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Cover of Of Effacement by David Marriott
Of Effacement
Blackness and Non-Being
David Marriott


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November 2023
410 pages.
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Hardcover ISBN: 9781503628786
Paperback ISBN: 9781503637252
Ebook ISBN: 9781503637269

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In Of Effacement, David Marriott endeavors to demolish established opinion about what blackness is and reorient our understanding of what it is not in art, philosophy, autobiography, literary theory, political theory, and psychoanalysis. With the critical rigor and polemical bravura which he displayed in Whither Fanon? Marriott here considers the relationships between language, judgement and effacement, and shows how effacement has become the dominant force in anti-blackness.

Both skeptically and emphatically, Marriott presents a series of radical philosophical engagements with Fanon's "is not" (n'est pas) and its "black" political truth. How does one speak—let alone represent—that which is without existence? Is blackness n'est pas because it has yet to be thought as blackness? And if so, when Fanon writes of blackness, that it is n'est pas (is not), where should one look to make sense of this n'est pas? Marriott anchors these questions by addressing the most fundamental perennial questions concerning the nature of freedom, resistance, mastery, life, and liberation, via a series of analyses of such key figures as Huey Newton, Nietzsche, Malcolm X, Edward Said, Georges Bataille, Stuart Hall, and Lacan. He thus develops the basis for a reading of blackness by recasting its effacement as an identity, while insisting on it as a fundamental question for philosophy.

About the author

David Marriott is Charles T. Winship Professor of Philosophy at Emory University. He is the author of Lacan Noir: Lacan and Afro-Pessimism (2021) and Whither Fanon? Studies in the Blackness of Being (Stanford, 2018), among others.

"Dazzlingly original, forcefully subtle in its argumentation, Of Effacement is undeniably path-breaking. Marriott's reading allows us to see Fanon's 'black being' as a 'disquieting in-plenitude' visible only in the way it curves the spaces of the personal, cultural, and political."

—Joan Copjec, Brown University

"Brilliant, relentless, and unblinking in its acknowledgment that 'there is no ontology of black pain,' David Marriott's Of Effacement is a tour de force of critical analysis. Lingering with Fanon's crystallization of wretchedness into 'a new law of expression' that would precipitate a 'politics beyond that of racial community,' Marriott refuses to avert his gaze from the abyss of Fanon's 'n'est pas.' For in the 'nothing that governs the world gone black,' he locates the possibility of invention without 'arche,telos, or predestined end.' The result is this rigorous, transformative, and supremely necessary book that dares, like Fanon, to 'make the incomprehensible the vocation of [its] politics' and so to open—in ways at once unbearable and exhilarating to contemplate—new pathways for our own."

—Lee Edelman, Tufts University

"With an unflinching lucidity in reading and critique, Marriott develops a demanding and often startling thinking across the fields of ontology, politics, and aesthetics. Of Effacement deserves the closest attention of all those working in philosophy and theory today."

—Geoffrey Bennington, Emory University