Thursday, November 23, 2006

From Aesthetics to Politics: Rancière, Kant and Deleuze by Katharine Wolfe

Jacques Rancière's Dis-agreement, as Rancière writes in his subsequent work, The Politics of Aesthetics, explores "the distribution of the sensible at stake in any politics".[1] How is this phrase 'the distribution of the sensible' to be understood and why does the distribution of the sensible bear such a relation to politics? Dis-agreement tells us that politics first becomes a possibility with the institution of a community, where a community itself begins with something in common. This commonality is no shared stock of goods or shared claim to a territory. Rather, it is a shared partition of the sensible: community pivots around common modalities of sense. In other words, the commonality upon which a community is founded is sense, and politics first becomes a possibility with the institution of common sense. Hand in hand with the disclosure of shared modalities of sensing, moreover, comes the delimitation of each modality. The partition of the sensible thus renders some sounds intelligible (logos) and others unintelligible (pathos), some capacities visible and other invisible, and more. Moreover, social positions are portioned out according to these delimitations, and the partitioning of the sensible upon which the community is founded ultimately determines which people are recognizable as part of a shared world and which are sanctioned in partaking of it. Yet the moment politics becomes possible is distinct from the moment politics erupts -- politics is a much rarer thing than common sense or the institution of a community. For Rancière, politics is that rare event that occurs when the confluence between sanctioned dispositions to partake of the shared world and positions within the partition of the sensible is ruptured. Politics not only interrupts common sense but also erupts into the shared sensible world. more..

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