The Work of Art and the Death of God in Nietzsche and Agamben
Vanessa Lemm, Vanessa Lemm (University of New South Wales)

Yesterday, 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Philosophy, Deakin University

Burwood Corporate Centre
Melbourne
Australia

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"The Work of Art and the Death of God in Nietzsche and Agamben"

 The repercussions of Nietzsche’s idea of the death of God were not only felt in the religious sphere, but also in how we think about the meaning and place of creation and creativity in life. Agamben’s discussion of creativity as ‘inoperativity’ is the latest, important contribution to the debate, arguably initiated by Existentialism, on how the death of God relates to life as material for artistic creation. In this paper, I situate Agamben’s theses on ‘inoperativity’ in dialogue with motifs drawn from Nietzsche’s discussion of the death of God and his conception of the ‘work of art without artist.’ I argue that Agamben helps us to get beyond the Existentialist interpretation of the human subject as creator of its own life (bios) by proposing an anarchic conception of giving artistic form to life (zoe) that deconstructs the position of mastery over life assigned to modern subjectivity and de-centres the idea of the human agency in the process of creation. However, I also suggest that Agamben’s conception of the artistic life downplays or avoids other features of Nietzsche’s thinking on the death of God and creation that are tied to animality and the divinity of nature.   

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