In Inessential Solidarity, Diane Davis examines critical intersections of rhetoric and sociality in order to revise some of rhetorical theory’s basic presumptions. Rather than focus on the arguments and symbolic exchanges through which social relations are defined, Davis exposes an underivable rhetorical imperative, an obligation to respond that is as undeniable as the obligation to age. Situating this response-ability as the condition for, rather than the effect of, symbolic interaction, Davis both dissolves contemporary concerns about linguistic overdetermination and calls into question long-held presumptions about rhetoric’s relationship with identification, figuration, hermeneutics, agency, and judgment.
Spotlighting a rhetorical “situation” irreducible to symbolic relations, Davis proposes quite provocatively that rhetoric—rather than ontology (Aristotle/Heidegger), epistemology (Descartes), or ethics (Levinas)—is “first philosophy.” The subject or “symbol-using animal” comes into being, Davis argues both with and against Emmanuel Levinas, only inasmuch as it responds to the other; the priority of the other is not a matter of the subject's choice, then, but of its inescapable predicament. Directing the reader’s attention to this inessential solidarity without which no meaning-making or determinate social relation would be possible, Davis aims to nudge rhetorical studies beyond the epistemological concerns that typically circumscribe theories of persuasion toward the examination of a more fundamental affectability, persuadability, responsivity.
Edited by Diane Davis University of Illinois Press, 2008 Library of Congress PN75.R65R43 2009 | Dewey Decimal 809
Avital Ronell has won worldwide acclaim for her work across literature and philosophy, psychoanalysis and popular culture, political theory and feminism, art and rhetoric, drugs and deconstruction. In works such as The Test Drive, Stupidity, Crack Wars, and The Telephone Book, she has perpetually raised new and powerful questions about how we think, what thinking does, and how we fool ourselves about the troubled space between thought and action.
In this collection, some of today's most distinguished and innovative thinkers turn their attention to Ronell's teaching, writing, and provocations, observing how Ronell reads and what comes from reading her. By reading Ronell, and reading Ronell reading, contributors examine the ethico-political implications of her radical dislocations and carefully explicate, extend, and explore the paraconcepts addressed in her works.
"Avital Ronell has put together what must be one of the most remarkable critical oeuvres of our era… Zeugmatically yoking the slang of pop culture with philosophical analysis, forcing the confrontation of high literature and technology or drug culture, Avital Ronell produces sentences that startle, irritate, illuminate. At once hilarious and refractory, her books are like no others.”--Jonathan Culler, Diacritics
For twenty years Avital Ronell has stood at the forefront of the confrontation between literary study and European philosophy. She has tirelessly investigated the impact of technology on thinking and writing, with groundbreaking work on Heidegger, dependency and drug rhetoric, intelligence and artificial intelligence, and the obsession with testing. Admired for her insights and breadth of field, she has attracted a wide readership by writing with guts, candor, and wit.
Coyly alluding to Nietzsche’s “gay science,” The ÜberReader presents a solid introduction to Avital Ronell’s later oeuvre. It includes at least one selection from each of her books, two classic selections from a collection of her early essays (Finitude’s Score), previously uncollected interviews and essays, and some of her most powerful published and unpublished talks. An introduction by Diane Davis surveys Ronell’s career and the critical response to it thus far.
With its combination of brevity and power, this Ronell “primer” will be immensely useful to scholars, students, and teachers throughout the humanities, but particularly to graduate and undergraduate courses in contemporary theory.
Why, Diane Davis asks, has Mexico City, once known as the city of palaces, turned into a sea of people, poverty, and pollution? Through historical analysis of Mexico City, Davis identifies political actors responsible for the uncontrolled industrialization of Mexico's economic and social center, its capital city. This narrative biography takes a perspective rarely found in studies of third-world urban development: Davis demonstrates how and why local politics can run counter to rational politics, yet become enmeshed, spawning ineffective policies that are detrimental to the city and the nation.
The competing social and economic demand of the working poor and middle classes and the desires of Mexico's ruling Partido Revolucionario Institutional (PRI) have led to gravely diminished services, exorbitant infrastructural expenditures, and counter-productive use of geographic space. Though Mexico City's urban transport system has evolved over the past seven decades from trolley to bus to METRO (subway), it fails to meet the needs of the population, despite its costliness, and is indicative of the city's disastrous and ill-directed overdevelopment. Examining the political forces behind the thwarted attempts to provide transportation in the downtown and sprawling outer residential areas, Davis analyzes the maneuverings of local and national politicians, foreign investors, middle classes, agency bureaucrats, and various factions of the PRI.
Looking to Mexico's future, Davis concludes that growing popular dissatisfaction and frequent urban protests demanding both democratic reform and administrative autonomy in the capital city suggest an unstable future for corporatist politics and the PRI's centralized one-party government.