Obedience as Desire

The famous frontispiece to Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan depicts the head and torso of a long-haired, mustachioed man. Upon close scrutiny, it becomes evident that the man’s torso and arms are composed of tiny individual persons, crowded closely together and each looking toward the head of the composite Leviathan.

  1. Our relationship to “society” is psychosomatic: imagining our own body as bound to the sovereign’s body.
  2. Attachment seeks power: fusion of one’s own body with a body imagined to be omnipotent.
  3. “Obedience” is the price: inability to resist the sovereign’s will.
  4. A “docile body” is one that imagines itself as physically bound to the sovereign’s body (politic).