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Kritiks and catsulas
> Check this out....from NDT-L...
> --- John Katsulas wrote:
> I refuse to
> even mention the possibility of critiques (yes, intentionally spelled
> without the K), since I don't view them as legitimate arguments in debate.
> But those fools seeking to run them will have ample opportunity.
> --- end of quoted material ---
I beleive Tuna is right that you/we/one should check this quotation out.
Tuna opens a space for a possibly pressing question: what would such a
check, or critical examination, reveal?
I think that we can immediately reject, or at least not valorize, an
intrpretation or response that seeks to ANSWER Katsulas' argumentative
logic as it is presented. Katsulas does not present an argument here,
in the strict sense, but instead presents us with a puzzling enthymeme, a
series of conclusions whose premises remain intentionally obscured and
We first notice that Katsulas greets the presence of the critique not
with an actual response, but with silence - he not only refuses to
acknowledge the existence of the Kritik, but won't acknowledge its very
possibility. This curious tactic of refutation by refusal might be
analogous to the habit of Spivak's Derrida of writing "under erasure,"
deliberately crossing out certain terms so that their mention does not
reify the metaphysics of presence that Derrida seeks to counter.
Katsulas' deliberate lacuna, however, simply re-establishes the
credibility of the Kritik. An argument so powerful and pervasive that
even its refutation will re-establish its force must be a powerful
>From a psychoanalytic perspective, Katsulas' comments can be compared to
the infant who plays "peekaboo," or shuts her eyes tight in order to
"make the monsters go away." We can thus establish a certain solipsism
and assumption of power on Katsulas' part; he has appointed himself as
the high priest of discouse, whose acknowledgement is a precondition for
the very reality of an argument. His response, more importantly, reveals
the mentality of a man under siege, who feels his community to be
threatened by the "alien invasion" of peculiar arguments, and reacts by
publicly enacting a dramatic regression.
WE next observe that Katsulas refuses to spell the Kritik "with a K."
What reasonign would dictate this move? Katsulas surely cannot seek to
deny the Kritik's links with Continental philosophy. The orthography is
not a necessary sign of respect; one can call the "Clinton disad" the
"Clinton disad" (instead of, I suppose, the Klinton disad) and
successfully refute the argument at the same time. Catsulas might seek
to avoid the encroachment of the c/Kritik/que by refusing to even grant
it its proper name. This is analogous to the social tradition of
"unspeakability," where something is so truly offensive that it cannot
even be mentioned. Speech can only apply to objects within a given
circumscribed social sphere, any attempt to expand the field of language
is thus viewed as a subversion of the original social sphere.
"WHat your Uncle Frank did was unspeakable...UNSPEAKABLE."
It is thus particularly appropriate that Katsulas chooses to expel a term
that is foreign not only to debate, but is genuinely "foreign," or
non-English as well. A more thorough scholar migth profitably compare
Katsulas' text with, say, the text of Claifornia's Proposition 187, or
the attempt from opponents of "multi-culturalism" to expel Spanish from
the United States.
Katsulas then attempts to provide a warrant for his aforementioned
claims. He will not acknowledge the presence of the K/CritiK/que,
becuase he does not "view it as a legitimate argument within debate."
Katsulas thus implies that there is some sphere where arguments can
exist which is outside of debate. This is a strange paradox. The very
presence of argument seems to bring with it "debate." This is a
defintional precondition. By relegating the critique to a sphere where
it can no longer exist, catsulas tries to obfuscate the violence of his
exclusion. Exile is a preferable punishment to exclusion, even though
exile carries with it the certainty of death outside the community,
simply because the exile allows the sovereign catsulas to remove himself
from the violent reversals possible ina public execution (do I need to
provide a citation here?) Another analogy can be found within American
history, inthe example f Native Americans,w ho were banished to unlivable
conditions in order to vitiate the colonizers' possible guilt over a
Katsulas' final sentence tries to provide another circle of defenses from
the accusation that his exclusion might be an act of violence. Debators
who seek to expand the field of debate theory that catsulas attempts to
Kontrol are subject to ridicule and humiliation, but this punishment is
not truly punishment since debators have the "opportunity" to run what
they please. Katsulas' argument might be rephrased as an Orwellian
dictum: "All arguments receive an equally fair hearing; some are simply
more equal than others." As in a supposedly "free" market, the violence
of inequality is masked by the supposed "equality of opportunity."
Catsulas' post displays a mix of fear,loathing, revilement, exclusion,
and attempts at self-justification. His words should encourage all
proponents of the Kritik, who realize that when someone is truly
horrified at what theya re saying, they must be onto something valuable.
University of Iowa
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (email@example.com)
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