Justus-Liebig-Universität GießenInstitut für Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft

The Politics of Semblance: Performance and Philosophy

Keynote lecture at "What is Performance Philosophy?"

Is a performance a kind of philosophy and philosophy a kind of performance? This intriguing rhetorical formulation from one of the introductory conference questions suggests that there is no equality between the two activities. Nevertheless, there is a relationship between them: 'a kind of philosophy' and 'a kind of performance' are similar, at least in that they are both 'a kind of’ what they could be. There is a peculiar semblance that does not make them anything more than they actually are. It does not expand and broaden the activity field of the two practices – quite the opposite: it narrows them down, making them just one of a kind and giving them a peculiar place in the line of kinship. There is a specific affinity at work here that I would like to discuss in my lecture: the affinity of diminishing and destabilisation, which I also see as strongly related to an understanding of the field of 'performance philosophy'. To be 'a kind of' implies the status of a bastard, an inclination to obscenity, an air of phoniness, an attitude of laziness and the partial abandonment of an activity. These are some of the attitudes that I would like to bring up in the discussion and use to delve into the the ways how this semblance between philosophy and performance opens up the potentiality of artistic work. To be ‘a kind of' gives us an insight into ‘the lesser act’, into the incompleteness of the activity of philosophy and performance and, at the same time, allows us to relate these two fields to another potential practice: politics.