By Sylviane Agacinski

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Additional info for Aparte: Conceptions and Deaths of Soren Kierkegaard (Kierkegaard and postmodernism)

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In order to tell us that there is no direct access to what is in Socrates' head, Kierkegaard avoids telling us what is in his head; instead he tells the story of another, mute, head, that of Napoleon. Page 18 This one moment in The Concept of Irony, which itself uses indirect communication in order to raise the question of the possibility of communicating truth or understanding, also includes a figure for subjectivity and its negativity, and so it can legitimately be taken as emblematic of virtually the entire Kierkegaardian project.

Nonetheless, what is truly interesting and potentially disruptive in Agacinski's question, which seems to begin in one place only to end up in another, is precisely the way she displaces slightly the question of ironic "subjectivity" from the field of historical and dialectical development by putting it side by side with the necessarily linguistic element that will eventually reveal itself in any examination of irony. For, by the time the marginalized form of the footnote has been reconnected to the question of the heading, the category of the Page 15 "subject" has expanded considerably and now includes not only the existential category whose dwelling place is within a historico-philosophical theory of self-consciousness but also the rather bloodless "subjects" and ''predicates" scattered throughout the impersonal field of grammar, without which no meaningful discourse whatsoever could come into being.

Kierkegaard's understanding of the Narcissistic pleasure involved in ironic consciousness is inherited from Hegel's critique of the romantics' interpretation and use of the Fichtean absolute ego. The eye that recognizes itself by looking into the face of the Napoleonic image is a kind of figural corollary of Fichte's "I = I," whose ultimate aim would be to recuperate the negativity implied in Napoleon's death by bringing it into a balanced equation with the positive self-recognition of the living I.

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Aparte: Conceptions and Deaths of Soren Kierkegaard (Kierkegaard and postmodernism) by Sylviane Agacinski


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