October 13, 2005

Bare Life, Unaccompanied In Day of Cine-Musique, Patrick Mullins performs a set of variations on Agamben's notion of bare life. Using a film from Almodovar, Mullins moves from coma to dance and between the banal and the magical. Particularly compelling in these movements is the concentrated everydayness of bare life. From the figures of two comatose girls in Almodovar's film Hable Con Ella (which I haven't seen), Mullins moves to the sorts of relations, and their ethics, that changes in modalities of life and death engender. He suggests, in other words, the possibility of thinking bare life in a different register. Or tone. Or hue. One less connected to sovereignty than to brutality and, perhaps, versions of physical, ethical, and psychological confinement that accompany bare life. Thus, rather than the distant, included as an exclusion, counterpoint to sovereignty, Mullins' bare life seeps through in the interactions between those who might not have encountered each other at all. But a strange kind of encounter it is. Mullins writes: These variations on 'bare life' bring into close communication people who would not have chosen each other as friends for any other reason except common distress and proximities to each other's involvements in these distresses . . . New connections are made between the bare life figures and the sentient ones. Mullins mentions two characters in the film particularly entranced by two girls in comas. These characters find themselves more attached to them in bare life than in other life, idealizing somehow the bareness, the rawness,...
Real Existing Capitalism Zizek, agreeing with Badiou, holds that even the worst excesses of Stalinism were better than capitalism and far, far better than Fascism. Why? They were part of an open, utopian space. Does Real Existing Capitalism allow for any such utopian possibility? The ideals of capitalism are of freedom, really, to be let alone. They are of security, that is, protection and insulation from the freedom of others. Capitalist dreams are of entertainment, something to do when one is alone. And, they are of riches--the wealth that enables one to be entertained, secure, and alone. In none of these ideals is there anything like an aspiration to collectively, solidarity, or community. No such connection is possible. Yes, connections might be achieved, but they will be frought, fragile, vulnerable to competition and to the ideals of freedom, security, entertainment and wealth. But, one might say, precisely the problem is thinking that one system, one element of living together, the economic, is enough. That mode of thought, one would argue, dooms us to totalitarianism. Capitalism always needs a supplement. It never claims to be enough: hence, religion, family, nation, the supplements that guarantee it. Let's accept the defender's terms, for a moment: even if family, nation, and religion offered more than illusions, even if they were possibilities of something more, does that defend capital? No. Because capital spreads. Everywhere. It takes over even its supplements, leaving us forever scrambing, struggling to find an open space, a space to breath and dream. The suffocation...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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