СОЦИОЛОГИЧЕСКА ПРОГНОЗА

Тези единични красиви скали, издигащи се от морето, са вкаменени вулканични гърла на in-existent  гео-травма.

Изчезналият древен океан Тетида също е in-existent, но той е форсирал Индия от южното полукълбо на север и резултатът от сблъсъка е евроазиатският материк с пространна планинска верига по цялото протежение.

Продуктивното несъзнавано няма субект.

Примерно, вече се знае, че след 200 милиона години Африка по същия начин на субдукция (подплъзване между океанска и земна кора) ще се сблъска с Европа.

Също като океана Тетида Средиземно море, люлката на цивилизацията, ще изчезне.

Лицата на континентите са екзистенция на нещо, което е престанало да има екзистенция, но фактически ги е причинило.

Ако in-existent изчезне от дадено място, ще се появи на друго или ще се върне на същото място, за да го подсети за онтологическата му нестабилност

В случая Германия и Франция ще станат планински страни, Британия ще се отмести към северния полюс и кралицата вероятно ще морфира в ескимос, а някоя госпожа Меркел в Брунхилде или Кримхилде по избор.

Орбан ще прекоси унгаро-финската си фантазия за концлагерна идентичност.

Крим ще се присъедини към източна Сахара.

На мястото на Балканите ще се издигне огромен планински масив, на чийто ледников уейстленд мумифицирани зомбита ще се имплиментират в титулатурата на пропусната среща с Реалното.

Да мислим контингентното приютява възможността за нашето собствено не-битие.

Какви македонци, какви българи, какви исторически екзистенции? Зайците пресмятат ли колко лисици ще се появят напролет?

Гледах Жокера най-после, съвсем случайно.

Ако фабулата се бе задържала до неуравновесената майка и осиновеното дете (но всъщност това е цялата история), щяхме да имаме нещо, което изобилства в тукашното кино и литература.

Тоест киноразказ на равнището на желанието, което винаги е желанието на Другия.

Но оттук нататък филмът изцяло се измества, слиза на равнището на влечението, безфабулно, нелогично, деструктивно.

Всички влечения са влечение към смъртта. Todestrieb не се нуждае както българския от предлог. Един руски лаканианец предлага смъртовлечение.

Защо не скоросмъртница в българския вариант, това е схванато точно във фолк-психологията въпреки натурализма. Алкохолизмът е една от формите на влечение.

Теорията за различните нива на желание и влечение е добре известна, но не и на тукашните идиоти, един от които заявил, че може да играе по-добре от Хоакин Финикс. Няма българин, който да играе нищото на влечението.

Това говори какво е равнището тук във всички сфери, един културен фашизъм, но и това определение тук не е популярно, макар че усилено се практикува наистина във всичко псевдо-българско. Фашизъм  не като фашио, а като фелацио, и това трябва да се тълкува буквално – българското кино и литература са зализани като за пред Погледа, и самозализани като селски ерген, който е научил английски.

Но и за западния зрител облекчението настъпва, когато все пак вижда героя там, където му е мястото, в лудницата. Облекчение, но не и сублимация, нито катарзис.

И разбира се смехът без субект, акузматичният глас на влечението. Идиотът казва – и аз мога да се смея така. Но смехът не е негов, нито на Финикс. Смехът е на Жокера, който не съществува.

Човекът на изкуството измря, остана само шоуто.

Самая опасная угроза свободе исходит не от открыто авторитарной власти, она возникает тогда, когда сама наша несвобода ощущается как свобода. Поскольку вседозволенность и свободный выбор возводятся в высшую ценность, социальный контроль и господство больше не могут казаться посягательством на свободу субъекта: они должны выглядеть (и поддерживаться) самим самоощущением индивидов как свободных. Существует множество форм этого проявления несвободы под видом ее противоположности: когда мы лишены всеобщего здравоохранения, нам говорят, что нам дана новая свобода выбора (выбирать нашего лечащего врача); когда мы больше не можем рассчитывать на долгосрочную занятость и вынуждены искать новую ненадежную работу каждые два года, нам говорят, что нам дана возможность заново изобретать себя и открывать новые неожиданные творческие потенциалы, которые таились в нашей личности; когда нам приходится платить за образование наших детей, нам говорят, что мы становимся «антрепренерами самих себя», действуя как капиталист, который должен свободно выбирать, как он будет инвестировать имеющиеся у него (или заимствованные) ресурсы — в образование, здравоохранение, путешествия… Постоянно подвергаясь бомбардировке навязанными «свободными выборами», вынужденные принимать решения, для которых мы в большинстве случаев даже не обладаем достаточной квалификацией (или не обладаем достаточной информацией), мы все больше и больше ощущаем нашу свободу как бремя, которое вызывает невыносимую тревогу.

