We are so deeply mired in our philosophies as to have evolved nothing better than a sordid version of the void: nothingness. Into it we have projected our uncertainties, all our ills and terrors, for what is nothingness, ultimately, but an abstract complement of hell, the performance of outcasts, the last-ditch effort at lucidity mustered by creatures unequipped for deliverance? — E. M. Cioran
It’s fashionable among politically militant avant-garde poetry communities to insist on the inefficacy of the poem, primarily because poetry, we’re told, is ultimately powerless: it lacks the necessary force to fundamentally alter material conditions on the ground, and as a result, it’s all but impotent in the face of supposedly “real” social forces.
Art comes from the excess, in the world, in objects, in living things, that enables them to be more than they are, to give more than themselves […] Art is the consequence of that excess, that energy of force, that puts life at risk for the sake of intensification. — Elizabeth Grosz, Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth
A sure way to effectively limit the productive dynamism of potential is to cordon energy off into supposedly discrete, closed systems. Unfortunately, most readers (and some writers) view the poem as such a system. The reification of product ropes up and quantifies potential in the money shot of presence, ultimately limiting the surplus energy on tap: in other words, what you see is what there is. This is true of all finite, discontinuous objectivities, including the anthropomorphic-machine and its production of both pleasures and shame, including the production of ossified subject configurations of all types, the nature of which can only truly be defined after the subject has concretized into its own marketable ingress (that is, once the subject is stilled as superject).
A system is defined by its operational closure. A structure is defined by its functional parameters. A process is in touch with a great outside. It is defined by its openness to that great outside: by how it dips into and captures the tendential potentials stirring there. — Brian Massumi, The Principle of Unrest: Activist Philosophy in the Expanded Field
In order to negotiate the philosophically fraught relationship between body and soul, Cicero drew attention to a lost fragment from Aristotle in which the philosopher uses a singularly vile form of torture practiced by Estruscan pirates as an allegory for embodied life.
This time we shall say: ‘Be the dandy of ambiguities. On pain of losing yourself, love only that which overturns your order.’ As for the pig, he wants to put everything definitively in its place, to reduce it to possible profit; he wants everything to be labelled and consumable. — Alain Badiou, “What is it to Live?”