Annotations on Ranciere’s “Distribution of the Sensible”

The history of the relations between political parties and aesthetic movements is first of all the history of a confusion, sometimes complacently maintained, at other times violently denounced, between these two ideas of the avant-garde, which are in fact two different ideas of political subjec­tivity: the archi-political idea of a party, that is to say the idea of a form of political intelligence that sums up the essential conditions for change, and the meta-political idea of global political subjectivity, the idea of the potentiality inherent in the innovative sensible modes of experience that anticipate a community to come.

This particular paragraph from Jacques Ranciere’s book resonates Giorgio Agamben’s “The Coming Community” especially the last part of the sentence in the chapter that defines the other half of political subjectivity, which is meta-politics. This reflects Agamben’s concept of inoperativity inherent in the phenomenon of potentiality that bring us in the middle ground that is neither utopian nor return. It is this messianic coming community that reminds us the power of the present that has the potentiatlity and impotentiality to configure what is at stake between whatever singularities, thus meta-politics.


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