Sublimating Fury

The public sphere has become an oppressive medium which is often indistinguishable from commodity spectacle. It is dominated by an expressive ideology which operates a trap where ideals of goodness are pre-given as a doxological inventory of unquestionably worthy ends like fresh air, high salary, happy children, world peace etc. These ideals remain fixed and unquestioned, while discussion is limited to a debate over the most effective means for attaining them. The praxical anchoring on these ideal part-objectives is widely reflected in the discourses of science and academia, and this ideology tends to determine the political.

Under these conditions, politics will have to be dissolved into a transcendental aesthetics where it can restore communication with the elementary furies. This aesthetic pre-political realm has been suspended in the alterity of the early modern, such as in the way opera has been rendered archaic.  To restore the efficacy of the political requires that fury can be channeled into a material rhetoric where styles express schemas of virtual distribution. This proto-politics of style has no moral justification, because it dissolves the ideals of morality back into an aesthetics of morale which is the early modern rhetoric of style, which can also be defined as the baroque aesthetics of the sublime.  Though the negativity implicit in this rhetorical immanence needn’t end up in libertinage, as it did in the late 18th century.

Such a politics amounts to a conspiracy of desire to ontologize the world. Desire develops through abstract patterns of distribution which move allegorically between delays, distances, ages, masses, and compensations.  The efficacy of desire is conditional on historical forms of exile, which are spacings, durations and inequalities. Exile concerns what is institutionally innappropriate, and this excluded object can be designated with the old term fury.  This intensity would include the violent envy that characterizes the paranoid-schizoid phase according to Melanie Klein.  It’s something too intensive that institutions cannot contain, and which threatens them with the chaos of the void.

A model of exile emerged around Max Weber and his students Carl Schmitt, Georg Lukacs, and Niklas Luhman. This group rediscovered politics as a distinct value sphere that emerges through the sublimation of war, where violent hostility is sublimated through the institution of a symbolic separation between the government and the opposition. The parliamentary relation between government and loyal opposition is a product of sublimation, where exiled fury is absolved through a symbolic expression. But if the parliamentary system reaches a limit and becomes inadequate in its capacity to perform this sublimation function, then that means that the oppositional fury must be resublimated elsewhere. Another conception of the loyal opposition must emerge as a symbolic expression. This converts politics into an aesthetic problem, concerning the symbolization of fury.

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