Habit-Forming: Humility and the Rhetoric of Drugs

Kendall Gerdes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Under the influence of a style of reading that Avital Ronell has called "narcoanalysis," this article performs a reading of addiction and humility through David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest. Exploring both addiction and humility through the vector of "habit," I argue that both kinds of habit indicate the non-self-sufficiency of the subject through its exposure to affection from exteriority. But while I position addiction alongside humility, both as habits, I also argue that humility parasitizes the totalizing logic of addictive habit. Neither identical to nor simply the opposite of addiction, humility exploits addiction's structure of uncontrollable relationality. Even addiction depends on the affectability or "rhetoricity" of a subject always already exposed in language. Humility holds this rhetoricity open.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-359
JournalPhilosophy and Rhetoric
StatePublished - Oct 2015


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