I am looking for the body, my body, which exists outside its patriarchal definitions. Of course that is not possible. But who is any longer interested in the possible?’1
Recent judicial impositions on access to abortion and self-determination in Ireland and Ohio has seen the reduction of the subject’s agency over her own body and life. This kind of sanctioned assault on subjecthood and explicit policing of bodies is yet only one link in a chain of visible and less visible methods of control—particularly when read alongside other general mechanisms of violence against the contemporary subject, such as the domination of debt, increasing levels of state surveillance, ‘free’ market ideology, medical authority and corporate manipulation.
Apart from the catastrophic implications for those particular women incarcerated in recent months, further parallels can be drawn in relation to a more dispersed and generalised context of semio-capitalism—where we are compelled to channel maximum energy into self design, where our selves are no longer our own; the subject and object of our own incarceration.
In his most recent book, Maurizio Lazzarato positions the rethinking of subjectivity as the central practice and concern of a new mode of political action and organizing. This practice for him is ‘provoking, scandalizing, forcing others to think and to feel, and so on’, these strategies of ‘practice and experimentation’ challenging the predetermined modes of being and communicating, and replacing them with new possibilities.2
In this issue of un magazine, art and writing meet in the political category of the subject. The diverse modes of declaration, interrogation and suggestion—in the form of art, essays, poetry and fiction—go some way in expressing the infinite variability of our subjective positions and of the importance of articulating these positions in relation to one another; a gesture toward a ‘public’ that can articulate difference whilst enacting a collectivity.
Luce Irigaray calls us to look closely at this space between subjects as a way to rid our inter-relational existence of the subject-object dynamic. To quote, ‘For a culture of two subjects, , that is, an actualization of a present relationship between two. Thus a language, a language which creates something new and does not communicate only something that already exists.’
So begins her analysis of the non (gender)-neutral nature of language and her subsequent call for a women’s writing—so begins her call for a new language between subjects. Here, and in this issue, is an intersection of language, subjecthood and the political potential of the two.