Subjectivity as kinesthetic

Subjectivity as kinesthetic

A speculative theory of subjectivity that begins from the assumption that there is no inside, specifically no "depth interiority". Originally written for but it is reposted here as it is obvious that any psy-politics is required to speak about subjectivity. This post is more theoretical in nature & assumes some familiarity with the continental philosophy tradition.

Provisional Theses on the hypothesis that subjectivity is kinesthetic

1. So many philosophical arguments regarding subjectivity are grounded in theories of the body as either a depth or a surface. Commonly thought of as two sides of dichotomy either perspective is essentially somatophobic, proceeding as it does from a thought that thinks it is possible to think without a body. This somatophobia isn’t to be thought as reducible to any particular body: thus, it is at once a geophobia, a xenocorporeophobia (fear of the otherness of other bodies):, a primordial aversion to the vulnerability of existence as open materiality.

2. There exists an unreconstructed corporeal philosophical tradition that takes in a variety of physics (Stoicism, Spinoza), phenomenology (Merleau-Ponty), physiological ontologies (Pascal[?], Nietzsche), philosophical biologies (Hans Jonas, Deleuze & Guattari), political feminism and avowed corporealism (Grosz, Alaimo).

3. Somatophobic philosophies still attempt to think the body. Generally they think the body in terms of a depth (interiority; latency; depth psychology) or as a surface (Lingis[?], at times Deleuze, definitely Foucault). More generally these traditions might be allied to psychoanalysis, post-structuralism and phenomenology.

3. The depth-surface dichotomy attempts to force a decision regarding the status of bodies: it is thus an attempt to produce a grounding bifurcation or partition of the sensible within ontology.

4. This decisional carving up of elemental immanence (flesh) occurs via encapturing the activity of bodies, codifying and freezing materio-energetic exchange of discreet bodies into eternal moments. Thus the dichotomised image of the body as surface or depth is in fact a reification of a body’s activity.

5. A thought that is faithful to materio-energetic exchange, or ontometabolism, is also a thought that thinks the openness of bodies and thus understands them on the pragmatic register of potencies and capacities, abilities and disabilities, without figuring these concepts as binary relations.

6. This is a thought of virtuosity capable of thinking bodies qua onto-specificity that necessarily grasps the radical reversibility of interiority and exteriority; potencies and capacities do not “belong” to a body but are a bodies way of coexistence with other bodies, and are constrained or catalysed by those others; this points to a conceptualisation of virtuality that abandons the depth-surface cognitive schema, and to the conceptual necessity of ecological thinking.

7. Virtuosity necessarily implies that what is traditionally partitioned as a body’s interiority is in fact a mode of exteriority. This exteriority is composed the possible actualisations that a body can express by coming into new ecological relations with other bodies. Such an exterior field of possible articulations, a kind of phase space, can be expressed via the choreographic concept of the kinesphere.

8. The kinesphere is a concept originated by choreographer and dancer Rudolph Laban that refers to a particular virtual spatiality that a particular dancer describes with their body and its movement, and which is conditions and is conditioned by that movement. As such I use the term kinesphere not to maintain a fidelity with Laban but to point to the kinetic nature of a body’s being.

9. It is possible to locate forms of subjectivity within the kinesphere. The perspectival nature of phenomenal subjectivity corresponds to the centrality of the kinesphere but radiates out beyond it via corporeal virtuosity and rhythmicity.

10. If 9. follows from the preceding, then a kinesthetic theory of subjectivity provides a line of flight to an infrastructural theory of agency. There is no static infrastructure and there is no genuinely motionless body: there is a reason Deleuze and Guattari didn’t speak only of territories but also of speeds.

Posted By

sometimes explode
Mar 12 2014 19:54


  • ...the dichotomised image of the body as surface or depth is in fact a reification of a body’s activity.

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