Saturday, May 13, 2017

What is the meaning of sacer in Homo Sacer? Political Appropriation of the Sacred & lacération de la deésse (image-en-[l']air)***

***Critical Comments on Agamben's Homo Sacer. Il potere sovrano e la nuta vita

... cette générosité de l'être... lie la genèse
ou la génération à ce mouvement d'abandon
qui laisse être sans lui, sans lui-même, sans 
son origine, cela même à qui il donne lieu...
Jacques Derrida, Le toucher

No era fácil sentir en sus hombros el 
peso de una mano sobrenatural.
Mario Vargas Llosa, La Fiesta del Chivo

... hay un puente que va del tlatoani al 
virrey y del virrey al presidente...
Octavio Paz, "Crítica de la Pirámide"

at the present time the destinies of the world 
are in the hands of self-made demoniacs...
Aldous Huxley

Inventrice de l'éventail: Eve (Eve-en-taille)...
Marcel Duchamp

[Pour une oikonomia génerale]

(A) concerning the term sacer: for Agamben, homo sacer means what can be killed but not ritually killed (or sacrificed) [uccidibile e insacrificabile, p. 113]; he relates it also to Benjamin's concept of "bare" or "naked life" [bloß Leben]; and sacer is not what has been usually understood by "sacred" or sacré; it is rather what is (let us say) instituted by the sovereign principle (or power) — by the exceptional instance according to which right is both founded and suspended (Carl Schmitt); it follows however that it has nonetheless a relation to what has been traditionally understood as sacred or sacré, because this exceptional instance still founds and suspends, that is, "negotiates" (in) the threshold [soglia, seuil] between the world of the living and the world of the dead; sacer is indeed a political concept, but it is also more than that (is Agamben willing to accept this?);

(B) concerning semiology: what is at issue in the structuralism of Lévi-Strauss (his introduction à l'Oeuvre de Marcel Mauss) (and in deconstruction) is not reference or denotation [denotazione] (that one needs to postulate a signifiant flottant in order to denote, to use language in specific situations) — but that there isn't any denotatum that could be (let us say) handed or presentified except as an illusory effect of language; what could this denotatum be beyond a series of differences (stabilized in a structure by a signifiant flottant)? A life entirely resolved in writing or écriture (Agamben uses the term scrittura and refers rather to Benjamin than to Derrida, p. 63, but the problem is exactly the same) is a life in the series (peut-être sans le signifiant flottant, mais toujours dans les series). Can it be denoted? Can one simply restore [comporre] the semiological fracture [fratture] of language (p. 14; his argumentation in Stato di Eccezione, Hommo Sacer II, 1 p. 49-50, 53-54 is even weaker)?     

(C) concerning the ambiguity of the more traditional concept of sacré: because of (A) and (B) it is unclear how much Agamben can present a theory of the sacred that is any better than Bataille's (and Agamben recognizes the importance of the concept of désoeuvrement); what Agamben indeed does much better than Bataille is to show the risk** of the political appropriation of the sacred (in fascist, communist and democratic regimes alike);

**extreme and at the same time banal, in the sense of Hannah Arendt (Homo Sacer I, p. 126);

Qui vivant a compris tout ça sinon Christe-Eve, Cristo-Eva, Kristeva? Das ist der mir sagte, mein Gott Abraxas... Nietzsche, Nitsch, Nitz...

(picture taken from the 
Internet, lacerated by A/Z)


Yu (Shang dynasty, 
China, 1050 BCE)
Image taken from Julian
Bell's Mirror of the Mirror

Phoenician inlaid ivory 
(Nimrud, c. 750 BCE)
Image also taken from Julian
Bell's Mirror of the Mirror

Egon Schiele
Pregnant Woman and Death (1911)
Image from Simon Wilson's Egon Schiele

Cindy Sherman
detail from Untitled #175 (1987)
Image taken from the Internet

detail from Pole Star (1984)
Image taken from Leonhard
Emmerling's Basquiat

detail from Edvard Munch's
Woman in Blue (Frau Barth) (1921)
Image taken from Ulrich 
Bischoff's Munch

l'évagile d'après salò:

See also:
- View from Berthe Trepat's Apartment