Posted by: Rajesh Shukla | August 12, 2010

Powerlessness of solitude


I don’t know, it’s clear that defining solitude is difficult. I would say that solitude is powerlessness. This is the definition of solitude. There are times when you have exhausted a certain kind of study, a certain kind of work, and you find yourself

A work by Wangechi Mutu

alone. For example, here in France there was a period when I first arrived when I was “alone,” as you say in other words, not only alone from a theoretical point of view but also from a practical, material point of view. And all this obviously led me to reflect on Leopardi’s reaction to solitude, which was a poetic reaction but also and above all a philosophical one that capacity to invent great material worlds, like Lucretius, in which truly being and the construction of being rained down, and there was this capacity to construct new, possible worlds. This is the great thing about Leopardi’s pessimism: the possibility to construct worlds, different worlds. Also, this construction of different worlds takes place through what is common, what is common to humanity. What you find in Leopardi is really a humanism after the death of Man. And really all that I experienced was a solitude of powerlessness. For example, after the political struggles in ’95 that created an extraordinary initiative through which we began to understand what eventually could be a new construction of the public, the construction of an absolute democracy, there was a lull of activity, a lull that corresponded to the insufficiency of our means of analysis. We could analyze the struggles of ’95 and understand them, understand them in their implicit goals but we were completely unable to develop them politically. That was my solitude, that powerlessness to act politically. When one experiences these great phenomena, these rebirths of the Paris Commune that history grants us ever fifty years, every thirty years, the thing that is absolutely fundamental is to rediscover political theory in them. It’s from this point of view that my powerlessness to continue the sociological work that we had started, that we had experienced, became a kind of solitude.

–Antonio Negri in an interview

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