The Abandoned Editorial: A Second Address to The Academy

Peter Lewis

[After Franz Kafka's short story written in 1917 "A Report to an Academy" "Ein Bericht fuer eine Akademie".]

_"... Citations against him had proved that provisional, secondary, casual, and ultimately opinionated words clasp the letter of the Law itself: always

So quoth the Ape.

The ape-aesthete, after the tears of uncontrollable laughter had dried, after flying into an unspeakable rage for no reason whatsoever, recalled the pain inflicted in those caged years aboard the cargo ship drinking gin and acquiring a taste for tobacco. He was never the natural 'prole' in the knowingly hopeless endeavour that G. Orwell had conspired in 'nineteen eighty-four' to elect the proletarian with his masochistic pleasures, his 'freedoms'; nor E.A. Poe's murderous, trained ape, (provided no questions were asked) a future martyrdom imagined, in sublime, dutiful captivity.

Revolt, crime, or religious zeal, what to choose? The door was open but desire had fled. He would relish the absurdity of his task, yet only so as to remain: 'ape- in-itself', as it were, sitting stoically upon the metaphor derived from and of himself.

At this point the ape interrupted his train of thought, scratching an armpit and peeling a banana.

So it came to pass that he was nurtured as in a circle of dreams that recurred, by imprisonment, excreting semen, blood, shit, urine, increasing, gradually, his tolerance for torture. But there was in the medical reports no psychological profile to satisfy some need for mysterious or secret revelations, some sexual lack or excess, why the monstrous work had been originally undertaken, and performed so efficiently, how the escalation, heroically engineered in the face of indifference, was rewarded in the control exercised upon the masses' hysteria. He was released, his 'human rights' were established; he had impressed the court of his guilt, with a cathartic sense of self-pity - the greatness of his anger - after an unfair trial; for the people he was like them, just another office worker who got lucky maybe and believed too much in the Party. He was a liability, taking the Party line too literally, and so assassinated in the popular press. They were giving away the paper on the streets, some wrote of his 'revolt', others against women, or of the exclusions of certain racial types in preference to others.

The ape, fidgeting on the dark red leather, had on this occasion not dressed as usual for his public, in his 'aristocratic', threadbare tweed, by now his trademark, but in an exquisite new silk pin-stripe, hand-fitted by the bespoke tailors, Gieves and Hawkes of Saville Row in London. It was the little things that, for the ape, counted most - the hand-sewn buttonholes, the inside jacket "theatre ticket" pocket, the perfectly fitted shoulders. Holding the stem of a pipe assuredly, he loaded its mahogany bowl with a mix of hashish and tobacco, preparing to deliver the much-anticipated address on 'aesthetics'. He referred to a primate ancestor, who had to learn how to entertain, to act the human. Drawing in the flame, the ape exhaled a healthy ream of grey smoke into the darkness, caught in the beam of a spotlight's trajectory.

"... I find it easy enough to reclaim some real kindness and gratitude. ... Yes I am tired of the 'Good' being good, carrying the burgeoning weight of a fake empathy, ... of 'Guilt' when all I am guilty of is guilt itself. ... I'm all right jack, and, at the very least, I'm not, thank god, in your boat! And - can I forgive myself - in perusing ever more flimsy acts of self-reprieval and disapproving of your assignations. ... My humility arrogates my power to name you as inferior to me, to 'us'. What if instead I throw out the baby (the human) to see the dirty water, (the ape)? What if the expiring ideal the human drowns in a sea of noble humanity, like the dog returning to its own vomit? ... This disenlightenment, obscenely beating under the corseted ideals of humanism, occurs when the sense of person- or ape - is made to be nothing other than irreducibly questionable. ... Nothing. ... Surely we will know 'Evil' in these partial truths delivered here ineptly, as most likely to be found in all personal statement. And maybe we will find it Good, maybe even find out that the Good, unlike the Evil, has no sense of humour. Or, to take a line from the Blues 'how nothing from nothing leaves nothing at all'. ..."

Further scratching and masticating ensued before, banana consumed, he remembered himself and once again took up his pipe, and continued...

