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journa l of the the oretical humani tie s v olum e 5 numbe r 2 augus t 2000

I teach you the Übermensch. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him? Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra In truth, what is the Übermensch? We do not know and, properly speaking, Nietzsche does not know. We know only that the thought of the Übermensch signifies: man disappears; an affirmation that is pushed furthest when it doubles into a question: does man disappear? Maurice Blanchot, The Infinite Conversation As Foucault would say, the Übermensch is much less than the disappearance of living men, and much more than a change of concept: it is the advent of a new form that is neither God nor man and which, it is hoped, will not prove worse than its two previous forms. Gilles Deleuze, Foucault

Deleuze largely positions his work against the tradition of the “three H’s” – Hegel, Husserl, and Heidegger – who so preoccupied the early Derrida. Wernick wants to challenge the standard story because it situates the genealogy of poststructuralism in German philosophy, while Wernick sees a more indigenous origin to the question of man, namely, the tradition of French sociology that runs from the humanism of Comte and Durkheim to the rebellions of Nizan and Bataille to the anti-humanism of Lévi-Strauss. Wernick is not interested in making a “nationalist” argument for its own sake, however. Rather, as he puts it, to tell the story of the genealogy of poststructuralism as a chapter in the rise and fall of French sociology allows us to see what, following Pierre Bourdieu’s formulation, is the real heresy of poststructuralism, namely, the refusal to posit anything that might occupy the site of a collec-


ndrew Wernick gives us much to think about when he chooses to engage the comparison of Deleuze, Foucault, and Derrida by considering their work in terms of a French sociological tradition from and against which they emerge.1 Wernick wants to challenge the standard story – the one invoked by Derrida in “The Ends of Man” – that frames the genealogy of French poststructuralism as both carrying on while at the same time problematizing the structuralist challenge to the philosophical anthropology of existentialist humanism. He does so initially by questioning just how well Derrida’s account – in terms of re-reading the phenomenologists anew and recuperating their own critique of philosophical anthropology – fits the work of Foucault and Deleuze. And this seems to me correct. After all, in the preface to the English translation of The Order of Things, Foucault goes so far as to specify phenomenology as the single method he rejects absolutely, while

ISSN 0969-725X print/ISSN 1469-2899 online/00/020151-11 © 2000 Taylor & Francis Ltd and the Editors of Angelaki DOI: 10.1080/09697250020012250


a Deleuzian approach would experiment with how the Übermensch functions in the Nietzschean text. Remarks like these make clear that it is a mistake to read Nietzsche as a philosopher of the Superman or as someone who seeks to exalt Man as that being who will serve as God’s replacement in terms of some new anthropo-theology following the death of God. or lead back to. avoids this heresy?) While I’m not entirely sure about this. they are the in-betweens that pass only and always along a middle without origin or destination. To do so.’ ‘equaling.’ half ‘genius. “Why I Write Such Good Books” §1).2 I do so not in order to show the poststructuralists as Nietzschean. “is the becoming itself. it is not Nietzsche but Feuerbach who is the thinker of the death of God and who seeks to install Man in the space vacated by God’s absence. these French heresiarchs don’t also to some degree refuse politics? If that is his implication. If we attend to Nietzsche’s texts. as an ‘idealistic’ type of a higher kind of man. … Becoming is a verb with a consistency all its own.’ Other scholarly oxen have suspected me of Darwinism on that account” (EH. two of these thinkers – Foucault and Deleuze – open up possibilities for reconstructing a notion of the subject amenable to the project of radical democracy. it does not reduce to. he notes that “The word ‘Übermensch. … [A] becoming lacks a subject distinct from itself. is the absence of fixed terms: “What is real.” (As an aside. Rather than trying to understand what Nietzsche means by Übermensch in terms of some model of ideal humanity. and Nietzsche nowhere gives us as detailed a becoming-übermensch Gilles Deleuze. Whereas evolutionary language focuses our attention on the beginning and endpoint of a process in a way that obscures the passage between them. most readers of Nietzsche fail to take note of the fact that Nietzsche himself cautioned his readers against interpreting the word Übermensch either as “a higher kind of man” or in a Darwinian. “Retired”). namely. “would be to ‘improve’ mankind. working out of the Nietzschean critique of the subject. No new idols are erected by me” (EH Pr2).7 For Nietzsche. the Nietzschean tradition. I might ask whether Wernick thinks Bourdieu.the subject of radical democracy tive or plural subject. I’d like to show how.3 Rather. that is. the language of compound becoming draws our attention to what happens between these ever-receding endpoints. I wish to return to the tradition that Wernick acknowledges as canonical for the genealogy of poststructuralism. not the supposedly fixed terms through which that which becomes passes.5 Deleuze’s notion of becoming facilitates a fruitful interpretive experiment with Nietzsche’s Übermensch. As Deleuze remarked in the Appendix to his book on Foucault. 152 . on the other hand. who is perhaps the most significant “philosopher of becoming” since Nietzsche.’ ‘being. Becomings take place between poles. then I would like to offer the following remarks as a challenge to this implication.” Nietzsche wrote in the preface to Ecce Homo. In fact.’ or ‘producing. Unfortunately. the block of becoming. “The last thing I should promise. evolutionary fashion. a story told in several ways. something I think few would dispute. and in particular from evolution. we find that we are told very little about what an Übermensch is like. insofar as he does attend to the French sociological tradition.’”4 What Deleuze finds missing in all of these apparent synonyms for “becoming” is the focus on process itself. noted that the central feature that distinguishes becoming from other transformative processes with which it can be confused. I wonder whether Wernick’s closing does not imply that by refusing a collective subject.6 Later in Ecce Homo. God’s death is an old story. of interest only to the last Pope (see Z. many of the interpretive paradoxes that result from the standard interpretations of the Übermensch as Nietzsche’s model of the ideal subject or perfect human being can thereby be avoided.’ as the designation of a type of supreme achievement [ … ] has been understood almost everywhere with the utmost innocence in the sense of those very values whose opposite Zarathustra was meant to represent – that is.” Deleuze writes. ‘appearing. half ‘saint. the refusal to posit an anti-humanist or non-humanist analog to Comte’s “Humanity” or Durkheim’s “Society. more often as comedy than tragedy. … Becoming produces nothing other than itself.

§2). I would suggest we emphasize the process – the “how” – of becoming. that promising becomes a praiseworthy act of a responsible agent. Following Deleuze. the central idea is that as a work in progress. one’s life is never complete. the central insight in Nietzsche’s account is that the process of becom- 153 . Nietzsche does not provide. is the issue raised by Nietzsche in his discussion. on the way. of the active forgetting of the “sovereign individual [souveraine Individuum]” who has earned the right to make promises: it is only in the case of this “emancipated individual [Freigewordne]. “Übermensch” is.” I would suggest further that the goal of this process of becoming is not to be understood in terms of some fully formed and completed subject or self. not as a fixed and full substance or completed project. I would suggest we construe becoming-Übermensch with a hyphen as a compound verb marking a compound assemblage. was man ist]” implies that the final destination – the “what one is” – is the goal toward which one’s becoming is directed. the name given to an idealized conglomeration of forces that Nietzsche refers to as an “achievement [Wohlgerathenheit]” (EH. This idea animates as well the “great health” that Nietzsche alludes to at the conclusion of the second essay of On the Genealogy of Morals. I would suggest. of the process of accumulating strength and exerting mastery outside the limits of external authoritarian impositions. One is always unterwegs. “for the way – that does not exist!” (Z. more accurately. for “How one becomes what one is [Wie man wird. Nietzsche’s failure or.schrift picture of the Übermensch as we have of the last man. If we avoid the question “Who is Nietzsche’s Übermensch?” and look instead to how “Übermensch” functions in the Nietzschean text. that health that knows that growth requires destruction. I think we must refigure the subtitle of Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo. we draw attention to the active process of assembling rather than hypostatizing or reifying the endpoint to be assembled. a philosophical guidebook for Übermenschen. With this in mind. §24). Nietzsche called this process of becoming-Übermensch “life-enhancement. focusing on the antecedent clause. Instead. for the important idea here is not to create one’s life as a work of art. In so doing. And.” and he indicated by this a process of self-overcoming and increasing of will to power rather than an ideal form of subjectivity. that knows that to become requires that we in some sense destroy what we presently are (GM II. I do not want to make too much of this aesthetic analogy. the higher men. or the slave and master moralists. Rather. Instead. a view advanced by those who see in Nietzsche some kind of aestheticism. the free spirit. This approach will emphasize not a way of Being but the affirmation of self-overcoming and transvaluation that makes possible the infinite processes of becoming that I am here suggesting we call becoming-Übermensch. “On the Spirit of Gravity” §2). noting that Nietzsche says here “what one is (was man ist)” and not “who one is (wer man ist). rather. “Why I Write Such Good Books” §1). but always as a work in progress. an experimental approach attends to Zarathustra’s own experimentalism. in Thus Spoke Zarathustra or anywhere else. however. his refusal in Thus Spoke Zarathustra to present an Übermensch thus suggests that the answer to the question “Is S an Übermensch?” will always be “No” insofar as “Übermensch” does not designate an ontological state or way of being that a subject could instantiate. who is capable of becoming other than he was by forgetting what he was. Instead.” this “master of a free will” (GM II. we find it functioning not as the name of a particular being or type of being.” as was tragically the case in several readings of Nietzsche offered in the early decades of the twentieth century. This. noting as he does that one must find one’s own way. and the emphasis is always on the process of going rather than the destination reached. at the opening of the second essay of On the Genealogy of Morals. We can only speak of the becoming-Übermensch of human beings. And the outcome of this approach will be to reformulate the notion of the subject itself. he provides instead suggestions for steps to take in order to become-Übermensch. we can read Thus Spoke Zarathustra not as providing the blueprint for constructing a centered super-subject called “Overman.8 By experimenting with the different possibilities of becoming-Übermensch.

