I can’t be bothered to look any of this up, but, I have a vague recollection of some passages in Giorgio Agamben that suggest that the category of ‘life’ in a biological sense doesn’t have the sort of solidity that it is sometimes taken to have. To put it another way, using a phrase I heard recently and like quite a bit, when it comes to live there is no fixed ontology. Life is blurrily bounded. Again, can’t bothered to look things up, but I have another vague recollection that passages in Judith Butler’s _Bodies That Matter_ speak to this as well.
This is on my mind because for various reasons I’ve ended up skimming through some bits of Foucault again. In the _History of Sexuality_ Foucault talks about forms of power “administering life” and talks about forms of “power over life.” (135.) I’ve never liked that phrasing, because all power is power over life. That’s not to say there’s nothing of interest here, I think Foucault tracks onto some very interesting developments actually and some of his students do as well, but the phrasing is unfortunate; I think this phrasing tracks onto those developments clumsily. On the one hand, there are biological facts of human existence, on the other hand, the distinction between biological and non-biological is not as clear as it may seem, and I’m not clear why it matters that these facts about humans be biological facts vs simply facts about human existence. Part of why I pause at this is that I think that there’s a way in which the ‘power taking hold of life’ stuff might miss out that there’s a political vocabulary and conceptual framework that defines notions of biology and thinks about social relationships within that framework.
This is a text written mainly by Paolo Virno, I believe, signed by the “Immaterial Workers of the World” which I found online here and here. The translation is by Myk Zeitlin. The text is online in Italian here and in Spanish here. It’s title is “What did I tell you?”, in Italian, “Che te lo dico a fare”. It first appeared in issue 18 of Derive Approdi, contents listed here. There’s a short preface to the text which isn’t translated. I may take a crack at that in the next week or so. Read the rest of this entry »
This is a thing I’m working on using Agamben, Marx, etc, and the notes I was taking on Servius Tullius etc. Comments welcome. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been having a conversation with Angela in fits and starts, turning around, among other things, what the sense of ‘nonpolitical’ could mean. Read the rest of this entry »
I apologize to (the m?)any readers of this blog for the great deal of crap pasted here from dictionaries recently. It’s just such lovely stuff. Here’s one more mound of quotes culled from hither and yon and deposited in this notebook, also on themes connected to Tullius etc. Read the rest of this entry »
Excellent, that’s what it is, as evidenced by the following notes Read the rest of this entry »
He was a ruler of Rome, who I’ve suddenly become interested in. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve just become interested in Servius Tullius (details to follow) and as a result I found this odd and oddly charming document on the internet. It’s a version of the wikipedia entry on Tullius, with definitions inserted in the middles of sentences, making it very hard to read, and many of the defnitions are totally wrong given the contextual meaning of the words (“come – semen”, “monarch – a migratory butterfly, Danaus plexippus, found in North America”).
Here’s an excerpt:
Servius Tullius according to the Roman historians initiated the first census. The noun comes from the participle of the verb, censere, “to judge”, “to estimate”. It the indefinite object of a transitive verb refers at root – (Australian coarse slang) An act of sexual intercourse – to the estimate – a rough calculation or guess – itself. The census was an estimation – the amount, extent, position, size, or value reached in an estimate – of the total – entire; relating to the whole of something – personal – a advertisement by which individuals attempt to meet others with similar interests – assets of Rome. Servius Tullius used it as a gauge – the depth to which a vessel sinks in the water – of military capability. The Roman census as practiced by Servius was quite different from our census, which aims at counting and locating people. Servius made sure those functions were performed, but goal, score he was primarily interested in property assessments. He used – that is or has or have been used – them to divide people into classes, nor was he at all – throughout the whole of (a stated period of time; generally used with units of a day or longer) – interested in status – a situation or state of affairs – or snobbery; in fact, – an objective consensus on a fundamental truth that has been agreed upon by a substantial number of people – he was killed for his popularizing. He wanted to know what arms – plural of arm – and equipment Rome could provide. The army at that time – the inevitable passing of events from future to present then past – was primarily privately funded, not publically.
Whole thing here.
This is a short piece by a friend of mine. He and I translated it a while back and keep meaning to something with it. It’s now up here at least. Read the rest of this entry »
New piece out by the Free Association. I had a small hand in it, wish it’d been a bigger hand. I like those folks very, very much.