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1, Issue 103: Contemporary Thinker Jacques Rancière (2004), pp. 10-24 Published by: University of Wisconsin Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3685460 . Accessed: 14/05/2013 23:24
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Thepolitics ofliterature ofitswriters.2004 This content downloaded from 128. partition intertwining doing and saying that a polemical common world. classifying underthenotion of"literature" isnotold.67. 1. that theart ofwriting however. Others havetried togive 10 of Wisconsin System. Weknow. worldandnotinyour What things discussing deservesthenameofpolitics is thecluster ofperceptions and practices really ofall a way offraming.66 on Tue.Politics that ofpowerorthe isinvolved is commonly viewedas thepractice ofcollective embodiment ofcollective wills andinterests andtheenactment ideas. from this. events andissues.Vol. briefly spelloutthe init. Itdoesnotdeal isnotthepolitics withtheir issuesand struggles commitment tothesocialand political personal Nordoesitdealwith ofpolitical oftheir times. ofbeing.no. Thepolitics ofliterature meansthat literature as literature thus isinvolved inthis ofthevisible inthis andthesayable.33. ofexperience.University SubStance #103. allows (ordoes notallow)somespecific which data to appear.a specific sensory sphere thevisible and thesayable.2004 ? Board of Regents. orembodiments taken that are into account Now.ofLiterature The Politics JacquesRanciBre ofallwhatitdoes I willstart means-and first whatmytitle byexplaining notmean.The syntagma as literature-that ofliterature" meansthat "does" politics literature "politics link there is a specific as a definite of between way doingand literature politics as a definite of practice writing. noise.252. frames Now thepoint is:whatis meant as literature"? by"literature Surprisingly. of data. sharing making located ina common ownfantasy.suchenactments you imply ina common andnotsimply as subjects statements world. fewamongthepolitical orsocialcommentators ofliterature havepaid attention toliterature's ownhistoricity.Wecantrace itbacktoapproximately thebeginning ofthenineteenth Butcritics havenotoften deducedany century. ways ofdoingand waysofspeaking. I willfirst Tomakesenseofthis ideaofpolitics statement.Politics is first among Itis a partition ofthesensible. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . of Itis a specific of intertwiningways being. the modesofrepresentation events in their or thesocial structure and thesocialstruggles books. Someofthem havetried toconnect literature consequence desperately in general)withpolitics name oftheartofwriting (takenas thea-historical conceived as a historical setofforces. thatshape thiscommon world.whichallows ordoes notallow somespecific todesignate subjects them and speakaboutthem.
initially language.seizes it. Prosewriters.ofLiterature ThePolitics 11 was doneon a ofliterature."Sartre this as thecontribution ofbourgeois writers explained petrification tothestrategy oftheir class. awayfrom #103. modernity byreferring very flawed. endlessly inthe1850sand intheneurosis In other oftheyoungGustave Flaubert. taken tobe the embodiment of"art for art's sake"andthe autonomy ofliterature. Butthedistinction automatically to thevery After theopposition provedtobe inconsistent. hehad first to on its Itis own not a casual purported ground linguistic specificity. havingattributed oftwostates distinction oflanguage. words. with"artfor and political action. this a specific content tothenotion Unfortunately weak literature's to the search for anintransitive basis. used words of as tools communication and were by contrast. In fact.2004 SubStance This content downloaded from 128. ora personal failure. theidentification with ofliterature a specific or state use of language has no real linguistic and it cannotgroundany relevance.they had to tearwords ownership.Flaubert. hehad topursue which outside ofliterature a political commitment ofliterature. and had no commitment tothepolitical use ofcommunicative things. byopposing ofpoetry ofprosewriting. speech. conceived ofas a secret ofprecious stones living garden andflowers. literary intransitivity wayofbinding together oronehadtoassume a quite art's sake" opposedtopolitical obscure commitment.33. they aristocracy.no. itprovesvery Moreover. 1. Mallarmd and their colleagues purported tochallenge the of and dreamt of a new bourgeois way thinking. partition I would highlight thispointby comparing twopolitical readingsofthe samenovelist. ofliterature or itspolitical involvement. primacy a kindofgentleman's Sartre theintransitivity proposed agreement. Sartre had toexplainwhyprosewriters used wordsinthesame"intransitive" likeFlaubert way as did poets. those whocouldhaveusedthem as tools ofsocial debate andstruggle.And he had topursue the reason for thesadrealities ofclassstruggle bothin this. tothetransitivity he assumed. He usedprose's ofwordstocreate a new transparency formof opacity. As Sartreput it. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . there On this the connection was Either was no basis. specificity in its and we have to deal with this ifwe use. of as between the materialistic (conceived relationship intransitivity literary andthematerialistic ofrevolutionary ofthesignifier) rationality politics.252. ina world ofpurewords. Buttheir was nothing butthecelestial of private paradise projection theessenceofprivate In ordertoshapeit. writing. ambiguous practical ambiguity inunderstanding wanttomoveforward literature as a newsystem oftheartof as wellas itsrelationship tothepolitical ofthesensible. against nature ofproselanguage. committed totheframing ofa common world.67. From hispoint of analysis Flaubert was thechampion ofan aristocratic assault thedemocratic view.66 on Tue. used wordsas Poets. intostone and petrifies theobject as changes well. immobilizes itandbreaks itsback.Vol."Flaubertsurroundsthe object. Ihavejustreferred toSartre's ofFlaubert.