Более того, большинство наших действий (и бездействий) теперь регистрируются в некоем цифровом облаке, которое также постоянно оценивает нас, отслеживая не только наши действия, но и наши эмоциональные состояния; когда мы ощущаем себя максимально свободными (серфинг в Интернете, где все доступно), мы «экстернализируемся», и нами изощренно манипулируют. Цифровая сеть придает новый смысл старому лозунгу «личное — это политическое». И речь идет не только о контроле над нашей интимной жизнью: сегодня все регулируется той или иной цифровой сетью, от транспорта до здравоохранения, от электричества до водоснабжения. Вот почему сеть сегодня является нашим самым важным достоянием, и борьба за контроль над ней — это сегодня Борьба с большой буквы.

Славой Жижек. Гегель и полицейское государство

Журнал Лаканалия

There is no sexual relationship, certainly, except between fantasies.

The sexuation formula thus tells us that there is no such thing as a sexual relationship at least in three senses. First, instead of sexual relationship, there are two asymmetrical jouissances. Whereas phallic jouissance erases the Otherness of the Other, feminine jouissance reaches some ecstatic mystery. “There is no such thing as a sexual relationship because one’s jouissance of the Other taken as a body is always inadequate–perverse, on the one hand, insofar as the Other is reduced to object a, and crazy and enigmatic, on the other.” Man is pervert, and woman is psychotic. Sexual relationship is a pathological relation between the pervert and the psychotic. Second, instead of sexual relationship, there are two unconscious fantasies. Whereas man locates his mother in the place of woman, woman discovers her father in the place of man. “There is no sexual relationship, certainly, except between fantasies.” Sexual relationship is a parent-child relationship between lost mother and son, ideal father and daughter. “There is no sexual relationship, except for neighboring generations, namely, the parents on the one hand, the children on the other.” Third, instead of sexual relationship, there are two signifiers, ‘man’ and ‘woman’. Contrary to the common belief that sexual relationship is realized through the body, Lacan observes that our body is inscribed by the signifier. “Only signifiers copulate among one another in the unconscious, but the pathematic [pathèmatiques] subjects that result from it in the form of body are led to do the same, they call that fucking.” Man and woman as signifiers merely describe sexual non-relationship through the signifier of fucking. Man and woman are pathematic subjects, for they suffer from the effect of the signifier so that they cannot enact a harmonious (pre-symbolic) relationship or complete (non-symbolic) satisfaction through their sexual intercourse. Sexual relationship is a discursive relationship between two signifiers, which provokes the dream about making a bodily relationship. In sum, there is no sexual relation; rather, there are two disparate jouissances. Consequently, there is a relationship only between fantasies or signifiers.

On Love: Between Lacan and Badiou,

Youngjin Park

Коррупция заключается в употреблении институциональной власти в личных целях.

 Речь идет об отношениях дара, но в извращенной форме.

Существуют два порядка — дара и договора; им соответствуют желание и долг. У каждого из них своя логика, они оба законны; положение вещей становится проблематичным, читай — морально сомнительным, — когда эти два порядка пересекаются, смешиваются и перепутываются между собой, когда люди пытаются продавать то, что нужно дарить, и дарить то, что следует продавать.

В современных же обществах признание нашего статуса в качестве членов группы фиксируется и удостоверяется законом. Иными словами, теоретически мы можем перемещаться и действовать в полной уверенности, что человеческими существами и гражданами нас будут считать везде. Это то, что называется «правовым государством». Отсюда отнюдь не следует, что традиционные общества вообще лишены правовой системы. Их право — весьма строгое, но неписаное. Обмен дарами здесь является соглашением, уважение к которому требует большей этической солидарности. Посему в отношениях дара как таковых коррупции ничто не предвещает. Проблема, как мы и сказали, заключается в искажении традиционной идеи дара и в злоупотреблении ею в рамках отношений обмена в том виде, в каком они определены в современном социальном контракте. Коррупция возникает вследствие этого извращенного смешения жанров.

