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Poetic Form and the Crisis of Community

Revisiting Rancière’s Aesthetics
Chapter

Abstract

The recent work of Jacques Rancière reorients our understanding of literary modernity away from common assumptions about intransitive language and develops a compelling account of the political dimension of literature. Rancière’s notion of the “distribution of the sensible” (partage du sensible) inscribes the aesthetic, in the general sense of the sensory perception of time and space, at the heart of politics. This “basic concern …to point out the aesthetic dimension of the political experience” (Rancière, “From Politics” 13) is the thread that connects Rancière’s historical and political research in The Nights of Labor (French original published in 1981) to his later account of the “aesthetic revolution.” In this second context, the “aesthetic” is defined in a narrower sense as a “specific system of art, opposed to the representative system” (Rancière, Guénoun, and Kavanagh 12). It is the “aesthetic regime” that allows the emergence of “literature” as a “historical mode of visibility of the works of the art of writing” (Rancière, Mute Speech 32). Literature, in this particular historical mode, operates in a space constituted by tensions or contradictions: between autonomy and heteronomy; between the “democratic” indifference of style to subject matter and the affirmation of a specific “poetic” mode of language; between the chaotic dispersal of “orphaned” speech and the incorporation/incarnation of speech as hieroglyph; or between the two extremes of art becoming life and life becoming art.

Keywords

Historical Mode Poetic Language Poetic Form Modern Poetry Chaotic Dispersal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Joseph Acquisto 2013

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