Magnitudes of Performativity
Donald Trump in the Anthropo(s)cene
The article presents the Trump presidency and the human-driven geological epoch of the Anthropocene as two arguable extremes among current notions of ‘performativity’: (1) a traditionally vertical model based on individual action and antagonism – where ‘facts’ matter less than ‘making things great’; and (2) the more extended, horizontal human performance of things like global warming (“All the world’s a stage”). Drawing freely on George Lakoff and Timothy Morton, it is argued that these models differ fundamentally in ‘magnitude’: where the one is direct, singular, vertical, and fast, the other is systemic, plural, horizontal, and slow beyond human perception. With Judith Butler and Naomi Klein, it is also argued that to actually confront the twin crises at issue, we need to acknowledge the kind of ‘plural performativity’ – of repetition, norms, and dissimulation – that brought them into being in the first place.
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