For a Pragmatics of the Useless

Book Pages: 384 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 tactility, 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

“Given her expertise, philosophical acumen, and passion for questions of neurodiversity, I am excited that Erin Manning is the person to orchestrate the encounter between neurodiversity and blackness. Who else but Manning could bring together explorations into process philosophy, experimental practice, black studies, and neurodiversity? This is a superb and important work.” — Stefano Harney, coauthor of The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study


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Price: $29.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

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.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Prelude. Fugitively, Approximately  1
1. For a Pragmatics of the Useless  15
2. Toward a Politics of Immediation  33
Pocket Practice. nestingpatching  55
3. What Things Do When They Shape Each Other  75
Pocket Practice. backgroundigforegrounding  103
4. Experimenting Immediation: Collaboration and the Politics of Fabulation  115
5. Practicing the Shizz  145
Interlude. How Do We Repair?  199
6. Me Lo Dijo un Pajarito: Neurodiversity, Black Life, and the University As We Know It  213
Pocket Practice. livingdoing  235
7. Not at a Distance: On Touch, Synesthesia, and Other Ways of Knowing  245
Pocket Practice. ticcingflapping  271
8. Cephaloped Dreams: Finance at the Limit  289
Coda. schizziganarchiving  309
Notes  317
References  345
Index  359
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1107-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1002-9