chapter
18 Pages

Introduction

The work of Naoki Sakai continues to make itself felt across a broad range of both national and disciplinary borders. Originally finding a home in the otherwise circumscribed field of Japan studies, Sakai’s writings have succeeded in large part in destabilizing that home, exposing the fragility of its boundaries to an outside world that threatens constantly to overwhelm it. Beyond Japan studies, then, these writings have come to produce powerful effects in such diverse disciplines as postcolonial studies, ethnic studies, philosophy, literary theory, film studies, intellectual history, cultural studies, political science, comparative literature, translation studies, anthropology, and linguistics. Yet it is perhaps the problematic of culture that has most centrally informed Sakai’s work from its beginnings, in Voices of the Past: The Status of Language in Eighteenth-Century Japanese Discourse (1991), to his most recent Kibo-to kenpo-: Nihon-koku kenpo-no hatsuwa shutai to o-to-(Hope and the Constitution: The Subject of Utterance of the Japanese Constitution and its Response, 2008). Typically, the notion of culture is conceived in strictly empiricist or positivist terms, such that discrete cultural entities are believed to exist in more or less selfsame form, with their own proper customs, practices, and traditions. These cultures are the ones that are encountered in everyday experience, and whose preeminent modern form is national culture. Despite the fact that such a particularist conception of culture appears inherently at odds with the universal mission of the university, its resiliency can be seen in the institutional framework of the latter, whereby such fields as literature, history, and philosophy, etc. come to be organized on the basis of the national culture unit (e.g., Italian literature, Korean history). Sakai’s response to this view of culture takes the form of an intervention that is guided by both historical and theoretical concerns. He draws attention to the fact that everyday experience consists of encounters with objects that derive less from individual national cultures than from movements between cultures, and that, far more radically, such movements actually precede and are thus constitutive of these individual cultures themselves. This double move, it should be noted, lies at the core of much of Sakai’s thought. As an initial step of his analysis, Sakai’s concern is to historicize experience, thereby showing that what appears at first glance to be natural or in any way fixed exists most

originally as the result of a dynamic interaction of larger, geopolitical forces, which must in turn be investigated in order to better grasp the nature of experience.1 This move is consistent with much of cultural studies discourse today, which appeals to history as part of its critique of the static understanding of everyday reality. The second, more explicitly theoretical step Sakai takes goes beyond the limitations of historical inquiry to touch upon certain general or formal principles. Here what is at issue is nothing less than the status of the individual unit, without which all notions of national culture must necessarily collapse. For Sakai, the unit as such can never be found to exist in its wholeness or integrity, or rather such attributes-and so the unit itself-come into being only retrospectively, at the level of ideation and the imaginary. As a general principle, this insight informs Sakai’s thinking on a number of very different topics, as for example those of subjectivity and translation.2 In respect to the notion of culture, however, the need to think the ultimate impossibility of the unit arises out of a sensitivity to the insufficiencies of historicization. For if the project of historicizing culture succeeds in disclosing the otherwise concealed presence of the artificial (or institutional) in the natural, just as it exposes the workings of the dynamic within the apparently static and fixed, its status as an empirical discourse nevertheless prevents it from adequately interrogating the legitimacy of the unit. Because of this inability, historicization (and the discourse of cultural studies which grounds itself upon it) always risks being incorporated or subsumed by the very historical unities it sets out to critique, its work of dissolution undermined by the reconstitution of those units at a later, displaced level. The refusal to accept the empirical integrity of the cultural unit as a

departure point for his examination of cultural phenomena distinguishes Sakai from the lion’s share of cultural studies research being done today, and places him, along with such scholars as Gayatri Spivak and Homi Bhabha, at the very forefront of cultural analysis-a position achieved, it must be emphasized, partly through recognition of the inherent limitations of this field. Following Sakai, the still widespread notion that cultural objects are traceable back to discrete cultures, typically figured along national lines, must yield to the historicist understanding that situates these objects in more dynamic and fluid interstitial zones. Were the analysis to end at this point, however, one would find oneself strictly pursuing the movement of cultural objects on the basis of cultural units conceivable in ever more molecular terms. Hence the necessity to break with the very notion of the unit, since the conception of cultural interstices or between-spaces ends in reifying precisely those boundaries of culture it seeks to critique. The between, that is to say, is still understood in historical inquiry along the fixed lines of intercultural space, and in this sense merely displaces the traditional focus on cultural interiority to that of cultural exteriority without apparently realizing that the latter remains wholly dependant upon the former. In contrast, problematizing the status of the unit allows one to conceive of cultural forces beyond the restricted economy (from the Greek oikos, or “house”) of inside and outside.

