Volume 5, Issue Part 1, 2010
Selected Essays from North America Part 1
Emma R. Jones
On the Life That is ‘Never Simply Mine’
Anonymity and Alterity in Merleau-Ponty and Irigaray
In this paper, I suggest that Merleau-Ponty’s discussion of anonymity in the Phenomenology of Perception bears a strong resemblance to Luce Irigaray’s discussions of the elemental. I argue that reading these two accounts together helps to counter some of the critiques waged by feminists against the language of anonymity, because anonymity—like the elemental—does not in fact function as a positive substratum that would shore up sameness and prevent the rupture of difference. Instead, anonymity names the way in which the subject is always already disrupted by its encounter with and belonging-to the natural world.