Современный социальный контракт прямо наследует контракту в том виде, в каком он уже давно был определен в римском праве[4]. Чтобы последовательно сопоставить его с обменом дарами, достаточно вспомнить некоторые основополагающие свойства договора купли-продажи. Прежде всего нужно определить качество и количество обмениваемых товаров, а также достичь обоюдного согласия относительно их цены; покупатель сам выбирает, какие товары ему купить. Затем в установленное время эти товары должны перейти из рук в руки, так что контракт (даже если его по умолчанию и можно продлить) действует не дольше известного срока. Взаимные обязательства здесь носят строго юридический характер, и несоблюдение их может повлечь за собой законные санкции. Наконец, даже при самых позитивных личных отношениях между двумя партнерами здесь не принято, чтобы продавец выпячивал свое «Я». Короче говоря, при рыночном обмене мы обмениваемся товарами — будь то материальными или нет — и должны оставаться нейтральными; когда же мы вступаем в отношения дара, то обмениваемся символами, которые выстраивают между нами социальную связь.

Однако по мере возрастания количества продукции и объемов ее циркуляции (например, в связи с переходом к более оседлому образу жизни, расширением агрикультуры, возникновением городов) мы наблюдаем все то же увеличение роли торгового права и стремление развести отношения дара с рыночными. Благодаря Веберу нам удалось уяснить, в какой мере удовлетворению этой потребности в отграничении одного от другого способствовала этика протестантизма[5]. Сложно сказать, была ли Реформация следствием экономического роста Северной Европы или сама стимулировала капитализацию. Любопытно отметить, что вместе с тем в Южной Европе — регионе почти исключительно католическом — сопротивление рыночной и банковской модели обернулось тем, что даже в сфере коммерции здесь ценятся отношения дара. Бартоломе Клаверо прекрасно показал это на примере Испании XVI-XVII веков[6]. Он пишет, что для оправдания все еще находившегося под запретом банковского дела здесь не было принято говорить, что банк ссужает деньги под определенный процент — говорили, что банк их дарит и что заемщику, в свою очередь, следует проявить щедрость и подарить тому чуть больше, чем он получил.

Подобная манера позволяет нам увидеть, в чем состоит проблема и весь драматизм коррупции в некоторых ныне существующих обществах, подверженных сильному влиянию древних традиций. Щедрость и радушие больше ценятся в Южной Европе, чем в Северной, которая с давних пор была ориентирована на социальность, регулируемую скорее формальным и контрактным правом, чем аффективной сплоченностью, и выработала для себя строгую и легалистскую этику ведения коммерческих дел. С такой точки зрения Южная Европа (как и традиционно православная Восточная) характеризуется приоритетом личных связей и неформальных отношений. Речь идет о тенденциях, а не о контрастах; теплота в торговых сделках может равно встречаться и в Копенгагене, и в Эдинбурге, а чувство законности — в Милане или Барселоне. Однако же это не отменяет того, что соблазн к смешению отношений дара с отношениями контракта сильнее довлеет над странами Средиземноморья, долгое время остававшихся более аграрными и традиционными. Когда же это смешение становится, в некоторых случаях, полным, мы можем наблюдать повальную коррупцию и возникновение мафии (с ее акцентом на личной преданности, извращенной взаимности, символической задолженности)

 Коррупция связана прежде всего со смешением жанров, которые в нормальной ситуации должны разделяться: это смешение деловых отношений с личными. Они не исключают друг друга; оба могут быть даже задействованы одновременно — и это так и бывает, — однако же при условии, что не будут пересекаться.

