ABSTRACT

Subjective mediation is often treated as an epistemological problem, because it denies the thinker unfettered access to things-in-themselves. This article proposes instead that the sociohistorically sedimented qualities of subjective mediation are a window onto the positional juncture at which the subject ends and things-in-themselves begin. When analyzed together, flamenco letras and medieval troubadour lyric record an expansive experiential account of movement through the world, producing a portrait of the dynamics by which subjects spatiotemporally locate themselves and therefore showing us the conditions underlying the split between subjectivity and things-in-themselves. In troubadour lyric, subjects rely on untraversed positive distance to position themselves in space and time, while subjects in flamenco letras foreground negative distance, which has already been traversed. Exemplars from influential troubadours Guilhem IX of Peitieus and Marcabru elucidate the particularities of positive distance and then illustrate its transition into an uncertainty that bespeaks negativity. Meanwhile, a survey of representative flamenco letras uncovers the historicized spatiotemporal precarity of negative distance. The meshwork of relations that arise from the interplay of positive and negative distance demonstrates how the subject’s experience of space and time relies on determinate mixtures and separations that both consolidate its positionality and express the material dynamics that have shaped its mediated aperture onto the world.

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