Aesthetics and Transcendence in the Arab Uprisings

in Middle East Law and Governance
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Politics is regarded as a science for it tells us what to do, when it deals with measurable concepts. But politics is also an art—a form of practice, telling us how and when to do things. Lest we forget, the arts of persuasion and inspiration are part of politics. And, every art also produces an aesthetic. By aesthetics I mean, the ways by which we think about art: recall, art is what we do and how we do things. Th ose things and acts that become visible when we do and produce certain actions—jubilation, conversations, speeches, greetings, protests, banners, deaths, wounds and other expressions—all constitute the means by which thought becomes visible, eff ective, and sensible. Th ese forms and visible expressions of the sensible constitute the aesthetics of politics. Only the patient will know where the momentum for change in the Arab world is heading. But, if the outcome of the Arab uprisings is unclear, then there is one certainty: the people have changed the order of the sensible. Th anks to peaceful protests in the face of regime brutality, tens of millions of people have performed change in myriads of expressions: aesthetics. Th eir feelings have cumulatively changed, and how people feel about governance is ultimately what politics is all about.

Aesthetics and Transcendence in the Arab Uprisings

in Middle East Law and Governance


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