GIORGIO AGAMBEN’S REMNANTS OF AUSCHWITZ. Nicholas Chare. “M ind the Gap,” a common phrase on the London Under- ground, a phrase so familiar as. English] Remnants of Auschwitz: the witness and the archive / Giorgio . ‘5 REMNANTS OF AUSCHWITZ Primo Levi is a perfect example of the witness. Giorgio Agamben, Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive Victor Jeleniewski Seidler, Shadows of the Shoah: Jewish Identity and Belonging.

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In this book the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben looks closely at the literature of the survivors of Auschwitz, probing the philosophical and ethical questions raised by their testimony. It did not seem possible to proceed otherwise. At a certain point, it became clear that testimony contained at its core an essential lacuna; in other words, the survivors bore witness to something it is impossible to bear witness to. As a consequence, commenting on survivors’ testimony necessarily meant interrogating this lacuna or, more precisely, attempting to listen to it.

Listening to something absent did not prove fruitless work for this author. Above all, it made it necessary to clear away almost all the doctrines that, since Auschwitz, have been advanced in the name of ethics. Although some say that Auschwitz makes witnessing impossible, Agamben shows how the one who speaks bears this impossibility within his own speech, bordering the human and the inhuman.

Agamben probes for us the condition of speech at the limit of the human, evoking the horror and the near unspeakability of the inhuman as it witnesses in language its own undoing.

Agamben’s moving text on the Nazi death camps asks kf happens to speech when the deracinated subject speaks. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like giorgoi suggest updates through seller support?

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Images in Spite of All: Four Photographs from Auschwitz. Regarding the Pain of Others. Review — Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley ” Agamben’s moving text on the Nazi death camps asks what happens to speech when the deracinated subject speaks. Zone Books; Revised edition January 1, Language: I’d like to read this book on Kindle Don’t have a Kindle? Ayschwitz your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review.

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There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. I am writing this review to counter-act another review, which asserts that Agamben “places himself in a position of having a truer knowledge of life in the camps than those who were actually there,” and that Agamben tries to ‘correct’ the testimonies of actual survivors. This is such a serious assertion it borders on slander, and Agamben does nothing of the sort, not on a single page of this book. Thus, it’s no surprise that that reviewer gives no remannts of what he is referring to with this assertion.

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And not incidentally, this book “argues” that bearing witness has little to do with an “accurate knowledge” or the “correctness” of the content of the testimony. Rather, for Agamben, “the value of a testimony lies essentially in what it lacks” pg.

It is clear that this reviewer condemns Agamben’s argument as “nothing new” without first grasping it; and it is no surprise that their review doesn’t actually articulate the argument that it is condemning with such a swift brush. Before denouncing an argument, one must be able to present it oneself especially in a review that is meant to inform potential readers. In my review, I will attempt to outline Agamben’s trajectory in support of this work, a work which I along with Lost-Lacanian believe is stellar and definitely worth the “difficult read” that it requires.


Agamben begins with Primo Levi, a survivor of the camp who became a writer in order to bear witness to Auschwitz. To quote Levi, who speaks here with a voice common to all survivors of the camps: But this is not all. A phenomenon common to all studies of the camps from which Agamben draws heavily and critiques very concisely as he advances his thought is the phenomenon of the “Muselmann.

Emotion could no longer be evoked in them and letters from family members no longer gave them hope. These were the men in whom power had totally overcome their ability to be, who cared only to scrounge for bits of food Agamben’s “bare life”. Other prisoners were most concerned with avoiding the Muselmann because they felt that a Muselmann of their own was constantly on the verge of emerging in them. Agamben cites testimony of survivors whose first concern was to retain that “inner kernel” of their person, that thread of hope that kept them “alive” in spite of the constant possibility of becoming a “lifeless” Muselmann themselves.

Referencing a rare videotape taken of the camp, Agamben points out that it seems comparatively easy for the cameraman to linger over the corpses and dead bodies, but that when one of these wandering, half-living Muselmanner appear in the shot, the camera quickly shifts back to the cadavers.

And yet it is precisely to this phenomenon that folks like Levi feel indebted to bear witness; in fact, to this horrid phenomenon of absolute desubjectification alone. It is at this point of the Muselmann where Agamben sees the state of exception that might key us into a universal, where all the categories that we apply to “human” slip into the “non-human”: It is here that Agamben shifts to the question of dignity, the very worth of which the camps strip away, and shame, which Agamben shows is the dominant sentiment of survivors.

He cites Wiesel who says, “I live, therefore I am guilty. It is here that Agamben begins to identify this sentiment of shame as the dominant sentiment of the subject. Shame is grounded in the incapacity of a being to break from itself and to change the “it was.

