• thewonder
    After having read The Highest Poverty without currently having been suffering some sort of mental breakdown or another, I can say with relative certainty that, according to Giorgio Agamben, a "form-of-life" is like a quasi-totalitarian set of informal rules that people become subject to in the "zone of indistinction" between public and private, bios and zoe, life. He uses monastic rules in that text to explain this. He seems to believe that this can result in some sort of "pure potentiality" and that it has some sort of liberatory potential outside of his rather sobering analysis of "bare life", but I don't really understand what that is. It seems like he's suggesting that, within Postmodernity, daily life has become politicized because of various order-enforcing bodies which are kind of totalitarian, but that the blurred distinction between public and private life is also somehow liberatory. There's The Revolution of Everyday Life, which, though he does converse with Guy Debord in The Coming Community, he never cites, and, so, I could see there being an optimistic interpretation of the politicization of private life as a kind of way of living or whatever, but that private life is politicized because of a form of totalitarianism just only seems negative to me.
  • armonie
  • StreetlightX
    a "form-of-life" is like a quasi-totalitarian set of informal rules that people become subject to in the "zone of indistinction" between public and private, bios and zoe, life.thewonder

    I think you've misunderstood somewhat. What Agamben sees in the Franciscan order is a failed attempt to articulate a form-of-life. 'Properly' articulated - that is, articulated with a 'positive' conception of 'use' that is lacking for the Franciscans - a form-of-life is not at all bound up with a 'quasi-totalitarian set of informal rules'. Indeed the failure of the Franciscans followed from their attempt to think in terms of 'rules' instead of uses, even if that attempt did allow them to think and live in a very radical way, which Agamben really admires. Moreover, the separation between bios and zoe does not 'politicize' life: a form-of-life is not 'apolitcal', it too, is a political: "form-of-life is a being of potential... this constitutes form-of-life immediately as political life" (Agamben, The Use of Bodies, p.208). So what's at stake is the kind of politicization at work in the separation of bios and zoe, not the sheer 'fact' of it 'politicizing' life.

    If you can, check out the third part of Agamben's Use of Bodies, where he goes much further in articulating what is a 'form-of-life' than he does in The Highest Poverty.
  • thewonder

    I don't know, there's just something that seems so totalizing about that to me. As if even every thought were some sort of political battle. In Introduction to Civil War, Tiqqun writes the maxim, "all thought is strategic." I used to be somewhat taken by that idea, but I've grown to dislike it. I don't want to be constantly engaged in a kind of psychological warfare with crypto-Fascists, primarily, on the Right. People need to have a life away from Politics. You don't think well when you're constantly engaged in some sort of combat, even if it is just information warfare. That there's a disintegrative element to that communities are attempted to be subjugated by a divide and conquer does politicize daily life, but that, to me, just seems to be tragic. The Situationist International has oddly become an interest that people compulsively labor over. Political totalization just makes everyone neurotic. Again, Agamben seems to believe that there's some sort of liberatory potential given such a state of affairs, but I just don't see it. I kind of think that The Right to be Lazy ought to apply to left-wing academia as well.
  • monad159
    Tiqqun and The Invisible Committee also take up these ideas and argue that an anarchist praxis needs to be much more centered around the rescue and development of repressed and new forms of life from what I recall.
  • thewonder

    Hold on, let me get my glasses here, as someone has finally decided to explain this to me.

    That is quite helpful. Thank you!

    I guess that I'll have to reread The Highest Poverty someday, as I didn't quite understand it the second time around either.

    My understanding was that the separation of bios and zoe politicizes zoe because of that political life, what I previously referred to as "public life", bios, has become qualified, meaning that there become a set of people who can decide upon who is capable of living a politically qualified life. The distinction between the two then dissolves and private life, what you could call "everyday life", zoe, can, in some cases, be comparable to "bare life", which he identifies through the figure of homo sacer, who can be killed but not sacrificed. It seems like he's suggesting that, because the political realm or whatever is capable of exiling people from it, or even deciding upon who is excluded from it in all given cases, for example, slaves in Ancient Greece, or Jews in Nazi Germany, even everyday life becomes political because your existential status is let to be called into question. I realize that my way of explaining this is kind of strange, but I'm trying to get a clear and concise depiction of what his theories are.

