9 research outputs found

    Against Progress: Democratic Enactments and Embracing a Precarious Future

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    How can we reimagine a future that escapes dichotomies of progress and regress? What does such a radically reimagined future look like? This paper develops an answer in two parts by arguing for a vision of the future as unstable, calling for modes of response that are distinctly democratic. It sets out an imaginary of the future as inescapably precarious; composed of multiple actants in constant relations of collusion and conflict that escape human ordering or control; a future that we, as humans, must embrace precisely as precarious. Such an affirmation calls for a cultivated democratic sensibility. Following post-foundational perspectives, I identify democracy as constituted by contingency and plurality. This is not simply in terms of an openness to plurality, but a cultivated receptivity to modes of activity that operate below and beyond conscious human willing. An ethos that expresses affirming sensitivity to the uncertainties of a precarious future

    Aesthetic Experience and Feedback Loops: Re-orienting Connolly's Politics of Becoming in the Direction of an Ethico-Aesthetics

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    The core tenet of William Connolly’s theorisation of a politics of becoming is the cultivation of a broad-based ethos of pluralisation, one manifested in terms of democratic sensibilities of agonistic respect and critical responsiveness. Grounded in such an ethical attunement, Connolly argues for a politics that is sensitive and responsive to a world of multi-layered agency composed of overlapping and interinvolved agential force-fields and processes of becoming—a world of becoming. Yet, how are we to grasp the experience of such a world? Not as a worldto-come, but as an orientation to and responsiveness towards processes of becoming already underway. And what is the role of such experience in democratic processes of subjectification (or agential becoming)—particularly, in activating the possibilities for what Connolly calls a politics of becoming? This paper argues, supplementing Connolly’s account, that a world of becoming opens itself to us in moments of aesthetic experience—active-passive moments of radical self-difference that enable the autopoietic emergence of that which is concealed or hidden. It suggests that Connolly’s ethical theorisation fails to account for the seminal and yet, subterranean role played by aesthetic experience in enabling a politics of becoming. By uncovering this aesthetic operation, the paper argues for an ethico-aesthetic knot as the ground (a novel ontology) of a politics of becoming. The paper, therefore, supplements Connolly’s politics of becoming by bringing to light a particular mode of experience that, while not considered in his account, is nonetheless ontologically central

    Ka estetici gomile: publika, politika i demokratsko biće u šligenzifovoj drami <i>Molimo Vas Da Volite Austriju</i> (2000)

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    This paper aims to develop an account of the political consequences and operation of public art in Christoph Schlingensief’s performance artwork, Bitte Liebt Österreich. What, if any, are the possibilities to conceive of public art in a distinctly democratic manner, that is, as enabling a certain democratic – or pluralising – movement? How are we to account for the (perhaps democratic) experience of an encounter with a work of public art, in this case, with Bitte Liebt Österreich? Ultimately, what is the central ‘operation’ of public art that activates its political possibilities? This paper develops exploratory responses to these questions by engaging in a three-way dialogue between Schlingensief’s Bitte Liebt Österreich, post-foundational political theory, and philosophical aesthetics. It argues that the core operation of public art is in its setting into motion of an ‘aesthetics of the crowd’; an experience of polyvocal multiplicity and radical difference that makes possible distinctly democratic modes of re-imagination and self-formation

    Dam(n)med Bodies: Disorderly Subjectivity and Sublime Experience in the Narmada Movement

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    This paper explores moments of plural and democratising disorderliness that interrupt and contest a vision of the sublime as a particular ordering of subjectivity. Situated within the context of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) movement against the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam in India in the mid-1990s, it argues gestures toward sublime regimes and ‘counter-sublime’ insurgences draw their energies from the figure of the dam and the bund, respectively. Where the dam’s walls establish the horizons of visibility, instituting imaginaries of subject/object, human/nature, the bund’s curved surfaces reveal a pluralising depth that folds the visible with/in the invisible, collapsing differences, and constituting the possibility of novel modes of seeing/subjectification.Working through oral histories, films, images, archival materials, and ethnographic studies alongside the work of Foucault and the later Merleau-Ponty, the paper argues, the Narmada movement enacts a ‘counter-sublime’ in terms of an interruption that discloses the possibilities of alternative modes of seeing, contesting the invisibility imposed by the dam. The cultivation of a particular style of being, and its interrelated modes of visuality that open affirmingly towards a depth characterised by the collapse of dichotomies of subject/object, and thus of a regime of visibility/subjectivity. An imbrication of the human subject into the natural world, disclosing – by way of a novel ‘seeing’ – the complex ecosocial conditions of all life. In this way putting under erasure the dam’s sublime order of in/visibility; revealing its contingent character and uncovering the possibilities of radically different constellations of visibility; of subjectification.<br/

