Four kinds of Invisibilities – Lewis Gordon

Lewis Gordon

“This issue of invisibility is a very strange one.

A lot of the people who are being called “invisible”
have to be first identified,
and then be informed or told they are invisible, or a zero
so we have a kind of “bad faith” at work:

First you have to say they are not really there
then you have to find them
and then say that they are not really there

This kind of phenomenon is connected to something  that has emerged in what Lewis Gordon calls the “euromodern world”
[one of many kinds of modern.]

What the euromodern world has done, in its concept of modern,
what modern is about,
is to say that there is a future
and in that future
some people belong to it
and some don’t

Now, if you think about it
if some people belong to the future

And some people don’t
then in the present, if you have no future
then what is the status of your present?

And if that’s the case then what is the status of your past?
in a way you become retro-actively de-legitimized
if you don’t have that future
and that is the framework that sets the context for the kind of invisibility that I’m going to talk bout

There are many others but I’m just gonna focus on four kinds:-

1st  The Invisibility of quantity, linked to racial invisibility
Is, in effect, to say “those-people-should-not-be-seen.
So if we see any then that is “too many.”

2nd The invisibility of Time linked to land- Indigenous invisibility
There are vestiges of indigenous peoples all over the continent, yet this is this is a settler society, and as such it treats the future as settled. And if the future is settled then it means that the absence of indigenous peoples here and being linked to the land means that the envisioning of the future land is  land without them: in effect an idea that you can only be a native American if you belong to the past.

3rd Invisibility linked to voice – specifically connects to Women
A lot of women’s literature talks about having a voice “in her own voice”.
In many examples what brings legitimacy is the voice of a male. You cannot be political in society without speech and without speech you don’t have a voice. But the tricky thing is even if you have voice but you’re not heard – your voice s is useless if you’re not heard.
So if you’re seen in a way that makes you not seen, imagine in a way that makes you “not reality” then they simply hear noise from you, bu they don’t listen., then you’re invisible as a voice.

4th How these all come together around knowledge
All of these come together in n epistemological invisibility.
The knowledges of each of these invisibilities -“zero sums” – that knowledge doesn’t matter.






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