Equally important for our current purposes. From this Nietzschean perspective. “Four Great Errors” 7). as Nietzsche first suggested when he highlighted free will and the invention of the soul as a central moment of the “hangman’s metaphysics” of Christianity (see TI. whether national. Acknowledging the multiple positions which “subjects” occupy helps to explain both the current resistance to enduring political allegiances and the attractiveness of a model of coalition politics that will allow temporary alliances among various groups in response to contingent developments that call for these groups to mobilize collectively. Which is to say that the lesson which Zarathustra teaches in the teaching of the Übermensch is that to become what will become means becoming-other than what one is. some sort of essentialism. and it made equally clear that other subject positions are possible in terms of the contingencies of the present moment. It thus runs counter to the foundational assumptions behind many contemporary forms of identity politics that. Foucault’s work as a “critical ontology of the present” thus made clear that the subject position delivered to us by modernity is not an ontological necessity. they also fail to recognize how Michel Foucault’s appeal to Nietzsche’s critique of the metaphysics of the subject is connected to his turn toward the subject in his last works. ethnic. Instead. is as problematic when imposed by those who participate in the identification as when imposed by those whose gaze views the recipient of the identification as other. contribute to our thinking the subject of radical democracy? At the very least. in part upon reconfiguring subjectivity in terms of a multiplicity of subject positions. Foucault’s genealogy of the subject provides a theoretical articulation of this account of a multiple subject positioning insofar as it frames the subject not as a substance but as a form: this form is not above all or always identical to itself. In each case. is that which must always overcome itself (cf. he demonstrated as well both the historically contingent character of the subject’s construction while opening the possibility of alternative constructions. This bad faith or essentialism is deeply problematic. when it shows anything other than a momentary strategy to which one makes no ontological commitments. a turn that provides conceptual resources for a radical and plural democratic leftist politics. Life. Z. in the end. “On the Way of the Creator”). however. we see immediately that Nietzsche’s account of becoming what one is actively resists any attempt toward a fixed notion of identity. There are no doubt some relationships and some interferences between these different kinds of subject but we are not in the presence of the same kind of subject. framed as it is by Deleuze’s concept of becoming. as Zarathustra learns. or gender identity. For at the very least. The greatest obstacle to self-overcoming is thus not to be found in others. must depend on an attitude like Sartrean bad faith or what may be the modern guise of bad faith. Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy have argued for a radical democratic politics that is dependent 154 . namely. racial. While Laclau and Mouffe make a strong case for the necessity of reconfiguring subjectivity. “On Self-Overcoming”). we establish with one’s self some different the politics of becoming What can this account of the Übermensch. when Foucault demonstrated how the discursive practices of modernity facilitated the construction of the modern docile and disciplined subject. if we set radical democracy in opposition to a politics of identity. the Nietzschean–Deleuzian account of becoming shows that any fixed notion of identity. You do not have towards yourself the same kind of relationships when you constitute yourself as a political subject who goes and votes or speaks up in a meeting. they fail to see how Nietzsche’s critique of the metaphysics of the subject can ground their own account of multiple subject positioning. we play. Z.the subject of radical democracy ing never comes to an end. the prison of identity is no less oppressive when it is imposed from without by the majority on the minority than when it is self-imposed. in other words. and when you try to fulfill your desires in a sexual relationship. it is the self that one already is that stands as the greatest obstacle to future over-comings (cf. More importantly.