Itismore at thelinkbetweenthe"indifference" of a way ofwriting and theopposite a wayof statements itallowsfor. forany disregard between and and men between hierarchy foreground background. petrification forany difference betweenhighand low subjectmatters. that a it carried petrification literary deeppolitical Now thepoint isthat the critics understood this significance. commentators ofFlaubert. The reading "indifference" ofwriting. Itappearsthat areboundtogether: three things without a of this as a symptom writing "meaning" anything. Buteven thatattitude of"non-commitment" was for thosecommentators themarkof ifnottheequal ability Whatis democracy. Flaubert's differently. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . had no political Indeed. the same argument had been made by contemporary Long beforeSartre. ultimately was thehallmark and things. antidemocracy. ofthem hisprosewas thepetrification ofhuman agreedthat action andhuman Andallofthem. and assumed thewriter that shouldbe unwilling toproveanything on anymatter. ofdemocracy. andtwoopposite this waysofmaking political reading. system which dismisses another Thecontrasting of"literature" as such.Vol. thought language. prose democracy. way reading writing that hastobeinterpreted. nineteenth-century Forthem. was thesymptom ofdemocracy. SubStance #103. that this a was not mere device.67. 1. Therewould be little that Sartre a reactionary mistook pointinproving a revolutionary for relevant tohavea closer look argument argument. specific system meaning system ofthings.Flaubert commitment.no. literature system. But theargument of"petrification ofthelanguage"had a longhistory. I would liketo show thatthisverylinkbetweena way ofwriting. out for They pointed inFlaubert's prosea fascination detail and an indifference toward ofactions thehumanmeaning and characters that ledhimtogivethesameimportance tomaterial andtohuman things beings. to be democrat. summedup their criticism was Barbeyd'Aurevilly by sayingthatFlaubert his sentences as a worker carries his him in a stones before carrying just All wheelbarrow. thepractice ofsymptomatic and thepolitical reading ofthat arewoveninthesamefabric.33. visibility Thismodeofvisibility involves a specific oftheefficiency ofwords. likeSartre a century later.252. democrat or indifferent tobothdemocracy and anti-democracy ? Whatever Flaubert think aboutthecommonpeople and therepublican form of might his was the of embodiment government. He despisedequallydemocrats and conservatives.12 Rancibre Jacques So theliterary ofwordsand objects wentalongwith thebourgeois petrification anti-democratic strategy. a way of andtwowaysofinterpreting canleadus tothecoreofthequestion.2004 This content downloaded from 128. And this fabric ambiguity reading might be literature as such:literature conceived neither as theartofwriting ingeneral noras a specific stateofthelanguage.66 on Tue. butas a historical mode ofvisibility of a link between a of of a words and of writing.
conceived ofas an adequation between waysofbeing. The new principle inallitscrudity was stated there arenohigh orlow subject principle byFlaubert: matters.2004 103.1. against regime. The ofgenres alsosubmitted toa principle ofhierarchical convenience: hierarchy style had toactand speakas kings do. imitation genres. poetic ofactions oflife as itunfolds.ismore ina whole.at first sight. only against had lostthesenseofhuman andhuman Forus. Whatwas that sense?In understanding tounderstand order we have to remember the Aristotelian that old it.this means action they meaning.We is an imitation knowthat this a hierarchy alsowas a political Itsetforth principle principle. Aristotle isnota specific assumed." whoareenclosed ofreproductive andmeaningnothing lesslife. fiction different genres werehigh There devoted tothe ofnobleactions andcharacters.ThePolitics ofLiterature 13 and ofthe ofwriting. Andfiction ofacting men. principle sustained the edifice ofrepresentation. timne. use oflanguage. amongthecharacters of appropriateness betweena styleand a subjectmatter. was divided into ofimnitations. waysofdoingand ways ofspeaking. said. Further. and low genresdevoted to commonpeople and base subjectmatters. causalplots events while tells the events. binding together history only as they from evolve.66 on Tue.67. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . couldonlybe interpreted as a radical thewhole egalitarian principle. isnottheopposition of mimesis and the autonomyof selfan oppositionbetweenthe servitude andaction.and common kings peopleas common people do. there is no subject matter at all.because style is an absolute This absolutization of stylemayhave been identified way of seeingthings.Theconvention wasnot an academic a There was simply homology constraint. referential Itistheopposition oftwowaysoflinking meaning writing. As a consequence. Fromthatpointofview we can figure whatupsetthe out. that had lostthesenseofa certain kindof"action"and ofa certain they wayof thelink between action and meaning. 33. Itwas thedismissal ofanyprinciple ofhierarchy and subject ofany matters. totheoldworldofrepresentation art as themodern regime Norisit twostates "belles-lettres" between ofthelanguage.Theprivilege ofaction overlife noblepoetry distinguished base history. ofthebelles-lettres inthe defenders works ofthenewwriters. upsetting Vol. This content downloaded from 128. between therationality ofpoetic and theintelligibility fiction ofhumanactions. totheextent that itdistinguished who do those whoactfrom those inthesphere but"live. totheempiricism opposingthecausalrationality Aristotle than becausepoetry builds Poetry. SubStance # no. with waysofdoingthings of Thisiswhatwas involved inthecriticism madebytheFrench champions theoldliterary but new writers: not all the Flaubert. ofenabling words offraming therelation withthepowerofframing a common world.252. afterwards withan a-political oraristocratic ButinFlaubert's it position. "philosophical" history. between thesayableand thevisible.Poetry is fiction.Itis an opposition betweentwo words. Poetry.
