The strongest instinct of the English speaking Continental philosopher is reterritorialization. This is the special pedantry (in the worst possible sense of the world) and conservativism of the English speaking Continental philosopher. The first move is almost always to reterritorialize any claim that is made on the history of philosophy and some master-figure. Domestication is the aim and one is celebrated and rewarded if they are a great domesticator (review Lacan’s university discourse). Such is the nature of Anglo-American phallosophy. Whatever other “radical” orientations such orientations of thought might claim, we instead get the same old Oedipal logic of reterritorializing on a father: Hegel, Heidegger, Deleuze, Derrida, etc. A strange performative contradiction where the content of a theory falls into contradiction with its use occurs here. “Do something new, be a free thinker, think for yourself, as long as the father said it first!”. This becomes a special sort of Anglo-American smug, sneer from nowhere. Confronted with any claim, the phallosopher wishes to change the subject and make it a discussion about a historical figure rather than the claim. The point, of course, is not that references shouldn’t be made, that historical influence is unimportant, that close reading is unnecessary, but that the subject of discussion is perpetually changed. This is one reason that Anglo-American continentalists have produced next to nothing in the way of philosophy. Their reterritorializing phallosophy perpetually interrupts philosophy and inveighs against philosophy. Philosophy ends up taking place elsewhere in culture studies departments with folks like Butler, Hayles, or in ethnography departments with folks like Appadurei because it can’t take place where the reterritorializing instincts of phallosophy reign. We get intellectual history and hermeneutics rather than philosophy, and we get the end of thought because domestication always reduces things to what is familiar and understood. We get all subsumed under the signifier producing bitter barred subjects that only find jouissance in superegoic pedantic policing of reference: Cliff Claven of Cheers speaking of “little known facts” at a bar where noone listens. We, of course, understand how reterritorializing phallosophy arose. In a cultural field dominated by the administrative reason of analytic thought it was necessary to preserve history. Neal Stephenson depicts such a scenario in Anathem. Yet in our current historical moment, phallosophy has become an impediment to thought, rather than a preservation of thought. We need a form of thought sensitive to history and being historically informed that doesn’t fall prey to the phallosophic instinct of reterritorialization that strives to impede all thought by domesticating it through history and through changing the subject.
%d bloggers like this: