SubStance # 92, 2000
aggregation, they can be affirmed there transgressively, and that politicsconsists of this very confrontation.
What strikes me is the way this has allowed you to intervene in thepolitico-socialist conjunction in the 1980s, on the ever-burning questions of education and teaching in France, and thereby to carve out a place for yourself vis-à-vis the two then-current forms of “progressivism.”
The French debate over democratic schooling was at that time—andstill is—monopolized by two positions. On the one hand, the sociologicaltendency, inspired by Bourdieu, was calling into question forms of transmitting knowledge adapted to an audience of young “heirs.” It proposedto reduce scholastic inequality by adapting the style of the schools to theneeds and styles of underprivileged populations. On the other hand wesaw the development of the so-called “republican” thesis, summarized in Jean-Claude Milner’s
, which made the universality of knowledgeand its mode of diffusion the royal road to democratization, and denouncedteachers and sociologists as destroyers of republican schools. Jacotot’s ideasabout intellectual emancipation placed back-to-back these two positions,which based equality either on the universality of knowledge and theteacher’s role, or on a “science” of the social arrangement for transmittingknowledge.
One of the striking aspects of your work is that it presents both aseries of shifts from one discipline to another, and the recurring quest for anobject that will cut across all these disciplines. Thus, you have passed from“the poetics of knowledge” in history, to literary criticism with yourinterpretation of Mallarmé’s work, and finally to the concept of literature,and now you are concerned, among other things, with “the aesthetic idea”and with cinema. While all the time pursuing, from one terrain to the other,an object that relates to politics, as can be seen by most of your subtitles
: Lamésentente. Philosophie et politique
Mallarmé. La politique de la sirène
La chair des mots. Politiques de l’écriture
(1998). Without mentioning
Aux bords du politique
, published in 1990, with the new, completely reworkededition appearing in 1998.
The question of politics and the method of my “shifts” are closelylinked to each other. For me, the political always comes into play in questionsof divisions and boundaries. I chose the title
La nuit des prolétaires