Not enough people are talking about Agamben’s Sacrament of Language. It’s inevitable and to some extent justified that it would be overshadowed by The Kingdom and the Glory, but Sacrament of Language provides a theoretical basis for the homology between theology and politics that structures K&G and is, in general, a very ambitious theory of religion. I’d imagine that many of the justifiable questions people have about K&G would be answered, or at least clarified, by reading Sacrament of Language. Plus it’s short!
So in conclusion, more people should read The Sacrament of Language. (And not just because I translated it. In fact, I only inquired about translating it because I thought it was important.)
8 thoughts on “A declaration”
Hi, Adam. This is José from Barcelona, spain. I have read this book and also the last two parts of Homo sacer, Altissima povertà and Opus dei, that i think you are translating also. I want to ask you if you have a clue of the following of that fascinating investigation. Well, eternal life was an announcement in the K&G book of a forthcoming book, but what do you think about it?
I’m not sure what’s coming next. At the end of Altissima povertà, he seems to be saying that he wants to explore how the Franciscans could have won their debate with the Curia and avoided being co-opted by the church — but he also says that it might turn out to be a blind alley. I don’t know what he means by eternal life specificially or how it connects with the Franciscanism. I can speculate about how it will all fit together, but I’m just not sure.
More than anything else, The Sacrament of Language acquires enormous importance after Opus Dei, for it amounts to the preliminary research that allows his speculations on an alternative ontology of the ‘imperative’. Opus Dei is also politically decisive as it opens new critical, mainly descriptive, ‘negative’ paths, contrary to the Franciscans’ book, in my view…
Agamben’s last original seminar in Paris 8 was on ‘the use of the body’ and it started with an interesting and provocative rereading of Aristotle on slavery. The rest, unfortunately, although probably recorded, isn’t available yet. I also have the feeling that his research on the archeology of command and will was not exhausted in «Opus Dei», so I’m hoping for further developments.
I am really enjoying all the recent stuff on Agamben lately. And I think my arm has just been twisted to finally read it!!! I’m wondering how much, in the long run, all of Agamben’s work on medieval Christianity might deconstruct the narratives around cherished items like the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment.
I wholeheartedly agree with the Declaration! In a way, it perhaps should apply to the whole of Agamben’s oeuvre. Because, as has been said by many others before, important aspects of his work only become fully understandable by rereading these in the light of things he has said elsewhere, in earlier texts, or in later texts, or both. His whole work sometimes seems to me to be like a Turkish carpet. And it is the underside of such carpets, normally hidden from view, which technically is the really interesting side. Since the maker of this carpet, Agamben, is still working on it (and may he continue to do so for many more happy and fascinating years!), as far as possible trying to reconstruct how he ‘constructs’ this underside may reveal, perhaps, the strategy underlying his work. To me it seems that this strategy – and hasn’t he himself once called himself a strategist? – is the really interesting stuff about Agamben.
Adam, Have you ever posted an Agamben reading plan of sorts-besides this suggestion? If you were to recommend one, which works and order would you suggest?
I have never posted anything like that — let me give it some thought. But a good starting place would probably be The Coming Community.
Excellent, thanks! I started with Homo Sacer and I have been reading the project in its suggested progression and not the chronological progression but thanks for suggesting “The Coming Community.” Another aside question, I have noticed that Roberto Esposito is developing a dialogue of sorts with Negri and Agamben himself, do we know from Agamben what is his take on Negri and Esposito?
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