Class Discussion pt. 2

Agamben seems to hold out hope for a politics (if the term could still be used) that goes beyond the sovereign-bare life relationship, that is, the relationship of the ban. I get this mostly from sections in which Agamben talks about how hard it is to break with the structure of the ban:

'The task that our time imposes on thinking cannot simply consist in recognizing the extreme and insuperable form of law as being in force without significance. Every thought that limits itself to this does nothing other than repeat the ontological structure that we have defined as the paradox of sovereignty (or sovereign ban)…Only if it is possible to think the Being of abandonment beyond every idea of law (even the empty form of law's being in force without significance) will we have moved out of the paradox of sovereignty toward a politics freed from every ban. A pure form of law is only the empty form of relation. Yet the empty form of relation is no longer a law but a zone of indistinguishability between law and life, which is to say, a state of exception' (59).

The ban becomes the pure form of relation, and to escape from it entails 'the attempt to think the politico-social factum no longer in the form of a relation (60). Consequently, attempts to 'politicize' bare life by tacking rights onto it are doomed from the outset as they remain within the form of relation that is the ban.
Agamben's emphasis on 'factum' is interesting in light of the later note on Heidegger, cited by compute and GH, on 150. Heidegger, in making the experience of facticity constitutive of Dasein – that is, Dasein's experience of itself as its social, political, historical place – has created a subject whose bare life and political life are inseparable. This would not simply be a matter of soldering together bare life and political life, as Agamben occasionally states in 'Biopolitics and the Rights of Man,' but an understanding of subject that would preclude the possibility of isolating any one term. In this sense, there's a possibility that the 'proper politicization of bare life' would be the total politicization of bare life to the point that it creates a *zone of indistinction* between bios and zoe, fact and law.
The curious thing about this, and the topic I'd be interested in addressing in class, is that this whole process is something like the state of exception become the rule. Agamben says as much toward the end of his note on 150: 'It is as if the bare life of homo sacar, whose exclusion founded sovereign power, now became – in assuming itself as a task – explicitly and immediately political. And yet this is precisely what characterizes the biopolitical turn of modernity.' By the end of 'Homo Sacar,' we get a list of extreme figures – the Fuhrur, the Musulman, the Flamen – whose bios can be said to be their zoes. I'm curious to hear what people make of these figures and of the fact that they are produced by the ban-structure they undermine.

I just saw GH’s post about Dasein. Dasein is a termed coined by Heidegger and literally translates (I think) as ‘the-there’ or ‘being-there.’ Heidegger proposes the term in opposition to the ‘subject,’ which he believed presupposes object-hood. Instead of something objectively present, Dasein is temporal- it is its understanding of its possible modes of being. These possibilities are socially and historically determined and, along with use-objects, signs, language, others, constitute the Dasein’s world - its ‘there’. Another way it gets said is that Dasein is being-in-the-world, or that its mode of being is ‘care’, where care is understood as always already holding certain beliefs, desires and understandings about its own possibilities – insofar as Dasein is constituted by care/possibilities, Dasein is its world, its ‘there’ (Agamben might say, is essentially political). Dasein is ‘thrown’ into its world- it finds itself already in, given over to, a world not of its own choosing. ‘Facticity’ is this experience of throw-ness, the brute fact of being given over to its world. This sketch might be more confusing than helpful…