Societies 2013, 3(1), 117-127; doi:10.3390/soc3010117
Article

The Secret, the Sovereign, and the Lie: Reading Derrida’s Last Seminar

School of Humanities and Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2777, Australia
Received: 8 October 2012; in revised form: 14 February 2013 / Accepted: 15 February 2013 / Published: 15 February 2013
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Abstract: This paper takes up the question of secrecy and sovereignty in Derrida’s final seminar on The Beast and the Sovereign. Focusing primarily on Derrida’s readings of Lacan and Celan in Volume I, it argues that, for Derrida, we should distinguish between the lie (or what Lacan calls ‘trickery’ or ‘feigning feint’), and the secret (or what Celan calls ‘the secret of an encounter’), and understand the sense in which the former implies an intentional and sovereign human subject, while the latter represents a limit to such a thing, and, arguably, to the concept of sovereignty as such. This explains, or helps explain, why, in his discussions of sovereignty, Derrida spends so much time examining the animal, on the one hand, and poetry, on the other. For, on his account, these both configure secrecy, and specifically what I refer to as the absolute secret.
Keywords: secrecy; sovereignty; lies; Derrida; Lacan; Celan; psychoanalysis; poetics; animals; Agamben

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MDPI and ACS Style

Barbour, C. The Secret, the Sovereign, and the Lie: Reading Derrida’s Last Seminar. Societies 2013, 3, 117-127.

AMA Style

Barbour C. The Secret, the Sovereign, and the Lie: Reading Derrida’s Last Seminar. Societies. 2013; 3(1):117-127.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Barbour, Charles. 2013. "The Secret, the Sovereign, and the Lie: Reading Derrida’s Last Seminar." Societies 3, no. 1: 117-127.

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