chapter  23
28 Pages

Connal Parsley (2010), 'The Mask and Agamben: The Transitional Juridical Technics of Legal Relation', Law Text Culture, 14, pp. 12-39

In order to do this, I argue that in Hobbes - a key referent in Agamben's account of political power's relation to life - the (political) mask, with its antecedent in Cicero's theatrical metaphor, is an essential, indeed indispensable element of an account of political representation: a device which always mediates a rhetorically foregrounded natural life through and against the realm of human (political) artifice. Many authors have attempted to cultivate a non-theatrical or nonrepresentational register of the political in response to this feature of contemporary political discaurse.5 I would suggest that Agamben is among them. But perhaps surprisingly, Agamben - despite famously critiquing Hobbes' representative palitics and sovereign power, and the notion of naturallife which belangs to and sustains it - cannot be said to negate the politico-legal technic of the masklpersona outright. I argue that Agamben instead effects a delicate separation of the juridical relation from the specific, material technics which precede and facilitate it - the same technics which provide it with its 'origin'6 - ultimately using a transformed or 'perfected' version of that legal technic against juridical relations. In this case, I will argue that Agamben refines the tradition of thinking the person as a mask, a species of image, and, resisting its substantialisation in the moral person, deploys it against the image/substance caesura of modern politics.