‘precarious life,’ judith butler

Perhaps, rather, one mourns when one accepts that by the loss one undergoes one will be changed, possibly for ever.  Perhaps mourning has to do with agreeing to undergo a transformation (perhaps one should say submitting to a transformation) the full result of which one cannot know in advance.  There is losing, as we know, but there is also the transformative effect of loss, and this latter cannot be charted or planned.  One can try to choose it, but it may be that this experience of transformation deconstitutes choice at some level.  I do not think, for instance, that one can invoke the Protestant ethic when it comes to loss.  One cannot say, “Oh, I’ll go through loss this way, and that will be the result, and I’ll apply myself to the task, and I’ll endeavor to achieve the resolution of grief that is before me.”  I think one is hit by waves, and that one starts out the day with an aim, a project, a plan, and finds oneself foiled.  One finds oneself fallen.  One is exhausted but does not know why.  Something is larger than one’s own deliberate plan, one’s own project, one’s knowing and choosing.

the entire piece is quite good.  funny how i had just been thinking about this very topic.

edit: it goes on:

Something takes hold of you: where does it come from?  What sense does it make?  What claims us at such moments, such that we are not the masters of ourselves?  To what are we tied? And by what are we seized?  Freud reminded us that when we lose someone, we do not always know what it is in that person that has been lost.  So when one loses, one is also faced with something enigmatic: something is hiding in the loss, something is lost within the recesses of loss.  If mourning involves knowing what one has lost (and melancholia originally meant, to a certain extent, not knowing), then mourning would be maintained by its enigmatic dimension, by the experience of not knowing incited by losing what we cannot fully fathom.

ghosts are unfinished business.  incomplete information.

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