Bio-poetics and the dynamic multiplicity of bios: How literature challenges the politics, economics and sciences of life (2020) Numanities – Arts and Humanities in Progress, 12, pp. 17-32.
This article questions the assumptions of Darwinian “biopoetics,” as well as the premises of Foucauldian biopolitics. While poetic Darwinism still searches for poetic patterns capable of perfecting humans, according to Foucault, bios is still dependent on external constraints (such as politics, economy, and other social factors), and these external determinations form the target of his critique. In searching for an onto-epistemology that goes beyond human exceptionalism while ensuring, within the entanglement of bios and poetics, that both bios and poetics are asserted in their own right, I propose the concept of “bio-poetics.” I will discuss this concept in the context of Canguilhem’s The Normal and the Pathological, Donna Haraway’s “situated knowledge” and Roberto Esposito’s non-vitalistic and affirmative concept of “biopower.” According to recent theories of “New Materialism,” literature is a material practice that makes it possible to write life experiences that exceed life-forms. A bio-poetical reading challenges the economic politics of global capitalism, as shown in the example of Roberto Saviano’s Gomorrah (2006/2007) and Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 (2004). In addition, I also intend to argue that visual and literary aesthetics understood as “aisthesis,” i.e., sensitive experience, intensity, and affective mode of thinking, is the realm where the dynamic multiplicity of life inscribes itself. Thus, an aesthetics of the sensible, as explored by Jean-Francois Lyotard, Jean-Luc Nancy, Michel Serres, and Brian Massumi has political relevance, as Jacques Rancière has also argued. © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020.