without towhomithad tospeak.no. ofindifference theegalitarian principle could square with de Tocqueville'sidea of Such a "politicsof literature" endmatters Butwe cannot ofconditions. the"democratic" ofstyle wentalongwith absolutization "aristocratic" principle between oftheold hierarchy It wentalongwiththereversal ofindifference. and made of in an front of audience orators. representational were He said thathis tragedies he made a significant argument.and towhomithad not.2004 This content downloaded from 128. ofhisowntime was no theaudience he assumed.The "muteletter" was theletter that a father went itsway. andhispeers. magistrates. definite Writing who is persuading thepopularassembly as theactoftheorator (eventhough Itwas viewedas theactofthe there was nopopular preacher uplifting assembly). nobleaction ofliterature.of"a number anybody. gentlemen was based on a no The ofwriting regime nobody. andbase life."Theyaremutein thesensethat thewandering of had been uttered they longago byPlatowhenhe contrasted letter totheliving as a seed inthesoulof theorphan planted bya master logos. Therepresentational his soulsorthegeneral powerofdoing haranguing troops. Thisis whyitssentences are "mutepebbles. that partition Democracy easily. without toguideit." conceived as the"equality democracy. thepowerofa socialhierarchy basedon the wordswas boundup with artwith of ofspeech-acts toappropriate kinds kinds ofaddressing appropriate capacity audiences.33.he composedofthosespecialists longer andyoung ladies.67.a specific regimeof speakingwhose effect of manners ofdoingand manners ofspeaking. addressee. representational Andspeaking was speaking. a disciple.Itwas theletter that spoketoanybody. oftheacting word. addressed theaudience Flaubert stigmatized is this a number ofyoungladiesand younggentlemen.252.66 on Tue.The The new principle doingand ways ofspeaking. adequationbetween put normality."Thatmeant ofyoung said. 1. It is in this sense thatliterature thepowerofCorneille's accounted for When Voltaire hierarchy. brokethatadequation. a politics construct we couldeasily On that contrasting ground tothehierarchical law oftheold regime. preachers performed the for whom was made of an audience He meant speaking people generals. whereitcould growand live.14 Rancibre Jacques Itturned oftheartofwriting. is to upset any steady sensible. Unfortunately.Vol. Literature byVoltaire: inwhich ofwriting thewriter is anybody and thereader new regime anybody. upside system of as an downa certain waysof ways being.The"mute" knowing was a letter thatspoke too muchand endowed anyoneat all withthe letter SubStance #103. was viewed idea ofthespeech-act. theold regime ofrepresentation. onthecontrary. tragedies. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . sameas acting.Is was onlymade. manners between relationship the to opposed its "democracy" being. ofthe Itis a specific is morethana socialstate.
