Introducing Lyotard: Art and Politics (Critics of the by Bill Readings

By Bill Readings

The 1st actually introductory textual content on Lyotard, this e-book situates Lyotard's interventions within the postmodern debate within the wider context of his rethinking of the politics of illustration. invoice Readings examines Lyotard's dating to structuralism, Marxism and semiotics, and contrasts his paintings with the literary deconstruction of Paul de guy; he positions Lyotard's paintings as a way to draw out the consequences of poststructurlaism's cognizance to difference in interpreting. Lyotard's willingness to question the political and view the connection among paintings and politics is proven to undermine the cost that deconstruction abdicates political and social articulation.

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I have to begin by offering some preliminary sense of what is at stake in the two terms which make up the title of Lyotard’s book. This book explores the nature of the distinction between discursive signification (meaning) and rhetoricity (figure). Since the figural is explicitly resistant to the rule of signification, saying what the terms ‘mean’ is problematic; the differences marked at this point will need to be developed through the rest of this chapter. To begin with, discourse is the name given by Lyotard to the process of representation by concepts.

Art must not exchange the affect of the Holocaust, the emotion which moves us out of representation, for a representation that claims to give a cognitive signification to the Holocaust. The Holocaust is an opaque sign, one which is not given up to meaning. If this opacity is a ‘materiality’, then that materiality cannot be a matter of meaning, of understanding. An aesthetics of pathos is required, an aesthetics responsive to the limits of representation, to the sense that something is trying to be said which cannot be said.

In Dérive à partir de Marx et Freud, Lyotard spells out a political analogy: just as we can read the figural displacing the rule of representation, so we can imagine the overthrow of political space. 6 Discours, figure opens with the visible as more figural, the textual as more discursive. The titling of a later chapter ‘Fiscourse Digure’ marks the extent to which the book has worked to deconstruct the opposition on which it is based, to find the discursive in the figural (‘Digure’) as well as the figural in the discursive (‘Fiscourse’).

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