NUMBER 15/16


Issue Editors: Marta Hernandez Salvan and Juan Carlos Rodriguez


Jean-Luc Nancy


Arturo Leyte


Alberto Moreiras



Kenneth Surin


Slavoj Ziiek


Alain Badiou


Bruno Bosteels


Mladen Dolar


Alenka ZupanCic


Robert Spencer


Juan Carlos Rodriguez



NUMBER 15/16 (2004)


J)�-' S ')
-j ! �


Introduction: Neither Immanence nor Transcendence

Issue Editors: Marta Hernandez Salvan and Juan Carlos Rodriguez


Marta Hernandez Salvan


Jean-Luc Nancy

Editorial collective

Laura Balladur
Janelle Blankenship
Rodger Frey
Simon Krysl
Alex Ruch
Abby Salerno
Matthew Wilkens
Advisory board

Rey Chow, Brown University
Manthia Diawara, New York University
Jane Gaines, Duke University
Lawrence Grossberg, UNC-Chapel Hill
Michael Hardt, Duke University
Fredric Jameson, Duke University
Wahneema Lubiano, Duke University
Andrew Ross, New York University
General sponsors

Duke University

Program in Literature
The Center for International Studies
Marxism and Society Group
Graduate and Professional Student

UNC-Chapel Hill

University Program in Cultural Studies


The follOWing departments and programs
of Duke University have generously
supported the publication of Polygraph
15/16: English, Film and Video, Latin
American Studies, Romance Studies, and
Women's Studies.


Polygraph is published annually. Send all

Leaving Immanence: Art from Death

correspondence to

Arturo Leyte

Art Museum 104, Box 90670
Duke University
Durham, NC 27708
Fax: +1 919 684 3598
E-mail: polygraph@duke.edu

Infrapolitics and Immaterial Reflection

Post-Political Citizenship

The Becoming-Oedipal of Gilles Deleuze


Slavoj Zizek
The Flux and the Party: In the Margins of Anti-Oedipus

Distribution and Ubiquity Distribution.
ISSN 1533-9793. Copyright © 2004 by
Polygraph. All rights reserved. Individual
authors retain copyright to their essays.


Alain Badiou
Logics of Antagonism:
In the Margins of A

On the cover

All images reproduced by permission of
the artist.


Kenneth Surin

Polygraph is distributed through DeBoer

Spine: Elizam Escobar, Odiseo Paranoico
(detail), c. 1986. Acrylic, collage, and
text on canvas, ?" x 72" (repeated three


Alberto Moreiras

For more information, including the
current call for papers and submission
guidelines, see http://www.duke.edu/web/

Back: Elizam Escobar, Sujeto Muerto con
Ceiba [Dead Subject with Ceiba Tree],
1992. Ink on paperboard, 10" x 1 2".



Bruno Bosteels

Kafka's Voices


Mladen Dolar
Investigations of th\ Lacanian Field:
Some Remarks on Comedy and Love


Alenka Zupancic
Tradition and Transcendence:
Postmodernity's Entanglement in Immanence

Robert Spencer

1 47

Immanence and (Its) Interruption:
Critical Reconstellations

Juan Carlos Rodriguez


Neither Immanence nor Transcendence


Marta Hernandez Salvan

What is the primordial question of any possible political phi­
losophy today? This volume intends to open up the debate
among some of the various philosophical tendencies that de­
rived from the different post- Marxisms of the seventies, and
many other strands of thought that arose more directly from
within poststructuralism and their endeavor to think through
the crisis of the epistemological and political subject, as Ken­
neth Surin would have it. 1 Our present conjuncture is the
result of the global dominance of neoliberalism and flexible
accumulation, especially after the disappearance of the social­
ist regimes, and the end of a bipolar geopolitical order. One
could thus claim that we now live in a post-ideological era
dominated by an order of global flexible accumulation. Tak­
ing into account this conjuncture, it is perhaps not unfathom­
able to think that our post-ideological era has contributed to
the disintegration of the political subject and to the withering
of most of its former social practices of emancipation. The
intention behind this volume is to create a dialogue between
two philosophical traditions in their current evolution and
their attempt at theorizing the present political conjuncture.
Namely, the ontological Idealist tradition that begins with
Kant and the Spino zan immanentist ontology.2 Let me briefly
summarize the theoretical questions raised by each one of
these traditions, because it is key to understand that the po­
litical discourses that stem from each one of the two tradi­
tions have a fundamental theoretical split whose origin can
be found in their ontological premises.
I. Freedom and Necessity

The Kantian Idealist tradition posits a fundamental ontologi­
cal duality between being and reason, and between freedom
and necessity. Natural laws are beyond human reason, where­
as the moral law depends on individual choice. This is why
every being is at the same time free and bound. The principle


Polygraph 15/16 (2004)

As we know. The very difficult task that is left to us. possIbIlIty of bnngmg together freedom and necessity in synthetic reason becomes a key i �sue for the Idealist tradition that comes after Kant. How to recover the spatial and temporal dimension of difference between free­ dom �nd determination? How to think about difference? How to think about sin­ gulanty? How to capture the spatio-temporal dimension of interruption of the ab­ solute? These are some of the fundamental questions that we have inherited from the Kantian Idealist tradition. Derrida . On the other hand. the characteristic procedure of the second use is the interruption of the principle of sovereignty. Y �t. the biopolitical use of history is the sovereign use of history. that it can be subjected to a notion of time defined as a progression (bIrth/death) or as a teleology. dIalectics are an attempt to integrate the necessary laws of reason and freedom in the name of th� Absolute Sp rit. In the same work. Lazzarato thinks that there are two ways to look at the relationship between immaterial labor and production. Moreiras takes Lazzarato's proposition seriously in seeking to understand whether immaterial labor marks or fails to mark the final subsumption of living time into labor power. The same goes for the radical-democratic orientation. in Bruno Bosteels's words. immaterial labor may create a new relationship between production and consumption and promote values that could never be normalized by the apparatus of command within the system of production. castration. En somme un reste qui ne soit pas sans etre un neant: un reste qui ne 5 soit. which is based on the essential lack of the social bond. the deproduction of the use of history:' Is the uncanny power of Nancy's medusa as poignantly terrifying as the useless use of history? It is precisely this brief and sud­ den emergence of the Lacanian Real what opens up the possibility of interruption of the historical structure. "Infrapolitics and Immaterial Reflection:' Departing from the imperial sovereignty of the Spanish Inquisition as an example of a biopolitical procedure to ensure that people cooperate in their own domination. For Leyte and Nancy the work of art produces a space of absolute identification between the observer and the work of art that can only be interrupted temporarily by the ev�nt of death. the point of the impossible that vertebrates the symbolic. and the hegemonic operation consists in a discursive articulation of those signifiers to wider discursive totalities. mamtal�s that Hegel's logic cannot be deconstructed conceptually. etc. Pour Ie falre 11 fa�dralt deplacer conceptuellement l' articulation conceptuelle­ : chez lUl mamfeste-entre Aufhebung. neither Derrida nor Deleuze would ever accept the existence of a �ranscendental power o�tsi e the structure. the Real can never be taken as a radical exteriority. This means. Such dIsplacement could only take place from a transcendental power outside the structure. verite. it is always an intrinsic exteriority. then there is no outside to the biopolitical relation to history. fo � example. Radical democracy is based on the necessary and impossible fullness of society. The primary presence of such a lack articulates itself through empty signifiers. not subjected to a supenor power outside of it. the Lacanian Real is the inherent exclusion of the symbolic structure. Such lack is always an inherently intrinsic exteriority of the power structure. Jacques Derrida's book on Hegel. Derrida makes use of the stam a� a �et�phor to escribe the fact that the determinant limit of a concept is almost mfimte m Hegel. This is precisely why for Arturo Leyte and Jean -Luc Nancy only the event of death can interrupt the dialectical determination of the work of art. I believe that this is. et que ces for­ . For Schelling. Both responses are nihilistic in nature. Therefore there is a lack. He then argues that there are two fundamental uses of history. is a demand to find the possibility to resist negative speculation with a non subsumable negativ­ ity. Hegelian . Yet. by positing an entity which is . at t e same time the Absolute Spirit is determined by natural laws msofar as . . the excess of the structure. the task at hand in Alberto Moreiras's essay. Moreiras takes issue with Mauricio Lazzarato's notion of immaterial labor. these are some of the essential qu�stions guiding the articulation of our contemporary political theories. the one that allows us to understand that if history is always a biopolitical history. yet at the same time. Castration is a process that leads to a subjection to the law of the father. and that both of them have a paradoxical nature. The dialectical logic can thus only be l�terrupted by an excluslOn mherent in the formation of the structure. between Hegel s Aujhebung and the Lacanian notion of castration. a being whose reason is not contingent upon the arbltranness of a dlVlne power. ces de reSIstance ne constituent pas it leur tour des negativites relevables ou relevantes. which is also to say that they are messianic. In Glas. the absolute was represented by art. Such exclu­ SlOn can only exist as an excess: � � � � : � � � II n'�st �as sur q�'o� intervienne conceptuellement dans sa logique. something which is present and absent at the same time. . In order to articulate his response. For him. Immaterial labor can be caught within the capital relation and therefore reproduce the structures of domination. the capture of life by the sovereign relation.. Most importantly. It is an entity whose existence is indepen­ dent of any o �her cause . II faut faire apparaitr � des forces de resistance it la negativite speculative. Derrida suggests that there is a parallel . If the characteristic procedure of the first use of history is the capture of life by the political. for example. as we know. Moreiras's essay questions the possibili­ ties for the suspension of a biopolitical narration of history in relation to the pos­ sibilities of immaterial labor. We can thus conclude that none of these logical operations are ever based on the existence of a . the unworking of the biopolitical. loi. Yet. The concept of absolute spirit in fact manages to encom�ass the Idea of n ecesslty and freedom at once. the infrapolitical use of history. The Real is. In this sense. rather than a transcendental exterior force. it is also a process of subjectification. because that would �lmply be a conceptual displacement of the dialectical logic from an outside. The philosophical quandary posed by the im­ . "This use without use-says Moreiras­ has to do with un-working the determinations of the first use. the symbolic law. What this means is that the absolute spirit is like ant s transcen e�tal subject.4 For Derrida there is no possibility to interrupt the logic of the absolute or of the law from a conceptual point of view.Marta Hernandez Salvan Introduction 4 of difference is based upon this paradox between the freedom of moral law and the nece�s t: imposed by natural laws. The second use of history is what Moreiras calls a useless use.It IS subjected to the laws of time and space. for that would also be a conceptual refram­ ing of the notion of the law.

that it is dIfferent. which is the field of production. constitutive process:'6 In this sense. which holds that the masses make history. which requir� s th�t bei�g be expressed equally in all of its forms. He also shows how immanence denies any form of eminence or hierarchy in being due to the principle of the univocity of the attributes. and he points out that one should try to relate it to some of its historical equivalents such as the mass or the people. In this sense. Hardt explains at length how Deleuze's substance is singular and internally de­ termined. It is not determinate in the sense of being limited:'l0 What follows from this is that the principle of immanence has to exclude negativity because negativity is that which limits being. . the fact that Deleuzian difference is not relational. [Plosse is the machine that weaves together knowledge and being in an ex­ pansive. . most scholars have focused on the limitations of the power of resistance of the multitude. An Absolute without Negation This volume also intends to take issue with the Spinozist-Deleuzian notion of poli­ tics as a field of pure immanence. then-he adds-to set up an opposition between singular being and determinate being. . This actually emphasizes. of the ThIrd especially his final conclusion. I would tend to agree with Badiou's analysis of Deleuze's ontology. In this volume for example. A lack of a negative determination does not make singularity indeterminate. If this is true. as activ­ ity. it is not clear how we may differentiate it from the mass. and always torn storY:' 5 The problem with the notion of the multitude as it appears to be grounded in Paolo Virno's account-Bosteels argues-is that having forsaken with the subject altogether it seems almost impossible to envision how such a politics could theorize about a political actor.. What is a singular substance? This notion is genealogically linked to Deleuze and especially to Spinoza. it is important to remember Surin's essay. Hardt argues that what Deleuzes explanatIOn makes clear is that Spinoza's ontology. un seul et meme Ocean pour toutes les gouttes. the goal of the multitude is like the goal of any other mass that fights for its emancipation to form a community of sorts. is what Badiou calls the democracy of de­ sire: "Une seule et meme voix pour tous Ie multiple aux milles voix. because the notion of difference entails a numerical distinction. because accord­ ing to Deleuze.l1 Badiou argues that Deleuze is rather a philosopher of the metaphysics of the One. it is only a formal distinction because the substance can only have an internal cause. in which he criticizes the pragmatIsm Way and argues for the need to trace a non-negotiable line between the left and the right. "How can we conceive of the absolute without negation?" asks Hardt. which is by the way the ghost that returns in Badiou's acrimonious article "The Flux and the Party:' As we know. Deleuze wants to eliminate any negative aspect of the real distinction. according to Hardt. singularity is not defined by an external cause. The multitude is rather a political space organized within the ontology of Empire: "The name that we want to use to refer to the multitude in its political autonomy and its productive activity-Hardt and Negri tell us-is the Latin term posse-power as a verb. To reach the one. Against Descartes and following Spinoza. According to Hardt the fact that Deleuze ad­ dresses determination is what allows his theory to be nondialectical. or remarkable and absolute. "The singular-says Hardt-is remarkable because it is different in itself'9 "It would be false. however. In their critiques of Empire. stance. and not a phi­ losopher of the multiple. it is true that the multitude is a notion that bears no relation with the Leninist idea of the vanguard.8 According to Hardt. if we were to push this issue a little bit further. More important. Empire and the Multitude form a singular substance. Zizek's article is a very nuanced critique of Deleuze. As we argued above. only the Spinozan principle of the singularity of being is conducive to an understanding of an absolute without negation. In their contemporary version these politics are embodied by the two complementary logics of Empire and the Multitude as they are outlined in the two respective homonymous books co-authored by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. The substance for Deleuze is distinct and not different. and therefore it does not have any limitations that may define it by negation. nor with any anarchic notion of mass. II. One could argue that the multitude is a radically new concept insofar as it distances itself from the Chris­ tian images of so many other emancipatory discourses in which the goal is to tran­ scend the corruptions of the world by arriving at a pristine paradise. What differenti­ ates the multitude from its predecessors is that it has no telos. one could also argue that given our present conjuncture it might be necessary to redefine what do we understand by the left. is there only one desire? Whose desire is it? How can we tell the progressive desire from the non progressive one? In this sense. whereas for De­ leuze and also for Negri and Hardt "distinction would be a better term for defining the singularity of being" precisely because the notion of distinction as they under­ stand it does not have a relational character? The singularity of being is key to un­ derstanding the ontology of the multitude. That is precisely what Slavoj Zizek accomplishes in his essay on Deleuze. Although.6 Introduction transcendental force determining the structure from a radical outside. Numbers set limits and therefore they are defined by an external cause. Therefore both empire and the multitude are an all-inclusive substance where no subjectivity stands outside. However. posits in the masses precisely this vanishing irruption of which political philosophy only tells the always belated. Since we can only imagine the multitude as an abso­ lute. Spinoza's be�ng. Sin­ gularity is and is not determination. the unique sub ­ . a� d . a combination of immanence and expression. in which he praises the first . The numerical distinction in Deleuze is not real. is not sus­ ceptible to the Hegelian critique of the dispersion and the "progressive loss" of be­ ing. is to note that from the ontological point of view. it seems that the multitude is a dangerous concept. une seule clameur de l'Etre pour tous les etants:'12 If we only hear the unique and absolute sound of one voice. Negativity Marta Hernandez Salvan 7 is inherent in the relational character of difference for Descartes. In other words. It bears similarities nevertheless to Deleuze and Guattari's notion of the multiple singular potentialities insofar as they are generated in the virtual field. how could we account for the singularity of the voice or for the lack of it? If there is only one voice. I would add further that the problem rather lies in the dangerous liaison between the notion of the multitude and the mass. Bosteels argues that the concept of the multitude belongs to a long genealogy that is defined as what according to Badiou is "a canonical state­ ment. that which makes it tend towards transcendence. however. Bosteels alludes to the theoretical challenges of articulating the multitude. singularity is determined by an internal cause. is determinate in the sense that it is qualified. .

8 Marta Hernandez Salvan Introduction Deleuze of the Logic of Sense and criticizes his intellectual alliance with Felix Guat­ tari. dingy. Through his Lacanian reading of Deleuze. Ziz voj Sla 13 • 9 . Zizek shows how the quasi-cause plays the role of the phallic signifier and how Deleuze's last project stems from an ide­ alist argumentation because it argues that a virtual intensity generates a material reality. 12 Ibid. 20. It is now. in the wake of this past U. 3 Jacques Derrida. 1993). Deleuze.S. rather than an idealist one. whereas the sterility of the sense-event is indeed the real site for a political struggle: "What if the domain of politics is inherently 'sterile. 5 Bruno Bosteels. This is certainly terrifying. 2 Both Kenneth Surin and Arturo Leyte give very good accounts of the genealogies of these two philosophical traditions in this issue. 67· 11 Alain Badiou. On the other hand. An Apprenticeship in Philosophy: Gilles Deleuze (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. where nothing is produced. 9 Ibid. Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 1 Kenneth Surin. the domain of pseudo-causes. 7 Michael Hardt. and that this is what proves Deleuze's real compromise with materialism. 62. but nonetheless crucial in transforming reality?"'3 Doesn't the sterile domain of pseudo­ causes function in the same logical manner as Moreiras's infrapolitical use of history or Nancy's work of art? The dull. "Logics of Antagonism: In the Margins of Alain Badiou's 'The Flux and the Parti" in this issue. for us. Through a coup de force Zizek then shows that the category of the sense­ event has its own autonomy. presidential election. 6 Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. 63· 10 Ibid. more than ever. I believe. especially if our contemporary political theory cannot grapple with the uncertainty of such terror. "Post-Political Citizenship. Glas (Paris: Editions Galilee. The notion of quasi-cause is what prevents a regression into reductionism by arguing that in every determination there is an excess. 20. the logic of Becoming and the logic of Being. The logic of sense and the immate­ rial becoming as sense-event poses a radical gap between generative processes and their immaterial sense-effect. 60. Sense-event is thus a sterile space. 53. 8 Ibid. Zizek's intent is to privilege Deleuze's logic of sense and thus to show that such logic is embedded in a materialist geneal­ ogy. Zizek makes a Lacanian reading of Deleuze against the grain. 1997).' in this issue.. Deleuze: La Clameur de l'are (Paris: Hachette.' in this issue. 4 Ibid. in which he draws a parallelism between Lacan's objet petit a and Deleuze's quasi-cause. 2001). for all of us. 407. Deleuze posits the logic of becoming as production of Beings. 1974). Zizek argues that Deleuze's ontological system relies on two divergent logics. and uncertain obstacle that terrifies the philosopher is certainly present in most of the theoretical accounts to be found in this issue. les Gil of pal edi -O ing om Bec e "Th ek. In this task Zizek shows how Deleuze's quasi-cause goes through the same inherent process of contradiction as Hegelian actualization. This is especially pressing now.... that we are left with the difficult and urgent task of defining what the left is today. a theatre of shadows.. He thus proves that Deleuze and Guattari's leftist organization of molecular groups stems from an idealist subjectivism.

But death is not a state. and leads to noth­ ing. But we have just seen that substance opens itself beyond its limits. immanence opens onto an inevitable exterior. If immanence subsists as henchman without either acts or overtures. . it would dissolve rather than remain poised on its acts and attributes. because outside substance only the order of the act exists. . a radical and absolute implosion of the thing or notion exists. the movement that crosses the limits of sub­ sistence. it dissolves in itself. Sub-sist­ ing [sub-sister] implies being situated beneath some other thing. (One sees then that immanence immanates [immane]. that of which it is a sub­ stance. unless it has become in a sense forgotten. . "im­ manence and transcendence:' I give up because the topic is necessarily elusive. like a bad infinite running behind its ghost. Neither one exists. as the case arises. A subject sub­ jeetum is subject of . Transcen­ dence immanatizes itself [s'immanentise] . risking its own subsistence: if it no longer opened. its states of consciousness.Imm/Trans Jean-Lue Naney I tried to write for you a very short essay on your theme. Existing. nothing more. But the transcendental act happens nowhere. it is immanent to itself. or the order of the attribute. existence. etc. two ways to represent death as a state. Transcending can be nothing but a tautology: transcendence transcends.) If transcendence leads to transcendence. its acts. hence some­ thing of transcendence itself. it­ self accidental and inconsistent. Death is not: as such it can - - Polygraph 15/16 (2004) . immanence undoes itself. If indeed immanence designates being subsisting in itself [en soi]. transcendence designates not the sub­ ject but the act. like a rot­ ting corpse. A substance is substance of . "subject" to the authority that rules over it. As subsistence. Ghost and rot are the last two and unending figures of transcendence and immanence. . this being defines in and of itself an exterior against which it subsists autonomously. and. On the contrary. of its accidents. ignores ghosts and rot. On either side..

which is to say between the ontic and the onto­ logical. we lose our envelope just as this thing. substance or act disappear. "Transcendence" now be­ comes "immanence. a blood clot. The original French text is available on the Polygraph Web site at http. But if this is the case. that Medusa terrifies the philosopher . just a few years later the image will come to define an exhausted territory to which Kant will never return. we are struck. Kant's elegant statement turns out to be at the same time a requiem for difference. In fact. mere death removes any speculation on "immanence" and "transcen­ dence:' In death. we do not stay faced.edulweblpolygraph. Subsistence rids itself of the envelope that maintains it subsisting (thus subsistence rids itself of that under which it sub­ sisted) and develops into ek-sistence. but the chock. Death. Being gets out of there swollen. "nature" and "history" or. We do not remain in ourselves. Indeed. as indeed it does emerge. practical and theoretical reason or understanding and sensibility. a bruise. and no ancillary third sector is ceded space between the two. This does not mean that there cannot be unity within the differ­ ence marking. We are always in this in-between [entre-deux] of it and us. his philosophy overall may be interpreted as the last concerted attempt to reconstruct a constitutive difference within human reason. we strike. Neither fluid such as water immanent to water. but we meet. so to speak.erse above this reason. Yet. for example. "necessity" and "liberty". There is-There is only reality that neither immanates nor transcends: that's the obstacle-the good-obstacle or the bad-obstacle. "nature" and "spirit". We develop within it as it does within us. Simultaneously. Leaving Immanence: Art from Death Arturo Leyte I When.llwww. death forms the only passage of subsistence outside itself. dingy and uncertain like a Medusa between two waters. or into "sistence" outside itself. why not.duke. • Translated by Laura Balladur. There we strike.12 ImmlTrans emerge. in concluding his Critique ofPractical Reason and sum­ ming up his vision of reality.2 Today we might recognize the territory as that of "difference": the difference between. crucially. a cominon territory is lacking for the conjunction of these two: difference remains difference. critique presupposes that philosophy itself can be seen as the result of a fundamental duality between the empirical and the tran­ scendental. it is because in it Kant already both perceives and attempts to avert a danger: philosophy's transformation into "critique" coincides with this move. however. birth. I could say as much for what we call the "work of art:' How do we recognize such a work? Only by the following: That faced with it. distended. Admittedly. Either within or through death (for death is but a slim barrier) the "sisting" insists far from any sub-sistence or con-sistence. We enter and exit. but an erected barrier: death. moral legal­ ity within it. loses its own-its forms. we do not leave ourselves. its mannerisms [ manieres]. spoken word [parole] . but merely that this unity Polygraph 15/16 (2004) .' in turn further divided into sensibility and understanding: that is. locating the le­ gality of the physical uni.' turned inside out like the finger of a glove.:. the work. Into insistence. we are struck. Kant expresses admiration for only two things-"the starry sky above me and the moral law within me"l-surely he is drafting the final such conceptual image in a terminal line of thought. Yet if something like Kant's cumulative philosophy can be understood in this endeavor. nor leaping such as a dolphin transcending waves. Rather dull. Just in between: we get a bump. tumescent. the chocking obstacle against what is neither within nor without. love. the difference between the ancient metaphysical binaries of being and thinking. Rather quickly we understand there is about as much an "it" as there is an "us" (or "me"). vari­ ously. Cri­ tique is then marshaled against totalizing reason precisely be­ cause the former presumes an irreconcilable duality between "practical reason" and "theoretical reason.

which from the very beginning aspired to designate very real grounds. could be called history. if. where there is neither above (starry sky) nor below (moral law within). a facet of the very constitution of reason as finite reason. against himself. Time here is the time of the line and of the conquest of this line. at the turn of the nineteenth century. Substance and thought rather meet. by Art. In this blurring oflines (indiferencia]. devoid of relation with anything. speak of singularity? If art and politics. This is the absolute that may be termed "subject": that is. This is not the place to rehearse how the idealist interpretation of Kant. but also of the material and the formal. at the dawn of modernity. The history of Idealism will be the history of just this conquest of the absolute. a serial reproduction that needs to take account of [de cuenta de] this inexhaustible absolute. in a rupture of modern tradition. the two branches-sensibility and understanding-have a "common root:' "unknown" to us. the absolute is the serial reproduction of instances. such unity will come to define philosophy. in this pursuit. The unity of reason remains beyond the possibilities of knowledge. The unity is the horizontal line of time. Conquest of the absolute-which amounts to a demand that the absolute be realized-is effected by permeating not just intermediary space (the "between" bridging the starry sky and moral law). even the very infinitude of the line may be suspended without altering a thing. all differences.14 Leaving Immanence cannot be known-cannot. indeed. In short. the medium within which all possibilities are brought into play. a deceptive move obfuscating the transformative possibilities at­ tributed that subject. Any given segment can come to represent the everything. moreover. To propose a subject at the margins or indeed outside of this absolute (again. such that the singular can only continue representing and reiterating the absolute through the construction of series. indeed.) In other words: history or transit or unity coinciding with what is. beyond Kantian difference. The difficult truth of the matter is that this "horizontal" ab­ solute. but is. This was possible because the artwork marries the unconscious activity of nature and the conscious activity of the spirit. did away with difference as constitutive of critical philosophy. be a subject for philosophy. come to be understood only as elements or materials. producing a unity that is the work itself. perhaps. are elements of the everything). the starry sky) and the res cogitans (law). never again to be understood as a substance pitted against a thought. identified simultaneously as unity (again. however provisionally. the discipline uniting the physico-natural and the ethico-human had been Logic. how is one to speak of the self [el uno?] The singular. The absolute becomes the work of art and material synthesis of the universal and the singular. nor can be produced. with a single aim of assuring that the absolute prevail as that which it is. then. as Hegel will explicate it5-will itself also be the absolute. found God to be the only link between the res extensa (nature. visible. until even this distinction becomes irrelevant. but rather "history" moving from nature (itself the transit from the inorganic to the organic) to spirit (transit from mythical forms of consciousness to self-consciousness. The idealism of Schelling and Hegel begins by calling this sought-after unity "the abso­ lute:' rendering philosophy simply the research into the constitution and exhibition of this absolute. at times discrete. Indeed. then the two must contain a tendency . The artwork thus unites the two spheres while retaining an independence from its constitutive parts. here. production. subject) is. In or around 1800 (that is. insofar as it unites the productivity of nature with the activ­ ity of the spirit. a single problem presents itself: the absolute realized as art is at once very real and unknowable. but also with a totality to be procured. which rather lives in this immediate identification with reality). art becomes the absolute under a different name. not the theme of such serial reproductions. that which subtends. come to instantiate the absolute (even more so. is to be only "one instance" of the absolute. in art. was Art. But the absolute turns out to be the result. This occupation of space simultaneously constitutes the liquidation of difference: the starry sky and the moral law are forced to fit within the same unity. even "human history:' For in this axial switch. This conquest-or the path to the absolute. If all this is true from an Idealist standpoint. at times indistinguishable from this absolute. just a few years after Kant had marveled at his starry sky and moral law) a still young Schelling proposed an initial name for this much debated and troubling territory where unity-where the absolute-was speculated to reside.6 it seems plausible to imagine that this Arturo Leyte 15 conquest of the absolute-itself nothing other than conquest-might be realized by politics as well as by art. the role of God and Logic was taken up. the real and the ideal. in this line or history outside of which nothing can be. via different paths and perspectives. such that the absolute. time has been reduced to the same infinite line of history. The work of art is thus not only the union of the natural and the spiritual. Art is. but all space. This name. an independence that is. material. and without an other. between starry sky and moral law. detached [des-ligado] from everything.3 This "unknown" character is owed not to human limitation. with being. for there can be no concept of it. to a certain extent.4 If Descartes. just as one thing becomes absolutely interchangeable with another because it represents the value of the totality. than contemporary science. and yet it cannot be known. in very different ways: for underpinning the theoretical in­ vestigation of the absolute will be the problem of its real apparition in the world. much earlier. objective-objective in the sense that it is physical. which eliminated the "verticality" within which was still recognizable the above of the sky and the below of the human. Substance and thought. Both theoretical and practical strategies are involved. Thus the very notion of the "other" may dissipate. rather. far from being merely an idea-as the term "Idealism" might suggest -is in fact the problem of its own exhibition or realization. which in the last instance is neither purely theoretical nor purely practical. then. between nature and spirit) and as totality (all the singular cases. then. better. As Kant writes about the constitution of knowledge in the introduction to his first Critique. And if this absolute is identified with a unity located. or ideas and things. ab-solutum. and from the moment any segment of the line is made equal to and interchangeable with any other. So what value can the singular have? What singular is contained in the work of art? And what singular results from a political action? Can one. however violently at times. Suffice it to say that from Idealism onward the field will be dominated by attempts to encounter precisely the very unity so impossible for Kant-that between the starry sky (Na­ ture) and moral law (Spirit).

because it was able to conquer and elevate to the status of pure thing an empirical reality that had previously appeared only as the shadow of the concept. This does not mean that photographic or material memento mari. from this fatal perspec­ tive?" How indeed should these artists be understood. the palpable good fortune of not having become the fiery stuff of the event. its use value irrelevant when not reviled. the spectator's purchase on the crash consists only in televised im­ ages and remains in a museum. is merely proof of this bleeding of everything into everything else. whenever death. who decides or who creates becomes derivative. Hence the current difficulty in determining what constitutes a work of art. on the whole. should we be surprised by the multiplication and leveling of ar­ tistic genres? Indeed. now become "merely" a work of art-that is to say. phenomenon (as if there were a difference). adjudicated) or to be considered a work of art. ceases to be something private and becomes a political. particularly that produced by Cezanne and the Impressionists onward (inheritors of a Romantic and post-Romantic tradition dating to the work of Gericault). because both are realizations. or at least a statistical. seems to be the case of the work of Italian -Yugoslavian performance artist Marina Abromovic. little more than mere administra­ tion. an indifferentiation which Idealism held up. The question merely arises of how it happened that art came to play such a role. Yet this absolute elevation would paradoxically end up liquidating the thing. at other times dim. is only one confirmation of the latter: surely for a long time now absolute seriality has meant that even sexual relations between individuals have the potential to be juridically catalogued (hence. that which desires to impose itself objectively. Proof too of that ultimate confusion (read identification) between art and politics summed up in the creation of a sculptural masterpiece from the wreckage of a downed airline (a political act?) in which three hundred persons perished? Besides. unlimited time that excludes nothing. but rather its interiorization which constitutes its triumph. turning the revolutionary element emanating from art or politics into the most active operator of the absolute. including those most private. The extension of the legal into all aspects of life. anyway. sim­ ilarly. the Cathedral at Rauen or Waterlil- . If such equivocations were evident in the aftermath of so fearsome an event as 9/11. Given all this. who proclaims her own body to be the best and only Arturo Leyte 17 available material. nothing but the line or absolute that recursively demands serial action. But to what end such a piece? To reflect on terror? Is not the very distinction terror/reflection already evidence of a fundamental error in not comprehending that no thought remains outside terror's sphere-which is. to be sure. as the very realization of the absolute. including military ac­ tion and war in general. that the final move remains the definitive assimilation of the death-event as material for art (as it already may be for spectacle) and. a synthesis of the absolute and a substitute for logic9 should not imply a consequent demonization of art. and. Could not one well understand the revolu­ tionary transformation at work in late nineteenth century painting. at times bright. of that which is. pace Plato's hoary legacy.. for this differentiation was nothing more than the expres­ sion of finitude. but rather that in death itself resides this artistic reality. perhaps the logical conclusion is already anticipated in the act (artistic or political?) of making the body and its transformations the supreme work of art. indeed. has become the stuff of exchange. That copies would come to so constitute reality as to appear to be its true elements is an outcome of the same process by which every thing. And it is Idealism. like those from the Lockerbie crash. Still. for example. as well as the intuition. perhaps honest attempt to link the materials of art with the body of the artist. merely a copy. Once the line is recognized as the subject (i. perhaps. albeit only as pornography. a triumph that is nothing more than a signal. the reality of death had perhaps defined the "between" of the Kantian starry sky and moral law. again. both actually transpired or recounted. of the subject. for politics. of the absolute: that is. with everything oflate be­ come a potential art object or intervention or political gesture. the ever-greater blurring of painting and photography or of photography and architecture. Indeed. in turn often realized as "performances" or instal­ lations. the only exception is owed to a capricious kismet that selects some people to be spectators of art (e. of course. structured by its destiny: an immanent. perhaps overlooked was the fact that the inability to differentiate testified to a simultaneous indifferentiation between the real and the ideal. it was not possible to banish fully from the core of artistic or political activ­ ity a revolutionary element aspiring to transform reality.g.s In this perhaps scandalous. victims (whose photographic remains alone are salvage­ able). and the observer of the artwork with the work itself. what constitutes a true political action or decision. is revealed a recognition of inescapable destiny. can consequently also be considered supreme works of art. Political acts. Earlier. let us not forget. as well as the almost total lack of distinction between "things" (which can no longer be considered simply as real) and what constitutes le­ gitimate materials for sculptures. The fact that Idealism finds in art. the details of who it is that possesses knowledge [canace1. as well as a more elemental conflation of art and politics as soon as the territory of difference (the "between") is characterized by an inability to distinguish between starry sky and moral law.16 Leaving Immanence to instantiate the absolute such that all becomes art and politics: thus one witnesses a simple urge to convert all artistic activity or political action into yet one more move of transformation. it is not pornography's industrial. without the simultaneous recognition that such a transformation was already at work outside of all conscious action. the remains of the crash) and others.e. the absolute). however bad. and to be exploited as such. So. albeit via contorted paths. if not through Monet's obses­ sive series in which he reproduced. A quick answer is that art was at least partially so enabled because it assumed responsibility for the recuperation of that enormous "empirical reign" to which Hegel alludedlO in 1801. that will claim to construct that human infini­ tude which we now identify with repetitive artistic activity and infinitely repeated political actions that may well be. would in some quasi-archaic sense exemplify art's ultimate ex­ pression.. performances. as we have seen. mercan­ tile expansion within the (still?) private sphere. Yet it is also the case that at the core of the Kantian project stirred a longing to reproduce nature's infinitude and regularity in the specter of "the moral law in me:' particularly as these qualities were brought into relief against the perceived fragility and vulnerability of human action. comprehended through death. be it as artistic production or political action? If.

lies. And. the Impressionist project (as illustrated to a certain extent in the Waterlil­ ies) produces the dissolution/multiplication via absolute fragmentation of the same reality the Impressionists intended to reproduce. a dance. choose only those par­ ticular moments (morning. In any case. Why.l2 But the Impressionists were without a single subject for painting. A pastoral scene. unclear of whether reality can be known or transformed. distant.18 Arturo Leyte Leaving Immanence ies? What impossibility is concealed in the refusal to paint "in one fell swoop. or better. it was one indebted to an idealist philosophy. in 1899. because in the intervening time all had become potential matter for art. but also its potential enslavement to a reality no longer in possession of either a "beyond" or even of a characteristic theme to which to appeal for justification and legitimacy. a street. the battles of the nascent twen­ tieth century derive from the Idealist project to realize the absolute.'5 surely he did not know how far he was from the aged Kant who had calmly marveled at his own "starry night" a hundred years before. os­ tensibly "overcome" in the inversion of metaphysics undertaken by such apparently diverse figures as Compte and Marx. the sky is merely a figure differentiated from the earth by palette. did the triumph consist in anything beyond responding to a new era? Of course. and noon and evening? Hence the paradox that. their constitution as mere images fixed fleetingly amidst perma­ nent flux. bourgeois. now. Indeed. and art came together in a flash of violence and terror­ may perceive that Van Gogh's sky. they would have somehow superimposed upon the reality of multiple perspectives a single. not perspective. florist. far from being grasped.'4 In short. but an im­ age produced "in" time. in turn. noon and evening are.' that is. much less to ancient representations of a divine firmament. unaware that in so doing consciousness itself. as if to escape from such temporality were metaphysically impossible. Vincent Van Gogh painted his Starry Night. paradoxically buried. In any case. concentrated. Everything remains on this side of a division for which "this side" no longer signifies one among many. But the intense. to achieve the indifferentiation between starry sky and moral law. a cathedral. between the natural and the human. noon. which. Kantian sky. Does art then truly rescue singularity? Or does it not rather confirm that the singular is merely an intranscendental moment. But anyone who glimpses the painting today at the Museum of Modern Art in New York-that same city in which. for example. Masked behind the obsession to paint reality. a recognition that every thing is produced only as part of an immanent ex/change of being( s) [cambio immanente del ser]. through a strange effect almost constitutes the foreground of the painting. With its horizontal representation of sky and earth it seems rather to remind us that we are always already within the line of time. lies the obsession to reproduce the infinite capacity of the gaze that observes this reality. Thus the century may have begun with the Impressionist endeavor. which is to say there were no more "exemplary" themes. but rather the "everything" Hegel identified with truth. one might pinpoint the century's beginnings in the exhaustive and anonymous labor of a Van Gogh who between 1888 and 1889 obses­ sively painted more than one hundred and fifty paintings. impossible to reproduce without reproducing all its mo­ ments. or whether instead one simply reproduces a path towards a bad infinity within which singularity disappears. No longer a celestial firmament. is nothing. The "below" in the painting indeed almost serves as an excuse to point out that the sky is not located above but rather to the fore. to be reduced from multiplicity and dispersion to the unity of immanence through the recognition of a common nature of all things. politics. the obsession to realize [darse cuenta de] ab­ solutely a regarding consciousness. something very similar to Marx's crucial observation in Capital that the true nature of things is not properly being but exchange value. finishes by unwittingly consuming the temporal absolute. beyond the reality presented us. in struggling for a definitive singular image. now "absolutely" human. which we might name. a distinc­ tion aimed to expose all difference as earthly.'3 Did such painting actually constitute a triumph over classical art? If so. evening) lies the danger of the simultaneous dissolution of singularity. however grandiloquently. history. invalid) was equal fod­ der for art. we might say. finally. for a few moments in 2001. if taken to its logical extreme. indeed. the debate rages on within the arts. perhaps absolutely synthetic one. comprising: their com­ mon dependence on infinite time. and. prostitute. making it difficult to distinguish an above and a below. in the end. Alternatively. an infinite one that immanently reproduces itself without asking permission of anyone? Such questions hold within them art's liberatory potential. but whose result-the concept of absolute time-constitutes the original horizon from which emerges all political action and creative acts. with respect to which one can and indeed must situate (a situating which in this context signifies production) "everything:' But this everything has. even optimistic rendering of sky and earth demarcates a decisive difference between the two spheres that also seems intended . whose true inauguration is difficult to date. Onto this uncertain terrain. rather than representing some Kantian Above. an excuse to reproduce the only reality that is. it was: because "metaphysically. merely extra-tempo­ ral categories for fixing time) and not all the omitted moments between morning 19 and noon. to a certain extent. opens the twentieth century. any figure (card player. one of which in particular has been singled out. if it was a triumph. the reality hidden in the cathedral or in the aquatic plants? If Velazquez or Rembrandt had chosen such themes. Starry Night does not return us to the serene. because any thing now arose from and returned to the same immanent reality. Hidden in the grandiose transformation presumed by such painting was also a profound slavishness to the temporal reality the painting attempted to reproduce. occupying our field of vision. mainly because art aspires to encounter singularity and not merely interchangeable moments. "time:' What the Impressionists painted was thus no longer a single thing. it is the burying of the difference between starry sky and moral law that yields the new time. then. "imma­ nently" human. succumbs to never-ending flux. because art aspires to encounter "the moment:' Hidden in the obsessive creativity of Monet's repeated painting of the cathedral at Rouen and his reduction of the thing to dis­ crete moments throughout the day (morning.' as it were. II When. their character as single moments within con­ tinual succession.