67. becomerich. Thusthedemocratic ofthe"dead letter" becomesa powerofdeath. caseBalzac'snovelThe nineteenth-century Country which a of fable as literariness. It is thestory thedaughter ofan ironmonger.strictly Parson.as Veronique withherparents. Thisparadoxicalrelationship is thesubjectmatter ofmany I willtakeas a telling works. in theflesh ofrealthings. widow. provincial religion is strolling One day. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1. ofstyle was originally tiedtothedemocracy aristocracy ofthemute theletter that canretrieve anduse inhisor letter. doesnotuplift hersoulwith andthe Thereason piousdiscourse HolyScriptures. sentenced todeath anddieswithout denouncing Veronique.Disaster ensues.Vol. a enters loveless witha banker As a wealthy ofthetown.that religion.He is arrested. She livesin thelowerend ofthe Veronique. for this is clear: theevilthat causedthe wholedisaster was theintrusion ofa book inthelife ofsomeone who shouldnever haveentered theworldofwriting. by "thecultofthe fatal Shedreams ofmeeting herPaul and living with hima Ideal. He becomescrazy abouttheir loveand. noble and pious youngworker. a shopa book adornedwitha niceengraving. So theparsondoes notmakeVeronique a engraved #103. honest.Fromthatday on. Such was the democratic revolution the only pinpointed by reactionary TheFlaubertian critics.66 on Tue. Thenovel is.retires guidedby thecountry Butthemeansofhersalvation arevery Theparson parson.252." life ofpureand chastelove.Veronique. speaking.Veronique. carried Veroniqueenters away. she sees on displayin a bookseller's Itis PauletVirginie.no.ofLiterature ThePolitics 15 I proposedto givethe powerofspeaking. Theyfallin love. name of "literariness" to thisavailability oftheso-called"muteletter" that a partition oftheperceptible inwhichone canno longercontrast determines who speakand those who only those makenoise. by theWordof God. Literature at itscorethislinkwiththedemocratic discovers of disorder literariness.And thepureand chaste bookinthehandsandmindofthe everything goeswrong: pureand chastegirlbecomesthemostdangerouspoison. a rich toa smallvillageand tries togainhersalvation. strange. somebodywho should neverhave read one. a new life. She buysthebook and readsit. andchastity. shemeets an marriage patron. The evilmadebythe"muteletters" be redeemed cannot not even byanyword.33. novelfamedforitschildlike innocence.inorder toflee with he robsandkills an old her. those who actand those who live.In mybook TheNames ofHistory. meaning anybody herway. desperate man. Redemption in another mustbe written kindofwriting. So inthelastpart ofthe now book. small town ofLimoges. availability Thisevilmust be redeemed. inan atmosphere oflabor.2004 SubStance This content downloaded from 128.Balzac writes. democracy recounts thedisastercaused by one singleevent:thereadingof a book by of a younggirl. Literature that is theartofwriting addresses those who specifically should notread.
But theage ofrhetoric was over. butthenewpowerofa meaning written fabric priest. It turned out tobe a relationship relationship between and other signs signs.16 Rancibre Jacques He teaches herhowtomakeherfortune a businesswoman. In the equally subjected had appropriated 1790stheir fathers for themselves of thewordsand sentences Ancient rhetoric. buta contractor.. collapseofthe meansnotonlythecollapseofa hierarchical representational paradigm system The rulesand ofaddress.) inthemountains' nowfertile andproductive. The "mutepebbles" thustakeon another The meaning. engraved myrepentance upon "I inthefields record. Theparsoncouldno longer use wordstomoralize totheplebeian's Nor couldthereactionary critics use them tomoralizetothewriter daughter. But the for that idea of unexpected itself relied on a definite idea ofwhatmeaning means:meaning was speech-act a relation ofaddress from Thehubofthesystem onewilltoanother. ranks. SubStance # Vol.2004 103." oncewildandbarren.1.uttered master. of"realthings. streams green(. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .67. subject Buttheplebeian'sdaughter. Thusbarren meadowsnourishing written Andjustbefore canshowherrepentance prizedcattle. acting action was supposedtobe itwas becausethehighest ofhuman accomplishment wordthat Itis that the theaction made byspeaking itself. nun. himwhich and teach Flaubert matters and characters he shouldchoose.Shesays. by inthevery orthegeneral. insluices andincrease the ofthe the forest's waters bycollecting village prosperity and irrigation landsbecomerich trenches.no. poweroftheacting from of Revolution had the hierarchical order of orators the away popular tomrn rhetorical culture and appropriated aims. ofrepresentation between hierarchies hungonto link saying Ifpoetry with the imitation of was identified with fiction andfiction men. 33.Itmeansthecollapseofa wholeregime ofmeaning. Veronique in have this land indelible ontheland. dying. a consistent Thecause oftheevilwas thevery Thismakesfor conclusion. was theidea ofspeaking as usingwordstoproduceappropriate aims:specific movesinthe ofbodies. This content downloaded from 128. oftheevilis another of oftheperceptible: no moretheold hierarchy partition no moretheold privilege the oftheacting the word. everywhere grown from their turned coursesintotheplain.66 on Tue. on democratic Theredemption oftheperceptible grounded partition literarity.Meaningwas no morea betweenone willand another.252. a definite anddoing. soulsandmotions ofliterature Thenewregime that dismissed connection between meaning andwilling.." "mute" Thatwhichcanhealtheevildonebythedemocratic on thebodyofthings letter kindofmute a writing is another engraved writing: and withdrawn from theattempts ofthegreedy sonsordaughters ofplebeians. and themilitant theworker-poets workers were to theconsequences ofthenew regimeofmeaning. Itis written as an everlasting characters.
