In his fine introduction to Agamben’s philosophical world, Leland de la Durantaye draws our attention to the very early contact between Agamben and Arendt in 1970, when the former was a young man only just finding his own theoretical voice. In a personal letter, the then unknown Italian scholar writes to Arendt expressing both admiration and gratitude for what he judges to be a ‘decisive experience’ – not just the experience of historical rupture, but also the unexpected possibility of change accompanying this loss.2 The disruption of tradition is both emancipatory and a burden: it provides meaning but also clouds and limits present possibilities. In tune with Agamben’s messianic temperament and his critique of the Western tradition, he is primarily interested in the critical potential of the moment of rupture and its emancipatory possibilities.
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