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Vol. 5 No. 4 (2022): Critical Phenomenology, Racial Justice, and Radical Imagination

We Flesh: Musser, Spillers, and Beyond the Phenomenological Body

  • Andrea Warmack
February 9, 2023


Not all homo sapiens are human subjects. This paper explores the lived experience of homo sapiens but not human that I call “lived flesh.” A lived experience/distinction that shouldn’t be possible on Merleau-Ponty’s account of human subjectivity in Phenomenology of Perception and “The Intertwining – The Chiasm.” The use of flesh is deliberate and emerges from my engagement with Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception and “The Intertwining – The Chiasm” through Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Hortense Spillers’ “Interstices: A Small Drama of Words” and “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book,” Amber Musser’s Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance, and Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. The affective, experiential, and ethical practices of american Blackwomxn in these texts problematize Merleau-Ponty’s account of human subjectivity and his account of the generality of Being (“The Intertwining – The Chiasm”). Merleau-Ponty’s effacement of raced, sexed, and gendered difference results in a construct of the human subject that cannot include all homo sapiens.