Sunday, August 13, 2006

A pre-sexual, pre-gendered and, also pre-personal “I”

Postmodern spirituality A dialogue in five parts Part III: The Postmodern Mind – And Its Future Roland Benedikter
Take, for example, one of the leading thinkers you mentioned, someone so totally “anti-essential” and radically “deconstructivistic” like Judith Butler of the University of California at Berkely, a very productive stronghold of postmodern theory in the USA (and a very good university, by the way, where my wife studied with the Indian feminist Bharathi Mukherjee). Butler does a kind of radical empirical deconstruction of the classic humanistic “temple of personal identity” (Lex Bos, Jürgen Habermas); and she is widely recognized as a world wide leading “master thinker” (Jacques Lacan, The Four Discourses In The European-Western World / The Four Core Concepts Of Psychoanalysis, in: Seminaire XX / Encore, 2001; Jacques Lacan, Science and Truth, in: Writings II, 2004; cf. Bice Benvenuto and Roger Kennedy, The Works of Jacques Lacan, Free Association Books London 1986, chapter 10) in that.
In her recent book “Undoing Gender”, Routledge 2004, she is, as she says, focusing the process “on the question of what it might mean to undo restrictively normative conceptions of sexual and gendered life.” But the real question coming out of the proceeding of “undoing” (which is, of course, only another name for “deconstructing”), as she herself discovers and points out, is: What remains, when you succeed with this deconstruction, let's assume, totally? What will be then, after the “undoing” is done, with the being you liberated from all its cultural, social and physical “covers”, “sleeves” or “spoils”, so to say?
This being will remain there as a pre-sexual, pre-gendered and, in many ways, also pre-personal “I”, not tied to nothing, in a kind of state of “suspension” or “pending” to the void - consisting of “pure directed attention” (Kuehlewind) or pre-subjective “pure substance of mankind” (Bhaskar), which has been freed of every sleeve and spoil, so to say. There may be, if you allow me to say it in a somewhat extreme form, no man and woman anymore, but only “pure mankind”, pure “humanity” as an ontological “occurrence” (Heidegger).
That is what Butler unconsciously tries to produce: A world where only pre-subjective (and, of course, pre-objective) men live and encounter each other on the basis of equality, not “men” and “woman” with all the restrictive rules connected to those notions. What remains without any cultural, social, and even physical spoils, which have all been demasked by postmodern thought as social constructs that constitute the subject in unlimited rich and complex forms of norming, and therefore have been “undone”, may be a pure activity of being - and of self-consciously being in a sort of pre-subjectivized state.
And if you are very lucky, maybe there will remain even a kind of awareness of the pre-subjective and pre-personal “beeingness” (Ken Wilber, Discourses and Teachings at Naropa Institute Boulder, 2004), of whom my ego is just a temporary kind of condensation in this time and this space and in this culture and in this gender and so on. There may eventually even remain the awareness of a “permanent origin in itself” that is a pure “becoming”, or a deeply inspirational state of consciousness. And that is something truly spiritual or essential, if you consider it as a whole.

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