Altering Bodies: Thinking of intervention through impersonation


  • Niki Hadikoesoemo KU Leuven



actor's paradox, deconstruction, impersonation, rhapsody, performative mimesis, intervention, intoxication


This essay stages a philosophical dialogue between one of Plato’s earliest and shortest works, Ion, and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe’s deconstructive reflections on Diderot’s paradox of the actor. It takes the rhapsodic practice of the ancient figure of Ion as a reference point for thinking about the performer’s intoxicating nature and investigates its philosophical, bodily and psychological implications as well as its critical potential. It will proceed in three stages. The first part takes a detailed look at the absolute focal point of Ion, namely the analogy between the rhapsode’s intoxication and the Heraclean lodestone. The second part addresses the ‘logic’ of the magnet specifically from Ion’s point of view, which entails a critique of Socrates’ assumption of Ion being ‘out of his wits’ when he performs. The final part shows, with the help of Lacoue-Labarthe’s radicalization of Diderot’s paradox – the actor is nothing and everything at the same time – how Ion’s intoxicating impersonations can be considered an imperative for catharsis and critical intervention.

Author Biography

Niki Hadikoesoemo, KU Leuven

Niki Hadikoesoemo is a PhD candidate and a team member of the ERC funded project Homo Mimeticus: Theory and Criticism. Before receiving a BA, MA and Research MA in philosophy from the Institute of Philosophy at KU Leuven she studied at the Academy of Theatre and Dance, Amsterdam University of the Arts.


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How to Cite

Hadikoesoemo, N. (2020). Altering Bodies: Thinking of intervention through impersonation. Performance Philosophy, 5(2), 316-331.