”12 they fail to acknowledge the profoundly Foucaultian character of their own claim that democracy requires a fluid. transformative. they call instead for the development of a positive attitude toward agonal differences that sees in a pluralism whose objective is to reach harmony.”11 While they do acknowledge Foucault’s importance in terms of his concept of “discursive formation. or as empirical impediments that render impossible the full realization of a good” that total social harmony would constitute. characterized essentially by tension and openness. If we think. the “identity” of the democratic subject will likewise always be in process. In one of his earliest pieces. the Greek educational system was designed to cultivate respect for the agon. Instead. and dissensus – conflict and contestation. one must be committed to maintaining the institution of the agon as a shared public space for open competition. there can be no foundational. and historically contingent notion of identity. the unpublished “Homers Wettkampf. Connolly appeals directly and explicitly to Nietzsche’s account of the contestatory nature of the agon when he argues for a reinvigorated democracy understood 155 . Nietzsche recognizes that an absolute victory within the agon would mark the death of the agon. and he acknowledges that in order to preserve freedom from dominance. the hegemonic relations established among the discursively dispersed subject positions are what provide the conditions for their notion of a “radical and plural democracy. producing itself in response to and being produced by the contingent antagonisms and alliances that constitute the social. a second analytic moment is required. his thinking here is profoundly democratic.” Nietzsche suggests that the Greeks knew that “competition is vital if the well-being of the State is to continue.schrift relationship.15 Contrary to liberal democratic theorists like John Rawls. but they also claim that the moment of dispersion cannot exist in theoretical isolation. precarious and incomplete.17 Political theorist William E. as the agonistic opposition between the Apollonian and Dionysian arts continually incited each other to new and more powerful creative productions (see BT 1). diversity and disagreement – is a necessary condition of pluralism. in which he began his “hermeneutic of the self. as we can see when we juxtapose this sentiment with the following comment from Ernesto Laclau: A democratic society is not one in which the “best” content dominates unchallenged but rather one in which nothing is definitely acquired and there is always the possibility of challenge. by design. It is at this point that a radical democratic theory might again return to Nietzsche and recall his appeal to the political and cultural value of the agon. unified discourse. in contrast to what he regards as the modern desire that seeks the exclusive position of absolute dominance.16 Rather than erasing differences through the postulation of some imagined consensus yet to be achieved. For Laclau and Mouffe. And in such a society.”14 Indeed. Instead. not the life but the death of a democratic polity. a work in progress and never finished. “discursive discontinuity” becomes for them “primary and constitutive”13 inasmuch as the social sphere of radical and plural democracy is. as “it is necessary to show the relations of overdetermination and totalization that are established among these” moments of dispersion.” sought to articulate. in [sic] the resurgence of nationalism and all kinds of ethnic identities in presentday Eastern Europe. While Nietzsche himself may not have realized it. for whom conflict and antagonism are “seen as disturbances that unfortunately cannot be completely eliminated. Laclau and Mouffe argue that pluralism is necessary for democracy. And it is precisely the historical constitution of these different forms of subject relating to games of truth that interest me. For Laclau and Mouffe. In fact. then we can easily see that the danger for democracy lies in the closure of these groups around fullfledged identities that can reinforce their most reactionary tendencies and create the conditions for a permanent confrontation with other groups. for instance.9 Like Foucault. Laclau and Mouffe advocate a dispersion of a fixed and unified subjectivity. the Greeks saw the ongoing contest of powers as necessary for cultural advancement.10 It is precisely this second moment that Foucault’s last works.

