Sunday, November 6, 2011

Disability as Love and Passion

 1.) Disability as Love and Passion:
“What takes place out of love is always beyond good and evil.” (Nietzsche 1886/Zimmern 1907 p. 98)
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
“To be injured by speech is to suffer a loss of context, that is, not to know where you are.” says Butler. (Butler 1997 p. 4) But, if one is strong, and can make one’s disability a vehicle of love, transcendence, and freedom, then it is a great blessing not to know where you are. New art and new ideas are only born from strange unknown places. The injurious speech seeks to make disability a limit rather than a passion and strength. As Nietzsche says of reactionaries: “A little more strength, flight, courage, and artistic power, and they would want to rise - not return!” (Nietzsche 1886/Kaufmann 1963 p. 17) Any attempt by a State or injurious speech act then, to define or execute hate speech is reactionary because it robs the person with a disability of the power to fight back against the injury caused to him or her.

2.) Fighting for Transcendence:
To fight back linguistically is to begin, like Judith Butler, with the idea of linguistic trauma: “That such language carries trauma is not a reason to forbid its use.” (Butler 1997 p. 38) In fact, the linguistic wound increases one’s will to fight and state one’s case. It is the perceived wrongness of the action which drives us to defeat it and manifest the will by passion: “Out of life's school of war: What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.” (Nietzsche 1895/Kaufmann 1974 p. 469) Out of this passion comes our agency and goal: to extend beyond the physical body by no will but our own.
As Butler notes, the instatement of laws to protect others attempt to define the conditions of combat, but instead they disarm our power altogether as such laws are mistaken for natural by “turning the universal against itself, redeploying equality against its existing formulations, retrieving freedom from its contemporary conservative valence.” (Butler 1997 p. 93) Or said in my own words, what was once an active force of passion now works against transcendence and one’s own strength. One submits to the law as the highest authority; justice has no sense of empowering tragedy. It always turns one back; it cannot set the tragic will on a path. Only the will of the law becomes the last word. “The regulation, as it were, will speak the part of the one censored as well as the censoring voice itself, assimilating the drama as one way to establish control over the utterances.” (Butler 1997 p. 131)
Because justice establishes itself as the last word, it has no sense of transcendence, or something that was not created by itself. It reverses tragedy, and instead of using it as an extending force of strength, recreates and confirms the very stereotype the law seeks to protect persons with disabilities from: “as dependent, socially introverted, emotionally unstable, depressed, hypersensitive and easily offended especially with regard to their disability.” (Braithwaite and Harter 2000 p. 19) While it is in some cases that the law has establishing extending forces for disability, the law attempts in the same cases to define disability; under the pretense that “we” cannot define ourselves; disarming people with disabilities of the right to define their life conditions. In the words of Butler: “to describe oneself by the term is to be prohibited from its use, expect in order to deny or qualify the description.” (Butler 1997 p. 105) Who is more injurious here? It would appear that the State is actually assisting the harmful act in allowing people with disabilities to be defined not by extension but by weakness. Put simply: To say that the individual with a disability is strong, amounts to a denial of power to the State.


  1. Got to admit most of this went over my head, but still gotta love all the deep philosophy talk!

  2. Post-modernism rocks, is the general message! lol. Joking of course. But, it really speaks to the need for the individual to take a stand against hate speech.