On The Concept of History
, in which Benjamin describes theredeemed world as not another world, but this world only with a slight alteration. I assertthat this slight alteration between worlds in the Benjaminian sense is the life of DonnieDarko himself. The death of Donnie Darko is to the outside world but an instant, but tohim, it takes four weeks and six hours. These durations correspond despite their disparatedurations, for according to Giorgio Agamben, messianic time is characterized as acontracted time, time no longer in the regular chronological mode.
As such, we canconstrue the entire
duration of the film’s events one “now”, and as one moment, in the
sense of the term
in Nietzsche and Heidegger as opposed to
In this “messianic interval”, Donnie is in dialectical opposition to the everyday
world and Jim Cunningham. He must negate them because of his own experience of radical finitude and thus his authenticity; he cannot slip back into being with othersanymore than he ever was with others. Furthermore, Frank, the specter of finitude and thenegativity of the cosmos, prevents any slippage back on his part. His actions indeedattempt to draw the world into an authentic experience, however, this always is halted,
there’s always a blockage, a stopping
-short.This blockage and stopping short is exemplified by the repetition of a car nearly
hitting Roberta Sparrow, the interference of Frank in the discovery of Donnie’s activities,
etc. Thus, on both sides of the dialectic of Authenticity a blockage occurs, and it is
Donnie’s task to remove this blockage. The removal of th
is blockage can be seen as themessianic event and the difference between the two
. This is suggested by the finalmoving tableau of people awake in bed, seemingly startled, upset or in tears. That whichis intimated there is that in the moment corresponding to the entire prior duration of thefilm, each character has an experience of authentic being toward death, notably even thefalse messiah, to whom it seems to have the most impact. Thus, in the end, the messianicevent is accomplished and the dialectical standstill ended. Thus, the world has ended, andyet it continues.
Giorgio Agamben, “The Time that is Left” in
Volume 7, Issue 1 (Fall 2002), 1-14. This issuggested in the film by the increasing frequency of screens indicating the date and the amount of time leftof
the “messianic interval”.
Thus the significance of the affirmations of existence expressed by Donnie and Gretchen. If theduration is considered to be the
of the Eternal Recurrence or the
of authentic time,then these affirmations acquire an entirely new stratum of significance, and this interpretation is furthered
by Donnie’s speech about “Destruction as a form of creation,” with it’s Niezschean