Junk Selves

14 sept 2013, lecture at Matadero, Madrid

“Losing oneself is finding oneself dangerous.”
Clarice Lispector

In the Wari tribe described by Aparecida Vilaça the soul gives the body not feelings, thoughts, and consciousness, but it gives it instability. The Wari’ insist that healthy and active people do not have a soul (jam-). On the other hand, the Melanesians of New Caledonia (in French – the Canaque) “are unaware that the body is an element that they themselves possess”.
The conceptual displacement of the already rigidified ideas of body and self becomes an crucial epistemological and political operation. The idea of the encapsulated self distinguished from the environment, from the “other” can be questioned from biological, neuroscientific and philosophical perspectives.

Losing the identitarian principle and an idea of the free will scrambled by recent affect theory and Spinozian positions pose new problems to political action. How can we conceive self-determination if the determining agent becomes unclear, if we displace it from the space of will, if consciousness is subtractive (as Massumi concludes) and thus not the outside reason generative of a chain of action or events? “What are the spheres of my legitimate autonomy, over what can I legislate” (Iain Hamilton Grant) is a question that poses again the problem of transcendentalism, of a mediating act between the outside and the inside.

In the meeting with the Study Group we will discuss these questions while bringing up the affect of horror and fear as central to acquiring a different knowledge of an “outside”, of a radical alterity that can be found even inside or in the familiar. We will further problematize together the banality of horror, unspectacular cannibalisms and performative strategies related to an ambiguous self and a deceptive body such as parasitism and camouflage, “playing the position” (Serres) while enhancing the contents.

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