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Sovereignty without Mastery

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  • Patrick McLane

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    (Department of Sociology, University of Alberta, 5-21 HM Tory Building, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2H4, Canada)

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    Abstract

    In The Beast and the Sovereign v.1, Derrida argues that classical sovereignty is linked to the performative act of declaring oneself master. Thus, each sovereign asserts a distinction between the masterful self and the mastered other. Derrida contends that the sovereign distinction between self and other maps onto a distinction between sovereign autonomy and a mechanical determination said to characterize others of all kinds. This gives rise to a differentiated binary between responsibility, capacity and restraint on the one side against reaction, instinct and danger on the other, which, Derrida suggests, operates across traditional separations, such as man/animal, man/machine, mind/body and, of course, sovereign and beast. This paper argues that Derrida’s reading of Paul Celan and Georges Bataille may be understood as a pursuit of an alternative sovereignty. This alternative sovereignty would be without mastery and its binaries. I suggest that Derrida finds such an alternative sovereignty in the “majesty” of poetry, which, in his own poetic gesture, allows him to upset traditional distinctions.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Societies.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 1 (December)
    Pages: 1-15

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsoctx:v:3:y:2012:i:1:p:1-15:d:22494

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    Related research

    Keywords: sovereignty; poetry; testimony; ‘The Animal’; Derrida; Bataille; Celan;

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