File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0110, message 108

Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2001 20:15:56 +0100
Subject: terror and the bare life

In Agamben's text Homo Sacer - sovereign power and bare life - he 
discusses the relationship between the ethico-political and the place of 
the person in it. The discussion focuses on the ethical problem that 
arises as a result of the loss of ethics when the previous 
justifications of religion, metaphysics and culture collapse. The core 
of the gesture of refusal derives from biopolitics, its relations to 
auschwitz and the sacred, the sacred person in this context being the 
person who can be killed  and yet not sacrificed. This logic being 
derived from the way in which people are endlessly killed and/or 
controlled by the state as a consequence of the need of the modern state 
needing to control its subjects to the level of their naked lives. This 
has many roots - perhaps the most interesting is in the early 
understandings of the state from Hobbes where the origin of state power 
can be seen to be in the right of the state to do anything to anyone, in 
effect the right to punish where the states subjects have left the right 
to punish to inflict har,m on others to the state. (see leviathan pp 

What is the significant representation that the modern life has ? is it 
a true image that the modern person is an 'unsacrificable life' or is 
this just an illusion as the state takes upon itself the right to maim 
and slaugther whomsoever it pleases so long as it is elsewhere on the 
margins of the post-modern world. However the cost of development which 
is still so present in our world, draws a line which is increasingly 
unpleasent as it digs into our still comparatively stable biologies - 
first a subhuman, then  a sheep, next a subject...

Finally - I have been thinking about set theory and its relations to the 
recent events - a final note - in the inclusive set which is the 
increasingly globalised world - afghanistan and the associated 'islamic' 
 religious terroists who attacked the WTC for the second time on 9/11 - 
stand for the excluded margins which cannot be brought into the whole 
that constitutes the set of the post-modern economy.  As the bombing and 
the invasion continues it becomes clearer that they are the marginal 
limit which is finally the unacceptable other, between the outside and 
the inside, between that which is a clear member of the set and that 
which is not... The process which i watch nightly on my TV and hear 
about on my radio every morning is the process of inclusion....

ethics in these days is not about joy and life but about the acceptable 
limits to a culture which accepts none.




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