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  • Abstracts

Anustup Basu, The Human and his Spectacular Autumn, or, Informatics after Philosophy

Abstract: This essay revisits a few core postulates of an idealistic modernity of the west that was based on the voluntarism of the human subject, the rational workings of the secular state, and a scientific episteme of power/knowledge that was to absolve a godless, historical universe of dogma and miracle. But perhaps, as it has been increasingly apparent, a new form of sovereign power is making itself immanent in our times. Instead of a historical agency of the conscientious human, or an isomorphic relationship between disciplinary knowledge and power, the global application of this form of sovereignty is based more on the temporal and spatial inseparability among moments of militarization, informatization, and financialization. As a result, categories and definitions of a classic liberal political imagination—like fascism for instance—can no longer be simply attached to human profiles or human tasks. This new, dogmatic, faith-based sovereignty of informatics and technology-in-and-of-itself is diffuse and micro-punctual in its presence, unlike the world-historical spectacle of the mad Führer. In the wake of specific molar technologies for producing social life itself, one has to be attentive to a transformed situation in which meritorious conversations between humans are increasingly overwritten by a great dictatorial monologue of power, by which money alone, along with its complex corporatist-statist interests, speaks to itself.

How does one re-think politics and resistance in such a scenario, where inhuman assemblages and flows of finance and interests—mega-forces of funding and facilitation—override communicative presumptions about scientific truths and pieties of democratic representation? How do we start thinking in this moment of danger in a manner that is neither driven by paranoia nor enclosed in an ivory tower of angelic ironies? —ab

Pelagia Goulimari, “Myriad Little Connections”: Minoritarian Movements in the Postmodernism Debate

Abstract: The canonical phase of the postmodernism debate, in the work of Fredric Jameson and others, bequeathed to us a model of interaction between minoritarian movements which it is our challenge now to leave behind: minoritarian movements as non-communicating fragments in need of unification by a hegemonic force. In our post-hegemonic world, I return to Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus for a “new” model of interaction: escaping the false dilemma of fragmentation versus unification, minoritarian movements are distinct, having nothing in common, as well as unceasingly interacting in myriad little encounters. —pg

Jason B. Jones, The Time of Interpretation: Psychoanalysis and the Past

Abstract: Though “deferred action” has entered the theoretical lexicon of the humanities, Lacan’s theory of causality is still poorly understood, as are its implications for interpretation. This essay argues that the return to Freud reveals psychoanalysis to be in the first instance a theory of temporality and history. Against conventional understandings of psychoanalysis as a recovery of the past—the view that the “cure” works because one remembers what “really happened”—Lacan proposes that interpretation works by depleting the analysand’s putative knowledge of the past. Paradoxically, by draining the past of meaning, Lacanian analysis binds us to the work of history. The essay offers a systematic reading of Lacan’s 1950s works on technique, connecting these with later developments to clarify the anti-narrative emphasis in psychoanalytic theory. —jbj

Robert Payne, Virtually: The Refreshment of Interface Value

Abstract: This essay examines virtual representation as a source of anxiety—moral, cultural, and epistemological. By first analyzing two failed attempts by the U.S. Congress to apply legislative closure to the admitted epistemological uncertainty of virtual child pornography, the question of performativity is raised. The Congressional Acts’ contradictory logic imagined a contagion of harm emanating from digital material and attacking actual, uninvolved children, but also a contagion of perpetration to “desensitize” potentially any viewer. The essay pivots on Margaret Morse’s definition of the virtual as the “present subjunctive mode of a fictively shared present” and goes on to examine the equally uncertain performativity attributed to the virtual relationships between personal webcam subjects and their viewers. Charges of “virtual prostitution” against some female webcam subjects recall Congress’s moralist fears of infectious “transmission.” As a device of perceived...

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