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BANALITY FOR CULTURAL STUDIES

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In her 1990 essay, ‘Banality in Cultural Studies,’ Meaghan Morris raises very serious concerns about the relatively unexamined role that banality plays in cultural studies’ work. Taking up her challenge, this essay endeavors to unlock some of the ways that banality might be, as Morris suggests, ‘empowering’ and ‘enabling’ for cultural studies and, thus, not merely banality as something that is left behind after it has been exorcised or redeemed in the movements of cultural analysis itself. Beginning with a few of Morris’ own critical coordinates (such as Michel de Certeau and Maurice Blanchot), this essay, then, looks to how banality enters into the triadic philosophical conceptualizations of Henri Lefebvre on ‘everyday life’ – particularly through his concept of ‘everydayness’. Most of all, this essay investigates the ways that this often-undertheorized concept from Lefebvre might be brought to ‘life’ (in the widest sense imaginable) in the writings of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari on ‘the virtual.’ The virtual is, in one sense, a means of grasping what lies beyond the realm of cognition – a more diffuse view of the real that would include the incorporeal, the inorganic, and all points in-between (including a more broadly drawn version of consciousness). It will be argued that, through ‘the virtual,’ everyday life becomes available to cultural studies’ accounts as a radically ‘open totality’ or Outside and, as such, the movements, as well as the politics, of critique take on a different sort of tone and trajectory.
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Keywords: BANALITY; EVERYDAY LIFE; INCORPOREAL; RHYTHM ANALYSIS; THE OUTSIDE; TOTALITY; VIRTUAL

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 April 2000

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