An Yountae | The Decolonial Abyss: Mysticism and Cosmopolitics from the Ruins
Matt Baker and Preston Price talks to An Yountae about his book The Decolonial Abyss: Mysticism and Cosmopolitics from the Ruins, published in 2016 by Fordham University Press:
The central question Yountae raises is, how do we mediate the mystical abyss of theology and the abyss of socio-political trauma engulfing the colonial subject? What would theopoetics look like in the context where poetics is the means of resistance and survival? This book seeks to answer these questions by examining the abyss as the dialectical process in which the self’s dispossession before the encounter with its own finitude is followed by the rediscovery or reconstruction of the self.
In the episode, Yountae voice a common critique aimed at Deleuze and Guattari, namely that their abstract level of thinking allows for them to be exploited by virtually anyone, and he is then quoted from The Decolonial Abyss:
The question that arises is, should not the call for accountability and mourning for the loss and suffering of others precede the joyful celebration of freedom and nomadic ontology? Should not the question of the other be at the center of ethics rather than a preoccupation with the selves endless becomings?
I believe this is an unfruitful dichotomy. Contrary to Yountae, I would describe the preoccupation with our endless becomings as a deeply ethical endeavor. I would also go as far as to say that we are all colonized, in the sense that we are all nailed downed as subjects. By that statement I do not mean that we all benefit equally from the current set of folds, we clearly do not, but it is my way of saying that no one can simply escape organization as such. Hence I am convinced that ethics cannot be reduced to fetishizing victims of colonization or oppression, as if they could somehow save us all. This all to common fixation among self-flagellating progressives is not a solution, rather it coagulates the behavioral, intellectual and institutional habits that enforces the pressure on all colonialized subjects, including themselves. Rather than pitting the preoccupation with the selves endless becomings against accountability and mourning for the loss and suffering of others, my claim is that joyfully affirming one's own difference is exactly how we make an ethical way life possible, since by simply accepting our ready-made identities we keep reproducing the habits that made the world what it is. If our aim is to transform the world, we should not demand from people who has suffered deep socio-political traumas to re-membering themselves by putting the pieces of their tragic past back together to be able to imagine a new future. In my mind this would in effect result in a kind of repetition with no difference—a deathly repetition. Rather I believe that the preoccupation with the selves endless becomings is precisely how we assume accountability for the loss and suffering of others.