[-empyre-] follow up to Adam and Rob

Cary Wolfe cewolfe at rice.edu
Tue Sep 3 21:52:21 EST 2013

Thanks, Rob, for getting the ball rolling. I was going to wait for a 
response to Adam's questions but let me go ahead and chime in briefly. 
What everyone is after, it seems, is what Esposito in _Bios_ calls an 
"affirmative" biopolitics. Where people tend to get carried away is in 
embracing a bit too unproblematically the assertion in Foucault, and 
especially in the late Deleuze's reading of Foucault and the "follow 
ups," as it were, in the texts on "control society," that "resistance is 
on the side of life." I don't think this is where Rob is going, even 
though he shares the desire. Here, one can only say, I think, that 
resistance _may_ be on the side of life, for reasons having to do with 
what Foucault calls the "aleatory" body and what Esposito calls "flesh." 
But the actual political effect or amplitude of a particular act of 
biopolitical resistance depends as much or more on the dynamic state of 
the social system in question as it does on the act itself. What will 
perturb it and how? How will it react and why? This is especially 
obvious in the case of the legal system, as Gunther Teubner has noted in 
his critique of Latour's idea of "political ecology." No doubt--and for 
the reasons that Rob notes--bioart and the deployment of "life" in it 
can serves as a site of resistance to the manipulation, canalization, 
commodification, and so on of "life" under biopolitics, but that will 
itself depend on all sorts of other factors that do not find their 
origin or cause in anything called "life." So this is a different way of 
taking our distance from the assumption that the biopolitical is always 


Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor

Department of English, MS-30

Founding Director, 3CT: Center for Critical and Cultural Theory



713-348-2601; -5991


Series Editor,/Posthumanities/



-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20130903/09462a6d/attachment.htm>

More information about the empyre mailing list