Post-subjectivity: From post-modernism to post-mortemism

Post-subjectivity ostensibly presumes a subject. Establishing the subject’s status seems key to any critique of post-subjectivity, yet perhaps ‘the subject’ – as a chimera – never existed. Perhaps, through a series of illusions, nets of psychophysical intensities, real mythologies and historical detritus, the subject was a byproduct; itself simply an incoherent remainder, could it be said to have an existent reality? Given subjectivity’s development into a being that is being through interiority, reflection and self-narrating alienation, given its bodily comportment, movements, gestures, genuflections and pride, sadism and masochism contoured by social organisms, themselves with their own interiority, reflection and self-narrating alienation, isn’t it near impossible to locate ‘the site’ of ‘the subject?’

Being-for-itself is here defined as a co-arising with subjectivity. For-itself, the subject finds itself grappling with facticity (Sartre, Being and Nothingness), this facticity is outside its pure consciousness. Consciousness is always a consciousness of some-thing. However, as consciousness is always with an object, consciousness still is independent of the object. Consciousness slips over being, for being-for-itself must being that which it is not, and not be what it is. Wrenching the for-itself, torn asunder, nothingness enters being-for-itself, creating temporality, internal time-consciousness. Being a product of nothingness intermingling with Being-itself (or in-itself), being-for-itself gains the necessary spaces, and interior and exterior, Self and Other, for subjectivity. Relational proximity, spacial, temporal and affective, is a hallmark of subjectivity. Being-for-itself is an upsurge in everything, Being, of nothing; in other words, it is everything upsurging into itself, as everything is nothing. Precisely because no-thing can be the full plenitude that is every-thing, everything is nothing.

Particularizing, being-for-itself is obsession; obsession motivates its interior, a mere rift in everything by everything (nothing), another spacial and temporal place available. Gaping, fracturing and disjointing fleshthoughts are the epicenter of being-for-itself. Consciousness floats through/as this place. The medium is the movement. Attaching and averting itself from X to Y, or Q to Z, consciousness is consciousness of some-thing. Subjectivity is consciousness narrating itself for-itself, and for-others. Not only consciousness of some-thing, subjectivity gathers objects into a linear – narrative – possessiveness. ‘Having’ a past, present and future, the subject traverses an every elongated line; and in early modern (1500-1800) Western teleology, this line is an arch, History. Parabolic, it extends – artificially – into the infinite past and future, eating the subject-in-finitude.

A parabola involves a point (the focus) and a line (the directrix). The focus does not lie on the directrix. The parabola is the locus of points in that plane that are equidistant from both the directrix and the focus. Part of a parabola (blue), with various features (other colours). The complete parabola has no endpoints. In this orientation, it extends infinitely to the left, right, and upward. (Courtesy Wikipedia:

Subjectivity is focus, it is not situated on the line of time, but rather is the synthesis (equidistant) of happened and will happen. Crossing conical consciousness, whereby consciousness has its base in being and its end in nothing, similar to Aristotle’s postulate that substances are individuals (subjects) whereas every-thing else is a secondary substance. The question arises, how is there an ‘everything else,’ how can everything be a remainder? Only by destabilizing itself into a being can Being be-for-itself; Being in irritating itself, breaking itself, births the motile corpus. Everything Being as- and into- a being with(in) being is this particularization.  Pure being is immobile. Mobility requires particularization, a violent tear in plenitude, a Fall from Eden. Particularization of being co-arises with consciousness, consciousness transmogrifies to subjective-reflection through parabolic reflections, cutting the cone of the already disjointed being-amongst-being(s).

Giving subjectivity an ontological outline is not the main purpose of this article. However, it is necessary to postulate a preliminary sketch of ‘the subject.’ In summation of the aforementioned, Being is destabilized by itself, everything is nothing, as no-thing can be everything; contradicting itself, in its core, Being becomes beings. Disjointed beings fragment off, like splintered pieces of glass, with Being intact, for Being cannot be broken in a way that would destroy it. Nothingness, being at the heart of full Being, as everything is no-thing, shatters Being without breaking it. Nothing is changed, only shapes arise, yet the fundamental ontology of Being remains in beings. Shattered but not broken, Being is. Nothingness is. Paradoxically, Being as Nothingness resolves the question “why something rather than nothing?” The subject arises from beings that are for-themselves; being-for-itself is alienated being. A piece of broken glass reflecting Being, laying on the ground of being, being-for-itself is wrenching-itself. Eddies of finitude swirl, creating beings that are for-themselves because they are beings-towards-death and they are subjectively aware of this via a narrating interior. This narrating interior is a developed as beings interact with beings, including and especially an intimacy within themselves.

