Foucault via Agamben: poetical subjectivity is an empty space beyond law
Extract from an interview with Giorgio Agamben:
So in that essay [What is an author?], of course, he [Foucault] distinguishes the author as a function, as a social and juridical factor, but then he states very clearly that the place of the author is empty in the text. So, subjectivity is on the one hand a juridical function; you can define the author from the point of view, as he does, of the law, as a center of speech, a center of responsibility, so you can persecute the author because he writes. He shows that the origin of copyright is the possibility of punishment. That’s obvious. Copyright is just a huge falsification. (I don’t like copyright. It should not exist.) But then he says this very beautiful thing, and we could go on from this Foucauldian discourse: what we could call poetical subjectivity is not a biographical individual that we could assign and name … taken by law as a center of imputation … [P]oetical subjectivity begins from this empty space, from the fact that the place of the author is empty.
And then, it seems to me that the poetical subject is something that in the text, in the act of expression, remains unexpressed. So that’s why Foucault says that it’s empty and the fact that it’s empty does not mean it’s not important. The fact that this active space is something that remains unexpressed in the act of expression is precisely what makes reading possible …