Friday, November 27, 2009

The Necrosocial

Dying to study?

Can we co-opt a position already co-opted by opponents?

Reading this piece after reading The Coming Insurrection, there's particular resonance in the idea that protest is only acceptable when its form and meaning are both managed by power. But I can't help thinking that the perpetual deliberation as a delaying tactic can't also be used to protesters' advantage. Delay is usually seen as the inactive moment between anticipation and doing (action), but this assumes that while protesting, the mobilized group is only protesting with its end being negotiation. If the goal is prolonging debate, then, delay would be beneficial to anyone but those seeking to "manage" the situation.

2 comments:

Stan Apps said...

Wow, student protest as zombie/vampire movie! That's wild, somewhat ridiculous, yet great. I do think gothic modes of protest would make more people interested in protest, actually.

Two things I've read lately that seem to relate--Kasey Mohammad's essay on the political life of zombies in Philosophy and the Undead (a somewhat silly anthology he co-edited) and Alan Sokal (parpetrator of the Sokal hoax)'s attack on Foucault, which seems to be mirrored in "the Necrosocial".

Here's Sokal's afterword to his hoax paper:

http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/afterword_v1a/afterword_v1a_singlefile.html

in which he quotes a philosopher named Alan Ryan saying:

"The minority view was always that power could be undermined by truth ... Once you read Foucault as saying that truth is simply an effect of power, you've had it. ... "

This seems to resonate with the comment in "The Necrosocial" that "And so we attend lecture after lecture about how ‘discourse’ produces ‘subjects,’ ignoring the most obvious fact that we ourselves are produced by this discourse about discourse which leaves us believing that it is only words which matter, words about words which matter."

Interesting, is the student left going to figure out that discourse theory is not about revolt?

Ryan said...

On your cue, and mainly because I liked what you reprinted from it on your blog, I've read The Coming Insurrection. I find its premise to be similar to your post and The Necrosocial. Namely, there are many ways toward equality, and while the University system was supposedly set up with that goal in mind (by some, not all), it has largely failed. The split between theoretical and "practical" leftist thought has largely been an illustration of why a leftism based solely on theory will not work. Discourse, if you can "keep 'em talking" is a way to appease. If we believe that we have a voice, then action is delayed, since to act is to jeopardize our part in the discourse itself. Discourse is pacification. But whether discourse can function as a delaying tactic to be used against Power is something to consider, too.

If The Invisible Committee has it right, then our defects and failings-- like perhaps that of "too much talk not enough action"--can be used for subversion. Granted, their discussion seems more of a mental/physiological one: that our mental and biological failings are to be embraced as aspects of our inability to be assimilated and alienated as lonely atoms (incidentally, a term William T. Vollman uses heavily in his discussion/justification of violence).