3 Matching Annotations
  1. Sep 2014
    1. His proposal, derived from synopses of Paracelsus and Jakob Böhme, is that we learn to think of language as magic. Magic is what will substitute for structure, in which case one synonym for post-structuralism is “the occult.” Agamben wants magical signs; this, roughly, is what he means by “signatures,” signs that aren’t just neutral stand-ins for things, tokens or pointers, but charmed symbols vibrating with their own energies, signs that have “efficacy,” “efficacious likenesses,” not marks that you write down but marks that are written across you. Every spoken sentence changes the world and is in that sense a spell or hex. This is probably the clearest instance of the “regression” that Agamben makes central to his method: “the opposite of rationalization,” he calls it. If you are serious about your critique of enlightenment, you are going to need an enchanted epistemology.

      But how is magic not a structure?

    2. Agamben is in the market for a way of thinking about language that does not go through a juridical model of laws and rules … or a political model of the system … or a technical model of the machine.
    3. It is the virtue of Giorgio Agamben’s recent book on method, The Signature of All Things, to remind us what a painstaking post-structuralism can look like. And yes, this is the first thing to know about the book: that it is post-structuralist, in some wholly precise sense of that term, still, in 2008, when it was first published in Italy, and not just because its author quotes Foucault a lot. What matters is that Agamben is still actively trying to purge the concept of “structure” from his thinking; still trying to jimmy that e from his typewriter; still scanning old volumes of philosophy so he can accusingly annotate the passages where schemes sneak in unbidden; still trying to devise something to put in their place.