"So the problem with Derrida’s dialectical inversion is that it relies on the death drive, or its principal exponent, aggression, as the only motive operating in the scene. What ethical decisions emerge from the ambivalent situation of wanting someone to die and at the same time wanting them to live, and even wanting both things with equal intensity, but at different levels of consciousness? Ambivalence isn’t quite the same as hypocrisy. I am a hypocrite if, however furtively, I want someone to die, or am possessed by a murderous wish even as I cloak that wish in a moral argument, say, against the death penalty. I am a hypocrite only if there is a wish I pretend I do not have, but in fact do. In the condition of ambivalence, however, there are at least two wishes at work, two true motives struggling to coexist despite their incompatibility. What then works against the inner demand that someone pay for a crime with his or her life? Is it only when we might enjoy inflicting further pain on the criminal that we wish she or he would live? Or are there other reasons why we might want them to live? Are there, even within the terms of psychoanalysis, reasons for wanting to keep the other alive that do not primarily rely on our wish to continue torturing that other, even when it isn’t someone in particular, but an anonymous other or the general population?"
—Judith Butler, London Review of Books
“As reductive as such responses to aesthetic and academic material have become, so have definitions of trauma been over-simplified within these contexts. There are complex discourses on trauma readily available as a consequence of decades of work on memory, political violence and abuse. This work has offered us multiple theories of the ways in which a charged memory of pain, abuse, torture or imprisonment can be reignited by situations or associations that cause long buried memories to flood back into the body with unpredictable results. But all of this work, by Shoshana Felman Macarena Gomez-Barris, Saidiya Hartman, Cathy Caruth, Ann Cvetkovich, Marianne Hirsch and others, has been pushed aside in the recent wave of the politics of the aggrieved.
Claims about being triggered work off literalist notions of emotional pain and cast traumatic events as barely buried hurt that can easily resurface in relation to any kind of representation or association that resembles or even merely represents the theme of the original painful experience. And so, while in the past, we turned to Freud’s mystic writing pad to think of memory as a palimpsest, burying material under layers of inscription, now we see a memory as a live wire sitting in the psyche waiting for a spark. Where once we saw traumatic recall as a set of enigmatic symptoms moving through the body, now people reduce the resurfacing of a painful memory to the catch all term of ‘trigger,’ imagining that emotional pain is somehow similar to a pulled muscle –as something that hurts whenever it is deployed, and as an injury that requires protection.”
J. Jack Halberstam - "You Are Triggering me! The Neo-Liberal Rhetoric of Harm, Danger and Trauma"
"It’s hard to imagine a more perfect example of a particular relationship
between two economies: a masculine economy and a feminine
economy, in which the masculine is governed by a rule that keeps time
with two beats, three beats, four beats, with pipe and drum, exactly as it
should be. An order that works by inculcation, by education: it’s always a
question of education. An education that consists of trying to make a
soldier of the feminine by force, the force history keeps reserved for
woman, the “capital” force that is effectively decapitation. Women have
no choice other than to be decapitated, and in any case the moral is that
if they don’t actually lose their heads by the sword, they only keep them on
condition that they lose them-lose them, that is, to complete silence, turned
It’s a question of submitting feminine disorder, its laughter, its inability
to take the drumbeats seriously, to the threat of decapitation. If
man operates under the threat of castration, if masculinity is culturally
ordered by the castration complex, it might be said that the backlash, the
return, on women of this castration anxiety is its displacement as decapitation, execution, of woman, as loss of her head.”