“…potentiality: the power not to do this or that.”

This is what Agamben calls potentiality: the power not to do this or that. …It is one thing to be against all sorts of things in this world (global capitalism, the spectacle, biopolitics), but it is another thing to do (or not do) something about it. It is also understandable that we no longer think, like Marx, that we can change the world. But this is not to say that we cannot, like Rimbaud, change our lives. Don’t get me wrong: I am not making here the banal proposition that we need to become more ‘politically active,’ in the sense of signing petitions, marching in protests, voicing our opinions, voting, or, in the extreme and sad case, becoming actual politicians. I think that to interpret Agamben’s act as such a case of political activism or intellectual involvement (as I myself used to do) would be a grave misunderstanding. Agamben did not simply voice his protest against “biopolitical tattooing,” but he acted (or, more precisely, did not act) in a singular way. At this moment, words become deeds, deeds become words, and language is indistinguishable from life.



But I think that we need to see his act as an example, as a paradigm. Agamben did not let power penetrate his naked life. Instead, he simply took his way of life in his hands … and transformed it into power. This, I am here to argue, is what we all need to do with our lives, in a multiplicity of slow, small, and steady steps.

Quoted from Aviva Shemesh at Form of Life

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“…potentiality: the power not to do this or that.” by escdotdot is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International