Department of Reading

20.03.10 15:17 The question is, how performance relates to some kind of movement? An escape from language?

20.03.10 16:07 It introduces an effortless and laborless practice (of community), which is very different from the labor of a political project.

21.03.10 15:15 But still I would like to have a better understanding of liturgy as a political potential of a practice of speaking, the insertion of morals as a kind of catastrophy to ethical thinking, the split between actor and act and the realm of art and contemporary performance as a continuous enactment of speech acts, in which the subject is continuously absent. That incessant performance of performance is like a detached, segregated liturgical function that takes place as an excluded pure act, entirely disconnected from any community.

21.03.10 15:46 I am still sceptic that the text in a way suggests – in its implicit connection with The Author as Gesture, the author as the place of the dead man, or the one that is disocnnected from the act – to put the author in a line with the priest and the officer. What do we make of that?

Excerpts from
Liturgia and the Modern State
Giorgio Agamben

With Helmut Draxler, Paul Gangloff, Tanja Widmann, Monika Vykoukal
and Inga Zimprich

In the last years I had focused my investigation first on law and then on theology. Why? The first answer, which is obviously a joke, but every joke has a serious core, would be, because these are the only two fields in which Michel Foucault did not work. The second answer, apparently more serious, but every seriousness has a core of mockery, would be, because I wanted to understand, what is politics?


On the other hand it seemed to me that only if I could understand what is a liturgical act, I could answer to Arendt's question: What does it mean, to act politically? As a matter of fact the proximity between liturgy and politics is implicit in the very term liturgia. The Greek term liturgia comes from laos (people) and ergon (work) and it means therefore literally public action, activity done for the people.

20.03.10 14:58 The joke corresponds to the catastrophy in the history of translation: when officium becomes duty. The catostrophy along Agamben is that the agent is reintroduced into the relation. The other problem that appeared within the history of movements was, that the liturgical structure seemed open to whatever officium: art, politics, theology, left or right wing; the structure reap- peares as a kind of magical act.

20.03.10 15:37 But the movement is just the idea for the greater work, the work of the community. That is somehow scary to me, the pure energeia is not in opposition to the limited work, but its transformation onto a wholly/holy different scale: the becoming as work.

20.03.10 15:39 Yet, I think, it is also connected to an idea of désœuvrement in a peculiar way, namely that what is put into effect is not an ergon, but the effects – that what happens, is only enacted due to an action, a praxis. That is to say, by the participation in a "cultic activity". Of course this seems directly connected to the idea of movement Agamben brings up during the text.

20.03.10 15:52 Well Agamben - weirdly enough - doesn't go into the contingency of the aspect of naming, that is always narrow or broad and can be filled with ambivalent aspects, as apparently the term movement was used under different signs. So, to mark the difference it would be necessary to tell more than one story, whereas here sometimes the names seem to be more true than what is put into effect.

20.03.10 15:57 If the liturgical mystery is the political, then the political would precisely be, what is not named, it would be the pure motivational, decicionist force, or what? I mean, is this such a mystery? Does this lead back to the question of a politics beyond relation, beyond language games?

20.03.10 16:20 Do you mean, that something can be put into effect through language, but itself remains a mystery, like an empty center of the act - what Agamben also names the mystery of power? Because I think, what we are coming to in the end is that the community has to believe in the act - that is, what grounds its power, no? I think baptism is endangered by the joke, because it has to draw a strong line against the evryday, the profane, to remain in the realm of power.

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