Fleshthoughts are resultant from existent aleatory exigencies arising from subjective crises. For-itself, the alienated subject, is a priori wounded. A gaping (w)hole in Being, being with other beings, and linking with these via flows of food, blood, symbols, gestures, etc, subjectivity is a fragile chimera. Critically requiring a narrating psycho-structure, the subject under early modern conditions, first with the intelligentsia of the Western ‘Enlightenment,’ then – via mass mediums of communication (press, books, and later films) – to the great masses, who transformed from beings-for-themselves to subjects. Subjectivity is not consciousness, it is a type of consciousness that is socially contoured around an ‘inner and outer,’ a ‘before and after,’ a ‘us and them,’ and a ‘Self and Other.’ The focus, as with a parabola, does not lie on the line; yet it requires that being-for-itself put itself on the line; industrial time-consciousness takes ‘before and after’ further into ‘having’ a past and a future. Presence is actuated by the struggle to maintain coherence. Coherence battles amputation of Self, an occurrence in an ever moving conveyor belt of temporal, psychophysical, epistemological and spacial changes. Epistemology destabilizes ontology, but not fundamentally.

Capitalist epistemology is a variegated, heterogeneous amalgamation of Rousseau’s Perfect Man in Nature, Hobbes’s Man is Wolf to Man, empiricism (including Bentham’s Panoptic Utilitarianism) and mystical fidelity to markets (Smith’s Invisible Hand of the Market). The narrating subject predates Capitalism; however, the interior/exterior dichotomy reaches its apogee in late modern Capitalism (roughly 1800 to 1945). The public/private body, wrapped as a trans-historical subject, enmeshed – willingly but mostly not – in projects for the great arch of industrial time-consciousness, progressing toward ever greater horizons, is the site of (self) surveillance, improvement, etc. Maximizing the commodification of subjectivity’s interior, advertising, starting with Edward Bernays and now digital rationalization, post-industrial capitalism seeks total medical-juridical control. Patenting DNA, seeking trans-subjective downloaded mother-board consciousness, Capitalism’s technocracy is eviscerating subjectivity. Demanding total transparency of the subject, the very foundation of industrial time-consciousness, collective psychosis is the result. No longer having referents, narratives, projects stemming from interior desires (however hybridized/synthetic these may have been), the post-subject’s core is an ever denser mass of nothingness with images and texts floating around it. Emptiness would be more pleasant. The subject is a corpse, post-subjectivity arises from it like a nebulous gas, one integrated as the medium of Capitalism’s circuit-board nebula. With no up or down, no in or out, no boundaries, the schizo post-subject isn’t the revolutionary schizo-nomad envisioned by Deleuze and Guattari, but rather the mad schizo endlessly clicking on nothing. Repeating repetition all to circulate image-texts in order to satiate a (seemingly) ancient subjective desire for a ‘personality.’ Presence, all but gone, having been replaced by ‘personality,’ which is now being replaced with La La Land. A no place. A no one.

Donald Trump Dancing to Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ in ‘SNL’ Spoof – Courtesy: Rolling Stone

Dancing in mythical pasts, over a city that doesn’t exist, in place forgotten because it never was, the post-subject is epitomized in the hyper-banality of the ‘critically acclaimed’ La La Land. A great nothing is haunting, a specter of endless nihilism. From Trump’s tweets to Israel’s use of Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus to implement a ‘rhizomatic military strategy,’ post-modernism is post-mortemism. After the death of individuality, what comes next? Is a revolutionary upsurge possible as more and more of the globe is sucked into post-subjectivity? No longer a ‘Western’ phenomenon, the post-subject can be found from Hollywood to Bollywood, from Wichita to Warsaw, from London to Lagos, and it’s neither frightening nor interesting, it is homo nihilis. Watching the images, being the images, being for-itself is returning, via Capitalism’s inherent movement toward (com-modified) synthesis, to everything, nothing. Further and further down the monads are forced to merge; contra Marx, alienation in post-industrialism is being eliminated in favor of a complete cybernetic merger with nihilism. Alienation requires a subject. Dancing, dancing – a nothing dancing endlessly ‘updating’ – this is the future.



Reference: Deleuze & IDF


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