By Bonnie Honig
Sophocles' Antigone is a touchstone in democratic, feminist and felony concept, and probably the main commented upon play within the heritage of philosophy and political idea. Bonnie Honig's rereading of it consequently includes intervening in a number of literatures and unsettling a lot of their governing assumptions. Exploring the ability of Antigone in a number of 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 quite as markers of a rival international view with its personal sovereignty and power. 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 unity which emphasizes equality in existence.
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Here we must be cautious. The historic alliance of mothering with mourning does not just maternalize lamentation, it also naturalizes motherhood and invests it with 16 Interruption ideological power. ), not an idealized, extrapolitical relationship but an always already politicized construct or artiﬁce. Still, a focus on sorority, licensed by the play and hinted at in Germany in Autumn, may help to undo maternalism’s extra-political spell by decentering maternalism and pluralizing kinship. But the problem here is not ﬁnally maternalism, nor any other kin-based ideology: at stake always in maternalism, sorority, and (the more usually invoked) fraternity is humanism, to which I now turn.
Still, a focus on sorority, licensed by the play and hinted at in Germany in Autumn, may help to undo maternalism’s extra-political spell by decentering maternalism and pluralizing kinship. But the problem here is not ﬁnally maternalism, nor any other kin-based ideology: at stake always in maternalism, sorority, and (the more usually invoked) fraternity is humanism, to which I now turn. chapter 1 Tragedy, maternalism, ethics: toward an agonistic humanism By insisting on a “common” corporeal vulnerability, I may seem to be positing a new basis for humanism.
The former emphasize the maternalism of the “empty nest,” the latter the “bird” to which Antigone is likened. Humanists anthropomorphize the bereaved bird when they see it as a mourning mother; anti-humanists also universalize maternal mourning but they do so by naturalizing and dehumanizing grieving mothers, likening them to birds. Are these the only options? A humanism of universal or principled suﬀering versus an anti-humanism of death-driven, desiring monstrosity? In reading after reading, staging after staging, Antigone represents grief for ungrievable life or solitary conscience rising up against arrogant power, though she could – and sometimes with better textual exegesis should – represent the dissident quest for sovereignty or sororal solidarity, or the autonomy of aristocratic life opposed to appropriation by or complicity with the new democratic polis.
Antigone, Interrupted by Bonnie Honig