Хотя бы мельком взглянув на то, как индекс восприятия коррупции распределяется по карте мира, мы с очевидностью убедимся, что это рейтинг публичной добродетели, в топе которого находится Северная Европа и англо-американский мир. Однако эти же страны (прежде всего и особенно США), известны и тем, что неокапитализм в них принял наиболее агрессивные формы, а финансовые рынки изобрели изысканные техники (вроде связанных с побочными продуктами) для того, чтобы избегать контроля, уклоняться от налогов и получать при этом колоссальные прибыли. О чем говорить, если американская система лоббирования позволяет совершенно законно инвестировать миллионы долларов в политические кампании с целью управления правоустановительным выбором граждан?[11] Если методы такого рода можно назвать легальными, то нельзя ли назвать добродетелью и то, что в странах с низкими показателями мы бы назвали коррупцией? Какая из двух систем более коррумпирована? «Карта добродетели» может запросто оказаться картой лицемерия — по крайней мере частично

Коррупция, свирепствующая в странах третьего мира, проистекает из смешения традиций, связанных с теми или иными формами взаимности, со старыми статуарными подданническими обязательствами, экономическим убожеством и отсутствием административной деонтологии. В развитых же странах коррупция, помимо того, что встраивается в местные практики взаимных уступок и иных нелегальных преимуществ, прежде всего стремится придать этому злоупотреблению легальную форму, сделать его невидимым, но и тем более вездесущим, так что на обширном поле финансовых игр она управляется прежде всего логикой безграничной наживы, у которой нет иных целей, кроме приумножения самой себя, сколь негативные последствия бы это не повлекло для общества и окружающей среды. Поэтому она стала самой глубоко нигилистической из всех форм господства.

Марсель Энафф. Извращенный дар: Эскиз к антропологии коррупции

Марсель Энафф — философ, антрополог, профессор Калифорнийского университета (Сан-Диего). Настоящий текст опубликован в журнале Esprit за февраль 2014 года.

Via   syg.ma

Bataille referred to what Klossowski called Sade’s “crimes” as the violence he saw at the very foundation of civilization itself, although human beings persist in seeing it as outside of culture. Violence exercised or justified in the name of the state, such as capital punishment or war (forms of legal murder), is simply not perceived as violence; all violence manifested in rational or institutional structures is dissimulated. Violence obviously exists in so-called civilized cultures, but as a secret. Violence, according to Bataille, is essentially a “profound silence … which never declares it exists, and never affirms the right to exist, which exists without declaring it exists .” Sade’s work deconstructs this cultural fantasy that violence is outside or elsewhere because it gives violence a voice. In so doing, Sade’s work refuses what Bataille called the “trickery” of the state because it names violence, refuses to pretend that it is somehow outside of the proper limits of what we refer to as civilization, and insists, on the contrary that violence structures all our political and social institutions. But to the extent that Sade spoke to others, he partook in the very civilization that dissimulates the violence at its foundations. “If Sade’s characters had really lived, they would have lived silently,” said Bataille. “The violence Sade expressed transformed violence into what it was not, into something to which it was necessarily opposed: into a reflective, rationalized violent wil1.” Because it names violence, Sade’s language is not that of the state, of the executioner, but that of a victim who could not keep silent about the injustice done to him. And unlike the executioner, the state that commits murder in the name of  justice, Sade doesn’t try to fool anyone. By refusing to hold his tongue he betrays the solipsism proper to the libertine and speaks not in the name of justice but in the name of an impossible desire for justice, impossible, Bataille argues, because it is both proclaimed and silenced by language, because Sade names violence but by naming it also transforms it into “what it is not.” Sade certainly did not keep quiet. And yet, as Bataille saw it, Sade’s writing was compelled by a death wish, an impossible desire to be “released” through self-destruction: “In an endless and relentless tornado, the objects of desire are invariably propelled towards torture and death. The only conceivable end is possible [sic] desire of the executioner to be the victim of torture himself. In Sade’s will … this instinct reached its climax by demanding that not even his tomb should survive: it led to the wish that his very name should ‘vanish from the memory of men.’ ” Like Klossowski, Bataille believes that Sade’s writing forecloses the drive to self-annihilation which compels it and enables Sade to live what real human beings could live only silently. Because to live as absolute master, one would have to be dead  –  to be, we recall from Klossowski, a “pure organ of experience without consciousness.” Sade’s absolute mastery is thus made metaphor, lived, and yet infinitely deferred. The transgressive, self-dissolving potential of violence (if we are to believe Bataille) is never realized, because it is always transposed into a “reflective, rationalized violent wíll” that depersonalizes human interaction, turns human beings into executioners.

