“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The View from Platform Pi, or, I've Got Nothing to Lose against the Relentless Superego

...and in particular, the mode in which the relentlessness manifests is utterly joyless. All you need to do is help people smile, and you've dissolved a slew of that.

When will it stop, this mildew-like addictive cynical reason patriarchal Puritan rubbernecking-of-evil disguised as progressive whateverness? Massively enabled and amplified by internet speed and accessibility?

Like, in the absence of the internet, you had to just kinda wait for someone's book to come out, and you might not know all the books, and you tended to rethink stuff while you waited. Now you don't have to wait or hesitate, and you get to broadcast without needing to be vetted by a publisher. So you have to up the ante.

I've just been reading a blog (no comments allowed) by someone who has pre-blocked me from Twitter, before we've even had a chance to have issues with one another. Most people, like Irigaray and Björk, don't treat me like that, but whatever.

It's much, much worse than the Salem witch trials. In that situation, at least you had to see the person first and then shout “Witch!” In this one, you can just look down a list of names and pre-try and pre-execute them, without needing to lift a finger.

The mode of execution. It's called no-platforming. You won't, for instance, allow a pro-feminist activist or gay rights politician to speak at your place because they aren't quite right...or maybe talk about them, or read them. It's the narcissism of small differences.

Me and Dipesh Chakrabarty, for example, have been banned from a few postcolonial theory journals, for saying the word species. I met Gayatri Spivak last weekend and we got on like a house on fire, and she really dug my deconstructy OOO, and she said she kinda regretted how she'd phrased her postcolonial theory book. That's so awesome you know, being ready to be wrong. It's one reason why I really like the people I like.

No-platform me now if you haven't already, because I'm going to say something now. When you phenomenologically reduce some ---- theory (of which I'm a bit of an exponent, I'm not gonna spell it out), aka subtract the ideas and just look at the attitude with which the ideas are held, you will find something like the Old Testament implacable god, the phallogocentric bit being the bit where my being is a totally blank slate for formatting according to carefully vetted specifications. Oh, and the bit where everyone else's but the elect's opinion is wrong in advance, and the holders of those opinions to be non-platformed.

It has to do, sadly and in part, with unconsciously retweeting the style of the first exponent of ----- theory. (I could tell you some stories but whatever. Just realize that whenever this scholar is in the room, everyone else needs to be seen as less intelligent and as wrong.)

A lot of what passes for theory is just retweeting some guy's attitude in order to look good. I remember when I used to teach literary theory exactly like my teacher, Terry Eagleton. I was still trying to get the A.

I'm not convinced there are any discursive criteria that will satisfy the elect in this case, because apparently saying “Oh, sorry, I made a mistake, help me fix it” is also disallowed in advance.

You're reading this, if you've been influenced by this style, and thinking I'm some kind of Allan Bloom. What happened? Some X-ers fought and fought against the graybeards to get feminist theory on the books. Now feminist theory teachers fear their students, as my friend Iris van der Tuin likes to observe, egged on by some X-ers who clearly didn't smoke enough pot or do enough Es in the early 90s. Or something. It's gotta be something. Like, how anti-fun the 80s Tories were--they just didn't get into acid in the 60s, is all. :)

And if you did ingest the disco biscuits, how come you forgot about that vibe?

You know, the similarity with Trump is that that guy can't laugh either. He can dish it out but he can't take it. So I think in the end, this academic phase is finite, despite how the superego is made of id and is thus like a relentless dog with a bone. Because it's a joyless dog.


D. E.M. said...

"Being ready to be wrong" --it's a position of non-aggression, of openness.

Also "disco biscuit" made me lol.

Eileen Joy said...

I ate the disco biscuit and dropped the acid and I haven't forgotten. [smile]

Timothy Morton said...

You sure haven't, Eileen. And we're all very happy about that.