20 Leaving Immanence to remind us that not everything is the same. In other words. even if everything now remains very much of this earth. But of what does this resistance consist? In the same year that Van Gogh painted his Starry Night in Provence. via different means. from such a perspective. and. But is the vague notion of some kind of singular outside of the universal indeed possible? That is. All this means that while it is not necessary that death appear in any one of its multiple representations in order to play so constitutive a role. non-transcendental. in which he deemed art to be "past. It could. as the light of death. immediate and localized gaze is proof. Yet this difference can no longer be the classical one of metaphys­ ics (namely. But what would a demand for difference look like when we are already within the time of the absolute? Hegel himself offers a clue. such a singularity would have to have another name and above all another character. It is quite possible that in a work of art like Starry Night a battle is being played Arturo Leyte 21 out over whether such resistance can be successfully engaged or whether. singularity in service of the universal. such shopworn metaphysi­ cal differences disappear. We should recognize this "other light. in a way. for in the new metaphysical absolute the sensible is only a momentary expression [un momento) of this concept and has. only a subaltern and derivative characteristic. for Hegel. But how. Van Gogh's painting may perhaps also be interpreted as an unintentional invitation to exit the absolute. containing both empirical and conceptual elements and bound up with the notion of infinite time.' or what might also now be termed "the time of death.' but what was described above as "the light of death. within which the artwork would no longer appear as the sole. It is not a suprasensible but a sensible sky. from the perspective of the infinite. But this means that if art hopes to mobilize itself against this disappearance of singularity. might not be anything more than an inadvertent confirmation of the power of the absolute. rather. but rather as a path of permanent leavetaking. which in any case does not exist. difference does exist and all is not absolute. oddly. of this principle. accidental and disposable. When Hegel declared the future (and so. therefore. in immanence. The death of art. is but one more example of the death of metaphysics. therefore. so doing away with the tyrannical insistence underpinning science and industry that every thing appear. the artwork might reveal. In this sense. a philoso­ pher was born in Germany who was to borrow from Van Gogh's ''A Pair of Boots" in an attempt to rescue a singular event "outside of" and "beyond" the absolute flux to which. the formulation grants death­ which is not a concept. or whether this is no longer possible. the difference between the sensible and the intelligible. he proposed death for art [la muerte para el arte) . the death) of art in his 182829 University of Berlin Lectures on Aesthetics. singular representation of the real. exactly. Indeed. it has to produce a requisition for differ­ ence within itself. If. The mortal attributes of the artwork in the face of its immortalizing reduction to museum material would be only a weak expression. Yet again the same problem surfaces: if we are in the absolute-of which our partial. to leave the "being inside" that immanence signifies. next to a more conventional rendering of land. for in the wake of Idealism idea and thing have been melded into a new figure. might a given artwork (painting. the artwork merely indexes one more "instance" of the totality. to lurk distantly behind the sense of death alluded to here: already in the Phenomenology he insists on the rupture and "unreality" of death ("the most dreadful")'9 as constitutive of the life of the spirit in the face of the • . Hegel was conscious of the end of a metaphysics that had differentiated the sensible and the empirical portions of a concept (recall the still metaphysical Kantian separation of nature's sky and human law). so that one may also see that there is nothing more and that. but rather a lattice of sky and earth. but not even really a fact or an act-its constitutive role in the emergence and consummation of the work of art itself. Van Gogh himself was often attentive-namely. then Van Gogh's painting may also come. whether through art the gaze may again recognize a thing in the wake of its reduction to a mere instance of the absolute.8 he must have been aware of the advent of the reign of the absolute. between the thing and the idea). nonetheless. whether as an artwork or as a political act.' as opposed to that of the absolute. here understood as the disappearance of difference. sculpture or architecture) better reveal a thing's own finitude? Only through an ability to reveal its "nothingness" [su nada): not "emptiness. if the universal itself can only be identified with the immanent absolute? If it is. if a God is to be conjured at all.'6 Heidegger's work. Only thus can art continue being art. even the painting's impossible sky. be a coming outside [un salir de dentro). Indeed. project or rec­ ognize an other. it will not be individual substance. insistently demanding that everything appear. it will be through the struggle between the light of the sky and the darkness of the earth. Martin Hei­ degger.'7 The singularity of the painting eliminates any meta­ physical beyond because it parades this metaphysics before it. suggests that "sky. inflected by Van Gogh's.' in the face of the dark shadow of immanent absolute time. death can only be considered as a spuri­ ous moment or element.' albeit no longer the Kantian one. announc­ ing that life and death and all is at stake at least in a small difference in color: that if there is something singular. for even as he proclaimed art's eclipse he amended the meaning and reach of his judgment: faced with the death of art. it does define the status of the work. distant from this insistent demand for ap­ pearance. ever remains an articulation of a resistance that permits one to see things in another light. truly defines the state of being. we ourselves representing mere "instances" of this totality-how is it even possible to pose the question of an "other" that would not be at once another instance of the absolute? For to formulate. as the light of the starry night. yet the Hegel of the 1807 Phenom­ enology of Spirit seems. and of artist (doubling as the figure of man more generally) and the gods who have disappeared. to recall this light of death. Starry Night may define a resistance. it follows. on the contrary. for art as a reducible thing. Still very far from his 1828 proclamation. or death in support of art [en favor del arte) . a sign that even in the sole world remaining to us. not to go on to some "other" place. death is merely a defect that contradicts the light and transpar­ ency of the absolute. is any "singular" possible outside of the relationship singular-universal. only one further consequence. if. in turn. then. rephrased in the article's title as "art from death:' Hegel's amended formulation takes death to be a necessary condition of the very emergence of the singular "other" that. warrants distinction. This does not mean that death constitutes a theme within the artwork. in the same way that death.'.

is nothingness [Ia nada}. but not serialization) and . but only disappearance or redistribution. Tran­ scendence here does not then mean a "step towards the transcendent. the painting does not depend on another version of itself representing the same reality minutes. hours or days later. transcendence and singularity "outside of" or "on the margin of" that line in which infinity. but because such an image proves nothing-or perhaps better. but rather the struggle between the two. So we are speaking here of two senses of totality: the "all" which delimits death.' transcendence must mean something very different than merely the opposite of immanence. in Hegelian terms. yet no longer in the service of an immanent totality. We do not have to agree fully with Hegel's understanding of spirit to make use of his characterization of death in articulating a philosophy and art based on a search for finitude beyond the dialectical relation finite-infinite (knowing full well we can­ not get outside the infinite horizon in which we always already find ourselves. or perhaps it describes the "all"-an all of existence. Certainly not in the traditionally Idealist sense in which a figure must die in order for a self-opaque. But Hegel did seem to endorse the notion of a decisive [de-cide} state of death. but not emptiness. immanence and the universal prevail. abiding in"). in fact. and not merely a succession of moments. Unlike others from the period. all referring to the same thing. If one indeed may even speak of an "all. nor in the sense of some kind of permanent dialectical death that would function as a mechanism of reality. but not as that moment "captured" in any painting either. Death is this nothingness that forever accompanies the "all" of existence and which is opposed to what it is not: infinite totality. in deeming death a kind of necessary defect. Rather than engage this way of conceiving nothingness (as emptiness). Because one cannot exit immanence ("indwelling.} Starry Night may convey the finitude of time. it shows up nothingness to be emptiness. indeed. however much they may wish to. among which are included consciousness. an alternative ap­ proach would put the "work" back into work of art instead of considering it one more instantiation of infinite time. real or artistic. which is to say a "finite" state. an origin and an end. Here then. unreality. Yet a recognition of finitude will have necessarily to reckon with the insistence on death. in-itself absolute to be consumed. as if the two were inseparable. finitude means "transcendence": not searching for a "transcendent" beyond that would save us from finitude by the grace of the infinite. transcendence-immanence/singular-universal) that impede. a struggle which precisely does not appear. and thus unites. So death conceived in transcendence has to be a "definitive" death and not simply a reorganization of a positivity.) A philosophy of finitude must by definition contest the infinity of the vulgar notion of time as an uninterrupted continuum in which all occurs. but rather transcendence as that movement which traverses. While we are accus- Arturo Leyte 23 tomed by metaphysics to gather from the idea of "an infinite being" [un ser infinito} that something survives us beyond death. just as time does not need representation. made it into a statistically predictable obligation. But if by the interruption of immanence­ which itself constitutes a totality by permanently aspiring to the definitive union of all singular instances. One cannot exit through the door of death-which comes to mean. which is the name the infinite reserves for declaring that outside of it effectively remains noth­ ing. We can instead realize that the moment contains within it the battle of time: time as battle [com­ bate. that is. just as the affirmation of existence is sustained by a permanent tendency-or pos­ sibility-to desist. negativity and fissure in the Hegelian sense.' a change. It describes the union of an origin and a desti­ nation. which can only come delimited by death.22 Leaving Immanence apparently absolute power of knowledge. Again we find ourselves moving between tyrannical opposites (finite/infinite. Nothingness. Starry Night-re­ veals that we can understand "time" as something different than uninterrupted oc­ currence. in the phenomenological conception of existence. Nothingness is neither the one nor the other. modes of production or states of nature. for the Heidegger who observed the paintings of Van Gogh. From these conclusions follows a familiar series of connections between the re­ ality of existence and of death. Finitude should. then. Likely this is because the painting assumes that "reality itself" is a false metaphysical category even the most meticulous reproduction of series could not salvage. unreal component by exposing the work's intrinsic finitude more than any immanent process through which it might be supposed that death "must appear"-for if death must appear. be understood provisionally as "interruption" -in­ terruption of the immanent process. this event is existence.' but rather "finitude" and "difference:' This finitude cannot but be that indicated by death. simultaneously eroding its character as something constitutive. The ac­ cession of an infinite time has. We might understand this idea as the idea that death's revelation in a work of art demonstrates this negative. and the totality of being that. appears as a succession of all figures. an occurrence which is the definitive sign that there is existence. to the universal happening of all elements-is understood the appearance of "transcendence. which. our vision of a finitude. such survival ceases to have meaning: not because in some trivial sense we cannot imagine that time continues incessantly. conferring upon it a unity: there is noth­ ing more total than the totality realized when death occurs. when being [el ser} remains linked to existence. It should also be clear that only out of the first kind of totality could emerge an event able to resist immediate incorporation into the absolute. There is "death" precisely because there is no continuity. but what resistance can it put up when to exist has come to mean merely to transpire in time? Perhaps the artwork-and more concretely.'20 it is in the sense in which death defines all existence. can escape it. In truth. yet this contestation must also be aware that neither art nor philosophy. So representation is not necessary for finitude and the death inherent to it. in modernity. It has to be. inherent. if not make impos­ sible. a "from" whence a thing moves "towards" its arrival point. is decisive for the constitu­ tion of spirit. that there is no death. a fin­ itude that hurls us outward (including outside of the absolute). than it is no longer death. or time as event as opposed to time as the mere succession of moments. This possibility. in that the painting reflects the struggle between day and night (and so represents a "moulting. What would such an approach consist of? Might Van Gogh tell us? In Starry Night only the opposition between the paradoxically illuminated night skies and a darkened earth appears. the all that is.

nor. for there is no organizing principle beyond infinitude. in its multiple and multiplied truth. a corpse. "finitude" means being outside this continual present. Cartesian given. dwelling outside the uninterrupted line of time. as that which is most foreign to immanence. and the temporal constitu­ tion of these things. that same nature that has re­ mained underlying and occluded in the vulgar conception of infinite time. 21 25 for the same reason that one cannot be in the future or in the past. the metaphysical division between sensible and suprasensible is redoubled: if things. delimited by death. however human the utopia itself may be. If utopia is represented as a more or less happy destination or end. as in Heidegger's phenomenology. If one takes this "he" to be the subject. instead allowing in the movement from future to past the emergence of a present that consists of reiter­ ated not -being. But finitude is above all unattainable because of its very constitution-because it is not a something. temporality. accompanied by absolutely achieved reconcili­ ation-albeit a reconciliation that produces permanent fissures. but elevated to a general understanding of totality. In the painting. for neither is it a fact or an action [un hecho] . Similarly. Therefore any concept of being or time that concerns immanence remains absolutely suspended between parentheses. or because they run up against this other sense. outside any kind of unity.24 Leaving Immanence Arturo Leyte between light. which is this nothingness. it be­ comes clear that utopia depends essentially upon "him:' perhaps because by subject we continue to understand a kind of consciousness (a mixture of thought and will) that reproduces the image of a Christian creator God whose understanding encom­ passes the course of the world. death is not to be under­ stood as an event that will come and that can be registered. perhaps. unlimited continuity. For temporality signifies "ex-stasis:' that is. it is impossible to "be in" the unconscious or "in" consciousness. but rather the difference between the insistence that things appear and prevail. because funda­ mentally "to be in" [estar en]. or must. behind these changes lies no organizing metaphysical principle such as immanence. for example). temporality. As its constitution is temporal. the human being) into another (e. Indeed. So too must be any utopic definition of the future (of the human project).g. So if "utopia" means anything. The triumph-if we wish to use such terminology-of this totality of being would constitute. because only in this way can one attend to an original nature of time. a "state" as it were (a period or segment of the absolute) that through its own apotheosis would also come to coincide with that which formed it: that is. a however-superfluous unity appears. one must precisely understand another mode of being [estar] that is perhaps Being [ser] : namely. sensual. negativity. The nothingness negates any notion of objectivity. occur. But all this would continue to be a multiplicity of all moments: infinite presentation.. Thus would be attained a supreme state. finitude is conceived from an understanding of immanent time. which ac­ cordingly turns out to be only the transformation of one product (e. to complicate things further. then. effects. or the supreme triumph of a political figure. Yet it is also a permanent sign that one cannot be in the present. complete coincidence of multiplicity and unity. dif­ ference. it is unreality. secularized) version of divin­ ity-only now it is not the suprasensible but the sensible pole of metaphysics that governs and directs. with the principle of immanence. protagonist of the sky. the immanence according to which all occurs. it is because an uninterrupted line has been assumed in which "it" (utopia. happiness. But in that case a content has already been given to possibility. the triumph of metaphysics. particularly according to that version which pits an infinite princi­ pal (immanence) against its ultimate products. products that could even achieve totality-but only because they no longer retain any relation with finitude. as it were. 'of an "all" that does not aspire to totality but is found in the constant struggle against it. no matter how much consciousness may seem an irreproachable.. indeed. it must be a "privileged" finite product. being as not-being. been forced to accommodate this possibility: the future has been forced. a permanent "being outside" (outside of immanence. realizable or not. Yet these names-sense. understood as the struggle between the darkness of earth and the lightness of the sky. time is not a process or substance within which things occur.22 with respect to time. finished products are primary. For when total multiplicity is conquered. names that refer to truth. and shadow. but merely names for finitude and its nature. this permanent desistance which ac­ companies even the most splendid moment of an objective thing. but by the same operation has already decentered any subjectivity in advance. and nothingness-are not principles in an organizing metaphysics or of a supreme cause. but rather a permanent not-be­ ing-anything. itself not a principle but the sphere of difference: the difference between that which appears and that which underlies appearance. a permanent being-outside-of. One might point out paradoxically that if the most potent versions of utopias retain an element of the unrealizable (or at best of the not yet realized).) This transformation has nothing to do with the alternations of night and day or death and life. Such utopic thought does not shed.g. Not the difference among a multiplicity of things.) On the contrary. It is so in various ways: to begin with. a time only God (or the utopic human paradise in its political or aesthetic form) can interrupt. to be sure. are they principles at all. a totality outside of which nothing fits because outside of which is nothing-not even death. and nothingness. be it divine or human. the supreme) can. or ex-stasis. Heidegger variously names this sub­ tending something sense. at whose end we are to find an earthly paradise. or its equivalent in metaphysical terms. wounds and cru- . the suprasensible-metaphysical is the principle of productivity situated behind it all. which constantly escapes us. turns out to be the unattain­ able itself. and time has. Objectivity and subjectivity would in this way come to be only figures and products of immanence itself. its divine nature. In the end. they are no different than finitude. paradoxically. time cannot be represented or conceptualized. in the same way that the reality of immanence remains an inferior (earthly. indeed. is an impossible operation (just as. At issue is the old Spi­ nozan distinction between a productivity (natura naturens) and a product (natura naturata). necessarily invested with content. or even the apotheosis of multiplicity. In such a scenario time ceases to be itself and becomes whatever the subject wants and decides must occur (although even this subject is more like a phantasm of a subject: he who wants to locate inside himself the process of what is. Because finitude.) Occurrence then ceases to be "being:' becoming instead an effect of whoever decides. here the property of the earth.


Leaving Immanence

elty, which could well be taken as simple derangements necessary for the greater

Two senses of the "all" may be gleaned from the argument thus forth: one in which
"all" is understood to be the absolute totality of time, tied to an immanence borne
of the liquidation of Kantian metaphysical difference, and another in which "all" is
bound up with an insistence on death as the "all" of existence, eventually legible as
constitutive of the artwork. The latter holds only so long as art continues to posit an
arena in which finitude's possibility is entertained, and so long as it does not give
itself over to the reproduction of the infinite. This will not be easy, since every pos­
sibility, including that of a call for finitude, emerges from the limitless continuum,
from the all-one or the absolute.
Behind any of these alternatives lies a different sense of truth that may or may
not be disclosed in art; to find out to what degree it is one might turn to the con­
temporary art world and ask whether the reproduction of all possible moments and
perspectives of a thing presents its truth any more adequately than does an exclusive
and finite representation of the same. A finite representation, in its refusal to make
"all" appear and in its recognition of the inability to represent the very nothingness
that makes possible the artwork's emergence, permits something incomparable and
irreducible to occur. Certain modern art experienced this contradiction in extreme
forms: it is possible, for instance, that the Cubist attempt to represent reality masked
a yearning for finitude that would come, nevertheless, to fatally reiterate infinity.
That is, although the attempt to disarticulate figure in order to present all its per­
spectives within a single glance might appear a finite (non-serialized) rendering,
one also detects a "Cubist" suspension of time in this move; an attempt to dominate
time. But can, then, this suspension be interpreted as finitude?
Picasso himself, having achieved a certain totality of discrete yet connected fig­
ures in Guernica, recognized that his series of Meninas was the only possible re­
sponse to Velasquez's painting of the same name, which had managed to convey in
a single image the complex, conclusive demarcation of finitude. It would be precipi­
tous ' however, to suggest that Velasquez, in distinction from Picasso, was a painter
of finitude. The matter is more complicated, because Velasquez, like the great classi­
cal artists, surely only hoped to represent in a finite way . . . infinitude, whose repre­
sentation might be called "beauty:' Today, when the only infinitude worth examin­
ing is that of an infinite time (and not of an imagined or created exterior reality),
beauty-assuming that the term still has any meaning-signifies something un­
known. Irritation at this unknown provokes an attempt to master it. How? Perhaps
by ensuring that "all"-all things, including the ugly-be beautiful.
If the field of "design" -less internationalist than totalizing in its spread-was
the first to strive for this ugly-duckling conversion by recuperating objects from
daily life to expose them in their perfect cleanliness, if not beauty (witness the use
of steel and polished materials), what has succeeded it may well be an attempt to
make all (every thing; everything) into image. Image consequently predominates
over things, in accordance with an immanence interested more in the images of

Arturo Leyte


substances than in the protean substances themselves, which for their part have lost
any inherent resistance to such a transformation.
Surely the reduction of reality to film is the great interiorized image of one sense
of Being in which the director ought to figure as the supreme god. But since in the
meantime God has died, the true director becomes, instead, the camera (industry),
in whose service, to be sure, one finds screenwriters, technicians and actors. Given
these parameters, the disappearance of the great cinema of auteurs, already a relic
of the old twentieth century,23 comes as no surprise. Nor is it enough to say that
cinema today is merely industry and business, because this very affirmation oc­
cludes the meaning of "industry" itself, whose best approximation can be found in
the German concept of Ge-stell,24 serving in the cinematographic example to point
precisely towards the camera (ultimately, a machine), which can virtually film ev­
erything without discrimination. The example rehearses the old metaphysics within
which the all-seeing human eye is blind to itself; if one understands, moreover, that
this eye was at one point the ego cogito, at another point the ego vola, and at still
another the very machinery of scientific, political or artistic transformation, one
may also understand that infinite time is precisely that which produced a certain
metaphysics based on the liquidation of irreducible difference.
The new metaphysics, which is the seamless combination of a camera that never
ceases to register reality and a reality that can only be registered as image, is purely
positive and recognizes "nothing" [no reconoce 'nada'] outside it. Even art exists
within this conceptual horizon, although perhaps if finitude (no longer identifiable
as the mere realization of a given image) were recognized, and succeeded in banish­
ing the very image of the work, art might eventually return something of the thing
beyond its mere image. This is not a call to squeeze one's eyes shut against image,
but to see in a way dislodged by the infinite (and mimetically divine) eye that ac­
companied a metaphysical (even when allegedly post-metaphysical) way of seeing.
But can one so easily eliminate infinite time? Like it or not, it is the dominant hori­
zon, and finitude may only consist in recognizing as much.25 At the risk of seeming
melodramatic, one might say, as Sartre did about freedom, that we are sentenced not
so much to death as to an infinity that does not let us to die, and which constitutes
the horizon and point of departure even for finitude.
This infinitude may be manifested variously, to be sure; we have here considered
two instances: the political infinitude of the market (everything, to be a thing, must
traverse it) and art's infinitude (everything, to be acknowledged, must lay claim to
a rendered, designed [diseiiado] figure.) Of course, the two perspectives do not co­
incide precisely: the market enjoys a success that art (as design) cannot match. But
this does not mean that art ceases harboring such aspirations, designing the ugly
and horrifying, not to say bad, in an attendant reclaiming of ugliness. The ugly can
rival the beautiful only by insisting on its presentation and reproduction in an ac­
ceptable form. Quickly the two poles become homologous and, finally, interchange­
able: the beautiful and the ugly are forced to coexist because in the end there is
no difference [no hay diferencias.] The banalization of the bad, representations of
disfiguration and repetitious scenes of death and pain (mainly sickness and physical
or psychological torture) are not in fact the products of an attempt to make negativ-


Leaving Immanence

ity appear, but products of a definitive attempt to conjure the absolute, the infinite.
This demand for the infinite, which depends on an egalitarian acknowledgement of
difference-an acknowledgement that validity resides in multiplicity (which does
not imply unity, except in the way that this unity is the pure affirmation of multiplic­
ity)-is obliged to elude or even to liquidate the possibility of death (death is always
Certain contemporary art has, ironically, served as some of the best means by
which to carry out such a project. When even Cubism is too metaphysical, given
that it never stopped seeking essences (the geometrical figure that would expose the
"thing itself" beyond its appearances), the solution must come from infinitely multi­
plying these appearances to the point ofleaving the spectator/observer/subject sus­
pended and annulled in the same reiteration of appearances (surfaces). The ultimate
goal of advertising then may lie not so much in the spectator's persuasion by image
as in the mutual confusion of spectator and image [se identifiquen J , achieved either
by a spilling outwards of consciousness or a flooding of the interior with images. In
both cases an interior/exterior duality is posited that manages to survive precisely
with the goal of being overcome. The image ends up constituting the definitive and
undifferentiated zone of encounter between he who sees and that which is seen,
such that it does not make sense to speak of this "between:' In a period in which
the great modern oppositions are dissolved (truth/falsity in scientific paradigms,
good/bad within moral paradigms, and beauty/ugliness in the arts) at least one sec­
tor of art has comes to coincide with advertising, confirming this tendency towards
the definitive liquidation of the paradigm interior/exterior and its replacement by
the demand that all be exterior.
But even this idea of exteriorization, allegedly manifested in transparent democ­
racy as against the prior opacity of the mandarin's or aristocrat's chambers, masks
its danger: that everything be exteriorized may also imply that all comes under con­
trol and surveillance, eliminating the possibility of even thinking subversion [de
la subversion pensadaJ . Because "to think" is still, today, an interior activity. The
demand for exteriority occurs then via a liquidation of thought (here by "thought"
I understand the possibility of an "other" project alternative to the constitutive and
established order) and, once more, of death, which is neither interior or exterior, but
rather a limit. It is, in effect, a demand that death also appear objectually in order
that it be subjected to control. So it is not surprising that those who govern prefer to
pit terrorism against thought, for terrorism always ends up reducing everything to
objects, often to remains (corpses or wreckage)-in any case to observable, evalu­
able things. And if something can be evaluated it is more easily controlled. Terror­
ism, in this sense, is not at all revolutionary; instead it confirms the very immanence
of the system. And for this reason will surely not be eradicated.
It is no coincidence that political terror surfaces during roughly the same period
in which philosophy insists on the absolute. Actually existing politics naturally must
address this terror, and they do so by multiplying it as an artistic, even attractive,
image. Much has been written about the fascination that terrifying images incite, yet
it is worth pointing out that our morbid curiosity is borne not from an acceptance
of death but because only through familiarity with death can we excuse ourselves

Arturo Leyte


from its reality. Can Warhol's series on the electric chair be understood in any other
way? Or his series on traffic accidents?26 Do not, perhaps, the two series constitute a
preemptive act of sympathetic magic, reminiscent of the ritual sacrifices of ancient
religions staged to convince that death is but a transitory stage? And in the end, are
the two series indeed much different than those Warhol did of Campbell soup cans,
Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy, or Mao Tse Tung? Do not all respond to the
same principle: namely, that everything appear in a multiplied form so as to exhaust
its existence?
Warhol's undertaking is the inverse of Picasso's Cubist rifling amongst the en­
trails of image. The empty geometric structures of the Cubist figure are rendered in
repeated surfaces, as if such iteration announced that that is all that is, that there
is no internal structure. Picasso may have more or less consciously continued to
search for a truth, while Warhol knew that no such truth was possible, or was only
possible as the infinite or serialized reiteration of the same thing, since finally there
is no such thing. If there is a thanatic impulse in Warhol's series of electric chairs it
is no less present in the series of Campbell soup cans.27 But is it really a thanatic im­
pulse, or is it better an attempt to disarm death by inviting it to the party? The series
of traffic accidents and electric chairs register death's inert but objectual appearance:
death turned into a packaged object; turned into image. An image of this nature
finds itself in the service of the absolute (and of tranquility), but not of finitude: it
reveals nothing final, it reveals not nothingness but rather an event not at all out
of the ordinary, just as a sexual act or a dose of heroin need not be extraordinary,
but merely repetitious, so deactivating any intrinsic nothingness, power and echo
of death. Warhol, unlike Monet, did not have to time his work to capture the light
at different hours of the day, since in the intervening seventy-five years all the day's
hours had been equalized, just as the difference between life (Campbell's Soup) and
death (Electric Chair) had come to be the same, equal; in any case, equally useless.
Death disappears when it is reduced to an electric chair or even to a corpse, and an
object instituted in its place.
But death, Heidegger tells us, is not a thing, not even a thing to be discovered in
the end. On the contrary, its reality as existential and not substantial accompanies
finite life like nothingness or tempor�lity, defining it. The idea that death is not a
thing to be measured by statistics but a finitude, as defined by Heidegger, can be­
come a sign of revolutionary possibility. But is death possible? And, consequently,
is politics possible? Politics is fundamentally only possible within a horizon of fini­
tude. Beyond this there is merely administration, with which the political has often
been confused: if the concentration (extermination) camp was possible, it was so
because already politics had been confused with Administration. And Administra­
tion, when realized, means the administration of death as much as of any other
function. Behind it resides the conviction that there is to be a final, inert reconcili­
ation that has overcome all negativity whatsoever. If death constitutes the supreme
expression of this negativity, the reduction of death enables the goal of a full ad­
ministrative coincidence of all possibilities: the reign of an affirmative multiplicity
which hides nothing, and in which all has been exposed, all has been (or is hoped
to be) rendered transparent.


Arturo Leyte

Leaving Immanence

Yet pain, opaque, always remains at the end of the day, in the solitude of one's
room, at least for those who have not tried to overcome it through a visit to the doc­
tor or analyst. Pain has been swept under the rug of remedy, and hidden by attempts
to do away with mourning. But the abandoned starry sky of Kant, which "no longer
lights any solitary wanderer's path;'28 has not, in the meantime, been substituted for
by a happy or safe earth. On the contrary, the baleful solitude of the new world fills
the sails of so much positivity.


13 Hegel. See notes 5 and 6 above.
14 The Spanish "cambio" can mean both change and exchange.

Translated by Rachel Price.



Georg Lukacs already perceived as much when he opened his Theory of the Novel with the
sentence "happy are those ages when the starry sky is the map of all possible paths-ages
whose paths are illuminated by the light of the stars:' Georg Lukacs, The Theory of the
Novel, trans. Anna Bostock (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1971), 29.


"By way of introduction or anticipation, we need only say that there are two stems of
human knowledge, namely sensibility and understanding, which perhaps spring from a
common, but to us unknown, root:' Immanuel Kant, Critique ofPure Reason, trans. Nor­
man Kemp Smith (New York: St Martin's Press, 1965), 61 (a15 b29).


This crystallization is developed by Schelling above all in the final chapter of his 1800
System of Transcendental Idealism, whose title reads: "Art as an Organ and Document of


"Because of this necessity, the way to Science is itself already Science, and hence, in virtue
of its content, is the Science of the experience of consciousness" G. W F. Hegel, Phenom­
enology of Spirit, trans. A.V. Miller (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), 56. This
idea dominates the introduction more generally.


"The True is the whole. But the whole is nothing other than the essence consummating
itself through its development:' Hegel, op. cit., 11.


The 1988 crash of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 270 people died.


"I had to make the limits of the body the fundamental theme in my work" ["dass die
Grenzen des Korpers das Grundthema meiner Arbeit bilden musste"]; see http://www.
wdr.de/tv/nachtkultur/dokumentation120010117/abramovic.html.) The quotation is re­
produced in the work of Felix Duque, "El terrorismo nuestro de cada dia:' ["Our Daily
Terrorism"] in the Spanish magazine SILENO 13 (Madrid, 2002): 109.


See Arturo Leyte, "El arte como organo y documento de la filosofia" ["Art as Organ and
Document of Philosophy"] , La Ortiga 33/35 (Santander, 2002), and "Arte y Sistema" ["Art
and System"] forthcoming (from a talk given in Belo Horizonte, Brazil).
10 "Beyond the objective determinations effected by the categories remains a gigantic em­
pirical reign, that of sensibility and perception, an absolute aposteriority for which is
signaled no apriority . . ." G. W F. Hegel, The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's
Systems ofPhilosophy, from the Spanish, Diferencia entre el sistema de filosofia de Fichte y
el de Schelling (Madrid: Alianza Universidad, 1989), 4. (Also in Madrid: Tecnos, 1990, 5.)

Jan Hulsker, The New Complete Van Gogh (Amsterdam and New York: J. M. Meulenhoff/
John Benjamins, 1996), 401.

16 As is well-known, this is one of the motives Heidegger recreates in "The Origin of the
Work of Art" (in Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter [New York: Harper
Colophon Books, 1975] , 15-87).

The complete phrase reads, "Two things fill the mind with an ever new and increasing
admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily we reflect on them: the starry sky above
me and the moral law within me." Although many English translations leave out the "me:'
it seems important to include the emphasis present in the German.-Trans.

Arturo Leyte, "Razon ilustrada y arte" ["Enlightenment Reason and Art"] SILENO 13

12 Although perhaps Rembrandt or Velazquez would have understood "perspective" as
something very different than what it would later come to mean.


17 One will recognize in this description the interpretation that Heidegger puts forth in his
essay "The Thing:' In Heidegger's thesis, the thing is interpreted as "frameness" or a cross
between mortals and immortals, earth and sky. See also Arturo Leyte, "Figuras Construc­
tivas del Paisaje" ["Constructive Figures in Landscape"] SILENO 11: 17'
18 This citation is reproduced by Heidegger in his "Origin of the Work of Art:' where he
writes: "In all these relationships art is and remains for us, on the side of its highest voca­
tion, something past" (80).
19 "Death, if that is what we want to call this non-actuality, is of all the things the most
dreadful, and to hold fast what is dead requires the greatest strength. Lacking strength,
Beauty hates the Understanding for asking of her what it cannot do. But the life of the
Spirit is not the life that shrinks from death and keeps itself untouched by devastation, but
rather the life that endures it and maintains itself in it. It wins its truth only when, in utter
dismemberment, it finds itself. It is this power, not as something positive, which closes its
eyes to the negative, as when we say of something that it is nothing or is false, and then,
having done with it, turn away and pass on to something else; on the contrary, Spirit is
this power only by looking the negative in the face, and tarrying with it. This tarrying
with the negative is the magical power that converts it into being:' (Hegel, Phenomenol­
ogy, 19)
20 Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, chapter 1 of the second section. The reference to this
sense of "all" refers to that chapter of the work in which Heidegger develops his interpre­
tation of death.
21 For the problematic of temporality presupposed here, see Martin Heidegger, Being and
Time, particularly paragraph 65, "Temporality as the Ontological Meaning of Care:'

22 Spanish has two verbs for being, ser and estar; estar is used for temporary, conditional
and locational attributes, ser being reserved for more enduring or essential characteris­
23 Fredric Jameson considers the films of the great auteurs to be mainly signs of the decline
or extinction of the modernist movement: "abstract expressionism, existentialism in phi10sophy the final forms of representation in the novel, the films of the great auteurs, or
the modernist school of poetry . . . all are now seen as the final, extraordinary flowering
of a high-modernist impulse which is spent and exhausted with them:' Fredric Jameson,
Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic ofLate Capitalism (Durham: Duke University Press,
1991), 1.
24 The German term "Ge-stell" was frequently used by Heidegger in many of his writings. It
appears decisively however in two in particular: "The Question Concerning Technology"

tastes. Death and Disasters. whether any attempt at revising the conditions of disciplinary knowledge-is not always already overdetermined by the subjection to organiza­ tion and command which is a consequence of the regulatory techniques of university management. more strategically. fashions.32 Leaving Immanence and "The Principle of Identity:' 25 This. but to reveal the positive of the surface.' 4 and if it is simul­ taneously true. 1988). it no longer lights the any solitary wanderer's path (for to be a man in the new world is to be solitary)" (36). on the other hand. is suggested in Spanish philosopher Felipe Marzoa's thesis. consumer norms. If it is true that. 28 Lukacs again reminds us that "Kant's starry firmament now shines only in the dark night of pure cognition. "the concept of immaterial labor presupposes and results in an en­ largement of productive cooperation that even includes the production and reproduction of communication. Lazzarato seems to offer two responses: one optimistic. and. In the last instance. elaborated in his book Heidegger y su tiempo [Heidegger and His Time 1 (Madrid: Aka!. and thus to help " [define and fix] cultural and ar­ tistic standards. 1999). that "what modern man­ agement techniques are looking for is for 'the worker's soul to become part of the factory. is today the task of a "mass intellectuality" whose presence defines "the role and function of intellectuals and their activities within societY:'2 Academic intellectual labor. not understood as labor proper in older modes of production. public opinion. and the other pessimis­ tic. Infra politics and Immaterial Reflection Alberto Moreiras I Mauricio Lazzarato defines immaterial labor as "the labor that produces the informational and cultural content of the com­ moditY:" Immaterial labor.'3 must be understood within a contemporary division of labor which is itself established by the prevailing mode of production.'s then we are facing a strong biopolitical cathexis on the very conditions of intellectual labor in the present." and thus "the worker's personal­ ity and subjectivity have to be made susceptible to organiza­ tion and command. whose sense it is to determine the uses of history for every one of the existing disciplines or fields of knowledge. 27 Fredric Jameson has lucidly perceived that the thematization of death in these series no longer occurs on the level of content. the photographic negative is also a positive presence to which all is reduced: color is dissipated in the negative. The Menil Collection (Houston: Houston Fine Arts Press. According to the pessimistic response. as Lazzarato says. at least. on the one hand. and hence of its most important contents: subjectivity. what is revealed is perhaps not death but its absence and the impossibility of its apparition in a reality that reduces exclusively to external sur­ faces. But he doesn't finally articulate that if this thanatic impulse corresponds to the "deathly black-and-white substratum of the photographic negative which subtends them" (9). given the fact that what is peculiar to immaterial labor is not the production of commodities to be "destroyed in the act of consumption" but Polygraph 15/16 (2004) . We must wonder whether any attempt to elaborate a new disciplinary subjectivity-that is. 26 Andy Warhol.

but also in the sense that it constitutes history as we know it: the event of his­ tory.'l4 then we must find a non-Roman determination of the political: perhaps counterimperial. in his seminar on Par­ menides. form of domination. above all when such a reference to the Inquisi­ tion.. The "imperial" here emerges in the form of the curial of the curia of the Roman pope.34 Infrapolitics and Immaterial Reflection rather of commodities that can "enlarge. "The creative and innovative elements are tightly linked to the values that only the forms of life pro­ duce:'s Lazzarato suggests that the struggle against work can promote values that would not be recoverable by the apparatus of organization and command within the system of production. it encompasses the totality of the history of the West. the Spanish Inquisition was "a power within the State superior to the State itself'lO That power is biopolitical power. both the imperial! civil and the imperial! ecclesiastical. and if that comes to be. The character of c. This transformation is distinctive in that it remains concealed but nevertheless determines everything in advance:" 7 It is only a few pages later. Heidegger does not hesitate to call it "the genuine event ofhistorY. the opposite of the truth is the false.' then immaterial labor produces "a social relationship" that reveals "something that material production had 'hidden. According to the old historian Henry Charles Lea. in passing. and perhaps surprisingly. the con­ solidation of this priority of the false over pseudos and the stabilizing of this consolidation is a Roman accomplishment. almost unintentionally. is the verum. Since then. The es­ sential realm of the imperial fallere determines the not-false as well as the falsum. A certain confluence between the work of Michel Foucault and that of Martin Heidegger might allow us to arrest the regression ad infinitum implied in that answer. understood as the power of capture and subjection oflife to political control.6 in the sense that there is no other. is not meant only for Nazi Germany. and perhaps in the totality of his work: Such change is ever the most dangerous.'l Whence that excess? A properly materialist answer would consist of saying that. since intellectual labor is today by definition bound by the conditions of production that define mass intellectuality. following a genealogical structure. imperi­ ally.'8 To speak critically of the Spanish Inquisition during the Winter Semester of 1942-43 in Freiburg is not particularly banal. These values could then develop the "social cycle of immate­ rial production"9 in ways that would outflank the capital relation itself. and particularly. Thus we could posit the ultimate origin of the genealogical structure in the Roman world. to the extent that the power within the state is state power. but it can never be pre-determined by it. and create the 'ideological' and cultural environment of the consumer. the Greek pseudos became for us in the Occident the "false:' Correspondingly. The possibility of thinking a non-Roman. non­ imperial determination of the political goes through an understanding of the nature of that power within the state superior to the state itself that Lea associates with the Spanish Inquisition. said in Roman fashion. But I will dwell on it briefly. Therefore this dogma takes into account equally the "true" of the "orthodox believers" as well as the "false" of the "heretics" and the "unfaithful:' The Spanish Inquisition is a form of the Roman curial imperi­ um. although thoroughly connected with the situation at the time (i. but first and foremost it produces the capital relation:'6 Within this determination any possibility of intellectual labor.'. cannot go beyond promoting the social relation­ ship as reproduction of the capital relation: every new production of subjectivity would be condemned to be nothing but the acquiescing response to the system of production's principles of organization and command. the sacerdotium. but also the most enduring. But Lazzarato also offers an optimistic response. that Heidegger mentions the Spanish Inquisition-only once in his Parmenides seminar. imperialli'12 Hei­ degger's diagnosis. His domination is likewise grounded in command. For us. having to do with the pos­ sibility of linking the production of subjectivity to a new praxis of meaning. i. Heidegger says: "We think the political as Romans. namely. more important single event. that labor produces not only commodities. the "history of Alberto Moreiras 35 an error. that is. in the hegemonic structure of imperial domination in Rome. seeks an interruption of deter­ mined history. "What is decisive is that the Latinization occurs as a transformation of the essence of truth and Being within the essence of the Greco-Roman domain of history. Heidegger's own notion of "originary thinking. For Lazzarato there is a possibility of genuine innovation in the fact that every act of immaterial production proposes "a new relationship between production and con­ sumption:'7 Such a relationship can only be appropriated and normalized by the system of production. which he associates with the dominance of the Roman West. the Occident has known of pseudos only in the form of falsum.ommand here resides in the essence of eccle­ siastical dogma.'3 On the contrary. the true assumed the character of the not-false. which was the direct antecedent of the National Socialist administrative ap- .'5 All of it would have to do with a decisive event. The operating force in this accomplishment is no longer the imperium of the state but the imperium of the Church. transform. But the Romans did not only lay the foundation of the priority of the false as the standard meaning of the essence of untruth in the Occident. any power within the state superior to the state itself would come from another state. The event is the Latinization of the Greek notion of truth. or non-imperial. according to a Nietzschean genealogy. regarding which Heidegger had thought that the Nazi movement offered the possibility of a renewal. If to think the political is to think it as Romans. and insurgent against determined history.' as developed in Parmenides. This issue is not so remote from Lazzarato's interest in finding out whether it is possible to suspend the very mechanisms of organization and command through an attempt at a non-predetermined mode of intellectual production-unpredeter­ mined by history. The not-false. the subjection of life to the sover­ eignty principle. In his class lectures from the 1942-43 winter semester.. This is not an arbitrary hypothesis: Heidegger himself says it. In addition. in direct connection with this transformation of the essence of truth. the power of political animation of life. The power to subject life to sovereignty is in every case the power within the state superior to the state itself-an excess or supplement to the state without which there would be no state.e.e. By way of Roman civilization. with the turning point in World War II represented by the German defeat at Stalin­ grad) and with a thoroughly ideological vision of German destiny. even when it exceeds itself.

