(2014) Judith Butler: Speaking of Rage and Grief

This is a reprise of my favourite part of Butler’s work on grieving. This stuff was hugely helpful in one section of my thesis (and book!). This short talk is very similar to passages in her 2004 book, Precarious Life: Powers of Violence and Mourning. The passages about “who am I without you” are lifted from there. These discussions are also in Frames of War: When is Life Grievable from 2009.

I very much appreciate her application of the decentred subject to both public and private life in these passages, where one doesn’t only mourn significant others, but places and broader relations. And is surprised again and again by how we can be undone, or how we undo each other. Grief, it fucks me/you/we up. But of course not only grief — I take Butler to also mean all interpersonal and communal relations can move and change us in surprising ways that only the intensity of grief may bring us to realise. And then this “realisation” is odd, unplanned, unwilled, irregular — precisely not mathematical, as she says. The seven stages of grieving being less a step sequence than a sort of cosmic joke in which all seven are experienced simultaneously over breakfast.

I haven’t read Butler’s recent LRB essay on Derrida and the death penalty yet, but the topic alone suggests a further articulation of death, violence and grief, which Butler has been fruitfully working on for at least the past decade. And always with strong psychoanalytic currents, if not explicit citations.

"If, as psychoanalysts of all orientations maintain, subjectivity appears only by dissimulating itself, then philosophical or psychiatric classifications of this kind, supposedly based on this or that distinguishing feature, can only be based on a fundamentally stupid-yet-motivated misrecognition. Any alleged ‘empiricism’ which believes non-appearance = absence or non-existence is not only counter-indicated in the regime of the subject, but tyrannical in its essence. The ‘content’ of the statements of anybody can indeed be ‘identical’ to the statements of anybody else, without that bizarre identity compromising the singularities, the radical non-homology, of psychic life."

Bartlett, Clemens, Roffe - Lacan, Deleuze, Badiou

"The domination by one condition of the general capacity for knowledge means, despite the multiple disavowals of the contemporary sceptics (including relativists, constructivists and hermeneuts), that this condition sets itself up as the place of truth. From its occupation of this place it comes to dominate all the other generic conditions for thought such that, for example, under the positivist suture that locates all truth within science, the thought of the poem is relegated to the function of supplement in the sphere of culture or a matter of linguistic analysis; that the amorous condition is ignored altogether or at best relegated to the inconsistent complex of ‘sex and sentimentality’; that the political condition is conceived as a technical problem of administration and management."

Bartlett, Clemens, Roffe - Lacan, Deleuze, Badiou

"That’s what’s radical about Freud […] that identity fails. So if you’re talking about the norms of masculinity and femininity in a patriarchal culture, what’s crucial is that they are very, very powerful, but in our dreams, they fall apart, and in our symptoms they fall apart, and in fact they’re falling apart all the time. […] If patriarchal ideology wasn’t effective we wouldn’t need feminism, but if it was 100% effective, we wouldn’t have feminism."

An interview with Jacqueline Rose (via mannemo)

"Under private property… every person speculates on creating a new need in another, so as to drive him to fresh sacrifice, to place him in a new dependence and to seduce him into a new mode of enjoyment and therefore economic ruin."

Karl Marx - Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts 1844 (via dailymarx)

"A new mode of enjoyment" has a strong Lacanian ring to it…

"Hollande himself seemed strangely detached from the crisis as he stuck to his schedule attending commemorations marking the end of the second world war on Monday. He was shown on television drenched by pouring rain, making a speech on a remote Breton island, eight kilometres from the French mainland."



"Existence in late capitalism is a permanent rite of initiation. Everyone must show that they identify wholeheartedly with the power which beats them."

Adorno & Horkheimer - Dialectic of Enlightenment


'The social function of Art', as Adorno will echo, 'is to not have one.' Egalitarian promise is enclosed in the work's self-sufficiency, in its indifference to every particular political project and in its refusal to get involved in decorating the mundane world.

It is subversive, as subsequent generations would discover, by dint of its radical separation of the sensorium of art from that of everyday aestheticized life. A contrast is thereby formed between a type of art that makes politics by eliminating itself as art and a type of art that is political on the proviso that it retains its purity, avoiding all forms of political intervention.


Jacques Ranciere, Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (via lostcomm)

(Source: disposableeverything, via imkrebsgang)

Jordan GCZ “Crybaby J”

Falty DL - She Sleeps (2000Black Remix)