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The Democratic Promise

The Individual Within the Community


Constance Goh

The Democratic Promise engages Slavoj Žižek’s psychoanalytic and cultural reading of politics and terror, Jacques Rancière’s concept of the partition of the sensible, Alain Badiou’s ethics and politics, and Jacques Derrida’s thoughts on philosophy in a time of terror in order to radically rethink politics in and through aesthetics as analogies of political subjectivity. This book interrogates the a priori rights of an individual as universally declared and what these mean in terms of human agency. By revisiting the philosophical writings of the Western continental tradition through the eyes of contemporary political thinkers, it not only delves into the current debate on democracy but also investigates the connection between exceptionality and democracy. Constance Goh asserts here that inter-national or intra-national conflicts persist despite the global emphasis on cultural diversity and consideration because of the politics of recognition. The Democratic Promise also examines the media politics of China and Tibet’s fraught relations so as to argue that Derrida’s democracy-to-come necessitates an-other principle, an extra-normative tolerance he calls «hostipitality,» a host (un)intentionally transporting a singular other via the vehicle of aesthetics.


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Chapter Five. Sky Burial: Neither the Last Word nor the First 217


• C H A P T E R F I V E • Sky Burial: Neither the Last Word nor the First As a “wizard and imitator,” the Sophist is capable of “producing” “likenesses and homonyms” of everything that exists (234b–235a). The Sophist mimes the poetic, which nevertheless itself comprises the mimetic; he produces production’s double. But just at the point of capture, the Sophist still eludes his pursuers through a supplementary division, extended toward a vanishing point, between two forms of the mimetic (235d): the making of likenesses (the eikastic) or faithful reproduction, and the making of semblances (the fantastic), which simulates the eikastic, pretending to simulate faithfully and deceiving the eye with a simulacrum (a phantasm), which constitute “a very extensive class, in painting (zōgrahia) and in imitation of all sorts.” This is an aporia (236e) for the philosophical hunter, who comes to a stop before this bifurcation, incapable of continuing to track down his quarry; it is an endless escape route for the quarry (who is also a hunter), who will turn up again, after a long detour, in the direction of Mallarmé’s “Mimique.” This mimodrama and the double science arising from it will have concerned only a certain obliterated history of the relations between philosophy and sophistics. —Jacques Derrida, Footnote to the “First Session” A sky burial had just taken place when the three friends arrived on the mountaintop. White khata carves and streamers were fluttering in the breeze; little scraps of paper money danced...

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