ofview. oforators.no.ideas and things could notbe and metres a time reflected whenspeakingand separated." paleontology whichwas also thetime ofGerman knew Romanticism. northecapacity His metaphors for abstraction. when he set out to upset the foundations of Aristotelian ofthe"true thecharacter Homer. characters. In so doing.forhe lived in a timewhen history and fiction were mingled.they endorsedtheidea that thebooks interpreters forthesinofmuteness werefaulting they way.252.similar tothelanguageofdumb Another idea of the of muteness newregime literature was linked tothis persons.ThePolitics ofLiterature 17 kindofmuteness." writing had been pioneeredby Vico. Itwas.Butthey woreon too. and that involved a different Thisnewidea ofmute meaning "politics.His thevaliant or thewise Nestor. of"democratic becausehe was a writer times.67. havethem. Itturned outtobe a relationship betweensignsand other signs. was a languageofchildhood. things weremadeof"mute and Now. thehistoricity historicity. didnotteachFlaubert whathe shouldhavedone. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . And thattestimony was very muchmorefaithful thananydiscourse. SubStance #103. In short. thesenseofindividuality. From that the muteness ofliterature took on another point meaning.meaning andrhythms. Achilles werenotcharacters as we characters.33. ofmeaningthatbound together muteness and significance."The "true bydisclosing poetics Homer" was nota poetintherepresentational an inventor of sense. ofrulesorteachers Theybehavedas ofsymptoms.spokeintheir pebbles. a relationship was no longer between onewilland system Meaning another. another critics discovered The reactionary themselves this Thisis thereasonthey doublebindofliterary muteness. Flaubert's speaking.Theyexplained totheir that readers Flaubert could nothave doneotherwise. 1. philology. contrasting enclosed intheletter toitsdemocratic availability. its opposedtotheliesandchatter ofmeaning. their bodies thetestimony oftheir own history.2004 Such ofliterature. Suchwas thelanguage ofliterature.Vicosaid. pebbles.Vol. Homeric theessenceofpoetry. singing poetry.Theyhad no voice. bore witnessto an age wherethought and image. butpersonified becausethemenofhistime had neither abstractions.intheage ofarcheology. His so-called fictions werenofictions fictions.66 on Tue.thatthey "spoke" in another The"muteness" ofliterature muteness. Themute wasthe reverse sideofthe letters democracy tothe offered ofplebeian children were taken them greediness awayfrom by This content downloaded from 128. everybody that ownway.Evenhisrhythms wereinterchangeable. Itwas theunfalsified truth ofthings. and poeticality And itinvolvedanother idea ofpolitics." They didnotbehaveas defenders ofgood taste. metaphors to him. is another spokeoutoftheir very wayof link another between orHugo'ssentences andwords.The had todisplay wordsofliterature anddecipher thesigns and symptoms written in a "mutewriting" on thebodyofthings and inthefabric oflanguage.
replaced in1800. Buthe did notquotethosewritings.Further. Vol. byliterature TheRepublican itself. This content downloaded from 128. bothtorevolution Shewanted toprovethat theideas andperfectibility. bythewriters they ofmovements insociety weretheexpression andcivilization that do notdepend will. on anybody's Literature did notactso muchbyexpressing ideas and willsas itdid by Inthis thecharacter ofa time ora society. underlie politiciansForty yearsafter De la littirature. resting principle: writing imposing politics.252. Itisdisplaying anddeciphering orator. as well.67. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .2004 103. of and another to way relating on this not in is onewillon another. Michelet would setouttowrite thehistory oftheFrench Jules Revolution. thewaythevery Itis usuallysaidtohaveoccurred theold "belles-lettres. by philosophers had notcaused therevolutionary as charged. bloodshedand terror. was displaying theso-calledworldofprosaicactivities as a huge ofsigns andtraces. literature context. times. And that ofvisibility new system enoughto setup a new system toa definite issue."Whenhe relatedtherevolutionary of "literary in thesmall festivals he referred the to testimonies written villages. the thefashion ofthe orthegeneral. Itis revealing thesymptoms thesignsofhistory. is often taken de Stail'sbook. Whatwas changed was the notpoint ofwriting.Itsprinciple was notreproducing as they are. Germaine shewouldnotchange de Stailsaidthat visibility anything in therulesofbelles-lettres. enthusiastically bylocalorators. and Germaine published Butthis has twostriking features. point point." around1800. Thisisnota matter ofpolitical Itisa politics carried engagement. He undoubtedly was a great Buthe was a Republican Republican. opposed andtocounter-revolution.18 Rancibre Jacques initsnewsense.66 on Tue. mute better city's things speak thananyorator.intotheseamsand strata theseamsandstrata that itsfoundation. priest ofa state ofthings. 33. Theyhad becausethe"ideas" stated did notactas wills.Thisnew regime ofliterature and new "politics" is atthecoreofthesocalledrealistic novel.Madamede Stallwrote atthe appearedas a response political endoftheFrench andshewas thechampion ofa third Revolution. poem.1.a hugefabric signs SubStance # no. the times of literature. He conveyed whatwas speakingthrough thevoiceofthesoilatharvest their orthemudand theclamor of time. historian thereactionary novelist does so putsitinto play.as critics facts It claimed. as a turning itdoes First. as delving thegeologist underthestageoftheorators and does. of ofprogress the the uttered Enlightenment. additionwas ofwriting. displaying appeared at thesame timeas a new regime ofwriting. ofobscure that had tobedisplayed.De la littirature. Her sole concern was tohighlight therelationship Butthislittle betweentypesofsocieties and typesofliterature. Thismight account for nameofliterature. turning inthepractice outanynovelty ofwriting. not. way. speeches: In theindustrial street.
