PHILOSOPHY INTERRUPTED: agamben’s unspeakable girl and the counter-phenomenology of initiation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Unspeakable Girl is more important for Agamben’s thought than its short length, antiquarianism, and belletristic format suggest. In discussing ancient initiation rites through an analysis of the figure of the Kore–the unspeakable girl–it suggests how we might conceive of initiation into form-of-life, thus addressing a pressing question that emerges from Agamben’s Homo Sacer project: if Agamben’s thought aims at the demystification of philosophy, yet mystery is the essence of philosophical initiation as traditionally conceived and philosophy needs some kind of initiation, how could one conceive of an initiation into that which is without mystery–into the profane. Yet by insisting on an opposition between “authentic” interior gestures and their vulgar betrayal, Agamben undermines his own most radical insight. Such a distinction can never be drawn, and hence a different kind of initiation must be envisioned: not into the critical spectatorship of the dance, but into the dance itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-34
Number of pages16
JournalAngelaki - Journal of the Theoretical Humanities
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept 2

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory


Dive into the research topics of 'PHILOSOPHY INTERRUPTED: agamben’s unspeakable girl and the counter-phenomenology of initiation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this