Translator's introduction -- Preface -- Part I: The aesthetics of politics -- Ten theses on politics -- Does democracy mean something? -- Who is the subject of the rights of man? -- Communism : from actuality to inactuality -- The people or the multitudes -- Bio-politics or politics -- September 11 and afterwards : a rupture in the symbolic order -- Of war as the supreme form of advanced plutocratic consensus -- Part II: The politics of aesthetics -- The aesthetic (...) revolution and its outcomes -- The paradoxes of political art -- The politics of literature -- The monument and its confidences or Deleuze and Art's capacity for resistance -- The ethical turn of aesthetics and politics -- Part III: Response to critics -- The usage of distinctions. (shrink)
Only yesterday aesthetics stood accused of concealing cultural games of social distinction. Now it is considered a parasitic discourse from which artistic practices must be freed. But aesthetics is not a discourse. It is an historical regime of the identification of art. This regime is paradoxical, because it founds the autonomy of art only at the price of suppressing the boundaries separating its practices and its objects from those of everyday life and of making free aesthetic play into the promise (...) of a new revolution. Aesthetics is not a politics by accident but in essence. But this politics operates in the unresolved tension between two opposed forms of politics: the first consists in transforming art into forms of collective life, the second in preserving from all forms of militant or commercial compromise the autonomy that makes it a promise of emancipation. This constitutive tension sheds light on the paradoxes and transformations of critical art. It also makes it possible to understand why today's calls to free art from aesthetics are misguided and lead to a smothering of both aesthetics and politics in ethics. (shrink)
What has philosophy to do with the poor? If, as has often been supposed, the poor have no time for philosophy, then why have philosophers always made time for them? Why is the history of philosophy—from Plato to Karl Marx to Jean-Paul Sartre to Pierre Bourdieu—the history of so many figures of the poor: plebes, men of iron, the demos, artisans, common people, proletarians, the masses? Why have philosophers made the shoemaker, in particular, a remarkably ubiquitous presence in this history? (...) Does philosophy itself depend on this thinking about the poor? If so, can it ever refrain from thinking for them? Jacques Rancière’s The Philosopher and His Poor meditates on these questions in close readings of major texts of Western thought in which the poor have played a leading role—sometimes as the objects of philosophical analysis, sometimes as illustrations of philosophical argument. Published in France in 1983 and made available here for the first time in English, this consummate study assesses the consequences for Marx, Sartre, and Bourdieu of Plato’s admonition that workers should do “nothing else” than their own work. It offers innovative readings of these thinkers’ struggles to elaborate a philosophy of the poor. Presenting a left critique of Bourdieu, the terms of which are largely unknown to an English-language readership, The Philosopher and His Poor remains remarkably timely twenty years after its initial publication. (shrink)
The ethical turn that affects artistic and political practices today should not be interpreted as their subjection to moral criteria. Today, the reign of ethics leads to a growing indistinction between fact and law, between what is and what ought to be, where judgement bows down to the power of the law imposing itself. The radicality of this law is that it leaves no choice, and is nothing but the simple constraint stemming from the order of things. This brings about (...) an unprecedented dramaturgy of infinite evil, justice and redemption that can be traced not only in contemporary politics, but in philosophical reflection and film. (shrink)
The head and the stomach January 1996 -- Borges in Sarajevo March 1996 -- Fin de siècle and new millenarium May 1996 -- Cold racism July 1996 -- The last enemy November 1996 -- The grounded plane January 1997 -- Dialectic in the dialectic August 1997 -- Voyage to the country of the last sociologists November 1997 -- Justice in the past April 1998 -- The crisis of art or a crisis of thought July 1998 -- Is cinema to blame (...) March 1999? -- The nameless war May 1999 -- One image right can sweep away another October 1999 -- The syllogism of corruption October 2000 -- Voici/voila : the destiny of images January 2001 -- From facts to interpretations : the new quarrel over the holocaust April 2001 -- From one torture to another June 2001 -- The filmmaker, the people and the government August 2001 -- Time, words, war November 2001 -- Philosophy in the bathroom January 2002 -- Prisoners of the infinite march 2002 -- From one month of May to another June 2002 -- Victor Hugo : the ambiguities of a bicentenary August 2002 -- The machine and the foetus January 2003 -- Death of the author or all too living artist April 2003 -- Logic of amnesia June 2003 -- The principle of insecurity September 2003 -- The new fictions of evil November 2003 -- Criminal democracy March 2004 -- The difficult heritage of Michel Foucault June 2004 -- The new reasons for the lie A\august 2004 -- Beyond art October 2004 -- The politics of images February 2005 -- Democracy and its doctors May 2005. (shrink)
