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Irving Goh "Genres of Failure: A Narcissistic Care for the Self"

Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 4:30pm

Klarman Hall, 311
232 East Ave, Ithaca, NY 14853

Given the “affective turn” in theory in recent years, one could say that we are finally beginning to have a discourse on what Foucault calls “the care for the self.” That turn, after all, typically entails the attention to, and elucidation of, what was previously denounced as “negative feelings” of one’s own. Just looking at autotheory texts such as Paul B. Preciado’s Testo Junkie and Maggie Nelson’s Argonauts, the “care for the self” there furthermore takes on the contour ideal to Foucault, that is, the freedom to articulate and record one’s queer sexual desires and acts. Critics of affect theory and/or autotheory, however, might find the contemporary “care for the self” narcissistic, and it just might be. Yet, the narcissism is not entirely hubristic. There is a darker side to it too: one where we find the trace of the desire to be done with existence, or more precisely, the regret of failing to “die at the right time” (Nietzsche). To attend to that desire and/or regret is, I argue, equally a “care for the self.” This dark narcissistic “care for the self” is the interest of my talk, and I will try to show how it cuts through Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s A Dialogue on Love and Kate Zambreno’s Appendix Project

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Comparative Literature


cosochum, complit



Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Laura Kipfer

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Irving Goh

Speaker Affiliation

National University of Singapore

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