mercoledì 22 maggio 2013
Judith Butler: A streetcar named desire
In Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire Blanche Dubois describes her journey: "They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at Elysian Fields!"'· When she hears that her present dismal location is Elysian Fields, she is sure that the directions she received were wrong.
Her predicament is implicitly philosophical. What kind of journey is desire that its direction is so deceptive? And what kind of vehicle is desire? And does it have other stops before it reaches its mortal destination? This inquiry follows one journey of desire, the travels of a desiring subject who remains nameless and genderless in its abstract universality. We would not be able to recognize this subject in the train station; it cannot be said to exist as an individual. As an abstract structure of human longing, this subject is a conceptual configuration of human agency and purpose whose claim to ontological integrity is successively challenged throughout its travels. Indeed, like Blanche and her journey, the desiring subject follows a narrative of desire, illusion, and defeat, relying on occasional moments of recognition as a source of temporary redemptions.
[Judith Butler, 'Subjects of desire. Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France', 1987. Preface]