For a Pragmatics of the Useless

For a Pragmatics of the Useless

Thought in the Act

by Erin Manning

Published by: Duke University Press Books

384 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm, 30 illustrations

  • ISBN: 9781478011071
  • Published: November 2020

£22.99

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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.