The first section of the reading, which for my purposes will be the intro through chapter 2, deals extensively with the Subject and his relation to the social and to his subjection. The idea of a person as subject connotes a very negative meaning which springs from the definition of subjection that was laid out at the beginning of the intro. Combined with the ideas of bondage, being a subject awakens thoughts of slavery, servitude, and meaninglessness. However, the subject, especially in the context of The Psychic Life, has a much higher status, and if not status at least role. The subject has the power to subjugate, but also is the target of some "other's" subjugation (With the small caveat that the "other" can be the self disavowed). Which brings me to my first quote, "How does the subjection of desire require and institute the desire for subjection?" (19) People, by their very nature, want to be subjugated; that is, they want to be the focus of someone else's desire or attention. One freely volunteer's their position as subject as a means of increasing their social status. The subject in this sense does not imply a servant of another's power, but the other's desire to be the subject.
"Desire is always the desire to persist in one's own beingâ€¦ the desire to persist in one's own being as something that can be brokered only within the risky terms of social life." (28) Every action someone takes aims at increasing the other's desire to be the one that committed the action. The desire to be desired increases the number of others that will desire me. This chain of desirement is inherently risky as I may be left as the only one that desires to be me, and therefore I must persist alone with only my desire.
Does this line of reasoning make any sense? I think it strikes at one of the most important viewpoints presented by Butler?
And along the lines of only committing actions in self-interest, I appreciated this quote, "In effect, self-sacrifice is not refuted through the claim that self-sacrifice is itself willful activity; rather, Hegel asserts that in self-sacrifice one enacts another's will." (52) This proves that self-sacrifice cannot be done for anything but selfish reasons; to better entrench one's self in the desire of the other. I only do something good because other people will think better of me for it and if I don't improve enough in the eyes of the other, then I will not commit the act of self-sacrifice. So I pose to you, can you think of any action that is done without selfish motivation?