This view better enables an understanding that the determination of cultural objects on the basis of either cultural entities or the movements between cultural entities remains similarly beholden to an underlying conception of culture as itself an object. Such objectification reduces the enormously complex problematic of cultural transmission or dissemination to one of more or less regulated exchange, and it is only by calling into question the dominant status of the unit that this issue can begin to be addressed. As we indicated, the notion of translation is conceived by Sakai in strik-

ingly similar terms. Here Sakai wishes to effect a kind of reversal in the dominant understanding of this notion, according to which, as for example he explains in ‘Sekaishi’ no kaitai: honyaku shutai rekishi (The Dissolution of “World History”: Translation, Subjectivity, History), two particular languages are originally posed against one another on the basis of specific difference, a difference which is then traversed by the operation of translation as conducted by the translator, who appears to exist to some degree in both language communities.3 Sakai’s determination of this understanding as false, or at the very least derivative, is aided by his previous study of eighteenth-century Japanese discourse, in which he traced this view back to the specifically modern formation of Japan as a nation-state and Japanese as a national language. Prior to this time, no consciousness existed with which to distinguish spoken Japanese from spoken Chinese, as the linguistic differences that were to be found on the Japanese archipelago then were of such immensity as to render impossible any attempt to conceive of Japanese as a comprehensive unity. Active negotiation of these differences was frequently unavoidable as a part of everyday life, but this took place in more or less extemporary or improvisational fashion, without recourse to any binary framework according to which discrete languages are posited strictly in opposition to one another. Historical research thus reveals that translation takes place primordially as a practical act, a concrete way to negotiate difference, but that upon the advent of modernity and the incipient formation of the nation-state a theoretical conception of linguistic difference-i.e., specific difference, the difference between species that fall under the same class or genus-came into being, what Sakai articulates under the heading of the representation of translation. In this way, the relation between theory and praxis is mapped by Sakai according to two distinct temporal frameworks: 1. chronological history, given that it is modernity and the massively organizing device that is nationstate discourse that sets in motion the transition from the “act of translation” to the representational doubling of that act; and 2. the instant of translation itself, which takes place, following Sakai, in all attempts at communication regardless of what national languages are being deployed or of the linguistic facility of the speakers involved, and which is subsequently abstracted in the form of representation as a tool to organize and make sense of the original translational experience. It is in order to explain this transition, in both its historical and more

general sense, that Sakai formulates the concept of the schema of cofiguration.

Kant’s notion of the schema is invoked here because it is a question precisely of bringing together concepts and intuition in such a way that the otherwise empty formalism of the former can be reconciled with, or as it were fulfilled by, the concrete sensibility of the latter. Again one finds Sakai recognizing the limits of empirically-based discourse to grasp everyday experience, since the apprehended content of sensible intuition is, thanks to the schema, directly shaped or organized by concepts that are irreducible to experience itself (and rather which, according to Kant, derive from the understanding, or Verstand). Hence experience is lifted from the level of immediacy and submitted to a kind of filtering process by which external objects are rendered less foreign or threatening because viewed as more consonant with the cognitive workings of the subject itself. This is perhaps especially true in the case of the schema of cofiguration, for this notion is designed specifically to address the subject’s tendency to organize its experience of the world on the basis of an imaginary figure with which it identifies, or which rather actively creates that sense of identification in the subject, by virtue of the subject’s complimentary disidentification with or exclusion of a contrasting figure. The schema of cofiguration attempts to take into account how the desire for subjective identity comes to be produced and modulated. This desire expresses itself not simply through an enclosed or hermetic self-relation; rather the subject must ecstatically go beyond itself and enter into relation with external objects in terms of which it then defines itself, in ricochet fashion as it were. Far from being given or pre-constituted, subjective identity instead comes to be formed by the movement in which the self departs from itself into the world, which is thereupon marked subjectively at the same time that the self finds itself marked objectively,4 only to then return to itself equipped with the consciousness of what it is and is not. Alterity lies at the heart of the selfrelation, clearly enough, but the return from the world to the self takes place strictly by negating that alterity, neutralizing it in the process of interiorization. Just as the self-relation presupposes interaction with external objects, so too does the desire for subjective identity involve alignment with a figure that is imagined to exist strictly in opposition to another figure, and in that sense paradoxically requires this other as other. In Sakai’s work, cofiguration is typically conceived in terms of the discursive binary between East and West, but it should be emphasized that this notion answers first of all to a formal or logical need, and as such constitutes a valuable tool whose application is in no way limited to cultural analysis. Sakai underscores that the schema of cofiguration must be considered in

terms of its productive aspect, or what he calls its “poietic function.” What is produced is the subject’s desire for identity, and it is for this reason that the dynamics of translation are to be understood less in terms of the regulated transfer of meaning from one language unity to another than the formation of subjectivity vis-à-vis objects that are figured oppositionally. Let us examine this process more concretely in order to grasp what is most directly at stake for Sakai. At the site of translation, a language that is known by some exists

alongside another language that is unknown, and it is the task of the translator to negotiate this difference. At the instant of this negotiation, the translator finds himself bereft of any guarantee that the translations he proposes are correct. No rules exist to which he could refer that would fully eliminate the possibility of mistranslation, that would in other words transform the act or decision of translation, taken in all its contingency, into a matter of knowledge. The absence of any translational blueprint that could simply be applied to this situation means that all judgments concerning the accuracy of the translation are invariably also translations. Such judgments are not unimportant, but it is crucial to bear in mind that the notion of interlingual equivalence or symmetry they presuppose in their conception of translation is necessarily derivative of the original act of translation itself. It is on the basis of this retrospective position that the originally practical nature of translation-the active encounter with difference that cannot be reduced to specific difference-comes to be effaced, and in its stead arises a purely representational accounting of what occurred. This repetition of the past, however, since it is conducted from the deferred and so abstract viewpoint of the present, artificially fabricates the past; in other words, it creates it when it claims to be doing nothing more than recreating it or seamlessly returning to it.5