It is interesting to note Gilles Deleuze’s strikingly parallel reading: “Pornological literature is aimed above all at confronting language with its own limits, with what is in a sense a ‘nonlanguage’ (violence that does not speak, eroticism that remains unspoken). However this task can only be accomplished by an internal splitting of language: the imperative and descriptive function must transcend itself toward a higher function, the personal element turning by reflection upon itself into the impersonal.” Deleuze, Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty.

This image of depersonalization also resonates well with Borch-Jacobsen’s discussion of Lacan’s ego-world in terms of a “statue man”: “The ego-world is a statue: as hard as stone, as cold as ice, it is standing in front of the ego that is petrified there  –  that is, in the ego-world it both gazes at and petrifies itself.” One could easily argue that Sade’s self resembles this statue man: an always already foreclosed self that, like Juliette, is perpetually in search of what it has lost but can never attain. Borch-Jacobsen notes, furthermore, that “the eye of paranoid knowledge, in its tireless self-curiosity rises up against itself in a monstrous, persecutive erection, and it must be castrated with a vengeance.”

Carolyn J. Dean

THE SELF AND ITS PLEASURES

Hence writers during the 1920s and 1930s made much of Sade’s remark in the section of the Philosophy headed “Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans” :

“An already old and decayed nation which courageously casts off the yoke of its monarchical government in order to adopt a republican one, will only be maintained by many crimes; for it is criminal already, and if it were to pass from crime to virtue, that is to say, from a violent to a pacific, benign condition, it should fall into an inertia whose result would soon be its certain ruin.”

Sade became more than a pornographer or a dandy; he was a visionary whose works had prophesied the Apocalypse. In the Great War, “his conclusions [about human nature] were finally verified,” wrote Heine. They might, if readers had listened more carefully, even have prevented the tragedy brought about by Hitler, said Gilbert Lély. The critic René de Planhol called Sade a clairvoyant and, citing the famous remark from La Philosophie dans le boudoir I quoted earlier, claimed that he had “diagnosed the exact law of all revolutions.”

Carolyn J. Dean

THE SELF AND ITS PLEASURES

ОЩЕ ЕДНО УСИЛИЕ, ИНТЕЛЕКТУАЛЦИ

Kojeve treats the intellectual as an animal because he lacks self-transcendence.

What the intellectual seeks to express is merely his

“talent” or his “nature, ” that which is given and which he has not

himself created. Thus the intellectual’s activity “alters nothing and

opposes nothing” ( Phenomenology, 23 7 ). Because he operates in a

purely literary mode, the individuality that expresses his talent does

not achieve any self-transcendence through a genuine and therefore

creative negation. The nature that is expressed remains a given, animal nature;

it is not dialectically transformed in the process of expression.

“The intellectual negates nothing; he therefore creates nothing, only

manifests his ‘nature’: he is a ‘spiritual’ animal [das geistige Teirreich]

” ( Kojeve, 93). Even more fundamentally, the intellectual is an

animal because his literary mode leaves him always short of the

struggle for recognition that is the constitutive moment of human, or

more precisely, for Kojeve, an thropogenic desire. As Michael Roth puts

it, the intellectual ” only speaks . . . [he] neither triumphs as a master

nor works as a slave” ( Roth, 1 06). He pretends to be disinterested and

only concerned with the impersonal purity of what Hegel calls “the

matter in hand” [ die Sache selbst] . He fails to insist on recognition, the

hallmark  of  human desire in Kojeve’s interpretation of Hegel. Rather

than forcing the others to recognize his value, the intellectual withdraws

into the posture of disinterestedness . This implies that there is

no such thing as an intellectuel engage, because the intellectual risks

nothing.

Both commitment and disinterestedness are moments of a

dialectic of deception and imposture. This point can also be expressed

by saying that there is nothing social in the action of the intellectual.

Hegel ends “The Spiritual Animal Kingdom” by emphasizing that

what is essential is the “action of each and everyone.” For Kojeve,

however, because the intellectual sidesteps the mediation of struggle

and labor, both of  which necessarily involve a social dimension, the

universalization that he is engaged in is inevitably false. “The action of

the intellectual is purely thought: for him the Tun Aller und Jeder [sic],

collective action, means that his thought must become universal, universally

valid” (Kojeve, 94). This universalization is false not because of

its content, but because it is too immediate; it neglects to pass through

the action of the collectivity, to become effective ( wirklich ) in the

social life of a people, to engage in the struggle of history.

