Saturday, June 19, 2010
Theory: Self-Plagiarism, Recycling, Repetition
Is possible to formulate a poetics of repetition in "theory"? Zizekis undoubtedly a self-plagiraiszer. he lifts whole passage out of one book and uses them in the next, starting with They Know Not What They DO (or whatever the tittle of his second book is). Metastases of Enjoyment is the worst offender and horribly written. Routledge gave him an editor after that, and the ticklish Subject was a vast improvement (Zizek acknowledges his debt to the editor is a witty way). That's when I stopped reading Zizek too (except for Welcome to the Desert of the real and his review of 300, which I already read before I read it, Zizek having become so predictable). Derrida does and does nto rpeat himself. He often leaves little citational trials in foonotes to back up clism htat he has always beenwriingwhat he hpens to be writing at the time. But htese trials are more illusory than truly bibliographic. They are only partial, and don't amount to a totalizing reading of the sort Derrida asserts since they are not comprehensive and since they are more heterogeneous that Derrida implies they are. Derrida reists being htemztized by doing a sort of fake out thematiizing of his own work. ranciere I find an unusal case. he often repeats himself in hte curse of making his argument. Sometime he repeats the exact same sentences on the same page. But he doesn't repeat himself exactly, and so the effect is not to lose the reader r through redundancy but to keep going with the low key delirium Ranciere to which has given himself over. Ranciere also pulls off a kind of disappearing act. There are next to no "pullable" quotations in his texts. His far readings and densely illuminating syntheses make his works useless in terms of the ways in which academic readers usually define useless. But they do kind of shake up your readings, and the fact that he is totally contentious (dissensus is contention for Ranciere) and disagrees with everyone helps intensify the force of the shake up. Ranciere furthermore delays getting to questions the reader will have raised much earlier. For example, he gets to the question of the rationality of disagreement only in chapter three of Dis-agreement. He doesn't get to it at all in Dissensus. That said, there are repetitions than recyclings, if not self-plagiarism. parts of Dissensus are rewrites of parts of Hatred of Democracy (I would not buy / read the latter having read the former). A whole section of Dissensus repeats a whole sections of Dissensus (on metapolitics). Of course, people do this sort of thing all the time. But it is customary to note having done so in some paratext (preface, headnotes, or endnotes, and so on). Dissensus is largely a collection of previously published essays, and the original place of publication is noted by the editor. But the repetitions with Ranciere's work are not noted either by Ranciere or by the author. In Ranciere's case, I think this kind of recycling is worth reading, even though it has gone unread (probably because it has not noticed or seems mean-spirited to do so if it has been noticed). Since Ranciere thinks of democracy as a re-opening, counting of the uncounted, disruption, and contention, his deployment of various kinds of repetition (or repetitions to which his works are subjected by the vagaries of translation and publication) stage the kind of political action he says is actually very rare.