    Ligon's Hands; or, querying Frank's Sublime: review symposium on Frank, J. The Democratic Sublime: On Aesthetics and Popular Assembly

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    Jason Frank’s The Democratic Sublime (2021) is a fascinating and compelling account of the aesthetic-political stakes of popular sovereignty and manifestation as it emerges in the age of democratic revolutions. Frank shows us how, in the age of democratic revolutions, the staging of the People was equally – indeed, more fundamentally – an aesthetic problem. It is a question always of appearance, manifestation and demonstration. The Sublime is central to Frank’s argument for precisely this reason. It becomes the aesthetic category par excellence to mark the experience of that which is excessive to all sensuous apprehension but is nonetheless rendered sensually. The democratic sublime, more directly, marks the aporetic moment constitutive of popular manifestation. Yet, as much as these Sublime aporias are developed in the direction of a productive tension in Frank’s account, they also mark a process or operation that – as decolonial critiques have shown – grounds a whole orchestration of bodies. The sublime is that category by which and in which such an elemental differentiation is at work. Sublime experience is that operation in which the boundaries of subject and object, body and flesh, sense and sentience – in a word a boundary of the proper – are first instituted. The very aporias in which Frank wants to locate the appearance of a radical excess, of the part of no part, are those in which that supplement is tamed and brought to its knees, dominated and captured. And it isn’t clear how far a democratic augment to the Sublime can move us away from this colonial-anthropologising operation. Which is to say, holding open that aporetic terrain between representation and impossibility, resisting identification, subjectivation and recognition appears to be already and constitutively a differentiation of the proper subject and its others.<br/

    Inifinite topographies: forays into plurality, play and resistance in the chawls of Bombay

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    Patwardhan’s films, Occupation: Mill Worker (1996), and Bombay Our City (1985) capture a reorganisation of space. Mills close down, slums are razed to the ground, thousands are evicted, and century-old workers’ housing estates become high-rise apartment buildings for the wealthy. A new spatialisation of the city is set underway that (re)distributes parts and places, expunging the working poor to the fringes of the city from where a congruent order of circulation, on crowded trains and buses, is instituted. A practice of rationalisation: the optimisation of life, its organisation in ways that master the movement of bodies, of illnesses and epidemics, of crime and disorder, and of goods and trade (Aslam 2020, 166; Foucault 2004; Dean 1999). An architectural biopolitics seeking to foster movement (that needs movement), but only in linear and segmented flows.Yet, this practice is constantly resisted in the “petty malices” (Foucault 1977) of those who transgress and act in disorderly and unruly ways. What energises such political enactment? Working through visual, literary, and archival materials, this paper suggests the space energising these resistances, is the chawl. As a site, or assemblage of spaces, the chawl is constitutively messy. Houses overflow, extending and infiltrating into each other. Corridors become sites of an intertwining that is constitutive of this blur. A space of juxtaposition where several other spaces collapse onto each other (Foucault and Miskowiec 1986, 25-26). It is the storage room, breezy bedroom on a midsummer night, communal meeting room, laundry, party venue, and everything else – all at once. Home/outdoors, family/neighbour, get blurred in this space that is here and still somewhere else, some third space (Foucault and Miskowiec 1986, 27; Dumm 1996, 44; Moten 2017, 152-167). It shapes those that live in/walk along it, and becomes the “holding environment” for a pluralising reimagination of subjectivity (Honig 2017, 5). The messy spatiality of the corridor engenders a messy/intertwined corporeality where boundaries of subject/object are disordered by way of that very heterotopia. Becoming, in this way, both the enactment and the spring-board for practices that problematise the Orderly body-schema of the city, opening out onto an infinite topography that is the chawl corridor