File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0109, message 71

Subject: Re: Mystify me!
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2001 12:24:33 -0500

> So, I want to apologize if I seem too bull-headed in my postings with
> you. I certainly didn't mean to attack you personally in any way. My
> interests were and remain focused on continuing this discussion.

Don't worry Eric.  No one has ever accused me of not being bullheaded.

> You aked me why I wrote the following:
> > >On the issue of autonomy, I would disagree with you regarding the role
of religion in this.  To take the example of the religion I am most
> > > familiar with, Christianity, I do see it as governed by an implicit
> > > dualism between spirit deriving from God and the fallen body of man
> > > deriving from sin. (through the temptations of the woman!)  The
> > > Romantic, modern and postmodern attempts to live autonomously from the
body and one's desires have been frustrated in part by Christianity's
attempt to frame these as evil.

Only fundamentalists take that story literally and blame women for shame and
evil because God said it was their fault.  In so far as Christianity has
used sexism to sell itself in this way, the same is true of the
Enlightenment.  As they say, the enlightenment was not one for women.  The
whole fiction of individual autonomy was made possible by forcing women to
play nature to man's culture.  The best explanations of this as far as I'm
concerned are feminist readings of Lacan's mirror stage analysis.  The
mother is holding the child that sees itself in the mirror.  The child
suddenly sees itself as subject, but it is a misrecognition that requires
ignoring the necessity of the apparatus.  The mother is the body, the
apparatus, that allows the child to see its self as self-contained.  She
holds him up but he believes he now holds himself up.  In the same way,
women have done the work of wiping men's chins so we can pretend to be

For many people who have rejected this sexism, the gender binary no longer
props up autonomy.  So what serves this function?  Before being autonomous
meant being "not Woman."  Now, it means being "not superstitious" or not
"religious" or not "fundamentalist."  Pick your devil term.   I like
fundamentalist for mine. What I mean is that I am willing to be misrepresent
fundamentalists in order to achieve less misrepresentation of religous
people in general.

Misrecognition might be the term I prefer to "mystification." I like it
because it is not the kind of thing you just lob at someone else.  It is
universal like the idea of original sin, only it doesn't entail guilt so
much as something that has to be taken into account.



Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005