My Weekly Frustration: Week 6. Yeah Right, I’ll DEFINITELY Keep THIS One Brief…

My mind went ALL OVER the place during these readings, and I am finding it hard to separate them in my head, which is creating general difficulty in doing so in this medium. I’ll give it a shot:

_Jasbir Puar_

General Synopsis:

Puar uses this piece to emphasize the complex relationship between the concepts of intersectionality and assemblage. No, they are not analogous. She uses this piece to very saliently explain each term, their strengths, weaknesses, and suggests an interdependent relationship between them. As a very brief and hyper-generalization of what’s going on in this piece:

1. We have our neoliberal white supremacist, heteronormative, patriarchal power structure. Said power structure has been heavily analyzed among various disciplines (though for the sake of this particular post, I will limit it to feminist philosophy, philosophy of race, women’s & gender studies, law, and legal studies) in relation to notions of race, gender, class, etc., in order to break the ties that bind us to the continued centralization and perpetuation of our current power dynamic.

1(a). At this point, most of this perpetuation of power has been cognitively ingrained and implicitly learned. This power dynamic (and our complicity to it) is so ingrained that even (ESPECIALLY!) within resistant discourse, overt centralization of power normative ideals can be found. A general example of this centralization I allude to can be seen in the discussion of one’s marginalized position or one’s marginalized group in [oppositional] relation to those within the power normative, which, in effect, re-centers the power norm as THE THING to compare all to. Ya dig?)

1(b). The analysis of this disparate power dynamic across disciplines has yielded the initial canonization of the term intersectionality, and more recently the term assemblage to define and describe the many layers of systemic discrimination and violence at the hands of commonly understood characteristics, attributes, stereotypes, and other technologies of our mass produced/centralized/perpetuated power normative ideal (i.e., white, upper-middle class, heteronormative, able-bodied, man). There has been a lot of tension among disciplines as far as which term to “stick with” and which to discard. Puar takes the space of this intellectual work of art to discuss said tension and to [more importantly] emphasize the interdependent relationship these terms share.

2. Intersectionality v. Assemblage. Intersectionality has long been canonized primarily within legal, law, and women’s & gender studies (though it is also verily regarded within feminist philosophy and other philosophical disciplines) as THE term to use in reference to social/political/economic relation to demographics such as race, gender, class, and sexuality (to name ONLY a few). In most cases, the language of intersectionality is normative in itself, as it is defining and describing a disparate power dynamic (or repercussions of said dynamic) by using normative neoliberal language to exemplify oppositional relations _to and with_ power (which works in re-centering said power dynamic by GROUNDING the power normative as THE CENTRAL POINT to compare any and all others to). Puar then introduces the term assemblage to be used to define and discuss the connecting catalysts that potentiate the already ingrained affective, relational power dynamic. These catalysts often are commonplace fixtures or events that heighten potential for explicit affective embodiment of power, or oppositional relation to/with power. Puar references Brian Massumi’s example of “…purported increase in domestic violence during Super Bowl Sunday,” on page 60 of this work, if you would like a clearer example to what I am referring. So, even though the term assemblage is integral to the bigger discussion of the function of race, gender, class, and sexuality within our neoliberal power dynamic, it does not fully express the MANY different articulations of said function.

3. Intersectionality & Assemblage. Actively engage how each term works in and through each other to more fully encapsulate what’s going on within our neoliberal power structure.

In conjunction with what I just wrote…

_Shannon Winnubst_

General Synopsis:

This article emphasized the importance of the use of our affective expression of sexuality in order to rupture the seemingly erased histories of racism, sexism, and classism (again, to name a few). It is more specifically important to engage jouissance in its historicized, racialized ways. This will bring to the forefront all the histories that our neoliberal power frame has worked so hard to erase and distance us from.

1. Jouissance- Winnubst refers to what she means by this most clearly when she writes, “As Tim Dean puts it, jouissance indicates that rare experience of pleasure that radically disarms the self, not the identity-confirming, self-enhancing domesticated pleasure that saturates neoliberal culture.” (Winnubst, 95-6)

2. Don’t rule out the affective embodiment of the power dynamic. You lose SO much perspective and opportunity for real potential to rupture the dynamic.


1. Jouissance? Really?

2. Language & Subjugated Knowledges: More about neoliberal language. Specifically, can we relate the notion of liberal language to the language used in each reading?

3. Practicality?

4. Could this relate to Bataille’s discussion of erasing the self through affective connection to medium of art, literature?

In Closing:

There’s just TOO many layers in EACH reading to adequately discuss and analyze without going WAY over the restricted word count. I went way over and didn’t BEGIN to touch other integral aspects of these pieces. I suggest for those of you not in this course to read the readings I linked up. They are SO insightful.

I’m Excited. This Discussion Should Get Wild.



About thepsych1

I am a natural progression. As I learn and grow, so does this blog as a reflection of myself. Poetry Art Videos Critique Let's collaborate. Bring your friends.
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3 Responses to My Weekly Frustration: Week 6. Yeah Right, I’ll DEFINITELY Keep THIS One Brief…

  1. Hi Desi–There’s so much here! I want to focus primarily on 2 things:

    1. The relationship between “jouissance” (your first question) & the accelerationist normalization of noise/transgression/dissonance. As Steven Shaviro writes: “Neoliberalism has no problem with excess. Far from being subversive, transgression today is entirely normative. Nobody is really offended by Marilyn Manson or Quentin Tarantino. Every supposedly “transgressive” act or representation expands the field of capital investment. It opens up new territories to appropriate, and jump-starts new processes from which to extract surplus value. What else could happen, at a time when leisure and enjoyment have themselves become forms of labor? Business and marketing practices today are increasingly focused upon novelty and innovation. More rapid turnover is one way to combat what Marx called the tendential fall of the rate of profit. Far from being subversive or oppositional, transgression is the actual motor of capitalist expansion today: the way that it renews itself in orgies of “creative destruction.”” So what would jouissance be if it’s something other than transgression? How does this connect to SW’s point about historicization?

