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Austin and Speech Acts: An Attempt

In one sense, Austin refuses to speak for himself, deferring not only to a text but a text beyond fiction, a doubly-false text, simultaneously un-written and spontaneous, non-iterable. There is no Austin 3:15. It is a textual chasm induced by the citation toward itself. However, this chasm is already active, because Austin refers to the specific public religious discourse of the kind occurring in this speech venue, personified in the absolute sense by Jake the Snake. Having eliminated his body (by defeat, by expulsion), and the shared consent to his body’s remaining (Stone Cold’s demand for expulsion, counter-iterating the act of Jake the Snake being helped off), Stone Cold now inaugurates his absent text, parasitically conquering that public religious discourse by by speaking Jake the Snake and his words into text, or mere text.

The statements that Jake the Snake is meant to embody, sitting, thumping, prayer saying, these speech acts are invalid in the ring to the same degree that Jake himself is now invalid; they fail to refer to any of the bottlenecks of verification. First, they are alienated from their narrative mesh, they do not produce the effects of pleasure that face-statements are supposed to produce, they do not effectively invalidate the audience’s ability to cheer for Austin or other rude heels. Second, they are alienated from the violence of the spectacle itself. In the first place, these Christian messages suggest a kind of lifestyle or non-violence that is unreconciled with the wrestling taking place, a rule-following and social normality that wrestling, both in the audience of that period and its own norm-functions (like violating rules), opposes. Following from this, the failure of traditional practices like proselytizing, prayer and Christian identity to grant God’s favor or power to achieve victory in sport or in narratives. This is not a place of God, Austin both declares and produces. The factors that produce success and power in this place come from elsewhere.

This is the vibrating intensity field into which the reference to the nonexistent book of Austin arrives, so that in stating “Austin 3:16”, the book is instantiated as a non-book, the verse as a non-verse, the mysterious background power that granted victory (and its concomitant nodes: subjectivity, validity as speaker, location in a moral order) is allowed an image, a pseudo-reductive space of crude force, of words with the physical power now negated, now “proved” insufficient. By locating the first image in a negative fiction of a deferred citation to nowhere, Austin provokes it as a site of investment, a narrative soreness needled into being through neurotic circulation, into the immediate repetition of the “Austin 3:16” object.

Stone Cold ends his speech with a hyper-repetition, a statement that restates the statement, calls his subjectivity as the speaker of that statement into being, and states the statement’s position in the field of speaking. The line is as iconic as the Austin 3:16 object because it is the same as that object: “And that's the bottom line, because Stone Cold said so.” By making explicit that Austin 3:16 is a fiction, he restates the statement, clarifying the dizzying metaphysics of the first, “I am the power that causes victory in this narrative”, and ties the statements into a nexus where the effects of the first and the last circulate generatively. Having established himself as the narrative power personified, he can take the conditions for truth, that is, the boundary conditions for speaking as such; not just to collapse Jake the Snake as a legitimate speaker, but to determine who and where all speech derives its presence. The Bottom Line. Finally, having established himself as the positive numinous impulse of power, and the master of the negative dimension against whose bottom line sense as such can appear, Stone Cold speaks himself, in a moment of incomprehensible beauty, into being as the third person, as his own puppet, as the subject-image of power and discursive limit.

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