Dror Pimentel (Bio)

The event of art: an aesth-ethic reading of Rilke

The paper aims at introducing a novel approach to aesthetics, baring the title ‘aesth-ethics.’ This approach is exemplified through the reading of Reiner Maria Rilke’s poem–‘Archaic Torso of Apollo.’ The poem’s object is a hybrid, comprised of the current, broken, appearance of Apollo’s statue on the one hand, and its past, idealized, appearance on the other hand. The statue’s visibility becomes a gazing visibility, as if the statue gazes back at the viewer who looks at him. The statue does not only see but also speak, as the poem concludes with an ethical decree: ‘You must change your life.’ It is an ethical decree, rather than a moral one, since it does not originate from a sovereign law but rather, from the sovereignty of radical alterity, carried through the statue’s gaze from an immemorial past. In this moment, aesthetics becomes aesth-ethics, as the ethical decree is not delivered through the face of the Other but rather, through art. Not only the medium delegating the decree is different, so is its content: contrary to Levinas’ view, the decree does not call for responsibility for the Other but rather, for responsibility for the Self, instigating her to come to her own for the first time. Art therefore possesses an interpellative power, differing in various ways from Althusser’s political interpellation: Althusser is right when arguing that the interpellation originates from radical alterity. Nevertheless, this alterity should not be identified with the big Other but rather, with an immemorial past preceding any order. Althusser is right when viewing interpellation as an event. Nevertheless, the event does not constitute the social order but rather disrupt it. Althusser is right when arguing that the event constitutes the subject. Nevertheless, it does not constitute a subject integrated into the social order, but rather, a displaced subject.