thehero.66 on Tue. inventions. And the pursuits characters areno longerintelligible their ends. ina very Thisresults between science. regime. poetry": he has rebuilt cities outofsometeeth. works madeup fashions. machine out the of the and so emperor Augustus.Further.33. itmadeeachobject a poetic a sensitive isa fabric form that ofsigns as element.Vol. unfolding thefossils ofthem wereblended times and all theworlds. A ofMadame Du Barry seemedtocontemplate was on.whenmeaning actions.a phantasmagoric reality truly signs. actsinthesameway.2004 This content downloaded from 128.Cuvier. It investigate takessocialsituations and characters their earth-bound awayfrom everyday. Balzac writes.enters ofartand relics "this oceanoffurnishings. together. whatthey and displays fabric ofpoetic are.67. Byron. shopmadeallobjects well. interesting linkage a Literature does kind or of The of politics. forests outofsomepetrified repopulated ina mammoth's andrediscovered ofgiants foot.252. thecompost inwhich in on Further the same Balzac contrasts the book."Theshopwas indeeda mixture for thepriest's theMoor'syatogan thesoldier's ciborium. A portrait an Indianchibbouk. has done"true time.eachverseofwhichcarried theinfinite ofnew virtuality Itwas theencyclopedia innewcontexts. whichare historical as well. poetwhohas tothetrue with wordssomeaspectsofspiritual turmoil. thebeginning theshowrooms ofan antiqueshop. thosesigns ofallthe stories. random gathering made a hugepoem. pneumatic poking eye ofthe andimages Themixture curiosity equal. stones they through wallpaper rooms.He displays andhieroglyphs ofhistory novelist thefossils He unfolds and civilization. ofworldsand ages: himan endlesspoem. expressed poetofthe who a poetofa newkind. a "mute"relation humanactions areno longer as intelligible or unsuccessful successful of aims by willingcharacters. becomes Now. together ofsignstosigns. SubStance# 103.ThePolitics ofLiterature 19 The bestexampleand commentary ofthiscan be unfoldedand deciphered. principle is toleave thecommon that"politics" in ofwills orderto stageoftheconflict intheunderground ofsociety and readthesymptoms ofhistory. 1.Theywerewovenofsigns an eraand a form Andtheir that summarized ofcivilization. thepoeticality. Raphael. side-politics meta-politics. tobacco-pouch alongside atstained-glass Stuffed boasgrinned windows.And there. At ofthenovel. andthe ofthe goldslipper seraglio. thehistoricity written on the bodyof Intheold representational ofintelligibility theframe of ordinary things. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .All theseobjects worea history on their body. thenaturalist.Theyare intelligible through the clothes the oftheir housesorthe oftheir wear.no. humanactions was patterned onthemodelofthecausalrationality ofvoluntary linked andaimedatdefinite ends. Theso-called races realist traces. foundin Balzac's TheWild Ass's Skin. and literature. their For nature as symptoms poeticsignsis the nature sameas their as historical results andpolitical This"politics" symptoms.
import confess whatitwas hidingand revealhow itsfictions or patterns ofwriting themarket thelaws ofthesocialstructure. endorsed very they as new critical on literature the"social" and "political" insights interpretations ofnineteenth-century thepatterns conservatives.itdisplaysthe foldmanner ofreconfiguring sensitive that thepowerofthe"mute"letter powerofliterariness. aboutliterature.Vol.itsetsin motion another ofthemuteletter: theside-politics ormetapolitics that politics substitutes ofthemutemeaning written on thebodyofthings thedeciphering for thedemocratic oftheletter. tothestrange itbearswitness status ofcritical discourse mistake. on the truth the in surface the out Telling bytraveling underground. underpinned meaning they often cameuponthe Inthe sameproblem asSartre.no.66 on Tue.252. patterns byliterature Explaining close-to-hand realities as phantasmagorias witness tothehiddentruth bearing ofa society.67. conceive as a struggle We aremoving a first answer thepolitics toward toourquestion regarding a two-fold a twoofliterature "as literature. Butthe Benjamin analysisofthecommodity SubStance #103. chattering The duplicityof the "mute letter"has two consequences.33. On theother hand. Notsurprisingly. ofliterature who emerges ofpolitics ofwillsand interests. sameway. refers to theMarxist as a fetish. upsetsnotonlythe oftherepresentational butalso anyprinciple hierarchies ofadequation system betweena way ofbeingand a way ofspeaking. data. 1. tospelloutitsunconscious tomakeit discourse.20 Rancibre Jacques as thedismissal ofthepolitics oforators andmilitants. bynineteenthre-elaborated andborrowed from literature. Foratleast150years.On theone hand. critics have to daring purported disclose thepolitical ofliterature. himby Benjamin. raisethesameproblem that we havealready Thepatterns encountered. thispattern ofintelligibility was theinvention ofliterature itself. had touse to Further." Literature as suchdisplays politics. ofsymbolic unwittingly ciphered and of all the structure the field. But figures theexplanation makessenseon theground ofa definite modelofintelligibility themodelofdeciphering theunconscious framed hieroglyph. The first of consequenceregardstheso-called"political"or "scientific" explanation literature. But those to tellthe goods literary attempts inMarxian truth inBenjaminian about literature orFreudian orBourdieusian key. they on reveal the truth literature arethe framed itself. of key. century byProust. spelling the unconscioussocial text underneath-that also was a lying by plotinvented literature itself. Sartre's aboutFlaubert flawed is nota personal and casual argument Moredeeply. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . their critical of"whatliterature relied on the same of explanation says" system that thepractice ofliterature itself.2004 This content downloaded from 128. the structure ofBaudelaire's the explained Benjamin imagery through process ofcommodification andthetopographical ofpassagesand loitering.
