Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Pragmatism, performance, truthful speakers

Re: crowleycrow's comment on my 3/28 post: I'm not an expert, by any means, on the relationship between pragmatism and deconstruction. There are for sure people who connect them, and say that they are something like both. Rorty, for example. Maybe Stanley Fish? This is just from my little political theory/philosophy corner, though. I think of them, pragmatism and deconstruction/p-structuralism, as sharing many assumptions, and so having considerable over-lap, but also as being answers to different questions. And certainly arising in different intellectual contexts. But the upshot? I would say that, in different ways, proponents of both deny that there is any there, there. Be it in relation to the meaning of texts or text-analogues, or in relation to other kinds of entities.

I agree with crowleycrow's observation that "performance" is intelligible as an idea only against the back-drop of what it isn't, namely: "non-performance." And I don't think it's just a matter of how these words, like all words, depend on what they are not, in order to be what they are (that's the post-structuralist irony part). "Performance" (as in, the enacting of an appearance that is to one extent or another at odds with an underlying reality), is an actual modality, or way of being, and like lying, and fiction more generally, it is a modality that can't work unless there are already in place ways of being the objective of which is to create an appearance that is consistent with, rather than false to, an underlying reality. We could say (I do say, I think -- am herewith saying) that performance (real performance, no pun intended) is ontologically contingent upon transparent expression. Though this is not to deny Anselmo's point, that all expression is expression.

I always think of crowleycrow's own "truthful speakers," from Engine Summer, when I think of what a non-performative stance is like. They of course have to *learn* how to be truthful speakers ... but that gets us back to Anselmo's point.

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