fortieth part, called “subjective powers XL,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

subjective powers

We have a tendency to view election, selection, as of the heights or to the heights, to look to the heights and raise up to them the good, the worthy, the right, electing-selecting for what rightfully belongs, and working to pull down what does not. But isn’t there a counter-tendency, from the depths? Isn’t there, while that belonging to the heights is democratically or communally distributed, as strong an impulse, an impulse we usually assign individually, to look, with Nietzsche, into the abyss, into the depths? Into the body, the guts and bowels? that we might call a cloacal tendency?

Once we recognise that our tendency is to look for leadership, at times even accepting our enslavement, and that the other, coming from my body, is one of survival because it sees death and for health because it sees sickness and against enslavement because it sees liberty, isn’t the struggle for a balance between the two, which has its end in justice? Doesn’t the impulse to be ruled and to … well, we can easily see what the counter impulse is: it’s to have extended to me a hand, to be in reach of the ruler’s eyes, and to be recognised by her. Once the impulse and its counter are recognised, don’t we want to work to balance them? don’t we work and work for their balance, for the justice to come that is their balance and balances them?

Or it is the staging of a bodily insurrection we struggle for, which is the meaning commonly attributed to political activity, activism and political action: the political demand for the low to be recognised; whether it’s the lower or working classes or those cut out of the system of the distribution of wealth. The workers have their bodily association to labour, the lower classes to dirt and squalor; the deprived and those of reduced means, the poor, relate to a swarm, a herd, a statistic, like you would apply to animals, either counting them in farms, or making a count to calculate the days of their extinction. There is the closest relation to death here down below. Not because it is an experiential reality but because it is a bodily one.

A state of bodily subjection; death a state to which the body is subject: and dying, when taken to be the condition of life, the condition imposed by its generation, because what fucks dies, that is, death when it is raised up, as we might do on a stage, is defanged. All that remains is the body. It does not go through a minimisation on stage. Neither is it the artificiality of what dies onstage not actually dying that effects this new condition we could call death’s embodiment; nor is it by being exaggerated, in the famous death-throes, the one last spasm and death-rattle given all you’ve got: it is not all that dancing leading us from death to the body. And this is not a return trip: we don’t cop out by going back to the body from death. We don’t cheat death from the onstage death. The termination of life when it is enacted in what we have already claimed to be the indeterminate duration of the time of being reported on is undone. Complete, it is opened out to the operations of the surface.

So if we do a show about the poor, is it like showing poor animals onstage, good enough to undo either the states of animals or of, let’s say, minorities? Does representation alter their condition? the condition of their embodiment? No. Whence the staging of a bodily insurrection.

If we look to the erotic minorities of the LGBTIQ+ we see clear bodily connection and with it the link to the profound, the base, even, on which all experience is contingent. So, yes, political recognition is necessary. Yet, then the counter-impulse gives up to the first impulse all that is in it base and low, and, bodily based, basic. It looks to the heights for, if not redemption, recognition, the flash of recognition as the carriage passes by we catch in the leader’s eye: she has seen us. And by standing on this platform of our queerness, the good thing, the truth, the proper and the right, has seen us as we really are. Because that is how we are so staged.

The spread of Covid-19 has become a similar political principle so that it has entirely left the dying and sickening bodies behind. Both dying and sickening bodies alike. Neither can appear on this platform except through what represents them because what occupies this platform is the good, the proper, the truth and the right. And there has been no inversion of levels, of the sub- for the super-structure. The issue being made one of infrastructure is simple obfuscation: a question of management, managing the numbers, governing the nations, ruling the populations, while economies roll on…

How can I possibly say that? Isn’t it exactly political recognition of the sickening and dying that has led to an unprecedented roll-out of politically waged methods to stop more getting sick and decrease the numbers dying? Isn’t this exactly the expression of political will? And can’t this be seen by the sacrifices economies have made, by political imposition? And can’t it in the massive debts governments have taken on to pay for that exercise of political will to stop the sickening and the dying?

Then the struggle goes on to hear from the sick, from the dying. And it too stages a bodily insurrection, is a struggle from the depths. Is a true counter-tendency to the truth. Because it must not be thought it is the truth that is fighting to be heard, true stories and individual testimonies. No it is another sort of intimacy being fought for, beyond that human intimacy of communication: it is always animal, its pain is yelps. Or the screams said to be heard from trees through a certain specialised technical apparatus of listening, and hearing.

note: source references available on request–these will be part of the book, if it should come to pass.

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