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Giorgio Agamben. Infancy and History: On the Destruction of Experience. London: Verso, Therein, the staff had asserted their take on Giorgio Agamben's decision, in the midst of Bush's "War on Terrorism," to say "No to Biopolitical Tattooing," a metaphor for Homeland Security's requirement of digital photographs and fingerprints, by boycotting the United States — and thus, a course he was scheduled to teach at the university.
Introducing the concept of "gesture," for instance, in reference to Kant's Analytic of the Beautiful as "the realm of pure means" , he asserts, as have others with respect to the Sublime, that the aesthetic sensibility of the third Critique is necessarily implicated with the political, the conceptual trace of which can be detected, amongst other locations, in the title of the book Means Without End: Notes on Politics.
Indeed, as Agamben asserts in the preface to the English-language edition of Infancy and History , this book "forms the prologue" 3 to an unwritten work that would be entitled La Voce Umana The Human Voice , while those published in the period since "are its afterwords" 3. This dialectic would then be broken in multiple forms, throughout the corpus of Agamben's more explicitly political works, in the allegorical passage from human to animal, body to language, and nature to polis.
This is why "Infancy," for instance, is defined not merely as the incapacity of the puerile voice to enter the logos of politically-validated speech, but rather as the force of language itself that is only represented in the form of antinomy. Thus Agamben critiques the notion introduced in the Cartesian Meditations , when Husserl suggests that while there indisputably exists an originally "dumb" psychological experience prior to the linguistic condition of possibility for the Cogito , it is ultimately through the verbal that this is overcome and the transcendental subject is brought forth.
The "History" of the book's title then, refers to the temporal enframing within which the Aristotelian antinomies have been situated, pointing out the importance of the ever-increasingly "mechanical experience" of mass media and technology, the origin of which Benjamin "located in the catastrophe of the First World War" However, rather than acquiesce to some pregiven chronological time as though what the War bequeathed were the only potentiality , Agamben follows the more redemptive Benjamin of The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, elaborating how through the profanation of play, History might be transmogrified into event, or "cairological" time , thus enabling a personal and collective authority beyond that presently monopolized by the state and capital.
In doing so, the objects are necessarily also subtracted from the synchrony of the adult world, releasing them into the diachrony of the child's: a move that emboldens Agamben to assert that while "ritual fixes and structures the calendar, play on the other hand, though we do not yet know how and why, changes and destroys it" To the extent that experience would be retained in such a project then, it would certainly not be that of knowledge in the form of a vulgar Pure or Practical Reason, but instead would be specifically post -Kantian in the Benjaminian sense of affirming multiple ways of "knowing" at once.
Thus, those who might be tempted to judge Agamben a simple, indelicate Movement ideologue, bent only on exposing what the editors of NYU's student newspaper describe as "supposed American injustice," ought to read more carefully.
For what he argues in this early chapter is that just as, for instance, Fox News, car culture and urban renewal are co-implicated in the mechanization of experience with Homeland Security, biopolitical tattooing and Guantanamo Bay, much the same could be said of many of their most vociferous opponents.
The result is the sprig of Agamben's Coming Community, in which the Aristotelian concept of community is reconstituted in order to affirm the multiple temporalities and forms-of-life that, particularly today, are always already co-present to one another. And, if it does, what is its relationship to language?
Infancy and History: On the Destruction of Experience
File:Agamben Giorgio Infancy and history The destruction of experience 1993.pdf
Giorgio Agamben is one of the leading figures in Italian philosophy and radical political theory, and in recent years, his work has had a deep impact on contemporary scholarship in a number of disciplines in the Anglo-American intellectual world. Beyond this philosophical heritage, Agamben also engages in multilayered discussions of the Jewish Torah and Christian biblical texts, Greek and Roman law, Midrashic literature, as well as of a number of Western literary figures and poets, including Dante, Holderlin, Kafka, Pessoa, and Caproni to name but a few. In this, Agamben argues that the contemporary age is marked by the destruction or loss of experience, in which the banality of everyday life cannot be experienced per se but only undergone, a condition which is in part brought about by the rise of modern science and the split between the subject of experience and of knowledge that it entails. Against this destruction of experience, which is also extended in modern philosophies of the subject such as Kant and Husserl, Agamben argues that the recuperation of experience entails a radical rethinking of experience as a question of language rather than of consciousness, since it is only in language that the subject has its site and origin. Infancy, then, conceptualizes an experience of being without language, not in a temporal or developmental sense of preceding the acquisition of language in childhood, but rather, as a condition of experience that precedes and continues to reside in any appropriation of language. Agamben continues this reflection on the self-referentiality of language as a means of transforming the link between language and metaphysics that underpins Western philosophical anthropology in Language and Death, originally published in
Giorgio Agamben (1942– )
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