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

Paul Geary


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.


Michel Serres; Aesthesia; Anaesthesia; Senses; Experience; Food

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