Last week, I completed the draft for a new book tentatively titled “Imperceptibility: The Politics of the Unseen.” This is the first time in years that I’ve been able to take a step back. My immediate world has calmed after having been a sea of shifting sand for the many years I was searching for a permanent post. It has also been a very prolific time for my writing, which I have not consistently reported. From now on, I will be announcing here recent publication and presentations.
My ability to complete the manuscript is the result of a realization: that my previous project “Escape,” is actually two different constellations of ideas. They are not inconsistent, which is to say, they share common notions that do not conflict. But there are two core insights that each result in their own concept. I found myself struggling to unify them under a single title, a single argument, a single phrase, a single breath. Once I separated them, both began to flourish.
The first concept: that a distinctive feature of our current cycle of struggle is an anti-politics that refuses to pose demands, wants nothing to do with consciousness raising, and rejects collaboration of any kind. Even more interesting it tends to emphasize engagement instead of reverting to escapism, radical passivity, or pure silence. Once refocusing the project on this insight, I was able to write a new introduction and the book immediately took shape.
The second concept: combining insights across all of the major fields of structuralism to reconstruct an aesthetic theory of power centered on the state. After writing significant sections including comparative mythology in the Greeks and Romans, an anthropology of the hunt, an analysis of fishing nets, sociological analysis of sacrifice, an anthropology of bondage, aesthetic criticism of the Roman games, a personal history of Columbus’s violence, a visual analysis of Louis XIV’s great spectacles, and a history of the early European police, I knew that the project had a different trajectory.