' whose Heideggerian trace is not always sufficiently noted. inasmuch as Europe violently imposed its dominion on the entire surface of the earth:'25 Inquisitorial practices were imperial in the Heideggerian sense also inasmuch as they operated a complete inversion regarding the other juridical tradition that was active at the heart of medieval Europe: the Germanic tradition. and it is this non-falseness that will be administered according to hege­ mony's principle of organization and command. and by this oc­ cupation to hold command over it. in a paradoxical sense. . to occupy something in advance. which is precisely the power within the state Alberto Moreiras 37 superior to the state itself. that the basic comportment of the Romans towards beings in general is governed by the rule of the imperium. and therefore its relation with the hegemonic structure of imperial domination. If it is true. and which constitutes the foundation of feudal law. the special inquisition. a search for the truth. brought to a fall. Eliminated from the reach of command. subjected to the imperial circumscription. it is on the basis of these inquisitorial procedures that "there appeared a technique of voyage-as a political. the most virtuous-about what had happened in his absence. the importance of the one who spoke". and economic administration. once again. to offer their services for the continuation of the domination:'20 Roman hegemony. the imperial principle of the political under which we still think the political. and so to have the occupied as territori" 9 In the juxtaposition of imperare and hacking or felling we understand both the essence of the political as the power to command and the falsi -fication of truth (that is. the weight. Falsum comes from fallere. As to Foucault. which is also thefalsi-fica­ tion of the political. taxes. is not only the principle ofbiopolitical action proper but also a grave historical event: "The inquiry that arose in the Middle Ages would acquire extraordinary dimensions. developed in the Middle Ages through administrative procedures directly inspired in the Carolingian revival of imperial Roman structures and in po­ litico-spiritual procedures already existing in the Church. on the basis of the absolute subjection of the involved parties to a rule of sovereignty. accus­ ing another of having killed or robbed. .' but one can hear nothing else in his definition of imperial power. Foucault says. . crimes. and so on. espe­ cially if there had been transgressions. Foucault says. but the strength. of being brought to a fall. the principle of subjection of life to sovereign cap­ ture. which was published under the title "Truth and Juridical Norm.21 In the five-lecture series delivered at the Pontifical Catholic Uni­ versity of Rio de Janeiro in May 1973. what is false has been eliminated from the principle of territori­ alization. the inquisitio specialis. This system was a way of proving not the truth. the animation of life under criteria of subjection to command in the name of the essential falsi-fication of the true. Because what is false is what has been felled. not just in terms of criminal acts but also for every dispute related to property.36 Infrapolitics and Immaterial Reflection paratus for the "final solution" concerning the elimination of an enemy social body. political power in this system becomes "the essential personage:'28 "On arriving at an appointed place. and if it is true that such falsi-fication is essen­ tially related to the capture and subjection of life to political control. . If this inquiry met with an affirmative response. not subjected to command-no longer sub­ jected to command. . Here we have the genuine actus of imperial action . the bishop would pass to a second stage. "to bring about a downfall. Imperium says im-parare. And to be superior is only possible through constantly remaining in the higher position by way of a constant surmounting of others. rent. and the study of climates:'22 In par­ ticular. talking about fields of knowledge. "To be superior is part and parcel of domination. .' or rather a history of the "politics of truth. is. I am concerned with his project to establish a "history of truth. the dispute between the two would be re­ solved through a series of tests accepted by both individuals and by which both were bound. which followed the principle of the test. In life. that the Roman imperial. within the territory of the command. a contestation. then. power-exercising venture and a cu­ riosity-driven. the elders. astronomy.' Foucault. the most learned. by questioning all those who should know-the notable. the understanding of truth on the basis of the notion of the false. it is also eliminated from life. rather. refers to the types of inquiry that " [b1 eginning in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries . which consisted in trying to find out who had done what. Hence. one can only have the not-false. The great and most inner core of the essence of essential domination consists in this. as a power within the state superior to the state itself. for Heidegger. is the falsi-fication of truth.' "to cut" or "to hack" in the sense of bringing to a fall. what has been felled) as the very principle of hegemonic power. of felling. the apparatus for the territorialization of command according to which what is not susceptible of hacking. if it is true that falsi-fication is in this realm the essence of biopolitics as a strategy of domination. For Fou­ cault. thefalsi-fication of the essence of truth. Heidegger does not use the word "hegemony. the brought to a fall. the bishop would first initiate the inquisitio generalis . Heidegger asks: "What is the basis for the priority of fallere in the Latin formation of the counter-essence of truth?" And he responds: "It lies in this. . It is. in the Roman curia. "in feudal law. . to establish. to make arrangements: prae-cipere. Heidegger is attempting to think of a counter-falsification of the political following a non-imperial and counter-Roman path.26 "a procedure of inquiry. I will sum up Heidegger's analysis. never intervened in this type of system:'27 Through the inquisitorial system the representative of power would abandon the feudal system of tests and proceed to adjudicate justice. that is. the understanding of truth as the mere negation of the false. that they themselves are permitted. Its destiny would be practically coextensive with the particular destiny of so-called 'European' or 'Western' culture"24 The juridical forms that were derived from the inquisitorial model became "absolutely essential for the history of Europe and for the history of the whole world. knowledge-acquiring venture-that ultimately led to the discovery of America:'23 The relation to Heidegger makes itself obvious here. nor simply despised. disputes between two individuals were settled by the system of the test.' presents the Inquisition as a symptom of the great error in the history of the West: literally. that the dominated are not kept down. sought to establish truth on the basis of a certain number of carefully collected items of tes­ timony in fields such as geography. then it is necessary first to understand falsi-fication better. of simple elimination from life can still collaborate in its own domination: this is the biopolitical passion. but. When an individual came forward with a claim. For Foucault the Inquisition. the "Jews.

the life that can be killed without murder or sacrifice. subjected to administra­ tive imperial command.' to adapt Eric Santner's expression. of rear. the use that allows us to understand. As Heidegger puts it. the class in power. and hence also concerning the very conditions of immaterial labor. Ratio becomes counting. is small: a matter of a "small adjustment. defined in . This is. in other words. The 'taking as true' of ratio. It was this model that was taken up and adapted in judicial proce­ . names "not . Ratio is a self-adjustment to what is correct:'33 Foucault's infrapower is the political apparatus composed of the institutions whose mission is to "take charge of the whole temporal dimension of individuals' lives:'34 Genealogically conditioned by the Heideggerian history of "imperial falsi­ fication. For Heidegger. infrapower rules over "the conversion ofliving time into labor power and labor power into productive force:'35 Infrapower institutions are. and it is ambivalently excluded from the biopolitical operation. that is.Infrapolitics and Immaterial Reflection in determining who was really the author and what was the nature of the act". in our context. following the structure of hegemonic command: "bare life.41 In relational surrender. however. there can be no imperfect or Alberto Moreiras 39 "proper" nihilism except from the perspective of "fulfilled" or accomplished nihil­ ism. either that it is possible to produce social values that are not pre-determined by the system of production or that it is not possible to overcome the biopolitical conditions accord­ ing to which every production of subjectivity is always already normalized by the system."36 To reduce or destroy the reach of the sequestering institutions and their hegemonic command is to attack infrapower. following both Benja­ min and Scholem. mark the final subsumption ofliving time into labor power? There are two fundamental uses of history that might adequately reference Lazzaratds two positions. institutions of sequestration. namely. . dure [by royal authority] : 30 This juridical form constitutes a decisive intervention in political history and in the history of the political at the level of what Foucault will term toward the end of his lecture series "infrapower:' Infrapower. . and a second form. religious and political-this method for managing. " Given the undecidability between Lazzarato's two positions. one could call them.' Agamben deploys the Heideggerian motif on the basis of an intriguing exchange between Benjamin and Gershom Scholem on Kafka. that is. the most dominant. . but . as Benjamin writes of Kafka. calculus. any reflection on the uses of history is contained within a nihilistic perspec­ tive. nihilism is not one: it always comes as two. in the sense that they place themselves or find their appropriate site not at the level of hegemonic struggle but beneath it. calculating. Productive subjectivity. for instance. . the Inquisition under the figure of sovereignty. below their (imperial) ground. a literally useless use that might not quite match Laz­ zarato's second hypothesis. the sovereign use. there can be no accomplished nihilism unless we posit an imperfect form of it. the most obvious one. .29 "this model-spiritual and administrative. We could call this first use "relational surrender. overseeing. the first one being imperfect nihilism. a perfect nihilism that does not even let validity survive beyond its meaning but instead. of little institutions situated at the lowest leve!:'31 The inquisition as biopolitical procedure initiates the vast process of the subjec­ tion oflife to imperial command that would become characteristic of modernity.' within late capitalism. It dwells in self-subjection as the mode of service to a rea­ son that becomes co-extensive with political calculation. or . and controlling souls was found in the Church: the inquiry understood as a gaze focused as much on possessions and riches as on hearts. in a notion of productive subjectiv­ ity that is structurally unable to overflow the system of production precisely be­ cause all it can do is to establish a relation with it. and hence always immersion and capture by the sovereign relation. that is. . . surrenders into sovereignty.37 At the same time. the subject of immaterial reflection surrenders into relational life. acts. At stake is to ensure that individuals cooperate in their own domination. an infrapolitics. is false life in the Heideggerian sense. between the two nihilisms or the two messianisms. becomes a far-reaching and anticipatory security. that is. and the second accomplished nihilism. in his interpretation of Nietzsche's Nachlass. a power in the state superior to the state itself. . the state apparatus. Understanding the hidden structure of historical time would have to do with being able to operate that small adjustment. "in a schematic and global sense. . which would mean: the small adjust­ ment launches us into a form of accomplished nihilism/messianism. to move toward a non-imperial practice of the po­ litical. history is always biopolitical history. "the imperial springs forth from the essence of truth as correctness in the sense of the directive self-adjusting guarantee of the security of domination. of infrapower. or even the difference between the two faces or two deployments of nihilism or messianism. "succeeds in finding redemption in the overturning of the Nothing:'39 The difference between both perspectives on nihilism. or sover­ eignty under the figure of the state.' to use Giorgio Agamben's expression in Homo Sacer. .' that is. then we will have to distinguish two forms of messianism or nihilism: a first form (which we may call imperfect nihilism) that nullifies the law but maintains the Nothing in a perpetual and infinitely deferred state of validity. According to the first use. The latter's progressivism is excessively caught up in the notion of the production of new values. Does immaterial labor in our times.'4o a slight displace­ ment.32 Everything else dwells in non-falseness. he mentions that nihilism and messianism are or come to the same thing: If we accept the equivalence between messianism and nihilism of which both Benjamin and Scholem were firmly convinced. In an essay titled "The Messiah and the Sovereign: The Problem of Law in Walter Benjamin. the whole set of little powers. . . and it understands and deploys an understanding of history as the temporalization of the capture of life by the political. and also a form of Lazzarato's first hypothesis. But there is a second use. For Agamben the difference between the two nihilisms has to do very pre­ cisely with a dilucidation of "the hidden structure of historical time itself'38 Agamben introduces an additional complication when. and intentions. This is both a form of imperfect nihilism/messianism. In the Heideggerian interpretation. to take a decisive position concerning the status of "the power within the state superior to the state itself.

and if the first use is a petrified use through which the validity without signification of the law weighs in as imperfect nihilism. "Scholem defines the relation to the law described in Kafka's novels as 'the Nothing of Revelation. there the Nothing appears:"48 Validity without significa­ tion: the zero point of the sense of the law. hence it lives simultane­ ously within and outside law. reduced. what Jacques Derrida quoting Montaigne calls "the mystical foundation of authority.42 Agamben solves the Benjamin/Scholem exchange into a diagnosis of the history of the present that is a prelude to the embrace of accomplished nihilism as a refusal of the structures of institutional sequestering: Today. "we can compare the situation of our time to that of a pet­ rified or paralyzed messianism that. allegory or literality of a state of exception more legal than the law. that is. how the world is disclosed to US:'50 Exodus is then "the possibility of recovering. Exodus is infrapolitical consciousness. This "overturning" of the first use. Between both the need for an infrapolitical "small adjustment:' only possible after reaching a concept of history that gives us its subterranean or hidden foundation. Santner calls "exodus" the redemptive possibility of undoing the relational fan­ tasy that keeps "life captured by the question of its legitimacY:'49 In dialogue with Agamben's interpretation of Scholem's phrase "validity without signification:' Sant­ ner thinks that "the dilemma of the Kafkan subject-exposure to a surplus of va­ lidity over meaning-points . a sovereign relation that absolutely requires relational surrender. to the fundamental place of fantasy in human life. has fully come to light. whether democratic or to­ talitarian. like all messianism. .40 Infrapolitics and Immaterial Reflection Lazzarato on the basis of "forms of life:' is always already biopolitical. still does not disappear (and Revelation is something that appears). . Like the Messiah: also He reveals the hidden structure of the law. This use without use has to do with un-working the determinations of the first use. that it becomes possible to dislodge from it. which defines sovereignty as the power to decide on the state of exception. is still a use. If there are two uses of history. the unworking of the biopolitical. the Inquisition appears as a sovereign body insofar as it is a power within the state superior to the state itself-the sovereign body has the power to suspend the law from within the site of the law. and perhaps more so than ever at the moment it attempts to change the dominant conditions of biopolitics. of 'unbinding: the disruptive core of fantasy and converting it into 'more life: the hope and possibility of new possibili­ ties:'51 In other words. if the second use is infrapolitical and it moves in the direction of a new and "real" state of exception. has entered into a legitimation crisis in which the state of exception. an accomplished nihilism that unworks history by dwelling in the excess that is not just the condition of possibility of the sovereign relation but also the condition of possibility of its destabilization.43 Agamben has in mind Benjamin's eighth thesis on the philosophy of history: "The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the 'state of exception' in which we live is the rule. the "redemption" that Benjamin promises as precisely a redemption regarding the infinite biopoliticization of life. Fantasy organizes or 'binds' this surplus into a schema. If the paradox of sovereignty once had the form of the proposition "There is nothing outside the law:' it takes on a per­ fectly symmetrical form in our time. Eric Santner comments on this passage at length in On the Psycho theology of Everyday Life. The Inquisition is also validity without signification: imperfect nihilism. even if a useless use. Agamben quotes Scholem's letter to Benjamin where Scholem comments on Benjamin's essay on Kafka. nullifies the law. in Europe as in Asia. everything-every law-is outside law. the characteris­ tic procedure of the second use is the interruption of the principle of sovereignty. yet still affirms itself by the fact that it is in force. intending this expression to name 'a stage in which revelation does not signify. two states: the state of exception "in which we live. The Inquisition is the ni­ hilistic-messianic truth of our time. Today we live in this messianic paradox. To traverse the fantasy is to undo the relational fantasy that captures us for and into subjective surrender. which was the hidden foundation of the system. as it determines the individual site of experience of the sovereign relation in every case. If the characteristic procedure of the first use of history is the capture of life by the political. so to speak. but thus also appearance of the law in its messianic and sovereign force. to the zero point of its own content. 'the state of exception in which we live. Santner seeks the second. and suspends the law indefinitely or infinitely. which means: it is only from within sequestration by the infrapower apparatus. that is. but then maintains it as the Nothing of Revelation in a perpetual and interminable state of exception. the de-production of the use of history. the capture of life by the sovereign relation. weighs in like the Inquisition does in the history of Spain and of the West.' that corresponds to the biopolitical use of history.45 From Lea's sentence on the Inquisition. when the exception has become the rule: "There is nothing inside the law". And all power."'46 Alberto Moreiras 41 But Benjamin says that when we reach a concept of history that understands and accounts for the paradox of sovereignty (simultaneously hiding and revealing the exception in the law). everywhere. This is still a messianic nihilism or a nihilistic messianism.'47 then we will be able to produce "a real state of exception:' Again. Where the wealth of significance is gone and what appears. We must arrive at a concept of history that corresponds to this fact. For Agamben. Then we will have the production of a real state of exception before us as a task:'44 In the Eighth Thesis Benjamin in turn refers to Carl Schmitt's Political Theology. it is the possibility of an openness to "the surplus of the real within reality:'52 an openness to the awareness of infrapower within power. The entire planet has now become the exception that law must contain in its ban. a distinctive 'torsion' or spin that colors/distorts the shape of our universe. and every aspect of our existence bears its marks. The first is for him "relational surrender:' He calls the second "unbinding the fantasy:' using Lacanian categories that have been foregrounded in the work of Slavoj Zizek. and it is still therefore under the gaze of the political-but in a very especial form. and that other useless and enigmatic "state of real excep­ tion:' on which any possible redemption depends. in an infrapolitical form. in industrialized countries as in those of the "Third World:' we live in the ban of a tradition that is perma­ nently in a state of exception. . traditional or revolutionary.

. Benjamin says in a passage quoted by both Santner and Agamben. but its scholarship has Escandrell me tolo Bar and a uev lan Vil ez Per n qui Joa See ch. is messianic intervention.. 4 Ibid. in all imperfect messianisms) reinforces the inordinate or exorbitant violence of biopo­ litical. which then becomes the necessity. 133. And for both think­ ers. Through falsi.42 Alberto Moreiras Infrapolitics and Immaterial Reflection Perhaps we are not too far from Lazzarato's second hypothesis. The difference between an imperfect and an accomplished experi­ ence of aporia is the difference between understanding aporia as an end of thinking or understanding it as an opening for reflective thinking. which is also an opening for infrapolitical practice there where the suppression of aporia (for instance. because the water didn't accept him as it should. ear res g nin rve inte by dated drid: Biblioteca Bonet. 3 vols. 140. • I wish to thank Marta Hernandez and Juan Carlos Rodriguezfor their comments on the original Spanish version of this essay. The difference between any messianism and the messianic is in Derrida the minimal difference that insti­ tutes the messianic as the very possibility. History . against the falsi -fication of world. the traumatic nucleus. . The perfect Nothing of the promise is the other face of the Nothing of revelation that constitutes the 43 imperfect nihilism of Kafka's parable according to Benjamin. as orientation towards the small adjust­ ment. "relations of exchange-and that means all socio-symbolic systems through which what is individual acquires a general and generic value/identity-always leave a remainder. 190 6-0 7) is still lan Mil Mc k: Yor w (Ne s. 138. vol 4 in. imperial hegemony. and in Benjamin. seeing that the wa­ ter had not rejected him:'57 But there must be a way to win this ordeal beyond the chiasmatic alternative: if you lose the case. but would only make a slight adjustment in it:'55 The passage from imperfect to accomplished nihilism is a matter of infrapoliti­ cal orientation towards the small adjustment. 199 6). Aporia. ed. and over and over again the minimal basis for decision. and ifhe drowned he had won the case. see Michel York: Vmtage. If you win the case. an insistent and troubling surplus for which no equivalent value can be posited. granted that "the impossibility of justice for all is the possibility of any justice at all. Foucault says that one of the tests or ordeals of the old Germanic tribal order was the ordeal by water. Lea rles 10 Henry Cha 19 22 ). • 1 • • • • • • • • • • • • • al Politics. this troubling surplus that for the most part functions as the driving force of the symbolic system can become the locus of a break with it. of a po­ litical orientation for deconstruction. eds. "the very dynamic that attaches us to an ideological formation is . . 146. on immaterial reflection? The messianic relation is only the promise that accomplished messianism. of friendship for friendship. and accordingly the sites where an infrapolitics can develop that would already think politics against imperial politics. If he didn't drown he would lose the case.'56 and the impossibility of hos­ pitality the only opening for hospitality. (Ma contem­ d dar stan the for 3) 199 s. 8 Ibid. Spa in tion uisi Inq the f o tory His A 's 11 Lea been made out­ an extremely valuable reference on the Inquisition. of whom a great rabbi once said that he did not wish to change the world by force. that redemptive and revelatory possibility is a messianic possibility. . according to which only capitalism can produce the weapons for its own overcoming. The porary reference work. ual f o Sex . which have guided many of the revisions. nihilism obtains... the power within the state stronger than the state itself. He does not mention the Derridean "hauntological" reading of Marx.. Can the mass intel­ lectuality of the present move toward the unworking of imperfect nihilism? Can it move toward an infrapolitical or non-imperial understanding of the political? Heidegger says: "We think the political as Romans. can bring about a small adjustment. Mil Mc k: Yor w (Ne ies enc end Dep nish Spa the in tion uisi Inq The . granted that the very conditions of possibility for justice are also the conditions of its impossibility. the site where the possibility of genuinely new possibilities can emerge:'53 Sant­ ner repeats an old postulate of Marxism. will vanish "with the coming of the Messiah. Maurizio Lazzarato. you lose your life. an orientation to the infrapolitical opening is an orientation towards the conditionless condition that rules over the fact that the aporetic structure obtains. and so forth.e.. The interruption of fantasy. Why have it at all? Infrapolitics is nothing but the (search for a) non-inquisitorial exodus from such a conjuncture. and in Marx according to Derrida. a site where the possibility of unplugging from the dominance of the sovereign/general equivalent can open:'54 But in Santner. then. Paolo Virno and Michael Hardt (Mi nneapolis: University of Minnesota Pre 133· 2 Ibid. that is. the passage from imperfect to accomplished messian­ ism. In terms of biopower and biopolitics. in a non -Roman way. Historia de la Inquisici6n en Espana y Am erica. For Santner. "which consisted in tying a person's right hand to his left foot and throwing him into the water. 134· 3 Ibid. i. the unbinding of the traumatic nucleus that sustains us as distorted and captured life in subjection to infrapower. affect the decidability of Lazzarato's two hypotheses on politico-intellectual practice. • • 7 Ibid. tran n. It is only a promise. iale tor uisi Inq os udi Est de o ntr /Ce nos stia Cri s de Autore Foucault. does the messianic relation... 9 Ibid.. imperially:' Inquisitorial infrapower. w (Ne rley Hu ert Rob s.' in Radical Tho ught in Italy: A Potenti ss. you lose your life. In relational surrender the political relation is nothing but a relation of power. In deconstruction's idiom. 5 Ibid. is the main object of interpretation in Santner's book) and Marx. but he nevertheless appeals to it in order to estab­ lish that. Fantasy. ctio odu Intr An 1 e um Vol ity. along with Freud. 35 7. 134· 6 Ibid. How. for both Franz Rosenzweig (the thinker that. The text of deconstruction insists on this small adjustment as fundamental to its own strategy. "Im material Labor. 133. the power of the fantasy that binds the traumatic nucleus of domination with our own invest­ ment in self-domination (the marrano problem par excellence)-those are sites for the Benjaminian overturning.fication worlding is no longer the terror or the joy of unconcealment but rather relational surrender. 147· lan.

Edler's "Heidegger's Interpretation of the German 'Revolution:" Research in Phenomenology 23 (1993): 153-71. By means of the entanglement of nihilism in itself. 37. 249 passim. trans. Language. vol. and Politics: Heidegger's Attempt to Steal the Language of the Revolution in 1933-34:' Social Research 57. nihilism first becomes thoroughly complete in what it is.' 1-29. 45 See Carl Schmitt. 40 Ibid. 2001). See also Theodore Kisiel. Dreyfus. 3. see Frank H.. 36 Ibid... But the crucial book on Heidegger's notion of a second Revolu­ tion within Nazism in favor of an originary philosophy of autochthony and rootedness and Heidegger's subsequent. David Farrell Krell (San Francisco: HarperCollins. Press. 45· 29 Ibid. see Alan Milchman and Alan Rosenberg. 2003).. Andre Schuwer and Richard Rojcewicz (Blooming­ ton: Indiana University Press. . George Schwab (Cambridge: MIT Press. National Socialism. 2003). 135-41. 26 Ibid. 44. "The Messiah and the Sovereign: The Problem of Law in Walter Benja­ min:' in Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy.44 Alberto Moreiras Infrapolitics and Immaterial Reflection 1990).. 37 See volume 4 of Heidegger's Nietzsche. Parmenides. 24 Ibid. trans. for instance: "Nietzsche's metaphysics is nihilism proper . post-Germany's defeat developments is Charles Bambach's Heidegger's Roots. 6-10. And. The Soviet army had closed the circle around the German army in Stalingrad at Christmas 1942. "Parmenides and the Battle of Stalingrad:' Graduate Faculty Philosophy Jour­ naI 19. 83. 46. 33 Heidegger. James D. 160. Lectures at the College de France 1975-76. 16 Heidegger. generally. 174· iversity of Chicago Un o: ag hic (C e. 90. 53-63 passim. perfect nihilism is the fulfillment of nihilism proper" (203)· 38 GiorgiO Agamben. 50. 12 Martin Heidegger.' 170. W. Historical Destiny and National Socialism in Heidegger's "Being and Time" (Berkeley: University of California Press. trans. 1990). 1985).. 18 Ibid. 47. Hollingdale (Lon­ don: Penguin.. Parmenides. Faubion. Parmenides. 35 Ibid. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stan­ ford: Stanford University Press. "Truth:' 49· 23 Ibid.1 (1990): 197-239. cit. but he develops its implications in Stato di eccezione. 28 Ibid. t ha -t life red sac d an .. 26-42). Homo Sacer 2. op.. and the Greeks (Ithaca: Cornell Univer­ sity Press. Nietzsche's metaphysics is not an overcoming of nihilism.. See also Hans Sluga. On the relations between Heideggerian thinking and Foucault. 2003). 46. 17 Ibid. . David Macey (New York: Picador. 31 Ibid. in particular Milchman/Rosenberg. op. 2003). and Society Must Be Defended. Such utterly completed. 34· 25 Ibid. Agamben had already referred to Schmitt's state of exception in Homo Sacer (8-19. for the political background to Heidegger's commitment to reactionary practice. ed. . 253-63.. trans. 22 Foucault. See also Heller. 43. particularly after the failure of the National Socialist regime-for Heidegger already clear in the mid-1930s. d from we rro (bo se sen nt ere diff y htl slig a in " ing ork nw "u of n 42 Agamben refers to the notio 61. "Situating Rhe­ torical Politics in Heidegger's Protopractical (1923-1925: The French Occupy the Ruhr:' Existentia 9 (1999): 11-30. Giorgio Agamben takes up those Foucaultian concepts in Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. and "Philosophy. see William S.. Heidegger's overwhelming pre­ occupation with Germany is turned into a preoccupation with modernity as such in the establishment of an equivalency between Germany and the West. 168. For an excellent use of Heidegger's Parmenides regarding geopo­ litical thinking today. 39 Ibid. 40 . 1993) and Johannes Fritsche. among other texts in his later work. 27 Ibid. J. "Truth and Juridical Forms:' in Power: Essential Works ofFoucault 19541984. cit.. Germany had lost the war.. 13 For the connection between Heidegger's Parmenides and the Battle of Stalingrad see Ag­ nes Heller. . Bambach. 2000). 30 Ibid. 43 Agamben. 20 Ibid. Paul Rabinow (New York: New Press. trans. R. and Hubert L. 4 vols. 5l.' 17] . ice rif a sac ng ati ebr cel ut tho wi d an committing homicide sphere:' Homo s thi in ed tur cap en be has t tha life the is dice rif sac t no t may be killed bu Sacer.1 (1997): "The winter semester ended in January or February.. 2000). 171. series ed. "Messiah.2/20. 1999). 44 Quoted ibid. . 1992). Mauro Bertani and Alessandro Fontana. 13. trans. . Spanos. On the difference between nihilisms see. . Twilight of the Idols/The Anti-Christ. Lif y da ery Ev of gy olo the cho Psy the On 4 1 Eric L. 45 and Power' Revisited:' 30-54. 1998).1 (Torino: Bollati Boringhieri. Few knew this. Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty. "Truth:' 80. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press. 42. ed. eds. ut ho l wit kil to d tte mi per is it ich wh in ere sph the is ere sph ign 32 For Agamben "the sovere life that is.. 36. 84. 45. Nietzsche.. "Messiah. This is easy to decipher from the text of the Parmenides lectures" (248). For the politico-philosophical context. 1991) for his major dilucidation of Nietzsche's concept of nihilism. "'Being 46 Agamben. Heidegger's Crisis: Philosophy and Politics in Nazi Germany (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 21 Michel Foucault. America's Shadow: An Anatomy of Empire (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. and trans. 14 Friedrich Nietzsche. It is the ultimate entanglement in nihilism . Santner. 1999). "To­ ward a Foucault/Heidegger Auseinandersetzung. 34 Foucault. 1-15. 15 For originary or primordial thinking see Parmenides. trans. Foucault and Heidegger: Critical Encounters (Min­ neapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Heidegger was one of those who did.. cer Sa mo Ho in t) ho nc Bla ice ur Ma d an y nc Na uc n-L Jea 19 Ibid. 86-87.

55 Quoted in Santner. The core of this narrative is expressed by the somewhat Kantian proposition.. S antne rs ' and V"lrnos ' ' uses 0f the term are for the most part hetero geneous. be it consciousness or some other property of the individual) and a subjectus (i. 40. for the thinking being's capacity to describe and explain the world in ways that accord fundamentally with reason's precepts.e. 22 9. Italy. Post-Political Citizenship 49 Santner.. According to the lineaments of this well-seasoned narrative. Using the distinction between a subjectum (i.. politics.. In the topography of this unfolding of reason. 8l. 74. in oth­ er words. "Truth. 54 Ibid.' 16 9. The philosophical tradition provides another way of de­ lineating this connection between the subject of thought and the political subject. ed.. and the philosophico-political project of finding a ground in reason for the modus operandi of a moral and political subject. both thought and politics find their foundation. Reason. 56 I am indebted to Martin Hagglun d for this form ul 57 Foucault. 52 Ib id . so that reason is the faculty that defines and regulates the thinking being's activity. cit. the thing that is subjected to something else).46 Infrapolitics and Immaterial Reflection 47 Jacques Derrida..' in Paolo Virno and Michael Hardt. . 53 Ibid. and the activity of this being in turn enables reason to unfold dynamically (to provide a somewhat Hegelian gloss on this initially Kantian proposition). cit. 39.. and this unity between the two kinds of subject then found its suitably differentiated way into the thought of Hobbes. Santner does not mention the wo rk of Paolo Virno' although h'IS use of th word "exodus'" IS necessarily indebted to Vi rno's "Virtuosity and Revolution. Leibniz. eds. 18 9 210. A Potential PoiztlCS (Mmneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 19 96 ) . 48 Agamben.. op. Hume. constitutes the thinking being. 50 Santner. ation in a personal communication. and Hegel (among many others). There is a conventional wisdom in the history of philosophy regarding the more or less intrinsic connection between the metaphysical-epistemological project that seeks an absolute ground for thought or reason.. the tradition Polygraph 15/16 (2004) . and art are to be appraised. while this activity is in turn the essential means for reason's deployment in any thinking about the world. 30 . 96 -97. The PohtlCal Theory of Exo dus. that reason provides the vital and indispensable criterion by which all judgments concerning belief.. Gil Anidjar (New York: Routledge. characteristic of the Enlightenment in general. 12 2 and Agamben. . the thing that serves as the bearer of something. morality. Locke. 174. 20 01 ). Kant. and this precisely because reason is the irreducibly prior and en­ abling condition of any use of this capacity. one that also derives its focal point from Kant. � Kenneth Surin _ 5 1 Ibid. op. Spinoza. Acts ofReligion . Radical Thought in .' 38 . the essential congruence be­ tween the rational subject of thought and the complemen­ tary subject of morality and politics was posited by Plato and Aristotle. "Messiah.e.

Arnauld. a subject in another quite different sense. The Kantian subject had also to prescribe duties for itself in the name of the categorical imperative. In other words. Etienne Balibar. . tIon of ItS relatlOn to God. one who operates in the realm of freedom. albeit in differing ways. the subjectum of modern epistemology) and discredited philosophically the subjectus of the previous philosophical and political dispensation. and never the subjectum of modern epistemology (which in any case owes Its dIscovery to Locke and not to Descartes). who then is �he real au�ho� of the fully-fledged concept of the transcendental subject. The real philosophical adversary of Kant is of course Hobbes. or to other sover­ eigns. whose telos is the ultimate abolition of any kind of "self-inflicted tutelage. can exist logically without requiring the presupposition of a unity between soul and body). and so to be free from the power of the des­ pot when making one's judgments entails a critical repositioning of the place from which sovereignty is exercised: no more is this place the body of the King. provided it is not usurped or feigned. Nothing could be further from the truth.3 But if John Locke is deemed by Balibar to be the inventor of the modern concept of the self. as a King establishes laws in his Kingdom:'2 From this passage.' and for Descartes this "something else" is precisely the divine sovereignty.e. and (ii) the subject also YIelds to the earthly authority of the prince who is God's representative on earth.' uses this distinction to urge that we not identify Descartes' thinking thing (res cogitans) with the transcendental subject of thought that very quickly became a decisive feature of modern epistemology. . Hobbes stated the crux of the principle of sovereignty when he asserted that if the sovereign is the ori­ gin oflaw. rather. it is clear that the notion of sovereignty was at once political and �heological for Descartes. The only basis for the functioning of the State is the decree of the sovereign. to avow and proclaim everywhere. Kant therefore simultaneously created the transcendental subject (i. a subjectum.' and with Heidegger as his more than willing subsequent accomplice Kenneth Surin 49 in this dubious undertaking. says Balibar. The condition for realizing any such ideal on the part of the enlightened subject is the ability to submit to nothing but the rule of reason in making judgments. who in many ways is really a late scholastic philosopher. in this particular case the question of the relation oflesser beings to the supreme being. As Hobbes puts it. and this practical subject. . This IS not the place for a detailed discussion of Balibar's argument. is not Descartes. and who therefore took the dependence of lesser beings on the supreme eminence as philosophy's primary concern. and force is effectively the determinant of the relation that the sovereign has to his subjects. and a subject's disowning of the sovereign's authority is thus necessarily a nullification of the very ground of the subject's own authority. since for Kant this "tutelage" is stoppable only if the subject is able to owe its allegiance to a republican polity constituted by the rule of reason and nothing but the rule of rea­ son. it is important to remember that Descartes. was profoundly engaged with a range of issues that had been central for medieval philosophy. and hence a subject's refusal of the authority of the sovereign is the subject's refusal of its own authority. Kant asserts that "the people too have inalienable rights against the head of state . who therefore represents all the people (so that his acts are willy-nilly their acts as well).. IS nght to mSlst that it is not Descartes? The true culprit here. The Cartesian subject is thus a subjectus. For to assume that the head of state can neither make mistakes nor be ignorant of anything would be to imply that he receives divine . the outcome of this grievous misattribution has been momentous for our understanding (or lack thereof) of the course taken by the his­ tory of philosophy.e. the subjectus of Descartes and medieval political theology) in order to become a "self-legislating" rational being. as it had been for the earlier scholastic philosophers. Kant chose to foist onto Descartes something that was really his own "discovery. as a follower in the f?otste�s of Augustine who found philosophy's raison d'etre in the soul's contempla­ . says Balibar. cannot be represented in terms of the subjectum (presumably because the subjectum. can only be the authority of the sovereign. As Descartes put it in his letter to Mersenne (April 15. and in so doing carve out a realm of freedom in nature that would enable this subject to free itself from a "self-inflicted tutelage" that arises when we can't make judgments without the supervision of an other. giving Life and Motion to the Commonwealth:'5 The subject's authority. roughly their contemporary.7 Against Hobbes' absolutizing of the Sovereign. qua intellectual simple nature. which in addition to being a little sketchy is also not entirely new-Leibniz. one who submits. the human individual is not a mere intel­ lectual simple nature. therefore. and from his other writings.48 Post-Political Citizenship has included among its repertoire of concepts a figure of thought taken from medi­ eval philosophy that hinges on the relation between the subjectum and the subjectus. under the rubric of the divine sov­ ereignty. and this in at least t:"o ways t�at were Significant for both Descartes and medieval political theology: (1) th � subject submits to the Sovereign who is the Lord God. who needed the concept of the transcendental subject to ac­ count for the "synthetic unity" that provides the necessary conditions for objective .. Whatever criticism Balibar levels at Kant for the (supposed) historical mistake he made with regard to Descartes. but Kant. a question which both Descartes and the medieval philosophers broached. and all associations within the commonwealth are based on the principle of the State and the sovereign who gives the State its raison d'etre. and Malebranche had long ago viewed Descartes. if Balibar . and thus the State. and this unity. For Kant also created the concept of a certain kind of practical subject. in his fascinating but problematic essay "Citizen Subject.4 Kant however was about more than just the "discovery" of the transcendental subject. for Descartes the human individual is really a s�bje�tus. that it is God who has established the laws of nature. The sovereign is necessarily the animating principle underlying all authority. the human individual is a subject transitively related to an other. The sovereign does not derive his authority from the State. since the State only exists by virtue of the insuperable authority that emanates from the sovereign. 1630): "Do not hesitate I tell you. a "something else. but is. expenence.' had to destroy the "subject" of the King (i. and this of course includes the tutelage of the King. and thus of itself. which marks the essence of the human being. the sovereign is "the Publique Soule.l As the unity of a soul and a body. For Balibar.6 The unavoidable concomitant of this posi­ tion on the character of sovereignty is that the State can have only one sovereign. the philosopher from East Prussia nonetheless emerges as a very considerable figure in Balibar's account. because the human being is for Descartes the unity of a soul and a body. In this other different sense. then no law can bind the sovereign.

The reason that constitutes the subject is perforce a Transcendental Reason. lacking any substantial being (Kant of course having already argued in the Critique of Pure Reason that the subject of thought is not a substance). is the story of what had to come after Nietzsche.50 Post-Political Citizenship inspiration and is more than a human being:'B The concomitant of Kant's philosophical evisceration of the "subject" of the King was thus the political emergence of the republican citizen. sub� ect IS �ot a reason that can be specified within the terms of the activity of the s �b)ect: thiS reason is the basis of this subject's very possibility qua subject. Marx. and with this crisis the fundamental convergence between the �etaphy�i��l-epistemological subject and the philosophico-political subject is dellled plaus�blhty. and that new and better times will somehow come to await a radically transformed Citizen Subject. and Freud (and their successors) shows both the tran­ scendental subject and the ethico-political subject of action to be mere conceptual functions. Whatever Foucault may have said about the supersession of the post-classical episteme. is therefore entirely and properly metaphysical. was a crucial separation of the earthly from the heavenly city. Kant himself was the first to realize this. is perforce the writing of the Abso­ lute. It is interesting that Balibar. msofar as It operates on both the understanding and the will. This hackneyed narrative about the collective impact of the great masters of suspicion is fine as it goes. truth. and by virtue of that. that is another ques­ tion:' Perhaps it is nothing more than Foucault's own utopia. appears not to take on board Marx's critique of bourgeois democracy in "Citizen Subject. which has to reside in Reason itself. as the philosophy textbooks tell us. To do this we have to look again at Kant. and the functions and modes of expression typically associated with the Citizen Subject be reconstituted in some more productive way. and beauty. as Hegel noted. so that power/ desire b ecomes the enabling basis of any epistemological or moral and political subject. what is far more interesting. With Nietzsche however the hitherto radical figure of the transcendental subject is propelled into a crisis. and any crisis of Transcendental Reason unavoidably becomes a philosophical crisis of the subject. though it was left to his philosophical successors in the movement known as early Romanticism (Friihromantik).12 The subject's ground. The constellation formed by Nietzsche. Be that as it may. however. and that political and philosophical developments in the twentieth century cast the Citizen Subject adrift in a rickety life-boat headed in the direction of the reefs mapped by Foucault. would be able to meet the political and philosophical demands generated by the presently emerging conjuncture? Here one senses a cer­ tain ambivalence at the end of Balibar's essay. because the reason that grounds the . is placed Kenneth Surin 51 by Nietzsche entirely within the ambit of the Wille zur Macht. it is hard to deny that the transcendental subject of modern epistemology suffered calamitously at the hands of Nietzsche (and Hei­ degger after Nietzsche). The outcome. But can the course of this stricken life-boat be altered. vatIon: :As to whether thiS figure [the Citizen Subjectl like a face of sand at the edge of the sea. and Balibar concludes his essay with the following obser­ . it is obvi­ ous here that the subsequent mutation of classical liberalism into a globalizing neo­ liberalism and the disappearance of socialism to form the basis of a new conjunc­ ture-a conjuncture which some have called the "post-political" politics of the time . so that reason has necessarily to seek its ground within itself. the guiding transcendental notions for the constitution of this epistemological and moral and political subject. We �ll know from the basic textbooks in the history ofphilosophy that reason. reason Itself. goodness. that is. a necessary support for tha� utopia's facticity.lO I would like now to address the Foucauldian question left by Bahbar for future consideration. is about to be effaced with the next great sea change.' but in­ stead regards Foucault as the thinker who more than any other registered the crisis of this Subject. who from 1789 onwards would supplant the subjectlsubjectus of the previous epoch. by virtue of its self-grounding. I want to take Balibar's proposal as the starting-point for the conclusion of this paper. and this exemplification of the general will is possible only if there is a perfectly just civil constitution. This new subject is the embodiment of right and of the operation of practical reason (right being for Kant the outcome that can be guaranteed only by the proper use of practical reason). But what could the shape and character of this new life for the Citi­ zen Subject be? Balibar has an emphatic proposal: the Citizen Subject will live only by becoming a revolutionary actor. reason is necessarily exterior to the subject. then for Balibar Michel Foucault is the great theorist of the transition from the world of kingly �nd divine sovereignty to the world of rights and duties determined by the Sta�e a�� Its apparatuses. who is perhaps almost as resolute a Marxist as anyone could be in these supposedly post-Marxist days. The Ka�tian inflection here is not accidental. Marx. in which case the only laws worthy of the name are those framed to reflect "the united will of the whole nation:'9 Sovereignty is thus glossed by Kant through a recasting of the Rousseauan social contract. thereby irretrievably undermining or dislocating both kinds of subject. In the process. Reason in this kind of em­ ployment is thus the activity of a single and universal quintessence whose object is . and the death of Man-Citizen that accompanied this supersession (I take Foucault's Man-Citizen to be coextensive with Balibar's Citizen Subject). so that this Subject. and Freud. of what it is that was going to be done with the ruins of the epistemological and moral and political subject who ostensibly had reigned from Plato to Hegel before receiving its quietus in the latter part of the nineteenth century. to make the acknowledgment of this crisis of Transcendental Reason into a starting-point for philosophical reflection. Laws are rationally promulgated only when they exemplify the general will. are henceforth to be regarded merely as the functions and ciphers of this supervening will to power. or its successor (but who would that putative successor be?). if Kant is the inaugurator of the Citizen Subject.ll Reason. and furthermore the subject is considered a citizen to the extent he/she embodies the general will. As a result of the intervention represented by Nietzsche. a wish that Foucault was perhaps not going to be right when it came to a final reckoning of the fate of the Citizen Subject. However. and pose the question of the current destination or fate of the Citizen Subject. The same conventional wisdom also assures us that Marx and Freud likewise "undid" the two kinds of subject and thus undermined even further any basis for their essential congruence. Des­ cartes' philosophical world of subjects who submit to the laws of God and King was dislodged by Kant's world of "self-legislating" rational subjects who engage in this legislation precisely by adverting to the notions of right and duty.

a promising starting-point is Rousseau's proposition that a certain miraculation or occultation occurs when sovereignty is exercised. In talking about this conceptualization. if any.? We don't have to hear too much along these lines in order to recognize that the practices and orders of thought associated with the "societies of control" delineated by Deleuze. as large-scale official state apparatuses are dismantled or deemphasized. Concep­ tions of sovereignty and citizenship have of course been changing with these trends.15 It is axiomatic here that the project of liberation must therefore shape itself as a countervailing strength (in the manner akin to Spinoza's . And then there is the monumentally intractable matter of sovereignty. that individuals surrender to the sovereign a certain fundamental plenitude of being possessed by them in the state of nature. race. and these are accompanied by new mechanisms of cultural identifica- Kenneth Surin 53 tion that are tied to regions or sub-regions rather than nation-states (such as the various "separatisms" associated with the Basques. clan. or "jobless recovery" as it is now being called. The forces and the desire named "nationalism" can probably be transformed over the longer haul into the vehicle of the "civic nationalism" that Nairn and others have advocated. can continue to exist in the conjuncture of a "post-political" politics. Chechens. what powers (if any) reside in this brute remnant. there seems to be a more active role in the international system for regional as well as local states. Capital's constituent power is the power of a basic disempowerment. Kashmiris. who by virtue of this reconstitution become the agents and bearers of its "substance" as they come to be constrained by capital and its allied organizations. which invests everything with (a productive) desire before a capitalist regime of accumulation can come to possess its enabling conditions. or are we left today with nothing for the metaphysical constitution of the possibility of poli­ tics but the sheer acknowledgement of the power of the body. What concepts are going to be needed for this rethinking of a different politics. critique also finds itself fading into nothingness). and Freud (the subject's apparent superfluity in this "post-political" dispensation undermines the very need for its critique. For we can conceptualize outside the order of the State whilst still acknowledging the current indispensability of the nation-state. a barely breathing remnant of the Man-Citizen of Foucault's modern episteme or Balibar's Citizen Subject of the time after 1789?). The culmination of this trajectory in the "post-political" politics of the last few decades seems at one and the same time to reduce the weight of the critique represented by Nietzsche. Kurds. and so on. To state the obvious: the collapse of the Soviet Union brought about a United States hegemony and replaced the antagonism between capitalism and bureaucratic socialism with a whole series of struggles between competing brands of capitalism. Eritreans). with the effacement of the object of critique. at once social and politi­ cal. Western) politi­ cal sovereignty. and if so. and govern­ ing becomes more and more a matter of organizing flows between multiple agen­ cies and networks of power and information (governance). but it would include something like a transindividualization of desire of the kind that Warren Montag has associated with Spinoza. Also important here is the attempt by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak to outline a form of constitutionalism that is not indebted to the metaphysics of classical (and for Spivak. and of providing the "axioms" to integrate and coordinate all these systems and movements (i. the power of bare life (as proposed by the thinkers of the "inoperative" community and the community to come). and has this subject to possess an intrinsic connection to the political sovereignty that grounded the classical Citizen Subject? The invention of something different to put in place of the system of representa­ tions that has governed thinking about ethnicity. Marx. sovereignty. meta­ governance). Moreover. a different salvation even. participants (and non-participants). The suggestion here is not so much that these notions have necessarily to be dispensed with.13 What we are likely to see here is the coexistence of the transnational with the interlocal. Ulster Protestants. and patrimony-these representations being the linchpins of an episteme or mentalite that has prevailed since 1789 or 1492 (these markers are emblematic of course)-will have of course to be a vast.'4 In such a world notions of citizenship and nationality have become more flexible and compartmentalized. It is therefore a historically defined manifestation of constituent power that defines capitalism and its agents. perhaps extending over several generations. but its demise in the shorter term seems rather improbable. and so we have lotteries for American green cards. with the nation-state having an altered but still significant function as the mechanism that coordinates the flows between the transnational and the interlocal. a different political future? The list of these concepts is going to be pretty long. Here it is important to note that acknowledging the seeming indispensability of the nation -state in the current political dispensation is simply not symmetrical with the demand that we ("we" being philosophers of the political) conceptualize outside the order of the State.52 Post-Political Citizenship after 1968-represents an added inconvenience for the already punishing trajectory taken by this Citizen Subject or Man-Citizen. capital has perforce to reconstitute social subjects and market . just as we can acknowledge the current political indispensability of the nation -state without heeding the imperative that we conceptualize outside the order of the State or sovereignty.e. and here the outcome is uncertain. while at the same time making more urgent the question of the ontological status of the subject of this "post-political" politics (is it still some kind of vestigially effective subject. Important here is the shift from government to governance and meta-governance. an undermining of living labor. This manifestation of constituent power serves as the model of realization for capital-it is the nexus. etc. and those of the domain of the biopolitical identified by Foucault and others each derives their saliency from this "post-political" conjuncture. as indicated by the current and ongoing recession. Corsicans. but that they be rethought and placed in the service of a dif­ ferent vision of the future. even as they exercise varying degrees of command on capital's behalf.. nation. or the appeal to some kind of undeconstructable justice coming from the outside of any totality (as proposed by Derrida and his epigoni). Caribbean countries putting citizenship up for sale. namely. Catalonians. What kind of political subject. collective undertaking. in return for which they emerge as public citizens. Sri Lankan Tamils. and it is this debilitation of living labor that enables capitalism to come into being and to reconstitute itself. Marx had his own version of this occultation or "miracle:' As he pointed out. Here I agree with Tom Nairn that it is difficult to conceive of the swift and outright elimination of the "nation" of modern nationalism.

