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potentiality

Posted on Feb 18, 2011 in News | 0 comments
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re-reading Giorgio Agamben

The Coming Community and “on” Giorgio Agamben’s mode of politics:

the_coming_community

[…] Potentiality forms the key concept of Agamben’s specific mode of politics, for we should not simply accept what is but look at how the word where we live came into being. What renders the world of the human and art possible, and if such a world emerges from a potential, what other worlds and other modes of the human are possible? For Agamben it is the work of art that should disclose this pure potentiality. Today, however, our notion of art as nothing more than the object created by a will precludes us from recognizing art as disclosive of potentiality. Agamben’s meditations on the history of aesthetics are most explicit in their mourning a loss of distinction: there was a time when humanity was defined by poiesis, a “doing” that brought the world into the truth of its presence. In modernity, however, all action is praxis: not the bringing forth of something other than the human but the pure act of the artist. The art object is “a Warhol” or “a Renaissance masterpiece.”

Art today either is mere potential for enjoyment or is valuable only insofar as it is the product of an irreducible will; there is no sense of the (once essentiality human) power to produce art as other than mere life, as the opening of a world other than the human as it already is, but nevertheless of human making. Art functions for Agamben, then, as a site of loss (for art is now a mere product rather than a revelatory act) and as a site of redemption (for only art can reveal what politics has covered over). Today, when politics has become “means without ends,” all we have is the world as so much potentially manipulable and manageable life; what we do not have is some idea or end as to what that potentiality might create. Even Agamben’s seemingly metaphysical concerns, such as his writings on the different senses of potentiality in Aristotle, are motivated by a historical project of retrieving and restoring the emergence of a distinction or difference from life. This is why Agamben’s work on aesthetics is always more than an examination of any single work of art but devolves on art’s potential to revive an original openness to experience a fuller life that is not yet the life of humankind. […]

From Agamben: Aesthetic, Potentiality, and Life by Claire Colebrook • Duke University Press, 2007

Giorgio_Agamben_by_Hedrik_Speck

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