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May 16, 2011

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Barret Weber

thanks for posting your paper

JudyButlerSpeak

I just finished reading Žižek's Politics for the second time. I think this book is the best single source of political theory not only on Ž, but for the way in which you extend a number of his themes especially concerning the Party and the nature of subjectivity, that is, revolutionary subjectivity via subjective destitution. More of us need to follow up on your important work in this area. Your thinking in this area is unmatched.

Jodi Dean

wow--thanks so much! that was a massive boost to my day!

Thomas Kiefer

There's some morphic resonance going here with JudyButlerSpeak--I just finished your "Blog Theory" yesterday (after hearing your interview with Doug Henwood in December) and it's great. A lot of critical theory can be a mash of linguistic mumbo-jumbo, but your writing was highly intelligible. I feel its overall thesis is correct, and really am persuaded by your writing on the decline of symbolic efficiency and whatever being. Re: the latter, people in the past (esp. young people) could resort to a default identity --one's profession. We can't even do that anymore under communicative capitalism. Perhaps this explains why the right's continual appeal to the American Idea (like Palin) is still so attractive to the public even though it's a complete fiction--that's an identity ("I'm an American!") they can't or won't let go of as it's all they have left. Your book makes me despair for the future of the US --living through the decline of a civilization is no fun!
Thanks again for the great writing.

Jodi Dean

glad you liked the book--thanks!

your point about professions no longer being available as loci of identity is a good one--I wish I had thought of that.

Re American as a site of identity: I think you are right regarding part of the appeal of Palin's brand of psycho-conservativsm (fascism?). One of the things that makes it tricky, though, and potentially too unstable to be more than a media fad, is the amorphousness of the American identity she espouses. I think it makes sense to say that identities depend in part on what they are not/what they are opposed to. The Cold War binary isn't available. Muslim doesn't seem to be working as an opposite, particularly because there are American Muslims. Palin usually uses Democrats or the mainstream media as her opponents, but each of these is inadequate as a difference that matters in composing/defining/orienting "American." Palin also tries to use a different, somewhat non-oppositional approach when she evokes freedom and taking our country back; here American is whatever is opposed to government; yet this position isn't enough either.

Maybe another way to put it: Palin cycles through, shifts between, and reiterates these different 'fillers'--anti govt, anti-media, anti-Democrat--as demonstrations of what freedom means. The more she can use spectacle, intense feelings, and images to occupy media attention, the more she can cycle through and repeat her fillers, using a kind of affective intensity to smooth over gaps and replace thinking/content/facts/ideas. This can only be effective as long as she is in the spotlight. If the repetition stops, the intensity ends, and folks either move on or take time to think.

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