paris (1997)

For each identification (the creation or cobbling together of identity) creates a figure that provides a material for its investment by the market. There is nothing more captive, so far as commercial investment is concerned, nothing more amenable to the invention of new figures of monetary homogeneity, than a community and its territory or territories. The semblance of non-equivalence is required so that equivalence itself can constitute a process. What inexhaustible potential for mercantile investments is this upsurge — taking the form of communities demanding recognition and so-called cultural singularities — of women, homosexuals, the disabled, Arabs! And these infinite combinations of predictive traits, what a godsend! Black homosexuals, disabled Serbs, Catholic pedophiles, moderate Muslims, married priests, ecologist yuppies, the submissive unemployed, prematurely aged youth! Each time, a social image authorizes new products, specialized magazines, improved shopping malls, “free” radio stations, targeted advertising networks, and finally, heady “public debates” at peak viewing times. Deluze put it perfectly: capitalist deterritorialization requires a constant reterritorialization. Capital demands a permanent creation of subjective and territorial identities in order for its principle of movement to homogenize its space of action; identities, moreover, that demand anything but the right to be exposed in the same way as others to the uniform prerogatives of the market.

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