It was thecoreoftheutopiaspelledout in the1830s. waytobindmentogether. Buthe spentfive yearscompleting the book. 1. seemsobviousat ofthecommodity as a phantasmagoria. Balzac didnotstopwriting.no. anymoral orsocialtrouble. invisible. Butthat other kindofwriting. did not oppose therealistic That contradiction writer to the moralist. ofthepolitics Christian Itwas theself-contradiction ofliterature. as it takes boulevards loitering placenotso muchinthepassagesoftheParisian The symptomatic does inthesameBalzacianshoporworkshop. offetishism canaccount for sinceBaudelaire's theanalysis Baudelaire's poetry. very by power writing this fictional solution is a dead-end for itself.Vol. a thing that analysis ofhieroglyphs and a puzzle of first glancebut actually provestobe a fabric stems from theBalzacianshop.252. keepsilent This content downloaded from 128. But he failedto solve the contradiction. thesecond consequenceconcerns of literature out to two of the the turns be theconflict "muteletter": politics and thepolitics ofsymptomatic Balzac'sCountry ofliterariness politics reading. ittaken literature Were atface value. together ofcourse. itmeant erasingtheold differences Theaimofthewriter was tomakeart dismissing anykindofspecific language. Theevildonebydemocratic literariness hasto a in the be redeemed the of flesh of But engraved things. invention.66 on Tue. WhenFlaubert wrote Madame hewas unwilling todenounce Bovary. thepatterns for itsnaivetd thetruth and telling aboutitsillusions. Themistake will was her tomakeart contrast. whoknowtheright theright place totheengineers.2004 SubStance the itwould mean that writer must must andcedethe stop writing.And Marx's commodity theological quibbles. He onlywantedto"do" literature. The for novelist writes totheevil peoplewho shouldnotreadnovels.ofLiterature ThePolitics 21 to allow forthe Balzacian paradigmoftheshop as a poem had to existfirst. suppression politics a contradiction canbe solvedonly that byself-suppression.He rewrote inorder itandrearranged theorder ofthechapters tohave the hermeneutic plot matchthe narrative plot. The politicsof Now. highlighting literature itself.33. pushed tothe means the of literature. in the flesh of This was not a to write without words way simply fictional things. Butdoingliterature meant betweenlow and highsubjectmatters. ofEmmaBovary.bytheSaint-Simonian and "priests": before engineers Whatis needed tobindpeople no morewords. by #103.a fewyears Balzac wrote hisnovel.no morepaper or literature. The of literature carries extreme.67. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Theremedy thathe evokesis another kindofwriting. is railways and canals. Thiscontradiction is atplayinthecase oftheapolitical writer as wellas in who wantstoconvey thewriter a political messageand heal socialproblems. that reading ofall the ofhistorical orsociological was first underpins practices interpretation a poetical And these sciences had toborrow from "naive"literature revolution. Parson still is a good caseinpoint.
