The Common Growl: Toward a Poetics of Precarious Community

The Common Growl: Toward a Poetics of Precarious Community

The Common Growl: Toward a Poetics of Precarious Community

The Common Growl: Toward a Poetics of Precarious Community

Synopsis

No longer able to read community in terms colored by a romantic nostalgia for homogeneity, closeness and sameness, or the myth of rational choice, we nevertheless face an imperative to think the common. The prominent scholars assembled here come together to articulate community while thinking seriously about the tropes, myths, narratives, metaphors, conceits, and shared cultural texts on which any such articulation depends. The result is a major contribution to literary theory, postcolonialism, philosophy, political theory, and sociology.

Excerpt

JEAN-LUC NANCY

Of politics, today, nothing remains.

Of politics, today, everything remains.

Nothing remains because what defined the content of the word politics has been swept away by a history that there can be no question of reviving or probably even of revisiting.

First, this was the history that saw the birth of the polis, that is to say, the form that a gathered collectivity gave itself, one governed by itself and not by a divine authority. The Greek city, like the Roman one, depended on a shattering of theocratic or tribal forms of organization (which were of en interlinked), but not without retaining essential aspects of the rigid hierarchies that structured traditional societies, as well as the displacement of a part of social sacredness onto what we can (anachronistically) call civil religion.

The general design of the ancient city no longer makes any sense to us since it unraveled of itself. The polis was formed, transformed, and deformed with the movement of a civilization profoundly in flux, leaving behind the reproduction of life based solely on agriculture to initiate forms of production and commerce Marx called “pre-capitalist.” The representation of another city ended up being invented, that of a God resolutely outside the world and before whom the hierarchies and forms of domination that structured society no longer obtained.

The task of making the world—in the sense of a space for circulation of sense—to which the city was supposed to respond, became divided in . . .

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