"When reading", he exhaled, "the daily free tabloids handed out by a massive and unwilling Asian workforce, a present day Volkischer Beobachter, we read an inspired headline about a tiger-cub killed stuffed and sold at Sotheby's for $40000, looking pitifully innocent - did he who maketh the lamb, maketh thee? Or pictures of the pet baby turtle looking out, half-boiled, lifting the lid of the pot to try and understand 'why?' to solicit our sympathy, but maybe also in our 'compassion' to keep things unchanged, the way we like them to be?... Not in my name, baby turtles! ... In the same way to be willfully convinced as to how 'hard' the police have laboured to combat the problem of the immigrant, the 'criminal', how great the effort of our good governors and the beautiful singers of songs to support the poor African, the sick, the old, at 'home' and 'abroad', humbled, we the clerical saints of the 'Middle East', 'Africa', to go wherever there is suffering] we pray for God's zeal for the courage ... for the Israeli his fair-due for utopia is thrift, and a debt unpaid - we realise our destiny above the Law ... so hard won on another's desert, that we have deserted ... the 20th Century surely will be in this enlightened time anathema, defenseless in the 21st. ... Are not the dead refusing to die, the living prevented from being born? ... for the promised land, the great homecoming, phantasms, revenants of the promised 'Peace' that maketh the War ... the Day will Come to redeem our enemy's hatred with Hatred, the Gift will be given only in a 'given' time, we will finally be lulled by a Belief beyond Bitterness, the Messiah will indeed come, suppressing the One, ... to nurture the unborn evil twins, to become the Two... as the Dead, spilling blood into the world. ... Fear will devour souls ... in the soft folds of religious ecstasy ... we have seen Elias and we, the Divine Comedy. ... And now all is in shame. ..."

He stands with his long arms raised high in the air and launches into song:

"Dancing, I praise the wonders of Elias the one, pure and godlike treasure of purity, purify me of the impure slime of these passions, pardon my faults! Like a fruitful vine, Pure Virgin, you bore a cluster to gush forth the seed the divine comedy of salvation for all!"

An interminable silence envelops the auditorium. Eventually the ape sits back down and returns to his oratory.

"God never was, nor Messiah, but always-already there, the indestructible membrane that sticks to the roots of all origins, ethos, and desire ... flat, like an omelet, flat as modernity and death. ... Have you seen the movie 'Bubba Hotep'? ... An aging Presley, crippled from an unfortunate fall off stage, diseased, bed-ridden, in a rest-home somewhere in Texas, is mistaken for the impersonator (whom he is impersonating to escape the inevitable fall from celebrity). His claim ' I am Elvis' convinces no one and thereafter he, Elvis, is trapped. Things worsen, with the accidental arrival of a murderous demon, a slime-ball, the lamella, who mutates very quickly into a living dead (Ho-tep) Egyptian Mummy, once 'good', buried alive and undeniably bitter as the awesome enemy that Elvis must first confront, (his own contempt) and must then deceive, concoct an 'evil' plan, 'detach' and finally 'remove' - from himself. He tells a fellow inmate, the black-skinned (cosmetically altered) J.F. Kennedy hidden away after the Oswald affair, to assist. 'Ask not what your rest-home can do for you, but what you can do for your rest-home.' ... Very funny."

The ape straightened himself, coughing up a healthy ball of phlegm, and spat into the orchestra pit (a habit consciously adopted to signal his strong sense of hygiene, shared in the company of amiable sailors on the long haul on board the cargo ship) drawing sharply once more on the pipe to emphasise his next point:

"... For example, how do the political sycophants 'will' us into their Third World War? What in fact of so-called politics? Does aesthetics offer us anything other any more than do estate agents? All is equality."

But he added,

"A set of equalities opened up by aesthetics (deriving from Flaubert's arbitrariness between all objects or events, scenes, noble or otherwise), as equal to those operating 'politically' or 'technologically' in the real world, of social workers, human rights activists, arts administrators, 'Not In My Name' placard carriers? The injunction is no longer to 'enjoy' - as an aesthetic sensibility - the American Way, but to not enjoy, - also in the American Way ... ... I leave the analysis, the more technical one, to applaud instead the survival of a clandestine communism during the McCarthy purges, looking to the Amish as example, to the overturning of the Law - by whatever means available - which declares no responsibility to the multitude that cannot be counted. ... I leave nothing to the cultural studies departments, the Statist administrators of the politically-correct, sweeping all these indiscriminate criticisms under the 'liberal' carpet, and not forgetting the anti-smoking, anti-anorexia, socially-concerned geography lobby. What is truer? That the Truth has the structure of a fiction, or that this is all lies? Are you going to believe me or your own eyes?"