Shame is there where our impulse to flee ourselves meets up with the impossibility of evading or escaping ourselves. Shame is grounded in the intimacy of being present to ourselves even as we are losing ourselves which reaches its limit in the unbearable sight of the Muselmanwhen we remain the “I” even through the most severe desubjectification, self-disorder, self-oblivion, expropriation, and the very destruction of our experience pgs Shame, like the subject, is there in that “flush” that consigns us to that from which we cannot get away.

J. L. Sherwood, Giorgio Agamben, Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive – PhilPapers

Here, to-be-subjected and to-be-sovereign are inseparable and yet forever distinct and disjoined. The subject is forever fractured in its passivity, between its receptive role Muselmann, desubjectification and its active role witness, re-subjectification as bearing witness to the desubjectification. After considering the sentiment of shame at length, Agamben argues that the subject shows itself to have no other content than its own desubjectification.

For Agamben, bearing witness to desubjectification is what constitutes the ethical gorgio as such. I’m unable to go into detail with Agamben’s lengthy excursus into desubjectification in relation to poetic aauschwitz via Keats, Celan, Pessoaphilosophy via the Greeks, Heidegger, Foucaultand linguistics Saussure, Benveniste. But this excursus, which comprises the latter half of the book, is the portion of his research that rremnants testimony in its proper weight, import, and scope.

It is a truly masterful interweaving of sources and perspectives, and it is presented with the ease and clarity that any reader of Agamben is accustomed to. Giorbio forced to summarize a point of intersection, I would say that Agamben “argues” something to this effect: Consciousness, the “I,” only has a consistency qua language as the event of language; but this very event divides the “I” constitutively, for to enter into discourse is already to be fractured.

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Thus the irreducible disjunction between “vital functions” and “inner history,” which is a duality that Agamben traces through the work of biologists and psychologists Binswanger, Bichat, Kimura. His research into Auschwitz survivors who must bear witness to that which they cannot bear witness meets up agambem all his other research threads under the general idea: Or again, to bear witness is to “place oneself in one’s own language in the position of those who have lost it” pgwhich clearly hearkens the writings of survivors like Levi who attempt to bear witness to those “complete witnesses” who are barred agamhen witnessing and language: Giorgoo the place of those who could not testify “for themselves,” those who could not even speak, the one who bears witness leaves behind a remnant that auschqitz witness to this inability to speak.


In this bearing witness, the survivor but also any witnessing-subject founds a language as what will remain of Auschwitz just as a poet founds a language. When Arendt was asked “What remains? We could also point to Celan as the poet-survivor whose difficult poetry also shows us the impossibility of speaking put to the task of speaking, to speak in utter darkness and yet bear witness by this very lack and impossibility– truly, to stutter a testimony in the hopeless night of non-knowledge.

I’ve tried to give an exposition of the main ideas of this book and to encourage any interested party to read abamben. Hopefully I have done some “justice” to its broad yet focused trajectory, which has deep resonances with the rest of Agamben’s oeuvre. I hope that what lacks here in my review is also what, in the spirit of testimony, can give it its value.

Remnants of Remnxnts is one giorgoo Agamben’s earlier works, but his cutting intelligence definitely still shows. The subject matter is the concentration camp, and more specifically, the language of the experience that follows the survivors back into the civilized world.


Drawing extensively on the memoirs of Primo Levi, Agamben examines the Musselman the Muslimthe most desperate of those interred at the concentration camps. He examines the shame of the survivors for having survived, guorgio the powerful sympathy that they felt towards those who had to clean up auchwitz bodies in the gas chambers.

Among all these threads of inquiry are the heart wrenching stories that will stay with you long after you put down this book. I will not or to you – this book is difficult to read. It’s subject matter is the most powerful experience of the 20th century. However, Agamben’s demystification of the concentration camp serves its purpose; we, as giotgio, should learn from this tragedy, not bury it in the past.

I read this book after having read Agamben’s big book “Homo Sacer. This book is some of the most compelling theory I have read to date. The book has three major categories of analysis: Each of these three categories have to do with the inhuman quality of being human and the speakability of that which is unspeakable.

Indeed, Agamben deploys subtle thought in order to construct these internal contradictions that actually played on in the extreme case of Auschwitz. As one might expect from the title, this book is haunting. The testimonials given of the Aauschwitz are particularly disturbing. Indeed, the experiences of Auschwitz is unspeakable. Perhaps, most startling is that Agamben argues our modern political paradigm is basically a sedated Auschwitz in which all of us can be turned into Musselmen, indeed, the musselman is that inhuman potential within our humanity.

In short, this book is haunting, captivating, yet, unspeakable in the aga,ben it tackles and the issues with which it wrestles. If you are not acquainted with Agamben, then, you might first be taken off guard by his verse gioggio thesis style.

But once you get in the flow, the form of his writing adds to its content. Agamben is an academic to the utmost.

His prose are beyond scholarly, making it somewhat difficult to understand.