an indefinite and therefore unmasterable time that makes possible the unfolding of events. everything that can be seen or which needs to be seen. The thinking of this exteriority or excess. and when the forms of sovereignty are bec�mmg va�lable. And yet it is a place that already exists. much more Importa�t. since it is s. . and this is the powerful insight announced by Deleuze and Guattari. and Schmitt. So it is not sufficient to con­ ceptualize the exteriority or surplus that lies beyond the state. Capitalism. But before this enabling surplus or exteriority there is . But the post-pohtlcal IS preClsely the . cal. How are we begin to think the thought that subtends this occultation in which the Citizen Subject emerges? Of course the state and sovereignty are enabling conditions for this emergence. since it does not consist of countable elements or ordered rela­ tions. Zlzeks The Ticklish Subject: The best formula that expresses the paradox of post-politics is perhaps Tony Blair's characterization of New Labour as the "Radical Centre": in the old days of "ideological" political division. Interestingly enough. The dlffere� tlatmg la� or of concept-image creation therefore necessarily underlies the theoretlCal operatlon of delineating the space from which the figures of the political emerges. so that there is a royal road which leads from Rousseau to Foucault. . and so more important. the Aeon or Kairos. taking the form of the enemy/friend dyad of Schmitt's which is the enabling condition of the political. moments of possibility which are eternal while simultaneously enfolding space and time. Relevant here is the following passage from SlavoJ. The only alternative. only arises because the power that would prevent it from emerging. as indeed it has to. the qualification "radical" was re­ . Sometimes an lII�ag� of thought is formed by a process of augmentation. The metaphysical or theological traditions have a term for this becoming-possible of becoming. it has to be acknowledged from the outset that there is no unitary conceptual operation which subtends a being-friend or being-enemy or being-cor­ rupt or whatever.i�ply impoSSIble to Ident�fy the very point at which potentiality ceases to be potentlahty and �anages to re�llZe itself in act. is really antecedent to this or that manifestation of state power or sovereignty. the conceptualization of this pure exteriority or surplus has itself to be conceptualized in a higher order reflection. Spinoza. The place of this thinking cannot therefore be systematized nor can it take the forms of testable hypotheses or em­ pirical predictions. . or being-corrupt. quite specific conceptual or theoretical operations. namely. Bu: the la��r of concept-creation. rather from a mixed conceptual regime that embodIes dIfference. and to then say that the event is constituted as the outcome of these unceasing oscillations. These are images of thought. the domain of the actually political. the Citizen Subject. �nd the state itself is best conceptualized as an assemblage of projects. IS to view the connection between potentiality and act as an infinite series of oscillations between potentiality and act.J11g of this event or that event.6 Constituent power resides in this exteriority. is itself always irreducl�ly P ?htl­ . however demands in turn its own conceptualization.. but if there is anything to be learnt from the papers given yesterday. since friends and enemies and the political already exist. It was the rned'laeva1 theoioglan ' . as Warren Montag and Jon Beasley-Murray pointed out in the question-and-answer session yesterday. philosophy in other words. Before the State. and as such they a:e the product of . than the task of defining and describing post-political citizenship is the one whIch asks of the body politic how if at all it is going to take politics beyond the lin��� e?ts of this post-political. A becoming friend or a becom­ ing enemy must have its own conditions of possibility. the concept 0f a h aecceltas or h aeccel'ty. we can state this meta-theoretical thesis in terms of the history of philosophy. devI­ ation. the power of what amounts to an "ur-liberation" antecedent to any "actual" libera­ tion. enable us to conceptualize the lineaments of the State's form and character­ istic dispositions. before power and politics. and Schmitt. This in turn poses the critical question of the organization of constituent power which enables the possibility of this liberation to be stated. ? Using very broad brush strokes. An unmasterable time. however. therefore. and depending on the character of this conceptual labor it can contam Wlthm itself its own "revolutionary becoming" (if one may use a phrase from Deleuze and Guattari). about post-political citizenship (this paper's original subject)? Very briefly. Nietzsche. especially when it misleads us into thinking t�a� it contains . D uns Scotus who first defined this concept. and sometimes an image-concept needs to have some­ thing subtracted from it. These forms of social cooperation are precisely those responsible for the emergence of the public citizen. act. and inflection. or being-enemy. the State-thinkers par excel­ lence. and in so doing provid­ ing the becoming friend or becoming enemy with their point of accession into the spatiotemporal domain. Nietzsche. and so on-emerges not from a perm� nent or stable co� dition. or more precisely. then this conference has indicated that the exemplary thinkers of the State's exteriority are Machiavelli.54 Post-Political Citizenship potentia) that severs any propensities for liberation from the grip of this original disempowerment that incapacitates living labor in order to make capitalist accumu­ lation possible. but also Kenneth Surin samething 55 that without itself being spatial enfolds a place. in conclusion. To see how such an unavoidably mixed conceptual regime would work. Scotus rightly perceived that the movement from potentIal'Ity to � ct can�ot b � a single event or indeed several linked events. or the multitudo in Spinoza. but what makes their becoming possible at the conceptual level is not countable. The Centre was. or being-tyrant. as when the image-concept IS hke a broken porcelain vase which is missing a few pieces that have to be recovered in order to re­ store it to its original shape. b�t . it is that it is not enough to conceptualize the exteriority that lies beyond the State. there is this enabling surplus or pure exteriority. . to complete or exhaust itself in act. . by these modulations of the post-political. in a time when citizenship ca? incre�singly be bought and sold. no mterestmg problems-I was tempted to say no interesting philosophical ��oblems-a�e posed . associated so far with Machiavelli. Spinoza. The event-whether it is being-friend. What then can we say. the place of the becom. from potent!'al'Ity to to designate the possibility of an event's becoming as it moves . which. has already been neutralized by the prior violent installation of the forms of social cooperation that will in turn allow capital to emerge as a full-blown economic assemblage. form of the political today. But this concep­ tualization will necessarily be of something that is non-denumerable and indeed non-spatiotemporal. If Kant and Hegel. vanatlOn. served for either the extreme Left or for the extreme RIght. Friends and enemies can be counted.

ed. 71. 122. 14 Ibid. See also Nicholas Tolley. Richard Tuck (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. �� � 15 The great recent theorist of this exercise of constituent power is of urse Antonio egri . since under the aegis of bourgeois democracy thIS subject was always gOlllg to retalll some traces of the old subjectus. op. the art of the impossible-it changes the very parameters of what is considered "possible" in the existing constellation. see especially 69. Identite et difference (Paris: Seuil. The subject of thought then has to be the subject of morahty and politics and vice versa-a connection previously established y Kant when he moved . 1991). 230. Daniel Garber and Michael Ayers. ed. � ·13 Bob Jessop. for example. 33-86.' usually formulated in the guise of a paraphrase of Deng Xiaoping's motto from the 1960s: "It doesn't matter if a cat is red or white. And what are these "good ideas"? The answer is. 145. This is a prolepsis to the task of breaking the hold of the now pervasive Law and its support­ ing institutions and frameworks .-Ed. 84. or maybe it is a chasm. • • 1 2 3 57 Kenneth Surin • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Etienne Balibar. 155-56. 1991).' Vocabulaire europeen des philosophies (Paris: Seuil. Hegel: A BIOgraphy (Cambndge. advocates of New Labour like to emphasize that we should take good ideas without any prejudice and apply them. cit. the term "Radical Centre" is the same nonsense as "radical moderation:' What makes New Labour (or Bill Clinton's politics in the USA) "radical" is its radical aban­ donment on the "old ideological divides. 393-423. op. In another work. Insurgencies: Constituent Power and the Modern State.'7 In other words: the first task (and there will be countless others of course) of the citi­ zen who is launched on a trajectory beyond the post-political is to find the resources of power and hope that would enable us to insist that there is a non-negotiable line. vol. 1992). 88. whatever their (ideologi­ cal) origins. Peter Connor. and that such notions as "the radical center" are vapid fictions. 17 Slavoj Zizek. Leviathan. government and gover­ nance:' Review of International Political Economy 4 (1997). 1999). "Capitalism and its future: remarks on regulation. trans. 1999). Hams and Walter Cerf (Albany: State University of New York Press. Nisbet (Cambn'dge: C ambridge University Press. October 24-26. see his between Fichte's and Schelling's System of Philosophy. Eduardo Cadava. Rene Descartes. First published 1651. 160ff.. "The Reception of Descartes' Philoso- phy:' The Cambridge Companion to Descartes. See Bahbar. Balibar says a great deal more about the Cartesian and me ieval-theo­ logical subjectus than can be indicated here. Roger Ariew (Indianapolis: Hackett. 28. between the political left and right. ideas that work. rightly pointing ut that a notIon that had evolved over seventeen centuries from Roman times to the penod of the urop an bso­ lute monarchies is not easily encompassed in a single definition. Balibar. Cambridge University Press. The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology (London: Verso. but it is its necessary complement. trans. 561-81. 1977). is necessanly one whlch falls Wlt�lll . 6 Ibid. 2000). ed. ed. that is. Balibar refers to this letter on page 36 of "Citizen Subject:' The importance of the Augustinian tradition for Descartes is stressed in Stephen Menn. 1998). 2001). . 8 9 ImmanueI Kant. He also nghtly llldlCates that the supposed novum of the Citizen Subject has to be regarded with some SkeptIC1S . .' in The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy. ed. Hans Reiss. but something that changes the very framework that determines how things work. 1991). � � � � 12 The essential correlation between Reason and the Absolute e tails that every oper ti n . MaurlZla Boscagh (Mlllne . Vrin. Philosophical Essays and Correspondence... of course. 1992).. moderate: measured by the old standards. practical as much as theoretical. Immanuel Kant. � 16 A version of this paper was presented at the conference "Thinking Politically" held at Duke University. trans. It is here that we encounter the gap that separates a political act proper from the "administration of social matters" which remains within the framework of the existing sociopolitical relations: the political act (interven­ tion) proper is not simply something that works well within the framework of the existing relations. 7 Ibid. see Terry Pinkard. Originally pubhshed as II potere costltuente. 1987). H. Also in Oeuvres de Descartes (Paris: J. the notion of the transcendental subject arose from Kant's modi­ fication of the Cartesian cogito. what matters is that it actually catches mice:" in the same vein. of consciousness. "Citizen Subject. 5 Thomas Hobbes. � � � � � 11 '0 e Difference For Hegel's (early) view on the operation of "speculative" reason. 198-99. 1998). . rather. the exact opposite. � 10 Balibar. Philosophical labor is no substitute for this practical-political labor of the citizen. 33-57. 4 According to Balibar. 1. that "doesn't work. " Je/ moi/soi.' since it infringes too much on the conditions of capitalist profitability). apolis: University of Minnesota Press. 574-75.50 Post-Political Citizenship by definition. Horton S. To say that good ideas are "ideas that work" means that one accepts in advance the (global capitalist) constellation that determines what works (if. ed. from the First to the Second Critique.. 55. 2000). one spends too much money on education or healthcare. that is. B. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. the remit of the Absolute. from the subject s understandlllg to the subject's willing and acting. and Jean-Luc Nancy (London: Routledge. saggio sulle alternative del moderno (Carnago Varese: Sugar Co. cit. "On the Common Saying: 'This May Be True in Theory but It Does Not Apply in Practice:" in Political Writings. 2003. Balibar goes on to argue that it is Locke and not Descartes who invents the modern con­ cept of the self as that which the "you" or the ''1'' possesses. "On the Relationship of Theory to Practice in Political Right (Against Hobbes ):' in Political Writings. "The Intellectual Setting.. .' in Who Comes After the Subject?. For excellent commentary o this aspect of Hegel's relation to Kant. John Cottingham (Cambridge: Cam­ bridge University Press. One can also put it in terms of the well-known definition of politics as the "art of the possible": authentic politics is. with the Lockean self beginning a second trad"l�lOn that circumvents Kant before ending up with William James and Bergson.

stable. the very passage from it to constituted reality. movement is also abstracted/liberated from its attribution to a given subject or object-it is an impersonal movement which is only second­ arily. and. This is why. Here we get all the standard topics of the molecular multiple sites of productivity constrained by the molar totalizing organizations. and perceptions that are not yet the gestures-affects-percep­ tions of a pre-existing. but. the first crack in Deleuze's edifice appears: in a move which is far from self-evident. the collapse of the multitude and its oscillations into one reality-production is fundamentally a limitation of the open space of virtualities. Deleuze thus seems to identify these two logics. ultimately. attributed to some positive entities. however. and self-identical subject. Deleuze celebrates the art of cinema: it "liberates" gaze. a perspective which does not belong to any subject.The Becoming-Oedipal of Gilles Deleuze Slavoj Zizek • In his "transcendental empiricism. The proper site of production is not the virtual space as such.' Deleuze gives to Kant's transcendental dimension a unique twist: the proper tran­ scendental space is the virtual space of the multiple singular potentialities. movements. although they are fundamentally incompatible (one is tempted to attribute the "bad" influence which pushed him towards the second logic to Felix Guattari). through the art of montage. and so on and so forth. The virtual field is (re)interpreted as that of generative. affects. Polygraph 15116 (2004) . Deleuze links this conceptual space to the traditional opposition between pro­ duction and representation. Here. productive forces. for example. we see the flow of images from the perspective of the "mechanical" camera. afterwards. of "pure" impersonal singular gestures. images. rather. opposed to the space of representations. time it­ self from their attribution to a given subject-when we watch a movie. the determination/ negation of the virtual multitude (this is how Deleuze reads Spinoza's omni determinatio est negatio against Hegel) . Under the heading of the opposition between becoming and being.

of course. On the other hand. they enter. homologous to Schelling escaping the deadlock of his Weltalter project vi� his shift to the duality of "positive" and "negative" philosophy. Deleuze "in himself" is a highly elitist author. designed to overcome the o ­ . [Tlhey are not transcendent but immanent entities. stating it seems so close to what the French call a lapalissade. This series is to be distinguished from the books Deleuze and Guattari co-wrote. "to the extent that they differ in nature from these causes. with the no less unambiguous statement that "the virtual is produced out of the actual"? � � � Multiplicities should not be conceived as possessing the capacity to actively interact with one another through these series. is why Lacan appreciated so much The Logic of Sense: is the Deleuzian quasi-cause . 4 A� . affirms the logic of the "disappearance of process under product:' � . Together they enter into a relation with a quasi-cause which is itself incorporeal and assures them a very special independence:' . ' " Deleuze views multiplicities as incorporeal effects of corporeal causes. not the result of escaping the full confrontation of a deadlock via a simplified "flat" solution. the cause of that which makes an Event (an emergence of the New) irreducible to its historical circumstances. .60 The Becoming-Oedipal of Gilles De/euze ! The ine of Deleuze proper is that of the great early monographs (the key ones . ? OppOSItions. One can also say that the quasi-cause is the second-level. It is crucial to note that not a single one of Deleuze's own texts is in any way directly political. over and above the network of corporeal causes. on the one hand. then.on of affects: in a work of art. Deleuze thinks about them as endowed with only a mere capacity to be affected. although nonetheless acquiring its pseudo-autonomy. since they are. . How. the logic of the radlCal gap between generative process and its immaterial sense-ef­ fect: "multiplicities. . are im­ passible or causally sterile entities. the pure effect of corporeal causes. does this impersonal intensity of an affect-event relate to bodies or persons? Here we �ncoun�er the same ambiguity: either this immaterial affect is generated by interact­ mg bodIes as a sterile surface of pure Becoming. an affect (boredom. One can. in his words. and i �sofar as something New (a new Event. 6 The concept of quasi-cause is that which prevents a regression into simple reduc­ tionism: it designates the pure agency of transcendental causality. On the one hand. This is how one should understand what Deleuze says about being affected: insofar as the incorporeal Event is a pure affect (an impassive-neutral-sterile result). a pure. also. virtual af­ fects are sharply divided into a pure capacity to be affected (displayed by impassible multiplicities) and a pure capacity to affect. that one is surprised how it has not yet been generally perceived: 1. in his analyses of films and literature. es Dele�zes conceptual edIfice not rely on two logics. Although their diver­ gent universality makes them independent of any particular mechanism (the same multiplicity may be actualized by several causal mechanisms) they do depend on the empirical fact that some causal mechanism or another actually exists . into relations of quasi-cau­ sality. Was. So. explain neorealism by a set of historical circumstances (the trauma of World War II. bemg Difference and Repetition and The Logic ofSense) as well as some of the shorter introductory writings (like Proust and Signs and the Introduction to Sacher-Masoch1). or it is part of the virtual intensities ou� of which bodies emerge through actualization (the passage from Becoming to Bem�). then. that is. This. transcendental capacity to affect. the logic of sense. The time of a pure becoming. "impassive entities-impassive results:' The neutrality or sterility of multiplicities may be explained in the following way. an Event of/as the New) can only emerge If the chain of its corporeal causes is not complete."3 ay. whIch coexist in his work? This insight seems so obvious. The only serious philosophical question is thus: what inher­ ent imp asse caused Deleuze to turn towards Guattari? Is Anti-Oedipus. it is the two cinema books which mark the return to the topics of The LogIc of Sense. an easy escape from the deadlock of his previous posi­ . on two conceptual tIon . . at lea�t in part. but becomes a free-floating event. � ? Slavoj Zizek 61 the logic which relies on a long (also Hegelian-Marxist!) tradition of "reification": "This theme of the disgUising of process under product is key to Deleuze's philoso­ phy since his philosophical method is. . as he writes. therefore. also. are we to combine this unambiguous affirma­ tion of the Virtual as the site of production which generates constituted reality. as historical results of actual causes possessing no causal powers of their own. for instance) is no longer attnbutable to actual persons. always already passed and eternally yet to come. Let us take De­ leuze's own example from his Cinema 2: The Time-Image: the emergence of cin­ ematic neorealism. the political impact of Deleuze) is predominantly that of a "Guat­ tarized" Deleuze. etc. . also unambiguously designated as that of vlrtualItles: m and beneath the constituted reality. the logic of becoming as production of Beings: "the emerge �ce of metric or extensive properties should be treated as a single . process m whIch a contmuous virtual spacetime progressively differenti­ ates itself into actual discontinuous spatio-temporal structures. which are always capacities to affect and be affected. forms the temporal dimension of this impassibility or sterility of multiplicities:'2 And is cinema not the �l�imate case of the sterile flow of surface becoming? The cinema image IS mherently sterile and impassive. the meta-cause of the very excess of the effect over its (corporeal) causes. as the effect of bodily-material processes-causes. However. with one another. arguably . Deleuze emphasizes the de-substantial­ lzat�. How. or Habermas escapmg the deadlock of the "dialectic of Enlightenment" via his shift to the duality of instrumental and communicational reason? Our task is to confront again this deadlock. 2. . indiffer­ ent towards politics. there is an excess in the emergence of the New: neorealism is an Event which cannot simply be reduced to its material/historical causes. t e proper level of produc�lOn IS . in his excellent compte-rendu of De­ leuzes ontology. and one can only regret that the Anglo-Saxon reception of De­ leuze (and. On the other hand. of the immaterial becoming as the sense-e�ent. "the extensive and qualitative properties of the final product:'5 one should discover the traces of the intensive process of virtualities-Being and Becoming re­ late as Actual and Virtual. Deleuzes worst book.). jective illusion fostered by this concealment. In his la�e work. one should postulate. Manuel DeLanda. being incorporeal effects of material causes. Deleuze not pushed towards Guattari because ua tari presented �n alibi. and the "quasi-cause" is the cause of this excess. Unlike actual capacities.

It is not that th� same process (say. Deleuze develops this concept through a direct reference to the Lacanian notion of "pure signifier": there has to be a short -circuit between the . simplistic interpretation). Not only is the key notion of "dark precursor" in The Logic of Sense directly developed in Lacanian structuralist terms. or. What. abound. This signifier represents the (signifying) cause within the order of its effects. as n) ow s rather. not only this. In today's theory. io at liz ria ito rr te de of t en ag ic ad m no a . thus subverting the (mis)perceived "natural" order within which the signifier appears as the effect/expression of the signified. then. r. Given two heterogeneous serie by . by ve ol w an m hu of ck pa e th of it lim e m tre ex trajectory-not stand for the r. but in reverse. sib vi in an by ed ed ec pr e ar ey th t bu . separate : ty ic � pl im an eli eg H rl pe ro its in e siv er bv su ng � hi et m � � Jerry Aline Flieger did7 is so ng en ov sc dI e) . In order to fulfill this rhetori­ cal function. Quasi-cause is not the illusory theatre of shadows. and the pre-subjective field of intensities and desiring machines : on the othe � sid:? What if it is this th�t Deleuze desperately tries to avoid. a rather ndICulous simplification. presents struc­ turalism not as the thought of fixed transcendent Structures regulating the flux of � = . concise.s reductIOlllst readmg of (the Freudian) Oedipus (his other uncanny excep­ tIOn. . W er th fa s hi oy str de d an r. at the same time. precisely. and bodIly process embedded in its actual causality. he m fro lf se m hi ously: conquer his mother. In the last decades of Lacan's teaching.62 Slavoj Ziiek The Becoming-Oedipal of Gilles Deleuze not. of its surface flow of pure becommg.botched. An de tsi ou its ds ar w to t" gh i fl of ne "li a the pack of wolves. Let .u� IS. spectral entity whIch serves as the object-cause of desire? One should be very precise here in order not to miss the point: Deleuze is not af­ firming a simple psycho-physical dualism in the sense of someone like John Searle· he is not offering two different "descriptions" of the same event. ds or w r he ot in " nt re ffe di tly en er iff "d e th or e it is the in -itself of differenc to nt re ffe di s te la re ch hi w nt re ffe di lfse e th difference in the second degree. And. New. somethmg occurs WhICh cannot be properly described at the level of corporeal causes and effects.' "I'Oedipe. in order for the effect-of­ sense to take place. senes? What one should do is thus to repeat. ne an m is th In es nc re ffe di e es th of r to ia nt re plays the part of the diffe r: he ot an e on to n tio la re te ia ed m im to in em virtue of its own power. . th own identity. but Lacan even pre�ents the very figure of Oedip �s at Colonus as a post-Oedipal fig­ .9 In The Logic of Sense. nc rie pe ex an m hu of it of realizing. the quasi-cause fills in the gap of corporeal causaitty. m term� of a . In such an approach. un reve de Freud. opening s hi ed w llo fo ) rm te e th of es ns se th bo (in dly in does Oedipus-this stranger who bl y wa s. In fact. the same gesture as the one that Imposes Itself m relation to Hegel. this "vanishing medIator betwe. to the extent at th an th r he ot e ac pl no s ha it . ad m no ss ele m ho a y. all er lit . with a pack of exiles of hi n ia uz ele D e th s. it puts th . m ste sy e th in ith phenomenon it induces w is it s: ck la it ch hi w at th an th r he ot y tit en from which it is "missing. es iti ns te in nt re ffe di derbolts explode between in th pa r ei th es in rm te de ch hi . Nonsense is that w�ich �aintains the autonomy of the level of sense. the exact equivalent of Lacan's objet petit a. it is no ­ ne ta ul sim gs in th t en ist ns co in e re th do to s ha y bo e th boy from his mother.me quote the fo�!owing typical passage (which will tactfully be al­ lowed to r�mam anonymous) : In the Oedipal scenario. ch su s A g d: te ia gl advance. This short-circuit is what Lacan calls the "quilting point. like a child wh? thinks �e is magically making a toy run. if one conceives of the �acanian "obverse of the Oedipus" as a kind of Deleuzian "dark precursor" mediat­ mg between the two series. especially in Cultural Studies. as a figure beyond the OedIpus complex. that of the signifier and that of the signified.. reference to Oedipus is often reduced to the extreme of a ridiculous straw-man: the flat scenario of the drama of the child's entry into normative heterosexuality. this pure. he s fat hi oy str de t us m he d. the young boy desires to conquer hIS mother sexually in order to separate himself from her and begin to ' 63 al xu s se hi r.en �he two. es nc re ffe di of s rie se o tw s.' so term for which is "dark precur le. Deleuze wrote "A quoi reconnait-on Ie structu­ ralisme?" a brief. w e) br m so r eu rs cu re imperceptible dark precursor (p . then it would fall into reality-the relationship between Sense and its designated reality would have been simply that of objects in the world.' no id its s ck la it as e" ac pl its in ng ki ac "l is ch hi w e on e precisely the object x. of Lacans pOSItIon. the "official" Oedipal narrative of normalization on the one side. at the level of meaning. as it were. (r ry to rn te n la uZ ele D to in ck ba us she reinscribed-retranslated Oedip e em pr su e th n. the relationship of Deleuze to the field generally designated as that of "structuralism" is much more ambiguous than it may appear. Becaus e th by d re ve co d an er ov d ele av tr is it at th ible only in reverse. unaware of the mechanic causality whICh effectIvel� does th� wo�k-on the contrary. the material­ corporeal causality remains complete. as though inta signifier of a meta. where the causality ("I answer your question because I understand it") is pseudo-causality. t ha . a sp�ech activity) can be described in a strictly naturalistic way.difference: r so ur ec pr e th . e th is r so ur ec pr rk da e th .' in it an "abstract machine of it lim e th r fo s nd sta ho w f" ol w ne "lo e th ll ca case of what Deleuze and Guattari : ely tiv ec eff d. In order for hi e th te ra pa se to is n tio nc fu g" tin tra as "c e os wh r he fat e th t ompetitor:' So. . apropos of I?ele�ze. immaterial. ee cc su to m rOw as an adult. quaSI-cause IS non-sense as inherent to Sense: if a speech could have been reduced to its sense. effectively. while the basic premise of Deleuze's ontol­ ogy is precis�ly that corporeal causality is not complete: in the emergence of the . (o e on al g in ish n fi e. lu al ph of t ep nc co e th on re among humans? One should focus he ­ un "Th n: io tit pe Re d an e nc fere if D in d ce du tro in r. In thIS stnct sense. WIth regard to the designated reality ("referent"). if not an outright falsification. the utter lim ad de g in liv a . from withm. ure.two series. the Oedipus complex has to be ascribed a multitude of inconsistent functions.' etc. topics and subtitles like "au-dela de I'Oedipe. s­ vi es m co be d an le sib vi in is es ac tr it th pa e th e different by itself. :s a ne�ro�a�. acting out. and insofar as the Event is the Sense-Event .' the direct inscription of the signifier into the order of the signified in the guise of an "empty" signifier without signified. And does this not bring us back to the unfortunate "phallic signifier" as the "pure" signifier without signi­ fied? Is the Lacanian phallus not precisely the point of non -sense sustaining the flow of sense? Thi� bri�gs �� to the topi � �f "Deleuze and psychoanalysis": what Deleuze pres­ ents as ?edIp. and sympathetic account which.

What if. �l) and. are we to read his later obvious "hardening" of the stan ce towards "structuralism?" Why is the very Lacanian reference of the "dark precur sor" reduced to the status of a "d�rk p:. then. The true enigma is hence: why does Deleuze succumb to th is strange urge to "demonize" structuralism. it means thiS). an identity hinted at by Deleuze himself when �e descnbed the opera­ . perh aps.actual reality IS "13 � the real filtered through the virtual. tracted). of course. smce every Virtual has to be extracted from some actual? Perhaps the way out of this predicament-is the virtual extracted from the actual as its impassive-sterile effect. according to Deleuze. a sign of "regression.The Becoming-Oedipal of Gilles Deleuze experiences. t�e auton�my 0f the Event � o f Sen se.' cut off from the body? What if. What this fundam�n­ . . extracte ro ItS Vlfl First. the addition of pure ideali� (of lo�os)? Kant himself was already aware of this paradox: the confused field of ImpressIOns turns into reality when supplemented by the transcendental Idea. this reference to the phallic signifier also enables us to answer one of the standard reproaches to the Lacanian notions of phallus and . minimal actualization (the pseudo-cause confers on the Virtual a . the sense that now. Does the autonomous smile which su rvives on its own when the cat's bo dy disappears in Alice in Wonderland also not stand for an organ "castrated.tIve appropnatIOn) not the exact opposite of the reduction of the mul titude of social intensities onto the mother-father-and-me matrix: the matrix of the exploSive open ­ ing up of the subject onto the social space? Undergoing "symbolic castration" is a way for the subject to be thrown out of the family network. .ecursor" in the later Deleuze's thought. at one and the same time. turn ed into a kind of "vanishing medIator whose traces are to be erased in the finished result? Perhaps it is all too hasty to dismiss Deleuze's endors ement of "structuralism" as a feature belonging to an epoch when he was not yet fully aware of all the con­ sequences of his basic position (thus. f the impasslve-stenle Event IS cut 0 . or is it the productive process which generates the actual?-is the ultimate. What if this hardenin g is. thin gs run smoothly. the quasi-cause "extracts Singularities from the presen t. to perform a push towards actualization (endowing multiplicities with a minimum of actuality) and to counte: actualiza�ion by way of extracting virtual events from the corporeal processes whICh are the�r causes. that it is strictly inhere nt to structuralism )? Again. as the signifier of castration. far from tying us down to our bo dily reality.' a false way ou t of a certain deadlock which resolves it by sacrificing its complexity? This. . Symbolic castration. and from individuals and per­ sons which occupy this present. (Again. tion of the "pseudo-cause" as that of virtualization (extractIOn of the vlrtu simultaneously.lO Furthermore. tal lesson of transcendental idealism means is that virtualization and actualization are two sides of the same coin: actuality constitutes itself when a virtual (symbolic) supplement is added to the pre-ontological real. thIS flow re .ItS task . The problem. absolute ide�tity of the two operations. propelled into a wider social network Oedip us the operator of deterrito rialization. but. is thus a profoundly . - .' of a false "line of flight. " b not exactly that sym IC castratIon w l' movement of 0 " ( h ose slgm double thiS . . the virtual from the real ("symbolic castration ) constItutes reality. after its extraction from the precedmg ctual. red n o longer stands for the predicate of the red thing. but as deploying a consistent theory of the ro le of nonsense as the gen­ erator of the flux of sense. then.cause is his name for the Lacanian "phallic signifier?" Recal l how." How. is why Deleuze experienced his collaboration with Guattari as such a "relief" : the fluidity of his texts co-writ­ ten with Guattari.lI1COrp oreal symbolic order with regard to ItS corporeal embodIments. is "symbolic castratIOn not also the name for a process by means of which the child-subject enters the order of sense proper. Oedipus "focuses" the initial "polymorphous perversity" of dnv�s �nto the mother-father-and-me coordina tes? More precisely. recall Kant: how is a confused multiplic­ ity of subjective sensations transformed into "obj �ctive" reality? It happ�n� �hen t�e . makes from the field of potentialities an actual reality is not the addition of some raw reality (of matter). provides them with their relative autonomy with regard to the intens ive processes as their real causes. nonetheless. �n othe� words. or is there an actual which precedes the virtual. the "hardeni ng" would be conceived of as a necessary radicalization). on the contrary. why must h e deny this link? Is the Fr�u�ian Oedipus complex (especially in terms of its Lacanian interpre­ . Is. of the abstractio n of sense. � s)? h allu P aI . Deleuze here explicitly refers to (and de­ velops in detail) the Lacanian identification of this signi fier as phallus. And. The function of the quasi -cause is therefore inherently contradICtory: is. stands for such an organ without a body? Is this not a further argument for the claim th at Deleuze's quasi. subjective function of transcendental synthesis IS added to thiS multI�I JClty. " 1e.) �IS is the "phallic" dimension at its most elementary: the excess of the virtual which sustains actualization. However. is effectively a fake relief-it signals that the burden of thinking w as successfully avoided. rather. "symbolic castration" sustains our very ability to "transcend" this reality and enter the space of immaterial Becoming. but for the pure flow of be ­ coming-red? So. One should conceive of these two aspects as identical: the properly Hegelian paradox at work here is that the only way for a virtual state to actualize itself is to be su�p�e­ mented by another virtual feature. any matena I'1St analYSls: erialist mat are to get rid of essentialist and typological thought we need some process through which virtual multiplicities are derived from the actual world and some process through which the results of this derivation may be given enough coherence and autonomy. every actual the result of the actualization of the preceding virtual (so that the same goes for the actual out of whic� the actualized vir�ual was ex­ . causal base (if "castration" means anything at all. Slavoj Zitek 65 and sterile effects with their morphogenetic impassive power-is these ing oW d en . to conceive of it as a p ec��ing no longer attributed to a certain substance-as Deleuze wou ld have put it. as we know from Schellmg. gaining the capacity to abstract a quality from its embeddedness in a bo dily Whole.'12 and. disavowing his own roots in it (o n account of which one can effec­ tively claim that Deleuze's attack on "structuralis m" is enacted on behalf of what he got from structuralism. . phallus itself. what minimum of ontological consistency). t�e very extracti�n of . then. �orpod ff . " fier IS ' . what about the f�ct that. . in the sam e movement. is constituted as an autonom us fi e ld of ItS own. is the following one: the minimal actualization is h�re onceived as the actualization of the virtual. Then.' as the elementary operation of the quasi-cause. ' "If we since it answers the basic need of concept. finally.

they "castrate" me: they in­ troduce a gap between what I immediately am and the function that I exercise (i. is to �e aba� ­ doned-language is "inhuman:' (The process thus has three phases: (1) pnmordial territorialization as the "assemblage of bodies" -an organism marks its surround­ ings. 11 n s "�astratlOn. applies itself to an unnatural excess. Or. to put it in a slightly differ­ ent way. our mortality. to approach the same complex from another direction: at its most radical. the very agent of de-territori�liz�tion. of their limited power. I am never fully at the level of my function). then. experi­ enced in a whole series of constraints (the existence of other people who limit our freedom. . the inability �o provide for one's need� . This is what the infamous "symbolic castration" means: not "castration as symbolic. its exchanges with it. reference). experience ourselves as marked byfinitude in thefirst place? This fact is not self-evident: Heidegger was right to emphasize that only humans exist in the mode of "being-towards-death.66 The Becoming-Oedipal of Gilles Deleuze castration: the idea that they involve a kind of ahistorical short -circuit. but. the standard existential-philosophical move of "saving" Freud by way of getting rid of the embarrassing topic of castration and penis envy ("who can take this seriously today?"). tattoos. and the word "back" in the back of it-and so on and so forth).. all of these are reterritorializations against the background of the fundamental cut which is the condition of meaning. also. f . when I am deprived of something. animals are also somehow "aware" of their limitation. When Roman Jakobson wrote on phonemes and the bodily grounding of lanfree­ the and res gestu died een embo betw gap al cruci the on ed focus he . And.-the hare does try to escape the fox. but a signifier. magically transformed into a respectable academic discipline that deals with how suffering human subjects cope with the anxieties of finitude. . it i� synony­ mous with power. a kind of "undead" stubbornness denounced already by Kant as a violent excess absent in animals-which is why.. the helplessness of the small child about which Freud speaks is not Slavoj Zizek hysical helplessness. the Freudian death drive. of course. usually the one of trying to get rid of the notion of castration-this "ridiculous" Freudian claim-by way of claiming that the threat of castration is. we do in­ deed say that. far from signaling the rootedness of the symbolic in our bodily experience (its territorializatio n). not meaning. The next move is. b�t a h�lplessness in h e face of the enigma of the Other s desire. the allegedly neutral-universal-formal symbolic structure and the particular-gendered-bodily references." Of course. we have to accept our limitations) . the. at its best. precisely. Such insignia are external. in order to render psychoanalysis more acceptable to the American medical establishment) is resuscitated here. far from being the opposite of power. (2) de­ territorialization-passage to the immaterial. WhIC� can do this job of deterritorialization: meaning tends to revert to our concrete hfe-world embeddedness (the premodern anthropomorphic mirroring of interior and exte­ rior is the attitude of meaning par excellence . and the ensuing mabIhty to account for It m the avaIlable terms of meaning. as just symbolically enacted" (in the sense in which we say that. the notion of castration answers a very specific question: how does the universal sym­ bolic process detach itself from its corporeal roots? How does it emerge in its relative autonomy? "Castration" designates the violent bodily cut which enables us to enter the domain of the incorporeal. we know the objects that not only symbohze power. As such. it is that which confers power on me. Psychoanalysis is thus redeemed. However. Why is it not sufficient to emphasize how "castration" is just a particular instance of the general limitation of the human condition? Or.hat? Fr�m}he tra­ ditional rituals of investiture. Jak�bson introduces the key dialectical notion of secondary groundmg m bodIly expenence: yes. namely. our language shows overall traces of this embodiment (the word "locomotive" resembles the profile of an old steam locomotive." ca Laca what gap IS S -thI emes phon of ork netw olic symb ing float Jakobson's crucial point is that it is only the signifier. which is that of human finitude. just a local expression of the global limitation of the human condition. The symbolic Law does not tame and regulate nature. What lurks behind this narcissistic attitude is.e. what is symbolic castration. etc. I wear them in order to exert power. And.) So. but put the subject who acquires them into the position of effective�y exercisi�g power-if a king holds in his hands the scepter and wears the crown. The (in)famous advice given to Freud by Jung when their boat approached the coast of the U. and. to the reality it designates. not part of my nature: I don them. Such a move from castration to an anxiety grounded in the very finitude of the human condition is. humans.) So. And yet. the reference to the body as a fundamental frame of reference for our understanding. however. �ere. is the "pure signifier" and. the complaint that they directly link the limitation serving as a condition of human existence as such to a particular threat (that of castration) which relies on a specific patriarchal gender constellation. even a "pure" signifier-so. as such. �elpless fascmatlO� �lth the e�cess of the Other's enjoyment. I am "symbolically castrated"). the phallus. virtual production of sense-marks are freed from their origins (enunciator. in order to become mature... in a texture of affective inscriptions. with the phallus as its signifier? One should begin by conceiving of the phallus as a signifi� r-which means .this concept tries to answer a more fundamental "arche-transcendental" question. he emphasizes that the phallus is not the penis as an organ. pinned down to its subject of enunciation whose thoughts it expresses. etc.'4 This is why the anthropomor­ phic model of mirroring between language and the human body. ge gua .S.. which emerges against the background of the small child's narcissistic attitude of illusory omnipotence (of course. (3) reterritorialization-when language turns into a medium of communication. how do we. say. one has to thmk of the phallus not as the organ which immediately expresses the vital force of my being. Castration is the very gap b� ­ tween what I immediately am and the symbolic mandate which confers on me thIs "authority. assuming a symbolic mandate. in 1912 (that Freud should leave out or at least limit the accent on sexuality. this is not the same as human finitude. " In this precise sense. that is to say. for Kant. hIS words WIll be taken as the words of a king. but the castration which occurs by the very fact of me being caught in the symbolic order. the same goes for the topic of finitude: "castra­ tion" is not simply one of the local cases of the experience of finitude. only humans need education through discipline. how should one cut off the link between the universal symbolic structure and the particular corporeal economy? The old reproach against Lacan is that he conflates two levels. why then call this "pure" signifier "phallus?" As it was clear to Deleuze (and not only to Lacan). the necessity to "choose one's sex"). the word "front" is formed in the front of our oral cavity.

then.. actual being is the result of the virtual process of becoming. as a mask which I put on in the same way a king or judge puts on his insignia-phallus is an "organ without a body" which I put on. in this alternative. like the the VI'rtuality of the pure affect extracted . Is Deleuze's oscilla­ tion between the two models (becoming as the impassive effect. in exact parallel to Deleuze. the pre-history of what went on m God bef�re he fully became God (the divine logos). at the same time. its claim of the IdentIty of Sub­ ject and Object (Spirit and Nature).:o optIOns are complementary. Well! I ve often seen a cat WIthout a gnn. on the one hand. In the same way. the body not yet struc- Slavoj Ziiek 69 tured or determined as functional organs? And. The early Schelling of the System of Transcendental Idealism goes a step furthe: by claiming that. When. said the Cat. etc.' namely. is this genesis. e after the rest of it had gone. does the mysterious reappearance of the notion of "wound" in late Deleuze not function as a kind of "return of the (Lacanian) repressed"? "A wound is incarnated or actualized in a state of things or of life. . Then. there is the more radical young Lukacs (et al. we should conceive objective reality itself as the result of the social productive process-in the same way that. tIm .' the abyss of the pre-ontologi­ cal Real in God. but it is itself a pure virtuality on the plane of immanence that leads us into a life. but its immanence as a virtu­ ality always within a milieu (plane or field):'16 "My wound existed before me" -i. without ever becoming its "organic part. consequently. that of Becom­ ing versus Being. transcendental and real. does he not thereby follow in the steps of Fichte and Schelling? Fichte:s starting point is that one can practice philosophy in two basic ways.tronger contrast than that of the schizo throwing himself without any reservatIOn mto the flux of multiple passions. which gets attached to my body. in the Marxist tradition. but. So. on the other hand. at the level of Being. there is the model according to which reification/fetishization misperceives properties belonging to an object insofar as this object is part of a socio-symbolic link.b! ect .' capable only of pseudo-causality. Is this opposition of the virtual as the site of productive Becoming and the vir­ tual as the site of the sterile Sense-Event not. ide�list and Sp� ­ nozan: one either starts from objective reality and tries to develop from It the genesIs of free subjectivity. is the OwB not from its embeddedness in a body. we should not confuse an object's social properties with its immediate natural properties (in the case of a commodity. My wound existed before me: not a transcendence of the wound as higher actuality. Event as t�e sterile. Perhaps the first step in this problematizing is to confront this duality with the duality of Being and Event. intensities that are subsequently constrained by the Oe�ipal matrix. ' I ever saw m my I·e ue. repetitive game of staged rituals whose function is to postpone forever the sexual passage a l'acte. However. but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thmg This notion of an extracted OwB reemerges forcefully in Cinema 2: The Time-Image. what if. we have the irreducible multitude of interacting particularities. emphasizing their ultimate incompatibility: Event cannot be simply identified with the virtual field of Becoming which generates the order of Being-quite the contrary. and tries to develop the entirety of reality as the result of the Subjects self-posItmg. be­ tween the two models of "reification?" First.. forever sticking out as its incoherent. not effectively close to the quantum physICS �� 0 . where he introduces a thIrd term into this alternative. The philosophical background of this tension in Deleuze provIdes a CruCial key here. in a sense. which appears in different versions (the Nomadic versus the State. Deleuze deploys the two geneses. the schizo versus the paranoiac. at the first level. becoming as the generative process) not homologous to the oscillation..68 The Becoming-Oedipal of Gilles Deleuze my virility. we are not dealing with a choice: t�e t.re. what about the crucial new �dvance achieved by Schelling in his Weltalter fragments. as its immediate "natural" properties (as if products are "in themselves" commodities). . precisely. a la Kant and FIChte).e.15 And.17 These two logics (Event as the power w�ich generates . pure effect of bodily interactions) also mvolve two prlVlleged psychologi­ cal stances: the generative Event of Becoming relies on the productive force of the "schizo. . Absolute idealism. or one starts from the pure spontaneity of the a�solute SU.1 m Alice . its exchange-value with its material properties that satisfy our needs). Can one effectively imagin� a s. at the second level. more "spiritual" than natural reality: a shadowy realm of obscene ghosts which return again and again as "living dead" because they failed to actualize themselves in full realit!. namely. as such an insignia. One should therefore problematize the very basic duality of Deleuze's thought. and of the masochist clinging to the theater of shadows in which his meticulously staged performances repeat again and again the same sterile gesture? .ality. the Event as sterile. e inning with the end of the taili and e�ding with the grin. the molecular versus the molar.). the very "event" of my existence is grounded in symbolic castration.' this explosion of the unified subject in the impersonal multitude of desir­ ing intensities. that persists alone. So. This duality is ultimately overdetermined as "the Good versus the Bad": the aim of Deleuze is to liberate the immanent force of Becoming from its self-enslavement to the order of Being. for Deleuze. or one develops the gradual emergence of Spirit out of the immanent movement of Nature (Schelling's own Naturphilosophie). and it is the Event which acts as the elementary form of totalization/unification? Deleuze's remobilization of the old humanist-idealist topic of regressing from the "reified" result to its process of production is telltale here.18 To risk an anachronistic parallel. but. in The Logic of Sense. the opposition of the "body without organs" (BwO) and "organs without body" (OwB)? Is. the productive flux of pure Becoming not the BwO. Event is emphatically as­ serted as "sterile. in the guise of the gaze itself as such an autonomous organ no longer attached to a body. this realm is not yet ontological." a fetishized outcome of some concealed subjective process ofproduction. excessive supplement. not exclusive. we should not perceive (or reduce) an immaterial virtual affect linked to a bodily cause to one of the body's material properties. can be demonstrated in two wa�s: one either develops Nature out of Spirit (transcendental idealism.:"hich rem�i� ed some thought . even when the in Wonderland Cheshire cat s body Alice in lile sl1 longer present?: "'All right.) notion according to which "objective" reality as such is something "rei­ fled. in The Logic of Sense. immaterial effect relies on the figure of the masochIst who finds satisfaction in the tedious. . and this time it vanished quite slowly. the blind rotary movement of "irrational" passions? As Schelling makes clear. etc. that of the genesis of Spirit (logos) not out of nature as such-as a constituted realm of natural reality-but out of the nature offin God himself as that which is "in God himself not yet God. .

