Archive for the ‘William E. Connolly’ Category

William E. Connolly “The Complexities of Sovereignty”

Connolly, William E. 2007. The Complexities of Sovereignty – Calarco, Matthew; DeCaroli, Steven (eds). Giorgio Agamben: Sovereignty and Life. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 23-42.

Agamben contends that biopolitics has become intensified today. This intensification translates the paradox of sovereignty into a potential disaster. The analysis that he offers at this point seems not so much wrong to me as overly fo rmal. It reflects a classical liberal and Arendtian assumprion that there was a time when politics was restricted to public life and
hiocultural lif e was kept in the private real m. What a joke. Every way of life involves the infusion of norms, judgments, and standards into the affective lif e of participants at both private and public levels. Every way of life is bioculrural and biopolitical. (29)

Biocultural life has been intensified today with the emergence of new technologies of infusion. But the shift is not as radical as Agamben makes it our to be. In !are-modern life, new technologies enable physicians, biologists, geneticists, prison systems, advertisers, media talking heads, and psychiatrists to sink deeply into human biology. They help to shape the
cultural being of biology, although not always as they intend to do. (30)

If I am right, biocultural life displays neither the close coherence that many theorists seek nor the tight paradox that Agamben and others discern. Bioculcural lif e exceeds any textbook logic because of the nonlogical character of its materiality. It is more messy, layered, and complex than any logical analysis can capture. The very illogicalness of its materiality ensures that it corres ponds entirely to no design, no simple causal pattern, no simple set of paradoxes. Agamben displays the hubris of academic intellectualism when he encloses pol itical culture within a tightly defined logic. (31)