Not Not. A Note on the Figures of Power in Giorgio Agamben
Source TitleEtica e Politica/Ethics and Politics
PublisherUniversità degli Studi di Trieste
University of Melbourne Author/sClemens, Justin
AffiliationSchool of Culture and Communication
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsClemens, J. (2020). Not Not. A Note on the Figures of Power in Giorgio Agamben. Etica e Politica/Ethics and Politics, 22 (3), pp.195-209. https://doi.org/10.13137/1825-5167/31264.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access URLPublished version
When one starts to read the work of Giorgio Agamben, one cannot not be struck by his erudition, his eye for previously overlooked or under-interpreted details in the philosophical, political, artistic and legal archives, not to mention his commitment to rethinking those received traditions according to new means. Yet what is also very striking is Agamben’s unceasing attention to the apparition and construction of what I will term figures of power. At the beginning of Means Without End, Agamben asks himself “Is today a life of power available?”. If Agamben’s word here is ‘life’, it is just as critical to understand that such a term is not to be taken in its biological acceptation; on the contrary, what he means by ‘life’ must be something other than a scientific category. I will make a number of suggestions as to why the word ‘figure’ has some pertinence in this context, and why it leads, on the one hand, to a new analysis of operations of negation, and, on the other, to a paradoxical kind of non- or extra-ontological act of impotentiality.
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