“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

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lee Edelman: After Queer, After Humanism Liveblog 8

Bartleby dies silently in prison. The lawyer, far from heartless, feels compelled to positivize Bartleby
[I'm not sure this gets at the brokenness of what the lawyer is saying at the end]
Producing Bartleby the text to make Bartleby the man disappear
[for Edelman, society is fractured from within, there is ideology etc.: it's a basically Marxist view]
But the story of Melville of the story of the lawyer, resists the erasure of the antisocial
Tension between standing for something and engaging in an act
Standing for something is to accede to social exchange
vs act, breaking from framework of legibility
[again this is quite Hegelian]
“somehow I had got into the way of using the word ‘prefer’ ”
queerness as textual preference
Derrida on Bartleby: saying nothing or promising nothing; “reminds one of a non-language”
something else in language; the queerness construed as nothing, negativity, preference for negation
left as well as right follow this kind of threat
left as legible because of that
different visions of the human community, both aspiring to collectivitiy
Hardt and Negri: Bartleby as the absoluteness of refusal that is a refusal of servitude
It can only go so far: refusal as only a beginning; we need a new social body
Bartleby can possess no value except as a proof of negativity's self-sufficiency
editorial from the Daily Oklahoman, Sunday November 2011: “a study in petulant behavior”
“childish and sometimes violent”
specter of anarchy, radical lawlessness versus implicit ideal of social body a la Hardt and Negri!
the queer as whatever a political order cannot accept
OWS: “sane and human reaction” to Wall St.
All 3 positions would eliminate the queerness that doesn't worship the gods of the polis (like Socrates)
So one needs to attend to negativity; teaching nothing; the place of that nothing in the politics of the human
dishumanities functioning as irony that Cicero recognizes in Socrates (“a purely negative dialectic which refrains from pronouncing any positive”); the lawyer has a bust of Cicero...

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