Leaving tragedy. The comic self and possession




In this essay we sketch the conceptual personae of the comic self. Building on the research of Gilles Deleuze on comic and tragic repetition as well as others, includ-ing Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Étienne Balibar, we locate the coordinates of the comic self in a series of practices whose telos is dispossession of the self by the self. Our archaeology ranges across literary and philosophical texts to delineate the form’s most salient features: a topology of anadiplosis; an affinity for rupturousness and rapturousness closely linked to attempts to dispos-sess; and finally, strategies of defamiliarization of the self. We argue that the comic self is not to be thought as an extension of comedy but rather as a counter to late capitalism’s explosion of tragic selves, variously called entrepreneurs, influencers, and start-up managers. In our reading, the comic self counters possession and care in favour of something less solidly tragic and hence more ungovernable.