Here we see very clearly that this representational “translation” of the original site of translation does more than simply reflect the latter. Two erasures are taking place, in effect: the first appears in the absorption of the original act of translation by its representation, while the second emerges in the pretense that this representation transparently presents the act-that is, the erasure consists in nothing other than the disavowal of representation’s own status as act. The passage from the act of translation to its representation provides the

ground upon which the schema of cofiguration will assert its claims by governing the particular form that representation will take. It is here that Sakai introduces into this matrix not only the question of subjective identity but also the equally crucial problematic of community, although these two are for him necessarily interrelated. Translation as it is represented poses two language unities against one another, and these unities are typically understood to coincide with distinct national-cultural entities whose external heterogeneity vis-à-vis one another is conditioned by their own putative internal homogeneity. Translating between Swedish and Vietnamese, for example, appears to involve not simply the linguistic difference between these two entities but also the national-cultural difference between Sweden and Vietnam. (This direct coincidence between language and national-cultural entity is naturally rendered more complicated in the case of so-called “imperial languages”—English, French, Spanish, Chinese, etc.—but the imaginary cofiguration of such unities as existing in two separate and autonomous domains remains no less operative.) Faced with this binary, the subject finds itself seduced into identifying with one or the other of these given coordinates, and through this process of individual subject formation the community, understood as the sphere of collective subjectivity, comes to be constituted.

Here one must rigorously avoid any understanding that depicts the subject’s identification with the figure of a language unity alongside that of a nationalcultural community as taking place autonomously, motivated by nothing other than the subject’s own activity or spontaneity. Such a conception in its abstraction utterly fails to take into account the pivotal role played by ideology in subject formation. Rather, subjective identification necessarily contains both active and passive moments, given that these figures, although grounded in the subject’s imagination, nevertheless also possess the ability to manipulate subjective desire.6 This is the strange nature of the figure: lacking any material existence in and of itself, it is yet capable of creating material effects in the world; and although originally produced by the subject, it yet succeeds in reversing that hierarchy and achieving sufficient independence to in turn create its creator. Sakai illustrates this usurpation of the subject’s sovereignty by its own fig-

uration through his conception of the subject as that which is subjected to (or subjugated by) not only the desire for identification, but also to those diverse social institutions that prey upon this desire, and without which they would have no reason for being. This emphasis on the subject’s subjection clearly represents a critique of the classical notion of subjectivity, in which the foregrounding of such attributes as autonomy, mastery and free will is rendered possible by the disavowal of its sociality and exposure to alterity. For Sakai, passivity is primary, but this passivity refers strictly to man’s situatedness in a world of other things and other people that precede him, that have a material existence outside him and so cannot be reduced to his own cognitive interiority and powers of constitution. Such passivity, however, must in no way be confused with the submission or acquiescence demanded by the various social mechanisms of identification, whose true force appears only at the moment when they transcend their objective status and become internalized by the subject. This moment of internalization represents a kind of response on the part of the subject, and as such can be understood as an opportunity for activity (or consciousness) to assert itself in relation to those forces that it otherwise passively receives. In this regard, Sakai’s conception of subjective identification can be said to bear a strong resemblance to the Althusserian notion of interpellation. To recall, Althusser formulated this notion in order to comprehend the process of subject formation-i.e., the transformation of concrete individuals into subjects-specifically as an internalization of ideology. Significantly, an external moment is set forth in distinction from an internal moment. In Althusser’s famous example, a policeman hails someone on the street, “Hey, you there!,” and, as he writes, “the hailed individual will turn around. By this mere one-hundred-and-eighty-degree physical conversion, he becomes a subject.”7 At this initial, external moment, a form or image of subjective identity presents itself in purely virtual terms since it is as yet unclear if any affinity exists between it and the individual in question. In a movement of call and response, the individual then confirms this otherwise empty hailing, he assumes and makes his own the identity that is offered him,

and it is only at this point that subjectivity passes from the virtual to the actual. For Sakai, similarly, the suturing of subjective identity takes place through the subject’s commitment to, or act of affiliation with, such figured objects as, for example, linguistic unities and national-cultural communities. Although figured by the subject, these entities nevertheless ideologically hail or interpellate it in an attempt to claim this subject as their own, and this is achieved by the latter’s signaling its recognition of itself through the physical act of turning around. Sakai understands this act of turning as the mobilization of the body, since, as he insists, subjective identity can only be sustained by concretely acting upon and transforming the world through participation in social institutions. The assumption of identity takes place theoretically through specular identification with an image, as for instance when the subject sees itself as belonging to a particular national language and nationalcultural community. However, those acts that consolidate belonging and determine the subject as part of a community (whether defined in terms of language, ethnicity, religion, nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) reveal the eminently practical nature of identificatory existence, which has nothing abstract about it except for the fact that it originates in the illusory desire to secure one’s own self-image. This complex interweaving of the theoretical and practical can also be

