Managing the unmanageable: Agamben's the Kingdom and the Glory and the dance of political economy

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While The Kingdom and the Glory addresses the specifically economic dimension of modern biopolitical forms of governmentality, it goes even farther than earlier volumes of Homo Sacer in obscuring the specific dynamic of modern capitalism. Rather than simply challenging Giorgio Agamben's conclusions from an external perspective, the following paper proposes an immanent, "deconstructive" critique, showing that Agamben's neglect of the problem of "economic value," and of its close filiation to the circular movement of glory, is intimately related to his attempt, through the signature, to effectively neutralize the Derridean play of the signifier. While Agamben introduces the signature alongside the example as a second, economic-theological rather than political-theological paradigm for understanding paradigmicity as such, he seeks to stabilize the relation between the two. Contesting such stabilization, this paper develops a logic of surplementarity, positing the impossibility of keeping the "play of the signature" from disrupting the ideality of semantic value. Special attention will be given to Agamben's tendency, neglecting the relation between oikonomia and dance, to identify the "acclamatory" aspect of glory with song alone. Thus he seeks to understand the economy as ordering into unison, rather than as a more complex, differential relation of singularities. This goes hand in hand with the failure to address the graphic, chrematistic dimension of modern capitalism. But it is ultimately when, turning to Hölderlin, he stresses the "national" essence of poetry, that the full consequences of his suppression of dance emerge. Attending to the role of dance in Hölderlin will nevertheless suggest another way to think the glorious economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-174
Number of pages26
JournalConcentric: Literary and Cultural Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Sept 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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