The ape sucked on his stem, before continuing:

"... G. Metzger has written on an aesthetic of revulsion in avant-gardism that had informed the scandal of Dada and Surrealist polemic, in prose as disarming as an exquisitely dressed corpse. To salute that destructive polemic, do we hack off the arms of the suit that once draped the cadaver of the Modern, or donate it to Oxfam? Or do we don its ripped jacket as a trophy if it fits with our slogans and designer Kalashnikovs? Can we appropriate the supernatural power of Bush or Blair, or Bill Gates by wearing it sleeveless, or by burning it alongside the American flag? ... The Situationist International had moved the violent imaginary of Dada and Surrealism into the '60s rhetoric of political suppression at a time when youth movements such as the Red Guard in China were also captured by a generational radicalism. ... The Red Guard's attire is the more strikingly beautiful, although G. Debord looks stunningly intellectual in his 'black and white' overcoat. ... Whose spectacle frames does Malcolm X wear? ... They're good, but Martin Luther King's suit, frames and overcoat are the real winner. 'I am a Man' placards neatly set off the suits for a rally. They photograph extremely well. ... Is not a young, pregnant, female Palestinian "suicide" bomber, veiled and modestly dressed in the conservative costume of the black burhka, proudly carrying a powerful machine-gun, not unlike Sophocles' Antigone, the inheritance and proof of the enthusiasm for truth, in fact above sacrifice and/or happiness, embedded for us in the photograph's aesthetic address. ... The snapshot homage to the power of sartorial formality is also a sign of ambivalence. Is not her arrogance precisely geared to trigger disgust? How dare she affront decorum armed with the Real?"

At this there was an interjection from the back of the room: "What kind of a monkey are you, to cite Greek drama to such as us?"

The reply came in a dismissive tone:

"Some have insisted on consigning the marmoset and the colobus, the rhesus and the baboon to the underclass of ünter-monkey, while few deny the evident superiority of that über-monkey the gorilla. ... I care little for such distinctions ... and I assert that I am merely ape."

Realising that this reprimand might require some elaboration, he decided to engage more fully with the questioner from the floor who had confused him with a monkey. He was, to quote from the zoological lexicon of human terms, a 'Great Ape'. The ape sighed in a resigned way.

_" In the world of primates ... there are distinct differences between apes and monkeys. Apes rely more on vision, whilst monkeys rely more on smell. Apes have broad chests, they don't have tails and their arms are longer than their legs. ... They are also able to fully rotate their shoulders, allowing them to swing from tree branch to tree branch. Gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, and bonobos are all 'great apes'. ... Closely related, so-called humans and we apes are the most highly intelligent of species, capable of the four conditions of philosophy that A. Badiou refers to - science - solving problems, creating tools; art - using language; love

His features hardened:

"All the great apes are endangered by poaching, loss of habitat, and the illegal trade in apes. Captive breeding does nothing to help wild populations. I presumed you were aware of these simple facts and yet apparently not. ..."

The fabric of the unaccustomed pinstripe three-piece was making his flesh itch, as the room's fetid atmosphere grew more heated. Scratching through the material was no longer sufficient to relieve the irritation, so he reached into his britches in a vain attempt to soothe the discomfort of his flea-ridden posterior.

"... Mao wore a well-cut jacket named after him, neatly selling more Maoist ideology in the West than in the Beijing of '68. Other well-dressed icons, Patty Hearst, Baader and Meinhof, or Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde, signal, in our collective memory, an indiscreet and self-destructive elegance. ... One dare not ask how the 9/11 terrorists were dressed during the fatal flights. There are no photographs this time but it is more than likely they went unnoticed. ... Perhaps they chose to wear something "sharp" modeled from TV characters caught in the endless contradictions of the fictive image. ... W. Benjamin defined fashion as 'the eternal recurrence of the new'. ... The latent disagreements between fashion, disgust and auto-destruction anticipate, as Metzger suggests, the potential of symbolic violence, and yet have permitted 'Evil' -- or rather the extermination of the Void within any Society - with very real consequences."

Finished, spent of his excessive, imbalanced, and increasingly contemptuous rage, the ape slumped back into the red leather Chesterfield with a half-muttered, closeted insult, giving up any conceit of communicating speech to anyone other than talking to himself:

"... in short, there is no way to avoid violence -- the very idea of a reason that comes from information such as the kind I am now imparting to you and that should enable a true freedom of thinking, protecting the sanctity of the Other, with respect for the receiver of its gift, is already branded with an irreconcilable violence that will escalate very quickly on both sides."

