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The Narcissistic Slave

The Narcissistic Slave

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Published by pvanheus
Frank Wilderson's The Narcissitic Slave (from Red, White and Black)
Frank Wilderson's The Narcissitic Slave (from Red, White and Black)

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Published by: pvanheus on May 26, 2014
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 Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms
Chapter T!o
The 'arcissistic Sla(e
A Culture of Politics
In the Introdu&tion and the pre&eding &hapter, we hae seen how the aporia  between Bla&k
being 
 and politi&al ontology has e3isted sin&e rab and 5uropean enslaement o! !ri&ans, and how the need to &ra!t an ensemble o! Guestions through whi&h to arrie at an un!lin&hing paradigmati& analysis o! politi&al ontology is repeatedly thwarted in its attempts to !ind a language that &an e3press the iolen&e o!
 sla$e/making 
, a iolen&e that is both stru&tural and per!ormatie. >umanist dis&ourse, the dis&ourse whose epistemologi&al ma&hinations proide our &on&eptual !rameworks !or thinking  politi&al ontology, is dierse and &ontrary. But !or all its diersity and &ontrariness it is sutured by an impli&it rhetori&al &onsensus that iolen&e a&&rues to the >uman body as a result o! transgressions, whether real or imagined, within the 2ymboli& *rder. +hat is to say, >umanist dis&ourse &an only think a sub"e&t:s relation to iolen&e as a &ontingen&y and not as a matri3 that positions the sub"e&t. @ut another way, >umanism has no theory o! the slae be&ause it imagines a sub"e&t who has been either alienated in language La&anC andHor alienated !rom hisHher &artographi& and temporal &apa&ities /ar3C. It &annot imagine an ob"e&t who has been positioned by gratuitous iolen&e and who has no &artographi& and temporal &apa&ities to lose?a sentient being !or whom re&ognition and in&orporation is impossible. In short, politi&al ontology, as imagined through >umanism, &an only produ&e dis&ourse that has as its !oundation alienation and e3ploitation as a grammar o! su!!ering, when what is needed !or the Bla&k, who is always already a slaeC %
 
 Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms
is an ensemble o! ontologi&al Guestions that has as its !oundation a&&umulation and !ungibility as a grammar o! su!!ering >artmanC.+he iolen&e o! the /iddle @assage and the slae estate 2pillersC, te&hnologies o! a&&umulation and !ungibility, re&ompose and reena&t their horrors upon ea&h su&&eeding generation o! Bla&ks. +his iolen&e is both gratuitous, that is, it is not &ontingent upon transgressions against the hegemony o! &iil so&ietyE and stru&tural, in that it positions Bla&ks ontologi&ally outside o! humanity and &iil so&iety. 2imultaneously, it renders the ontologi&al status o! humanity li!e itsel!C wholly dependent on &iil so&iety:s repetition &ompulsion' the !ren=ied and !ragmented ma&hinations through whi&h &iil so&iety reena&ts gratuitous iolen&e upon the Bla&k?that &iil so&iety might know itsel! as the domain o! humans?generation a!ter generation.gain, we need a new language o! abstra&tion to e3plain this horror. +he e3planatory power o! >umanist dis&ourse is bankrupt in the !a&e o! the Bla&k. It is inadeGuate and inessential to, as well as parasiti& on, the ensemble o! Guestions whi&h the dead but sentient
thing 
, the Bla&k, struggles to arti&ulate in a world o! liing sub"e&ts. /y work on !ilm, &ultural theory, and politi&al ontology marks my attempt to &ontribute to this o!ten !ragmented and &onstantly assaulted Guest to !orge a language o! abstra&tion with e3planatory powers emphati& enough to embra&e the Bla&k, an a&&umulated and !ungible ob"e&t, in a human world o! e3ploited and alienated sub"e&ts.+he imposition o! >umanism:s assumptie logi& has en&umbered Bla&k !ilm studies to the e3tent that it is underwritten by the assumptie logi& o! White or non-Bla&k !ilm studies. +his is a problem o! )ultural 2tudies writ large. In this &hapter, I want to o!!er a brie! illustration o! how we might attempt to break the theoreti&al impasse (
 
 Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms
 between, on the one hand, the assumptie logi& o! )ultural 2tudies and, on the other hand, the theoreti&al aphasia to whi&h )ultural 2tudies is redu&ed when it en&ounters the nonContologi&al status o! the Bla&k. I will do so not by laun&hing a !rontal atta&k against White !ilm theory, in parti&ular, or een )ultural 2tudies broadly speaking, but by interrogating Ja&Gues La&an?be&ause La&anian psy&hoanalysis is one o! the twin pillars that shoulders !ilm theory and )ultural 2tudies.
/y problem with )ultural 2tudies is that when it theori=es the inter!a&e between Bla&ks and >umans it is hobbled in its attempts to aC e3pose power relationships and bC e3amine how relations o! power in!luen&e and shape &ultural pra&ti&e. )ultural 2tudies insists upon a
 grammar of suffering 
 whi&h assumes that we are all positioned essentially  by way o! the 2ymboli& *rder, what La&an &alls the wall o! language?and as su&h our  potential !or stasis or &hange our &apa&ity !or being oppressed or !reeC is oerdetermined  by our ;uniersal< ability or inability to sei=e and wield dis&ursie weapons. +his idea &orrupts the e3planatory power o! most so&ially engaged !ilms and een the most radi&al line o! politi&al a&tion be&ause it produ&es a &inema and a politi&s that &annot a&&ount !or the grammar o! su!!ering o! the Bla&k?the 2lae. +o put it bluntly, the
imaginati$e labor 
 Jared 2e3ton #440C o! &inema, politi&al a&tion, and )ultural 2tudies are all a!!li&ted with the same theoreti&al aphasia. +hey are spee&hless in the !a&e o! gratuitous iolen&e.+his theoreti&al aphasia is symptomati& o! a debilitated ensemble o! Guestions regarding politi&al ontology. t its heart are two registers o! imaginatie labor. +he !irst register is that o! des&ription, the rhetori&al labor aimed at e3plaining the way relations o!  power are named, &ategori=ed, and e3plored. +he se&ond register &an be &hara&teri=ed as 

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