” in which Nietzsche notes that the only way that the Church.20 through their extermination. one remains young only on condition the soul does not relax.the subject of radical democracy not in terms of the drive for consensus but as a dynamic social space in which agonistic respect is folded into “the ambiguities. there too we have spiritualized enmity. this is what Connolly takes Nietzsche to mean by the “pathos of distance”: an attachment to that which differs from you growing out of glimmers of difference in you. Nietzsche never tires of invoking the desirability of a “worthy enemy. For Connolly. (TI “Morality” 3) The pathos of distance thus facilitates a model of democracy in which the agonal relations between us are not something to be regrettably put up with but are the only means by which we will be able to engage in democratic political practices.21 This “worthy enemy.”19 In fact. … This ethos of agonistic respect amidst a world of dissonant interdependencies is crucial to the fabric of democratic politics: … it folds a pathos of distance into democratic relations of contestation. when this ambiguity is affirmed rather than denied or regretted. knows how to combat the passions is Thus. Nietzsche’s agonal dynamism operates both interpersonally and intrapersonally as Nietzsche’s account of the multiple self – of the self as a struggle between competing drives and impulses – can likewise serve as a model for a dynamic and pluralistic polity. And while Nietzsche did not choose to link the agon with democracy. becoming (as) the radical democratic subject Nietzsche’s proximity here to Deleuze could not be closer. at the end of his productive life. as at the beginning. agonism/totalitarianism. thus serves to insure against those forces that motivate us to rest. see that it is to our advantage that the Church exists. too. and morality more generally. does not long for peace. conflicts and interdependencies that constitute social relations. … In politics. … We adopt the same attitude toward the “enemy within”. to fix our identities in their present incarnation. there too we have grasped its value. his oversight should not keep us from acknowledging that it is precisely totalitarianism that requires the elimination of competition and contestation in the political sphere. much more forbearing. to remain what we are. By attuning oneself to the “differences that continue to circulate through my or our identity [one] can engender a certain empathy for what we or I am not. we immoralists and anti-Christians. Following the famous opening section of Twilight’s “Morality as Anti-Nature. collaboration and hegemony. Nietzsche continued to appeal to the idea that competition and contestation – the agon – is necessary for the continued well-being of the individual and the community.”18 Connolly makes agonism central to democratic practice as he takes the impossibility of arriving at a final and fixed identity – whether social or individual – as the basis for cultivating the “agonistic respect” necessary for democracy. then. enmity has become much more spiritual – much more prudent. One is fruitful only at the cost of being rich in contradictions. there comes this less famous statement of Nietzsche’s alternative: The Church has at all times desired the destruction of its enemies: we. much more thoughtful. relational character of identity itself. democracy/tyranny are all at work in the 156 . Empathy. an attachment that takes the form of forbearance in strife and generosity in interdependence rather than a quest to close up the distance between you through formation of a higher unity. as the Nietzschean contrasts between identity/multiplicity. whose enduring presence is required for the agon to continue and for each of the agonal partners to proceed along the path of self-overcoming.” whether one’s democratic contestatory others or whether the others within that one is in competition with or struggling to become. Contrary to the Right’s tendency to desire an identity or unanimity that presumes the elimination of their antagonists. emerges from the ambiguous. against whom one can test one’s strength” (BT Pr1). It is this Nietzschean sensibility that admires the Greek agon while despairing over the Christiandogmatic tendency to seek the elimination of difference because it has always and only understood difference as opposition.

When Deleuze writes that “multiplicity is the difference of one thing from another [while] becoming is difference from self. we must acknowledge that Foucault himself may have chosen in the end to turn away from the political and return to the personal. the ethos. I want to emphasize.24 Foucault here makes clear that it is a mistake to regard his power-analytic as leading to a quietist acceptance of the inevitability of oppression. The omnipresence of relations of power. In Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Yet at the same time. the techniques of management. but that everything is dangerous”23 as we work toward identifying the “main dangers” and organizing the forces of production to resist them. we must presume “not that everything is bad. however. For Nietzsche. To this we must also add the Foucaultian suggestion that while exploring the interlaced technologies of subjects and power. that a certain agonal dimension is constitutive of all intersubjective relations and that. identity is fluid and constantly in the process of being contested as it is being constituted. Butler challenges the language of interiority or internalization. from which one must free one’s self. Drawing upon Foucault and Nietzsche both. Butler acknowledges at the start of her text the political import of Foucault’s emphasis on the productive power of law for a subversion of identity. as we must.”22 he presumes. I would like to close. our identity will be constituted differently. without constraint and without coercion.” his alternative is not a dystopian vision of inevitable oppression: relations of power are not something bad in themselves. in one of his final interviews. the political dimension of Butler’s conclusions that identity is a practice and gender a performative remains profoundly Foucaultian as it articulates the alter- 157 . I don’t believe there can be a society without relations of power. an emancipatory dimension of Foucault’s analytic insofar as the understanding of how power relations function in the local arenas in which we act can aid us in resisting the more repressive exercises of these relations. There is.”25 more overtly political strategies of liberation can be drawn from the Foucaultian analytic. then. by examining Judith Butler’s work as an example of a more explicitly political appropriation. albeit less frequently. the import of Nietzsche for a critical project that seeks to rethink gender (and) identity insofar as Nietzsche’s challenge to a metaphysics of substance opens the possibility for a performative account of identity. as those nihilistic readings of Foucault often conclude. we need not accept as inevitable the particular forms in which those relations have emerged. without obstacles.schrift Deleuzian contrast between becoming and fascism (whether micro or macro). therefore. but to give one’s self the rules of law. if you understand them as means by which individuals try to conduct. the practice of self. To the contrary.26 She also acknowledges. The problem is not of trying to dissolve them in the utopia of a perfectly transparent communication. Foucault remarks – visàvis Habermas – that when he rejects as utopian Habermas’s idea that “there could be a state of communication which would be such that the games of truth could circulate freely. to determine the behavior of others. which would allow these games of power to be played with a minimum of domination. This is surely one way to interpret his decision to go back to the Greek notion of the cultivation of the self as a model of an agonal victory over forces within oneself that are difficult to subdue or a model of self-mastery in which one is one’s own master. does not lead to a resigned acceptance of the fact of domination. We learn from Foucault that although relations of power are inevitable. in other words. offering in its stead the language of performativity in which “the gendered body [as] performative suggests that it has no ontological status apart from the various acts which constitute its reality. that although Foucault may have made a personal choice to focus on the cultivation of the self in terms of answering only to oneself and the authority one exercises over oneself so as to concretely take “delight in oneself as in a thing one both possesses and has before one’s eyes.”27 While critical of some of Foucault’s positions on sexual difference and the body. and also the ethics. insofar as we will always face agonal partners. as for Deleuze. when contesting different partners.

