13
Nov
08

Nealon’s Alterity Politics

Jeffrey Nealon
Alterity Politics: Ethics and Performative Subjectivity
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory

•    Leans towards more ethically unfamiliar notions: responses to the inhuman, the chiasmus, exemplarity, anger, and becoming other
•    Ethical response is the production of social relations, rather than the tracing of preexisting ethical templates
•    Butler: theories of otherness/alterity close with an embarrassing “etc.”
•    Identity politics: thematize according to sameness
•    Alterity politics: considers identity responsive first to the other
•    Ethics concerns itself with general theoretical structures and specific concrete responses
o    Reemergence based on the combo of political and theoretical
•    Performative responsibility
•    Refusal of lack
•    The specific “I” that lacks wholeness is symptomatic of the generalized “we” lacking wholeness
•    Linguistic turn—any state of sameness requires difference to restructure
•    Hegel: every individual is dependent on the possibility of constant reassurance by the other
•    Subjective differences through postmodern excess ≠ modernist lack
•    Every group must share the lack—mourn collectively
•    Discourse of identity’s lack (failure to attain the idea) tends to level all identity ‘failures’ on the same plane
•    A notion of difference-as-lack underestimates the productive qualities of alterity
•    Identity and difference: not an effect of loss, but instead produce effects
•    The excess-that-is-lack
2: “Why is it so difficult to ‘situate’ and respond to a set of specific others—ethically, politically, or theoretically—and what does the difficult of doing so teach us about identity politics and the possibility of what I call an alterity politics? Can this ‘failure’ of sameness be rethematized as an affirmation of difference? What possibilities are there for concrete responses that do not merely or finally reduce otherness to a subset of the same, to a subset of an inquiring subject’s identity?”
10: “Thus the homogeneity—or, in Laclau and Mouffe’s parlance, the hegemony—of ‘the people’ must be thought in the double time: the time of the nation, the people, and the same becomes the time of difference’s exclusion, a presence constantly interrupted by the alterity of an impossibility or void at the origin.”
12: “As Deleuze polemically maintains, ‘Those who bear the negative know not what they do.’ In other words, whereas its proponents take the process of loss and mourning to be an ethical expropriation of the subject, for Deleuze this process is actually the assured movement of a resentful subjectivity.  Those who tarry with the negative, he suggests, know all too well what they do: they know that totalization will fail, the subject will be frustrated, promises will inexorable be broken.”
14: “A response, Derrida argues, is always a ‘response in deed, at work rather in the series of strategic negotiations…response does not respond to a problem or a question, it responds to the other—for the other.”

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