grasped in terms of the relation between form and content. For the subject prior to its relation with the world of objects can only be conceived as a kind of empty form, as yet undetermined. Interaction with objects on both an epistemological and practical level provides content to this subject, thereby enabling its formation. In the scene of translation previously discussed, for example, subjective identification with particular or specific languages to the exclusion of others typically occurs alongside the related identification with particular cultures, with the result that the subject now defines itself in those objective terms. (“Who am I? I am a speaker of English, as opposed to Swahili or Chinese, and I am American, as opposed to Kenyan or Chinese.”) If these objects fulfill or lend substance to the subject, however, it is nevertheless also true that the subject has no choice but to reciprocate in kind, for particular languages and cultures are likewise empty shells without the active participation of subjects who, through this activity, endow these objects with content and life. This explains the tremendous force of ideology, since the consolidation and constant safeguarding of its bond with subjects is necessary in order to prevent its own desiccation. In this conception, the relation between subject and object is defined in terms of their mutually parasitic existence whereby each draws life and sustains itself strictly through dependence on the other. Here we might point out that Sakai’s notion of the schema of cofiguration requires, at an even deeper level, the original co-determination of subject by object and object by subject, which is implicit in his conception of subject formation. Understood as the unchanging or selfsame substratum of its various properties, the subject must undergo the journey that is its experience of the world and external objects in order to determine itself.

Through this fulfillment of internal form by external content, the enriched subject passes beyond what Hegel called abstract universality to achieve concrete universality. In so doing, Sakai reminds us, the various social institutions of identification find themselves enriched as well. Given the force of its logic and the wide array of social resources at its

disposal, how then is one to resist this trap of identification? It is beyond the scope of this introduction to analyze in any depth Sakai’s powerful response to this question, but let us conclude by sketching at least the beginning of such a reading. As we have seen, Sakai interprets the scene of translation as a profoundly ideological site in which identificatory mechanisms in the form of linguistic and cultural unities ideologically lure the subject into a sense of belonging by establishing relations of affiliation with certain of these objects at the exclusion of other, comparable objects. In the passage from the bare act of translation, understood here as an extemporary negotiation with difference, to the deferred and abstracted representation of translation, however, a space is opened up in which such identification can be resisted and the promise of subjectivity declined. For Sakai, this threshold between praxis and theory must be thought in all its fragility and elusiveness, since it is in fact the same space claimed by the subject’s desire for identity. Nothing, or almost nothing, separates these two, which is why the moment of disidentification must not be confused with liberation;8 rather it must be thought as a kind of task or ethical responsibility over which one must maintain constant vigilance. The original, disorienting practice of translation, conceived ultimately in its most general terms as a synecdoche for all practical activity, is invariably sublated or lifted up to the level of representation, where it is asked to organize and retrospectively make sense of this initial experience. In this sublation, however, a remainder emerges that functions to undermine the organization of experience by exposing its derivative and ideological nature. Sakai refuses the empirical trap of claiming that it is possible to simply remain at this level of praxis, for he realizes that the theoretical doubling of experience cannot not take place. If he thus acknowledges the powerful claims of representational knowledge, he nonetheless believes it is possible to effectively disturb and displace this latter by scrutinizing its logic and calling attention to its limitations. By challenging the legitimacy of identification, Sakai points the way to an experience of difference that is far more unsettling and yet far more expansive because it is released from the constraints of subjective desire. The problem of identification and translation brings together the first sec-

tion of this collection of essays dealing either directly with Sakai’s work or using his work as a point of departure for continued theoretical reflection. Michael Bourdaghs’s contribution exemplifies the combination of approaches through a sustained close reading of Sanshiro-by Natsume Sôseki, widely considered the first modern novelist in Japan. Whereas Sôseki has been commonly read in terms of the psychological interiority he confers to his characters and, hence, also as the literary representative of Japan’s putatively mimetic relation to the West, Bourdaghs distances himself from such readings,

