This morning I began reading Agamben, sticking with the three-page introduction just to satisfy myself that I can actually make my way through an Italian text. I thought that I would write up some brief notes on each chapter as I read it, both for the benefit of the masses and so that I would have some kind of tangible result after finishing the book. (I also thought about writing up notes on whatever I happened to read on a given day, but that seemed likely to produce an overwhelming number of posts.)
His goal in the book is to investigate the ways that power in the West has tended to take the form of an oikonomia. This aligns his project with Foucault’s, though Agamben hopes to show that there were internal reasons that Foucault’s project remained unfinished. His angle will be an investigation of the initial attempts to formulate the doctrine of the Trinity in terms of a divine economy and to show “how the apparatus of the trinitarian oikonomia can constitute a privileged laboratory for observing the functioning and articulation — both internal and external — of the governmental machine.”
Agamben says that this book will go beyond the contrast between power and authority in State of Exception, here termed the kingdom (Regno) and government (Governo) by investigation the contrast between oikonomia and glory (presumably this is the immanent trinity). The key question, missed by previous scholars of royal pomp and liturgy, is why power needs glory. Though this question has been neglected for the most part, Agamben believes it points toward the relation between oikonomia and glory as “the ultimate structure of the governmental machine of the West.” Glory is “the secret center of power.” In the face of Agamben’s investigation, previous research into popular sovereignty, the public sphere, etc., will be shown to be missing the point.
The book will reach its limit at the “empty throne” of modernity, which demands that we make room for the notion of “eternal life.” That’s what Agamben will be talking about in the fourth part of Homo Sacer, dedicated to “forms of life.”
So just to clarify, this is what the structure of the overall Homo Sacer project seems to be:
I. Homo Sacer
II.1. State of Exception
II.2. Il Regno e la Gloria
III. Remnants of Auschwitz
IV. Forthcoming volume on “forms of life”
Of course, part IV was what everyone was expecting the next book to be.