her position remains. indeed. however.” Butler suggests we move “to the more Nietzschean query: ‘how is it that the unrealizability of the Good and/or Emancipation has produced a paralyzed or limited sense of political efficacy. Before leaving Butler. therefore. and it is precisely in terms of this dimension that she avoids the voluntaristic position she is mistakenly accused of holding. In Gender Trouble. This converging and interarticulation is the contemporary fate of the subject. but at the same time. She concludes her discussion of “Poststructuralism and Postmarxism” by posing a Foucaultian alternative to “the Derridean approach pursued. when arguing for a non-substantive notion of gender. she now recasts as a subversive re-iteration that re-embodies subjectivating norms while at the same time redirecting the normativity of those norms. For there is no selfidentical subject who houses or bears these relations. “is not whether to repeat.”34 And for those who are willing to see. cited above.” Butler locates “‘agency’ … within the possibility of a variation on that repetition. But such a formulation underestimates the radical challenge to the subject that such converging relations imply. more generally. she displays her continued affinity for operating out of a Foucaultian grid. more congenial to a Foucaultian than a Derridean politics. language that calls for a shift in the focus of critical inquiry. 13): “there is no ‘being’ behind doing.33 a fact Butler herself seems to acknowledge as she reiterates her Foucaultian sympathies in a recent comment on the work of Drucilla Cornell and Ernesto Laclau. framed within the ambivalence of production and repression. moreover. one avoids the precipitous misreading of “performative” as “performance” that mistakenly views Butler in Gender Trouble to be articulating a voluntaristic notion of subjectivity that willfully decides one day to adopt one gender position. from On the Genealogy of Morals (GM I. as we see in the following remark from the concluding pages of Bodies That Matter: One might be tempted to say that identity categories are insufficient because every subject position is the site of converging relations of power that are not univocal. with the implication that it could just as willfully adopt a different gender position the next day.the subject of radical democracy native gender possibilities produced within the repressive and constraining practices of our compulsory heterosexist culture. one must also note that this Foucaultian alternative is itself couched in the language of Nietzschean genealogy. no site at which such relations converge. and how. it is worth noting in this context that her recent work has developed this position through the Derridean notion of iterability. might the fabrication of more local ideals enhance the sense of politically practicable possibilities?’”35 In so doing.”29 And by keeping in view the Nietzschean–Foucaultian dimension of her thinking on the question of the subject. ‘the doer’ is merely a fiction added to the deed – the deed is everything. through a radical proliferation of gender. an affinity she recalls in the concluding chapter of Bodies That Matter: 158 . The task for a subversive politics of identity. by both Laclau and Cornell. Leaving the question “what kinds of political practices are opened up now that Emancipation and the Good have proven their unrealizability. to repeat and.”28 In order to be intelligible. This point bears repeating. it seems to me. but how to repeat or. becoming. Arguing that “all signification takes place within the orbit of the compulsion to repeat. the subject as a selfidentical identity is no more.31 While it would take us too far afield to demonstrate in detail the Nietzschean character of Butler’s position. for the Nietzschean dimension of Butler’s position here is rarely noted. I would like here to simply note that one could easily show that Nietzsche’s account of a non-substantive self as a convergence of relations of will to power confronts a traditional metaphysics of the subject with the same radical challenge. In other words. cultural forces compel certain repetitions. for the most part. to displace the very gender norms that enable the repetition itself. these forces produce possibilities of alternative performances. effecting. what she earlier discussed in terms of performative repetition.32 Even in this Derridean incarnation. Butler quotes Nietzsche’s remark.”30 Butler’s performative account of gender identity is thus articulated at the intersection of Nietzsche and Foucault.

