autonomy & the subject

17 Nov

discussion about such abstractions as masculinities or femininities, must always invite the question of autonomy. with autonomy, or agency, comes responsibility and accountability. does what works for the individual necessarily work or benefit the whole? how do our individual moves shape, benefit, and harm theories and practices of everyday life?

let’s move on. follow me – this will get tricky. space/place interact in such a way as to compose a post-modern geography wherein liminality can be positioned as a location of disembodied identification – the liminal imaginary – a productive standpoint of the Othered.

and our positionalities matter. orientation matters – just ask Ahmed. orientation determines matter – thus, history can give an account of emergences, however shaping or determining bodies, instances, memory and, thus, distort orientations and locations. As Lynda Barry asks, “do we have memories, or do memories have us” (Barry, What It Is)? If matter is affected by orientations, by the ways in which bodies are directed towards things, it follows that matter is dynamic, unstable, and contingent (ahmed)

let’s plug this in: displacement of experience/embodiment for theory

are location and positionality constructed by ‘the outside’?

Isocrates asks if virtue is innate, or can it be taught? His assertion is that it is innate, but can be developed. Thus, it is performed. Following this logic, virtue (or virtuous acts) are simulations – representations of virtue – and not virtue, itself.

moving on (follow me – the pace is quick, now), the way we narrate histories, simultaneously constructs and reinforces the frame and trajectories of those stories; that is, the narration satisfies its own positionality. 

it is through the intra-activity of material-discursive systems (or structures) that agency takes shape. the opportunities to intervene lie in shifting and bending the boundaries that exist to give shape to the very systems and structures in question. there is no emergence from absence (non-existence) – the problematic issue of causality cannot be denied, here. but, boundaries stick – attempting to break through them, does not work. the boundaries can be flexible, it seems, but cannot be broken and, so, they catch and stick to those of us that push at them and attempt to get through them – the residue of hegemony.

as i have read, and read, and read (Hesford, Hesford & Schell, Dingo, Ahmed, Reynolds, Barad, Haraway, Rawson, etc.), I’m thinking about the problematics of naming. the term feminism, for instance, is hard to pin down because it can be so diffuse. yet, we require taxonomy and processes of negative identification in order to articulate an communicable self, and to orient that self in (post-modern) geographies and localities – positionality. i’m thinking about why we still need feminism. i’m thinking about the very real exigencies presented to and unfolded surrounding the continued violence and inequality/inequity directed at and surrounding women. I’m thinking about current events and how discussions such as these (theoretical, rhetorical, academic) can help us to make positive social change, and how our critical engagements “with earlier feminist perspectives on the politics of location and situated knowledge and rhetorical configurations of identification, agency, and the public sphere” might allow us to reconceptualize, as Hesford suggests, “the spatial and temporal as part of a transnational feminist rhetorical methodology” (Hesford, 55).

simulation – affect theory – geography – positionality – chaos theory – anomaly theory – identification – constellations – nodes – matrices

Jackson & Mazzei utilize Deleuze & Guattari’s conceptualization of desire as “a coming together of forces/drives/intensities that produce something,” (92) as a “desire that is generative and seeking, resulting in the production of privilege, power, and voice” (91), to think about how various intersections operate to ‘construct’ our Selves. said another way, Jackson & Mazzei utilize desire as a matrix of forces and intersections that work to make and unmake identities (which i have previously defined as transactional identities) that allow them to operate successfully within and across contexts. incidentally, i have argued that transactional identities are particularly suited to liminal or “border” positionalities and subjectivities because they operate, simultaneously, as intra- and meta-subjectivities that allow for (and are constructed as and suited to) analysis of contexts (and the data it provides, i.e. geolocation, religion, gender, economic status, etc.) in order to adopt characteristics necessary to successful operation in said contexts, and a subsequent adaptation to suit that context (grounded theory). it is this basic concept or phenomena that Jackson & Mazzei are exploring through Deleuze & Guattari’s conceptualization of desire. and so, too, can we.

i think that we can think with and “plug-into” Deleuze & Guattari’s notion of desire in our attempt to discover the various ways that feminism has been embodied, utilized, and interacted with, over time and in what capacities, and to what effects. now, let’s have that talk about autonomy…what feminism is and has become, because it is our contention that the way theory is utilized and actualized in praxis is indicative of its scope and limitations. 

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