HoTE Preview: Sayak Valencia "From Gore Capitalism to Snuff Politics: The Body as Mass Media&qu
Transfeminist philosopher, essayist, and performance artist, Sayak Valencia, will be presenting her lecture, “From Gore Capitalism to Snuff Politics: The Body as Mass Media,” on Thursday, March 5, from 5:30-7:30 at the Sheldon Museum of Art’s Ethel S. Abbott Auditorium. Valencia is a Professor and Researcher at the Department of Cultural Studies at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, Baja California, México. She has published four books in Spanish: Jueves Fausto (2004),
El reverso exacto del texto (2007), Capitalismo gore (2010), and Adrift's Book (2011). In 2018, an English translation of Capitalismo gore, Gore Capitalism, was published by Semiotext(e) as part of their “Intervention” series.
Gore Capitalism examines the exchange of violence as a commodity in a hyperconsumerist, neoliberal, global economy. One must always hear the tearing of flesh when Valencia deploys the word “consumption.” Gore practices, Valencia tells us, are at work in so much of what we consume that there is no longer an outside to gore capitalism, and thus, we are all implicated:
Murder is now conceived of as a transaction, extreme violence as a legitimate tool, torture as an ultra-profitable exercise and display of power. What was once understood as the global underworld has taken a leap forward and has now risen to the surface. Gore capitalism has infiltrated our lives; our very roles as consumers/spectators guarantee that we cannot remove ourselves from this fact. Much of our daily life is now rooted in organized crime. Gore can no longer be reduced to a film genre or to the pages of tabloids or sensationalist newspapers. Gore is our reality now. (126-7)
It is apparent, then, that Valencia is interested in the way violence on the body (murder/torture) functions to signify power and generate wealth. The roles of the consumer/spectator also indicate the need for these violences to be mediatized under the regime of gore capitalism.
These ideas will most likely inform her lecture on Thursday, as will snuff politics, which she distinguishes from gore at the beginning of Gore Capitalism: While gore capitalism resembles the “grotesque and parodic” sensibilities of the gore film genre, giving it the appearance of unreality, gimmick, and artificiality (31), snuff politics would seem to be an intensification of gore capitalism, which she writes is “a shade below full fatality” (32). Gore capitalism, Valencia argues, “is rapidly morphing into snuff capitalism” (32), but we are not explicitly told in what ways this regime manifests. It will be very exciting to hear how snuff politics develops—as well as the role of the body’s mediatization in this development—during her lecture.
Joshua Renner’s review of the lecture will be published on Watershed on Tuesday, March 10. The next Humanities on the Edge speaker in the series’ 10th Anniversary all-women lineup will be Lauren Berlant, the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. She will be presenting her lecture, "Being in Life Without Wanting the World: Suicideation, Dissociation, Survival," on Thursday, April 9.
Humanities on the Edge is a cross-disciplinary lecture series organized in conjunction with the Department of English and other departments in the UNL College of Arts and Science in collaboration with the Sheldon Museum of Art
Contact Watershed if you are interested in previewing or reviewing future Humanities on the Edge Lectures.
References: Valencia, Sayak. Gore Capitalism. Translated by John Pluecke. Semiotext(e), 2018.