Agamben and Politics : a Critical Introduction by Sergei Prozorov

By Sergei Prozorov

Tracing how the common sense of inoperativity works within the domain names of language, legislation, heritage and humanity, Agamben and Politics systematically introduces the basic strategies of Agamben's political concept and a severely translates his insights within the wider context of latest philosophy.

Agamben's commentators and critics are likely to concentrate on his robust critique of the Western political culture within the Homo Sacer sequence. yet this slender concentration serves to imprecise the final constitution of Agamben's political inspiration, that's neither unfavorable nor serious yet affirmative. Sergei Prozorov brings out the affirmative temper of Agamben's political concept, concentrating on the concept that of inoperativity, which has been primary to Agamben's paintings from his earliest writings

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The inoperative is neither the inactive nor the useless but rather consists in the activity that restores potentiality to beings and things, making them usable in new ways. Glory Let us now elaborate this idea of inoperative potentiality through a series of examples from various thematic fields of Agamben’s work. Indeed, such examples may easily be found in every field that Agamben has investigated since the 1970s, making inoperativity the central concept that endows Agamben’s work with strong coherence despite the dazzling diversity of his concerns.

Then, some night while I was asleep in my palace, an enemy would invade my country. Roused from my sleep, I wouldn’t have time even to dress and I would have to flee in my shirt. Rushing over hill and dale and through forests day and night, I would finally arrive safely right here at the bench in this corner. ’ The others exchanged uncomprehending glances. ’, someone asked. ‘I’d have a shirt’, was the answer. (Benjamin 1968: 134–5) This parable is not merely comic in the conventional sense but illustrates the logic of comic reversal that we shall trace below in various domains of Agamben’s political thought.

Yet, despite ultimately returning to one’s place, the beggar arguably travels quite a long way, assuming the sovereign power of a king and then losing the possibility of its exercise, ultimately ending up in the position of the opposite of the sovereign, with the consolation 25 agamben and politics prize of the shirt. What is formed in these travels is what Agamben terms a ‘zone of indistinction’ between sovereign and rabble, which for him is the mark of a truly messianic politics. The beggar does become king, yet while in the tragic logic his becoming king would come at the cost of transforming someone else into a beggar, thus perpetuating the tragic story of sovereign power, in the comic version the very logic of sovereignty is suspended so that all the sovereign gets for his troubles is the shirt, which levels his difference from the beggar.

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