discourse and affect

Seamus Malone redye at amanda.dorsai.org
Sat Jul 22 00:26:17 MDT 1995

On Thu, 20 Jul 1995, Jon Beasley-Murray wrote:

> Essentially, I remain surprised at the position (even from those who
> defend its existence) that the "non-discursive" is somehow residual,
> what's left over when you've catalogued and itemised the preponderance
> that is the discursive.  Similarly, asking desperately "what is outside
> language" assumes that one is already fully--and *only*--inside
> language.  With this I disagree.

For me it is important to distinguish the difference between something
which is outside langauge and someting which is outside the symbolic-
from a marxist perspective, one has a difficult time understanding the
value of labor without appealing to an order of symbolic representation
(the absense of labor represented in the commodity, the absense of the
commodity represented in money, the absense of money represented in
banking databases or checks for that matter) outside of language- the
centrality of language as a metaphor for processess of representation it
strikes me is particular to the epoch of capital and serves the function
of occluding the symbolic relations of power in labor.
> Equally, I find it bizarre that essentially knowledge, cognition and
> sociality are all equated with discourse, and thus the non-discursive
> somehow with the "non-human" or the *unheimlich* or somesuch.  The
> non-discursive does indeed, but for *both* apparent sides in this
> dispute, become the Kantian "thing in itself" or *Ding and Sich* or
> whatever.  Again, I have a hard time with all this.
> Moreover, I'll propose a positive term for what's so far been designated
> the non-discursive: how about "affect"?  By this I mean something more
> than emotion, but rather, along the lines of Spinozan *affectus*,
> interactions between and among bodies.  We find ourselves situated as
> much within this realm of affect, within our own materiality, as within
> some kind of symbolic order of discourse.

while I think that affect and habit and characther and idiom are all
important aspects of everyday life which are strategically left out of
capitalist thought- and I think for very particular reasons, I think that
there is more to the extra-linguistic than affect, I am interested in the
semiotic, and not necessarily in the Kristevian sense and its relation to
the sensorium, phenomenon and aesthesis- broadly speaking, the way in
which we experience and understand sensory input or the surface
phenomenon of being and the way that engages with the fealing of
interiority or depth as it is produced by repetition of shock (qua
Freud's fort da)
> I'll suggest that in discussing affect, one would also be discussing
> intensity, community, power and what goes on "beneath ideology" and
> despite it.  Moreover, discourse works along the lines of the abstraction
> that permits and reproduces abstract, quantifiable labor measured by the
> abstract, quantifiable time of the account book and the M-C-M' circuit of
> production for its own sake (or rather, for the unaffective equivalent
> that is capital).

I'm not sure that the idea of going under ideology has as much validity
to me as going through ideology= but maybe you mean something other than
what I think you do. Deleuze who you make reference to later though seems
to me to be one of the cheif and best proponenets of going below
ideology, I see this as failing however because it presumes an atomized
subject (despite protestations) in the form of a source of desire. What
this does is negarte the fact that desire has its origins in the feild of
the other, an other which is aleady in ideology, already has a position
in the law of castration (you're soaking in it) This also means, as
Juliet Mitchell says of Riech, acknowledgement of the unconscious and
then immediately forgetting about it.
> I'll leave it pretty much at that for the moment except for a couple of
> side-issues:
> Part of the confusion about what is "postmodern" is excacerbated by the
> suggestion that postmodern philosophers are also those who suggest the
> universality and inextricability of discourse.  This seems clearly not to
> be the case, and perhaps, indeed, this is the best marker of the
> difference between poststructuralism and postmodernism, between Derrida
> and Deleuze (say).

> Jon
> Jon Beasley-Murray
> Literature Program
> Duke University
> jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu
> http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/~spoons
>      --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---

Seamus Malone
redye at amanda.dorsai.org

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