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Antigone's Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death (The Wellek by Judith Butler

By Judith Butler

The prestigious writer of Gender hassle right here redefines Antigone's legacy, improving her innovative value and releasing it for a innovative feminism and sexual politics. Antigone has lengthy been a feminist icon of defiance. yet what has remained doubtful is whether or not she escapes from the sorts of energy that she opposes, because the type of defiance she exemplifies additionally ends up in her dying. Butler argues that Antigone represents a kind of feminist and sexual enterprise that's fraught with chance. in addition, Antigone exhibits how a tradition of normative heterosexuality obstructs our potential to determine what sexual freedom and political employer will be.

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The law that mandates her unlivability is not one that might profitably be broken. And if Hegel comes to stand for the law of the state, Lacan deploys Antigone’s apparent perversion to confirm an intractable law of kinship. Lacan will take radical distance from Hegel, objecting to the opposition between human and divine law, concentrating instead on the internal conflict of a desire that can meet its limit only in death. Antigone, he writes, is at “the threshold” of the symbolic, but how are we to understand a threshold?

Its defenders claim that to be without such a law is pure voluntarism or radical anarchy! Or is it? And to accept such a law as a final arbiter of kinship life? Is that not to resolve by theological means the concrete dilemmas of human sexual arrangements that have no ultimate normative form? One can certainly concede that desire is radically conditioned without claiming that it is radically determined, and that there are structures that make possible desire without claiming that those structures are impervious to a reiterative and transformative articulation.

In this sense, it is not a universal concretely realized or realizable; its failure at realization is precisely what sustains its status as a universal possibility. No exception can call this universality into question precisely because it does not rely on empirical instantiation to support its universalizing function (that function is radically unsupported and, hence, contingent in that restricted sense). Indeed, its particularization would be its ruination. But does this understanding of universalization work to usher in God (or the gods) through another door?

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