inherdestiny. archeology.no longergiveitsrhythm it. his prosehad to go separating overboard onthe muteness ofcommon life.containing senses. In theend he has toundohisplotandblurthe theproseof"artfor art's boundary separating sake" from theproseofthecommonplace. philosophy.taking partin theframing ofa newworldand a newcollective In thetimes life. Butthis rhythm inconsistency is consistent with thepolitics ofliterature that puttheBalzacian shopintheplace ofthetragic chorus. and change theself-interpretation oflife intoa newkindofpoem.2004 This content downloaded from 128. Flaubert woulddistinguish hisart from that ofhischaracter poetry artonlyin hisbook. itself from life theproseofeveryday insofar as itwas still muter. whenpoetry wasbecoming lessand lessa matter of andmetre. Butthis is goodmedicine theself-suppression ofliterature. ithas toundo itself. Itwould initsmagnificence. willonly Thisisgoodmedicine they copythem. He calledfor with numbers and harmony. powerofliterature. thenonsense ingeneral. Once more.a pianoinherparlor. andmore andmore a matter ofimage." Thatother kindofmute inanother results kindofself-suppression. for a languageopento poemsfilled the five a of the soulfor thesoul. That newkind ofmute would writing nolonger be thesilent inthe flesh ofmaterial Itwould language engraved things.Bouvard et Pccuchet.33. butrunbefore it. endthey decidetogo backtotheir oldjob ofcopying. writing In Flaubert's last novel. fit theradical muteness ofthings. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . In orderto tracethe by putting border-line his artfrom thatofhis character.252. everythingsounds and colors.as he revolutionary described toaction. the ofthefuture According logic rhythm SubStance #103. and visible. Instead oftrying toapply the wordsofthe booksinreallife.22 Jacques RanciEre toputartinherlife.67. geology.66 on Tue.ornaments inherhouse. pedagogy.in advance. the two clerksfailin all their endeavors tomanagetheir life totheprinciples intheir written books according ofmedicine. oflife Theproseoftheartist express. Thenovelist himself has nothing moretodo thanto copythebooksthat hischaracters aresupposedto copy. When"artfor art'ssake" wantsto undoitslink totheproseofdemocracy. oftheParisian Rimbaudcalledfor a new poetry that Commune.In the agronomy. etc. 1. out ofthe attempts hermeneutic a language that wouldmakelife clearer toitself.no. The same goes fortherevolutionary to create.itsis nota matter ofpersonalfailure.and making itinvisible. soundstrange that suchan idea ofpoetry cametothefore inthetimes of might free verseandprosepoetry. distinguished still moredeprived of"poetry. to the of literature. would. Balzac's Christian and conservative commitment comes the same contradiction as Flaubert's up against nihilism. which haveneither willnormeaning. for thediseaseofliterariness anditspolitical disorder.Vol.Thisidea ofa "poetry ofthefuture" was in linewiththe romantic idea ofancient Greek as themusicofa collective And it poetry body. language smells.
Theinvestigation ofthis"politics of "interpreting that ismuch literature" morethat a matter ofwriters mayhelpus tounderstand this andsomeofitsconsequences. The"critical. suggest contrasting interpretive change "real" changeis itself partofthesamehermeneutic plotas theinterpretation that itchallenges. 1. Thepolitical dimension ofliterature ambiguity SubStance #103.. life intoa signofhistory poeticzation converting anyscrapofeveryday andanysign ofhistory into Thispolitics ofliterature a poetical enhanced element. interpretation has beenan attempt toquestion inbothways. thedreamofa newbodythat would givevoicetothisreappropriation ofthe on anydoorpaneloranysilly andhistoricity written powerofcommon poetry refrain. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Literature had becomea powerful ofself-interpretation machine and selfoflife. interpretations totheextent that are of the a of common world. Thenewregime ofmeaning bothliterature and underpinning socialscience hasmadethevery sentence theworld"and contrasting "changing theworld"intoan enigma.silly popularengravings. poetry in in turnwould tryto celebrated by Aragon his Paysande Paris. The life of experienced ofthis literature is thelife contradiction. After thosedays.252.and the hymnof the people thesame contradiction as theworkofpureliterature. paintings.The Rimbaldian antiqueshop was thepoorman's shop. they reconfigurations visibility I would that the discourse and Second.66 on Tue..33. little books.ofLiterature ThePolitics 23 outofthecommodities andfossils ofthecuriosity had tobe invented shop. But thepoem of thefuture thesame experienced contradiction as the novel of bourgeoislife. poetry wouldbe attuned totheidea ofanew life whereartand life Rimbaldian project would be moreor less identical. panels.It was theshop ofthose ofhis"Alchemy Rimbaud lists oftheWord":stupid that atthebeginning scraps erotic door refrains. in"bringing Butthis letter couldnotresult back"this powerofthemute The had to the collective remain the living body. as rhythm ofa living Rimbaudwantedto connect twoideas ofpoetry: poetry ofthemutesignssleepingon thebody of body and poetryas archaeology theshopofthemutesignsand the Butthere was no pathfrom ordinary things. from thekingdom oftheDeathof emerge outmodedcommodities.Vol.. the utopia ofwriting. of outmoded refrains to the ofthefuture ofthe and thehymn poeticality poetry collective body.67. "living body"voicing hymn In thetimesoffuturist and Sovietrevolution.itwould comeback to the the of the of theoutmodedParisianpassages curiosity poetry shop.2004 This content downloaded from 128.Benjamin tohavetheMessiah rewrite thepoem.no. theopposition Mypresentation Ihave tried tosubstantiate ideathat the so-called arepolitical First." or"sociological" ofliterature whofeel "political' interpreters that the of contradiction literature callenged bymyanalysis might reply goes backtothe oldillusion ofmistaking the oflife for itstransformation.
2004 SubStance This content downloaded from 128. matters I havebeenunwilling toaccount for Byturning upside-down.33. politics and socialsciences themere transformations ofpoetical through categories. 1. My wishhasbeensimply toproposea closer lookattheir intertwinings.Vol.252. 14 May 2013 23:24:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .no.24 Rancibre Jacques has beenusuallyexplained socialscience and political through interpretation.66 on Tue. Paris #103.67.