Wednesday, April 13, 2011

YOU ARE, or: yet another aborted attempt.

This essay takes its starting point from the treatment of Nietzsche offered by Leo Bersani in his polemical work, The Culture of Redemption.[1] It is well known that Nietzsche’s project is ‘narcissistic’ in the pejorative sense; if truth is only a move in a game of (will-to-) power relations, then under Nietzsche’s regime of subjectivism, egoism, or radical relativism (‘perspectivism’) reduces everything to a violent play of force. Where narcissism is ascendant, Truth is lost. This is because narcissism is here figured as a reentrenchment of the self as a manifestation of a domineering will-power. Bersani, however, figures narcissism from a different slant, from a psychoanalytic lens. He writes, and I quote at length,

The narcissism pointed to in the first pages of Freud’s essay on narcissism is a self-jouissance that dissolves the person and thereby, at least temporarily, erases the sacrosanct value of selfhood, a value that may account for human beings’ extraordinary willingness to kill in order to protect the seriousness of their statements. The self is a practical convenience; promoted to the status of an ethical ideal, it is the sanction for violence. If sexuality is socially dysfunctional in that it brings people together only to plunge them into a self-shattering and solipsistic jouissance that drives them apart […], it can also be thought of as our primary, hygienic practice of nonviolence, and even as a kind of biological protection against our continuously renewed efforts to disguise and to exercise the tyranny of the self in the prestigious form of legitimate cultural authority. (CT, 4)

On this model, sex-negativity—as opposed to an embrace of self-dissolving sexual jouissance—is the moral standard. Evil are those who refuse to cum.

... back into the labyrinth. Fuck.

[1] Bersani, Leo. The Culture of Redemption (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990). Henceforth cited parenthetically as CR.

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