Agamben v. Beckett

I’m not actually here (I’m on honeymoon), but I thought I’d post a puzzler. Reading through Ann Lauterbach’s On a Stair, I see that she prefaces the book with two quotes:

The question “where is the thing?” is inseparable from the question “where is the human?” Like the fetish, like the toy, things are not properly anywhere, because their place is found on this side of objects and beyond the human in a zone that is no longer objective or subjective, neither personal nor impersonal, neither material nor immaterial, but where we find ourselves suddenly facing these apparently simple unknowns: the human, the thing.

Giorgio Agamben

Where now? Who now? When now? Unquestioning. I, say I. Unbelieving. Questions, hypotheses, call them that. Keep going, going on, call that going, call that on.

Samuel Beckett, The Unnameable

And this led me to ask myself: why does the Beckett quote seem so acute, clearing away entire forests of assumptions with terse, razorlike words, while the Agamben quote reads to me like so much word soup? Personal preference, I suppose, but that begs the question. The Beckett quote begins a novel; I don’t know the source of the Agamben. They speak two different languages: Beckett’s forever prevents the idea of facing anything, while Agamben seemingly leaps towards immanence or transcendence. Some fly, others struggle to crawl.

And speaking of states of exception, here are a few Katrina links, first-hand reports preferred:

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