Monday, November 15, 2010
The Molecule of Social Physics
Social life is the means by which the Individual recognizes itself. Social life is life itself, to human beings, is the key to a living world, a world animated by reflections of the self. Having feelings is Human, as human as having thoughts. Expressing feelings, therefore, belongs to the realm of the Political as much as it does to art.
Expressing feelings is political in many senses of the word-not only because we happen to live (for the moment!) in a culture and economy where denial of our desires is a source of profit to some, not only because we are denied self-knowledge through the denial of emotion, leading us to look for answers outside ourselves, but also in a more fundamental, more significant sense: namely, that emotions form the essential core of our subjective experience, and in attempting to express that we engage in the most human and most political act. All social life is made up of these exchanges of subjectivity, and politics, which is the science of social life, is a theory derived from what is known through the expression of these subjectivities. The story of political change is the story of the struggle for inclusion of denied or ignored subjectivities-of women, of oppressed ethnicities, of people subject to categorization by class-into the body of what can be known, of what can constitute “politics”. To express yourself, then, which implicitly includes the emotional aspect of experience, is fundamentally political.
Imagine a world that allowed for the total inclusion of all subjectivities. Some of the most important political work we can do is to attempt to contact the subjectivities of others, or Others-they are like Prometheuses that have come down a mountain to bring us secret knowledge, knowledge that can free us. Contact with subjectivity, with experience, is the trick that transforms the –isms that seem to separate us into extensions of our own interests. The expression of the emotional, the subjective, is fundamental to political life and political change and so is acceptance of the emotional, because through recognition of another’s experience we can understand their desires. They no longer seem so irrational.
We use the inclusion of subjectivity to judge the integrity of an artistic expression as much as a political expression-we believe a statement to the degree we believe it to be “authentic”.
(We could define “courage” as the resistant assertion of a subjectivity that is perceived by its object to be unwelcome.)