it is crucial to conceive the two apparently opposite " reductions diS­ cernible in today's science (the "materialist" reduction of our experience to neuronal processes in neurosciences. One should thus get rid of the fear that. the body los es its mysterious impenetrable density and turns into something technologically manageable. rather. this excess is not simply abolished. is the excess betrayed by the market reality which takes over "the day after" -as such. the biogenetic revolution. elements are just knots. acquires existence. So. in the explosion of consciousness. materialism has nothing to do with the presence of damp. if we see in raw. "matter will disappear:' What the digital informational revolution. If we accept the claim of quantum physics that the reality we experience as constituted emerg­ es out of a preceding field of virtual intensities which are. precisely. of the Event of freedom. And. then. On the contrary. when we take something away from a given system. dismissed as . Was Schelling not already pursuing something similar when he claimed that. Is. that the World in its Whole is Nothing. we lower its energy. the dimension of universal emancipation which. "immaterial" (quantum oscillations). matter is reduced to an effect of space's curvature). something we can generate and transform through intervening into its genetic formula-in short. in a way. what if we conceive of Deleuze's opposition of the intermixing of material bodies and the immaterial effect of sense along the lines of the Marxist opposition of infrastructure and superstructure? Is not the flow of Becoming superstructure par excellence-the sterile theater of shadows ontologically cut off from the site of material production. reality itself.' that we cannot take away from a given system without raising that system's energy: when the "Higgs field" appears in an empty space. is not this gap even wider in the case of the October Revolution?) However. then. "Death drive" as "beyond the pleasure principle" is this very insistence of an organism on endlessly repeating the state of tension. and brotherhood. inert matter more than an imaginary screen. a true materialism joyously assumes the "disappearance of matter. the Nietzschean program of the emphatic and ecstatic asser­ tion of the body is thus over. for want of a better term. in the general theory of relativity. as two reductions to the same third level. this really a form of idealism? Since the radical materialist stance asserts that there is no World. reconnects with its virtual genesis.e. however. dense mat­ ter-its proper figures are. one should not simplify Marx: his point is not the rather commonsensical insight into how the vulgar reality of commerce is the "truth" of the theater of revolutionary enthusiasm. there is a double movement here?: first.'9 Does the biological insight that living systems are perhaps best characterized as systems that dynamically avoid attractors (i. With biogenetics. the density of matter. The old Popperian idea of the "Third World" is here brought to its extreme: what we get at the end is neither the "objective" materiality nor the "subjective" experience. This "spectral material­ ism" has three different forms: in the informational revolution. and the quantum revo­ lution in physics all share is that they mark the reemergence of what. However. its energy is lowered further. instead of conceiving waves as oscillations between elements. the primordial abyss ofpure potentiality explodes. the hypothesis is that there is some substance. between different waves and their oscillations? Does this not give some kind of scientific credibility to De­ leuze's "idealist" project of generating bodily reality from virtual intensities? There is a way to conceptualize the emergence of Something out of Nothing in a materialist way: when we succeed in conceiving this emergence not as a mysterious excess. in biogenetics. matter is reduced to the medium of purely digitalized information.' the fact that there is only void. to avoid final "relaxation" in obtaining a state of full homeostasis. In contrast to it. the biological body is reduced to the medium of the reproduction of the genetic code. but the reduction of both to the scientific Real of mathematized "immaterial" processes. Far from serving as the ultimate reference. as in Tarkovsky's Solaris. culminates in the loss of reality itself: what began as the assertion of material reality ended up as the realm of pure formulas of quantum physics. a "something. we always secretly endorse some kind of spiritualism. (And. one is tempted to call a post-metaphysical idealism. of human thought.70 The Becoming-Oedipal of Gilles Deleuze notion of the state of virtual quantum oscillation preceding constituted reality? And. constellations in which matter seems to "disap­ pear. in which the dense plastic matter of the planet directly embodies Mind. "what all the fuss really was about:' In the revolutionary explosion as an Event. but as a release-a loss-of energy. Marx opposes the revolutionary enthusiasm to the sobering effect of the "morning after": the actual result of the sub­ lime revolutionary explosion. in the middle of created posi­ tive reality-man is the unique creature which is directly (re)connected with the primordial abyss out of which all things emerged ?20 Perhaps Roger Penrose is right: 1 2 there is a link between quantum oscillations and human thought. What if. that the processes of life are being maintained at or near phase transitions) not point in the same direction. effectively. Here we encounter another crucial aspect of the opposition idealism/materialism: materialism is not the assertion of inert material density in Slavoj Zitek 71 its h umid heaviness-such a "materialism" can always serve as a support for gnostic spiritualist obscurantism. as it were. once we ascertain that reality is the in­ finitely divisible. another utopian dimension shines through. The issue of materialism versus idealism thus gets more complex. in a second move. Does the so-called "Higgs field" in contemporary physics not point precisely in this direction? Generally. inciden­ tally. what about the results of quantum physics? What if matter is just a reified wave oscillation? What if.' like the pure oscillations of the superstrings or quantum-vibrations. then embodied reality is the result of the "actualization" of pure event-like virtualities. is the miserable utilitarian/egotistic universe of market calculations. in quantum phys­ ics. substanceless void within a void. is reduced to the collapse of the virtuality of wave oscillations (or. contact points. against its subordination to any "higher" metaphysical order. and precisely as such the only possible space of the Event? In his ironic comments on the French Revolution. It is as if Chesterton's insight into how the materialist struggle for the full assertion of reality.. the emergence of thought and sense signals the moment when the constituted reality. positive reality itself is constituted through the actualization of the virtual field of "immaterial" potentialities. and the virtualization of reality itself in quantum phys­ ics) as two sides of the same coin. something the "truth" of which is t�is abstra� t g�� e�ic formula. equality. which is towards the Freudian death drive in its radical opposi­ tion to any notion of the tendency of all life towards nirvana? Death drive means precisely that the most radical tendency of a living organism is to maintain a state of tension.

258-82. if their position fails. 4 Ibid. The excess of revolution­ ary enthusiasm over its own "actual social base" or substance is thus literally that of an attribute-effect over its own substantial cause. 3 Ibid. 1995). Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy (New York: Continuum. 10 Gilles Deleuze. 16 Gilles Deleuze. Gilles Deleuze. Pure Immanence: Essays on a Life (New York: Zone Books. 2002) . it does have an autonomy and efficiency of its own. of own its of tice prac and c logi tical poli a lves invo also ogy ontol 1915 when. this very theater of shadows is the crucial site of the struggle. what is crucial is that this tension between the two ontologies in Deleuze clearly translates into two different political logics and practices. 119· 9 Ibid.72 Slavoj Zizek The Becoming-Oedipal of Gilles Deleuze irrelevant. The Two-Fold Thought of Deleuze and Guattari (New York: The Guilford Press.' the domain of pseudo-causes..' published as an ap­ pendix to Charles J. And one is tempted to claim that Deleuze's turn against Hegel is. 299-335 (written in 1967). K. 1 2 Manuel DeLanda. under the guise of respect for traditions. but not wholeheartedly. reprinted in Jean Hyppolite. 1997).. 2001). transposed into the virtual state. living mul­ titude opposing the oppressive. in a homologous way. op. continuing to haunt the emancipatory imaginary as a dream waiting to be realized. if "democratic" politics fails. William Hasker perspicuously drew attention to the strange fact that critics of reductionism are very reluctant to admit that the arguments against radical reduc­ tionism are false: "Why are so many non-eliminativists strongly resistant to the idea that eliminativism has been conclusively refuted?"23 Their resistance betrays a fear of the prospect that. everything is ultimately decided here. English translation. appears "apolitical:' However.' 277-78. 31-32. provided the most succinct Leftist egalitarian rebuttal of those who. although they consider eliminativism false. 12 The Logic of Sense. 102. 115· 14 See Roman Jakobson. but this does not mean that we should neglect it and focus on "real struggle" -in a way. So. they nonetheless strangely hold onto it as a kind of reserve ("fall-back") position. reified System. we can discern in what precise sense Deleuze wants to be a materialist­ one is almost tempted to put it in classic Stalinist terms: in opposition to the me­ chanical materialism which simply reduces the flow of sense to its material causes. non-hierarchical. The problem is that this is the only model of the politicization of Deleuze's thought available: the other ontology. what if this other 73 uze ch Dele whi . For this reference to the notion of wound in Deleuze. 15 From the strict Lacanian perspective. with an inner reservation-as if. "How Do We Recognize Structuralism?. in in in Len like eed proc . For a more detailed account of the link between "dark precursor" and phallus. The ontology of productive Becoming clearly leads to the Leftist topic of the self-organization of the multitude of molecular groups which resist and undermine the molar. but a necessary thesis of a true materialism. 1971).. the whole point of Deleuze is that. That is to say. 1972). totalizing systems of power-the old notion of the spontaneous. • 11 See Deleuze. he tice prac nary lutio revo w ane nd grou to der or e ther . . Eve nary lutio revo of sion xplo e of politics is inherently "sterile. Chesterton who. ings writ tical poli y rectl n ctio dire in this st r hint fi The ? here ed over disc be to tics poli n uzia Dele r othe an is l orea le corp coup the een betw llel para oned enti dy-m alrea the by ided prov be may re/s u­ uctu astr infr ple cou t rxis Ma old the and g min of beco flow ial ater imm ses/ cau of lity dua le ucib irred the both unt acco into take ld wou tics a poli such re: uctu perstr "obj ective" material/socio-economic processes taking place in reality as well as the ain dom the if at Wh er.. of course. 1998). ed. Difef rence and Repetition (New York: Columbia University Press. we uld Sho e? war una was elf hims el-not to his di­ Heg to rned retu . It was none other than G. but nonetheless crucial in transforming reality? • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Translated into English as Masochism: An Interpretation of Coldness and Cruelty by Jean McNeil (New York: G. the exemplary case of Leftist radical­ ism linked to philosophical idealist subjectivism. 1994 ). "Structuralism. e way sam in the if. at Wh ic? Log his . 7 8 See Jerry Aline Flieger. On Language (Cambridge: Belknap. Braziller. 191-95. see Gilles Deleuze. a theatre of shadows.. a turn against his own origins-recall one of Deleuze's ear­ ly texts. since they really and thoroughly reject reductionism: the assertion of the "autonomy" of the level of Sense-Event is for them not a com­ promise with idealism. endorse existing injustice and inequalities: "Aristocracy is not an institution: aristocracy is a sin. Yes. 227-30. 6 Ibid. thereby betraying a secret disbelief in their own non-reductionist materialist account of consciousness-this being a nice example of a disavowed theoretical position. 107-8. cit.. although sense is an impassive sterile effect of material causes. Ian Bu­ chanan (Durham: Duke University Press. objet petit a and the phallic signifier are. Histoire de la philosophie. ed. Stivale. as it were. 13 DeLanda. the flow of sense is a theater of shadows. to arily prim but. (Is their position not homologous to that of enlightened rational theologians who nonetheless secretly want to keep open the more "fundamentalist" theological position they constantly criticize? And. "A quoi reconnait-on Ie structuralisme?. And. do we not encounter a similar split attitude in those Leftists who condemn the suicide-bomber attacks on the Israelis. "Overdetermined Oedipus. Logic and Existence (Albany: SUNY Press. 1999 ). dialectical materialism is able to think this flow in its relative autonomy. not identical-but the elaboration of this distinction would take us too far here. but. 75. 74. that of the sterility of the Sense-Event. prop c logi tical poli the of nts. tome 8: Le XXeme siecle (Paris: Hachette.-Ed. one should return to Badiou and Deleuze. 119-20. apropos of his critique of aristocracy. they will need reductionism as the last resort. as well as for many other precious .. of the fetishist split in theory. one should nonetheless leave the door open for the "terrorist" option?) Here.' in A Deleuzian Century?.' in Fran�ois Chatelet. then not. The Logic of Sense. 166. a ghost-like Event waiting for its proper embodiment. generally a very venial one:'22 Here. 73- 5 Ibid. his deeply sympathetic review of Hyppolite's reading of Hegel's Logic.

his personal defeat in the heat of the moment. and he knows better than anyone that whoever pretends having read. or counts the latter's limit among its number of terms. The Emergent Self [ Ithaca: Cornell University Press. see Gordon Kane. that of a magnetic field. necessarily.4 of course) that the Parisian workers. True. Do these masses or these links act in their own place. 200 3). • Polygraph 15/16 (2004) .74 The Becoming-Oedipal of Gilles Deleuze suggestions. W. the Hunan farmers.) The field thus has a logic and consistency of its own. merely wants to justify by this lie. one can conceive the black hole as a kind of self-sustaining gravitation al field-so even within physics. Yes. the soviet peo­ ple. another analogy from physics leaves the gate partially open: when Roger Penrose claims that. Shadows of the Mind (Oxford: Oxford University Press. after a body collapses into a black hole. seems to point in the same direction: "as a magnet generates its magneticfield. not the other way around. (See Hasker. 19 For a more detailed reference to the "Higgs field:' see Chapter 3 of Slavoj Ziiek. 127. J. the revolutionary crisis is an irruption oflarge mass­ es into history..) 18 See F. Supersymmetry (Cambridge: Helix Books. K. 20 See Schelling. 232 . op. passes judgment on the fate of the oppression. Chesterton. No quantitative cumulation incorporates a new quality. The Ages of the World (Albany: SUNY Press. Marxists-Leninists precisely base their particular energy and unvarying persistence on two facts: "Where there is oppression. although it can Alain Badiou persist only as long as its corporeal ground is here. 199 9]. op. Does this mean that mind cannot survive the body's disintegration? Even here. 200 1). 24. produced as the limit. so the bra in generates its field of consciousness:'(William Hasker. 190 . after the fact. after all: the order of causes assigns no place where a rupture could take hold. 23 Hasker.' you call that cute?). 22 G. Orthodoxy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press. cit. Schelling. For a popular scientific explanation. and the young workers of Sud-Avia­ tion in May ' 685 one day rose in revolt. even though quality is. in its very relationship with the exploited masses or the 'weakest links' of a given system. within the order of causes and ends that promote a new socius. yes! Read on: "It is a question of knowing how a revolutionary potential is realized. The Pup­ pet and the Dwarf (Cambridge: MI T Press. the good news in its precise sequence. one considers the possibility that a field generated by a material object could persist in the object's absence. or are they on the con­ trary the place and the agent of a sudden and unexpected irruption?'" Could Deleuze and Guattari be dialecticians? The revolutionary dialectic as theory of discontinuities and of scissions. cit. there is revolt:' But it is the revolt that. at its own hour. Any Marxist-Leninist -Maoist learns in school (cadre school. 21 See Roger Penrose. as logic of catastrophes-that's it. in his men­ tal horoscope. The Flux and the Party: In the Margins of Anti-Oedipus 17 One of the metaphors for the way mind relates to body. 200 0). I am deeply indebted to the perspicuous commentary to my text by Marta Hernandez Salvan and Juan Carlos Rodriguez. • So tempting to give a warm round of applause. 1995). 1994).2 The revolution is "a sharp turn in the lives of vast popular masses:'3 Deleuze-Guattari echo this here. with a touch of pedantry and vain Latinisms that stick to the soles of these nomads weighed under their baggage ("promoting a new socius.

stupid. in the new form of the three-in-one revolutionary committee. What was dividing itself reversed its terms. dialectical ra­ tionality opens for itself a new space of practice. for the Marxist-Leninist organization. not Concepts. the proletarian uprising. It'� been quite a while now since Marxist-Leninists ceased to identify the ratio­ nal WIth the analytically predictable.'3 Whatever weapons the Marxist-Leninist has assembled for the people-of organization. everything is there. It stages the entrance of the irrational. in an infinite ap­ proximation that is itself always split (battle of the two roads ) . and final stages of a great struggle:' (Mao). because it is correct. therefore. This baptism. The masses' violent rupture carries this rationality to come: the encirclement of cities by the countryside. Our tactical application of the primacy of the proletariat. Only for him does the historical "not ready" have a rigorous meaning. works and displaces my prevision. who analyzes. revolt is the furnace [fond] . Why Tuesday and not Thursday? The masses' gesture closes one period and opens another. Revolutionary history renounces Hegelian circularity. a revolutionary (anti-union) strike began. . The peasants in revolt teach us that it is not the demand of the countryside. The good fortune of the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary has never been his ability to predict and assign the revolt.l2 From Paris 1871 to Shanghai 1967. The revolt condenses one rational t�me . No one can ever really know precisely how. is neither the cause nor the hidden essence. There is. The dialectic. It must sur­ prise. the primacy of practice. penetrated and split by the primacy of practice: "The composition of the leading [dirigeant] group . What is at stake. means first and foremost affirming the historical objectivity of ruptures. the positive development of this slogan. doctrine. however. carries this return forward. The furnace of the class break. in reserve? The Marxist-Leninist. the great produc­ tion of class. which is what sustains and what carries forward theory and organization. in the periodizing scansion (Commune. it is our reason. as urban in­ surrection. but the proletarian uprising that is premature. October.8 It is not at all unknowable: it is an infinite historical source. desiring. deploys such force of rupture that the long work of rup­ tures to come is needed to clarify the historical contribution of the masses. even though it is correct. revolt. by a new kind of surprise. and you will make the Revolution. of the "workers' commune" slogan returns to the practical. strictly speak­ ing. 10) . What remains. suddenly rising up. the working class viewpoint takes over. The revolt surprises Marxists-Leninists and their organization too. surprises. are indeed destined to have them. . should not and cannot remain en­ tirely unchanged throughout the initial. Here. A local. a leftover of "pure" practice. patience. its identity is played out all at once. directs. But he is not ready: were he ready. class struggle professional. how could he have left the revolutionary potential of the proletariat.76 The Flux and the Party "One has reason to revolt against reactionaries:' The popular and prole­ tarian revolt is the reason of the bourgeois oppression. by the Shanghai workers in 1967. irrational: follow your drift [derive]. what he ceaselessly prepares for. prevision. must explode into pieces. it is only practiced. it is what gives reason. organization. How could the established rule of the old (including the revolutionary old) put up with a deduction of what tends to break it asunder? How many people have we not seen enraptured by the fact that "no one could have foreseen May '68"! I even suspect that the ascent of the anti-Oedipus and all the fabrications about the pure mysteries of Desire take off from this question. From a just idea dismembered to a continental rupture. but I stand unconditionally by its side. imposes periodization. into the repressive "it's too early" of the Right. the generic brutality of scission. integrally. historical. For the Marxists-Leninists must stand precisely where the surprise will slam right into them. but behind them lies the historical new. inexhaustibility of the Paris Commune? And at the same time. It is a war by surprise. however. Marx before the Commune: the Parisian proletarian uprising is bound to fail. because their deductions and their organizing principles presuppose it as fact. is not to change the "it was for later" of its prevision. Concept. but as a rule for later. Fun­ damental. the sole asset of this preparation. . an approximating reserve of tactical composure. that which founds the sequence and which the concept within the sequence necessarily leaves outside itself as its remainder. for the revolt's irruption. its real movement instructs and reworks through and through the theory of my (correct [juste]) prevision: the historical fail­ ure. either to deduce or to organize any longer. The revolutionary process of organiza­ tion IS Itself reworked. in essence. compactness of the proletariat-he will be judged according to his capacity to have them all taken away without warning by those who. • Alain Badiou 77 Cultural Revolution . Can one imagine a "foreseen" May '68? And by whom? Who does not see that the unforeseeable constitutes the essential historical power of May '68? To baptize this unforeseeable "irruption of desire" is about as soporific as opium. The rupture can be thought in its dialectical generality. strategy and tactic. obviously can never be ready enough. recast.6 True class revolt. The question is. and in which work­ shop. but rather the irreparable suddenness of its storm.'4 Mao and the peasant revolt of 1925-1927: the peasant revolt-very good. predicts.7 The material objective base of everything (the revolutionary class practice) is never quite exhausted in that to which it gives rise. my son.11 Who doesn't see that practice. is precisely the one to ask the question of the revolt's hour. It criticizes my pre­ vision. His­ torically. since what is ahead is for him alone. the historical rupture as such. Masses make His­ tory. . middle. who alone knows the revolutionary potential at each moment. at least throughout a histori­ cal period governed by the same principal contradiction (bourgeoisie/proletariat). a�d deploys the scission of another. is without hearth and home [sans feu ni lieu] . is not innocent.9 The "remainder" is that which. Masses make history-practice comes first in respect to the­ ory. Unforeseeable. The revolutionary. who profession­ ally prepares himself for the mass rising. the uninterrupted by stages: one se­ quence's rationality cannot absorb the practical rupture from which the sequence deploys itself as such. all have the solidity of a sequence.'5 The Marxist-Leninist leader [dirigeant] is the one who sunders and splits him- . which historical materialism and theory will not be able.

the clues accumulated during the proletariat's revolution in process. forever stays behind: with the Renault of '73 when it is about the Renault Of '75. there is no destruction . it's the Freedom of Kantian critique. the one by the lines of integration and territorialization that arrest the flows. and. That which is law unto itself.21 To which we add: without construction.78 The Flux and the Party self. until it doesn't know one side from the other. Critical idealism has no obverse and no reverse. between the objective form of the rational revolutionary preparation and the unconditional and unconditionally immediate reason of the masses' revolutionary revolt. there will be an anti-capitalist revolt. only to slip us. object from subject. inventing their own non-figurative breaks or schizzes that produce new flows. turn Kant. before de­ stroying it again: "There is no construction without destruction" (Mao). Sadly. what Freedom? "Subject-group:' Freedom as Subject.19 The same goes for analytical prevision: there is a capitalist crisis today. The party is an instrument of knowledge and of war in an ever-widening space of maneuver and irruption. the bark of class struggle pressed down to its imperceptible acid. any more. as the unexpected revolt and the unicity of the revolutionary hour will demand of it that it be split again. taking along the skeletal frame of a sketched organization. formulating combatant slogans that have its originary class power. Evil is just a reversible matter of mood. an iron discipline. perfect. but like a fluid flux. hastily repainted in the colors of what the youth in revolt legitimately demands: some spit on the bourgeois family. Condensing this program as soon as possible. This is Marxism. A correct line. and you will find Hume. Look at the two-column chart with which these jingly subversives would like Alain Badiou 79 u s to conclude: "The two poles are defined. the revolt of the 0. energy as such. is the categorical imperative upright again. a con­ stant exercise of Marxist-Leninist analysis. into the historical unicity of the new. granted. Well. A correct Uuste] line is the open road to the most powerful striking force of the proletarian irruption. armed with this previous work on itself. an organic relation [liaison] to the popular masses. So. popular committees on anti-capitalist direct action. that Freedom is Good and Necessity Evil? Freedom. the other by lines of escape that follow the decoded and deterritorialized flows. and of the dullest kind. but a desiring one. by means of an amusing substitution of the particular for the universal: always act so that the maxim of your actions be rigorously particular. May my enlightened preparation break apart and be verified by the fire of irrefutable historical unpreparation: such is the essence of Marxist -Leninist direction. draining and reworking the Marxist­ Leninists' strategy. the other by the inverse subordination and the overthrow of power. concern anybody. The directive activity of the party must be tireless. beyond anything it could and in fact did foresee. Deleuze and Guattari don't hide this much: return to Kant. yes. turn them back. industrial brass they covered it up for that materialist feel. but materialist. All in all. strictly. the direction of the party! There is no other direction but of the new. the other by the molecular multiplicities of singularities that on the contrary treat the large aggregates as so many useful materials for their own elaborations. that which Lenin called the actual moment. Let us take an example: since 1970. enumerating the practical hypotheses. the one by the enslavement of production and the desiring-machines to the gregarious aggregates that they constitute on a large scale under a given form of power or selective sovereignty. that's even its very definition. worker schools.20 reclaimed and unraveled and reworked to the most minute detail.17 the class struggle. tear down the oppressive web as far as it can. let's get ready: propaganda. But such an advance is but the point where a new assault wave is received and accumulates. exhaustive. at the end. everything interpel­ lated by directives: all of this-the party-is needed for the revolutionary revolt to strike completely. it is admin­ istered. with Deleuze. it is not directed. I wondered what was this "desire" of theirs. the whole rational fabric of causes. carried forward to the shadow of the trace of the new.16 The revolutionary direction scrutinizes the conflicted state of things. The rule of the Good. Deleuze would like to be to Kant what Marx is to Hegel. and. and regularize those that they retain in codes or axiomatics. From there the leadership [direction] systematizes a guiding prevision that is both strategic and tactical. no less. Marxism-Leninism and the idea of the class party go further than the anti-dia­ lectical moralism of the theoreticians of desire. the other by subject-groups:'22 And this would be called "beyond Good and Evil" perhaps? All this cultural racket. Moralism. stuck as I was between the sexual connotations and all the machinic. break them again according to the limits interior to the system. half-living in the work of the masses. we put ourselves forward. select them. the one is defined by subjugated groups. or absence of law. the unconditional.S. the autonomy of the subject. to summarize all the preceding determinations. unbound.23 . with not much consequence: always act so that the maxim of your action does not. the head bobs down and up again. inevitably constrained by the new of the class that casts it forward. The old is managed. all this subversive arm-pumping.before destroying it there where nothing can be deducted or managed any more. On the toboggan of Desire. It's pure. ge­ neric energy. Deleuze flips Kant upside down: the categorical im­ perative. But where and on what will the masses make their violent judgment bear? This must be studied quite closely. It's the unconditional: a subjective impulse that invisibly escapes the whole sensible order of ends. Then and only then will the unexpected breach. which is the same thing-and Deleuze's first academic crushes. and by the way. a vanguard organi­ zation. carrying its directing virtuality [virtualite dirigeante]. itself establishes its kingdom. in such a way as to produce the images that come to fill the field of imma­ nence peculiar to this system or this aggregate. here's what they came up with to exorcise the Hegelian ghost. At which point proletarian thought filters through and gathers anew. that this be the Good or that. This is the Mobius strip of philosophy.18 puts to work a dispersed program of class against capitalist hier­ archy. no more. For quite a while. the one by these mo­ lar structured aggregates that crush singularities. always breaching the coded wall or the territorialized limit that separates them from desiring­ production. The old freedom of autonomy. Who clings to it too tightly. past the meshes [of the situation]. constrict them.

' says Mao to the vast masses. to the thought of the vacillat­ ing classes. invisibly leaks out [coule] its sterile other side. the project of its dictatorship. to pure and simple dis­ appearance.be eager to say "it is too early:' And there is barely the time to fall over into what has already opened up. the summons it addresses to the party or to that which takes the party's place. when matters turn to dictatorship (because all state-power [etatique] is dlCtatonal). nourishes its own permanent prevision toward power. The rational prevision of the party. And since confusion belongs. indeed. This is what puts the party through torture. The party directs the withering of what it must direct (the State. as apparatus. the one that brings out the anti­ state challenge [sommation] of the masses. It is here that the party (which. the impos ­ sibility to grasp the One except as the movement of its own scission. and the Schizo. factory hierarchy). whose iron hand is the party. the great Bolshevik party. the Despot and the Nomad. Bolsheviks. the anarchists of Catalonia . "It is incredible. as the party is itself split. The unforeseeable constraint exerted by the popular uprising. . Look at "The Crisis has Matured. completely evades the "schizo" grip precisely since it concentrates dialectical divisions to the extreme. The revolu­ tion is a radically new relation of the masses to the State. renunciation. brutally or organically. But at once. He is even relieved: the shameful electoral rallying of all the "leftists" to the Mitterand­ Marchais clique proves this. party infected by the bourgeoisie. nation x and nation y. Yes.' this literally inspired. and most often in the form of a massacre: the Paris Commune. whose organ. shows their appetite for bourgeois parliamentary poli­ tics. hierarchy. the Party's life would come to an end" (Mao). Brutally bound together. 2. of the party as one in two. discipline. city and country. the central matter.28 The passage from "it is too early" to "it is almost too late" solders in one block these pages where Lenin puts his resignation from the Central Committee on the scales. it oppresses the peasant masses that hoped to be liberated. agriculture and industry. thIS sense. of one thought as a step toward the dilution of the state. The "schizos" imagine they are done with the concept of representation.' ones that secure themselves otherwise to the material of history. yes: apparatus. all that. It is so different that a major historical object. is an anti-state proposition. The party "represents" the working class: it is Theater. clamoring loudly of the Right to Desire. this is quite different from the catechism of the System and the Flux. And so much And In the better. Obviously it must end with the Great Despot. nonetheless: it is true that the mass movement engages in a necessary dialectic with the State. who analyze the class struggle. A rupture without construction is the concrete definition of failure. each great revolt of the working and popular masses sets them invari­ ably against the State. in that the masses cannot concern themselves with the affairs of the State other than by pushing the State. we have: 1. under the colorless banner of a freedom. the step-by­ step struggle against all figures of reconciliation (two fuse into one: the essence of revisionism in philosophy). all of its strategic content. to practice our proper kind of rupture-the order of insurrection­ or become nothing. work of Lenin. as another sequence of political thought. as a real historical object. Lenin says: there is a peasant uprising. Any other way and we can be sure that it is the State that takes hold of the masses: bourgeois State. the contradiction can be of the non­ antagonistic type. precisely.26 If it is a State of exploiters. itself in turn split into: . The false. In the end. and a severe one. toward the State). the separation of politics). the party is one in two: the unity of the pOlitical p:oject of the proletariat.25 And this is the party's word. like a class party. this dictatorship that squashes the people. The unity of opposites. as direction. The party's only proletarian reality is the turbulent history of its own self-dissolution. Short of that. the "leftist" political daydream is a mass movement that proceeds straight on until it is joyfully proclaimed that the State has quietly faded away. The petit-bourgeois leftist wallows into the mass movement and parades there with delight. Actually. towards its own dilution. the Leninist anticipation (only immediate insurrection brings the prevision of the party on par with the violent practice of the masses. the Canton Commune. from one day to the next we. Bourgeois party. . manual and intellectual labor. . If the State is a proletarian State. of its state-project. the wait-and-see approach [attentisme] of the Central Committee majority (it is too early) b. the contradiction is antagonistic at heart. separately undecipherable. But in either case a contradiction exists. Kerensky's government protects capitalists and landowners. "Concern yourself with the affairs of the State!. the Paranoiac. Here it will always . . image. to the non-State. summoned to fall into temporary blindness by another political thought. while the masses' anti-state proposi­ tion has no other chance. the refusal of all static dualisms. "If there were no contradictions in the Party and no ideological struggles to resolve them. Between the two there is no continuity. a.27 The masses take hold of the State with the communist design [visee] [set on] its withering away. the country. The State is construction. This theater is a necessary threat from the inside. no other way out than to see its summons succeed. by pushing the great dichoto­ mies of the State. but it is a fact:'29 This objec­ tive "incredible" does not surprise us. it is a cadaver. also. the military and the civilians. t� the S�ate. Each extensive revolt. invariably. become leftover riffraff). accelerat­ ing practically in days. Each revolt takes position against one power and in the name of another. as communist party. the masses in revolt broke with the State: they summon us to direct. the historical flip side: the essential aspiration of the masses. But when matters turn to power.24 More than any other historical object. but in the end lets all the intellectuals babble as they wish. But the only revolutionary question is this: will . a structuralism full of shame. Alain Badiou 81 The true. If we reject the insurrection. such as the moralism of desire. to commu­ nism. revised party: one facet. for the most part: the State is the only political question. it will come as no surprise that this speaks both the true and the false. must overcome its own fear. territorial subjection. but rather unity of opposites. see how he gets all furious. across its specific contents (the school.80 The Flux and the Party Marxism-Leninism thinks of otherwise forceful "schizzes. Which is what gives the party. The State is the serious matter.

are in truth fully fixed by the movement of the masses. Lenin. is also its latent weakness. It is their torn encounter [ren- Alain Badiou con tre ecarteleeJ. Yes. revolutionized. It is a body of the class at its cut: a threshold [lisiere J . beside himself with rage. its anti-state focus on the State on the other. but at the same time it is part of the working class. put up the State against the vigorous communism of the masses: the bourgeoisie does not cease to work on the party's essential instability. But the Commune. Against this threat. it too must be divided. so as not to infringe upon their necessary system of causes. the majority in the Central Committee persist in their perpetual "it is too early:' sheltering thus their Marxist prevision from the storm. the pacifism. but never exactly on the same plane. what detaches. The party. an artY The party always directs the proletarian transition. if it believes it can sidestep the heroic wisdom of the masses. Stalin. its detachment. and is opposed to tak­ ing power immediately. From here on. not by the party. This is why it is constantly threat­ ened from within by bourgeois forces of restoration. the question cast from within by the revolutionary practice of the masses (the unforeseen. the party that must remain steadfast as the movement escalates. Marx did say "dictatorship of the proletariat" before the Paris Commune. From one to the other. It holds out amidst the tearing apart [ecartelementJ of the foreseeable theoretical. ever unstable and corroding from within. which are enormous. Otherwise. sorts it out. is an art. The party. The party has an essential historical instability. is opposed to an immediate insurrection. Insurrection. . The party is a being of the thresholds [lisieresJ . against "sheer treachery" and self-destruc­ tion. bombards it with all that history demands: " [TJhere is a tendency. whose signal. "30 The source of all the party's strength. of the State and the non-State. in their practice. The party is the dialectic. "Fusion of Marxism­ Leninism and the working-class movement:' the classics would say. intuitively at the very heart of the popular rising. nor theoreticism). in the direction of the vast masses. Its proper effect is the creative scission of the masses and the State as a directed process. is no less a decisive advance on the question of this dictatorship. the conviction that all inertia tends towards restoration. its worst threat. by the masses. that there is no place for mechanical adjustment. Lenin will say. must be adjusted in turn: since the party is where the greatest burdens accumulate as well. whose time. aside from their differ­ ences. nothing but a counter-threat will do. or will you let yourself be left behind by this for which you said you were ac­ countable? Lenin is. crush the living pres­ ent. that demands plunging into what the masses opened. For to miss such a moment and to "wait" for the Congress of Soviets would be utter idiocy. Lenin replies: immediate insurrection. in our Central Committee and among the leaders of our Party which favors waiting for the Congress of Soviets. The party is that blind spot from which the proletariat grasps its own class practice. which take hold on the separ­ ateness [separeJ of the party. a stage realized. as the split unity of the prevision and the assessment. nor is there simultaneity: theory is in advance. always to be remade. by concrete his­ tory. or sheer treachery. immediate realization of what was given in the organized calm of Marxist knowledge? To this question. while we our­ selves are often childish and ignorant. Meanwhile. You who have foreseen all and were thus at the heels of the irruption. Mao critique ever more profoundly the reac­ tionary mechanism. concentrates it and prepares another stage of its war. but this divergence lies within the history of the proletariat. That is what Mao means to say: "The masses are the real heroes. rupture) to the party's vocation to direct (prevision. as dictatorship of the proletariat. but the movement of the revolution­ ary revolt is in advance of this advance. But it is also childish and ignorant. The party is the ever transposable [depla�ableJ organization of the proletarian present. is. what good is it to us now that you're close by? Will you remain close. Not a science. the party whom the revolt questions as regards direction. however. or an opinion. And Lenin. of the project and the revolt. but it is a unity of opposites. the vertigo in the movement of history comes from the scission between a settled tactical rationality and a rupture that demands more than political rationality. It is the solidity of science. smother the new in the name of legitimacy. What makes Stalin and Mao great proletarian leaders. the Bolsheviks will cover themselves with eternal shame and destroy themselves as a party. give in to the shadows. among other things. and the unforeseeable practical. Repress the revolt in the name of the prevision. And Stalin: he emphasizes that the party certainly does direct. according to which the proletariat adjusts itself to its own class practice in terms of the project. 34 Detachment is something quite different from representation. by the truly incredible reality of the peasant uprising? How will the party carry forward its correct prevision under the unforeseeable historical con­ straint of the irruption of popular forces? How will it formulate. purifies it. the wisdom given in their irruption. by representation. that which hits it in the face. the treachery of wait-and-see in the form of re­ formism and revisionism. there is no coincidence (neither spontaneism. This is the party as one in two. liter­ ally slashes through the party.32 "Fusion" is a metaphor. The party is what cuts. Stalin and Mao part completely. must be overcome. it is the opposite: the proletarian party is the opposite of an image. this divided. without appeal. or opinion. whose urgency. The Marxist-Leninist party is the existence of this opposi­ tion [contrarieteJ.82 The Flux and the Party our broad theoretical prevision (our lack of astonishment) let itself be transformed. if it believes history can be done by delegation. sundered. which enacts this slogan. in terms of state-construction. The party is the process of dialectical division of Marxism-Leninism and the proletarian movement. the conviction that the prole­ tarian project is ever to be reconquered. between Marxism-Leninism and the workers' movement there is unity. here. proj­ ect). the working class itself as one in two: its appara­ tus on one side. lies in this: it is the party to whom history addresses its summons. ends and deadlines. so that what the party apprehends is always both in front of it (the project) and behind it (the revolt). abandon the mobile threshold.33 "The mastery of Marxism-Leninism is the essence of communist direction. which concentrates the directive force of the proletariat. Between Marxism-Leninism and the prole­ tarian movement. That tendency.

