For a Pragmatics of the Useless

For a Pragmatics of the Useless

Thought in the Act

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Book Pages: 368 Illustrations: 30 illustrations Published: November 2020

Author: Erin Manning

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Disability Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Affect Theory

What has a use in the future, unforeseeably, is radically useless now. What has an effect now is not necessarily useful, if it falls through the gaps. In For a Pragmatics of the Useless Erin Manning examines what falls outside the purview of already known functions and established standards of value, not for want of potential but for carrying an excess of it. The figures are various: the infrathin, the artful, proprioceptive tactilty, neurodiversity, black life. It is around the latter two that a central refrain echoes: "all black life is neurodiverse life." This is not an equation, but an "approximation of proximity". Manning shows how neurotypicality and whiteness combine to form a normative baseline for existence. Blackness and neurodiversity "schizz" around the baseline, uselessly, pragmatically, figuring a more-than of life living. Manning, in dialogue with Félix Guattari and drawing on the black radical tradition's accounts of black life and the aesthetics of black sociality, proposes a "schizoanalysis" of the more-than charting a panoply of techniques for other ways of living and learning.


“Taking black studies seriously as the epistemology of operation from which to practice thought, Erin Manning does more than simply apply black studies to conversations about neurotypicality, autism, and language; she grapples with what black studies attempts to do—to shift the epistemological horizon of thought's horizon.” — Ashon T. Crawley, author of The Lonely Letters


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Open Access

Spring 2020 Sale
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Erin Manning is Professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University and the author of many books, including The Minor Gesture and Always More Than One: Individuation's Dance, both also published by Duke University Press.

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Table of Contents Forthcoming
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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1107-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1002-9