On Giorgio Agamben's Profanations
[excerpt]

 

 

Mehdi Belhaj Kacem

translated by Jorge Jauregui

 

To resume again...

Jacques Lacan's Anxiety (II)
J
- A MILLER

The Names-of-the-Father
J
- A MILLER

The Formulas of
L'Étourdit
A
LAIN BADIOU

On Giorgio Agamben's
Profanations
M
EHDI BELHAJ
KACEM

The Fundamental Perversion
S
LAVOJ ZIZEK

Lacan
as Reader of Hegel
S
LAVOJ ZIZEK

1978-2000
R
OBERT GOBER

Catherine Opie
C
ATHY LEBOWITZ
interviews
JOSEFINA AYERZA

blake31 image

 

Agamben defines religion as the sphere of separation: consequently every kind of separation seems to be religious. His rationale roughly follows that of Walter Benjamin, who declared that the religion of our times was capitalism, and that capitalism has raised the category of separation to its utmost degree of perfection. Capitalist nihilism is a religious cult of the purest kind - formal - its contents being the empty forms of separation and sacredness. We may easily surmise where he is leading us: profanation is the logical solution to the hegemonic curse of the commodity; the pure and empty form of separation - sacrare - rules among men. Still we will run up against a difficulty.

[...]

Agamben argues that in the capitalist cult everything is profaned, yet at the same time everything is useless so that use itself has become impossible. To describe the cultural emptiness of capitalist profanation Agamben resorts to pornography and fashion. The affinities between contemporary art and these two spheres of production are quite obvious. In Fuerbach's terms, pornography is defined by sex as the identity of the profane and truth, whereas fashion is defined by money as the identity of the sacred and the illusion. All this seems fairly clear, and nevertheless why does Agamben target pornography as the potential and elective object of profanation rather than fashion? In a sense, fashion would be more entitled, and would certainly be likely disposed, to profanation than pornography, despite the fact that the latter is prone to profanation as well.

Roughly speaking, Agamben tells us: "The profanation of the unprofanable is the political task of the coming generation." *

[...]

*
Agamben, Giorgio, "In Praise of Profanation," transl. by Kevin Attell in Profanations, New York: Zone Books, forthcoming.



Art: Blake Rayne - Untitled 31 (December 18, 1999) - oil on canvas, 2006
courtesy of the Miguel Abreu Gallery.

Excerpt from the actual article - in the printed edition. For information about subscribing to Lacanian Ink click here. If you do not wish to subscribe but would like information about buying the issue containing this article click here.