My article studies the implications of Jacques Rancière's concepts of literary misunderstanding and political dissensus for our understanding of the politics of postcolonial fiction. The disjunctive junction that Rancière establishes between the politics of aesthetics and the aesthetics of politics constitutes the starting point of my investigation. For Rancière, the original disjunction of aesthetics forecloses the equivalence between literary misunderstanding and political dissensus. Aesthetics practices a metapolitics, which can only take the form of a denunciation of the false scene of politics, the invocation of a fusional community to come, or the evocation of an atomized, molecular, apathic, indifferent equality that renders political equality inoperable. My article questions the hermeneutics of Rancière's paradigm of aesthetics. Showing how Rancière's thinking of politics is shaped first and foremost by a sustained inquiry into the poetics of sense, or an aisthesis (the experience of sense, sensation, and sensibility), I try to bridge the conceptual gap he establishes between the sensible of aesthetics and the sensible of politics. Using a postcolonial novel, Tahar Djaout's Le dernierété de la raison (The Last Summer of Reason), as an example, I show how literary fiction stages acts of political subjectivation that Rancière reserves for the scene of political dissensus. I argue that Djaout constructs a heterologic and heterotopic poetics of sense (an aisthesis) that stages a different meaning of emancipation and equality. Allegory and metaphor enact the fragile power of a political dissensus as a fictional construction in the mode of an as if.
Raji Vallury; An Incalculable Rupture? The Aesthetics and Politics of Postcolonial Fiction. Novel 1 August 2014; 47 (2): 242–260. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-2647176
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