Appendix: 'Spectres', not 'Apes'

"The same point could also be made in the terms of the dialectic of Good and Evil as the co-incidence of the Good with supreme Evil. The 'Good' stands for the balanced order of symbolic exchanges, whereas the supreme Evil designates the excessive gesture [the expenditure and /or loss] of disruption, disjunction, which is not simply the opposite of the Good -- rather it sustains the network of symbolic exchanges precisely in so far as it becomes invisible once we are 'within' the symbolic order. From within the symbolic order, spectres, apparitions, the 'living dead' and so on, signal the unsettled [symbolic] accounts; as such, they disappear the moment these accounts are settled by way of symbolization. There is, however, a debt that can never be honoured, since it sustains the very existence of a system of exchange indemnification. At this more radical level, 'ghosts' and other forms of revenants bear witness to the virtual, fictional character of the symbolic order as such, to the fact that this order exists 'on credit'; that by definition, its accounts are never fully settled."

[S.Zizek, from 'Appendix: A Self-Interview', The Metastases Of Enjoyment: Six Essays On Woman And Causality (Wo Es War)]

S. Zizek's 'Did Someone Say Totalitarianism?', with a 'take' on Lacanian inversions, cites E.A. Poe's 'The Mysterious Case of M. Valdemar' to demonstrate the mechanism of 'evil' that produces its fetish: the 'living dead' state in the voice issuing from the corpse: ' I am Dead'. Evil is forced in the unbearable situation of the 'Muslim'. 'I am Muslim', like the murdered Valdemar, issues forth its voice at a less than zero point, drawing and exhaling non-being itself. The normal rules of ethics are suspended here: we, he writes, cannot simply deplore the Muslims' fate, regretting the deprivation of basic human dignity since, to be decent, to retain dignity in front of 'a Muslim' is in itself an act of utter indecency. [Until the late 1980s, the term 'Moslem' was commonly used. Muslims do not recommend this spelling because it is often pronounced "mawzlem" which sounds somewhat similar to an Arabic word for "oppressed" (Za'lem). The word is pronounced "muslem" in Arabic, but often "muslim" in English. The word is now most commonly written "Muslim".] He further writes that one cannot simply ignore 'the Muslim' (although the constant distance of 'naming' he employs assumes a 'lack of the lack', as if assuming by proxy only that we know any Muslim or Muslimah persons intimately, or a Muslim reader): but any 'ethical' stance that does not confront the horror situated at the site of the named Muslim is by definition unethical: an obscene travesty of ethics, and once we actually confront notions like 'dignity', we are somehow deprived of substance. In other words, 'Muslim' becomes the zero-level in the hierarchy of ethical types that renders the whole hierarchy meaningless. Not to do this is to co-opt the same cynicism as the Nazi 'voiding out' the 'Jew', now the 'Muslim' is concretised in acts of hatred, the very homogeneity implied by the 'concrete universal'; the failure in any process of symbolization that does not already concede failure as an important core to symbolising.

However, the 'low-tech' regime of representations (hand-held movies, 16mm/8mm, TV transmission, CCTV, instant or throwaway cameras, mobile phones) producing images of real torture, massacre and mass-murder are really the inheritance of an aesthetic of the 'beautiful', compelling, and alternately (dialectically) fascinating/repulsive in the banal and incidental - in L.Cavani's 'The Night Porter' [1974] for example, the hero (Dirk Bogarde) films a Jewish girl, an inmate of a camp (played by Charlotte Rampling), with a 16mm camera, amidst abject horror. We are made witness to these scenes of 'filming' in retrospect, in the memory of the protagonists 11 years later, in a hotel room in Berlin in

