clettrine1.jpgAVARERO (significant, I think, for Eric, particularly?):

the you comes before the we, before the plural you and before the they. Symptomatically, the you is a term that is not at home in modern and contemporary developments of ethics and politics. The “you” is ignored by the individualistic doctrines, which are too preoccupied with praising the rights of the I, and the “you” is masked by a Kantian form of ethics that is only capable of staging an I that addresses itself as a familiar “you.” Neither does the “you” find a home in the schools of thought to which individualism is opposed-these schools reveal themselves for the most part to be affected by a moralistic vice, which, in order to avoid falling into the decadence of the I, avoids the contiguity of the you, and privileges collective, plural pronouns. Indeed, many “revolutionary” movements (which range from traditional communism to the feminism of sisterhood) seem to share a curious linguistic code based on the intrinsic morality of pronouns. The we is always positive, the plural you is a possible ally, the they has the face of an antagonist, the I is unseemly, and the you is, of course, superfluous.

(Relating Narratives: Storytelling and Selfhood, 90-91 via Butler’s ‘Giving an Account of Oneself,’ Diacritics 30(4), pp. 22-40, who links Cavarero explicitly to Levinas…)

The you is superfluous because allegedly reducible to what I have already known: a type, a kind, an already-seen, already-recognised, a they, anatagonist or ally, a yes or a no. Such a reduction refuses to grapple with that which cannot be known, that which cannot be seen, that which escapes recognition; and as such, this reduction is the technique of an I which pretends that the world is already his, already hers, already theirs if only in a style of being (such that if it is not, then it ought to be, dammit!). Refuses to see that the unknown conditions the known. This presumption of knowability—oh, the rhythms it forgets, the richness it dismisses, the challenge it refuses to face and be made otherwise by! It finds only limitation in difference, and never possibility, never the dance… and therein lies its tragedy…

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