[-empyre-] Liquid Blackness, Matter & Flesh
araengo at gsu.edu
Fri Apr 8 00:27:17 AEST 2016
thank you for bringing up the question of the unavoidable figurality —“overpowering metaphoricity” as you call it -- of the language of color and the language of race that is necessarily part of the conversation we are trying to have about blackness.
As my dialog with Murat might have began to explain, we are first and foremost invested in thinking about the racial dimension of blackness even when blackness is not used to describe black people. [I should explain that I say “we” to indicate the position that the research group assumes on these issues]
But things are also more complicated than that. In my work I always tried to enter this figurality in a way that would explode and magnify its contradictions. So, for example, I tried to develop an approach to the “blackness” of "black cinema" from the “blackness” of the shadow as a black image, whose blackness is untethered from a supposed blackness of the body.
The shadow is a quasi-photographic image (if one identifies photography with its indexicality) whose blackness is entirely independent from the body that produces it. When one tries to address it, one will have to negotiate a constant slippage between the literal, the figural, the material, the conceptual, etc. I find that this very process is important in helping us understand the racial dimension as well as the formal dimension of blackness
Another example is in a recent essay I wrote for the journal Discourse (forthcoming in the next issue) which responds to Object Oriented Philosophy from the point of view of racial blackness. The argument is complicated but there is one methodological issue that might be helpful here: what I realized is that I had to first think of blackness as entirely divorced from race as OOO philosophers do, and then let their very idea of the “object” demand that we challenge it from the point of view of race. This is so because “black” (as a racial object/subject) is the being for which the definition of the object makes an ontological difference and therefore it is the one from whose perspective the object should be conceptualized (rather than simply providing a metaphorical foil for understanding of the object as minoritarian).
In other words, as much as I attempted to deploy the idea of blackness and black as purely chromatic descriptions, their figural associations with connotations elaborated in a racial context (as I discussed in my response to Murat) continued to reassert themselves and attach themselves to these terms.
Part of the work that “liquid blackness” attempts to do, in its very figurality, is to attend to the movements of blackness between the literal, the figural, the conceptual, the material, etc. within the very language we use to discuss it.
> On Apr 6, 2016, at 7:47 PM, simon <swht at clear.net.nz> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space---------------------- Dear <<empyreans>>,
> this month's topic made me curious because of its overpowering metaphoricity. Even when race is invoked this is retained. A power in the slogan Black Lives Matter. (About which, the imagery of power and its toppling, here.)
> By chance, I picked up François Laruelle's “Du noir univers: dans les fondations humaines de la couleur” and read in Miguel Abreu's translation:
> In the beginning there is Black
> Black is not merely what man sees in man
> The Universe is deaf and blind, we can only love it and assist it.
> Black prior to light is the substance of the Universe.
> Light strikes the Earth with repeated blows, divides the World infinitely, solicits in vain the invisible Universe.
> Man approaches the World only by way of transcendental darkness, into which he never entered and from which he will never leave.
> A phenomenal blackness entirely fills the essence of man. Because of it, the most ancient stars of the paleo-cosmos together with the most venerable stones of the archeo-earth, appear to man as being outside the World, and the World itself appears as outside-World.
> Laruelle also writes "Black is entirely interior to itself and to man." And we have to wonder about women.
> Daniel Colucciello Barber, Alexander Galloway, Nicola Masiandaro, and Eugene Thacker together wrote a book about Laruelle's aphoristic essay. The book came from the staging of a four-night colloquium during which each of the authors, on consecutive nights, addressed him-self to her-meticism (& Du noir univers).
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