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Even if they were previously nothing more than aspects, no more than logically distinct, the collapse of the “power that confers legitimacy” and the exercise of this thus legalized power is what is confronted by Anna Akhmatova and the woman asking her the question if she could “speak of this,” while waiting in front of the prison walls of the 1930s Stalinist purges.
This collapse contracts, as it were, into a point of “potentiality” in an other.
So Agamben wants to extricate the ghostly reality as real reality, one might say, of sovereignty, which is accessible as and in what he calls experience or a specific kind of experience.
The reference to topology is more than a hint here; he points towards the “experience” of a structural effect, of an appellation of sovereignty and vice versa, of sovereignty as this structural effect.
The “I can” becomes the reality or the real of a kind of waiting or expectancy.
She is waiting, with thousands of others, not petitioning, suing, nor even attempting to stage a “storm at the Bastille.” But perhaps waiting is also not the right term; she is simply there, outside of the reality of sovereignty proper, but instituted or constituted by its collapse with and in the “I can.”“Being-outside [the legal order, F.
The guiding premise of Agamben’s investigation into “ is his conviction that in order to understand the relation between “constituting power” and “constitutive power” – or violence – one needs to understand the “autonomy of potentiality.”12 With this he picks up the investigation of the earlier “On Potentiality” in order to align it more clearly with the problem of sovereignty. Maybe it is one which, in the eyes of Agamben himself, is and must be constitutive of getting to see this problem at all, starting from within the scope of the “” of metaphysics, as we invariably must.
Here is the contradiction: on the one hand he wants to “cut the knot that binds sovereignty to constituting power” and claims only this achievement will make it possible to “think a constituting power wholly released from the sovereign ban.”13 On the other hand, he wants to show with and in Aristotle, that it is what appears precisely this “ban” as a “capacity not to,” which is the answer to this question itself.
Only after this does the address, “Can you speak of this,” call forth, awaken or repeat this contraction, bringing it into its own.
(This “after,” however, is not to be taken in a linear temporal sense, but logically.) Now we can understand why there is talk of “experience.” Agamben can speak of an “experience” because it arises out of being thus confronted with sovereignty’s hidden double, the experience of “potentiality” exposed by the collapse of sovereignty and its double, both being the “condition of possibility of experience” in the first place.