“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Derrida on Agamben

...ouch. I'm getting around finally to reading The Beast and the Sovereign, in which Derrida pulls no punches in quite the devastating assault on Agamben. I'm afraid I do take sides here, since I find Agamben infuriatingly arrogant in just the way Derrida does: “he must feel that he is surrounded by a lot of idiots, who are more bêtes and more blind than is possible.” Critical animal studies folks will notice the charged language here.

Poor Levinas, writes Agamben (writes Derrida), didn't know what he was talking about in 1934, but I, Agamben, will fill him in. Silly Foucault, he wasn't able to push his biopolitics as far as I, Agamben, have done: “Foucault was almost the first ...” And so on: “Agamben ... wants to be twice first, the first to see and the first to announce an unprecedented and new thing ...”

Exactly. Luckily Agamben is waning in my neck of the humanities.

1 comment:

captain furious said...

I just reread this the other day for a paper I am writing. I was again bowled over by Derrida's strong attack on him. Quite scathing. Is Agamben really disappearing?