Sunday, May 27, 2012

Poetry and Politics

In my last post I said that the body's capacity for pleasure sets the limit to our industry. Exploitation always involves the use of a body beyond (or indifferent to) its own pleasure. It seems to me tonight that this is a fundamentally "poetic" style of political thinking. As opposed to a "scientific" style of thinking of about politics, or even a plainly "political" one.

Ezra Pound said that "the arts provide the data of ethics". And ethics is all about the pursuit of happiness (as Aristotle understood). We must commit our politics wholly to this pursuit. And that means that we must produce a poetry (not just a poetics) that insists on the body's capacity for pleasure. Notice I did not say its "right" to pleasure, which is a self-referentially political notion. Nor did I worry too much about the neuronal equipmentality of the thing. We need to present (make present) the givenness (datum) of life in order that our policies are unable to ignore them.

We don't yet know what the body can do, said Spinoza. But, truthfully, we know that it can do much more than the law allows. Which shows not that our bodies are decadent but that our laws are petty. And that is a straightforwardly political problematic.

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