Arabic numerals designate section number. As these positions and others with which they share philosophical assumptions and political affiliations develop in response to changing political contingencies. trans. Unless otherwise noted. whether recognized or not. that although Foucault and Deleuze themselves may have been “erased. “On the Death of Man and Superman” in Foucault. and in Connolly’s explorations of an agonistic model of the democratic polity. In fact. pp. that I have no real quarrel with Wernick’s genealogy.schrift the question for thinking discourse and power in terms of the future has several paths to follow: how to think power as resignification together with power as the convergence or interarticulation of relations of regulation. to rethink the terms that establish and sustain bodies that matter?36 notes 1 The reference is to Andrew Wernick’s essay. will continue to mobilize accounts of subjectivity or agency that can help support the political project of radical democracy. Hollingdale (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. trans. and Deleuze. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House. A Thousand Plateaus. A creative fusion. trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House. then.J. trans. and Pr designates Nietzsche’s prefaces. is with a Nietzschean–Foucaultian account of the constitutive relations of power that sets for us the context in which a Nietzschean–Deleuzian account of the metaphysics of becoming-other can accommodate the multiple subject positionings that are necessary to negotiate the shifting alliances and allegiances that are incumbent on the subject of a radical democratic polity. 1968) Z Thus Spoke Zarathustra in The Viking Portable Nietzsche. R. 1968) BT The Birth of Tragedy. 1988) 130. Foucault. as a Nietzschean. 1967) TI Twilight of the Idols. Seán Hand (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. to close with an image with which Foucault closed Les mots et les choses. 4 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. 6 References to Nietzsche’s texts will be cited parenthetically with the following abbreviations. 1995). note must be taken of at least one passage where Where this leaves us. 8 And by implication. trans. like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea. 159 . Deleuze and Guattari. here. 3 The Nietzschean thematics at work in French poststructuralism is a central thesis in my Nietzsche’s French Legacy: A Genealogy of Poststructuralism (New York: Routledge.2). 1987) 238–39. 5 Cf. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Viking Press. domination. 1967) 7 Gilles Deleuze. constitution? How to know what might qualify as an affirmative resignification – with all the weight and difficulty of that labor – and how to run the risk of reinstalling the abject at the site of its opposition? But how. trans. I would suggest. “The Rhizomatic Genealogy of Deconstruction”. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. 137–150. Which is to say.”37 their discourses emphasizing the process of becoming. 1967) GM On the Genealogy of Morals. Hollingdale (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.J. published in this issue of Angelaki (5. trans. I am quite comfortable operating with multiple genealogies. the attentive reader will continue to be able to hear clearly the echoes of Nietzsche. 2 I hasten to add. this also provides an answer to the interpretive question “Is Zarathustra an Übermensch?” While I am arguing here that a real instantiation of an Übermensch is not possible. Roman numerals designate essay number. and ed. R. A Thousand Plateaus 293. 1967) EH Ecce Homo. also. AC The Antichrist. both real or phantasmatic. trans. of Nietzschean–Foucaultian–Deleuzian perspectives is at work. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House. in Laclau and Mouffe’s call for discursive discontinuity and the multiplicity of subject positions. in Butler’s bringing to the fore the productive resistances called forth by the repressive constraints of contemporary gender/identity politics. whether construed in Foucaultian terms of assujettissement or Deleuzian terms of agencement. whether acknowledged or not.