focusing instead on the “anti-humanist” aspects of Sôseki’s Sanshiro-. In contrast to Sôseki’s other works that are organized around triangles of desire, Bourdaghs argues that Sanshiro-repeatedly breaks from this triangular logic not only at the order of the narrative but also on that of the linguistic signifier. In the name of the eponymous figure Sanshiro-, the word “san” or “three” in Japanese is followed by “shi” or four(23), Bourdaghs notes. Reading Sôseki in the light of Sakai’s work on translation, Bourdaghs argues that the text’s oscillation among various languages, e.g. French, Latin, Classical Chinese and Japanese, challenges the normative conception of translation as a mere transfer of meaning between languages. Contrary to this representation, the novel contains intentional acts of mistranslation or, more precisely, misidentification of the languages involved in a translation, for instance the portrayal of Latin as Greek. Bourdaghs proposes that such instances in the novel perform the epistemology of translation as analyzed by Sakai. Namely, if one does not understand a language and is in need of translation, one does not even know how to know if what is said is indeed an instance of language or non-sense. Translation retroactively confers identity upon a language. However, Bourdaghs goes yet further by turning also to how Sanshiro-deals with translation at the level of the script in the figure of “stray sheep,” oscillating between Chinese, katakana and the Roman alphabet(33). Such moments of heteroglossia, Bourdaghs suggests, break from the schema of cofiguration that represents translation as a transfer of meaning between linguistic unities. Continuing this focus on the nexus of literary language and translation,

Brett de Bary’s contribution extends it by raising the question of gender and ethnicity in theoretical discourses on translation in general and in the work of Japanese-German literary writer Tawada Yôko in particular. While de Bary welcomes the current upsurge in interest in translation theory, she critiques current discussions on translation for widely ignoring the question of gender in the representation and practice of translation. In this sense, de Bary argues that to the extent that gender is raised in discourses on translation, it is generally subordinated to the category of national or cultural difference. De Bary therefore contends that, contrary to the express aspirations of contemporary discourses on translation, current treatments of translation might “reenact the divisions implemented by the modern state”(44). This condition is particularly evident, de Bary suggests, in the trope of “boundary crossing” frequently invoked in readings of Tawada’s The Bath, which was originally written in Japanese but published only in German and English translations. Though invoked in a celebratory mode, this trope threatens to reinscribe the EastWest boundary that Tawada is lauded as crossing and may testify to the assimilationist drive of Eurocentric frames of reference. Reading Tawada in the light of Judith Butler’s Antigone’s Claim, de Bary argues that greater attention should be paid to how Tawada’s texts dislocate the national and cultural frames through which gendered and minority subjects are rendered intelligible. Throughout The Bath, as de Bary contends, Tawada’s narrator refuses to follow the pronominal conventions of being addressed in the second person

and hence also the normative regimes of identification. For de Bary, the instability of the pronominal system in Tawada’s work suggests that characters are subjects of “suspended deixis” and thus irreducible to categories of individuation such as national or cultural identity. The question of translation and its relation to politics also is the focus of

John Namjun Kim’s contribution to this volume. At the center of Kim’s concerns is the conservative politics that hermeneutic approaches to translation perpetuate by framing translation in terms of the self/other opposition. Through a critical reconstruction of Sakai’s work on translation, Kim argues that Sakai’s non-or anti-hermeneutic approach to translation exposes the limits of the self/other trope found in Hans-Georg Gadamer’s and Paul Ricœur’s writings on translation. Though they both invoke translation as a propaedeutic into hermeneutics, their work on translation performatively effects a refutation of translation and an entrenchment of a conservative politics of maintaining “tradition.” Reformulating Gayatri Spivak’s notion of the “politics of translation” in terms of politics as translation, Kim reexamines Sakai’s work to show that, just as translation is essentially political as a practice, politics too is always translational(54). In this sense, Kim emphasizes Sakai’s constrasting notions of the homolingual versus heterolingual modes of address to underscore the mutual implication of politics and translation. Whereas the homolingual address describes a hermeneutic attitude that posits the addresser and addressee as members of a homogeneous, if distinct, linguistic community, the heterolingual address describes the attitude of the translator who, essentially, does not belong to any particular linguistic community and is thus the site of politics per se, as a discontinuity. However, as Kim also argues, translation itself is a term of ambivalence, for it is the translator’s practice of rendering linguistic discontinuity continuous that allows for the constitution of the hermeneutic attitude, which posits the unity of language and hence also the self/other opposition as given. Translation is the condition of possibility for the image of distinct languages as systematic unities that can be “named,” such as “German” or “Japanese.” Introducing the question of visual culture into this volume, Thomas

Lamarre’s essay draws our attention to animal figures in Japanese wartime animation and the imperial politics at work in representations of ethnic subjects within the empire as animals. Reading films such as Seo Mitsuyo’s Momotarô: Umi no shinpei (Momotarô’s Divine Soldiers at Sea) through Sakai’s analysis of Tanabe Hajime’s Shu no ronri (Logic of Species), Lamarre critiques prior readings of Japanese wartime representations of humans as animals, or sub-humans, for focusing exclusively on the Japanese representation of Americans in films and for overlooking the representation of peoples within the Japanese imperial state. Lamarre argues that such readings perpetuate the view of imperial Japan as driven by a mono-ethnic nationalism and, in turn, reinforce the logic of American multi-ethnic nationalism as a more universalistic position capable of subsuming “mono-ethnic” Japan in the postwar era. Read in terms of Sakai’s analysis of Tanabe, Lamarre contends,