  1. 'The Night Porter' uses de-saturated colour to evoke memory of the Holocaust and to evoke a shady 1950s Vienna plagued by post-World War II guilt. Max and Lucia are victims of this frightening new world in which nothing can be trusted and their forbidden love doomed to misunderstanding. The film depicts not only the political [dis]continuity between wartime Nazism and post-war Europe, but also the psychological [dis]continuity of characters locked into a compulsive and perverse repetition of the past. The specific saturation of colour of 1970s film stock and the switch between different times and exposures marked in the materialities of film surface act as a semiotic trigger to conspire in the camera eye, finally as 'media' on cheaper-to-produce DVD, transferred from the original celluloid film. Embedded in the content of the story itself is a 'complex' practice, one resituating mechanical means and their reproducibility in terms of symbolic fiction and spectral form. In J. Schumacher's '8mm' [1999], the title itself, '8mm', performs in similarly complex ways. This is the 'special effect' - the first 'snuff' movie that 'murders' the fiction itself. 'Snuff' sticks itself to a voyeur's privileged eyeballs, to the witness of murder, again as a layering of practices, from murder itself to film-making and watching. Contemporary practices, using film and video, from the Manson Gang, Abu-Ghraib, My Lai, etcetera, aim not for pleasure or interest but, more 'sublimely', for disinterestedness. Similarly, in Andy Warhol's 'Screen Test', the mode is of cinema-verité: asking, in the audition, the model to keep still, so that reality cannot help but 'move' and break through its imposed tableaux-vivants, Warhol's tease is (ambiguously) that of an aesthete's indifference, derived from the realism of Flaubert. These 'documentary' devices take pleasure from their impossible 'concrete' symbolisation, but stumble on the post-political space; for example, J. Ranciere's referral to the blood-soaked 'Veil of Veronica' is not only a measure in the register of a post-modern reversal back to a softer form, the nostalgic 'bad faith' or the existential 'disengaged', but, most significantly, the libertine's 'erotic' contempt for his own 'machinic' drive for ever more perverse fantasies of controlling the real. Is not this chain of despair and suicidal deference characterized in the aesthete by not declaring pleasure? Rather than co-opting the optimistic politics of an avant-garde, (one not suicidal) in subversive iconoclasm, 'cynics' of a past's redundant aesthetic codes are left with nothing but an aggressive form of pity in mute shock-tactics. I refer here to much of contemporary artwork's virulent romantic nihilism, whose 'self-loathing-as-aesthetic' has been recently expanded in 'Bad Art for Bad People' by the Chapman Brothers. Painting peoples' portraits 'badly' and selling them for $8000 a piece over four 'gruelling' days at an art-fair is arguably another take on a provocative Situationist International slogan, 'take the money and run'. Yet, commenting on their project, Jake will later defend its radical cynicism in more moral tones in the press, to claim that it was torturous, 'like pornography'. Is this not precisely the aesthetic of self-loathing, the whole 'sassy' endeavour?

The return to the iconic, and to the 'veil' (ironically the Muslim veil has gained the populist vote here to disenfranchise the 'aesthetic' of branding of the [Blairite] New Christian Crusade as just another historical 'mask') is a move to retrieve the power and essence of painting, albeit by subsuming a faked immediacy in the simulation of techniques of digital photography and film. I refer here to Luc Tuymans' earlier influence from analogue sources of cinema and photography into painting. These are 'neutralised' from popular cinema's fictions, where [neo-expressionist] redemption narrates (through Splatter, 'Realist' Horror, Final Girl, examples of 'meta-generic' forms of the Western genre) the uninterrupted flows of a regime of Representation. However there is a problem for any politics of aesthetics in that of all contemporary media from popular cinema to TV, the Web, computer gaming, resides not in enticing us to confound these fictions with reality, but in their 'hyperrealist' character. It is by these means they saturate the void that had kept open the space for symbolic fiction. An artist's 'compossibility' rests uneasily under this arch-iconography. Attempts at an aesthetic re-inscription of ethics, so as to symbolise violence, and to maintain the inoccupation of emergent spaces of the political, always [already] will have failed. The militarisation of politics such as performed by U.S and Israel proves that a false radicalisation of the political, foreclosing the symbolic, returns in the real as the violence set against the nominated enemy's 'evil' but from within hyperreal, iconophilic appearances; that the normalized spectacle, when acted out in the guise of 'religious' war is pitched perfectly at a post-political culture as a 'normal' background for maintaining a distanced [aesthetic] secular 'style'. 'Not in my name!' reads differently from this viewpoint.

Aesthetics, or more precisely anti-aesthetics, may seek again a disequilibrium in order to restructure reality on the basis of symbolic fictions: allegorical and melodramatic procedures and strategies, far from post-structuralism's deferrals and differences, move closer to a 'politics of aesthetics' when they overlap 'simple' and complex practices. Looking at works of art made post-Vietnam, during the Gulf War, and now in an [Israeli] 'World War III' situation that is energetically suicidal, artists must live and work under the spectral skies of global media, the egalitarian regime of the world-wide-web.

