- Introduction to Issue 12: 1
Theory & Event leads off issue 12: 1 with “Antigone’s Claim: A Conversation With Judith Butler,” conducted by Pierpaolo Antonello and Roberto Farneti. The fecund conversation, driven by well-posed queries, provides new contexts for Professor Butler’s extraordinarily productive contributions to philosophy and social theory. Among the many trenchant responses featured in the conversation is Butler’s elaboration of her recent concern with the “national subject” in among other writings, her Precarious Lives. In the interview, she deftly articulates the figure of Antigone, whom she says, “stands in advance for precarious lives,” with a variety of subjects who are politically disqualified by “the arbitrary and violent force of sovereignty.”
We follow with Ryan Bishop and John W. P. Phillip’s symposium on the productive intervention of Jacques Derrida into structuralist thinking: “40 Years of Structure Sign and Play.” We will let Bishop and Phillip’s “Introduction” supply the framing for the symposium’s contributions, which not only situate the significance of the initial “event” of Derrida’s collection of essays in Writing and Difference but also indicate its enduring influence.
Issue 12: 1 also includes essays by Aukje van Rooden, Jonathan McKenzie, Char Roone Miller, and Tom Lundborg.
In “Interrupting Mythological Politics? On the Possibility of Literary Intervention,” Aukje van Rooden inquires into “democracy’s inability to face its own violence....to face the violent character of its own violence.” After engaging Walter Benjamin’s critical analyses of different modalities of violence, van Rooden turns to the ways in which “literary speech” can provide a political intervention into the mythic logics sustaining violence within the political order.
In “Pragmatism, Pluralism, Politics: William James’s Tragic Sense of Life,” Jonathan McKenzie situates his analysis of James within the contemporary approaches that emphasize how reading James as a pluralist as well as a pragmatist yields a James who has continuing significance for democratic theory. Arguing that “James’s philosophy exhibits a continuous theme,” McKenzie suggests that “James imbues political theory with a vision of human life that pronounces the importance of understanding finitude and multiplicity.” Such a vision brings out the importance of “the tragic sense of political life”, the always-incompleteness of ethics and the necessity of accepting a decentering of power.
In “Aesthetic of Strength: the Air Force Memorial and Virilio’s Last War,” Char Roone Miller treats the semiotics and aesthetics of the Air Force Memorial’s celebration of the “strength of the imperial power of the U.S.A.” Arguing that although the Memorial “attempts to capture submission....through [what Paul Virilio has identified as] the aesthetic pleasures of war,” Miller points to a way that its semiotics can produce counter political messages that encourage “agonistic conceptions of strength and war.”
In “The Becoming of the ‘Event’: A Deleuzian Approach to Understanding the Production of Social and Political ‘Events’,” Tom Lundborg explores the significance of Deleuze and Guattari’s “idea about philosophy becoming ‘worthy of the event’ by seeking to clarify Deleuze’s conceptions of the “pure” and “virtual” aspects of events. Distinguishing the Deleuzian event from closural and hermeneutic modes of analysis, Lundborg emphasizes the temporal becoming of events in order to resist “dominant political frameworks and to preserve what he sees as the “radical political of Deleuze’s philosophy.”
In our review section, we lead off with Jodi Dean’s review essay, “Again and Again: Real Materialism,” in which she reviews and provides critical commentaries on Slavoj Zizek The Parallax View and In Defense of Lost Causes, Paul Bowman and Richard Stamps eds, The Truth of Zizek and Yannis Stavrakaksis, The Lacanian Left.
In addition, Joseph R. Wiebe reviews Caroline Johnson Hodge, If Sons, Then Heirs: A Study of Kinship and Ethnicity in the Letters of Paul; Keally McBride reviews Jennifer L. Culbert, The Death Penalty and the Problem of Judgment; Jennifer L. Culbert reviews Leigh A. Payne, Unsettling Accounts: Neither Truth nor Reconciliation in Confessions of State Violence; and Leigh A. Payne reviews Keally McBride, Punishment and Political Order.
Jodi Dean, co-editor of Theory and Event, teaches political theory at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York...