Sunday, June 10, 2007

Althusser saw persons as nothing more than supports of the ideological state apparatus

Desiring-machines are always binary machines, which is to say they are machines that function by effecting a cut, break, or interruption in a material flow. In this regard, bodies are always attached to the world in such a way that we cannot think of self-enclosed minds or cultural spaces that do not already open on to the whole of nature. One need only think of the opening pages of Blanchot’s Thomas the Obscure to see this point...
One of the predominant strains in contemporary social thought has been the implicit assumption that the agent is simply a passive clay or material to which social structures and systems give form like a cookie cutter shapes dough. The exemplar of this sort of theorizing would be Louis Althusser, who saw persons as nothing more than supports of the ideological state apparatus, but this thesis is more or less shared by Lacan, Zizek, Badiou, and Ranciere. It is for this reason that they must seek out some empty place or void within social structure or the signifying chain– not unlike Levi-Strauss’ “mana-signifier” –to account for how some minimal agency contrary to structure might be possible. After all, even the neo-structuralists must acknowledge that change does take place and subjects never quite seem to fit structure.
Yet what this entire line of thought assumes– without ever explicitly stating it –is that agents are receptive to social structure without remainder. How else could we account for Zizek’s claims about the ideology of toilets? Analysis of the in-form-ation of information might yield a very different line of thought and open a very different set of possibilities where agency is concerned. Fri 8 Jun 2007 Refractions of Lars Posted by larvalsubjects under Immanence , Lars Watch , Individuation , Information

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