TCRG x AIME 5: “Invoking the Phantoms of the Political”

by lukevanryn


After a brief hiatus, we return to Latour’s Inquiry into the Modes of Existence. In this chapter, Latour introduces the political mode [POL], which approaches autonomy in a circular fashion. As in the modes of reference and religion, political truth is produced at great expense: not by attending to the actors that claim to be political — politicians, protesters, pamphleteers — but by tracing and retracing the outline of a potential public (337-8). This circular movement is difficult (even painful), and continually vulnerable to being interrupted, approximated, abbreviated by those who want to “straighten out politics” (333). Latour’s hero in this chapter is Machiavelli, who attempts not to rationalise politics but to respect the kind of rationality particular to politics.

Political beings are always accused of lying, whereas they they begin truly to lie, to lie politically, only if they ‘go off on a tangent’ […] by beginning to proffer straight talk, that is, wanting [to] be ‘faithfully’ represented or ‘faithfully’ obeyed (344).

We meet as usual at 5pm in the Pierre Gorman Room, 1888 Building, University of Melbourne.

[PDF] Latour, B. (2013) “Invoking the Phantoms of the Political” An Inquiry into the Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns (C. Porter, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, ch. 12.