Widgets Magazine
The Split $ubject: Modern Thought and Literature between gender performativity and psychoanalysis, part 2
President Marc Tessier-Lavigne welcomes the parents, families and graduates to the commencement ceremony. (Courtesy of L.A. Cicero)

The Split $ubject: Modern Thought and Literature between gender performativity and psychoanalysis, part 2

Let Xenofeminism be the name under which this local coordination takes place.” This article, as promised, seeks to further explicate the grounds for a local coordination of critical discourse on sexuality under the proposed name Xenofeminism (XF). First, the concept of “name”:

(A) ”Who’s Your Daddy?”

(B) ”Who’s your Daddy: MTL Between Gender Performativity and Psychoanalysis”

(C) ”’The Split $ubject: Who’s your Daddy, MTL?’ Between Gender Performativity and Psychoanalysis (I)”

(D) ”Marc Tessier-Lavigne: Daddy Issues”

(E) ”Marc Tessier-Lavigne: Daddy Issues (continued)”

(F) ”Modern Thought and Literature between Gender Performativity and Psychoanalysis”

I must say, I like them all. The first is the title of the final subsection of Bruce Thornton’s “Snowflake Feminism.” The next four share something in common: they all have the same referent!

(B) was my proposed title for my last article, in which I tried to put patriarchy, partially under the name MTL — meaning both Modern Thought and Literature and Marc Tessier-Lavigne: between Gender Performativity and Psychoanalysis , the two pre-existing sexual critical discourses on Stanford’s campus.

(C) is the article’s title on the Daily’s website. “The Split $ubject” was intended to be the column name. “Who’s your daddy, MTL?” confused me, as I’m unconcerned by the question.

(D) and (E) are the titles in Feb. 8-9’s issues of the Daily. I’ve since come to like very much the cinematic brevity of it, but I was initially horrified by the name. So horrified that I left my backpack with my laptop in it on the bench outside Wallenberg where I first read it.

More importantly obviously, my article was not about Marc Tessier-Lavigne. It was about an unanalyzed “given” that structures our campus named “patriarchy” in which one sexual-familial role — that of the father — is given undue privilege in deciding how our university operates and sets goals, how the endowment is spent, what is forgivable and what is not and in legislating what is “normal,” “natural,” “true,” “within reason,” “scientific” and “valuable” and their antitheses “abnormal (perhaps psychologically)”, “unnatural (sexually),” “untrue (jurisprudentially),” “unreasonable (empirically),” “stochastic ideology research (a.k.a. social sciences)” and “without value” (as measured by that Dark God who eternally exchanges capital and knowledge, a Dark God whom Stanford’s Staatsreligion mandates — man-dates?). A given. Thus, the article was not about one person but about two groups of people: that group of people who benefit academically, financially and sexually under the names of fatherhood, and an undergraduate body that takes a naturalized patriarchy immanent to its (your) forms of enjoyment as given — fraternity and sorority parties (brothers and sisters — who’s the Father?) to the Paypal Mafia to the differing amounts of respect I see male and female professors given in the classes I attend… To say this a different way: patriarchy is a form of love.

Ultimately, I am grateful to this title, “Marc Tessier-Lavigne: Daddy Issues” and the accompanying pictures for making clear two things I seek to make clear: (1) a name is always independent from the concept(s) it names, and (2) patriarchy is a form of love by any name.

Option (F) is the name I have proposed for this next “Daddy Issue”, though it may not be the only title. Something with “Tessier” might be more loveable… c’est Lavigne!

So we begin: Of what is Xenofeminism (XF) the name?

Given the superacid of ever atomizing Value-Form’s purchase on the meatmarket of gender in the year 2018, a purchase that instantiates both (1) a vector of increasing commodification of all difference between representations of gender identity that culturally enforces minimal opportunities for representing gender culturally (for example through the restriction gender to economic consumption habits), and (2) a vector scientifically dissolving distinctions between bodies’ biologically continuous yet given “dichotanatomically” sexuation of male and female and complicating the semantics connecting gendered representations and supposedly sexed bodies, the time to reconsider modern thought and literature’s usual apparatuses of critical feminism is nigh.

Can we hope for support from Stanford’s other MTL (Modern Thinkers and Literateurs)? Given the amount of time the abruptly retiring and most extremely esteemed Professor Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht has spent eulogizing his literary erections in class, I suspect not. For those who have missed his farewell seminar “Literature and Bliss,” I include a passage from his seminal “Production of Presence” in which he describes his time teaching an “obligatory ‘Introduction to the Humanities’” course: “My first more personal concern for this class was to be a good enough teacher to evoke for my students and to make them feel specific moments of intensity that I remember with fondness…I want my students to live or at least imagine that moment of admiration (and perhaps also the despair of an aging man) that gets hold of me when I see the body of a beautiful young woman standing next to me in front of the computers that give access to our library catalogue… (96-97, his italics).”

Is the “normalcy” of this man’s “natural” reaction an alibi?  What in hell is he smoking in front of his prestigious corner office that makes writing this seem like world-class scholarship? Let us look to XF’s manifesto when it says, “Nothing should be accepted as fixed, permanent, or ‘given’ — neither material conditions nor social forms…the glorification of ‘nature’ has nothing to offer us…”

XF is founded not in the humanities but on the stability of an rigorous epistemology of science, somewhat like the formal and biotechnological sciences that Stanford does so vigorously. “If nature is unjust, change nature” (XF). If normalcy is irrational, rationality must be alienating/xenotic (Marx). If gender must be conceptualized formally in order to refer (and any naturalist conception of biological sex is a superstition or worse), and formal conceptualization is within the domain of rationality, (xeno)feminism acts unilaterally as both a necessary supplement to limited conceptions of rationality and a name for rationality in its material and/or “historically contingent” becoming. Feminism and rationalism are both winning positions in a material history freeing itself of superstition, a material history that will turn out to have been both rationalist and feminist the hole time. “If today [science] is dominated by masculine egos, then it is at odds with itself — and this contradiction can be leveraged… Rationalism must itself be a feminism.” (XF)

The onus is on you, my fellow students, to investigate why MTL’s background makes some of you desire to see him as a father-figure rather than an obscurantist man-of-pleasure or a technocrat who may be epistemologically undermining the utopian and feminist aspirations of science by accidentally re-inscribing into it an ideological chauvinism that herstory’s diversely alienated feminists have long struggled to overcome.


Contact Joe Goodhew at jgoodhew ‘at’ stanford.edu