Elizabeth Day, Working in the Trouble and Jane Bennett’s Middle Ground: Animating creative projects in the Australian Anthropocene, in “Care, Ethics and Art”, edited by Jacqueline Millner and Gretchen Coombs, Routledge, 2021.
Jane Bennett argues that political analyses of public events might change were we to acknowledge that agency always emerges as the effect of ad hoc human and non-human forces. Vibrant matter contests the distinction between humans and other matter. Bennett’s materiality doggedly resists anthropomorphism. Walt Whitman is for Bennett the great poet of American democracy, a writer not only promoting, but inscribing in his performative writing, a philosophical, literary and poetic model of democracy. Like the presence of Whitman writing, there was a presence of his life, amongst other highly politicised zones of democratic contestation. Bennett’s study of Whitman’s constructed persona develops understandings of the relationships one can have with poetry and politics.