This analysis  allows us to see what is most paradoxical in

Blanchot’s  use of Kojeve. Blanchot rejects any opposition between literature

and action, any account of literature as a pure passivity. Against

Kojeve’s account of the animality of the intellectual, Blanchot deploys

Kojeve’s own definition of labor as an activity of transformation and

negation.

But what is a writer doing when he writes? Everything a man does when

he works, but to an outstanding degree. The writer, too, produces something –

a work in the highest sense of the word. He produces this work

by transforming natural and human realities . . . . In order to write, he must destroy

 language in its present form and create it in another form . . . . [305/3 14]

This analysis of writing as labor  –  simultaneously transformation  and

Negation – implies that there  is no such thing as a “mere intellectual, “

or if there is, it would be one who does not write. The writer is not an

animal in Kojeve’s sense. Blanchot’s writer fundamentally chooses human

death over animal  life. On the basis of this reversal, the rest of

Kojeve’s critique of the intellectual is accepted, or more precisely, assumed  –

that is, it ceases to be a critique and becomes a positive characterization

of the literary project. Like the animal, the writer operates

in a domain of  immediacy. He negates, but he negates too easily (no

matter how difficult it may be to write). His mode of negation sidesteps

empirical conditions and possibilities of realization and proceeds immediately

to “absolute freedom. “

Insofar as he immediately gives himself  the freedom  he does not have,

he is neglecting the actual conditions for his emancipation, he is neglecting

to do the real thing that must be done so that the abstract  ideal

of freedom can be realized. His negation is global. This is why this

negation negates nothing, in the end, why the work in which it is

realized  is not a truly negative, destructive act of transformation, but

rather the realization of the inability to negate anything. [306/3 1 5 ]

The labor involved in Blanchot’s literary freedom fails to create because

it  is insufficiently destructive. The relations  it entertains with

the world  of productivity and politics  –  of determinate means and

ends  –  can only be based on a mutual misunderstanding. This misunderstanding

is indicated by the second half of the title of Hegel’s chapter,

“deceit, or the ‘matter in hand’ itself [ der Betrug oder die Sache

selbst] . ” Blanchot quite accurately summarizes the sense of this term

as “no longer the ephemeral work but something beyond that work :

the truth of the work” (300/308 ). Hegel’s characterization of die Sache

selbst appears as the unity of individual action and the objectivity that

the work gains from existing for other individualities; thus it stands

above the various moments that make the work something contingent

and ephemeral ( circumstances, means, reality), and therefore can be

taken to represent  the higher purpose, the truth of which the work may

only be an imperfect realization. And in principle, this higher purpose

is what author and readers can agree on as genuinely important, as the

source  of their interest in the work. Other individuals take an interest

in the work  and ” disinterestedly” offer their opinions and their aid.

But this interest in the “matter in hand” displayed by all the individualities

is in fact merely a cover for their true interest in their own

action. While Hegel expressly qualifies this attitude as honesty or

integrity [Ehrlichkeit], it is clear that it is fundamentally an alibi. The

retreat into a consideration of one’s own action as the true matter at

hand, however, is equally deceptive, for the work continues to exist for

others . “It is, then, ” Hegel concludes, ” equally a deception of oneself

and  of others if it is pretended that what one is concerned with is the

‘matter in hand’ alone ” ( Phenomenology, 25 1 ).

Blanchot  gives a number of possible versions of the “matter in

hand” as higher purpose : art, the ideal, the world, values, authenticity,

etc. Even failure, silence, or nothingness can be figured as the essence

of  literature and therefore as the truth behind the work. But the dialectic

of  deception that takes place around this notion is best  illustrated

by  the example of engagement in a political ” Cause” (which is, moreover,

an excellent translation of Sache ) :

For example: [an author] writes novels, and these novels imply certain

political statements, so that he seems to side with a certain Cause.

Other people, people who directly support the Cause, are then inclined

to recognize him as one of themselves, to see his work as proof that the

Cause is really his cause, but as soon as they make this claim, as soon as

they  try to become involved in this activity and take it over, they realize

that  the writer  is not on their side, that he is only on his own side, that

what  interests him about the Cause is the operation he himself  has

carried out-and they are puzzled. It is easy to understand why men

who  have  committed  themselves  to a party, who have made a decision,

distrust  writers who share their views; because these writers have also

committed  themselves  to literature, and in the final analysis literature,

by  its very activity, denies the substance of what it represents.

