On Diffident and Dissident Practices: a Picture of Romania at the End of the 19th Century (pages 35-51)

Roxana Patraș

ABSTRACT: The present paper explores diffident and dissident practices reflected by the political talk at the end of the 19th-century in Romania. Relying on Jacques Rancière’s theories on the ‘aesthetic regime of politics,’ the introduction sketches a historical frame and proposes a focus change: the relation between ‘politics’ and ‘aesthetics’ does not stand on a set of literary cases, but on political scripts as such. Thus, the hypotheses investigated by the next three parts can be formulated as follows: 1. though determined by an ideological direction (Conservative or Liberal), the political speech still preserves his tendency towards aesthetic autonomy. 2. oratorical merits (hinting at aesthetic autonomy) can turn into practices of political autonomy, diffidence and, then, dissidence. Methodologically, two types of aesthetic practices organize the chosen materials; both the diffident script and the theatre of dissidence help us to perceive how the philosophical and moral meaning of these practices could change into an ideology of dissidence. The formalization of diffident practices, their conversion to outspoken dissidence, also corresponds to the symmetrical symptom of unlimited authority; when old-time politicians warned on ‘Caesarism,’ ‘Vizierate,’ ‘Despotism,’ ‘Omnipotence’ or ‘Tyranny,’ the Romanian society had already been training for a long experience of ‘dictatorship.’

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