It refers. JP : on gt m rl (A 1 l. Look at them: the time is nigh. these old Kantians who pretend they're playing at scattering the trinkets of Culture. in ik V York: . The ex 2 /arch'Ive/ rg s. there ive: some us el IS se ra p e t of in ig or e th e. Schram. For an slat an tr ). 19 19 4. above all in the masses (confidence in the masses is the central element of the counter-threat). the one Marxist-Leninists formulate: to hand back to the working class the question of its communist party of the new type?37 What is the final word of these hateful adversaries of all organized revolutionary politics? Read: to complete "this process that is always and already complete as it proceeds:'38 In effect. al at gs tm n w s ao M in be t no Chinese sources suggest its source may to �e­ d ue m nt co It ): 65 19 9. between the radi . not yet decided upon. m Bah e t e or pl ex to e ac pl e th t no is is Th trotsky/works/ 193 0 . nc fankimg) . io ct di ra words (see Badl'ou'S Theorie de la cont eter (P y.-Tr. Ingo Schaefer. everywhere. 19 72): 3S -3 8. y ua an (J ow Sn � the phrase in his interview with Edgar . And it is a long transition: "A very long period of time is needed to decide 'who will win' in the struggle between socialism and capitalism:'35 But the answer turns Stalin's upside down. 11] u �.an yo . na hi C to t si vi 72 . ce en qu se Communist history beyond any single d fidelity to ) an 90 ). at the slightest suspicion of softness or resistance. which is at the same time an assault of the masses. Control over the city of N ts en u st d an rs ke or w n e tw be n io at er tli er "co-op �. Lacan and Lacanians ("Sous Lacan"). 19 78 ). H m do an R : . Cahiers Yenan no.Tu e C I­ Th · 87 ): 72 1 ch ar -M ry ua an (J 49 ly er and in Stuart R. then in the party too. Hav­ ing introduced the early '70S philosophical conjecture in France. 19 71 ).htm. Be tirelessly wary.84 85 Alain Badiou The Flux and the Party within the dialectical movement of Marxism. union le dership.-Tr. against the reactionary stabilizers of the party. ed ish gl En h . nan' es" [Du l' fia"ndo' ngpa i. to the toil ofprevision and of revolt immersed at the deepest in the workers' divisions. revolutionization of the party itself as instability.) Rather than to assign-wer . y. er ish bl Pu ss (Moscow: Progre ad­ ty ar (p s" ol ho sc e dr "� to . regeneration. in France. hands of the revolutionary forces. w w :// tp ht . od m n tio sla an [tr 9 22 ). such maxims are innocent. on ed Z ao M to ed ut ib tr at ns io at ot qu Both . and they're already covered in dust. nc re fe re r ie rl ea (March 20 .c fa ng go w. . and Alberto Toscano. S The first factory occupation of 19 68 n. the party. ro pe as M : is ar [P n. n tIO lu vo Re n ia ss Ru e th f o y . 77 19 g. g. vo . real in themselves. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • a (New ni re ph zo hi Sc d an m lis ta pi Ca ' us . as dialectical inductor of communism.: Communique from Richard N ixon's 19 e West th m s er ap sp w ne l ra ve se in ed ar pe ap the Mountains to North of the Seas:' ouse.. so _ ilo ph d an ry to ls of n tlo e dl�u s conc � Ba in ge an ch g in su en e th t ou ts in po d ar Hallw ess. H ere. Stalin saw only one possible counter-threat: terror. � � �: . . .22 3 The quotation in question appe B ll t e at St t of en t a ep D d an S 4): 72 19 3. The translators wish to thank Bruno Bosteels. here as well. but still to be proposed and remade? What kind of "desire" will ever equal the one deployed throughout the profound entanglements and countercurrents of our history.36 To these astounding dialectics of history. and the reconstitution. Originally published as "Le flux et Ie parti: dans les marges de L'Anti-Oedipe.. which constitutes the unparalleled affirma­ tive power of Maoist militants? What can they capitalize on against these thoughts. 6 g. t C ommu m Jo e th r Fo 4· 20 ge pa on s ar 19 1. bo la l ua an m d an l 66 directive on the integration of intellectua eanmg m al tu ac e Th :' ol ho sc s es in us "b . etc. Roland Fergu­ son. eds. to the words and phrases . whose help made the translation and the notes possible. . to these unstable objects. The answer is this: have tireless confi­ dence. ot Tr ev L IS On sI es pr .Leninism. from their ambush full of desire? What do they oppose. ee Peking Review 9 (March reat Umo G e Th s ao M e se e. tio lu vo Ma Cadre Schools") of the Cultural Re . w w :// tp ht at nese original is available online htm. po ya u yo Ii a N [ e" nc ta sis re is 1. vo Re e th of ns so es "L n. rk Yo ew (N n tio lu vo Re . 20 03 ). Th e Long an d IS . as 1'n the Shanghai Comm the f 0 I ro t on on t en ns co t h ou it w ke ri st � indefinite ers occu ied the factory and declared follo ­ e th m ce an Fr ss ro ac t ep sw at th e rik st ral . China Quart gdahan e. weekend cadre school. as threshold." in Alain Badiou and Sylvain Lazarus. above all of the party (practically exterminated in the thirties) then of the masses as well. these pro­ letarian risings of unheard-of violence and richness. W he as a 68 19 ay M on ns IO Sit pO es on s es pr ex ed will or working-class hegemony is accent � � � . in Collected Works of Mao Ts e. and Dominique Lecourt for the Althusserians ("La compagnie d'Althusser"). nd ha e on e term. and especially in the torn correlation of the two: proletarian cultural revolution. on th � d de vi di a is es dr ca de e ol Ec 4 ols ( 7th ho sc rm fo re al ic lit po e t ly al c i if ec sp or re school. m t' n w s U a d" lO B f 0 e ur at fe is th of te no lary. for �ere d ar eg sr di ist aO M n ee tw be or . zaof reactlO !l � � • . ni Le 3 ified ). Badiou's essay is the first in the Deleuze intervention. Work­ tIO lu vo re e th d re te en t ia ar et ol pr e th e un ' N antes. � :. or ist ce" to the H fa re "P e Se . 64 19 s. repnnted l'n Snow.hrr/choo. against lt v re to ed ifi st ju t is "I or " es ri na tio ? 2. at e lin on ) 32 . 75 19 . 1976): 24-41.o st xl ar m w. ig sl n tio la ns ra [t 7 37 ). ip ed i-O nt A . and F e'I'IX Guattari ze eu I e D es ill G 1 htly modified) . Pr ta so ne m M of lty rs ve m U is: ol . t us ug -A 21 y ul (J 4 2n) lu the Popular Masses" (Xiangjiang ping R S. mt t e nl ta en om m if y el iv e eff . A SubiJ ect to Truth (M phy. 4t ks or W ed ct lle Co lution" (July 19 17 ). their anti-state focus on the State. 94 -1 17 19 . 4 (Paris: Maspero.the Jomt es a pl ll of to m ed rc fo as w d an n � � cur during the Cultural Revolutio h of ut So .) er the May aft ed m na d an 68 19 m up t se n. u yo u Jl na . inaugurating tli e gene . to seep out like pus. "Where there is oppression. "One has reason to revolt against reac III hi S 19 39 se ra ph e th ed lll cO ao M . ever recast and traversed through and through by proletarian interpellations? Is there anything of value [equal to1 the project of letting the idea of the party be torn from one's hands by the masses. ap ne in ' U. For all its future resona ed us ao M l. 0f ty Ul m t" n co h e d t an ) ( s e ur pt ru e th of lty ve cal no . ly al c i if mes "school for managers" or more spec Tr.re tu ec nj co al ic lit po oic or st hi e th will change with ion near at vi A dSu at 14 ay M on e ac p I o k to ce Fran . the collection brings together interventions against Deleuze ("Deleuze en plein"). t IS or h' IS h' t f e ag gu la e th p e a that m � � the slogans. ed ss pa s te an � ing weeks. . Mao set out from the same idea: the transition submits this dialectical object. In the end. Look at them. to a severe test. � � � � " whole. during the mag­ nificent industrial upheaval. nique.m BadlO th'IS vocab u0 f t en em el ch ea le ib ss po or ul ef us it e 49-so. Eva Poskocilova. • Translated by Laura Balladur and Simon Krysl. " le rv te m e Th . what do the little professors oppose. that which. (19 30) m Max Eastman's translation (19 d'laI ectlC. :� _ � � � r. y's sk .: � � . is not yet established. vo 9. diou's Maoist writings. La Situation actuelle sur Ie front philosophique. on zh m /m om . ng . It nd ha r he ot e th on r. let us merely take 2S l.

' in K. fragments the proletariat and the political demand of workers s workers reappeared m . finally. On Contradiction (1937). The extended version used here comes from Mao's reply. in criticism and self-criticism. Revolt has reason in contradiction and scission. (New York: Praeger. where the revolt returns to reinforce itself. Tewes.Tr.' [August 1.. the local and the universal.. contmumg mSlde struggles between various workers' organizations. Alain Badiou 11 Antagonistic contradictions under dictatorship of the proletariat are expressed in the . 374. chapter 4. I am emphatICally not speakmg of somethmg which in the words of some people "is possibly coming. workers-peasants or youth forced from the city by lack of work-contmued to challenge new power structures. trans­ lated in Stuart Schram.Tr. 1974]. Fan. Fan. Schram. two classes (proletanat and ou geoisie). 1982). its elaboration into doctrine and into reality to Stalin. Through the word 'reason. Agamst the sense of "totalitarian expropriation" of a workers' revolt (howe er abstract " fragmented. ed.The Flux and the Party "Stalin is our Commander" speech. The knowledge (Marxism) summed in this very phrase is the reason of the revolt. the antagonism that underlies the obstinacy of the revolt.' For thousands of years everyone said: 'Oppression is justified. 162-182. op. The Political Thought ofMao Tse-Tung." (Renmin ribao. 427-428. and two lines (revolutionary and revisi ist . Chair­ man Mao Talks to the People: Talks and Letters: 1956-1971 [New York: Pantheon. 1949. They should. vol.. as it may appear. the revolt has reason. 260-261. "The Principal Contradiction and the Principal Aspect of a Contradiction. Marx­ ists are not fortune-tellers. art as the battle of two roads (socialist and capitalist). the revolution remained undecided: any weakness on its part. Within the totality of the country (of state o er) the chances of : .) See Badiou's analysis of les trois sens du mot "raison" [three senses of "reason"] in Theorie de la contradiction: "The phrase says all according to the dialectic: a simple that divides it­ self. party in control of revolutionizing the state. announced on February 5. the phrase appeared on two big character posters in Beijing (Peking Review 37 [September 9. the . . and this is a great contribution. ever against those who keep things the same. to reannounce this history was also to speak of the March 1927 Shanghai Com une.' something illusory. a selective limit imposed upon it as an after­ thought. Theorie du sujet (Paris: Seuil. nese Cultural Revolution: Selected Documents (New York: Monthly Review Press.) For he 23 articles.-Tr. 1 (Beijing: FLP. named kno ledge..-Tr. and indeed can. (Both BeIJmg rebel students and revolutionary i tellectuals of the Cultural Revolution leadership were at the birth of the rebellion. this old judg­ ment was turned upside down. John Chinnery and Tieyun. The revolt is reason. of Wisdom and perspective: the "fusion of Marxism and the real workers' movement" ar­ ticulates the two. see Richard Baum and Frederick C. beyond its particular causes: the cumulative wisdom of the masses through history. settle accounts with the explOiters for all opp ession. The name lasted a ere three weeks. vol. � � � � � � . But when I say that there will soon b e a . 10 Ellipses here and throughout are Badi ou's. the phrase says three things. and isolated). What concentrates this division. vol. the core of the sentence. made in Yenan to celebrate Stalin's 60th birth­ day: "There are innumerable principles of Marxism." Mao's quote is from his "Report to the Second Plenary SeSSIOn of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China" (1949). that offers a solution. The concept is omnipresent in the Cultural RevolutIOn: see the CC circular of May 16. marks the entr� of the industrial proletariat into the Cultural Revolution. could and would be used by the structures and tendencies it ruptured. 1968). any "goIden middle" is always on side of the reaction. rebellion is not justified." (Only much later were Peng Zhen and iu Shaoqi named.. the "internal condition of truth": not. while apparently occulting it.' From the time when Marxism appeared on the scene. Ssu-Ch ing: The Socla/zst EducatIOn Movement of 1962-1966 (China Research Monographs. Selected Works. army. the rebel worker groups seized the party paper. trans. 1966]. That the revolt has reason against reactionaries is. In 1966. un- � ? . 1969).-Tr. H. 4 (Beijing: FLP.-Tr. high tide of revolution in China.' Except to add that what we did not know before was determined as leftover from that which just came to be known. 1965). September 20. ed. m the sOCIahst educatIOn movement. See also Badiou. the relative weight of the latter two displaced the rebels. This can be said clearly with Mao: 'We can learn what we did not know.) The thought is attributed to Marx. crushed by Chiang Kai-shek's coup. '?wo roa s" were first ta en . 1966 (Peking Review. 169). But the revolt "has reason" also in the practical sense: the proletariat will win. 1967. the Commune's steering committee became Shanghai. and intro. Marxism formulates the reason of the revolt. as well as the "Decision of th e CC CCP Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. � 7 8 Mao Zedong. the beginning of the revolutIOn as seizure of power. 120. After Mao's interventions. the split fusion of the objective and the subjective. practice is primary to theory. then.: � � 13 As Mao writes in "A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire" (1930): "How then should we interpret the word "soon" in the statement. The phrase bespeaks. "Some Questions Concerning Methods ofLeadership" (June 1. ("A Letter to the Red Guards ofTsinghua University Middle School. In t e "23 articles" of January 14. The Chl-. an invention of political form in the concrete conjecture. rev. May 19). the promise of an industrial center that effectlvely . The revolt will "bring to reason" [rend raison]. translated in Stuart R. 331336. Real "contradictions among the people" were not resolved m the selzure: temporary . they should not and cannot fix the day and the hour in a mechanistic way. In Shanghai. but in the last analysis they can all be summed up in one sentence: 'To rebel is justified. as well as reannounced in the central press: a split unity of the workers and t e .) For the ongmal texts. Being antagonist. at the crossover of the movement without a name by which the real poses a problem and the retroaction. Badiou sees. � 9 See Mao Zedong. . b peasants and the agricultural development. � �� ! � � � � 12 The 1967 Shanghai People's Commune. consistently with his argument agamst Deleuzes anarchism. CIt. only mdlCate the general direction of future developments and changes.H. duction themselves from wages to organization of labor. The Paris Commune example had been invoked throughout the Cultural RevolutIOn. what supports it. "there will soon be a high tide of revolution"? This is a common question amo g c mrades. In Bruno Bosteels's translation: "I posit that there exists no intrinsic unknowable. F. including the 1966 "Sixteen Point" Central Committee decision (Fan. the for-itself of the proletariat.' Selected Works. RevolutIOn­ ary Committee" and in the "triple alliance" [sanjiehe] of mass rebel organizations. the Shanghai "directives" were soon affirmed by Mao and the central party organs. a failure of production. the scissions in the party allow no middle road. exploitation is justified. app. forced reorganization of the party committee and proceeded to assume the onditions of pro­ . see K. � . 1943). 1968). and the articulation of the three makes up the whole" (21). a new reason stands up against the re­ actionaries. 118. In January. Mao spoke of the "power-holders in the party that go the capitalist road. 217. 1965). 1966 ] : 19-21). 1965). is the word 'reason': there is reason.-Tr. 1965. The objective contradiction between Shanghm and Commune. We are thankful to Bruno Bosteels for this reference. 3 (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press. Selected Works. and the cadres. UC Berkeley Center for Chmese Studies. .

vol.' meditation 9 of L'Etre et l'evenement (Paris: Seuil.-Tr." � �.: � � � � 20 See Lenin. 18 Ouvriers specialises. 16 As Bruno Bosteels has pointed out to us.S. 1871 (on­ line at www. r on se us th Al is nt Ka of wn do e sid up g in rn tu 's ze 23 The obvious subtext regarding Deleu . on cti of contradiction ( Theorie de contradi Is ph lo o­ eo rg ou -b tit pe or n er od tm os "p low fel d an of inheritance that links Deleuze . ju st subjectiv posed to op r. an sc To rto Divides into Two.' Selected Works. Albe �� � : '.HH Ihe Flux and the Party attainable and devoid of significance for action. Analogous oppositions. 1965) applies it as a global-political directive. 21 ly Ju ( " re nt tion. including the former O. Samt e th to o and Proudh n. contmued to determine the sequence of proletarian struggle throughout the 70S. culture and art. 22 Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. in a double sense: every­ where. � � � � � �� � � �� � � �� � � �� . ks or W ted lec Se ). The general context of the change is the incoming economic crisis on the one hand. ? � � . 2.-Tr. and the "unity" of the electoral. This .org. Mark Seem.-Tr. ks or W ted lec Se .-Tr. Selected Works. technology and science.aise 31/3 (2001): 465-476. ta pi Ca ing ad Re d an 9 -3 35 ). Peking Review 29 (S eptem g of tm ee M e th at lk Ta or ) 66 19 .3 43 -3 45 . without relying on the trope. §54. 1975. 1. See Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism.' struc the dialectic and history. . Robert Hurley. ea Ar l ra Ru e th in es un m m Co s le' op Pe "Resolution on the Establishment of ral R volu­ ltu Cu e th ri du . Badi . See Laure Pitti. 1977). After Marx (in the Manife C. 79-112. liberation struggles are peasant struggles. ed. and Helen R.19 66 ): 9 [translation modifie d] . ne Brewster (London: Allen La ct p as l lpa nC pn e th ao M th wi g in riz eo th .-Tr. 2003). Mao's "Talk to the Leaders of the Ce 9 online at l.23-59. ng do Ze 24 Mao Review g kin Pe in 66 19 st. re he (London: NLB. o. 22 ): 58 19 . of truck drivers in the spring and of line workers in December. see Marx's letters to Ludwig Kugelmann on the Paris Commune. The main explanation is found in "L'etat de la situation historico­ sociale. 1965. as ll we as . 21 Mao Zedong. the opposition of management [gestionJ and politics proper (what here is direction) returns in Badiou's later writing. see the Political . 31 (Moscow: Progress. between industry and agric IOn) . No a str ab an th pe ca es l ca gi lo no is e er th en th . ed. Au s. Badiou recapitulates Marx and Brecht on the Commune. antagonist contradiction.S. as both aspects of the principal. gu Au 10 on ng iji Be in s" se as m 25 Mao's statement at "meeting the Tr.' ex­ cerpted in Stuart Schram. 1965] . were key in the Maoist mobilizations in post-May France.in Contradicsm ni go ta An of e ac Pl he "T 6. or "occlusions. Selected Works. of the union demand for negotiatIOns an t e or ers non­ negotiable claim to "equal pay for equal work. Lane (New York: Viking. before proceeding to the "logic of the Commune. 366-367 [trans­ lation modified] . 288-90. cla Ident . 2) -8 70 . "On the New Stage. In Theorie du sujet. ne hi ac M re ltu Cu in e lin on o. re tu ul city and country. 2 [Beijing: FLP. CP e th f ee itt m m Co l ra nt Ce e th of au re Bu in (State and Revolutio n) . 121-128.3 17.Tr. arx M r Fo 's ser us th Al e Se l. Ray Brassier (Stanford: Stanford University Press. he ot ch ea or irr m y ch ar an d an m lis ra tu the place of Stirner's "egoism. The metaphor. idem. Mao de­ veloped it in his 1938 anti -Japanese war writings. unskilled workers. vo . Ethnologie fram. 16 r be 19 58 . . In Commune de Paris: une declaration politique sur la politique (Paris: Les Conferences du Rouge-Gorge. after the Mao­ ist works.-Tr.-Tr. Our thanks to Bruno Bosteels for this information. m Ch ao M stpo in "ad ro t lis ita ap "c e the dichotomies-corresponding to th tp://culturemaht 4.. 1. hc f n co ss cla to al r ve n ra "T : es rit w ou . the report to the 6th Plenum of the 6th CC CPC. The victorious 1973 strike brough forward the rupture between the demands and the strategies of the w rkers and the umon ... r te ap ch .' in terms of his Logic of Worlds. 17 The wordplay of "Etat" and "etat" ("State" and "state [of the situation]") is prominent in Badiou's later work.S. 39 and passim. 12. nt ria va in are these great millenary structural ­ la l tu ec ell nt d an l ua an m n ee tw . (On Protracted War. trans. O n Contra tion. at Renault-Billancourt. 1. "On New Democracy" (January 1940). "'Left-Wing' Communism.' written to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the victory in the anti-Japanese war (Renmin Ribao September 3. 19 70 ).' trans. on ctI di ra nt co y ar nd co se d an al cip in pr If Max" Stirner of The German Ideology. Anthropologie ouvriere et enquetes d'usine.' the demand for the objectIve sta dard of hierarchy. ns tra l. It is like a ship far out at sea whose mast -head can already be seen from the shore. er th ra . 34 (August 19 . ge He of al ers Feuerbach's-and early Marx's-rev e Brewster .marxists. 1. aw dr th wi .Tr.org). 19 Strikes of the o. Elsew lme se es p re e th n o sh as ou di Ba . see Mao Zedong's "Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan.-Tr. and the claim that the workers determine what is e ual to what. Ba One e Se a.' encirclement becomes a sweeping notion of world revolution.. 1988). "Encircle the cities by the countryside" [nongcun baowh chengshi] defines Mao's con­ ception of the guerrilla war. 23. 14 Aside from The Civil War in France (New York: International Publishers. www. trans. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. com­ to th pa e th on e m co er ov be all sh ich wh ie] 2 7 "Three major distinctions" [san da chab and Len­ e) m m ra og Pr a th Go e th f o e qu iti Cr e th d an sto munism. it is like a child about to be born moving restlessly in its mother's womb:' See his Selected Works.' es tak e Sir De al.Tr. . lat ns tra s �ls ste Bo o un Br (m ish ol ab to m ai bor-which it is communism's entire and sh pen ish bl ta es re to cy en nd te e th s se us sc di ou di In his forthcoming Ie Siee/e. ce on the en va ui eq in ed at ul tic ar e ar . Both a refinement of hierarchies (granting a place on a wage ladder to all. Be n ns tra . as well as the Chinese "reactivation" of the Commune between 1966 and 1971.) and a continuing workers' pressure against them ensued from the stnke. ni ku Ba . 146-147. 15 On the peasant revolt. mostly immigrant workers. in March-April 1973 and at Renault. "Greves ouvr­ ieres versus luttes de l'immigration: une controverse entre historiens.) Lin Biao's "Long Live the Victory of People's War. 1964). in Problems of Strategy in Guerrilla War against Japan (102).' in Sylvain Lazarus. abstract axis of "domination. on cti di ra nt Co On .-Tr. 2003). 69 19 . it is like the morning sun in the east whose shimmering rays are visible from a high mountain top. 1928: Mao had projected the strategy's global­ political pertinence. 67 19 9. 1988) itself. April 12 and 17.. dates to 1930 or earlier (the struggle against Li Lisan and the tensions with the Comintern). between es nc re ffe di r ajo m e re th e es th s. an Infantile Disorder" (1920) Collected Works. making the Chinese military strategy pertinent generally. Problems of Strategy in Guerrilla War against Japan. on cti di 26 Se e Mao Zedong. on cti di ra nt co ss .' are then posited regarding other truth procedures: sexuality and love. as well.' Selected Works.. The allegory originates with Bukharin and the Comintern program of September. English by Foreign Language Press. The Political Thought ofMao Tse-tung.maoism.127. or lt" vo "re e revolution is then possible. rg bu m xe Lu h ug ro th ath m er aft '68 phers of the well as s. ry ua Jan ( p" ou : the Central Cultural Revolution Gr ere th ts. revisionist Left-long dreamt about and for this reason all the 89 Alain Badiou : more disappointing-after 1972 on the other. taken from the weiqi table game. vol. gust 29 .369 and else­ where. through the allegory of "cities and villages of the world. as well as Lenin's introduction to the letters.

and in Left . It has . Althusser. face to Lukacs s A Defence of HIstory and Class-Consciousness": Tailism and the Dialectic trans. idem. 36 "We must have faith in the masses and we must have faith in the Party. 61-66.90 Alain Badiou The Flux and the Party fus e into one" [he er er yl] of Yang Xianzhen stands precisely against the Marxist-Leninist "one divides into two:' The controversy is relevant to the struggle between two roads. The latter is the threshold of Marxist thought and Commumst polItIcs: here. as classical. D. to the USSR as well as to all "post -capitalism" convergence theories. Collected Works. Moss Roberts (New York: Monthly Review Press.' 1918. Incredible as this is. two opposites that both repulse and presuppose each other. a st uggle against those who both theorize instead of organizing work and a ply fore gn SovIet models onto Chinese practice. party as subject. Ten Days that Shook the World. . online as "Concerning Questions of Leninism" at www. See also Badiou's Theorie du sujet 18 and following. ch p. tlZlng a concept of the legalist philosopher Han Fei Zi (280. Italics in Lenin's original. The concept itself was developed by Lenin at the 1912 Prague party conference that refused the party model of Western Social Democracy and split the Bolshevik party from the Mensheviks.' La Situation actuelle sur Ie front philosophique. 1977 ). and transformed.' 82. Selected Works. H. 972).16.. "Dialec­ .-Tr. it i a fact. it considers things. 42-52) takes up the mistranslation "one becomes two. in Selected Works. the otlOn m the late 30S ( The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War [1938 ] . 5 (Beijing: FLP. "Marx dans ses limites. trans.' 83n. major controversy on the Cultural Revolution philosophical front. In his "Critique of Stalin's Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR" (195 8). Georges Peyrol's "Potato Fascism" ("Le fascisme de la pomme de terre. (See note 7 above. it does not oppose the general dialectical law of "one divides into two" [YI fen we. � m the 1934 edltlOn.' on whose basis Deleuze and Guattari. New French misreadings have also appeared. Menetrey and E. Two Steps Back: The Crisis in Our Party" Collect Wo ks. the concept of "fusion" emerges.ac.org. er]. Terray. Luxemburg's 1904 text. mere SlmficatlOn of Marxism. 371-387-) In the opening blurb in the Yenan collection volumes (not in the present one). (Moscow: Progress Publishers.233 BCE) .209 and passim). 42). Yet the concept the two characters name is contr diction (mao dun) : in Han Fei Zi. � � 29 "In a peasant country. 132 and passim. we shall accomplish nothing:' Mao Zedong. -Tr. dommated petty-bourgeOIs democracy. nd under a revolutionary.' 23-4 . . the logical contradiction of an arrow that pierces anythmg and a target that cannot be pierced. 38.' do away with the dialectic. 162-166.' Eerits philosophiques et poli­ tiques. the revisionist "two � � � � : � �� � ? � � � � � � � � � � �� � 91 33 Mao Zedong. not parliamentary. The same concept. v�l. Ester Leslie (London: Verso. not people ." Peking Review 37 [September 11. Selected Works. 7 (Moscow: Progress.-Tr. 257. Mao writes that "Stalin's book from first to last says nothing about the superstructure. We thank Bruno Bosteels for his suggestions on these points. a peasant revolt is developing. 32 Throughout the history of Marxism after Marx and Engels.org. 3. 1\ Retrograde Trend m Russian Social-Democracy" (1899 ). The project of the "party of a new type" is a constant concern in Badiou's Maoist.com.188 . trans.-Tr. what is to be retained.-Tr. beginning from his po­ litical work from within the Parti socialiste unifie. 37 Revolutionary. 74-85.' punctuates M rxlst t� ory of organization.-Tr. See Lenin's "One Step Forward. 368. For Marx. 3. . Stalin quotes Lenin's "Greetings to Hungarian Workers" (1919).' 1913. vol. It comes to the fore in the rectification movement of 1 42. militant thought. Slavo' izek has taken up the play of "too early" and "almost too late" in "Repeating Lenin" (on . 1 [Stock/IMEC. Yuri Sdobnikov �nd George Hanna. tees. chine. their contradiction.bartleby. See also On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People (February 27. It is not concerned with people. See also "New Polemic on the Philosophical Front: Report on the Discussion Concerning Comrade Yang Hsien-chen's Concept that 'Two Combine into One. Paris 1994]. On the Co-operative Transformation ofAgriculture ( July 31. Mao Zedong first discusses . as well as Theorie du sujet. onlme at www.­ Tr. Problems of Leninism (MoscoW: FLP. remains at stake: the concrete determination by Chinese r vol tionary practice reconstitutes.' 1907. 1940). 35 Stalin's theory of transition in "On the Problems of Leninism" quotes Lenin's "Greetings to Hungarian Workers" to this effect. 31 "What has the Party done to study the disposition of the troops. Jancovici. Jo Fineberg and George Hanna." "The Crisis has Matured. m the concept of fusion. 29 (Moscow: Progress. The basic error is mistrust of .12. 423 [translation modified] . Selected Works. "The Crisis Has Matured" (October. theory comprehends their scis­ SIOn. "fusion of Marxism and prole­ tarian practice.' Peking Review 17 [April 23. � � 30 "The Crisis has Matured. rather than to negate the universal claim. See Badiou. uk! Cmach/Backissuesl jo041Articles/badiou. The account follows John Reed. trans. to battle revisionism in France? What way is to be taken. from Debord's Society of the Spectacle to Deleuze. so that Marxism and the real workers' movementfuse?" [empha­ sis in the original]. See "One Divides into Two:' The concept must be divided: in the . 5. chap. 1970). IS vaIl le online at ww. Selected Works. Badiou and Sylvain Lazarus ask: "from what the anti-revisionist struggles in China and Albania are.) In France.425. Col­ lected Works. These are two cardinal principles. "On the Problems of Leninism" (1926). an Infantile Disorder. "Proletarian Revolution and Kautsky the Renegade. 1957). 1965). in Mao. As Badiou insists here. • the peasants (135) :'-Tr. 2000).htm.i g Communism. of sOClahsm and the working class movement in "The Urgent Tasks of Our Movement" (1900 ) Coll cted Works.' t e Leninist version of the "unity of theory and (revolutionary) practice. Rosa Luxemburg's polemic with Lem m rgamzational Questions of Russian Social Democracy" concerns the content of thIS notIOn above all. Lenin determines the working class party through the fusion . 388. (Badiou takes up Yang's philosophy of "reconciliation" in Theorie de la contradiction.38.' his post­ lme at . 1977). "Preface and Postscript to Rural Surveys" (1941).com) and ' Georg Lukacs as the philosopher of Leninism. 28 Lenin. 5A09. 1942] . Regarding theory and practice. 4 (Moscow: Progress. 34 Joseph Stalin.lacan. 4th English ed. "fusion" is not immediate unity. rather than :. .-Tr. 197 1] : 6-11. vol.marx2mao. vol. here and now. 1964). to which he has remained faithful. If we doubt these principles. 203. 2. The quotation here is from Mao Zedong's "Speech at the CPC National Conference on Propaganda Work" (March 12. in "Rhizome.' n Lenin uses the phrase many times ("The AgrarIan Program of the First Russian Revolution. 5. Mao uses the metaphor of the fusion between an arrow and a target ("Rectify the Party's Style of Work" [February 1. � � � �� : . in Selected Works. 1972) . 1957). Contribution au probleme de la construction d'un parti marxiste-Ieniniste de type nouveau (Paris: Maspero. 1964]: 9-12 and "Theory of 'Combine Two into One' is Reactionary Philosophy for Restoring Capitalism.-Tr. the history of Marxism is full of fusions of opportunist practice and theory in no tension with it. republican government which enjoys the support of the Soclal st-RevolutlOnary and Menshevik parties that only yesterday .mar w xists. 1917). and other s). vol. "A good resolution but a bad speech. in French Maoism and across the '60S conjecture: Badiou or Althusser use it without having to quote. Althusser. 1955 ). 3. in A Critique of Soviet Economics. . etc? What has it done to conduct the insurrection as an art? Mere talk in the Central Executive Committee and so ' on!" Lenin's note to "Crisis Has Matured.

or ( Groupe pour la fondation de) ['Union des Communistes de France Marxistes-Leninistes. 38 2. English online at www. it has not even claimed to be a 'union' yet. 95. to stamp out MarXIsm. a principle of bitter resentment against the entire history of the twentieth century: 'In order for the revolt of the . 3 . as have the other two organizations [Parti Communiste Marxisie-Leniniste de France. Logics of Antagonism: In the Margins of Alain Badiou's liThe Flux and the Party" Bruno Bosteels Introduction: Philosophy as the Struggle Against Revisionism • Alain Badiou's early Maoist text. The UCFML has made no claim to be a party.92 The Flux and the Party received its canonic formulation in History of the CPSU(b): Short Course (New York: In­ ternational Publishers.' shedding some of its Maoist legacy. by droppmg the ref­ erent of the proletariat and its party vanguard.-Tr. or desire and its libidinal flows. online at www. Published by members of the so-ca�led .organisation­ politique. The pOIIh­ . "The Flux and the Party: In the Margins of Anti-Oedipus. to Hallward's translation of Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding ofEvil (London: Verso. 2001).marx2mao. . (Groupe pour la Fondation de) I'Union des Communistes de France Marxiste-Leniniste. 3 8 Deleuze and Guattari. so central here. but also the theses Qu' est-ce que I'Organisation Politique (Paris: Le Perroquet.org): . 1939). but a 'group' for the formation of a 'union: It has readily admitted that it does not yet have a mass base which would entitle it legitimately to refer to itself as a party. and Parti Communiste Revolutionnaire (marxiste-leniniste). 138-142. "Everywhere to substitute the couple masses/State for the class struggle: that's al� there is to . Belden Fields observes in his Trotskyism and Maoism in France and the United States (chap.org.' app. the bod!. PCR(m-I ) ] . The main thrust of the polemic states that a new revisionist mode of thinking has taken hold of philosophy-a mode of think­ ing that. 2001) and online at www. PC­ MLF.com. whether in the name of writing. Polygraph 15/16 (2004) . See Peter Hallward's "Politics and Philosophy: An Interview with Alain Badiou. it:' part of the collective opening statement reads. It also questions the legitimacy of the PCMLF and the PCR(m­ I) so doing:' Many thanks to Bruno Bosteels for his suggestions on this point. did not consider itself a party even be­ fore it "re-began.maoism. cal essence of these 'philosophies' is captured in the followmg principle. Anti. masses against the State to be good. The instance and concept of the party. science. it is necessary to r�)ect the class direction of the proletariat.' is part of a 1977 collection of polemical interventions titled The Current Situation on the Philosophical Front. As A. as Organisation Politique. Badiou's Maoist organization. orgamza­ Yenan-Philosophy Group. .) Yet.. are put aside in further devel­ opment of Badiou's philosophy-if indeed the logic of abandoning them does not compel the transformations-as well as in his politics today. 172. abstract and purely formal dualism that. abandons the harsh questIOns of political organization and the class struggle in favor of an . these interven­ tions tackle the state of philosophical thinking around the mid-seventies in France by targeting Lacan (in the guise of Jacques-Alain Miller's "Matrix" and Christian Jambet and Guy Lardreau's The Angel: Ontology of RevolutIOn) and AI­ thusser (in the guise of Dominique Lecourt's little book on the "Lysenko affair") no less than Deleuze and Guattari (Anti­ Oedipus and the short text "Rhizome" that would soon there­ after become the introduction to A Thousand Plateaus). directly op­ poses the masses to the State. In fact. itself part of the MaOIst tion UCFML.Oedipus.

like its photographic negative yet without allowing any of the familiar dialectical topics of "the outside within. but the painstaking and disciplined labor of forcing the exist­ ing contradictions of a particular situation. this is the lesson to be drawn from the militant sequence between 1968 and the onset of a backlash in 1972. and try to demonstrate the timeliness of the translated piece in particular. the task is rather the other way around: to study which conceptual instruments philosophy must elaborate in order . for all their shocking bluntness. I will rely on Badiou's thought in general. would produce. moreover. remains to a large extent inscribed within the framework of presuppositions. after the Cultural Revolution and May ' 68. for example. when for Deleuze and Guattari we might substitute the names of Hardt and Negri. is after all called upon today. that of Zizek. Its follow-up but also its complement: indeed. those of Laclau and Mouffe-not to omit Derrida and the stubborn legacy of Hei­ deggerianism. and for Althusser-Lecourt. nearly thirty years later. is the notion of antagonism. which is the real transformation of the world in its historical particularity:" On the philosophical front. with the so­ called Common Program of the Left in France.' the opening statement reads.5 Whether or not these figures represent the front line of the philosophical battle 9S e activ his s after y year man even ou. particularly as developed by Mao in "On Contradic­ tion" and "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People. or they regain much of their initial urgency today. From this inexhaustible fountain springs what I would call the politico-ontological optimism and unapologetic vitalism that characterize Hardt and Negri's brand of material­ ism: "The creative forces of the multitude that sustain Empire are also capable of autonomously constructing a counter-Empire. a second tome simply to be titled Multitude. if not the terminology. written long before the global war on terror. "Everyone. Following the principle that guides Badiou in his Abridged Metapolitics. let alone applicable. the reader might ask. Empire always has been an im­ possible project to control the creative mobility and desire of the multitude. between the multitude and the concept of Empire as developed by Hardt and Negri. to take a stance.7 This will allow us to begin reading Badiou's work as a polemical intervention that cuts diagonally across the divisions between immanence. pre­ cisely in an attempt to answer inquiries such as my own. polemics such as the ones fought out in The Current Situation on the Philosophical Front also continue to prove invaluable. avoi us Let ism. but they are secondary in terms of politics. is now working with Michael Hardt to prepare the follow-up for their bestselling Empire. by comparing their theses with the current situation.' as well as in their systematic reformulation by Badiou. In fact. "They dream of a formal antagonism. perhaps we should entertain the e s mor fact seem in ou Badi y. that articulate masses. despite a sharp distanc­ ing from the idea of the party and its underlying debts to the dialectical mode of thought and action. Immanence and the Life of the Multitude The first orientation is the Spinozist . I want to argue that Badiou's current thought with regard to politics. including the Maoists. of a world broken in two. nearly thirty years later? In the remarks that follow. and State. by taking up three basic orientations in the logic of antagonism as developed in political thinking today. but.' there inevita­ bly emerges the specter of the multitude. Inside and against the imperial logic. As I have tried to elaborate elsewhere. an alternative political organization of global flows and exchanges:'8 When facing a massive work such as Empire. whether they are antagonistic or not. transcendence.94 Bruno Bosteels Logics ofAntagonism to hate the very idea of the class party:'" The result of such arguments is either the complete denial of antagonistic contradictions altogether or the jubilatory recogni­ tion of a mere semblance of antagonism.Deleuzian one that underlies the notions of immanence and the multitude as expounded by radical Italian political philoso­ phers such as Paolo Virno and Toni Negri. A first set of questions might thus concern the fate of an­ tagonism in Badiou's later works. continuing: "Such is clearly the question of any possible philosophy today. to that of being a dusty and slightly em­ barrassing museum piece. proclaimed in its universality. tenc ofla a stage in red ente has past the that esis h ypot h and more inclined of late to bring these latent continuities out into the open. not only illuminate his later thinking in ways that are very different from what an isolated reading of Being and Event. wherein we can read the primacy of politics (of antagonism) in its actuality:') Is this still the primordial question for any possible philosophy today. now translated here for the very first time. and the State.4 Badiou's Maoists texts. it is never a question of deciding whether a political phi­ losophy is relevant. Mao to s debt that would reduce the significance of texts such as Badiou's early article on Deleuze. first in Theory of Contradiction and On Ideology and then even more abstractly in the footnotes to The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic. Badi for that mind in keep ld shou we y. toda ist sion nst revi agai gle strug its in ed n defi to be s inue cont hy osop phil od. Better yet. efor ther d. for Lacan. one urgent task for the authors of this polemic involves precisely the struggle against such revision­ ist tendencies. there is a relation of reciprocity and resistance at the same time. Instead. therefore.' whereas a complete understanding of emancipatory politics would involve not just the joy and passion of short -lived revolt. the treat­ ment of antagonism in terms of division or scission and the forced return upon a divided situation bespeaks a logic of social change that remains almost entirely valid for these later works as well. or by the State. regarding his e -on oach ic appr raph riog ly histo pure a e. the crucial task of the reader can­ not consist simply in evaluating the prophetic power of Hardt and Negri's book. without dialectical negation. whether in terms of the market and globalization. whose vital constituent force should therefore be considered ontologically anterior to all the attempts at its mediation on behalf of constituted power. for example. its constitutive trilogy: mass movement. we are told. peri t aois M '6 er ism: Rath sion revi nst agai ggle stru the is hy osop phil of nce esse "The s: tion evia d than to consider this period over and done with. in the name of the people. in the direction of a generic truth: "They love revolt. class perspective. with no sword other than ideology. classes. to a given situation. The key to this articulation. The latter. For Badiou and his Maoist comrades. to discern the new with regard to the meaning of politics in its complex ar­ ticulation. and totality. as should already be obvious from the preceding lines.

he is relentless in his insistence that politics is inseparable from some form of organization: "Political organization is necessary in order for the intervention. we should perhaps ask if the multitude does not run the risk of becoming the slogan of an anarchic and speculative leftism of sorts. whereas the tradition of the revolutionary left. Do these new forms of mobilization Bruno Bosteels reV1've 97 the idea of direct democracy? Do they mark the end of the political. we should fur­ ther reconstruct the complete and undistorted genealogy behind the concept of the multitude. that the multitude today presents the masses without classes. classes. the last word on power holds that � . Two indications might suffice to show the magnitude of the task of a metapoliti­ cal approach in relation to the work of Hardt and Negri. As Badiou writes. orgalllzatlOn that dommated politICs for at of the party as the privileged form of least two centuries. to make a process out of the trajectory that goes from an interruption to a fidelity. As Badiou writes in Can Politics Be Thought?. Second. "From Rousseau to Mao. the old Kantian dualism of necessity and freedom. of democratic centralism. The counterposing of Empire and multitude thus appears to repeat previous dualisms such as those of capital and labor. "We need to investigate specifically how the multitude can become a political subject in the context of Empire. it looses in terms of its specific metapolitical effectiveness to think through the present political situation. between Empire and the multitude is in reality an idea that De­ leuze. that resistance is ontologically prior to power itself. Hardt and Negri in a sense re-actualize an older opposition. when new forms of political organization are either lacking or still insufficiently articulated. storY:'l0 The real question. the process of a true politics fortunately does not have to wait for the philosophers. except in name only­ between Empire and the multitude. and always torn. The novelty of this actor is in fact highly questionable. rather than continuing to define "the political" (Ie politique) together with the advantages and disadvan­ tages of various regimes of state power. posits in the masses precisely this vanishing ir­ ruption of which political philosophy only tells the always belated. in the streets and elsewhere. the most tempt­ ing posture is indeed one of radical left-wing idealism or adventurism. "By 'metapolitics' I understand the effects that a philosophy can draw. triad of masses. always supposed that the party would organize the masses into a common front by way of the class struggle. from Lenin to Mao. the forums in Porto Alegre. no matter how flexible the latter's regime of control is made to appear. "only points toward the real question.' they continue. power and resistance. which pretends that politics is not thought. and to make the same point in a different way. in the meantime.' which in the sixties and seventies would have been discussed in terms of the dialectic of the Hegelian-Lacanian beautiful soul. from the idea that real politics are themselves exercises in thinking. Even so. under the condition of "a" politics (une politique). whenever the question of organization is actually raised. capable of the best and the worst: "The multitude is a form of being that can give birth to one thing but also to the other: ambivalence:'J3 By starkly opposing the constituent force of the multitude to its mediation by the constituted power of Empire. namely. the old specters of Lenm­ ism. or the protests and uprisings in Argentina and Bolivia-to mention but a few recent cases. a canonical statement.' they posit in their short last chapter. or Marxist-Leninist. however. In order to think. in the sense in which Lenin talks of leftism as the in­ fantile disorder of communism-unless. organization is nothing but the consistency of politics:'ll By focusing on the tension-which is never really antagonistic. "Recognizing the potential autonomy of the mobile multitude. as has been the obsession of most hitherto existing political philosophies. A metapolitical approach thus puts philosophy under condition. one � ar�ed by the closure and ��austJon . ifby the )olitical today we understand the war games of global capitalism that leave even the I arliamentary rule in a position of either impotent ally or irrelevant opponent? The ypothesis. in his Grammar of the Multitude. in an ongoing series of wagers on the capacity for thought and action of the many. Hardt and Negri barely allude to these questions in their conclusion. but also with the traditional Marx­ ist. or their concentration into the political act proper. Hardt and Negri finally end up repeating a familiar scheme that contrasts the purity of insurrection and im­ manence to the equally pure power of transcendence and the established order. seems much more subtle and astute in this regard. does not pretend to be the umpteenth messianic version of the passage through purga­ tory-through the rule of Empire-so as to arrive at redemption-at the potential­ ity of the multitude. and the State. would be that these searching forms of organization indicate �he beg inning of a new political sequence. as a new figure of the present. rather. Therein lies the importance of debates such as the ones that surround the antiglobalization movement in Seattle or Genoa. What we need to grasp is how the multitude is organized and rede­ fined as a positive. or the disjunctive synthesis. social contradictions. so that it falls to the phi­ losopher to think 'the political:"9 Politics is an exercise in practical thinking in its own right. Negri and Hardt all borrow from Foucault. the book does not always avoid the pitfalls of what we might call "good (bad) conscience. First of all. Metapolitics is opposed to political philosophy. "Even more. Even if Badiou nowadays refuses the visible form of the party. as both Negri and Virno propose. or even. political power:'12 Hardt and Negri's book. while recognizing the profound ambivalence of the multitude. A corollary of this hypothesis would explain the contemporary resurgence of various forms of speculative ultra -leftism in so-called radical politi­ cal philosophy today: In a situation of rampant conservatism and blunt reactionary policies such as the ones that rule in the USA or Italy. not only with the modern ideas of the people and the nation-state. In this sense. which holds that the masses make history. without any mediation through class interests. inevitably raise their ugly head again. The key to understanding the non-dialectical relation of reciprocity. Here Badiou's early hypothesis might still be valid. the category of the multitude gives way to new and lasting forms of organization. concerns the ways in which we should articulate the notion of the multitude. within and for itself. of course. the one that opposes the masses directly to the state apparatus. order and anarchy. Convers:ly.Logics ofAntagonism to register in its midst the effects of what is happening. at bottom. as wager. but also. then. as Badiou argues in his early article on Deleuze. of party discipline and the critique of trade-union­ ism and social-democratic reformism. This is the idea not only that there can be no power without resistance. how­ ever. What this scheme wins in speculative radicality. and more importantly. At least Virno.