the Japanese cinematic representation of colonized peoples variously as elephants, leopards, apes or tigers working together with the Japanese, who too are often represented in animal form, does not so much naturalize the races or ethnicities within the empire as it mediates them into an image of the empire as a multi-ethnic state of putative “co-prosperity”(80). While these representations juvenilize the peoples within the empire by portraying them as companion species to the Japanese, Lamarre argues that these animal representations are not to be read as a de-humanization of the human as though the figure of the human were the universal and that of the animal the particular. It is rather the other way around. In transforming ethnicities into animals, Japanese wartime animation abstracts and hence negates the human as a particular and elevates the animal to the status of a universal so as to suggest the assimilatory “inclusiveness” of Japanese multi-ethnic nationalism in contrast to the mono-ethnic nationalism, or white racism, that many Japanese perceived in Western discourses of political modernity. Helen Petrovsky’s contribution expands upon the theme of visual culture

through a philosophical meditation on the ontology of images. What is it, Petrovsky asks, that makes an image possible qua image? Opposing the concept of the image to that of the visual insofar as the visual deals with sensorial reality, Petrovsky proposes that the notion of the image must be understood as standing on the side of the invisible, rather than on that of the visible. By this, she means that the “invisible is the condition for the circulation of images; it stands for their essential communicability.” The invisible, in other words, is the background against which something can appear, such as an image. Petrovsky cites as an example the dual nature of the photograph. A photograph is not just a representational image; it is also a material thing that supports the image. This relation thus implicates the photograph in a complex play between ideality and materiality. Yet, Petrovsky also adds that the image is the “other” of representation and is rather the condition for a representation’s appearance, which she understands to mean a figure that oscillates between the visible and the invisible. Its oscillation, she contends, is dependent on the community that recognizes itself within it. That is to say, the representational quality of a representation is predicated on a prior discursive matrix according to which a community reads representations as representations. Hence, she argues, “The image comes in full view when the preceding generations are reborn through the affective lives of the communities existing in the present”(97). Petrovsky extends her meditation on the invisible to Walter Benjamin’s theses on history, proposing that the invisible image is the subject of history, which she links in turn to Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt’s notion of the multitude. Opening the second section of this volume “Economies of Difference,”

William Haver’s essay “For a Communist Ontology” addresses what is arguably the most widely noted source of bewilderment and frustration for readers of Karl Marx, namely, his nearly complete silence on what “communism” would or should look like. Haver argues that Marx’s relative silence on

communism does not mean that Marx lacks a concept of communism. On the contrary, Haver contends that the concept of communism is everywhere in Marx’s writings as their principal problematic. Contravening the conventional reading of Marx’s notion of communism as a telos achieved upon the withering of capitalism, Haver proposes that we think of the historical temporality of communism as an orientation toward the future, a “futurity,” that points not to an infinitely deferred end but to the present. The concept of communism, Haver suggests, is essentially experimental or, more precisely, speculative with respect to the workings of capitalism. What capitalism occults and the epistemological standpoint that communism takes are captured in the idea of the common, which Haver stresses is not a concept of division and distribution but of circulation. Conceived in terms of circulation rather than division and distribution, the common is thus not a substance but a matrix of relations perpetually in flux. In a vivid example of the common as a concept of circulation, Haver cites Marx’s analysis of money showing that money when removed from circulation ceases to be “money.” Circulation is money’s ontology. In this sense, Haver argues that Marx’s notion of the mode of production applies also to human ontology to the extent that human subjectivity just consists in the tools humans use, that is, as prostheses that allow for a metabolic or circulatory relation with their environment. Or, as Haver illustrates it, “The slave is an effect of slavery, the serf of serfdom, the artisan her craft” (109). Insofar as the communist ontology mode of production is driven by circulation, it is sharply distinguished from the capitalist mode of production, which is driven not by the circulation of capital but toward its acceleration to the point of annihilation through its accumulation. Resonating with Haver’s concern for the conjunction of Marxian political

economy and the question of the common, Sandro Mezzadra’s contribution brings this conjunction to bear directly on Sakai’s analysis of translation in a hitherto unexpected but extremely compelling way. Mezzadra argues that Sakai’s distinction between the homolingual and heterolingual modes of address provide a new ground for a critical theory of politics in the context of the global dimension of capital. Contrary to the view that this dimension is characterized by homogeneity,Mezzadra observes that it is “deeply heterogeneous as far as both its spatial and temporal constitution is concerned” (121). Hence, he argues that the site for analyzing capital in the global dimension is less its flows than its articulation, the nodal points that force homogeneity out of the living heterogeneity encountered by capital. Reading the concept of articulation as essentially a process of translation, Mezzadra contends that global capital operates according to the stance of the homolingual address, in which the speaker posits him or herself as a member of a homogeneous linguistic community. Capital essentially interpellates subjects through the language of “value” as it encounters heterogeneous forms of life and social relations, or “cultures,” and in so doing compels them to conform to the language of value. Mezzadra thus critiques dominant approaches to cultural studies and postcolonial studies for emphasizing the analysis of power over

