Affect and Accent. Public Spheres of Dissonance in the Writing of Yoko Tawada
Acker, Marion; Fleig, Anne; Lüthjohann, Matthias – 2019
Many considerations and theories on the relationship between the political and the public are based upon the notion of a public dialogue: different voices and opinions as well as their institutionalized places lie at the heart of modern democracy. Often, as in the influential theory of Jürgen Habermas, this dialogue is understood to be an encounter of partners with equal rights relying on the democratic rationality of consensus-oriented discussion. In our article, we want to challenge this notion and, drawing upon both Yoko Tawada’s writing and Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of heteroglossia, try to rethink the role and status of the relationship of language and affect in this context. In her essay on “Akzent” (2016), Tawada develops a perspective that goes beyond the limited notions of affect-free rationality and “un-accentuated” voice. Following Tawada and Bakhtin, language, in literature as well as in the public, is at least twofold: words, in their affective relational entanglement, respond to other words and become themselves part of the responses that follow their articulation. This dialogical engagement is never free of affect, dissonance, and polemic.