all this subversive arm-pumping. Going against "the ABC of revolutionary dialectics. There is no need. between power and resistance. which exalts its own power in freedom:'20 Even in the case of this earlier formulation. mutation. to be sure. then from B as Being to A as entity. "But it is the revolt that. the notion of antagonism does not vanish completely. Badiou's central question regarding Deleuze and Guattari cannot be resisted: ''All this cultural racket. more caplt�l extends ltS global networks of production and control. as the event of virtualization of the actual and �ctualization �f the virtual. perhaps.' a book which in many ways rephrases the a:g��ent from "The Flux and the Party" in strict ontological terms and without the VitrIolic attacks. thIS very Idea m hIS early attack against Deleuze. �rom one perspective Empire stands clearly over the multitude and subjects It to the rule of its overarching machine. or in the theory of antagonistic and non-antagonistic contradictions in Mao. this log�c leads to the almost perverse conclusion that the more power and oppresslOn there IS. as thing or as event. To give but one especially eloquent example of this logic from Empire: . however. inciden­ tally. appears to be a stable. there is erful any smgular pomt nothing that we cannot hope for nowadays! In Deleuze: "The Clamor of Being. this understanding . t��s makmg Spmoza into the quintessential philosopher oflate capitalism. the hierarchy IS reversed. as Id�ntIty or as becoming. Every entity that from the point of view of enti­ ties.' to which Badiou adds. has undergone dramatic changes in this regard over the last few years.r around:' '5 With Negri and Hardt. whereas Empire is a mere apparatus of capture that lives only off the vital- 99 ity of the multitude-as Marx would say. perha� s. if we adopt the principle of reversibil­ Ity. The multitude is the real productive force of our social world. This explains the radiant opti­ �llsm of Hardt and Negri in Empire. since all the interpretive clues to understand the latter already coincide. also always bears witness to the vitality of the multitude that sustains its rule. or better.'s Without mediation or negation. m a sense. Negri's work. which is but the ontological name of life itself. quoting directly from Chairman Mao: "Where there is oppression. point for point. the more pow­ . even though there is nothmg outsIde of Empire and. of revolt can be:" 6 Following this logic. �rom what we have been calling the ontological perspective.' Deleuze writes in his Foucault: "Thus. be­ tween old and new. of p �wer an� resistance qUIckly leads to the conclusion that. between Empire and multitude. without loosing the power of univocity in the hands ?f d�alectIcs. or the intuitive unity. . can also be read at the same time as the sign of Being. oflife into biopolitics. but it can no longer be understood in the context of older dialectical categories such as the qualitative accumulation of contradictions into an explosive antagonism. however. in which antagonism is transmuted into a principle of immanent reversibility. All this does not come about in a deterministic way. as a new Leviathan. not o�ly do�s the new global order confirm the flexible rule of pure immanence. but the all-powerful rule of Empire itself. This logic. the fabric of the present is an enormous node of strategic contradictions-it is like a boiling volcano which multiplies the ex­ plosions and fluxes. t�e better are the chances for resistance and revolt: "Perhaps the . explains both the strength and the weakness-and thus. but instead it is the fruit of a process dominated by the multitude. only to slip us. a vampire regime of accumulated dead labor that survives only by sucking off the blood of the living. . hence. such as the vanguard party. Badiou describes the Deleuzian orientation and method in terms �f a logic of th� double signature. in fact. aside from those points it connects. Intuitive m an ontologIcal sense. molar identity. not the other wa. Their enormous force lies precisely in the combination of two equally irrefutable interpretive gestures: by declaring the real subsumption of labor into capital. other relatively free or unbound pomts. passes judgment on the fate of the oppression. in political terms. at least not in name.' whereby "the strategic contradictions of development show. in the theory of the weakest link in Lenin.98 Bruno Bosteels Logics ofAntagonism resistance comes first. Indeed. at its own hour. Empire and multitude stand opposed as two signs of a gaze that is no longer dialectical but perhaps merely hermeneutical. as Empire or as multitude. between friend and enemy. to wait for the second volume of Empire. announced under the title Multi tude.' Negri still advocated the highly orthodox idea that revolutionary change takes place wherever and whenever contradictions accumulate into a strategic node and thus become antagonistic: ''Actually. The whole p oint almost seems to be to read Empire in terms of the multitude. the remarkable international success-of Hardt and Negri's book. resistance. From A as entity to B as Being. to understand the whole:" 4 Badiou himself. from the perspective of social productivity and creativity. at the end. finally. they are capable of filling the trash can of history with all those modern conceptions of poli­ tics that still rely on an antagonistic contradiction between inside and outside.�Izek often repeats by way of a critique. as Slavoj . At the same time. that is. that Freedom is Good and Necessity Evil?"" . or of CO� stItuted power. and we should start fr�m these. and vice-versa. would be needed to guarantee the effectiveness of the current struggl�s. the method consists in following this itinerary back and fort� bet�ee� the two poles.' Negri and Hardt thus reject any inter­ pretation of resistance in terms of a theory of the weakest link in the imperial chain: "In the constitution of Empire there is no longer an 'outside' to power and thus no longer weak links-if by weak link we mean an external point where the articula­ tions of global power are vulnerable:" 9 By contrast. in the theory of structural causality and overdetermination in Althusser. as late as in his "Tw. elements of creativity. Agamst the claim that any sort of external aid or extension. dependmg on whether it is read as entity or as Being. a�d of a simula �rum of Being:" 7 Everything that exists thus presents itself as doubly �Igne?.enty Theses on Marx. In this orientation. but by affirming the reversibility. for instance. produce and institute a new antagonistic subjectivity. Real change is hereby reduced to a mere reversal or shift in perspectives. however. mtUItlOn concatenates thought to things as copresence of a being of simulacrum . as constituent power. they are at the same time capable of overcoming the pessimism of the intellect with the purest optimism of creativity. with the clues that serve to read the former. there is no diagram that does no� contain. therefore. all hitherto existing political philosophers have gone astray when they continue to presuppose the existence of such an outside Empire no�etheless c�n always at the same time be read as a sign of the potentialit of the multItude. there is revolt. proposes .

in . If the real of psychoanalysis is the impossibility of the sexual as relationship. The structure of radical democracy paradoxically displays its greatest force at the point of its greatest weakness. It does not rely on a previ­ ously established identity but on the constitutive alterity of any social formation. during the late eighties and early nineties. In an extreme reading. The Real. in the deconstruction of ontology. the thing to do is not to 'overcome: to 'abolish' it. the party. That is why the basic feature of the democratic order is that the place of Power is. or . organic or substantial self-presence of a given community. the condition of possibility of democracy . which does not dream terrible conclusions: the one. a slogan obviously inspired by the Lacanian axiom: "There is no such thing as a sexual relationship. articulated on the basis of a vanishing term whose function in this whole is similar to that of Being for Heidegger or of the Real for Lacan. this place itself-like the center of Empire for Hardt and Negri. when it endlessly exposes the fragility of its Achilles' heel. to the contrary. 26 Metapolitically speaking. As Zizek states most eloquently: In this perspective. however. to a lesser extent. or antagonism pure and simple. however. It is in a similar way that the place of power appears in the radical-democratic orientation. seems to reside in the double parliamentary-electoral game. as in a kind of death drive. is the point of the impossible that vertebrates the symbolic order.100 Logics ofAntagonism Transcendence and the Real as Act � second orientation. and the real paradigm of which is art. however. is that which absolutely resists symbolization. the proponents of radical democracy sometimes have recourse to an aesthetic analogy in a paradoxical and necessarily violent presentation of the void of power in the midst of democracy (or the political) itself.. other than really existing parliamentary democracies. As Roberto Esposito writes."23 Several years before Laclau and Mouffe would consolidate this reading in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. Such self-presence is nothing but the eternal referent of myth. Following Claude Lefort's . often reduc�d to mere opinion-polls. gives its origin to the history of metaphysics. It is rather a question of posing within the scientific or propositional activity the principle of a clarity the (mystical) ele­ ment of which is beyond this activity. The event of Being. insofar as it would do no more than reiterate the illusion of a unique and indivisible bond in eternal opposition to the apparatus of the State. this origin. in the in­ terminable conversation achieved by means of the vote and the public debate. only offers itself by withdrawing itself at the same �ime and as such it is irreducible to the continuous unfolding of history. Badiou often repeats how all political philosophies stand under the condition of a specific politics. Whether it is called lack. d �nves It � Impetus from �he le�acies of Lacan and. cannot be reduced to an expression of alienated social conditions. of Heidegger (via Dernda) that for a bnef whtle. then. better yet. m psychoanalysis. no escape from it. due to the unbinding. even civil society no longer offers a valid alternative. the 'death drive: this dimension of radical negativity. embod­ ied in their unique representative. however. this radical-democratic view of antagonism limits itself to assuming. which others might call subalternity. capable of being thought in the categories of the radi­ cal-democratic orientation. because it is not a question of substituting art for philosophy. and the condition of ItS ngorous impossibility. of the social whole by an in trinsic exteriority. difference. by the way-is a non-place or blank space that is impossible to repr�sent. but to come to terms with it. one that gave rise to a new theory of radical democracy pre­ cls �ly b� p�tting the recognition of antagonism at the center of political philosophy. im manence. The only effective politics behind the concept of radical democ­ racy. an empty place:' 22 Only by remaining empty does the place of power in democracy make possible the regime of democratic representation. a�d �t the same time. the founding term around which the social order is constructed is an empty term. This alternative could be called arch-aesthetic. the Real itself. much less to embody in a particular historical subject-whether the pro­ letanat. to try to articulate a modus vivendi with it. there IS of radical democracy. which is �oth. or the dislocation. Bruno Bosteels 101 the real of Marxism states: 'There is no class relationship: What does this mean? It can be said otherwise: antagonism:'24 For the radical-democratic orientation. to learn to recognize it in its terrifying dimension and then. In order not to identify themselves with the glaring limits of really existing democracies. it defines la condition humaine as such: there is no solution. "Society . It articulates the field of the social following the principle of a lack of founda­ tion. this means that politics is not based on the plenitude of the social bond. By way of such aesthetic figurations. or the charismatic leader. "Democracy is that which guards alterity. in other words. From this perspective. by the necessity of its structure. no such thmg as society:' is the first slogan of the thinkers doesn t eXist. if we accept the explanation offered by Badiou in his reading of Wittgenstein: "I say arch-aesthetic. so that . the field of the political appears as a pre� carious social totality. All too often. the Lacanian real is in :�ct already understood in a political key in Badiou's Theory of the Subject. too. it is an absent cause that completely vanishes into its effects. found a common �round in the work of thinkers such as Ernesto Laclau. Zizek thus writes that "the Lacanian definition of democracy would then be: a so­ ciopolitical order in which the People do not exist-do not exist as a unity. the inherent impossibility of the symbolic order of a given society. but on its essential lack. transparency:'25 Above all. on the basis of this fundamental recognition.ell-known thesis about the empty. Chantal Mouffe and Slavoj Zizek. this political philosophy transcends the framework of what can be thought objectively in history or in the social sciences. not because it inaugurates a return to the root of the human essence or to the stable ground of some ultimate truth but. The project seems able to formulate itself only in terms of a categorical imperative that obliges us to recognize the intrinsic negativity of the so­ cial. this mode of recognizing the constitutive nature of an­ tagonism tends to be the only actual political experience. as though the task consisted merely in learning to live with the impasse-with­ out opening a passage through it. which does not give illusions or consolations. but robs the ground from beneath any preten­ sion to derive a politics from the immediate. This idea of democracy is radical. radical democracy is not grounded in the sovereignty of the people as demos. It is a question therefore of firmly establishing the laws of the sayable (the thinkable). because it aban­ dons �ny �r�:ens �on to found politi�s on a principle of substantive power. unoccupiable place of power in democracy.

but as an event for a given situation as de­ termined by its symptomatic site: "There is an event only in a situation that presents at least one site. scission. whereby a force reapplies itself to that from which it emerges by way of con­ flict. in other words. while deal­ ing with strife. nor by merely recognizing the structural fact of antagonism as the hard kernel of the real in the midst of everyday reality. to the objectivist doctrine of the Two (classes are transitive to the process of production). As Lacan had written in his Ecrits. can no longer be determined objectively. Whether this process is described in terms of destruction and purification or.33 There is little doubt in my mind. of the revolutionary act itself-as when Benjamin seeks to "blast open" the continuum of history. and nowhere else-there is no heaven of truths. not just in terms of a pure self-belonging cut off from the situation. after the obscure sequence from the late sixties to the mid-seventies. that the idea of the event's site is a con- . both these orientations must be carefully avoided. Except that today. which in the final instance is given only in the form of art) be situated as 'upper limit' of the sayable itself'2? Aside from this arch-aesthetic alternative. however. having the structural Two in its field of intervention. rather it is the result of a subject's intervention and fidelity to the events of politics themselves. this is the only question that really matters for Badiou. Rather. the event is defined. even Badiou's later philosophy as systematized in Being and Event begins to revolve around two key concepts-the symptomatic site of an event and the forcing or torsion of truth-which his critics tend to ignore. is not with a pristine opposition of being and event. does not have this Two as an objective essence. the point is that the logic of the constitu­ tive outside in and of itself remains an empty and purely structural scheme without the supplementary effort of a forced return to the initial situation. Antagonism. on the one hand. more recently. on the other? But: what truly happens between ordinary configurations of the multiple of being and their supplementation by an unforeseeable event? This means to think of the truth of an event as an immanent excess from the point of view of the initial situation: "It is thus an immanent break. from the point of a subjective intervention. The event is tied. the most stringent Maoist lesson to be drawn from the events of May ' 68 and the Cultural Revolution according to Badiou himself? If we take this point of view a step further. Therein lies the subjective essence of what is true: th at it is distorted:'3! Badiou's principal concern. Scission and the Symptomatic Torsion of Truth For Badiou. but must be produced through the labor of chance interventions: What is being sought after today is a thinking of politics which. in terms of subtraction and disqualification. To the contrary. Despite a recurrent temptation by the Mallarmean wager. within philosophy. such antagonism can no longer be read off directly from a sociological an4lysis of the structure. Truth as an ongoing process. or between being and event. Neither the immanence of pure life nor the transcendence of the death drive can account for the possibility of real change in a given situation. an intervention. What puts the innovative break into the circular inflection? Bruno Bosteels 103 A certain coefficient of torsion. "It is a process of torsion. or the fundamental twoness at the heart of politics. these should not be taken as two alre ady separate dimensions. after all. they stand as the extremes of an ongoing process of detachment and scission. and Badiou quotes this line approvingly in his Theory of the Subject: "The subject stands in internal exclusion to the object:'3o For Badiou. calling himself dynamite. a labor. Badiou is rarely taken in by the absolute purity of truth as a voluntaristic and self-constituent decision in the radical void of the undecidable. 'Immanent' because a truth proceeds in the situation. 'Break' because what en­ ables the truth-process-the event-meant nothing according to the prevailing lan­ guage and established knowledge of the situation:" 9 Badiou thus agrees with those contemporary Lacanians who affirm the structural necessity of an exclusion inher­ ent in the formation of any subject-precisely the kind of "outside within" rejected in the Spinozism of Deleuze or Hardt-Negri. a political production and not an objective or 'scientific' presupposition. which moreover only his critics transcribe with capi­ tals. hinge on the rare contingency of a process. or when Nietzsche.102 Logics ofAntagonism such a way that the unsayable (the unthinkable. and what is the event. the political innovation under way attempts to oppose a vision of the Two 'in terms of historicity: which means that the real Two is an event-related production. between an established order of being and the untainted novelty of an event-between place and force. as well as that between structure and subject. even though its spiral also means repetition. if once again we take into account the explanations given by Badiou: "The philosophical act is arch-political in the sense that it seeks to revolutionize humanity at a more radical level than the calculations of politics. there only remains the desire to repeat the power of an absolutely radical act in an imitation. but which in fact sum up his contribution to a forgotten tradition of the materialist dialectic. much of his philosophical work is guided by the hypothesis that the opposition between being and event. no matter how heroic or melancholy. His early polem­ ic against Deleuze already indicates that a political truth arises neither by purely intuiting the vital immanence of the multitude behind the oppressive machinery of power. in its very definition. no truth actually comes out of this structural fact without also involving a symptomatic torsion of the opening situation from the point of view of its unnameable excess. to the place or point that concentrates the historicity of the situation:'32 The site of an event is symptomatic of the situation in its totality for the same reasons that in the earlier days explained the qualitative accumulation of contradictions into an antagonistic node. pretends to "break history in two:' The desire for a radical act in this case can be called arch-political. who "proposes to make formally equivalent the philosophical act as an act of thinking with the explosive potentiality that is apparent in the politico-historical revolution:'28 The arch-aesthetic and the arch -political versions of the radical act. however. Or rather. Was this not. far from constituting in turn a structural given that would merely have to be rec­ ognized. or between necessity and freedom. in any case. And yet." Badiou wrote in Theory of the Subject: "All truth is new. Whenever he does seem to establish such a divide as that between truth and knowledge. In ontology. Not only: what is being. actively destroys the premise of a simple face-off. are never far removed from the kind of speculative ultra-leftism already found in the first orientation. moreover.' as in the case of Nietzsche.

as if the latter had already been added successfully onto the resources of knowledge available in this situation itself. If such were to be the case. is a laborious material process that requires a putting to work of an event. through the im­ passe-forcing the structure precisely there where a lack is found-so as to make generically possible that which the state of the situation would rather confine to an absurd impossibility. 1992). 6 Badiou. An event. or antagonism around which the situation as a whole is structured. by rejecting such stark opposition between being and event in favor of the specific site through which an event is anchored in the ontological deadlock of a situation that only a rare subjective intervention can then unlock. 1 2 Ibid. this lacuna can still be felt in Badiou's current work.. "Quelques reponses a un ami exigeant" (author's unpublished typescript). For Badiou. The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche's Philosophy of the Two (Cambridge: The MIT Press. which can then perfectly well be illustrated with examples drawn all the way from Antigone to Hollywood. Charles Ramond (Paris: L'Harmattan. Badiou's thought. All radical transformative action originates in a point. Thanks are also due to the participants in the long special seminar on Badiou and politics that followed the day after the talk. it is actually that which forever blocks and radically obscures the consequential elaboration of a new truth. and to the Polygraph collectivefor inviting me to contribute this piece as an introduction to the translation of Badiou 's text. with which a subject can only identify after traversing the ideological fantasy. "The idea of a turnabout whose origin would be a state of the totality is imaginary. which is. but it is tributary to a situation by virtue of its specific site. in a truly arduous production of novelty. with the impasse of the structure as with the real kernel of its own impossibility-say. Compare also with Alenka ZupanCiC's recent book. cannot consist merely in showing or recog­ nizing the traumatic impossibility. a fourth interlocutor-Michel Foucault-is mentioned in a footnote as the subject of a future dis­ cussion. The subject. is still only the inaugural act of subjectivization bereft of any subjec­ tive process. at worst. Incidentally. the Real in this case would merely indicate a structural impossibility and not even an event's site whereby the regular structure of a situation becomes historicized. the site of an event:'H Even Badiou's later thought remains dialectical. or the two as such. in other words. particularly with Foucault's final seminars at the College de France. The English translation of this text will appear as an afterword in the volume Think Again: Alain Badiou and the Future of Philosophy.. It is not a question of treating the truth of what is otherwise indiscernible in a given situation merely on the level of a regulative idea so as to avoid provoking a "disaster" but quite the opposite. as in the case of antagonism for the radical-democratic orientation. ed. Peter Hallward (London: Continuum. as part of Nietzsche's problematic legacy. 12-13. by force. arch-aesthetic or arch­ political act that either renders visible the unbearable anxiety of the real itself. with­ out the logic of scission and torsion. 10. this means nothing if not to bring the new out of the old. in ontology. is internally marked by the structure of assigned spaces in which this multiple is placed. finally. void.' in La situation actuelle sur Ie front phi­ losophique (Paris: Fran<. the aim of the generic extension and the subsequent forcing of the situation is profoundly anti­ Kantian. In a famous Chinese saying. a subject emerges only by opening a passage. to acknowledge or experi- 105 ence this radical impasse. Otherwise. or forcing. in a purely formal act of conversion or a mere shift in perspective. In fact. one 'adjoins' this indiscernible to the situation:'36 Without the subsequent process of forcing based on such a generic extension of the initial situation. 2002). 3 Ibid. It must further be the case that what the event calls forth and names is the central void of the situation for which this event is an event:'35 A subject's intervention. It does not come to coincide. "that not every 'novelty' is an event. 2004). 12. the dialectic would remain pro­ foundly idealist-its operation delivering at most a radical. but this polemic was never to take place. For this invitation and the ongoing dialogue surrounding this and other discussion texts. of the search for a certain dialectic in which every term Or multiple. through the traumatic symptom. The mention of Nietzsche's arch-political attempt "to break the history of the world in two" anticipates a future version of this same polemic. . "Etat de front. even the otherwise unfounded multiple of the event. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Groupe Yenan-Philosophie. • An initial version of this paper wasfirstpresented under the title "The Future ofAntagonism"for the Program in Literature and the Center for European Studies at Duke University (February 19. or ultimately calls upon the annihilation of the entire symbolic order in a mimicry of the revolutionary break.' in Alain Badiou: Penser Ie Multiple.' he writes. and 13 (2002): 173-208. 4 See my "Alain Badiou's Theory of the Subject: The Recommencement of Dialectical Ma­ terialism?" published in two parts in PLI: The Warwick Journal of Philosophy 12 (2001): 200-29. In addition to Deleuze. so that the "as if" here becomes key to a violent forcing of the existing situation itself: "The idea is thus to see what happens when. At best. 5 I have dealt with Badiou and the Heideggerian legacy in general in "Write et for<.104 Bruno Bosteels Logics ofAntagonism tinuation. is not pure novelty. I want to express my lasting gratitude to Alberto Moreiras. however. moreover. in which Badiou will once again reject the radical-anarchic figure of antagonism. 2003). further­ more. of the entire situation from the precise point of a ge­ neric truth. revolt. See Badiou's Casser en deux l'histoire du monde? (Pa­ ris: Conference du Perroquet. Despite Zizek's objections. in which certain readers might want to see a more sustained confrontation. 259-93. by contrast. To force a new consistent truth out of the old order of things from the antagonistic point where our knowledge of the latter is found wanting .:age: Ba­ diou avec Heidegger et Lacan. seeks to be dialectical and materialist in understanding the production of a new truth as the torsion.:ois Maspero. "We have seen. but it is not already the given truth of the situation itself. All translations in the present essay are mine unless otherwise specified. frequently invoked in the course of the Cultural Revolution. and insur­ rection. deeply inspired by Badiou's views. the ontological discourse risks leading us back to a false structural or ultra-leftist scheme. and Althusser. Lacan. the Real that resists symbolization will only have been the site of a possible truth. 2002). ed. within a situation. insofar as the event would constitute a pure vanishing insurrection of the void which founds the structure of being and which merely stands revealed in the immeasurable excess of the state of a situation over this situation itself. 1977).

. Politique. 142. completely misunderstands the pro­ cesses of generic extension and forcing. trans. 1988 ) . trans. 93-148. 1993 ). 13 See "Apendice: General Intellect. L 'Etre et l'evenement. 1 7 Badiou. "Le flux et Ie parti. 22 Zizek. In his Foreword to the second edition of For They Know Not What They Do. L 'Ethique 64. Saree Makdisi. L 'Ethique: Essai sur la conscience du Mal (Paris: Hatier. 23 See Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. "Democrazia. 26 Zizek. 58. Zizek seeks to distance himself-partially in response to my criticisms of his reading of Badiou-both from the heroic and quasi-transcendental reading of the Real as the impossible Thing-in-itself and from the liberal-Lefortian defense of radical democracy. Miguel Santucho (Madrid: Traficantes de Sueiios.' in Nove pensieri sulla politica (Bologna: II Mulino 1993 ). 2000) . 58. This reply to my objection.For the dialectical overtones of this and other key argu­ ments in Badiou's later works. and generic. In the Foreword to the second edition of For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as Political Factor (Lon­ don: Verso. Among the plethora of international commentaries on Hardt and Negri's bestseller. 34 Badiou. which precisely break with the imperative to treat regulative ideas merely in the mode of "as if" and not as a real. 12. Casser en deux l'histoire du monde?.' Gramatica de la multitud: Para un analisis de las formas de vida con­ temporanea. "Twenty Theses on Marx: Interpretation of the Class Situation Today. 16 Hardt and Negri. Adriana Gomez. Manifesto for Philosophy. As I plan to argue elsewhere. made in The Ticklish Subject. 20 Negri. Empire. 90-91 (translation modified to keep the difference between "politics" and "the political"). Ethics. 1982 ) . 131. 32 Badiou. transcendent. 19 Ibid. multitud. 35 Badiou. 1999 ) . Peut-on penser la politique? (Paris: Seuil. Norman Madarasz (Albany: SUNY Press. Badiou distinguishes three orientations: constructivist. 18 Hardt and Negri. 1989 ) . Deleuze: "La clameur de I'Etre" (Paris: Hachette. 27 Badiou. Empire. For They Know Not. Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. and much less in For They Know Not What They Do itself. Cesare Casarino and Rebecca E. Re­ printed as "Democracia radical: Tesis sobre la filosofia del radicalismo democnitico. 112. The Sublime Object of Ideology (London: Verso. My English translation of this book will be published by Duke University Press.' in Los nuevos adjetivos de la democracia. "Beyond the Positivity of the Social: Antago­ nisms and Hegemony. it can nevertheless be inferred from it. 7. 39. solipsisme. Theorie du sujet 29 and 139. in deep affinity with Badiou. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. 57. 25. 36 (translation slightly modified). I offer a more complete critique of the political philosophy of radical democracy in "Por una falta de politica: Tesis sobre la filosofia de la democracia radical. For a strict Kantian. 145· 25 Roberto Esposito. 11.' in Marxism beyond Marxism. 1985 ). 1998 ) . 1986 ) .' Acontecimiento: Revista para pensar la politica 17 ( 1999 ) : 63-89. 21 Badiou. The English translation of this book by Jason Barker is forthcoming from Verso. Badiou. Empire. 1985 ) . 72 36 Badiou. 197. in a subdivision that roughly overlaps the one used in these pages. See Zizek. 14 Gilles Deleuze. both of which arguments would signal the fundamental weakness of his ear­ lier book. 29 Badiou. See the translation in this issue. Ixxxiii-Ixxxiv. xv. trans. Badiou adds: "If the word 'torsion' is not current in Marxism. 1989 ) . saintete. Several theses from this earlier text are reflected in the present sum­ mary. there is little in this Foreword. see my "On the Subject of the Dialectic. 393. Zizek quotes my argument about the "as if" mode of a generic extension of the situation and then uses this argument to reassert his earlier claim. "Silence. ed. I would like to single out the extraordinary critique formulated by Raul J. 95 and 51. Abrege de mtitapolitique (Paris: Seuil.' 31 (and included in this issue). Theorie du sujet. Of course the theory of the weakest link was never meant to be such an external point of vulnerability to which the logic of immanent resistance can serve as an alterna­ tive. 71-72. 2000 ) . Badiou's insistence on the need to force a situation from the point ofview of its generic truth would be the prime example of a transcendental illusion.106 7 8 9 The notion of orientation itself is also borrowed from Badiou. Cerdeiras. L' antiphilosophie de Wittgenstein. 163-64. 11 Bruno Bosteels Logics ofAntagonism Ibid. Psychanalyse 3 ( 1994) : 7· 28 Badiou. exodo. L 'Etre et l'evenement.' Acontecimiento: Revista para pensar la politica 24-25 ( 2003) : 11-43. quoted in Badiou. Juan Domingo Estop.. Foucault (Paris: Minuit. however. S. 394 and 398. 62. 1997 ) . which is another reason why Badiou has never ceased being a profound anti-Kantian. Karl for the Poly­ graph collective (New York: Routledge. Theorie du sujet (Paris: Seuil.' i Barca! Poesie. The Sublime Object of Ideology. even violent change ef­ fected in the existing situation itself. 311-15..' also forthcoming in Think Again. 2003 ) . 1996 ) . De/euze: "The Clamor of Being" (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. however.' in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic 107 Politics (London: Verso. in "Las desventuras de la ontologia biopolitica de Imperio. 199· 33 Badiou. a special issue of the Mexican journal Metapolitica 18 ( 2001 ): 96-115. Manifeste pour la philosophie (Paris: Seuil. by combining the notion of the circle and that of the leap" ( 141 ) . to support this alleged break away from the arguments in The Sublime Object. "Le flux et Ie parti. Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding ofEvil. 12 Hardt and Negri. See his meditation "Destin ontologique de l'orientation dans la pensee. 15 Badiou. L 'Etre et l'evenement. 31 Badiou. 10 Badiou. 42-43 30 Jacques Lacan. 147. 24 Badiou. 2001 ) . Peter Hallward (London: Verso. 58.' in La situation actuelle sur Ie front philosophique. 2002) .' in L 'Etre et l'evenement (Paris: Seuil. about Badiou's na'ive Kantianism. Entrevista a Paolo Virno por el Colec­ tivo Situaciones.

an excitement. yet it is valid. there is no recess. as Joseph K. but precisely as an enjoyment that doesn't bring life. but an anima­ tion that permeates the subject with enjoyment. without it being clear of what and according to which particular law. and one never can. one has to oscil­ late between revolt and resignation. There is no law without the enjoyment. Quite the contrary: the law provokes an animation in the subject. it is a beginning of a whole new life.Kafka's Voices Mladen Dolar • In order to provide a quick entry into Kafka one can take a formula which stems from Gershom Scholem's correspon­ dence with Walter Benjamin from the thirties: Geltung ohne Bedeutung. The psychi­ cal counterpart of the law is not mortification. come to the bottom of its enigma. Guilt is not mortification but a wrong kind of vivification. The meaning eludes us. one hasn't got a minute of peace. the origin of its authority. investigate the ways in which one could satisfy the law. The law doesn't make sense. but a wrong life. which binds the subject to the law. he will die on the last page. one is always implicated in it.! The Polygraph 15/16 (2004) . an enjoyment coextensive with the rule of law and which makes it possible. one has to anxiously examine oneself. validity without meaning. try to figure out its secret. penetrate its source. The formula economi­ cally epitomizes the functioning of law in Kafka: one is faced with the law that holds us in sway with its validity. Ie mort saisit Ie vif (the formula by which Marx epitomizes the effects of the capi­ tal on life in the Introduction to Capital). an unrest. but one is unable to figure out its meaning. executed. its cen­ ter. it is like the dead letter which has got hold oflife in its total­ ity. it holds us to the last straws of our existence like a blind automatism which has no outside. yet faced with the law one is by definition guilty. an agitation. which coin­ cides with the life of the law itself. without having found out why. on the first page of The Trial. but rather "undeadness.' to use Eric Santner's term. as it were. he will never learn this throughout the book. despite his desperate attempts. One cannot escape it. but not by mortifying life or killing it. The indictment on the first page instills great excitement into Joseph K:s life.

so that the law is interrupted only when he is dead-one reading would be: the law has no power over the dead alone. secret. the transmission of a mandate. but is itself prohibited. disregarding any rules. all of it futile. The openness itself immobilizes. Still. Sovereignty is the point of excep­ tion mscnbed �n the law Itself. Yet what prohibits it is just an infinite deferral. it addresses the subject but the subject cannot figure out what is the meaning of this address. the point that can suspend the validity oflaws. �e law is closed in the very form of openness. to enter. it IS ore It � IS your own problem. a mission. But on the other hand he displayed an incredible stubbornness. subject to the law as such. This means that the paradox can equally be formulated in this way: "The law is exterior to itself:' or rather: "I. It is �Ike a red�u�led Prohibition. yet III this elusiveness it is also what is the go. The subject is cooked. but the doorkeeper is just the last and the least of the doorkeepers. III sway. exclusion is inclusion. with many drastic consequences which will define the century. made only for you. animation the subject and paralysis being two sides of the same position. the bare life excluded from the law in such a way that it can be killed with impunity. The gate is open. If you don't enter. the homo sacer is exposed to the law as such in its pure validity. The subject is at the mercy of the law beyond all laws. the door is always open. aggression. des �nbes the �tructure of sovereignty. including his bare life. he was successful only at the price of his own life. our own internal exteriority. the recognition. Kafka has turned homo sacer into the central literary figure. to interrupt the reign of pure validity. . one doesn't stand a chance while alive. . he IS sl. he was easily diverted from his initial intention. and one of the great �aradoxes of this law is that it doesn't prohibit anything. ) The law IS. doesn t stop the man from the country. The closed door is a chance of liberation. Yet. not to some particular assignment or prohlbltl �n. humiliation. there is no place law holds him before the law. The more it is open. he has let himself fall into the trap of the law through the very non-recognition. the authority. use this It is impossible to enter through an open door. then the man succeeded in a most remarkable feat: he managed to attain the closure.] 6 But if the very openness of the law is the pure form of its closure and of its unqualified validity and power. It is the struggle of exhaustion. the more it is impossible to revolt. thus displaying a certain shift in the functioning of the law that has taken place at the turn of the twentieth century. yet without entering into the realm of the sacrifice. since this is the way that the . our ex. Was the man from the country so naIve or so shrewd? On the one hand he was very timid. the prohibition is Itself prohibited. He managed to close the door. the last sentence reads: "This gate was . It receives you when yo� co�e and it dismisses you when you . is Mladen Dolar 111 legally situated outside the law. as a paradox: The sovereign is at the same time outside and inside the juridical order. his bare life exposed to be killed with impunity. what does it command. the . It is a call which lacks the other part.110 Kafka's Voices law. but the ve�y exclusion is the form of his inclusion.3 One can never get to the locus of prohibition. and are constantly making exceptions for themselves. �. having the legal power to suspend the validity of the law. Before the law one is always inside the law.him. if one could do that then one would be saved. following Carl Schmitt. anyone is welcome to enter. The law functions as an interpellation. they are figures of total unpredictability. the subjectivation in the Althusserian meaning of the word. I am now going to shut it. very fine word coined by Lacan. neither dead nor alive. revolt. Whenever one encounters the representatives of the law in Kafka-and one always encounters only its lowest and the most insignificant emissaries-they always act as the figures of transgression. it holds us within it is unat­ tainable and yet totally immanent. Kafka's heroes are always homines sacri. It is true. On the first pages of his book he defines sovereignty. . Is there a way out of this world without exteriority? Agamben proposes an op­ timistic reading of the parable "Before the Law:' precisely at the point where other interpreters merely saw the defeat of the man from the country. since the very non-recognition triggers a flood of doubts. subject to :he law wI�hout �uahfications. it animates us from our most intimate interior. [Ich gehe jetzt und schliej3e ihn. what does it prohibit?2 One is always "before the law:' outside of its gate. he let himself be subdued very quickly. self-interrogation. the sover­ eign. one always falls into one's own trap. the figures of whim who can arbitrarily either enforce the law or make an exception. The subject is excluded from the law. the prohibition of the prohibition. it is true that they manage to entirely exhaust him with the open door. instantly intimidated. there is a perspective of closure. Being outside the law. . exposed to the pure validity of the law which manifests itself as its opposite. and inaugurated a new era.. He can be arbitrarily stripped of all his possessions. which is the homo sacer. stands awestruck and paralyzed in front of the open door. but at the same time it succeeds triumphantly. who am outside the law. There is no physical impediment. a vocation.i. for the man never succeeded to get into the Law. Interpellation fails insofar as it doesn't produce a recognition. And this is the next essential twist: the very openness is the form of closu�e. the suspension of all laws and therefore the institution of the law as such. The sovereign. which is at the same time the law that presents an emgma. �uated in the empty validity.imacy-to . And one could say: Kafka is the literature of the permanent state of emergency. The state of emergency is the rule of law in its pure form-precisely the excess of validity over meaning. : subjec�ed. detaills a hidden secret. he doesn't know what the law wants ?f . . an ever-recedlllg closest. yet in the end he is the one who exhausts the law. If one is prepared . At the opposite end of the sovereign we have its inverse figure. ("The court doesn't want an�hing from you. The sovereign is the one who can suspend the legal order and proclaim the state of emergency where the laws are no longer valid and the exception becomes the rule. he died outside the gate and when dying learned that this gate was reserved only for him. the guilt and the enjoyment form a vicious circle. there is an infinite hierarchy of them that has no last in­ stance. persistence and determination. This is how he becomes the subject. a call to which the subject cannot assign a sense. the doorkeeper . of invalidating the law if only one persists far enough. The exclusi�e inclusion or the inclusive exclusion is precisely the way in which fto'ga�ben. . Impossible . The law functions as its pure transgression. without any defense. through the failure of as­ suming a symbolic mandate. declare that there is no outside of the law:'5 So sovereignty is structurally based on exception that is included in the law as its own point of exteriority. Where is the law.

.112 Mladen Dolar Kafka's Voices to persist to the end one can put an end to the validity of the law. a meaningless signature as the seal of reason. The sole function of the monarch is to add his signature: the laws are written and passed by competent people. mesmerized. a tiny fragment that one unexpectedly witnesses and which in its fragmentation re­ mains a mystery. he is suddenly para­ lyzed: "In front of the telephone he was powerless:' He is spellbound. it emits mysterious sounds. always accessible and unchangeable-but with Kafka one can never get to the place where it is written to check what it says. while the construction of its unfathomable meaning falls entirely upon the shoulders of the subject. This seems a desperate strategy. . The massive validity without meaning is epitomized by partial objects. not the zero point of universality. but the voice is enough to stupefy him. at all times. is always manifested by a voice. and they are all connected with the instance of the voice. and hence a permanent threat of the state of emergency. thus endowing the letter with authority. universally disponible and verifiable. where it suddenly displays its profound complicity with the bare life.' but exerts power and can be enacted. by servants. It was as if this murmur of countless children's voices-but this murmur was no murmur. there seems to be none out of the openness. It always shows itself through some partial objects. This was Hegel's wager: to include the point of exception and thus to neutralize it. its concealed existence suddenly becomes over­ whelming and devastating. the voice in general. This is not the path that history has taken in the past century: it treated the exception not as a signifier to be included. This is where the economy of the letter totally differs from the economy of the voice. the reverse side of the law. The monarch himself is chosen on the completely contin­ gent and "irrational" basis of natural heredity. There is a way out. This is just one example chosen at random among many. is still a letter. . . he uses this recent invention. maids. that which cannot be universalized. But what does he hear on the other side of the line? Just a voice that is some kind of singing. And among those partial objects there is the voice. This is why Kafka is generally perceived as the depress­ ing author of total closure with no exit. was turn­ ing into a single shrill high-pitched voice which was piercing the ear as if it wanted to penetrate deeper than mere hearing. yet in order for them to acquire validity. that is. by morsels. . extremely distant voices-as if this murmur. cannot be included. and there is a politics in Kafka that is not at all the capitulation before this unfathomable validity. from one morsel to another. in order to acquire au­ thority. which means that it can put into question the validity of the law: the voice stands at the point of exception. a pure performative act without a meaning. The voice is precisely what cannot be checked. It is reduced to the mere signifier. . to invalidate it. so he calls the castle. or rather to supplant it. typically through a glimpse. a zero point of universality. but as a voice which. had never heard before from a telephone. has to rely. the very embodiment of reason. the access is always denied. it is structurally placed at the point of the exception of the law. The letter of the law. etc. . He was sent for. This is why the superego. Misperceived. in an impossible way. despite its meaningless nature. which is for him the highest speculative category of the political philosophy. doorkeepers. the monarch has to add his signa­ ture. . it is the non-universal par 113 excellence. The voice is precisely at the unplaceable spot at the same time in the interior and the exterior of the law. And with Kafka the exception has become the only rule. and we have only voices in its place. or murmur. on the tacitly presupposed voice which makes that the letter is not "the dead letter. I can add in parenthesis that this is also exactly Hegel's problem-Slavoj Ziiek keeps coming back to this in several of his books. In what follows I will examine three strategies that offer an exit. And this is why the voice constantly threatened to undermine the authority of the letter. Before going any farther one should note that the intervention of a voice in this place is crucial and necessary.. his act resides in pure validation without possessing a meaning. the place of the letter is infinitely eluding. by trash. But this is the only thing he does. The sig­ nifier in the form of the senseless letter which. . at a certain point. that is. I think. . The voice epitomizes at best the validity beyond meaning. it is a matter of presumption. it was the singing of very distant. . the senseless voice of the law: the law constantly makes funny noises. There is a crucial point in this strategy: to reduce the externality and the exception to a mere signifier. by democratic procedures. End of parenthesis. . it is the zero point of non-universality. not by his abilities.7 There is no message. There was a murmur coming from the receiver such as K. So the monarch is the constitutive exception. to deprive it of all the pernicious effects and taus to enact the realm of reason through the very irrational point of exception in its center.8 And this is the point of Lacan's use of shofar: this ancient primitive instrument used in the Jewish rituals is the presen­ tification of the supposed voice of the dying primal father which keeps resonating. it is ever changing and fleeting. enough to capture desire. So the voice is structurally in the same position as sovereignty. arrives to the village under the castle he is lodged in an inn and he is eager to clarify the nature of his assignment. for this is not Kafka's message at all. the voice without qualifications. When the land surveyor K. . But what other strategies are there in this im­ possible predicament? If there is always some way out of the closure.9 When Hegel introduces the mon­ arch. in the maximum contrast to the law as the embodiment of reason. The validity of the law can be pinned to a senseless voice. and those are enough for the construction of fantasies. he introduces it as the figure of supreme sovereignty but deprived of any power. The letter of the law is hidden in some inaccessible place and may not exist at all. the internal exception which threatens to become the rule. by trivia. the exception is inscribed within the realm of the law. For the law is the law only insofar as it is written. this circle of internal transgression and culpabilization. Why the voice? What makes the voice placed in a structural and privileged posi­ tion? Let us briefly look at the intricate question of how does the law manifest itself. . . or buzz. the signature. the signature has the performative power of instituting the law. The emergency is the emergence of the voice in the commanding position. but in such a way that it is made innocuous. in its senseless nature. given the form which is universally at the disposal of everyone. The law acts as the pure metonymy. the telephone. the refuse of the law. he was summoned and he wants to know why. . of making it valid.

admiring the Statue of Liberty with her sword rising high up in the sun. The Si­ rens are not simply silent but they pretend to sing: "He saw their throats rising and falling. but helplessly tied to the mast. the paragon among Jewish jokes.' ("Das Schweigen der Sirenen") written in October 1917 and published in 1931 by M ax Brod.' and he believed they were singing and that he has escaped them and outfoxed them. of the law. as. if we follow the argument that Adorno and Horkheimer developed in Dialectic ofEn­ lightenment. . it doesn't command. who has also provided the title. while in the legend it was the oarsmen who had their ears stopped with wax while Ulysses was tied to the mast. says Kafka. he takes double precautions. the man counters deferral by deferral. The aesthetic pleasure is always the pleasure in chains. The Sirens are irresistible because they are silent. they are a machine imitating humanity. one can always oppose commands and injunctions. you want me to believe you're going to Lemberg. . So can one fight the law by turning a deaf ear to it? Can one just pretend not to hear its silence? This is no simple strategy. for he managed to transfer the burden of truth and lie on the other one. they are defeated: "They no longer had any desire to allure. yet Ulysses nevertheless managed to outwit them. Ulysses is naive. They were going through the motions of singing and he was going through the mo­ tions of not hearing their silence. This one has escaped. in its separation from the economy of work and survival. that the Sirens were silent.17 . Ulysses' strategy is not unrelated to the strategy of the man from the country: Ulysses counters pretense by pretense. that is. Is his ultimate slyness displayed by putting up an act of naivete? So in the second account he outwitted them by pretending not to hear that there was really nothing to hear. or the Mouse Folk" ("Josefine die Sangerin oder das Yolk der Mause"). But the Sirens have a weapon far more effective than their voice. . or the silence. if one may so express it. exhaustion by exhaustion-he manages to exhaust the exhaus­ tion. and everybody else is the rule. take pleasure in art. . In the joke the first Jew. Let us now turn to another strategy that has again the voice at its kernel. still it is conceivable that someone might possibly have escaped from their singing. There is a sharp division between those who are doomed to be deaf and to work. he childishly trusts his devices and he sails past them. There was a division oflabor. as the wanderer is spellbound by the song of the Sirens. who could only reply with a hysterical outburst. in its powerlessness. although here the human understanding is beyond its depths. is actually the last . its pure embodiment. This is the mechanism of the law at its minimal: it expects nothing of you. for example. This doesn't work with the Sirens. they are an automa­ ton. and this is the place to start scrutinizing the function of art. . it boggles the mind. So why are you lying to me?"14 So by extension: "Why are you pretending that you don't hear anything when you really don't hear anything? Why are you pretending not to hear when you know very well there is nothing to hear? You pretend so that I would think you don't hear anything while I know very well that you really don't hear anything:' The Jewish joke is Ulysses' triumph. . He imagined that he has es­ caped their power by his naive cunning. that is. in the opening paragraph of his novel America. their eyes filled with tears. Here we have the first strat­ egy. the ulti­ mate weapon of the law. and this is why their defeat cannot have any effect. One almost doesn't notice. Kafka's Ulysses combines both strategies. . it defies human understanding. and in the first account we are led to sup­ pose that it was his naivete that saved him. he managed to counter one pretense with another. to bring an end to the deferral. "To protect himself from the Sirens Ulysses stopped his ears with wax and had himself bound to the mast of his ship:'l0 The first sentence is already one of Kafka's wonderful opening coups de force. . . the one with the two Jews on the railway station: "If you say you're going to Krakow. . it is thwarted by the limits assigned to it. It takes the supreme cunning and it doesn't introduce a closure of the law. did not hear their silence. 115 Yet the truth of the story is perhaps not in his naivete at all: "Perhaps he had re­ ally noticed. What is the secret of that ir­ resistible voice? Kafka has an answer in his short story "The Silence of the Sirens. all their behavior is going through the motions. is the winner. . indeed the very model of the division oflabor. But they remained as they had been. The silence is the very form of the validity of the law beyond its meaning. . but from their silence certainly never:'" One cannot resist silence for the good rea­ son that there is nothing to resist. which is their silence. the sly and cunning Ulysses-Homer never fails to accompany his name by one of those epithets. One could say that his ruse has the structure of the most famous Jewish joke. "And though admittedly such a thing has never happened. and this is why Ulysses confronting the Sirens is so exemplary for Adorno and Horkheimer. they are inanimate. . To be sure. to close the door. the voice which can counter the voice. their lips half-parted. "But Ulysses. the one who simply told the truth about his destination. all that had happened was that Ulysses had escaped them:'16 They have no consciousness. where we have his hero Karl RoBmann arriving by boat to the New York harbor. although their singing was unstoppable. but not the silence. This is the very image of the division between labor and art. although all know that this is useless: the song of the Sirens would pierce any wax and the true passion would break any chains. is spellbound by the voice emanating from the castle through the telephone. the silence that is unbearable and irresistible. . One is left with the same oscillation as in our story: was the truth-teller so naIve or so shrewd? Which is exactly the question that remained in the air with the man from the country dy­ ing on the threshold of the law. Ulysses was an exception. their breasts lifting. and those who listen and enjoy. they are cyborgs. all they wanted was to hold as long as they could the radi­ ance that fell from Ulysses' great eyes:'lS Are they suddenly seized by the yearning for the one who managed to get away? "If the Sirens had possessed consciousness they would have been annihilated at that moment. he thought they were singing and that he alone did not hear them:'12 If he knew they were silent he would be lost. but where is the sword in the Statue of Liberty? Here we have Ulysses stopping his ears and tied to the mast. But I know that in fact you're going to Krakow. the aristocratic and the proletarian one. the first model of escape from the unstoppable force of the law. the zero-point of voice. but this cannot dismantle the mechanism. the voice at its purest.114 Mladen Dolar Kafka's Voices K. and held up to them and to the gods the aforementioned pretense merely as a sort of shield:'13 The shrewd and canny Ulysses. "Josephine the Singer.

