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

By Judith Butler

The prestigious writer of Gender difficulty the following redefines Antigone's legacy, recuperating her progressive importance and freeing 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 varieties of strength that she opposes, because the type of defiance she exemplifies additionally results in her demise. Butler argues that Antigone represents a kind of feminist and sexual business enterprise that's fraught with threat. in addition, Antigone indicates how a tradition of normative heterosexuality obstructs our skill to work out what sexual freedom and political organisation might be.

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Extra info for Antigone's Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death (The Wellek Library Lectures)

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And yet, Antigone cannot quite 21 Antigone’s claim stand for that subversion and for that future, because what she draws into crisis is the representative function itself, the very horizon of intelligibility in which she operates and according to which she remains somewhat unthinkable. Antigone is the offspring of Oedipus and so raises the question for us: what will come of the inheritance of Oedipus when the rules that Oedipus blindly defies and institutes no longer carry the stability accorded to them by Lévi-Strauss and structural psychoanalysis?

And this question, which seems so hard to ask when it comes to kinship, is so quickly sup- 24 antigone’s claim pressed by those who seek to make normative versions of kinship essential to the working of culture and the logic of things, a question too often foreclosed by those who, from terror, savor the final authority of those taboos that stabilize social structure as timeless truth, without then ever asking, what happened to the heirs of Oedipus? 25 02ch 12/3/01 12:16 PM Page 27 L Box HD/Columba/Butler/138797 chapter 2 Unwritten Laws, Aberrant Transmissions n the last chapter, I considered Antigone’s act, what claim the act of burial makes, what act the claim of defiance performs.

The problem is not that the symbolic represents a false universal. Rather, where and when the Oedipus complex appears, it exercises the function of universalization: it appears as that which is everywhere true. 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).

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