Wednesday, March 10, 2010

WS: Uncertain about Uncertainty

In Thomas Keenan’s engaging text, “Windows: of vulnerability,” the experience of the public is an alterity that is beyond our control – an other, which is “utterly nonhuman or nonsubjective” (134). What are “others” in Keenan’s argument? If the public is the violent entrance into a system of representation and mediation, then does the public function as the psychoanalytic Other (radical alterity)? How does Keenan see this as full of potential when this encounter (if we make the comparison to the Lacanian Other) is marked by trauma and violence?  What are the possibilities and limitations that are opened up with Keenan’s positioning of technology as the blinding of the human by a disfiguring light and with a writing that seems to be charged with psychoanalytic references?

 At the end of the essay, Keenan writes:
“For language intervenes in the lives of those who seek to use it with a force and a violence that can only be compared to … light, to the tear of the blinding, inhuman, and uncontrollable light that comes through a window – something soft, that breaks” (138).

How would one go about using language as an intervention or as an entrance into the public? Keenan’s statement is interesting if one thinks about language as a means of screening unmediated experience.  It would seem that language, by its very function, would be incapable of doing what Keenan posits. Although language can be seen unstable and therefore always uncertain, how can one “seek to use [language]”? Is every enunciation marked by a violence? Perhaps, it is simply a misunderstanding of what Keenan is implying in his final proposition, but I’m just trying to work through Keenan’s argument and the potential he finds in the uncertainty of language and the interruption creating by light/technology.


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