Extravagant Abjection: Blackness, Power, and Sexuality in the African American Literary Imagination

By Darieck Scott | Go to book overview

Conclusion
Extravagant Abjection

ALL OF WHICH is to say: power works abusively, but not only in the ways that we might expect. That the abusiveness of power should be generative, just as the constraints and repressions of power are, is no surprise; but what exactly is generated in abuse for the abused is harder to limn. To perform that illumination we struggle to bring within the ambit of language an experience, a state of human being, that—at least for the moment—is so unable to hold the defenses which constitute the subject who speaks that language in its essence seems an expression of that state and experience’s opposite: language seems to erase that state; it seems, like the Lacanian Real in relation to the Symbolic, at once to create it as an excess and remainder and yet to extirpate it as an enunciable possibility. This is the space, the place, and the being of the abject: a subjectivity that does not or cannot claim its subjecthood (much less its agency), an “I” without clear demarcation or referent, that does not or cannot speak as “I” except, perhaps, after the fact. Blackness, in one of its modes—and, following Fanon’s formulations, the very mode through which blackness comes into being in the world—takes us to and describes that abjection, at least in our deliriously racialized reality. Clearly the long history of African peoples since the rupturing advent of diasporic slavery indicates that there are many modes of blackness, in everyday cultural practices, in demands voiced in the recognized sphere of the political, in community creation, in a dizzying array of artistic endeavor, which do not describe abjection and, far from taking us there, strive, often successfully, to rocket far beyond it. But the project here has to been to investigate blackness in what we could think of as a fundamental or ontological or existential mode—the mode of abjection—and to map the beginnings of pathways outward from it which tend toward the cultural, political, social, and artistic, even if the meanings we attribute to those vast spheres must be “slightly stretched” when they are approached by that peculiarly objectlike (it is easier, as

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