By Kevin Attell

Agamben's proposal has been seen as descending basically from the paintings of Heidegger, Benjamin, and, extra lately, Foucault. This booklet complicates and expands that constellation by way of exhibiting how all through his profession Agamben has continually and heavily engaged (critically, sympathetically, polemically, and infrequently implicitly) the paintings of Derrida as his leader modern interlocutor.

The ebook starts off via analyzing the advance of Agamben's key innovations infancy, Voice, potentiality from the Nineteen Sixties to nearly 1990 and indicates how those ideas continually draw on and reply to particular texts and ideas of Derrida. the second one half examines the political flip in Agamben's and Derrida's pondering from approximately 1990 onward, starting with their investigations of sovereignty and violence and relocating via their parallel remedies of juridical strength, the relation among people and animals, and at last messianism and the politics to come back.

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Extra resources for Giorgio Agamben: Beyond the Threshold of Deconstruction

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12 And with regard to the necessity and aims of this conceptual rerouting, Derrida notes: “Doubtless it is more necessary, from within semiology, to transform concepts, to displace them, to turn them against their presuppositions, to reinscribe them in other chains, and little by little to modify the terrain of our work and thereby produce new configurations; I do not believe in decisive ruptures, in an unequivocal ‘epistemological break,’ as it is called today” (Pos 24). 13 One way to conceive of deconstructive reinscription—say, of the term “writing”—is to imagine the term being turned into a sort of catachresis, whereby it retains its common, metaphysical, “vulgar” sense, but is fundamentally used to name something for which there is (and can be) no proper term, save, perhaps, a Derridean neologism.

G 329n38) Without lingering excessively on the issue, it is nevertheless worth noting how in this passage Derrida presents an odd defense of his reading against the possibility of new information or a different version of this text, whatever that new information or version might be. Whatever this hidden or undiscovered text might contain—that is, whatever the text might say—is ultimately a matter of indifference, since it could not invalidate the reading offered above; “quite the contrary,” it could only further confirm it.

Agamben, then, agrees with Derrida that the tale brings to light the “differantial topology” of sovereignty, but then sharply distinguishes himself from the deconstructive reading by suggesting that this structure is not the ultimate limit of thought, but precisely the obscure threshold whose abolition Kafka’s tale gestures toward: “The prestige of deconstruction in our time lies precisely in its having conceived of the entire text of tradition as being in force without significance, a being in force whose strength lies essentially in its undecidability and in having shown that such a being in force is, like the door of the Law in Kafka’s parable, absolutely impassable.

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