    2. It’s really important to talk about JP’s critique that “intersectionality” has itself become an instrument of normalization (or of re-centering white supremacist patriarchy). How exactly does this happen?

    and, tying both of those together: What does it tell us about neoliberalism that it colonizes transgression and black feminist critique? What’s the broader strategy here? And how does this relate to other neoliberal market-based techniques?

    • thepsych1 says:

      Thanks for your reply! I actually had a difficult time with being cogent this week. Believe it or not, I cut A TON out of my original post! I think you raise great questions and I will do my best to respond in a brief, yet full way.

      1. “So what would jouissance be if it’s something other than transgression?”
      -Yeah, so that’s what I was thinking, especially in light of Winnubst’s discussion of new social ontologies brought up through the neoliberal shift, where we now function in an economy based on the maximization of interests. Within this economy, we have come to a new sense/understanding of social rationality of (human) enterprise, which yields an economy that succeeds on a very interiorized, intensification of interests, in very normative [domesticated] ways. So, our neoliberal power structure could very easily capitalize on the normative notion of jouissance (capitalizing on creativity, transgression, sexual openness, and being the best AT it). Yeah, suffice it to say, I was not about that notion at first, because of the murky grey space of a line that engaging jouissance potentially elicits.

      But then at the “alter call” portion of the reading, I became more ambivalent…

      “How does this connect to SW’s point about historicization?”
      -It helped when Winnubst clearly described the “type” of jouissance that had potential, which lead me to think of Bataille’s discussion of erasing the self in writing in order to affectively shatter the self of those engaging with it. Paralleling to Winnubst, if this jouissance is the self-disarming, super-intense, indistinguishable from pain, affective pleasure, it does have a potentiality within it. It is there that generally, we have NO control over our understanding/experience of it, which could block the commodification of it. But when Winnubst added that it is the active and vigilant engagement of jouissance within its historicized and racialized forms, it really started me thinking. Engaging jouissance in these historicized and racialized forms could most DEFINITELY expose the insidiousness of our neoliberal power structure, in that it would affectively launch to the surface, the account of the erasure of our society’s violent racist and misogynist foundings. So, engaging jouissance in the specified forms would work in the face of the neoliberal commodified version, while also working to shatter our social amnesia in regard to our racist, misogynist, classist, elitest, et. al., past (which, I find is a major tool in the perpetuation of the economy of which I’ve been discussing).

      So, yeah. Jousisance, really? Theoretically, it seems like something to really give a lot of thought to, as it seems like it DOES have potentiality there to be that neoliberal power structure repellent. Practically, how? And I guess if we did parallel Winnubst to Bataille, I guess we could through demonstrations, the arts, interpersonal engagement on many levels… See? There I go again with the length.

      2. ““intersectionality” has itself become an instrument of normalization (or of re-centering white supremacist patriarchy). How exactly does this happen?”
      -This was the part that I cut a HUGE chunk out of. I won’t simply paste it here (cause you KNOW I saved that), but I will suggest that it has become an instrument of normalization by the uptake of neoliberal language to explain the “beingness” of discrimination. Also, the canonization of the term and continued, unwavering loyalty to it is also perpetuating the idea that marginalization/subjugation is seamlessly explainable. Wouldn’t that be EXACTLY what normativity wants us to think? Cause that way, we can OVERCOME it by working to increase our surplus value…

      And 3. “What does it tell us about neoliberalism that it colonizes transgression and black feminist critique? What’s the broader strategy here? And how does this relate to other neoliberal market-based techniques?”
      -I find that we can connect this question very easily to my discussion of Winnubst’s suggested specified engagement of jouissance and also to Puar’s discussion of assemblage theory. Neoliberal frame has domesticated transgression and critique. It also uses identity as a technology of domination, so that those within the margin consistently and constantly compare ourselves to the neoliberal normative power ideal, which, in turn, grounds those within the power normative as central to all discourse. This can be found even within radical critical discourse! If we used assemblage to understand this as well, it’s the commonplace events, fixtures, place settings, and such that work with those engaging them, which works in potentiating an explicit, affective exchange of our ingrained neoliberal disparate power dynamic. We can assess these commonplace catalysts through their assemblages (there’s a lot more I’d like to elaborate on here, but I just wrote 2 blog posts this week…).

      -Broader strategy: The continued perpetuation (both implicitly and explicitly) of our neoliberal, white supremacist, heteronormative, upper-middle class, able-bodied, [normatively] religious, patriarchal hegemony upon which our society has been founded. You can see this strategy manifest within our neoliberal frame through the:
      -Prison Industrial Complex
      -Academic Industrial Complex
      -Multiplicitous commodifications of Affect, Identity, Transgression, Intellect, etc., (just to point to a few)
      -Sexual Industrial Complex (I’ll stop here)

      …And I was trying to be brief. There were SO many layers! I STILL haven’t touched a number of layers, and I have 2 blog posts at this point! I can’t WAIT for class.


  2. Pingback: My Weekly Frustration: Week 8, New Materialism- “Discourse is Not a Synonym For Language…” | What is the Word

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