that of exploitation. If the analysis of power can account for the production of subjectivities, the analysis of exploitation shows how antagonisms reduceor homolingually translate-subjectivities to the norm of abstract labor intelligible only to capital. By emphasizing exploitation, Mezzadra foregrounds all labor as living labor fundamentally heterogeneous to the language of value. He thus argues for the multitude as a collective subject capable of transforming this relation through resistance, and proposes that Sakai’s notion of the “heterolingual address” provides the means for forming a new common. The common, Mezzadra contends citing Sakai, consists in the multitude as “a non-aggregate community of foreigners” (135). Continuing themes raised by Mezzadra, Jon Solomon poses the question of

global culture in the era of post-Fordism. Solomon foregrounds the point of antagonism between contemporary regimes of labor across the globe and the diversity of human life across its populations. This antagonism, Solomon argues, compels subjects to conform to an imperative of “communication” to mitigate such diversity while simultaneously generating an “ideology of anthropological difference” (138). Solomon proposes that this ideology is to be located in the idea of “culture” and, in a manner resonant with de Bary’s contribution, identifies translation as the regime that manages the representation of differences among “cultures.” In this sense, Solomon explains his Foucauldian formulation of “the biopolitics of translation” as the regime by which the image of “originary difference … is segmented and organized according to the various classificatory schemes of biologico-sociological knowledge emerging out of the colonial encounter” (139). That is to say, translation is a social practice that assigns social identities according to schemata generated by colonialism. By the same token, Solomon stresses, the translational perspective also discloses such relations as thoroughly political, as constituted in relations of address. Yet, while drawing upon Sakai’s work on translation, Solomon also critiques Sakai’s notion of the heterolingual address for its overemphasis on the “distance” between addresser and addressee, submitting instead that it should be complemented with a notion of “intimacy” between them. Turning to a critique of Giorgio Agamben’s work, Solomon questions why Agamben repeatedly frames his Homo Sacer in terms of the West alone while admitting that the paradigm of the “camp” upon which he draws historically originates in the colonial periphery. Using Agamben’s earlier work on shifters in Language and Death, Solomon argues that, in spite of his profound analysis of deixis, Agamben fails to recognize that the concept of the “West” is also a shifter. J. Victor Koschmann’s contribution concludes this section’s themes of

economics and antagonisms of difference with a turn to the intellectual history of the debates on shutaisei (active subjectivity) in wartime Japan. While intellectual historians have conventionally framed the debates on shutaisei strictly in relation to the contemporaneous discussions of technology, Koschmann argues that a related but distinct discussion of “economic ethics” and shutaisei is critical for understanding postwar debates concerning labor

management and productivity. The wartime discussion on “economic ethics” arose out of the wartime shutaisei debates from a constellation of concerns going beyond the merely economic, among them the philosophical, the political and the pragmatic. As Koschmann explains, the wartime intellectuals faced a twofold problem presented by the wartime situation. On the one hand, the war required the imposition of economic controls at the national level and thus some form of large-scale planning and management. On the other hand, human beings would have to be mobilized to meet the demands of the wartime economy, and hence their subjective intentions and motivations would need to be appealed to. The result, Koschmann argues, was a discourse on “economic ethics” that sought to theorize subjective ethics and interest together. Koschmann contrasts in particular “rationalist” with “Japanist” approaches to economic ethics. Among the rationalists, Koschmann focuses on the members of the Shôwa Kenkyûkai (Shôwa Research Association) Miki Kiyoshi and Ryû Shintarô, who proposed “cooperativism” as a new economic system(158). Miki and Ryû envisioned an ethical economic order replacing liberalism and placing primacy on the whole over individual subjects. As such, economic production would be driven by public interest over profit-making. Control over industrial and commercial firms would devolve from capitalists to their managers who were committed to central planning and public interest. By contrast, the “Japanist” Nanihata Haruo, as Koschmann explains, argued for a view of the Japanese economy centered on the emperor as a putatively purely public being. As Koschmann’s analysis shows, Nanihata’s views joined economics with ethics in a tenuous manner. If the emperor is a purely public being, he cannot be motivated by private interest; thus, if national subjects are to serve the emperor, they serve only themselves as the public; hence public interest and self-interest are one and the same. This volume’s concluding section brings together three essays dealing with

one of the most enduring themes in Sakai’s work: the images of the West and its outside. Engaging directly with Sakai’s critique of the West, Frédéric Neyrat directs our attention to the West’s discursive emergence in terms of a relation. Reading Sakai in conjunction with Claude Lévi-Strauss and Edward W. Said, Neyrat proposes that any attempt to critique the West necessarily results in an epistemic double-bind specific to this concept as a discursive formation. Whereas the mere act of defining the “West” participates in its selfaffirmation as an exception, the act of refusing to define the West and denying it an “essence” also participates in the West’s “scheme of exploitation and destruction” by masking its real effects in the global, postcolonial scene. Neyrat argues not only that this double-bind can be avoided by focusing on the relational character of the West’s discursive emergence, but also that the West is characterized by the avoidance, or denial, of its relational character. That is to say, the West emerges only in a relation to its others but denies its relational character. Reading Claude Lévi-Strauss on the Western exportation of “development” as a form of exploitation leading to destruction, Neyrat proposes that the Western relation is principally a relation in reverse. The

