Comments on Lyotard and performance in Just Gaming

1.) Prescriptives behave something like J. L. Austin's perlocutionary utterances. "The efficacy of prescriptives, though, is singular; it resembles no other, to be sure. What distinguishes them from other statements is the fact that they include explicitly, in their form, the expectation of their own efficacy" (52).

1.a) Insofar as prescriptive utterances establish the ethical obligation, however, they function like Austin's performatives. The effects of the prescriptive, or expected consequent actions, are insignificant to the ethical bond.

1.b) They are "singular" in that language games are all "incommensurable" (22). Are they, as the ethical foundation of justice, singular in another way?

2.) Such performatives in Lyotard's thinking define the limits of subjectivity or identity; they "neutralize" the "pole of the sender" in privileging the pole of the listener, the one who is obligated and must retell or relay the message. The relay names herself as listener become speaker. This inverts the Romantic and High Modern privileging of the speaker, but in its anti-authoritarian stance it does not eliminate individuality. The individual emerges in the retelling seen as ruse. Identity is limited but not narrated.

2.a) A narrated identity is comic like the identities of Stoppard's Rosencarantz and Guildenstern. "You are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern," says the Player, "that's enough!" (Act III). A narrated identity is comic in the way Lyotard reads Oedipus Rex

2.b) Identity which is performed through negotiation, which is rused, is pagan. May we also say that such an identity is ethical? This identity preserves and transmits the scene of ethics, establishes the tradition, and is, therefore, "that which concerns time" (34). This identity is a remnant of Heideggerian "being-there" as well as of Sartrean "project." It has the glow of the existential as well as the social, that is, the social body.

3.) Can performing identity in this way be transgressive in the mode of Oscar Wilde?

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