Para‐ontology and the Governmental Machine

Doussan, Jenny. 2014. 'Para‐ontology and the Governmental Machine'. In: Annual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA 2014). Seminar: 'Agamben, Capital, and the Homo Sacer Series: Economy, Poverty, People, Work'. New York University, United States 20 - 23 March 2014. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

In The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government (2008), Giorgio Agamben departs from the emancipatory inversion of transcendence into immanence characteristic of his work of the decade before in which the transcendental expropriation of language by the spectacular state founds “the plane of immanence on which the new political experience is constituted,” (Notes on Politics, 1992). In the latter work, the philosopher describes instead the conjoining of the two poles of transcendence and immanence by the mediating apparatus of the governmental machine, sustained by the continuous vacuous self-affirmation of glory in both acclamation and visual representation, exemplified by the image of the empty throne in which the sabbatical essence of man is captured in service of governance (Kingdom and Glory, 245-6, 251). As a remedy to this condition of oikonomia in which inoperativity is instrumentalized in representation, Agamben proposes not anarchy, which he argues is always already at the very heart of the bipolar machine, but a Pauline formulation of messianic life founded upon “the impossibility that life might coincide with a predetermined form,” (Kingdom and Glory, 248). This paper retraces this move and connects Agamben’s Pauline formula not to its overt source, but rather to a set of methodological strategies delineated in Profanations (2005) and The Signature or All Things: On Method (2008) in which the violence of the metaphysical operation is countered with strategies that rely on not a negation, inversion or affirmative reappropriation of ontology but rather a para-ontology.

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Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

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Visual Cultures


23 March 2014Completed

Event Location:

New York University, United States

Date range:

20 - 23 March 2014

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19 Jun 2024 11:22

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19 Jun 2024 11:22


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