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Notes in the Dark

Anne Dalke's picture

As so wisely observes below, the "spectacle" that was Judy Butler's appearance here meant that all of those in the audience in Goodhart were "in the dark" = unable to take notes. Here's the residue of what I tried to write while being unable to see what I was recording. I was happiest during the Q&A, when the lights went up and Butler was responding so fully to each of the questions--really hearing them, I thought, and working hard to speak to what she was asked.

Occupy demonstrations: a rejection of precarity, a statement of the right of appear
call for justice enacted by assembly, saying we re still here:  a shared social right
neoliberalism: demands self-sufficiency, while making it impossible to be self-sufficient

how did she get from gender to more general topics--> the ungrieveable?

identity politics fails to provide a coalitional framework
precarity is a site of alliance among antagonists

performativity--J.L. Austen's idea that utterances ("speech acts") bring things into being
"language enacts"
when body acts become performative, this becomes a theory of gender
gender is a norm or fantasy, not just recovered, but enacted,
an act of inadvertent agency: undoing while re-doing norms,
relax the norms--> to create a more liveable life
the theory of gender performativity opposes unlivable conditions

but precarity is differentially distributed
not enacting gender norms means precarity;
the very ability to have a continued existence is questioned

this is a Kafkaesque question: who can come before the law?

let us rethink the human: how the norm is constructed and maintained
this is Hegelian: what is human depends on the inhuman
to be human is a negotiation, conducted in the biological world
what are the conditions of agency?
Hannah Arendt
to police gender is a political act, refusing the right to the right to perform
freedom is part of the social category "human"
to exercise that right is performative

the squatters in Buenos Aires act and lay claim to power
they act to secure the conditions of life

"does the state  belong to the people, or people to the state?"
this cannot be answered in the abstract:
there are stateless people; citizenship is not owned by the state

"what is the relation between the right to appear and the right to privacy?"
(consider the homeless, who have to live their lives in public)
homelessness is socially induced precarity
Judith is not calling for constant publicness
homelessness is here brought to the fore as a political issue
it is not taken for granted, or naturalized; we should not be acclimated to its existence
Judith is not (though she may appear to be) valorizing public exposure/ appearance

"how decide what rights to privilege?"
this is a good and fair question:
Judith tries to work with rights not as individual,
but rather as sites of socially shared power
she treats interdependence, equality, sociality in a normative, aspirational way:
w/ the hope to minimize coercion
for example, we need to work for gay rights, to overcome discrimination,
w/ regards to the military, marriage and adoption;
yet she thinks very differently about each of these institutions:
there needs to be a queer critique of militarization
(it's not okay to be "out" while torturing)
how how do each of these institutions recognize precarity?
marriage is problematically inscribed in property rights

"what about politics based on personal experience?"
politics is always displaced from one's own position: we must seek that out
who I am is linked w/ others, and we must seek to overcome
the inequality that frames the question that way (around personal identity)

"what is public space?"
having long dealt with time (repetition, resignification, etc.),
"doing space" is not so easy...
Judith assumes architectural givens in public life--
but these are always being negotiated
the internet, for instance, is here/there/across spaces
the material governs the animate, what gets animated
under what conditions, for what purposes does a space go public?

we have to assert our identity, when we are fearful that it will be effaced
but don't become concerned w/ the specificity of your own identity
while countering effacement:
what are we doing? acting just for myself, or for all…?


Kaye's picture

co-opting precarity?

...and if "precarious" gets encoded into the TextEdit software, would that be a sign that it had become co-opted?  I love how the word "precarious" is currently precarious!'s picture


Anne, can you explain how you understand the word "precocity" in your notes? I've never seen that word it like "comprehensibility"?

Anne Dalke's picture


make that "precarity" (slip: a result of those darkened house lights...)

Anne Dalke's picture

belated realization

....that what I thought was my "slip" in note-taking was actually the result of my computer program "correcting" what it "thought" I meant...if you type "precarity" into TextEdit the software will immediately change the word into "precocity"--try it out! (and meditate on what that might "precarious" becomes "precocious," I guess the program isn't 'ready,' yet, for the ideas of Judith Butler....? )