Hidden Links: Agamben and Pasolini
A surprising discovery last night while watching The Gospel according to St. Matthew:
Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben plays Phillip, one of the amateur actors that director Pier Paolo Pasolini selected ahead of professionals for what is a harsh and admittedly hard going adaptation of Matthew's gospel.
Agamben is currently something of an academic star because of his belief, as outlined by Daniel Binswanger in Sign and Sight, that "the modern state is nothing other than a totalitarian organisation for the efficient administration of bare biological life." His refusal to be fingerprinted at JFK airport in New York and his subsequent ejection from the country have added further to his fame.
Daniel Morris, writing in Bookforum, believes that Agamben's participation in the film was critical to his development as a philosopher and political theorist - he published his first article the year the film was made(1964) and enjoyed something of intellectual flowering subsequent to it, the highlight being a two year stint with Heidegger in France between 66 and 68.
Not content with identifying oppressive character of the modern state, Agamben also has ideas about the gestural nature of cinema.