Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rob Halpern: on "Somatics" (@ Harriet)

For my last few posts at Harriet during National Poetry Month, I have asked a few different poets to respond to the term "somatics" with regards to their work. Here is Rob Halpern discussing the term.

Maybe the passively voiced question, “what is being done to bodies?”—together with our potential resistance to that—helps get at what you are referring to, Thom, as the “biopolitical” in my work? And I’m thinking here not only of incarcerated bodies, but our own bodies as well. What is being done to them? It’s a question that complements the question What is to be done? For me, to think this question requires a shift from an emphasis on an over-valued notion of agency toward a very different idea I call patiency, which has less to do with the body as the sovereign scene of its own actions, and rather with the body as scene of disabused sovereignty. Patiency refers to the suspension of our proprietary relations to our and others’ bodies and life processes, the recognition, and perhaps even the affirmation, of the corpus as open, disarmed, and vulnerable. I want to find in this figure of the patient not only passivity and submission, but the latent material—affective, erotic, and social—for movement just waiting to be aroused by uncoded sound and unanticipated touch. Maybe this is “somatics”?

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