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Deconstruction on the move: from libidinal economy to liminal materialism


  • M A Doel


In the wake of the Möbius spiralling of relativism and reflexivity, much of the theoretically inclined literature within human geography has turned to the motifs of difference and otherness as a possible basis for fostering a coining together and rapprochement of previously incommensurate theoretical-practices. Much of this effort has been undertaken in an explicit attempt to maintain political, moral, and ethical responsibility in the face of a dangerous slide into passive nihilism and indifference. In the first half of the paper I argue that the attempt to forge a universal currency which would enable difference to circulate freely within contemporary human geography is flawed for three interrelated reasons. First, by working through a libidinal economy of negation it forces difference to conform to the Same. Specifically, difference is captured as so-many standard deviations from the Norm. Second, this apparatus of capture is predestined to yield a state of confusion, imprecision, and indistinction which can only be contained within a quotation market. Third, by dwelling upon negation and appropriation, and through capturing difference within a normalized economy of the Same, the forging of a universal currency within a quotation market deprives itself of the ability to effectively affirm difference, othemess, alterity, and singularity in and of themselves. Such an affirmation would require an act of ex-appropriation, rather than one of appropriation. Consequently, by drawing upon the liminal materialism of a deconstructive experience, in the second half of the paper I explore four movements of ex-appropriation: radical passivity, destabilization on the move, telephony, and picnolepsy. The paper concludes with a discussion of the ethics of the event.

Suggested Citation

  • M A Doel, 1994. "Deconstruction on the move: from libidinal economy to liminal materialism," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 26(7), pages 1041-1059, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:26:y:1994:i:7:p:1041-1059

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