PhD Exam Reading List

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From Nemsis to Autonomy: Nomos in Schmitt and Deleuze & Guattari

E Laroche wrote a philological study of the family of terms nem- nom- in Greek thought.  This document serves as a common reference for studies of distribution, common law, politics, and economics (think NUMerals, NUMbers, ecoNOMy, NEMesis, autoNOMy…).  For example, Marc Shell’s book The Economy of Literature use of the study is then picked up by Matthew Gumpert’s study when discussing Helen a figure of the libidinal economy of desire in classicism.

D&G generally use the Homeric sense of nomos (there’s a great footnoted in D&R on ‘nomadic distribution’ and Laroche’s philological study – developed in depth by a few, most notably R Bogue), which is generally contrasted with physis.  The nomos/physis opposition is a common reference in secondary literature but is usually in a laundry list with other terms and is never given an in depth treatment.  In Logic of Sense in the first appendix on simulacrum in ancient philosophy, there’s some great stuff on law/nature that could easily hook in.  The result payoff would be “autonomy”.

Schmitt’s use of nomos is post-Homeric [though he says it’s homeric in Nomos of the Earth – I’d like to be able to settle this without reading the laroche] and therefore deals with enclosure and property.  It’s meant to create a distribution of forces that results in the existential opposition of friend/enemy.  Some of Derrida’s work in “Politics of Friendship” deals with Schmitt and I could probably lean on it.  Additionally, there seems to be a JL Nancy connection that comes out the other end.

I’ve found one potentially useful direction to take the Schmitt that I haven’t read up on yet (the best article on the topic wasn’t available, so I had to ILL it).  J Herder, father of modern nationalism wrote an article in the 1780s on “Nemesis.”  I found a copy of Heder’s political letters that use the term nemesis, but only a scant 3 times.

In the middle of both D&G/Schmitt is a strange reading done by Agamben that I’ve had a hard time working through.  It’s mostly in Homo Sacer but is also in State of Exception.  From what I gather, it’s a veiled rejoinder to JLN’s “Cosmos Basileus” in Being Singular Plural.  Thanos Zartaloudis’ article “Without Negative Origins and Aboslute Ends: A Jurisprudence of the Singularity” looks like it will fruitfully bear on the topic.

In the end, I could probably link this all back up to Tiqqun’s notion of “civil war”.  I’m not sure about the tension between Schmitt’s notion of depoliticization and Deleuzian vitalism/capture, however.  One hint might be the argument I heard last weekend, which was that ‘attack is necessary to bring about an opening for communisation’.  This bears extended consideration.  I think the heart of the question is the connection between nemesis and autonomy (hence the working title of the paper).