Although I will discuss Butler’s work here in the context of its relation to Foucault and. 11 See ibid. In the original transcript of this interview. then we always have something to do. 18 William E. Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon Books. Political Theory and Modernity (Ithaca: Cornell UP. 1984) 343. 14 Friedrich Nietzsche. and Contemporary Culture. Philosophy and Social Criticism. Connolly. 20 Ibid. Such chance occurrences of great success have always been possible and perhaps always will be possible. 1994) 191. ed. “On the Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of Work in Progress” in The Foucault Reader. It is in this context that Foucault remarks that although he disagrees with Rorty. S. in my opinion.the subject of radical democracy Nietzsche seems to say the opposite. Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics (London: Verso. Carol Diethe. 10 Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. 191. special issue “The Final Foucault” 12.2–3 (Summer 1987): 121. And even entire races. Gauthier. one of the most sophisticated. And in this way. And I think that’s a very great difference. John Rajchman (New York: Routledge. And my position leads to a hyper. I think that Rorty’s position. trans.” ed. trans. 1983) 189. the account. 13 Ibid.and pessimistic activism. it isn’t because everything is bad.. 12 See ibid. Hugh Tomlinson (New York: Columbia UP. Mark Poster (New York: Columbia UP. 17 Ibid. 1993) 292. Keith Ansell-Pearson (Cambridge: Cambridge UP. or Rorty’s hypothesis. 1986) 65. tribes. In AC (4). to Nietzsche. thought-provoking and potentially valuable accounts of the “subject” to have appeared following the structuralist “death” and poststructuralist “decentering” of “subjectivity. for it leaves open the possibility that Nietzsche is simply referring to some type of being that has overcome its Menschlichkeit rather than to the specific being whose task it was Zarathustra’s to teach. 19 Ibid. dated 19 April 1983. Theory. which they frame as a view that accommodates multiple narratives by accepting them all as equally good. The Care of the Self. 24 Foucault.D. but because everything can be dangerous. In fact. 26 Judith Butler. 105–07. 23 Foucault. 16 Chantal Mouffe. 21 I thank Debra Bergoffen for suggesting I recall Nietzsche’s idea of the “worthy enemy” in this context. articulated in Gender Trouble. of the subject as a performative is. leads to an apathy. The transcript continues: “If everything is dangerous. Nietzsche and Philosophy. trans. ed. “The Ethic of Care for the Self as a Practice of Freedom. 22 Gilles Deleuze.” trans.J. 9 Michel Foucault. 1990) 2. ed.” 160 . About this remark one point is worth noting: insofar as Nietzsche’s Übermensch is supposed to provide a definite description of a certain type of higher humanity. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge. the fact that he here says “a sort of Übermensch [eine Art Übermensch]” is significant. he writes that In another sense there are cases of individual success constantly appearing in the most various parts of the earth and from the most various cultures in which a higher type does manifest itself: something which in relation to collective mankind is a sort of Übermensch. J. nations can under certain circumstances represent such a lucky hit. “The Ethic of Care for the Self as a Practice of Freedom” 129. “Power and Representation” in Politics. 1995) 44. 15 Ernesto Laclau.” Foucault goes on to remark that our task becomes one of accurately identifying the dangers and “the ethico-political choice we have to make every day [is] to decide which is the main danger” (Centre Michel Foucault. 166–67. Foucault makes this comment in response to questions from Dreyfus and Rabinow in which they are trying to get Foucault to distinguish his position from that of Richard Rorty. I want to make clear that her work is far more than an “application” of the Foucaultian analytic. Robert Hurley (New York: Random House. Document D250(5) 22–23). 1993) 195. 1985) 117. 195. to a lesser extent. 25 Michel Foucault. 44. “Homer on Competition” in On the Genealogy of Morals . “Democratic Politics and the Question of Identity” in The Identity in Question.

Butler further develops her position by using the Derridean notion of iterability. her position remains.4 (1993): 11. also. and Alan D. 31 Butler. 136. 1997)]. consider the following remark from the concluding chapter of Bodies That Matter: the question for thinking discourse and power in terms of the future has several paths to follow: how to think power as resignification together with power as the convergence or interarticulation of relations of regulation. is moving away from a Deleuzian account of repetition is an issue that I cannot take up here. what she earlier discussed in terms of performative repetition. 36 Butler. 28 Ibid. 37 Michel Foucault.” chapter three of Theories of Subjection: The Psychic Life of Power (Stanford: Stanford UP. Bodies That Matter 240. The Order of Things (New York: Random House. 34 Judith Butler. and Resignation: Between Freud and Foucault. To cite just one example where Butler’s work can continue to be viewed as operating out of a Foucaultian grid. 1993) 240]. framed within the ambivalence of production and repression. constitution? How to know what might qualify as an affirmative resignification – with all the weight and difficulty of that labor – and how to run the risk of reinstalling the abject at the site of its opposition? But how. profoundly Foucaultian. 35 Ibid. 145. 33 Whether Butler. Even in this Derridean incarnation. Resistance. 148. In her more recent work. .” Diacritics 23. Theories of Subjection 99. however. Gender Trouble 25. Bodies That Matter 229–30. 10–11. 30 Quoted in Butler.schrift 27 Ibid. Schrift Philosophy Department Grinnell College Grinnell IA 50112 USA E-mail: schrift@ac. to rethink the terms that establish and sustain bodies that matter? [Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (New York: Routledge. “Poststructuralism Postmarxism. 1973) 387.grin. it seems to me. 29 Ibid. she now recasts as a subversive re-iteration which re-embodies subjectivating norms while at the same time redirecting the normativity of those norms [cf. 32 See Butler. in using the language of reiteration. “Subjection.