Non-life as the Possibility for Life: Francesca Woodman and Bracha L. Ettinger | Tina Kinsella

Non-life as the Possibility for Life: Francesca Woodman and Bracha L. Ettinger | Tina Kinsella

Tina Kinsella.

In Precarious Life: Powers of Mourning and Violence, Judith Butler suggests that recognising a primary human bodily vulnerability is ‘crucial to understanding the basis of  non-violent responses to injury and, perhaps most important, to a theory of collective responsibility’ (2006b, p. 44). Butler’s claim was made in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in New York and suggests that the human subject is fundamentally formed in relations of dependency and is hence structured by (quote) a ‘common human vulnerability, one that emerges with life itself’ (2006b, p. 31). This primordial vulnerability, which is a bodily (quote) ‘condition of being laid bare from the start,’ cannot, Butler insists, be recovered as it ‘precedes the formation of “I”’ (2006b, p. 31). However, despite the irrecoverability of this primary condition of vulnerability, Butler argues that the fact that the human being is formed in relation to it necessitates that we speculate on the formation of the subject.

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