Antigone, Interrupted by Bonnie Honig

By Bonnie Honig

Sophocles' Antigone is a touchstone in democratic, feminist and felony concept, and doubtless the main commented upon play within the background of philosophy and political idea. Bonnie Honig's rereading of it for this reason contains intervening in a bunch of literatures and unsettling lots of their governing assumptions. Exploring the facility of Antigone in numerous political, cultural, and theoretical settings, Honig identifies the 'Antigone-effect' - which strikes those that enlist Antigone for his or her politics from activism into lamentation. She argues that Antigone's personal lamentations may be visible not only as indicators of dissidence yet particularly as markers of a rival international view with its personal sovereignty and energy. Honig argues that the play doesn't provide easily a version for resistance politics or 'equal dignity in death', yet a extra confident politics of counter-sovereignty and harmony which emphasizes equality in existence.

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Thus, maternal pain is universalized as both wide and deep: it is one unitary thing with which we are all familiar and it reaches all the way back to the fifth century. The problem is that this move, made in the name of politicization, works to distill our potentially powerful politics into the mortalist humanism criticized here for enacting the ethical turn away from politics. Jacques Rancière resists such moves when he says that “the ethical turn is not an historical necessity” (2006a: 18). Given the ahistorical nature of classicization, it is surely just as important to say that the ethical turn is not an ahistorical necessity, either, and that some attention to historical and 32 Interruption political specificity can help us resist the lure of mourning-centered humanism that Sophocles’ play actually contests and politicizes, as we shall see.

There is another option: an agonistic humanism whose politics of counter-sovereignty, conspiracy, and solidarity is more promising for them and, arguably, more true to the richness of Sophocles’ play and its complex reception history. The extrapolitical universalism of grief with which this classical heroine is increasingly identified in feminist and critical theory emphasizes equality in death; a politics of counter-sovereignty emphasizes equality in life. 15 part i Interruption Introduction to Part I I am one of those people who finishes other people’s sentences.

And is there only power in this promotion of extrapolitical powerlessness as a kind of admirable female power and political chasteness? In Chapter 2, I look at how Elshtain leashes Antigone to an ideology of chaste maternal politics that is rejected by critics of kinship like Judith Butler. But, I argue there, chasteness and maternalism return when Butler embraces the AIDS Names Project quilt. Butler does not attend to the complex politics of the quilt, indeed she obscures them, even though the quilt may not only enable grief for ungrievable life (which is what Butler admires about it), it may also reabsorb such grievability into the fabric of American sentimentalism.

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