[30 1 /309- 1 0]

The writer cannot commit himself to a cause because the activity

through which this commitment would be expressed, namely literature,

nullifies  any particular purpose it would represent.

On the basis of this passage, we can describe the central question of

the first half of  the essay as a critique of Sartrean engagement in terms

of the negativity constitutive of literature.

 “The right to death” therefore appears as a different relation to politics . This makes the section on the Revolution, in the middle of the essay, its culmination. For Blanchot, the relation between literature and politics  –  that is to say,

the question to which engagement is one possible response  –  cannot

be understood in immediately political terms. A relation can only be

established  between these two terms by beginning with an understanding

of  the character of the literary project as such.

We have seen that this project, for Blanchot, implies an immediate and  total negation of the world as it is given to us. Therefore a commitment to a

particular political project, a Cause, is impossible for a writer as

writer: it is an act of imposture or bad faith, which is in fact perceived

as such by both writers and militants. This is true whatever the

writer ‘s political sympathies may happen to be.

There is, however, a  political analogue to this immediate and total negation of the world, namely, the Revolutionary Terror. The writer ‘s relation to the Terror,

however, cannot be described in terms of commitment; rather, it appears

as an identification .  The writer recognizes himself in the Terror.

This is no more a question of the individual writer ‘s particular

political sympathies than is the imposture of commitment. Instead,

this recognition is founded on the nature of the literary project as such

and the relation to politics that literature allows or indeed demands .

This is in fact the fundamental point of the example of Sade : despite his

noble family background and his attachment to the ways of the Ancien

Regime, despite his relatively humanitarian behavior in 1792-1794,

the fundamental meaning of his writing as writing is to be found in an

infinite movement of negation. Blanchot’s contemporaneous essay,

“La raison de Sade, ” ( 1 94 7 ) describes this movement of negation that

accepts no limit : if at a certain moment nature appears as a positive

name for the very movement of negation, and thus becomes the totality

that contains this movement and reconverts it into positivity, it

must be negated in its turn.22

This infinite movement of negation is also the essence of the Revolution,

which is the meaning of Hegel’s phrase, ” absolute freedom. “

There is no social reality that cannot  be freely transformed. “At this

moment, ” writes Blanchot, “freedom aspires to be realized in the immediate form of everything is possible, everything can be done . ” It is

precisely this combination of  immediacy and totality that makes the

Revolution a literary event. Reality no longer resists. It “sinks effortlessly,

without work, into nothingness . ” Everyone can propose his

or her own constitution, attempt  to immediately universalize his or

her own consciousness as reality. The classic question of the relation

between literature and the Revolution concerns the “influence” of

Enlightenment  thinking.  Blanchot’s description of the Terror bypasses

this  unresolvable  question, and points to what is most fundamental

in Hegel’s analysis : the extent to which the Revolution,  as

event, has the form of  literature. The Revolution  is a fabulation:

a new world, with new men and new laws. “The speech of  fable

becomes action . . . . Revolutionary action explodes with the same

force and the same facility as the writer who has only to set down a

few words side by side in order to change the world” (309/3 1 8- 1 9).

It is therefore not so much that the writer identifies with the

Revolution  – he does, but this is in fact secondary. The Revolution

realizes literature. B u t because it realizes literature, it is in fact completely

derealizing. It is in the Revolution as revolution, or more

precisely, as permanent insurrection, and not as the realization of

particular if  universalistic values, that this literary ambition comes

to pass. The Revolution is not a state, but an infinite movement of

negation.23

Blanchot’s most direct and most important borrowing from Kojeve

is the title  phrase, “the right to death. ” Kojeve had written, in one of his

most deliberately provocative formulations :

We have seen that death voluntarily confronted in a negating struggle is

Precisely  the most authentic realization and manifestation of  absolute

individual  freedom. It is thus indeed in and by the Terror that this

freedom spreads throughout society, and it cannot be attained in a

“tolerant” state which does not take its citizens sufficiently seriously

to assure them of their political right to death. [Kojeve, 5 5 8 ]

The right to death is therefore something that must be claimed, and

that must be claimed precisely because it represents the highest fulfillment

 of human (literary? ) freedom. The terrorist is one who has already

claimed his right to death, claimed it for himself before claiming

it also for others, and is therefore speaking as one already dead. The

frequent invocations made by Robespierre and Saint-Just ( as well as by

a score of less notorious orators of the period) of  their impending deaths

are thus not ” mere ” (that is to say, dispensable) rhetorical flourishes.

