File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0106, message 87

Subject: Re: Tantalizing times - arguing for atheism....
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2001 11:01:04 +0800

G'day Steve,

> > Just as side note, to define the relationship I am talking about between
> > what could be called the normative (bourgeois) Dominant, and the Other.
> > Other is not white, middle-class and male.
> Are you then in favor of the re-invention of a unified human subject which
> to include all sentient creatures, or at least all within the human genome
> variation of which is so minute?

No. Not particularly. I am not 'for' the re-invention of a unified human
subject, I think that would be impossible (in a social sense, not as a
singular entity, maybe biologically though). I am 'against' the fractured or
'schizophrenic' subject. I think of the human mind as finite, or rather
human experience is finite, which means that the sum total of a
multiple-subject-position identity can be placed within a boundary. The
boundary being the limitations of the human mind, which in turn is limited
by human experience. That is nice in theory...
However, where my above position becomes problematic is when subject
positions are constructed from both conscious and subconscious influences.
With repression, absolute control was supposedly possible over subject
position as it was posited within the conscious domain, but I don't think
this is, ahh, very accurate. Which means that to have a unified (social)
subject you would need to have knowledge of the subconscious. Is that
Hmm, maybe on a very limited scale in specific circumstances (gauging
behavioural performance in similar previous local circumstances), but this
is where I will bring Lefebvre back and ask how do we construct our everyday
lives without neccessarily thinking about it (we may feel it, but that is
not thinking)?
How many assumptions do we make about our own subject position(s) just to
make it through the day (without even realising we are making assumptions)?

> > In post-colonial deconstruction
> > of the oppression of aboriginal peoples a common element was the
> > construction by the colonisers of the native populace as 'exotic' or
> > something similar. That is not just something that is a coincidence. The
> > libidinal (and other affective) economies of the Dominant colonisers
> > projected upon the colonised native people. They became everything that
> > Dominant could not normatively be in a 'civilised' society. I have
> > explained my position very poorly, umm...
> I am not clear how this differs from the pre-modernist definitions of the
> colonised?

I am not too sure either, because I wasn't around when, say, the English
were dumping convicts in Australia...

When you say pre-modernist definitions are you referring to those
circulating pre-modernity, or those which we (being present day peoples)
would label upon pre-modern people?
It also depends on how you are defining pre-modern...

Depending on answers to the above, I might say that in the pre-modern, the
Other really was other. That is, these people were completely outside of the
social (of the Dominant), outside of the process of re-iteration to bring
them into the domain (and power) of the Dominant. Once they were re-iterated
(into the binary logic of the Domiant social as Other) they could have power
exerted over them. The first step in this process? Giving them a name...
Before the Other was named, they were the protagonists in myth and
around-the-fire-stories. The seed of these stories would obviously come from
some reference, but once they entered the social what was circulated was the
trumped up signifier of what was in the story, not what was actually there.
I suppose the Dominant needed (from Lit theory) a distinction between the
Actual World and a Possible Actual World. This came with science, which came
with the Enlightenment... however before then we had a secular world, which
definitely had there own version of Other. Hmm, I can see your point. It
depends on your field of reference, where do you draw the line of
definition, we could go back to the Primal Horde or something... Is this
what you meant?

> Why the necessity for
> instrumental reason and the holocaust - apart from the fact that it
> de-historicizes the event... Consider the use of the death penalty in the
USA as
> a tool of oppression against racial minorities...

Just like Australia's White Australia Policy. I think Bauman was talking
about the, to put it crudely, the nuts and bolts of genocide on a daily
basis. What overcame the animal pity of the purveyors of these
monstousities? The absolute bureaucratization of the daily (everyday
life!!!) machinery of genocide.

What I find alarming are simularities between the 'mode' of thinking in Nazi
Germany and that of present day big business... (Hopefully, not the 'genre'
of thinking...)

Turning to popular culture, how many new television programs deal with what
it means to be human? I am referring to 'Reality TV'. TV programs where
their purpose is to portay the whole gambit of human emotion, not 'acted'
emotion, but 'real' emotion... why do such programs rate as highly as they

> > How can we possibly argue against 'ethnicists' like Pauline Hanson, when
> > they beat the drum of what it means to be Australian?
> Why surrender the notion of being Australian, American or any other local
> self-definition of your local community to the right? Narratives are
> questionable isn't that inevitable in the post-modern?

It depends on who has the power to define such subject positions. That is
the point of the below regarding binary logic, the most authentic subject
position is one of pessimism (I can't remember who said that, sorry), the
most pessimistic postion is that of the 'victim'. 'Victim' is another term
for Other, but who defines who is a 'victim'? And I don't mean oppressors...
if there are oppressors. If the social is viewed as a Hyperreal, I think
some right-wing politicians may be taking advantage of the free-floating
signifier of 'victimised'.

It is not a matter of surrender, rather choosing another playing field that
does not involve such emotive (assumed) definitions. E.g. attacking their
ability to raise issues in the name of being a good 'Aussie' or (what is the
US equivalent?) Patriot (?). Not what actually is defined as being an
'Aussie'... thus attacking (what Lawrence Grossberg calls) the authority of

> > I think earlier I
> > mentioned something about the best form of social control (besides a
> > big gun) is to construct narratives that place everyone with in it, I
> > brought up Christianity, and sinners, etc. That is what is happening
> > our right wing politicians, they are arguing within a binary logic, i.e.
> > are Australian or you are not. There is no grey area. I am suggesting
> > only way to engage such positions (for social 'good', but what is social
> > good, eh, who knows?) is to refute the whole system, i.e. both
> Does the binary logic work? Tools for use against this set of reactionary
> discourses remain anti-racist, anti-colonialism and pro-science - genetics
> interesting case in point..
> > What I was getting at with the below, is that the purely subjectified
> > position is the only authentic position, hence the site of legitimacy.
> > Individuals know this, and seeing as though there is always someone
> > the space of the Other, the dominant becomes easily vilified, hence
> > empowering the Other with authenticity as the victim, as the site of
> > subjectification. What is lost in all this is intent. But that is
> > ramble...
> Would you then abandon the ethics of otherness as does Badiou?

Hmm, Badiou wants to resurect 'truth'. Yes?
No thanks. Truth can be 'objective' (just like anything else that can be
'thought', like mathematics), in the sense that if it is simple enough
potentially anyone can hold it as a concept in their mind and understand it.
But having knowledge of something is not the same as believing it...
Although I have never (critically) read Badiou, only discussed his work with
others, I really should get down to the library...

I bring up 'intent', for intent works as truth but only in a contingent
form. But am I just playing word games?

> We are the borg he says adjusting his keyboard, eye-glasses with black
> hanging out of his ears, worrying about the extermination of all
> non-domesticated life-forms. Of course we are all stereotypes  and belong
> vast and obviously in-operative communities.

Non-domesticated is interesting, kind of like the Other...



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