Natasha Lushetich

Eroticism is an encounter with another that delights in the other’s alterity. Trust can only exist in the space between knowing and not knowing.

Conceptualised against the backdrop of ubiquitous knowledge quantification, obsessive ranking, and the torture of transparency, this paper traces two lines of thought. On the one hand, Foucault’s biopower and McKenzie’s excessive-transgressive performance imperative, both of which form the 21st century’s performative subject. On the other, Butler’s theory of subjection, in which the subject does not, and cannot exist outside the system of subjection, which is the system of its own coming into being.

By intersecting these two approaches the performative subject’s self-destructive addiction to achievement, approval and (hyper)activity is analysed. ‘Self-destruction’ here does not refer to fanaticism, intensity or passion but to a systematic annihilation of allthat lies at the heart of eros, poiesis, even therapia. By reflecting on the conditions of this annihilation: the neoliberal, negative brand of freedom (freedom from obligation and inhibition); self-interpellation (through digital and augmented reality gadgets and programmes); and the cyborgian, networked relationality (that ‘pulls’ on the subject all the time), an argument is made for a toxic, self-afflictive concept of power. Like the phantom limb, which is no longer attached to the body but does not cease to cause pain, this form of power is no longer reliant on interaction (Foucault), nor on invisible control (Deleuze) but operates through networked feedback loops like the perpetuum mobile.

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