Performance as Political Act: The Embodied Self

Performance as Political Act: The Embodied Self

Performance as Political Act: The Embodied Self

Performance as Political Act: The Embodied Self

Synopsis

Proposing a new source for political impulse in the West, this volume seeks to re-embody the political subject, arguing that when the mind has been dominated by mass communication as in Western capitalism the body emerges as a site of opposition. An explication of the making of a modern dance and a comparison of Soviet and American political theatre are linked by a sustained discussion that critiques semiotic and phenomenological approaches to the body and outlines a body politics.

Excerpt

By Stanley Aronowitz

Modern civilization depends on the capacity of both executive authorities and culture to discipline the body. Techniques of control go beyond the coercive power of state institutions -- schools, police, law and the courts, and mental institutions -- even if these remain the last resort when all else fails. Since the end of the sixteenth century, the chief weapon for containing desire has been the "mind," really a name we give to the mechanisms by which culture imposes itself on collectivities and individuals. Randy Martin is in unique rebellion, not only against the most profound means by which the body is subjugated by industrial capitalist society but also against the efforts of various social theorists and political movements acting in the name of freedom (by which Martin means, preeminently, freedom for desire), reproduce the conditions of the body's repression.

This book is a multifaceted examination of the modern theory and history of the body, really a prolegomena to cultural politics in a new key. It works on a number of different levels: it is a thorough and, on the whole, persuasive critique of the efforts of Maurice MerleauPonty, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, and other contemporary French writers to reinsert the agency of the body in history. As Martin argues, Foucault's account of the history of discipline sees mainly the subjugated body, a narrative which understands how discourses become powerful weapons of constraint, while Merleau-Ponty celebrates the free play of the body-subject without invocating its constraints. But Martin also introduces dance and theatre as two closely related art forms -- they are both performance arts -- in which the body "overflows" these socially constructed constraints.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.