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Flesh Colours

Text Selected by Anna Salamon


Wednesday 20 May 2015


We will have read and will be discussing:


Luce Irigaray Flesh Colours, published in Key Writings and Sexes and Genealogies text.


Following from the previous session around possible categories of ‘the real’ and ‘the unitary subject’ in Katerina Kolozova’s On the one and the multiple, we will discuss Irigaray’s much earlier text (first published 1987, first English translation 1993) to explore what non-linguistic and non-discursive modalities such as sound and colour might offer to a unifying or regenerating subject.


Flesh Colours sketches out a critique of psycho-analytic process as it maps out the areas of analysis which cannot be translated into words. Psycho-analysis ‘submits the flesh to forms alien to those of the body’, and so does any linguistic mediation through arbitrary non-figurative writing, argues Irigaray. What is lost is the possibility for sublimating the fleshly matter, a task she considers most urgent.


Whilst the apparatus inherited from the psychoanalytic theory might not read as relevant, Irigaray’s text offers an account of flesh and physical matter which embodies certain quality of performativity argued for by younger feminist scholars. The chapter itself reads more like a painting than a scholarly writing. In attempt to re-render ‘the real’, how do we read or encounter a tone, pitch, nuance or hue in flesh, in a text and in a digital body?


Thus, the labials are dark; the darkest of all is the m. The dentals are light. Of the vowels, a is chromatically the richest and is called the origin of all colours’. - from paragraph 4., ibidem


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