They in fact define the lieu d ‘enonciation of their discourse, and the

possession of this rhetorical position is one of the major sources of

their political power. The terrorist speaks from beyond the grave, as

one who is already dead.

Robespierre’s virtue, Saint-Just’s relentlessness, are simply their existences

already suppressed, the anticipated presence of their deaths, the

decision to allow freedom to assert itself completely in them and

through its universality to negate the particular reality of their lives.

Granted, perhaps they caused the Reign of Terror to take place. But the

Terror they personify does not come from the death they inflict on

others but from the death they inflict on themselves . . . . the Terrorists

are those who desire absolute freedom and are fully conscious that this

constitutes a desire for their own death. [3 1 0/3 1 9-20]24

The Terror suppresses individuals, killing them off as if their particular

lives had no meaning. It is, indeed, because rather than in spite of this

fact, that the Terror is the fulfillment of humanity for Kojeve (Humanism

as Terror), just as, for Blanchot, it is the fulfillment of literature.

But an essential difference must be remarked here. Whereas for Kojeve

the historical function of the Terror is to prepare for the universal

(Napoleonic-Hegelian-Stalinist) state, in which humanity will be fully

satisfied and thus history at an end, for Blanchot what remains after

this moment is poetry. If  prose is the most truly murderous form of

literature, poetry ‘s concern for what remains after this hecatomb is

inhuman, but perhaps thereby more humane. ” Ponge ‘s descriptions, “

writes Blanchot, “begin at that hypothetical moment after the world

has been achieved, history completed, nature almost made human,

when speech advances to meet the thing and the thing learns to speak . “

They express “not existence as it was before the day but existence as it

is after the day, the world of the end of the world” (323 /335 ). Literature,

Blanchot says in conclusion, is “the life which supports death and

maintains itself in it ” (330/343 ). But while this death may be what is

most human in the world, indeed “a power that humanizes nature”

(325 /33 7 ), the life that survives it is not our life. Literature is what

survives humanity.

For a historiographical interpretation of the Terror that reaches remarkably

similar conclusions, see Claude Lefort, “The Revolutionary Terror, ” in Democracy and Poli tical Theory, trans. David Macey (Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press,(1 98 8 ), particularly 86- 8 7 : “The Terror is revolutionary in that it forbids anyone to occupy the place of power; and in that sense, it has a democratic character . . . . Robespierre was constantly obliged to cover up the paths that had brought him to power, but this was not because of some character trait; as we said above; it was because everyone who sought power was under an obligat ion to disappear as an individual . “

JAMES SWENSON

Revolutionary Sentences

Yale French Studies

NUMBER 93

The Place of Maurice Blanchot

Why, political intellectuals, do you incline towards the proletariat? In commiseration for what? I realize that a proletarian would hate you, you have no hatred because you are bourgeois, privileged smoothskinned types, but also because you dare not say the only important thing there is to say, that one can enjoy swallowing the shit of capital, its materials, its metal bars, its polystyrene, its books, its sausage pâtés, swallowing tonnes of it till you burst — and because instead of saying this, which is also what happens in the desire of those who work with their hands, arses and heads, ah, you become a leader of men, what a leader of pimps, you lean forward and divulge: ah, but that’s alienation, it isn’t pretty, hang on, we’ll save you from it, we will work to liberate you from this wicked affection for servitude, we will give you dignity. And in this way you situate yourselves on the most despicable side, the moralistic side where you desire that our capitalized’s desire be totally ignored, forbidden, brought to a standstill, you are like priests with sinners, our servile intensities frighten you, you have to tell yourselves: how they must suffer to endure that! And of course we suffer, we the capitalized, but this does not mean that we do not enjoy, nor that what you think you can offer us as a remedy — for what? — does not disgust us, even more. We abhor therapeutics and its Vaseline, we prefer to burst under the quantitative excesses that you judge the most stupid. And don’t wait for our spontaneity to rise up in revolt either.

Lyotard, Libidinal Economy