Saturday, February 25, 2012

Catholic Bio-Governmentality vs. Post-Biopolitical Form-Of-Life

  Some brief musings. 
     If one formation of Catholic governmentality (how the Catholic church seeks to conduct the conduct of humans 1. through any means possible, 2. throughout the largest possible population, 3. and by the most efficient means) takes shape much as Foucault discusses in History of Sexuality Vol. 1 (through the dispositif "sexuality" as propped upon the "pervert's" body and the hysterical female body -- and which current conservative biopolitical legislation redeploys across the homosexual body [anti-gay marriage], sexually active female body [contraception]) is another formation of Catholic governmentality possible? 
   The dominant form of Catholic governmentality it radically biopolitical in its structure, logic, and deployment. That is:
  • ·      The Catholic Church operates through sacraments
  • ·      Because a sacrament is an outward sign of an inward grace it requires not simply "manifestation" in signs, but surface upon which it operates
  • ·      Being in history, these surfaces are contingent (they can not be) and therefore shift over time
  • ·      The dominant surface through upon which the current formation of the sacrament of marriage operates is a certain modality of "sexuality" (a marriage is only a marriage with sexual activity that aims at procreation)
  • ·      The Church then employs this modality of sacrament as a dispositif of governmentality. Hence the American Church's furor over contraception, which is the attempted use of legislation to ensure a model of Catholic governmentality.

Yet, this being all contingent, what if there were another sacramental modality, one that was not biopolitical? My hunch is that Walter Pater and other aesthetic movement writers' conversions (Oscar Wilde) indicate the possibility of such a possible sacrament. Further, the Church at one point held the potential to offer a politically and ethically efficacious space outside of biopolitics and modern bio-governmentality, but it instead deployed/deploys its power through the same medium of biopolitics, etc. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” is as misguided an attempt to forge a lived ethical “program” resistant to biopolitics as Foucault’s (im)famous call for a new economy of bodies and pleasures as the anodyne for biopolitics. Both take the “body” – a biopolitical construct – as their post-biopolitical surface of deployment. 
What Pater’s Hellenic subjectivity (a comportment of centeredness and blitheness which proceeds through the profanation of apparatic relations) offers is a possible alternative to biopolitics that remains deeply invested in material reality. It is, perhaps, a sacramental form-of-life (a life at grace with its Umwelt, or a zoe that is its own bios) that escapes the traps of biopolitics and a transcendental renunciations of this thing we designate “life.” 

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