Apparently a discussion took place on Sara Ahmed’s facebook page where she took my discussion of borromean critical theory to be an attack on her because I characterized her work as an example of “phenomenological critical theory”. This was in no way my intention. I wouldn’t have linked to her fine book if I didn’t think this. As I thought I tried to make clear, I see Ahmed’s work as an example of good and valuable phenomenological analysis of subaltern bodies. It is analysis I would recommend. The whole point of thinking a borromean knot is to think how the three orders are on equal footing and how we ought not privilege one over the other. My sole point was that I think we’ve tended to erase materiality in the robust sense, that we need to make room for it, and that I think we need to think how the three orders are entangled with one another. I don’t think the material body can be assimilated to the lived body of experience. Indeed, I don’t think we can have an experience of our material bodies at all. Put differently, I think there’s a phenomenological body, a symbolic body, and a material body. What I want is a framework robust enough to think the entanglement of these three bodies with one another. In my view, work like Ahmed’s provides us with crucial insight into the phenomenological or experienced body. I just don’t think it gets at the material body. That’s not a rejection, but simply that there are other dimensions to what we are. I’m looking to synthesize, not exclude. What I want is neurology and biochemistry and phenomenology and critical semiotics. It’s not exclusive or’s I’m after. Hence the model of entangled orders.
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