    Perhaps, I'm still not quite understanding, but, from there, it seems like something ought to be done to eliminate the measures by which the state of exception or whathaveyou is capable of excluding others, which you can take quite radically, from the political sphere, and I am still rather unsure as to what this "pure potentiality" is. To be honest, I felt a little lost when he talked about "use", especially since I was only paying so much attention, in The Highest Poverty, and, so, perhaps I could be missing something there. Is he suggesting that a proper articulation of a form-of-life somehow qualifies life that is in danger of being reduced to bare life and, therefore, eliminates the problem of that there are people who are capable of being excluded from the political sphere? If so, how?

    Tiqqun and The Invisible Committee also take up these ideas and argue that an anarchist praxis needs to be much more centered around the rescue and development of repressed and new forms of life from what I recall.monad159

    Tiqqun gives great analysis, but is often kind of off in what they set out as per praxis or whatever. The Call basically suggests that an effective global revolution, given the information security apparatuses or whatever that exist now, can somehow just happen because of that people, through an odd kind of quite moving serendipity, will just discover how to because the information will just somehow come to them, which, though I, myself, wax spiritual about certain uncanny or sublime moments a person experiences while engaged in information warfare, is kind of like the revolutionary equivalent of believing that God will call out to the Twelve Tribes of Israel. In The Cybernetic Hypothesis they totally dismiss the Autonomist movement by rather spuriously castigating Antonio Negri, advocate a return to the "Years of Lead", and justify this as being something other than political terrorism through the invocation of the "diffuse guerilla". In Introduction to Civil War, they suggest that people should exonerate themselves of the Rights of Man and refuse to be identified as "citizens", which, though I can understand the revolutionary ardor that inspired such notions, does seem, to me, to be incredibly foolish. They do write exceptionally well, though.

    I find it very difficult, especially since their language is so high-flown, to explain to anyone, especially within the Anarchist community, as to just what it is about Tiqqun, as, no one within the Anarchist community really agrees with them, but them seem to be in control over the general direction of the movement. The reason for this, I suspect, is that the Intelligence community considers for them to be "useful idiots" and is hoping that their plans are actually attempted to be gone through with. They let them do that, which Tiqqun, being liberal-minded as they are, just can't quite figure out how to talk themselves out of, as they are guilty enough of a certain degree of hubris to suspect that they just might as well be in control of the Anarchist movement, in spite of that they are, ostensibly, as the Communism they advocate is just Anarchism, Communists. It's all kind of absurd and kind of funny, but I do have the pet grief that I have had to undertake the lengthy inquiry into just what it is that they do actually think in order to figure out what to do about all of this.
  • armonie
  • thewonder

    Well, I did drop out of Politics, and, so, though, perhaps, conceding that there was nothing that I could do, did consider for my departure to be for the well being of myself and everyone else involved.

    My assumption is that, in most countries, or even internationally, the legal precepts to prevent a person's legal status from being totally extinguished exist, but are also consistently challenged. Agamben seems to be in a legal debate with the American Neoconservatives who had taken to the writings of Carl Schmitt during the "war on terror". As both they and he, for different reasons, have a tendency to be somewhat arcane, it kind of seems like only they are all that aware of just what the terms of the debate actually are. I, of course, have never actually attempted to inquire as to just what Neoconservative legal theory is, though.

    I liked what Tiqqun said about rhythm in The Cybernetic Hypothesis. They advance a kind of counter-rhythm to the circulation of information as it exists now. I'm not familiar with the cube-sat experiment, and, so, I'm not entirely sure what you're suggesting, though.
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