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 Extempore Response to Susan Abraham, Tat-siong Benny Liew, and Mayra Rivera G AYAT R I C H A K R AV O R T Y S P I VA K The papers are very different, all three of them; and, I would bet, also suggest new possibilities for ‘‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’’ The Nicaraguans wrote at a certain point a piece which came out in The Socialist Review called ‘‘Can the Subaltern Vote?’’ and, you know, I really felt that they were not taking my little essay in very well. [Laughter.] I was telling Serene [Jones] earlier that I actually sent that paper back to the editors saying, ‘‘It’s too long, it’s too confusing, it needs to be cut. I can’t cut it, please help me.’’ They just published it as it was, so . . . I’ve suffered. [Laughter.] So I am most grateful, not only to the three presenters, but also to the colleagues who invited me here. Such careful thought went into the questions, and also a great show of confidence and support in actually reading my stuff with such care. I’m not a very popular person within my own field, the literary critical field; you hardly ever see people who actually teach literary criticism come to talks I give, and so it is very good to find this kind of confidence. It helps in the survival game. So I thank you all. I will not say everything that I want to say—you should be most grateful for that— because each paper has given me much more than I am going to be able to put in my response. I would say to start with that I am in general agreement with all three papers. In general, a response of this kind—if I may say this—is expected to cut the other person to shreds, I think. Also in the French tradition—within which I also sometimes speak, signifying myself as a French person, not even just as white—the high tradition is to agree to agree, to agree, to agree, absolument d’accord, and then to hit with néanmoins, which is ‘‘nonetheless ,’’ and then always blood. So I can’t produce that one. PAGE 136 ................. 17764$ $CH8 10-28-10 12:07:18 PS e x te m p or e r es p o ns e t o a b r ah a m , l i e w, a n d r i v er a 兩 13 7 [Addressing Susan Abraham:] I want to begin with the idea of the uncanny and also the idea that planetarity secures a rhetorical space. When I said earlier this afternoon that planetarity has to be put in the value form in order for it to become something that we can use, I was also saying that what I said to my Swiss interlocutors was simply an invitation to consider what Laurie Anderson said when she was asked, ‘‘Why did you want to be the artist in residence for NASA?’’ She said, ‘‘I like the space people because it makes us realize that human beings are worms.’’ Now, I wouldn’t want to put it quite that way because to say human beings are worms is also like saying human beings are God. But that is what I was telling the Swiss, that it doesn’t matter in the long run if one planet disappears as the system keeps on going, and we can’t even talk about the planet in a system. That’s a kind of astringent reminder; that is not something that one actually uses to do anything. But, on the other hand, it can’t hang out by itself because we are persons. Everything seems to indicate that justice should be reflected in laws, that every unconditioned ethics comes uncannily—to take yours and Freud’s word (although it’s not Freud’s word, actually: unheimlich means something else)—paired with a politics. Not the single politics—that was Derrida’s judgment of Levinas, wasn’t it? Therefore, when I take planetarity to be that, I myself dive into a certain value form. You were correct to point it out. [Addressing Tat-siong Benny Liew:] You chose Marx’s and Saussure’s quotes—I myself turn it into an invocation not just to learn languages, but deep language learning. Yes. ([Aside to Susan Abraham:] Therefore, I am happy that you used that adjective ‘‘rhetorical.’’ That you call planetarity a...


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