Biopolitics

At the beginning of the nineties, the revolutionary dream became a capitalist one. This desire was both present and repressed and denied. Citizens’ increasing economic independence impelled the state to resort to new strategies of power in order to retain political control over the population. This marked the beginning of a shift toward a biopolitical administration of power, especially in cultural politics. Following Foucault, I interpret biopolitics as the subjection of man’s natural life to the mechanisms and calculations of power. Thus emerged an ideology that privileges the control of both subjectivity and the body, as opposed to a form of politics in which the right over the death of subjects determines the outer limit of the law. Biopolitics and the importance of the body manifest themselves in the literary apparition of the bare life, a figure understood in Giorgio Agamben’s sense as a being who has been divested of subject position. By looking at the representation of the body in the criticism about Jose Lezama Lima, I examine the seventies’ cultural politics of silencing intellectuals (as an exercise of sovereign power) and the reasons for Lezama’s reuvre’s official recuperation in the nineties, which, I argue, follows as a result of this shift toward biopolitical power. I interpret the intellectual revival of Lezama as the result of a cultural biopolitics that is aimed at the reproduction of life in the face of a dying ideology. The complexity of Lezama’s ontological system facilitates its reappropriation as a grand narrative. I finally ponder the engagement of Proyecto Diaspora(s) with Lezama’s work. The representation of the body in the works of these authors illuminates a form of political subjugation that nullifies individual subjectivity. Whereas in Lezama the body is a source of pleasure, in Proyecto Diaspora(s) it is represented as a disembodied being who could be Agamben’s bare life, or a Deleuzian-Guattarian schizo (moved by concurrently positive and negative flows of energy created by desire).9 It is at this point that their poetics become problematic. Is the schizo the embodiment of resistance against state violence, or does it construct the citizen as a docile body, as they also seem to suggest?

 
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