when are we not subjects?

A quick clarification/pondering: If we accept Butler's definition of 'the subject' as NOT interchangeable with 'the individual' or 'the person,' but instead as "the linguistic occasion for the individual to achieve and reproduce intelligibility" (p12), at what point or in what instance, might one not be considered a 'subject'?

If individuals must first undergo "subjectivation" (ugly noun, by the way, Judy) in order to gain status as subjects, what are we prior to said process? I understand that she doesn't want to conflate her much headed space of 'subjectivity' with that of individuality, for example; but in arguing that we are inherently formulated as subjects from the moment of our conception given our passionate attachment to those upon whom our formulation necessitates we depend (aka: our creators), she sets up an Althusserian framework in which I can't seem to find any location of a pre-subject.

I'm not trying to be grim and depressing here, I am sincerely curious, and mostly in practical terms, as to what a non-subjectivated (??) individual (aka: a non-subject) would look like by this definitions. Even slavery necessitates subjectivity, correct? In Butler's discussion of power, all subordinated subjectivities, despite their dehumanization, are still relevant to the individual/subject dichotomy. Wherein lies the plain ole' individual? I have the inclination that, theoretically, it is somehow tied in with the larger challenge Butler takes up of that which is the precondition for its own formulation. Practically, though, is it possible to be human without a subjectivity?

whoa rambling...

I was wondering the same thing. How do we make this transition from the subject to an individual? Butler ties the discussion of subjection with subordination. She says: "The double aspect of subjection appears to lead to a vicious circle: the agency of the subject appears to be an effect of its subordination" (12). She argues that the essence of the individual is in his or her subordination to something or someone else. So who/what is the real person/thing standing on his/her/its own without having to be subjected or subordinate?

I think Butler does set up "an Althusserian framework in which [one] can't seem to find any location of a pre-subject."

Butler writes that "The power that initiates the subject fails to remain continuous with the power that is the subject's agency" (12) which points to the inaccuracy of equating the subordinated subject (our unaltered default-member-of-society status) with the subject's ability to distance him/herself from that subordinating process. I don't think she allows for a "pre-subject"--we are always already subordinated--but more importantly she allows for an escape mechanism, which she goes on to define as the pursuit of alterity: "Only by persisting in alterity does one persist in one's 'own' being" (28). This pursuit of alterity is a dangerous process in that it can involve a certain "over-turn" (to colonize vocab from GH's post re undead+toufic) of attachments, desires, and loves that at one point constituted the subject's ability to "socially exist" in a stable and productive (and exploited and subordinated) manner. Differentiation is the way out, but Butler adds the caveat of not differentiating too extremely--break too many rules and then the society's regulatory arm will correct/sanction you with a literal rendering of enforced subordination, such as imprisonment, violence, etc.

It should probably be stressed that even cautious over-turns - not just extreme ones - seem to involve forays, however tentative, into (un)death: from that same passage, 'What would it mean for a subject to desire something other than its continued "social existence"? If such an existence cannot be undone without falling into some kind of death can existence nevertheless be risked, death courted or pursued, in order to expose and open to transformation the hold of social power on the conditions of life's persistence?' (28)

This doesn't seem terribly risky until we keep in mind that Butler's reading of death is a lot more charitable than Zizek and Lacan's 'traumatic abyss of meaningless idiocy' account of the death-driven Real. If the cost of undeath is a mild and temporary Butlerian disorientation, or even significant loss (i.e. of attachments, desires, loves), is that still somehow 'cheaper,' and more obviously worth the risk, than the total 'dissolution of being' that we would have to sustain in Zizek's portrayal?

Though of course my notion of 'elective overturns,' which seems to rely on the selectivity of Butler's 'death that can be courted, or pursued,' is more charitable than Zizek/Lacan as well.

--Guattari Hero

Paradoxes (often poignant) abound in the Butler (and Zizek) reading, and a familiar one cropped up on page 149: "perhaps only by risking the incoherence of identity is connection possible." Positing a homosexual identity often results in the effort to disavow a relationship to heterosexuality, situating it in a repudiated place. There seem to be high costs to producing and excluding a "domain of abjected specters" to defend an enclosed identity group. Is it a necessary risk? Can connections generally be formed only through the exclusion of a "domain of abject specters"?
I wanted to link these thoughts up with this commenting chain. Can identity only be produced by the withdrawal of an object? Can a constitutive identity for an overlooked group only be produced by the creation and necessary repudiation of a separate domain? Is an incoherent identity ultimately a fruitful risk to take? Also, am I aligning identity too much with the production of subjectivity...?