Judith Butler taught a class entitled ETHICS AND POLITICS AFTER THE SUBJECT. The first half of the classes were focused on Hannah Arendt: performativity, politics, political theory (sovereignty, zionism), "Questions of Judgement."
NOTE: As with all my notes from the EGS, there will likely be mistakes because I did not record the lectures, I made notes as they spoke, so I am perhaps interpreting what they are saying as I am writing.
The first half of this class we discuss binationalism and Israel; the second half we discuss transgender and psychoanalysis things.
Why does she work on both of these issues?
- modes of address, how we are called, what are the names by which we are interpellated - "Am I that name?" a reference to Sojourner Truth, Fanon asks, "Am I a [white] man?"
- My son just calls me JB and I'm fine with whatever, which is lame, I guess.
- It is from the basis of my Jewish education I came to be vocally critical of Israel, which got me called a lot of names.
- This chills intellectual inquiry.
- I feel my work has been concerned with implicit and explicit censorship - Hannah Arendt was called a lot of names
- There are questions of fracturous co-habitation and community, which is part of the thinking in transgender thinking.
- What would it mean to take this Levinasian idea, to take it to a place even he was unwilling to go? (we are referred to Jonathon N. Boyarin)
- Benjamin seems to have an idea of the messianic (youtube) that is not progressive and is sporadic and ...(temporary?)
- Scholem separates from Arendt and Benjamin by claiming that Messianism is progressive and based on an ancient claim that this is situated in time. See Raluca Eddon
- The Question of Zion, Jacqueline Rose - she blames Messianism stating the catastrophe of Israel is recreated so as to establish this Messianic narrative; but, she fails to account for the different forms of Messianism.
- Arendt is said to have no love for the Jewish people, to which she replied, "No, I have no love for nations, I love persons."
- Physis and not nomos (social order) - to say, "I am not a Jew," is to say, "I am a Man," is to talk about phusis, the natural order. It is a given and something to be thankful for.
- To understand her position we have to understand what she is doing with the nation-state: they inevitably create exiles and refugees for those that are not part of the nation
- A nation for Jews of Jews is problematic for Arendt because its similarities to Nazism. In her mind, when you base a state on a homogeneous population it is problematic because this leads to another Holocaust.
- This critique does not come from only outside of Israel (how subversive!) we can look to Idith Zertal (although mainly in French) and Adi Ophir
- she becomes concerned with the stateless in the late-40s early 50s; perhaps this is due to her own forced exile.
- we are recommended to read Edward Said's "Freud and the Non-European"
- By focusing on the problematic of the diaspora, Said takes up the idea of the political diaspora
- Arendt does call for home and belonging, but these can never be the basis of a polity b/c a plurality cannot have one part that is exemplary of the whole.
- To have a polity is to accept the unchosen stranger, perhaps an echo of Levinas
- Federated binationalism seems to be an experiment in critiquing sovereignty and perhaps federations resemble/result in smaller forms of self-determinism.
- Statelessness is a condition where there is an extreme distribution of power among a few
- This is not a metaphysical state, but metaphysics is under siege
She also recommends the film Arna's Children:
Note to Self: Robert Frost's "Mending Wall" as a non-linguistic action which demonstrates how we might live adjacently?
Who counts as real or who has recognizable gender? This is a question that shows ontology changes the way in which we recognize the world.
- it's an Hegelian problem of recognition
- Whose lives are mournable? grew from this. There is an unequal distribution of grieve-ability and this is largely dependent upon the dominant framing among the media.
- Antigone's claim was that she wanted to bury her brother in public.
- Plato wanted to ban poets because the public would grieve voluptuously, they would fatten on grief.
- Here Butler tells us a great story about attending an GLBT poetry slam in San Francisco during which one poet, who was working towards becoming male from female, recited a poem that ended with the lines "fuck the DSM-IV, and fuck you, Judith Butler." This has been told before, apparently.
- The poet rejected "Butler" (the interpellation) for being a representation of gender non-fixity, which does not meet her needs for being understood as a fixed-gender person.
- It is an unfortunate problem to have to address one that we no longer wish to address because it is often necessary to tell that person - we have this need to live within a name.
- We might think of Kate Borstein as a closet Deleuzean, where the transformation never ends, which brings her closer to my thinking.
- Can we think of transexuality without reinforcing sociological/psychological categories in our call for recognition?
We're recommended to read Freud's "Mourning and Melancholia"
- Mourning - where loss is accepted
- Melancholia - where loss is not allowed. Self-laceration is a way of preserving the other in our bodies. We are angry at the lost and strike-out at them, now housed in ourselves. This is the basis of Freud's idea of the superego.
- what would it take to disengage this formation?
- we must forget and let go of that other
- At a cultural level, where there are those that can't be mourned, we get a culturally-induced melancholia
- such that we don't have the vocabulary to describe the loss we have.
[END OF CLASS]