The Biopolitics of Electronic Literature: On the Writings of Mez Breeze

Kent Aardse

Abstract


Biopolitics identifies a shift in how government operates, specifically at the level of managing the bodies of citizens. The critical thinkers I discuss in this paper––Michel Foucault, Georgio Agamben, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri––explore biopolitics and the topic of “life”: what is life, how is it defined, and whom has the power to control it? In this paper, I argue that the presence of language in electronic literature not only points to the role of language in biopolitical power (or biopower), but also affords electronic literature the ability to act as a site of aesthetic resistance (following Hardt and Negri) operating within and against biopolitical regimes. In particular, I illustrate how ‘codework,’ a form of electronic literature which integrates natural and programming languages to create its surface-level language, provides a tool from which to think through and work against biopower.  For this, I turn to the writings of Mez Breeze, an electronic author working primarily with codework to explore questions of subjectivity, embodiment, and power in electronic literature.


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