Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ethics and Alterity

The excess of subjectivity that exceeds representation reminded me of our class discussion on 68’ a couple of weeks ago, and the way in which the excess of political and student movements were delineated in France, regulated and diminished through representation (which I think is related to Basterra’s idea of differential representation), or the way 68 in Mexico is posteriorly reduced to the single image of the massacre at Tlatelolco.

Along the same lines, I am interested in the idea that an ethical event cannot be represented but its impact on the world can be signified rhetorically.

The demand comes from the other-that which resists representation.  It is also the other in the same- within the subject. You only know the demand through the disturbance it creates- (which makes me think of our discussion of the subaltern-the position of the subaltern in history as the ‘winds of change’ etc.)

I am a little confused by the discussion of the alterity of the event being outside and inside the subject (“The alterity of this event is, however, an alterity within the self: the command is “exerted by the other in me over me”. Existing in the subject but in excess of it this other alters the subject as an Other-within-the same…” This thing that exists within the subject and in excess of it seemed like Derrida’s idea of the supplement- the unnatural outside addition that both corrects a lack or absence, and is in excess.  Later, Basterra states that Derrida’s critique of Levinas was that by saying the other is always at a distance and not within the ego, and if it is untouchable and not within the ego, how can we know it exists?


  1. Your post makes me think of what Gabriela called last week "the excess of representation" and how difficult it is to approximate via language that other within the subject that is also outside of it. Perhaps we know it exists just be the fact that we follow its command, its disturbance upon us, and that's how close we get without going into metaphors.

  2. I was also confused by the discussion of the alterity of the event being outside and inside the subject, although I think that Gabriela did a good job of explaining it last week. I am trying to come up with a summary of this explanation, but it has escaped me! Perhaps we should discuss this tomorrow.