Thursday, June 17, 2010

First Thesis on the Concept of Form of Life

There are two forces in this world that propel our lives in opposite directions: the first is the power over life, and the second is the power of life. On the one hand, “biopower” is understood by Agamben as the first force, as the incessant attempt to strip life from its form and reduce it to bare life, to the mere fact of being alive, and thus deplete it of its power. On the other hand, biopower may also be presented as a force that is internal or immanent to a life that is always understood as a form or a way or a manner of living, wherein lies its power. While in the first process life cedes its powers to the forces external to it, in the second process those external forces become powerless in face of life. If the first force does its best to depoliticize our lives in such a way that only the fact that we are alive persists as its main concern, the second force politicizes our lives, because how each and every one of us lives in any given moment becomes the central political question. We will use the term “biopolitics” from now on to designate this constant struggle between these two forces, rather than only one of them independently of the other: on the one hand, the monitoring, controlling, disciplining, and administrating of our lives by apparatuses of power (like the government and the police, but also the education system and economic institutions, to mention just a few obvious examples); on the other hand, our ability to fight these powers by imagining, producing, practicing, or presenting new ways to share our lives with one another. It may be assumed that the power of life is merely a reaction against the growing power over life. But it is also possible to reverse the genealogy and claim that it is actually the various apparatuses of actualized power that are the ones reacting against the potential power embedded in the multifarious ways we live our lives. While it is usually assumed that “life becomes resistance to power when power takes life as its object,” I would like to turn Deleuze’s formulation on its head: power becomes resistance to life when life takes power as its object. If the power over life is what we usually call “the powers that be,” the power of life is what we may call “the powers that become,” or “the coming power.”


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french essay said...

It is very important that we can learn to live life happily. I have been trying to make the best that I can be.