miércoles, junio 30, 2010


En el blog Notes for the coming community, David Kishik se encomienda a nuestro benemérito Giorgio Agamben, se sumerge en su filosofía y la desgrana leyéndola, volviendo a confrontarla con Foucault o Deleuze y explorando sus conceptos. Ahí van algunos posts sobresalientes:

We will use the term “biopolitics” from now on to designate this constant struggle between these two forces, rather than only one of them independently of the other: on the one hand, the monitoring, controlling, disciplining, and administrating of our lives by apparatuses of power (like the government and the police, but also the education system and economic institutions, to mention just a few obvious examples); on the other hand, our ability to fight these powers by imagining, producing, practicing, or presenting new ways to share our lives with one another. (Thesis on the concept of form of life)

But the idea that language is an apparatus is already present in Freud’s first book, On Aphasia, where he explicitly and consistently speaks about “the speech apparatus” as the field of his investigation. This is a clever move that allows him to avoid the need to deal with the abstract structure of language (what Saussure will call langue), as well as its actual use by a speaker (parole). Instead, it enables Freud to treat language as this impersonal and pragmatic machine that can break down from time to time, thus leading to aphasia, whereof one cannot speak. He realizes that aphasia should not be understood as a single entity, but rather as a complex variety of speech impairments. Instead of localizing those different aspects of aphasia in particular parts of the brain, he insists that they are the result of different linguistic functions and dysfunctions, associations and dissociations. (The apparatus of language)

So what is an apparatus? The most lucid explanation of this decisive notion can be found in a recent essay by Agamben, forthcoming in English in a book bearing on its cover this very question. Yet a provisional answer can be given on the mere ground of the illustration in the beginning of “Apparatus of Capture.” Its source is the Dictionnaire economique, published in 1732 by Noel Chomel. According to the List of Illustrations at the end of A Thousand Plateaus, it appears under the entry Perdix (Partridge), but it can actually be found under the entry Filet (net). This little slip is more meaningful and symbolic than it seems. In order to understand why, let us look closer at this fascinating document. (Apparatus of capture)

The ambivalence of Agamben’s philosophy, which can be read as reflecting both the curse of, and the cure for, our time, may be attributed to the double strategy behind his publications in recent years. On the one hand, we have the celebrated Homo Sacer series, which, up to now, is comprised of three books, available in English translation: Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, State of Exception (the only two books most people bother reading), and Remnants of Auschwitz: the Witness and the Archive (a new publication, The Reign and the Glory, is forthcoming with Stanford UP). These books analyze the darkness of our time, which Agamben calls “biopolitics” – the political power over our naked life. However, the attentive reader can also discern in each of these critiques a certain light that shines in the darkness, which flashes up at the closing sections of each one of those “pessimistic” books. Because of the difficulty of his readers to recognize this light, Agamben offers a second set of investigations, those other books, which elaborate on his glad tidings. These are the books that show us how to bring about the mending of the broken world in which we live: The Coming Community, The Open: Man and Animal, Profanations, and the book that concerns us here, The Time That Remains. (You are our letter)

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