"The singularity of art enters into an interminable contradiction due to the fact that the aesthetic regime also calls into question the very distinction between art and other activities. Strictly speaking the egalitarian regime of the sensible can only isolate art's specificity at the expense of losing it."

[J. Ranciere, from 'The Politics of Aesthetics']

Where and when all things are 'equal', at the very point of a true 'politics of the aesthetic', liberation stumbles and falls.

Slavoj Zizek writes,

"... one has to distinguish between 'fiction' and 'spectre': fiction is a symbolic formation that determines the structure of what we experience as reality, whereas spectres belong to the Real; their appearance is the price we pay for the gap that forever separates reality from the Real, for the fictional character of reality. In short, there is no Spirit [mind, reason, etc.] without spirits ['ghosts' revenants, living dead], no pure, rational, self-transparent spirituality without the accompanying stain of an obscene, uncanny, spectral, pseudo-materiality. ... ... When reality is no longer structured by symbolic fictions, fantasies which regulate the overgrowth get a direct hold on it. And it is here that violence comes on to the stage, in the guise of the psychotic 'passage a la acte'."

[S.Zizek, from 'Appendix: A Self-Interview', op. cit.]

"What is a 'passage a l'acte'? Perhaps, its ultimate cinematic expression is found in Paul Schrader's and Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver, in the final outburst of Travis (Robert de Niro) against the pimps who control the young girl he wants to save (Jodie Foster). Crucial is the implicit suicidal dimension of this passage a l'acte: when Travis prepares for his attack he practices in front of the mirror the drawing of the gun; in what is the best-known scene of the film, he addresses his own image in the mirror with the aggressive-condescending "You talkin' to me?" In a textbook illustration of Lacan's notion of the "mirror stage," aggressivity is here clearly aimed at oneself, at one's own mirror-image. This suicidal dimension reemerges at the end of the slaughter scene when Travis, heavily wounded and leaning on the wall, mimics with the fore-finger of his right hand a gun aimed at his blood-stained forehead and mockingly triggers it, as if saying "The true aim of my outburst was myself." The paradox of Travis is that he perceives HIMSELF as part of the degenerate dirt of the city life he wants to eradicate, so that, as Brecht put it apropos of revolutionary violence in his The Measure Taken, he wants to be the last piece of dirt with whose removal the room will be clean."

[S. Zizek, from 'The Symptom, Online Journal for; The Act and its Vicissitudes]

Does not Postmodern Racism, in naming the 'void' part of a situation as 'evil' and to be removed so that the 'room' is clean, want (really) to be the last piece of dirt, to emerge as the ultimate consequence of the post-political (the foreclosed symbolic) in the deadliest, most ordinary, form: that of a 'cleansed' psychotic?

"Along with 'the just war' predictably comes the allied concept of 'evil', posing the enemy and the struggle against it as absolute and thus outside politics; evil is the enemy of humanity (the category of a crime against humanity which has in effect been transformed from an element from the Geneva Convention into a global penal code is perhaps the legal concept that most clearly makes concrete this notion of evil). Post-modern mystifications about justice and evil in war have very real effects."

[M. Hardt and A. Negri, from 'Multitude]

'The Otherness excluded from the consensual domain of tolerant /rational /post-political negotiation and administration returns in the guise of inexplicable pure Evil.'

[S. Zizek, from Afterword, in J. Ranciere, The Politics of Aesthetics]

The whole ethical predication based upon recognition of the other must purely and simply be abandoned.

[A. Badiou, from '19 Responses']

There is an 'aesthetics' at the core of politics that has nothing to do with Benjamin's discussion of the 'aesthetisation of politics' specific to the 'age of the masses'. This aesthetics should not be understood as the perverse commandeering of politics by a will to art. ... Aesthetics can be understood [in the Kantian sense, re-examined perhaps by Foucault] as the system of a priori forms determining what presents itself to sense-experience. It is the delimitation of spaces and times, of the visible and invisible, of speech and noise, that simultaneously determines the place and the stakes of politics as a form of experience. Politics revolves around what is seen and what can be said about it. ... Artistic practices are 'ways of doing and making'.

[J. Ranciere, from 'The Politics of Aesthetics']