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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Desiring Disability

Affirming the disabled body risks losing oneself – itexposes our shared phantasm of invulnerability; our irreconcilable fragility.Can we resist the capture of the world, close off every pore of our bodies and hermetically seal the soul from the excess of desire? On the other hand one mayalso embrace an affirmative critique that moves beyond a politics of the lowestcommon denominator – one that seeks an ethics beyond the baseline definition ofthe politics of pity.

Working through the question of deficiency means a movementbeyond desire as lack. From Plato’s androgyne to Hegel’s ‘Negativity as theintegrity of determination’ or Freud’s Thanatos and the haunting lack that impingesitself around every corner of the symbolic order, intellectual currents havehabitually sedimented deficiency as prima facie. How can these modes ofcritique and/or methodological orientations toward desire account for theexperience of being denied sexuality? Not that some people with disabilitiesare biologically or otherwise asexual, but simply that there exists amaterialized social structure which seeks to delimit the disabled body from therealm of sexual possibility.
Even if one grants a claim to authority or priority to therealm of sexuality, what is lost in the reading of desire as lack? If weunderstand the desire for the other primarily as an object oriented or goalfocused approach then what happens to the self in the moment of fulfillment (ifsuch a thing is possible) under this approach?
An indissoluble trap haunts understandings of desire aslack. If desire is constitutive of self-identity in the sense that through theidentification of the object of desire the self delimits the realm of itssubject position by marking that which is other, then in the moment offulfillment does the self not risk complete dissolution and loss? Is this notPlato’s point in the Symposium? Does the momentthat marks the eruption of absolute fulfillment not force the motivating lifeforce to resign?
Is this not living refutation of the closed system? Proof ofits inevitable implosion upon itself? Or is it simply a denial of themotivating negativity constantly stirring the pot of radical relationality?

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