destructive effects of the Western relation often take place at a distance and in advance of direct contact with the non-West. In this way, Neyrat argues, “The West devours the similar other and transforms it into the same.” Following Edward Said, Neyrat argues that this distal relation prepares the way for “the installation of imperialism at a distance” in the form of imperial knowledge production about the similar other, i.e. those who are to be colonized. It is this epistemic relation combined with actual imperial practice then that installs a radical separation between center and periphery, a separation so fundamental that it allows for a denial of a mutually constitutive relation between the two. Tracing this separation as a denied relation, Neyrat thus expands upon Sakai’s analysis of the West’s relation to the Rest, glossing it as a “subjective-discursive double formation” (182). This double formation, Neyrat argues, is necessarily asymmetrical by virtue of the logic of the universal and the particular governing it. Namely, neither a territory nor a cultural formation, the West proves to be a conceptual place that excepts itself from the relation through which it emerges, masking as it does so its racializing effects in the form of “national humanism.” Moving beyond Sakai’s critique of national humanism, Neyrat argues that the logic of “national humanism” extends also to France’s “republican humanism,” whose principal pretense is the formal equality of all citizens yet which accretes in the form of racialized exclusion of minorities in France. Reflecting similar concerns as Neyrat but from a sociological point of view,

Andreas Langenohl’s contribution offers a meta-discursive critique of sociology’s Multiple Modernities (MM) paradigm as a means of forgoing the concept of “modernization,” which has undergone extensive criticism for its reliance on a narrative of historical development rooted in European colonization. In turning to the MM paradigm, macro-sociology acknowledges, as the name suggests, that there are many ways of being “modern,” that culture plays a decisive role in modernity and that the methodological nationalism underwriting prior forms of modernization theory must be abandoned in favor of “civilizations” as the basic frame of analysis. However, as Langenohl argues, this is where the problems of the MM paradigm begin. By proclaiming modernity common but plural in form, the MM paradigm in macro-sociology unwittingly surrenders the analysis of “totalizing forces and processes” (Lamarre) of modernization in favor of comparative sociological history tracing the emergence of “other” modernities. In so doing, another concept moves to the center in the MM paradigm to explain the differences among modernities, namely “tradition.” Hence, Langenohl muses, just as modernity has been characterized as issuing “promissory notes” (in the form of promises of greater autonomy, economic prosperity and the like) that serve regulative rather than constitutive ends, the MM paradigm too has issued promissory notes with respect to the “totalizing forces and processes” that it promises to explain but cannot due to its turn to the historical analysis of multiple “traditions” producing multiple modernities (194). Yet, the MM paradigm’s conception of “tradition” is itself problematic in that it remains, in Langenohl’s

words, “traditional.” Langenohl proposes to rescue the project of explaining the “totalizing forces” of modernization by examining the notion of “tradition” not as a substance but as a process of “handing over” an imagined substance. In releasing the concept of “tradition” from its traditional understanding, Langenohl argues that it is the processes of handing over an imagined “tradition” that explains the “totalizing forces” with which the processes of modernization as “rationalization” are characterized. Modernity, as it were, has always been traditional. By turning to a processual understanding of “tradition,” Langenohl does away not only with the conceptual frame of “civilizations” embraced by the MM paradigm but also the longstanding narrative of modernity’s putative beginnings in Europe. Completing this section’s focus on the constitution of the West, Alberto

Moreiras examines the theologico-political implications of Naoki Sakai’s work through a reading of Ignacio de Loyola’s Ejercicios espirituales, a founding set of texts of the Jesuit order. Taking Sakai’s critique of the theological universalism of Christian missionaries and colonizers as his point of departure, Moreiras focuses on how this form of universalism, according to which the world is viewed as emanating from a single center, still organizes political modernity in the form of the interstate system. Moreiras argues that Sakai’s notion of the schema of cofiguration, i.e. the mimetic logic structuring the interstate system, criticizes what is essentially a remnant of theological universalism of both the West and non-West. However, Moreiras discerns nuances within the genealogy of theological universalism, in particular in Jesuit thought, that approximate the ethics of the heterolingual address in Sakai’s work. Though Jesuit religious consciousness remains committed to theocentric conceptions of truth, it nevertheless admits another principle, composición de lugar, which Moreiras translates as “situational consciousness” (212). Situational consciousness, Moreiras contends, permits political decision-making at a local level, based on local conditions, and hence bears directly on the question of political authority within the church hierarchy. Reading Ignacio’s dealings with the Patriarch of Ethiopia, Moreiras identifies a conception of political authority by which political autonomy and heteronomy are mixed. Ignacio, in effect, conceived of his authority such that he could issue orders to local church leaders not to feel bound by his orders and to decide in local matters in a manner appropriate to the demands of the situation in order to fulfill the ends of “truth.”