“Pedagogics of Unlearning”: this phrase obviously echoes a notion and a figure that I had set up in my own way when I published a book entitled The Ignorant Schoolmaster with the subtitle “Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation”.1 Both entail the idea of a specific form of learning, which is a negative one: learning how to unlearn, teaching as an ignoramus, learning the emancipatory virtue of ignorance. This idea raises two interrelated problems. First, how are we to understand the type (...) of negativity at work in this unlearning or this ignorance? Secondly, what is the exact target of this negative action? What is the positivity that is under attack? In other words, what is at stake in matters of... (shrink)
This book is not concerned with the use of Freudian concepts for the interpretation of literary and artistic works. Rather, it is concerned with why this interpretation plays such an important role in demonstrating the contemporary relevance of psychoanalytic concepts. In order for Freud to use the Oedipus complex as a means for the interpretation of texts, it was necessary first of all for a particular notion of Oedipus, belonging to the Romantic reinvention of Greek antiquity, to have produced a (...) certain idea of the power of that thought which does not think, and the power of that speech which remains silent. From this it does not follow that the Freudian unconscious was already prefigured by the aesthetic unconscious. Freud's 'aesthetic' analyses reveal instead a tension between the two forms of unconscious. In this concise and brilliant text Rancière brings out this tension and shows us what is at stake in this confrontation. (shrink)
"Is it meaningful to call oneself a democrat? And if so, how do you interpret the word?" -/- In responding to this question, eight iconoclastic thinkers prove the rich potential of democracy, along with its critical weaknesses, and reconceive the practice to accommodate new political and cultural realities. Giorgio Agamben traces the tense history of constitutions and their coexistence with various governments. Alain Badiou contrasts current democratic practice with democratic communism. Daniel Bensaid ponders the institutionalization of democracy, while Wendy Brown (...) discusses the democratization of society under neoliberalism. Jean-Luc Nancy measures the difference between democracy as a form of rule and as a human end, and Jacques Rancière highlights its egalitarian nature. Kristin Ross identifies hierarchical relationships within democratic practice, and Slavoj Zizek complicates the distinction between those who desire to own the state and those who wish to do without it. -/- Concentrating on the classical roots of democracy and its changing meaning over time and within different contexts, these essays uniquely defend what is left of the left-wing tradition after the fall of Soviet communism. They confront disincentives to active democratic participation that have caused voter turnout to decline in western countries, and they address electoral indifference by invoking and reviving the tradition of citizen involvement. Passionately written and theoretically rich, this collection speaks to all facets of modern political and democratic debate. (shrink)
In this text, Jacques Rancière critically discusses the work of Georges Didi-Huberman on images. He disagrees with various claims seemingly made by Didi-Huberman about images, such as that they can “take position” or that they are “active.” Rancière argues that Didi-Huberman adds another form of dialectics to the simpler form of dialectics adopted by Bertolt Brecht and Harun Farocki in their works, namely one that also involves a layering of different temporalities. However, both in Brecht’s War Primer and in Didi-Huberman’s (...) analysis of it, all the potencies credited to images as such are actually potencies of the words that accompany the images. Rancière comes to the conclusion that to “put images in motion,” as Didi-Huberman wants to do, or to regard them as being “active,” he has to put words, his own poetic and extensive writings, in motion. (shrink)
The people's theatre : a long drawn-out affair -- The cultural historic compromise -- The philosopher's tale : intellectuals and the trajectory of Gauchisme -- Joan of Arc in the Gulag -- The inconceivable revolution -- Factory nostalgia (notes on an article and various books) -- The ethics of sociology.
According to Jacques Rancière, the «police» regulates relations between bodies, and Foucault is concerned only with it, biopower being its most modern form. Rancière opposes to the hypothesis of biopolitics of subjects his conception of politics of equality.
From Almanac of Fall to The Turin Horse, renowned Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr has followed the collapse of the communist promise. The “time after” is the time when we are less interested in histories and their successes or failures than we are in the delicate fabric of time from which they are carved.
When I first contacted Jacques Rancière in March 2017, nearly three-and-a-half years before the completion of this interview, a few basic questions were growing heavy. Questions limited to current political climates, trending philosophical systems, specific literary works, designated historical shifts, or particular Rancièrean terms would be reluctantly put aside in pursuit of certain elemental distinctions that might better inform the rest. The original proposal was to work around such slippery paradoxes as resistance, and to readdress tangible material like the letter, (...) but the overall idea, communicated from the start, was to produce a sort of reintroduction to Rancière's thought, for myself and an intended... (shrink)