ads without products

whatever, ads

with 4 comments

In real life, I have a nearly unpronounceable surname. Almost all vowels. At least it’s distinctive – search for it and you find only me, my father’s campaign contributions to the Republican party, and a long string of arrest records of distant relatives in West Grenville, Ontario. Neither my family nor I really knew how to say it, tried a few different ways, and finally settled in the one least likely to get me laughed at by my fellow jockish types.

But it seems that my pseudonym is just as difficult, if in another sense. There’s a small dispute going on over at digital emunction about the proper way to write the possessive form of my first pseudo name. Should it be Ads’ or Ads’s? Well, it depends whether Ads is a proper noun or common noun. As Michael Robbins writes in response to another comment:

Ads is whose name? For plural nouns, even if they serve as col­lec­tive proper nouns (like the Rolling Stones), CMS is clear: apos­tro­phe only. Now if some dude is called “Ads,” that’s another story; but the author post­ing as Ads is clearly post­ing as “Ads with­out Products,” like when Keith Richards posted in Kent’s Flarf review thread as “Stones,” or when the CEO of Hard­ees signed his com­ment in my meat thread “Hardees.” (I also know this because I once got into an argu­ment about it with some­one who said the same thing as Joel above, so I wrote directly to the edi­tors of CMS, who backed me up. I don’t care if you make fun of me.)

Ah but everyone’s missing the point! True to the fact that the title of this blog was inspired by a paragraph (not the one I’m about to clip in, but rather the one discussed here) from Agamben’s The Coming Community, my blog name is a whatever name, aporetically balanced directly between the proper and the collective.

Common and proper, genus and individual are only two slopes dripping down from either side into the watershed of whatever […] The passage from potentiality to act, from language to the word, from the common to the proper, comes about every time as a shuttling in both directions along a line of sparkling alternation on which common nature and singularity, potentiality and act change roles and interpenetrate. The being that is engendered on this line is whatever being, and the manner in which it passes from the common to the proper and from the proper to the common is called usage – or rather, ethos.

As such, of course, it has no possessive form. There are no possessions of any sort down in the watershed of whatever.

Written by adswithoutproducts

October 6, 2009 at 11:32 am

4 Responses

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  1. I became wary of Agamben’s “whatever” after learning that “qualunquista” (a person who says “whatever”) has a political significance and history in Italy. Wiktionary defines it as “Someone who is not interested in politics”:

    but my understanding is that a qualunquista is someone who imagines himself outside politics–though secretly or inevitably on the right. The usage goes back to the journal L’Uomo Qualunque, founded in the immediate aftermath of Mussolini’s ouster. Details here:

    –suffice to say an uncomfortable association for a book called The Coming Community.

    Put this in a poem once, actually, a snapshot of Sicily:

    Qualunquista, you wear
    Gene Hackman’s grimace

    From every other
    Plastered wall’s pink
    Face, showing nary

    A trace of
    Blemish, you are
    Yourself a blemish.

    Anyway, whatever, thought I’d share.

    Ben Friedlander

    October 6, 2009 at 12:53 pm

  2. Ben,

    That’s very helpful. I know only a little bit about that, but yes it does seem to be a complicating factor in the text. Of course, the CC is addressing something like the semi-secret immanence of certain political forms in the seemingly unpoliticized. But still, yes, one proceeds with caution.

    (And in fact, the rest of Agamben leaves me pretty dry… So…)


    October 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm

  3. The other problem is the correct way to refer to your spouse. It seems the usual manner, for both you and your commentators, is Mrs Ads. But that can’t be right, can it? Could it be Mrs Products? Mrs Without Products? Or did she keep her own name? In which case people have been perpetuating the grossest sexism all over this blog.


    October 7, 2009 at 12:21 am

  4. Rory,

    Ha! I think she kept her own name, though she seems to prefer “The Missus” when she (rarely) comments on here!


    October 7, 2009 at 10:22 am

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