Rereading that last post, I’m struck by how much I seem to have interiorized Carl Schmitt’s definition of the political in terms of the friend/enemy distinction. Schmitt writes, in his book The Concept of the Political (p.26):
The political must… rest on its own ultimate distinction, to which all action with a specifically political meaning can be traced… The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy.
What makes a group or an action specifically political, then, rather than cultural or social or personal or emotional or whatever, is whether that group knows who its friends are, and who its enemies are.
One of the things that is going on, I think, in the insistence that the rioters/looters were acting apolitically, eg in damaging local small businesses rather than ‘Tiffany’s and Gucci’s’, is an insistence that (1) they didn’t know who their enemies were, and that (2) their friend groupings should have been organized around locality and proximity, not around supraterritorial loyalties (particularly those of class). And one of the things I’m arguing is that that’s not true, and that what the riots both illuminate and, to some extent, bring into being as a political grouping, is a relationship of enmity between an enfranchised group and a profoundly disenfranchised group. This is why I would like to see a lot more detail on who was attacking what, where, and when, because that seems to me to be the best way to try and figure out how that friend/enemy grouping is being played out and experienced – and hence to see where the fracture in the state really is, and whether my guess is right.
In other news, it looks like my writing hiatus is over! I’m on research leave, and working currently on various small projects, which I want to get written by the end of September so I can have the rest of the year for my next book (MY NEXT BOOK YOU GUYS), so I’m planning to use this blog as a thinking space for the work I’m starting on. I have to write a book chapter on Derrida and the future, or possibly on Derrida and No Future again because you can bet your boots I have more to say about that, but then I might also write about the Underworld, but then that would overlap both with a journal article I have coming out in September (here, click ‘show contents’, OH YEAH, in the same issue as Samuel Weber and David Farrell Krell and Lynn Turner) and one of the other book chapters I have to write, on Nachtraglichkeit (deferred effect) in Aeneid 6 and the strange (no-)futurity of Vergil’s Underworld. And the other book chapter I have to write is on myth, and I’m just doing the preliminary research on it and wondering about how Jane Harrison’s focus on ‘deferral’ as the psychic origin of art, memory, consciousness might interact with Derrida’s work on deferral. INTERESTING TIMES.
The myth chapter is going to be great, I hope, but it needs an awful lot of research. It’s for the Blackwell Companion to the Reception of Classical Myth and is finally going to let me put together the work I do on fanfiction-as-reception with my Classical stuff, to see if I can work through the connections and disconnections between theories of mythology, convergence/transmedia, collective authorship, popular culture, ideology, and rewriting, to account meaningfully for the continuing presence of Classical myth and history in the contemporary popular mythosphere.
And the final thing I’m working on at the moment is my keynote paper for the Ethics of Reception workshop in September, where I get to keynote alongside SARAH WOOD, you guys. I have to/get to read all the papers before I finally decide on the topic, but I think it’s going to be called ‘No in the Feminine’ and be about Monique Wittig’s Vergile, Non, Jean Rhys’s Good Morning, Midnight, and Barthes’ The Neutral, with some sideswipes at Molly Bloody Bloom and Derrida’s ‘The Law of Genre’ (‘as long as I say yes, yes, I am a woman, and beautiful’), which I have long hated.