An-aesthetic: Performed philosophies of sensation, confusion, and intoxication


  • Paul Geary University of East Anglia



Michel Serres, Aesthesia, Anaesthesia, Senses, Experience, Food


In Michel Serres’ The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies, he establishes an opposition between two mouths: the anaesthetising, speaking mouth of discourse and analysis and the aesthetic, tasting mouth of sensation. This article uses Serres’ model of the two mouths to think about the performance of knowledge and philosophy in a sensory performance event and the potential of intoxication to unveil or reveal through a process of ‘making strange’. The article begins with an outline and reading of Serres, considering his writing on the two mouths and their indicative models of knowledge, before moving to think about philosophies of confluence or confusion; the pouring or flowing together of different forms of knowing. This is coupled with outlining two modes of intoxication (losing oneself into the status quo and a process of estrangement) to think about the politics of aesthetic sensory experience in the age of commodification of live(d) experience. The second half of the article turns to a dining-performance event by Kaye Winwood entitled After Dark (2016). The event is used as a basis for more personal reflections, considering the ways intoxication makes strange and enters into performance as a revelatory experience. The article proposes a number of interconnected arguments: that sensory experience and embodiment offer a mode of knowledge; that intoxication as ‘making strange’ has potential as a philosophical gesture; and that in that estrangement, there is potential to resist the coopting of live(d) or sensory experience in an economy of commodification.

Author Biography

Paul Geary, University of East Anglia

Paul Geary is a Lecturer in Drama at the University of East Anglia. He completed his PhD at the University of Bristol, following which he was a Teaching Fellow at the University of Birmingham and a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, De Montfort University and the University of Wolverhampton. His research focuses on the senses, food, performance and philosophy, in particular engaging with the work of Martin Heidegger, Michel Serres, and Slavoj Žižek. He is engaged in creative consultancy for a restaurant and is on the project team for an AHRC research network entitled Incubate-Propagate: Towards Alternative Models for Artist Development in Theatre and Performance.


Baudrillard, Jean. 2014. Screened Out. Translated by Chris Turner. London and New York: Verso.

Howes, David. 2015. “Senses, Anthropology of the.” International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences 21: 615–20.

Jameson, Fredric. 1999. Brecht and Method. London and New York: Verso.

McGee, Harold. 2004. McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Serres, Michel. 2016. The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies. Translated by Margaret Sankey and Peter Cowley. London and New York: Bloomsbury.




How to Cite

Geary, Paul. 2020. “An-Aesthetic: Performed Philosophies of Sensation, Confusion, and Intoxication”. Performance Philosophy 5 (2):293-302.