Laclau Talk: The question I wanted to ask
Glad to see so many folks at the Laclau presentation. For no other reason than we should all know how to pronounce his name: it is" laclew" ; it rhymes with laflew. Over 15 years, I and everyone I know, has been mispronouncing his name.
On to other topics: Don't you find it curious that when folks turn to the rhetorical tradition(in his case direct references to Cicero) they often do so with an eye toward the figurative (Stylistic) at, what seems to be the expense of other canons of rhetoric? This is, partly, a typical post-structuralist move when it comes to recovering the rhetorical tradtion. But, a stylistic approach to rhetoric should not be thought as both necessary and sufficient to turn one into a post-structuralist. The added trick, and this is where I would want to ask my question, concerns the translation of that stylistic device into a means to discuss the rhetoricity of a given concept (in his case, the move from an antagonism to a hegemonic frontier). In classical rhetorical language, rhetoric as a cultural practice, is situated talk. In laclau's langague it is mostly associated with the demand (what he calls an antagonism) to change the current situation. Classically, we focus on this demand to assess whether or not the demand was successful or not in transforming the addressee. We often do so to recover the notion of agency built into the act of making a demand. But in Laclau's hand, the rhetorical charater of the demand is less important than the rhetoricity associated with pulling together mulitiple demands into a populist reason against the current configuation of the social. I guess the question is: what, then, of the rhetoric of demand 1? Is it best understood as an antagonism, something that is only interesting rhetorically for what it tells us about the possiblitiy of generating a hegemonic frontier that pulls together a host of antagonisms? But, if so, then the anatogonism itself and its rhetorical character would only be important to the extent that it gathers others together, that is, the way it speaks to and offers itself to others or its outside? Well, that would have been my question: not sure how Laclau would answer, or if he would care much about the question. But, it is a question we should put on the table. Simply put: can any one text be the focus of understanding the concept of hegemony?