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  • Introduction 12.3
  • Jodi Dean and Michael J. Shapiro

The articles in 12.3 suggest a political-theoretical topography marked by the prominence of Freud and Deleuze and traces of Benjamin and Derrida. Screened of proper names, the features contouring the political are swamps and fissures, shifting edges, unstable sprawls and impossible spaces without centers. There are subterranean forces threatening to rupture or exceed the unstable structures unsuccessfully attempting their containment. How one or how we—itself the name of a problem and an aspiration—might make it through or even reside in such a terrain thus becomes the question (dis)orienting this issue of Theory & Event.

In "Freud and the Political," Mladen Dolar opens with an anecdote about Freud in a cave, a hidden encounter with political resonance. Rather than coinciding with the social surface, the political takes the form of a more fundamental fissure. Psychoanalysis describes and dissects this crack of the political, a point Dolar explores in relation to the psychoanalytic institution, drive, and the opposition between the artificial and the primary masses. Too often, Dolar explains, psychoanalysis's relation to the political is misread as the Oedipal familial drama (as in the critique presented in Anti-Oedipus). He offers an alternative reading that addresses the subversion of roles and positions, the untying and undoing of relationships, central to psychoanalysis's circumscription of the political.

James Martel ("The Messiah who Comes and Goes: Franz Kafka on Redemption, Conspiracy and Community") argues that we only clumsily make our way through the political. Most of the time we misrecognize what's going on, who's here and who's there. Most of the time we fail to do what we intend. But, by reading Kafka with Benjamin, Martel demonstrates that not realizing our intentions is not so bad after all. Failure and misrecognition disrupt the narratives of authority to which we subscribe. Martel writes, "Such disruptions produce less a sense of our own 'agency' than a sense of participation in an ongoing conspiracy, one that formally excludes us even as it serves as the means for our (potential and only partial) redemption.

Laura Penny's "Parables and Politics: How Benjamin and Deleuze & Guattari Read Kafka" is also concerned with Benjamin's reading of Kafka, which she compares with that of Deleuze and Guattari. For Penny, at stake in this comparison is judgment and its refusal. Thus, she endorses the Deleuzian rejection of judgment insofar as judgment can neither sense nor summon new possibilities for life.

If the Kafkan messiah who only comes the day after his arrival features largely in the articles by Martel and Penny, then the specter of a future to come animates Antonis Balasopoulos, "Ghosts of the Future: Marxism, Deconstruction, and the Afterlife of Utopia." Balasopoulos introduces the term "apparitional unconscious" as a way to open up utopian discourse to theoretical appraisal. He focuses on Jameson and Derrida, staging a disagreement and disjunction at the site of the (non) site/future of utopia. Moreover, he emphasizes an affirmation that is also necessarily a critical selection, that is, a decision.

The final two articles return to the psychoanalytic themes with which 12.3 begins. Joanne Faulkner considers the place of disavowal in Hobbes, particularly with regard to its exclusion of those positioned as other. Exploring the fantastic position of the other as repository for the citizens' jouissance, Faulkner gestures toward a Lacanian response to a politics of fear and security—traversing the fantasy. In contrast, Michael Williams ("A Traversal Beyond the Pleasure Principle: From Pervert to Schizophrenic") suggests an even further traversal, from Lacanian perversion to Deleuzian schizophrenia.

Issue 12.3 also includes an interview and several book reviews. Keith P. Feldman, Anoop Mirpuri, and Georgia Roberts interview geographer Derek Gregory. This interview, "Affect, Ethics, and the Imaginative Geographies of Permanent War," grows out of the work of the research collective, "Public Rhetorics and Permanent War," work strongly influenced by Black British Cultural Studies.

Alexander D. Barber's "Lessons from the Grand Inquisitor: Carl Schmitt and the Providential Enemy" is a review essay discussing Kam Shapiro, Carl Schmitt and the Intensification of Politics and Carl Schmitt, Constitutional Theory. Upenda Baxi reviews Francois Debrix, Tabloid Terror: War, Culture...

Additional Information

ISSN
1092-311X
Print ISSN
2572-6633
Launched on MUSE
2009-10-02
Open Access
No
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