Tuesday, December 18, 2012

From "The Aesthetic Dimension: Aesthetics, Politics, Knowledge," by Jacques Rancière

What I call the aesthetic dimension is this: the count of a supplement to the parts that cannot be described as a part itself. It is another kind of relation between sense and sense, a supplement that both reveals and neutralizes the division at the heart of the sensible. Let us call it a dissensus. A dissensus is not a conflict; it is a perturbation of the normal relation between sense and sense. The normal relation, in Platonic terms, is the domination of the better over the worse. Within the game it is the distribution of two complementary and opposite powers in such a way that the only possible perturbation is the struggle of the worse against the better—for instance, the rebellion of the democratic class of desire against the aristocratic class of intelligence. In this case there is no dissensus, no perturbation of the game. There is a dissensus only when the opposition itself is neutralized.

This means that neutralization is not at all tantamount to pacification. On the contrary, the neutralization of the opposition between the faculties, the parts of the soul, or the classes of the population is the staging of an excess, a supplement that brings about a more radical way of seeing the conflict.

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