Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Endless Crisis as an Instrument of Power: In conversation with Giorgio Agamben

The Endless Crisis as an Instrument of Power: In conversation with Giorgio Agamben


One day humanity will play with law just as children play with disused objects, not in order to restore them to their canonical use but to free them from it for good…. This liberation is the task of study, or of play. And this studious play is the passage that allows us to arrive at that justice that one of Benjamin’s posthumous fragments defines as a state of the world in which the world appears as a good that absolutely cannot be appropriated or made juridical.


We have a new attorney, Dr. Bucephalus. Little in his external appearance reminds one of the time when he was still Alexander of Macedon's battle steed. But those who are familiar with the circumstances notice certain things. Indeed, I recently saw, on the outside staircase, even a quite simple court employee admire the attorney with the professional look of a modest regular of the races as, lifting his thighs high, he went up from step to step, his footfalls ringing out on the marble.

In general the bar approves of the admission of Bucephalus. With amazing understanding they tell themselves that Bucephalus is in a difficult position in today's social order and that therefore, as well as because of his world-historical significance, he deserves some accommodation anyway. Today -- no one can deny it -- there is no great Alexander. Yes, many people try to murder; also there is no lack of people with the skill to strike their friend over the banquet table with a spear; and many find Macedonia too cramped, so that they curse Philip, the father -- but no one, no one can lead to India. Even back then, the gates to India were unreachable, but the king's sword showed the way. Today the gates are elsewhere entirely and further and higher; no one shows the way; many have swords, but only to wave them about; and the gaze that wants to follow them gets tangled up.

So maybe it's really best, as Bucephalus has done, to sink into law books. Free, his sides unvexed by the loins of the rider, by a quiet lamp, far from the racket of Alexander's battles, he reads and turns the pages of our old books.

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