Affect and Transformative Ideas
9 Anxieties of the utopian urge
9Anxieties of the utopian urge
The discursive space of utopia presents a particular challenge when approached as a vehicle for the construction of alternative futures. That challenge concerns the manner in which it implicates the formation of subjectivity, at the point where ideas develop about those future arrangements. To reiterate a central tenet that has been emerging here, the use of utopia to recover a normativity dimension within knowledge involves the subject obtaining jouissance in relation to an ambiguity in the constitution of language. In Lacanian terms, that ambiguity pivots upon the status of objet a, and can be felt in the manner by which fantasy operates within the production of knowledge claims. History is on our side with this, insofar as the culture of late capitalism now normalises that ambiguity, through the differentiation of representation by which the logic of capital discursively operates.
A challenge specific to this practice, of sustaining strategically significant signifiers under the impress of this ambiguity, is that it requires a suspension of the boundary between the positions of the subject and the object. It is through the suspension of that boundary, at the level of the subject, that the signifier is enabled to remain in that state of slicing anew into the realities of which it speaks. Such a suspension invokes for the individual, in the first instance, not new knowledge but, however, the spectre of anxiety. This is not anxiety as might be associated with the experience of fear,...
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