The law treats subjects as insects. to become indeed reduced to the bare animal life. urinals. Duchamp invented the wheel for the twentieth century. Kafka's animals are never linked to mythology. as in Lacan's definition of sublimation. 23 Josephine merely pipes. Yet her singing is irresistible. most notoriously. There is a vast question of Kafka's multiple uses of the animal kingdom which are so prominent in his work-here I can only follow Deleuze and Guattari. all that went before. as singing.25 There is an act of a pure creatio ex nihilo. . the ordinary bicycle wheel. and thus the metaphor collapses. they are never allegorical or metaphorical.'20 and on this account Kafka is perhaps the first utterly non-metaphorical author. up to this day. . We all pipe. in the middle of the street. the imperceptible gap that sepa­ rates it from all other voices while remaining absolutely the same-"a mere nothing in voice. but Gregor Samsa destroys the metaphor by taking it literally. The general question can be put in the following way: is animality outside the law? The first answer is: by no means. hardly rises above the level of our usual piping . pJeifen l ? And piping is something we all know about. . Here is the justly famous line by Deleuze and Guattari: "Metamorphosis is the contrary of metaphor. Whenever she starts singing. but of the emergence of another kind of voice in the midst of the society governed by the law. '''That was no human voice. . a couple of months before his death. Yet on the other hand they nevertheless represent what Deleuze and Guattari cali ia ligne de Juite. not as an outside of law but at the bottom of the full assumption of the law. but rather it creates the nothing. the bare life of homo sacer. . a ligne de Juite emerges. the non-sacrificial animality (the insect is the anti-lamb). the lowest kind of animality represented by insects.21 which means that animals are always denaturalized. (A parenthesis: what Freud and Kafka curiously have in common.22 Couldn't one say that this absence of musical gift is the best entrance into the susceptibility to the voice?). as all mice do. So Josephine's voice is the ready-made object. in March 1924. This is an extraordinary trait particularly given their Jewish background. but it is just "to a straw" like any other. elevating it to the dignity of the Thing. this is no ordinary voice. the becoming-animal of Gregor Samsa. But there is a double edge to this: one can read the becoming-animal on the first level as becom­ ing that what law has made out of subjects. reduced to what Deleuze and Guattari call the pure intensity. or rather creatio ex nihilo in reverse: the wheel. is provided not only by the voice. Is it not perhaps just piping [whistling. by literalizing it. that is. . his voice. the object of mass production." '9 it is the signifier reduced to pure senseless voice. . it is the extension of the ready­ made into music. anywhere. innocent or authentic about them. provide a clue which would illuminate. this suture. at any time. "Piping is our people's daily speech . since music was historically one of the Jewish specialties. the speech minus meaning. the way out from all the symbolic roles that he had assumed. the gap that separates it from all other wheels. the crawling . . All it does is to introduce a gap. suddenly in its strange sublimity. among other things. disgusting swarm to be decontaminated. So what is so special about Josephine's voice? Among intimates we admit freely to one another that Josephine's singing. Animality is the internal outside that is endowed with ambivalence precisely at the point of fully realizing the implicit presupposition of the law. etc. there is nothing pre-cultural. the reduction to animality. By its being the last one it is necessarily placed in the perspective of reading it as his testament. the point de capiton. This is 1924. . It is like the sudden intrusion of transcendence into immanence. is their claim that they are both completely unmusical. even in a less accom­ plished manner than the others. and there are even many among us who are quite unaware that piping is one of our characteristics. a voice that wouldn't be the voice of the law. is created not exactly out of nothing. deterritorialized animals. are organized "just like" human societies. indeed without noticing it. the necessary illusion of it being the vantage point which would shed some ultimate light on his work. there is immediately a crowd that gathers and listens. but of course no one dreams of making out that our piping is an art. all the time. with any kind of ob­ ject: this is the art of the ready-made.'8 and one is structurally inclined to take this minuscule peep as the red thread that could retro­ actively enlighten Kafka's obscurity. the incomprehensible chirping sounds which come out of his mouth when he tries to justify himself in front of the chief clerk. . . completely enthralled. though a failed one. whistles. But by fully assuming the position of the bare life. and she does it in unpredictable places and times. but by the tiniest of voices. . who dwell upon this at some length. Josephine's voice is endowed with a special power 117 i n the midst of this entirely unmusical race of mice. that music is the one thing they don't understand at all. Josephine . which features. . though it may seem indistinguishable from it.). the mice and the dogs to which we will come in a moment. and which presents the wheel in its pure being-object. deprived of any of its functions."26 This can start anywhere.116 Mladen Dolar Kafka's Voices story that Kafka ever wrote. It is not a question of metamor­ phosis. with finality. As Gerard Wajcman put it. and everything is ready-made for art. the minute microscopic squeak. the time of Marcel Duchamp. There is. "to elevate an object to the dignity of the Thing:' She may well be convinced herself that her voice is very special. though indistinguishable from others by its positive features. . the quilting point. The becoming-animal of Gregor Samsa means his escape from the mechanism of his family and his job. is nothing out of the ordinary. The animal societies. everywhere. the imperceptible . said the chief clerk . but a transcendence that stays in the very midst of immanence and looks exactly the same. this art object that mysteriously looks exactly like any bicycle wheel (to be followed by shufl1ing spades. all its power stems from the place it occupies.'24 that is. . the distance of analogy evaporates and the word becomes the thing. . or rather no mere accomplishment but a characteristic expression of our life. Josephine's voice presents a different problem. And it is no doubt bizarre and ironical that this clue. Metamorphosis is an attempt of escape. his last will. we pipe without thinking of it. it is the real artistic accomplishment of our people. his insecthood is at the same time his liberation. as the metaphor has it. ten years after he displayed his La roue de bicyclette (1913). a certain line of flight. So this very ordinary piping is suddenly placed on a special spot. Is it in fact singing at all? . apart from the obvious analogies of their Jewish origins and sharing the same historical moment and the space of Central Europe.

despite the general esteem. But at the same time she wants her status of the exception to be legally sanctioned. they are cold in their judgment. is betrayed and destroyed by the very status of art. which occupy the largest part of the story. and the moment art does this. She wants to be. since we are no historians. the bearer of the doxaY They are non-individuals. which can arise anywhere. the strategy of art. properly glorified. both inside and outside the law. which reinserts it and closes the gap. even finding it useful in making his effects to be rather less expert in nut -cracking than most of US. There is the comedy of the hurt narcissism. Josephine's road must go downhill. no traces will be left of her art. is the exceptional one. and can awaken. she will be forgotten. while she is persuaded that she is the one that takes care of the people. Yet the moment it makes its appear­ ance this difference is bungled by the very gesture that brought it about. symbolically recog­ nized. the work allegedly harms her voice. comes almost like a message from the whole people to each individuaI:'30 In a reversal. she puts up the act of the genius not understood by the contemporaries. she lets herself be begged and only reluctantly gives in. the lost individuality of others. She wants to be exempt from work. the elevated individuality who stands for. Curious. . this is not a people of historians and ar­ chivists. of her own accord she destroys the power she has gained over people's hearts. . make them make a break. Hence the whole farce of the egocentric megalomania and the misunderstood genius. collect. people will do easily without her. since she knows so little about these hearts of ours? . the people's artist. Her art is the art of the minimal gap. But if all the same one does do that and succeeds in entertaining the public. of the ready-made objects. at any moment. Her voice. this will teach them a lesson. and besides. that is. she sings for all. but it turns out that we have overlooked the art of cracking nuts because we were too skilled in it and that this newcomer to it first shows us its real nature. providing it can provide them with a gap. she is the voice of the people. Josephine wants the impossible: she wants a place beyond the law. but want her to remain one of them. which makes her all the more the genius. the very status of art veils what is at stake. . as one commentator put it). it is cooked. which opens the crack in the seamless continuity of the law. so no one would ever dare to collect an audi­ ence in order to entertain it with nut-cracking. The time will soon come when her last notes sound and die into silence. the break becomes the institution of the break. the equality in tininess. she embodies the collectivity and relegates her listeners to their individuality. she wants that the due honor should be paid to her services. she requires special privileges. the high mission of the artist's overblown vocation. like the sovereign. on the other side of the scale. which rises up where everyone else is pledged to silence. ev- Mladen Dolar 119 erybody goes about their business as usual. they respect her. how mistaken she is in her calculations. she wants to be granted the place apart. So there is the whole charade of the artist who is not appreciated as she would deserve. her sing­ ing is supposed to save" them and "if it doesn't drive away the evil. the megalomania. at least gives us strength to bear it:'29 Her voice is a collective voice. and the people will get over the loss of her. An accomplished trained singer would never have pulled off this feat. . Or it is a matter of nut-cracking. which is made of anything. The very break it has introduced is reduced to just another social function. "This piping.118 Kafka's Voices difference in the very sameness. only that nobody notices it. but nobody cares. they dis­ play the uniformity of their reactions. without noticing the lack of the lack. That is. Her genius is in having no talent. only many a one pipes his whole life long and does not know it. Josephine is the popular artist. So this is the second strategy. Its power is at the same time its powerlessness. So one day she indeed stops singing. She is a small episode in the eternal history of our people. she doesn't get the laurel that she thinks belongs to her. and maybe she does. don't want to hear about any of this. As an artist who wants veneration and recognition she will be forgotten. She "does not want mere admiration. so the people take care of her as the father of the child..28 So any voice will do to crack the nuts. But in her role of the artist she is also the capricious prima donna. the inflated ego. . . nobody gives a damn. who otherwise form an anonymous mass. where here piping is set free from the fetters of daily life and it . of the art as the non -exceptional exception. beyond the equality-and equality is the essential feature of the mouse-folk. She keeps coming up with all sorts of whims. which in our world cannot be anything but a sad one. firmly believing that there would be some huge scandal. There is the opposition between her oneness and the collectivity of people-they are always treated en masse. when they are "in a bad way politically or economically. will rise to the heights of redemption and be forgotten like all her brothers. How could she ever have gained that power.33 Despite her vanity and megalomania. the special privileges etc. there is no way one could stack. the absence of the gap. while she. At best it can be a tiny recess: "Piping is our people's daily speech. of oblivion. will happily lose herself in the numberless throng of the heroes of our people. despite some minor divergences of opinion. Out of protest she announces that she will cut down her coloraturas. Perhaps we shall not miss so very much after all. its place is circumscribed and as an exception it can fit very well into the rule. and soon. provided it can create nothing out of some­ thing. It is the art of the minimal difference. That is. without noticing a lack. which consists purely in the gap. relegated to the gallery of memory. into the rule of law.>7 and this is the hardest nut to crack. while Josephine . To crack a nut is truly no feat. and their commonsensical opinion is rendered by the narrator (Erzahlermaus. the clever creature. She wants her uniqueness to be recognized as a special social role. the moment this gesture and this difference became instituted. in their miniature size (hence her claims to greatness are all the more comical). then it cannot be a matter of simple nut-cracking. she wants to be admired exactly in the way she prescribes:'32 But the people. so mis­ taken that one might fancy she has made no calculations at all but is only being driven on by her destiny. Of her own accord she abandons her singing. there is the whole comedy of her claims for her rights. archive her art. . the moment art becomes an insti­ tution to which a certain place is allotted and certain limits are drawn.

its snail-like shape. what Michel Chion called the acousmatic voice. the subject is the one who is responsible for the emission. certain turns of the head. but this one was just created out of nothing. of "the most elementary form of a constituted and a constituting emptiness [Ie videl . Lacan argues for his tenet that the object voice has to be divorced from sonority. the pure alterity: the inverted form of our message is its voice. indeed devastating. as the dictionary has it (and this German expression may well be at the origin of the whole story). but once it is instituted and recognized. . . the volume. He curi­ ously makes an excursion into the physiology of the ear. and goes on to say that its impor­ tance is merely topological. the voice. but from the empty air they conjured music. . that is. a cavity. . its importance shrinks to the size of the mouse. and it takes "great musical artists" to single it out. which was created from a pure void. it consists in the formation of a void. The voice comes back to us through the loop of the Other. . It is a response to our words. but because of the nature of art itself. almost determinedly silent. But there is a twist: They did not speak. the voice as the answer to what was said. The voice is what is said turned into its alterity. The miniature size of the mouse is enough to open the gap. . in our sense. We have seen that Josephine's problem was to create a nothing out of something. but it is not responsible for them. they did not sing. ready-made. the lifting and setting down of their feet.' like the empty space in the middle of a tube. ex nihilo. will continue to be deaf. that is. but are stuck with Ulysses tout court. . the positions they took up in relation to one another . Our speech resonates in the Other and is returned as the voice. What are we to make of this? I will take up just one thread. then it is only the void of the Other. [Tlhey brought the sound with them. some minimal emission.37 It is the voice as pure resonance. But this is but a metaphor. though I could not recognize how they pro­ duced it. and the oarsmen. but the responsibility is the subject's own. an empty space. is one of the most obscure and most bizarre among Kafka's stories-and this is to say something-apart from being one of the longest.l In other words: in order to respond we have to incorporate the voice as the alterity of what is said [l'alterite de ce qui se ditl . it is the minimal form of the echo. 1963. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Let us now turn to a third option. One could say: the art is her mousetrap. resonates in the void which is the void of the Other as such.35 To start with the situation is similar to that of Josephine's singing: music is every­ where in dogs' lives. for though music had surrounded me as a perfectly natural and indispensable element of ex­ istence ever since I was a suckling. they remained generally silent. . it is ruined by its own success. "Investigations of a Dog" ("Forschungen eines Hundes") . At that time I still knew hardly anything of the creative gift for music with which the canine race alone is endowed. one addresses it in the hope of a response. the gap of nothing which encircles the ready-made object made out of nothing. piped to the mice.120 Kafka's Voices Mladen Dolar sets us free too for a little while:'34 Just for a little while. It just came from nowhere. out of some place of darkness. One expects a response from the Other. Everything was music. but the inau­ dible echo of the pure resonance. and there is a response. ex nihilo. piped in vain to someone who cannot understand or appreciate it-not because of some obtuseness of the mass. and this non-sonorous resonance endows what is said with alterity. . In one of his (rather rare) reflections about the voice in the (unpublished) seminar on anxiety on June 5. like everybody. It is the voice tied to the mast. There we have the great wonder: the ready-made nothing. not the Other's. to the accompaniment of terrible sounds such as I had never heard before. creatio nullius rei. a voice that comes back to us. written in 1922 (two years before his death) and published in 1931. despite its delusions of grandeur. then it doesn't reside in it reso­ nating in some spatial void. We say something. that is. an element which nothing impelled me to distinguish from the rest of existence . it had naturally enough escaped my but slowly developing powers of observation. and continues with the following rather mysterious passage: If the voice. or of any wind instrument. . . One speaks. or rather with the Adorno and Horkheimer version. the title again given by Max Brod. the Other as a void. . This is maybe the original form of the famous formula that the· subject always gets back his own message in an inverted form: the message that one gets back in response is the voice. rather it resides in the fact that the simplest emission . Music was everywhere in dogs' lives. and who is suddenly awakened from this life by an encounter with seven rather special music-producing dogs. seven dogs stepped into the light. then. the most run-of-the-mill thing. were these seven great musical artists to me. . he speaks about the cavity of the ear. no singing. mais elle ne peut pas en repon­ dre. . If there is an empty space in which the voice resonates.36 Where does the music come from? There is no speaking. something we didn't bargain for. although this resonance has no sonority. ex nihilo. and what comes back to us from the Other is the pure alterity of what is said. but all one gets is the voice. there is a resonating nothing. The pure void produces something. So the second strategy fails. the space of mere resonance. but it cannot be re­ sponsible for it [La voix repond a ce qui se dit. Thus we end up not with Kafka's version of Ulysses. although they may hear it in the flash of a brief recess. their running and their standing still. Here we have a dog who lives a normal dog's life. Let me take a brief pause for a digression. . . has an importance. but by setting us free it only helps us bear the rest all the better. . . but this response is the mere resonance in the Other. to produce the break. . from the empty air. Her sublime voice will finally be den Miiusen gepjiffen. and despite the temporary thrall it will be forgotten. The ready-made nothing is epitomized by the voice without a discernible source. utterly inconspicuous. he says. something emerges out of nothing. all the more astonishing. not the sound echo that one can hear. . Ie tuyau. no musical 121 instruments. in creatio ex nihilo in reverse. so to speak. the tube. [theirl lying flat on the ground and going through complicated concerted evolutions . The voice responds to what is said. but here it's even better: they create nothing out of nothing.

and he wants to start his inquiries with the simplest things. and this is why the hunger artist will die of hunger. He said something more than he intended. they give him the bone. they spring up from nothing. The question "Where does the music come from? Where does the voice come from?" is immediately translated into another question: "Where does the food come from?" The mystery of the incor­ poreal resonance of the voice is without further ado transformed into the mystery of a very different kind. and respond to.\­ :1. but the food is at the opposite end. The starvation was his ready-made..-. overwhelming him. in the midst of that race of mice which is both very childish and prematurely old at the same time. but in order to give it up.38 This reso­ nance dispossesses one's own voice. . which indeed seems to be all about retrieving the childhood. the simplest and the most palpable thing suddenly becomes endowed with the greatest of secrets. his interest is an epistemological one. but must at the same time respond for. which is a common enough phenomenon. the most elementary means of survival. in a few lines.39 The dispossession is at the same time an opening. not the starving artist. and quite against my will . literally knocked the breath out of me and swept me far away from those actual little dogs. a pure causa sui. but someone who has brought starvation to an art. It is the quest for the source.:. The way to discover the source of food is to starve. The hapless young dog is overwhelmed: . etc. this is not the portrait of the artist as a young dog. it should be taken as a motto.' :. so is the source of food an ever-elusive enigma. in a passage that is completely unpredictable and completely logical at the same time. -'y .' to start his investigations. as if the voice of this resonance would have got hold of all possible points of emission. my mind could attend to nothing but this blast of music which seemed to come from all sides. Psychoanalysis is on the side of the young dog who decides to grow up. to pursue a quest. the intriguing problem of the dogs floating in the air. who all seem quite unconcerned by such self-evident trivialities. but which in this self­ causality encompasses everything. the music gradually got the upper hand. . so instead of an answer they give him food. . which comes back to the subject as the answer the moment one spoke. . they are like children infused with "weariness and hopelessness. So the dog goes around asking other dogs.'41 and Josephine's voice was like preserving their childhood against their economy of survival. But the young dog is at the very opposite end of this. there is no problem of the status of this voice as art. there is no end to mystery. One of Josephine's endeavors was to preserve the dimension of the child in her art. from ev­ erywhere. 123 starting with the infantilization of infants. he decides that "there are more important things than childhood:' Es gibt wichtigere Dinge als die Kindheit:42 this is one of Kafka's great sentences.40 This experience entirely shatters the young dog's life. crushing him. since his secret was that he actually really disliked food. against the always premature adulthood.'. it is the question about a mystery where there doesn't seem to be any mystery. . turn to research. or indeed as a most serious political slogan. it is the start of his quest. whose art consisted merely in letting the Other resonate for itself.' "Der Hungerkiinstler.' "the void.' the story written in the same year. it is created in the loop of its void. This is what one has to learn to respond for. The dog sees a mystery where nobody else sees a mystery. and he is starv- . namely that we are all children in our hearts and that this is our most precious possession. The voice is the reso­ nance from nowhere. all of them illuminating and strangely wonderful. But this is just a digression." - . His interest in all this is not artistic at all. In a few sentences.. stop his questioning with food. If we take up just the slogans of "the resonance of the Other. the dispossession of one's voice in the presence of the silence of the analyst: whatever one says is immediately countered by its own alterity. the alterity of his own speech. the attempt to gain knowledge about the source of it all. but the voice pertains to the Other. it doesn't serve anything (Lacan's definition of enjoyment). It is as if the pure void of the Other would start to reverberate in itself in the presence of those great musicians.-' . that of Kafka by that of Lacan. of the most corporeal kind imaginable. to leave behind "the blissful life of a young dog. and over his swooning body still blowing fanfares so near that they seemed far away and almost inaudible.� -" . Once one starts asking questions. .' "ex nihilo. and respond to. " .43 .122 Mladen Dolar Kafka's Voices A politi cal slogan in the time of the general infantilization of social life. the resonance of the Other thwarts it. I will just jump to the last section. a pure resonance without a source. and this surplus is the voice that is merely pro­ duced by being passed through the loop of the Other. The dog's mouth cannot be stuffed. surrounding the listener. from nowhere.g. '). the time which loves to take the despicable opposite line. they want to nourish him. The speech is the subject's own.£i: }j " . by the voice resounding in the resonance of the void of the Other. from the deeps. as with Josephine.' then we see that the seven dogs' voices are com­ ing out of a pure void. nobody would dream of taking seriously such banal in­ quiries. he is not put off that easily.!' . from the heights. but not in order to keep this precious and unique thing. The resonance of the voice functions not as an effect but as a cause. the music that pervades anything and everything. A break has happened. one passes from the enigma of song to the enigma of food-the stroke of Kafka's genius at its best. . . which means that the subject is responsible not only for what he said. ·t· . . " " 'teo . When he asks them about the source of food. What is the source of food? The earth? But what enables the earth to provide food? Where does the earth get the food from? Just as the source of the law was an enigma that one could never disclose. makes it sound hollow. . It was an art not adequately appreciated. and he gets so in­ volved in his investigation that he eventually stops eating. I' . The story has many twists and turns that I cannot go into. burrows it. .ex nihilo. Like "A Hunger Artist. and not the other way around. I must leave aside. They want to stuff his mouth with food.'."" . Indeed. just like Josephine's. '. they immediately assume that he must be hungry. the hope that two combined obscurities might produce some light. something we should hold on to. made in the wild hope of clarifying one obscurity with another. As if the pure alterity would have turned into music.. but no spirit. There are more important things than childhood: this should also be seen as the slogan of psychoanalysis. [TJhe music robbed me of my wits . this dog is a would-be scientist.!: . But the dog is no artist. But his quest takes a strange and unexpected turn.' . the most material and bodily of elements. This is I suppose at the bottom of the rather striking phenomenon in analysis. his investigations. e.

"the real dog na­ ture:' the path of nurture was the alternative and simpler way. 44 But at the point of total exhaustion. but in mutual exclusion: either incorporation or emission. was the unhappy fate of all the rest. The Freudian name for this deterritorialization is the drive (if nothing else. it combines them into a single effort. . diverted from its natural function. The voice is the source of food that he has been seek­ ing. or the essence kept in silence. a strange hound standing in front of him. One can illustrate it with one of Lacan's favorite devices. just as the door of the Law was meant only for the man from the country. he who couldn't move cannot but jump up now. which almost brings him to the same result.]"48 The song can call down. and. Food and voice share the same loca­ tion. it is separated from its bearer. is perhaps still more comprehensive than that of nurture:'46 the new science he is trying to establish encompasses both his concerns. but it aims at the same). as though he had no part in it. So there is a dis­ junction between eating and speaking. who was I. only this time the very same call as its opposite. The hound was very beautiful. his pursuing it to the end. so the science of music refers to silence. it is only post festum that the bearer steps in. by which food is called down. that the hound can assume it. . what dreams may come?" Is this last section a possible sequel to "Before the Law:' the dreams that may come to the man from the country at the point of his death? Is it all a delusion. the voice gets hold of him and instills new life in him. herabrufen. . and already almost burst my eardrums. . [Es ist die Lehre von dem die Nahrung herabrufenden Gesang. seized by the signifier (and for our purposes. the sublime was her mousetrap. the salvation at the point of the "exhaustion of exhaus­ tion:' He vomits blood. had already attracted my attention. Any language. the glimpse of salvation only at the point of death? A salvation only at the price that it doesn't have any consequence? But Kafka describing this delusion. can be dis­ covered in any dog as its true nature. he cannot let him be. ''A border region between these two sciences.49 Food and voice. it reaches the sublime. and when he opens his eyes there is a dog that appears from nowhere. the birth of science from the spirit of a delusion on the threshold of death: this is all the consequence that is needed. one can't do both at the same time. the source of food and the source of the voice. the music. then I thought I saw something such as no dog before me had ever seen. by the voice which is but the alterity of the signifier). I mean the theory of incantation. the emergence of song. use your voice. There is an overlapping. however. was quite irresistible. it is for his ears only. This was Josephine's unhappy fate. The science of music is held in higher esteem than the science of nurture. they are footed in the same kernel. something that affects the here and now. . the call of salvation. the tongue and the teeth are deterritorialized. but it all boils down to the same. acknowledge it as his. the song again coming from nowhere. the mouth. always implies the deterritorialization of the mouth. the intersection of two circles. just like the irresistible call of the law. but this is precisely what prevents it from penetrating "deeply into the life of the people:' it is "very esoteric and politely excludes the people:'47 It has been erroneously posited as a separate science. rich or poor. the food: the source of food was mistakenly sought in the earth. that I could dare to remain here. both pass through the mouth. Eating can never be the same once the mouth has been deterritorialized. and the food as the pure immanence of the material world: but they have the common ground. the dog suddenly re­ covers on the threshold of death. lying brazenly before it in my pool of blood and filth. nay. like its irrepressible silence. The voice. so By speech. . "The science of music. And he pursues his investigations with redoubled forces. There is an alternative: either you eat or you speak. an intersection between nourishment and voice. the common source. if I am correctly informed. . what matters is the point of intersection. . bringing it to the point of science. But the worst was that it seemed to exist solely for my sake. the circle of food and the circle of the voice. was moving toward me." the silent essence of the dog. It is like the pure voice of a call. it has the advantage that one is spared that terrible tongue-twister. like the pure transcendence. the survival. is this the answer to Hamlet's question "But in that sleep of death. . toward me alone.4s The song again appears from nowhere.124 Kafka's Voices ing on his quest for knowledge. the music. And this song is directed towards the starving dog alone. It grew stronger. . the mouth is de-naturalized. . it should have been searched for in the opposite direction. this voice before whose sublimity the woods fell silent. resurrected. to "verschwiegenes Hundewesen. the essence that. To speak . he extends his scien­ tific interest to the canine music. It is the common source of food and music. was floating on the air in accordance with its own laws. to exist solely for my sake. emerging without anyone's will. there is salvation. different from that of nurture. he is very concerned about the dying dog. as it seemed. its power was powerless by being relegated to a separate realm. For penetrating this essence. more that the melody separated from him. But all this dialogue is but a haphazard preparation for the event. There is an ambiguity-is this last part a hallucination of the dying dog? Or even more radically. the tongue and the teeth is food. . which the hound soon seemed to acknowledge as his. when he was already dying (like the man from the country). The original territoriality of the mouth. as opposed to the other one which intervened in the beginning?). [T]he melody. after the experience of the song. and radically transforms it. the born-again Mladen Dolar 125 dog. . Just as the science of nurture had to lead through starvation. the impersonal call but which addresses only him personally. So this voice from nowhere introduces the second break. is to starve. The dying dog tries at first to chase away the apparition of the hound (is this a ghost which intervenes at the end. its waxing power seemed to have no limits. What do we find at the point where they overlap? What is the mysterious intersection? But this is the best defini­ tion of what Lacan called objet a. Deleuze keeps coming back to that over and over again. By being devoted to the articulation of sounds. I thought I saw that the hound was already singing without knowing it. and at first it even appears that he is trying to pay court to the starved dog. he is so faint that he faints. . it starts from anywhere. her song was separated from food. the tongue and the teeth. . just as be­ ing immersed in nurture. from a void.

and it is crucial to draw the line between the moral law and the superego. . or rather the line of pursuit." 14 This is of course one of the grand examples from Freud's book on jokes. . circling around this eternally elusive object. 3 Cf. " . that in food which precisely escapes eating. and the bit that eludes it can be pinned down as the element of the voice.' and indeed. so that "Jewishness" seems to undermine the very ground of the truth­ telling capacity of language.51 This is the last sentence of the story. a naturalized substance. ed.126 Mladen Dolar Kafka's Voices psychoanalysis. in a parody of Christ tied to the cross. but a different science from that of today. from our biased perspective they meet in the objet a. to pursue it. but it is there at all points. 4 Franz Kafka. . This goes back to Saint Ambrose. . although it is constantly on one's mind. 16 Ibid. So the essence of the dog concerns precisely this intersection of food and voice. .. But nevertheless freedom. Though by his own admission he is a poor scientist. (Harmondsworth: Penguin. 23· 6 Franz Kafka. . . 1997). Slavoj Zizek.. There is a tradition that they exist and that they are a mystery confided to the nobility. Meaning is a reterritorialization oflanguage. but he would only have to look around. 127 . its acquisition of a new territoriality.. We are convinced that these ancient laws are scrupu­ lously administered. to examine the ranks of his fellow Jewish Austrian compatriots. Quite the opposite. as opposed to the pure intensity of the voice. in this de-naturalizing function. Eric L. is freedom. (This is what Deleuze and Guattari call the extensive or representational function of speech. it turns around this object. Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious.. . with its anchorage in meaning.. 12 Ibid. it acquires a second nature. The freedom that might not look like much. . 431. my limited powers of thought. Kafka lacks the proper word for it. So there would have to be a single science. The speech. Cf. Homo sacer: Le pouvoir souverain et la vie nue (Paris: Seuil. is at most a matter of presumption. All quotes from Kafka's stories are from this edition. 1985). The Complete Stories. 81-86. ) ' . So in endless renditions we see him tied to the mast. . the two lines of investigation converge. f . 10 The Complete Stories.' -. 122 and passim. . 431. it keeps circumventing. Santner.. 15 The Complete Stories. ' ?-' .. this joke most economically epitomizes the problem that "Jewishness" presented for Western culture: the indistin­ guishable character of truth and lie.. - 7 Franz Kafka. is it possible that Kafka actually utters this word? I think this is the only spot where Kafka speaks of freedom. 2001). -. N. but above all in my inability to keep my scientific aim continuously before my eyes. Ie fin mot as Ie mot .' " . he cannot name it. It was this instinct that made me-and perhaps for the sake of science itself.. that might actually look wretched. the science of freedom.. it is something to hold on to. And there is the slogan.. however. . "Prejuges. ?::" • " . N. inaugu­ rates a new science. is then subjected to the secondary territorialization. my bad memory. The problem of our laws: "Our laws are not generally known. The very existence of these laws. La faculte de juger (Paris: Minuit. 8 Hence the voice stands at the opposite end of the Kantian categorical imperative. 1991). the ultimate science. and indeed by no means a bad one . "Before the Law. and once we spot it there is no way of going away from it. For the more profound cause of my scientific incapacity seems to me to be an instinct. nevertheless it is an extremely painful thing to be ruled by laws that one does not know. . this pure alterity of what is said. The Trial. 1976).-F. In the mdex of jokes. 17 Before leaving Ulysses let me just recall that in the standard iconography Ulysses was transformed into a Christian hero... . This is the common ground it shares with food. 13 Ibid. . [T]he reason for that can be found in my incapacity for scientific investigation. 161. nevertheless a pos­ session.) But this operation can never be successful. . 437-38. Alenka ZupanCic. . but this doesn't mean at all that there is unfreedom everywhere else in his universe. . but it is not and cannot be more than a mere tradition sanctioned by age. this is 1922.' in J. at least by the standards of the established sciences that went before. they are kept secret by the small group of nobles who rule us. 18 and passim. 1995). try to show that. if any law exists.g. everywhere. surrounded .. in the fourth cen­ tury.52 • it is seized by the drive. Glatzer (New York: Schocken Books. this joke is laconically referred to as "Truth a lie (Jewish). 212. Of course. 9 Cf. to take it as its object. for the essence of a secret code is that it should remain a mystery.. On the Psycho theology of Everyday Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. the program of a new science that would be able to treat it. Lyotard. with an exclamation point. 85· .' 4. . This is the very problem with the "Jews": they look exactly like us. devant la loi. if I undertake a smallfor(:age here. on the last page. The Castle. the fact that not only do they look the same but actually coincide. shouldn't we pinch ourselves. it can only be this: The Law is whatever the nobles do:' Franz Kafka. as I have tried to argue elsewhere. 1 2 . 5 Giorgio Agamben. Jacques Derrida. Sigmund Freud. it is the permanent line of flight. The last word of it all. an ultimate science [einer allerletzten Wissenschaft]-prize freedom higher than everything else. he turns into the founding father of a new science. . who depicted Ulysses as the man courageously resisting temptation. All this I frankly admit. de la fin. Freedom! Certainly such freedom as is possible today is a wretched business. 140-67. For They Know Not What They Do (London: Verso. 11 Ibid. There is a small party who . just as the lie looks exactly like the truth. 430. 2000). . at the end of the volume. e. as it were. the dog. The Ethics of the Real (London: Verso. 267-70 and passim. 432. it is Kafka's fin mot. He couldn't pass even the most elementary scientific examination set by an authority on the subject. Are we not victims of a delusion. like the secret word one doesn't dare to utter. the bone that gets stuck in the throat (one of Lacan's formulas is precisely that objet a is the bone that gets stuck in the throat of the signifier). even with a certain degree of pleasure. freedom is there at all times.

the distance of the symbolic to itself. deceit). but extracts from language the tonalities without meaning . There is no longer a man or an animal. . crossed over four instances where the narrator spoke in the first . . . is another great literary testimony which most economically marks that place. . we above all others live so widely separated from one another. Yehudi Menuhin. heroically defying the temptation. except by circumventing [circling around] the eternally lacking object:' Jacques Lacan. 52 I would like to thank Marta Hernandez Salvan and Juan Carlos Rodriguez. poor as a mouse. .. 129 40 The Complete Stories. Anthony.128 Mladen Dolar Kafka's Voices by a host of naked girls on the beaches. 24 Ibid. Vic de Donder. nor of the memory of food. one cannot possibly con­ ceive of anything smaller. 18 The German dictionary offers the following expression: das tragt eine Maus auf den Schwanz fort. 51 The Complete Stories. :' (ibid. 47 Ibid. his will to pursue his course to the end. etc.). This is why the real is not merely something always already lost and unattainable. own response:' Bernard Baas. For the German original I use Franz Kafka. fighting his inner struggles. 26 The Complete Stories. what distinguishes the dog is his doggedness. Science as an institution is just as doomed as the institution of art. tail/penis). 45 The Complete Stories. in the manuscript. To say nothing about mauscheln. 366. cit. . . 1975).. Isaac Stern. since each deterritorializes the other. 420.. Mausche. person-his is the voice of anonymity and must remain without an ''I:' 32 The Complete Stories. 282. • 31 Kafka. There is a rather vulgar expression in Slovene. the gap of its otherness. 367. with all its connotations in German (a word derived from Yiddish for Moses. The animal doesn't speak 'as' a hu­ man. . and even less a play upon words. 314-15. but are actually directed against it" (279-80). 49 "If music be the food of love. 46 Ibid. Gerard Wajcman. or the Sirens turned into mermaids. L'objet du siecie. secret dealings. it is obvious that it is not a ques­ tion of food. engaged in strange vocations that are often incomprehensible even to our canine neighbors. 22 Just consider the list of the most famous violinists of the past century: David Oistrakh. whose one desire is to stick together .. . "No creatures to my knowledge live in such wide dispersion as we dogs . he is the Greek paragon of Christian virtue. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. 36727 I can only add in a footnote that this resonates exactly with Kierkegaard's problem: how to introduce a gap in the continuity as the transcendence in the immanence. _ 48 Ibid. Cf. holding firmly to laws that are not those of the dog world. 361-62. Originalfassung. Pinchas Zuckermann. for a quantity so small that a mouse could carry it on its tail (with all the German ambiguity of the word. 28l. . 29 Ibid. 167-68. 36 Ibid. I have tried to answer some of . he is sweat­ ing and shivering all over. 1998)... . better suited to produce emancipatory effects. 1992).. his questioning of the separation of realms. 36l. Roger Hermes (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer. 41 Ibid. 1999). like St. is this the secret of her voice? 37 Michel Chion. i . 362. The Voice in Cinema (New York: Columbia University Press. and by extension. "the mouse's penis. 35 Ibid. Shlomo Mintz. 40. 2000). . . De la chose a [ objet (Leuven: Peeters/Vrin. 25 Cf. As far as the oral drive is concerned . 1979). . Kafka: Pour une litterature mineure (Paris: Minuit. Itzhak Perlman. . 2000). . "There is no longer a proper sense and a figurative sense. 19 The Complete Stories. (Paris: Verdier.. which can only be done by blurring all the lines of division art/science/life. 28 The Complete Stories. 50 Deleuze and Guattari. 180. nor the echo of food. etc. 42 Ibid. 23 The Complete Stories. this thwarted form-and hence irresistible form-of enjoyment in transgression and culpabilization. . . The mouse's penis-a circumlocution for castration? Is Josephine a castrato. but rather something one cannot be rid of. hidden affairs. we. 44 If the young dog manages to pursue his investigation further than Josephine this is not due to the fact that "science" would be better situated than art. 370. another voice ex nihilo. 376. but I will not go into this. 369. although it immediately obfuscates it with the rhetoric oflove. . .. .' the famous opening lines of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. What is at stake is not a resemblance between an animal and a human behavior. 43 I cannot resist the temptation to quote some Lacan in parenthesis: "Even when you stuff the mouth-the mouth that opens in the register of the drive-it is not the food that satisfies it. 205· 20 Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. ed. as several interpreters have pointed out. But it is the literalization that annihilates the metaphor: to live like a dog. 370. 38 One might say that the real is but the resonance of the symbolic. the mouse's voice is of that order of magnitude. not a separate realm but the otherness within the symbolic itself. 35-36. To use a pun. 314. 315. cf.. 30 Ibid. 315-16.. for their extensive comments on this paper. and meaning to speak Yiddish. trans. 39 Bernard Baas puts it very well: "The voice is never my own voice. nor the mother's care. Ja­ sha Heifetz. 286. but a distribution of states along the fan of the word . And one can easily see that he is enjoying. and what distinguishes the young dog is the persistence of his quest. 34 Ibid. Le chant de la sirene (Paris: Gallimard. op. . for the best analysis of Du­ champ. 33 Ibid. 98.' which means the smallest thing imaginable. Chion found its supreme example in the mother's voice in Hitchcock's Psycho. indulging in this very Christian form of surplus enjoyment. [T]he fact that no food will ever satisfy the oral drive. and by extension to speak in an incomprehensible way.. 21 On closer inspection both mice and dogs in many respects strangely resemble the Jews and their destiny. For an overview of the multiple uses of the Sirens. Alan Sheridan (London: Penguin. Die Erzahlungen. . the readers for Polygraph. but the response is my .

the Lacanian discussion of love disentangles the latter from the thick field of feelings and emotions with which it is often confused. respect and exchange. and that of the ideal (perhaps prevailing today) of two autonomous and independent egos construct­ ing a "meaningful" relationship. Like all Lacanian truths. And the distinctive feature of comedy is that it employs this fundamental discrepancy or disharmony in the way that the latter keeps producing plea­ sure or satisfaction (instead of displeasure. it undermines both tendencies that have been predominant in the discourse on love: that of all-consuming amour-passion. Moreover. based on mutual recognition. since this paper is already too long as it is. As to the notion of love. This is precisely why comedy is sometimes seen as socially conser- Polygraph 15/16 (2004) . love truth is out there. differ­ ent level. This is the thread that I will pursue in my discussion: comedy. though the majority of their comments were of such a nature that they would demand an additional paper-a task that I will try to undertake at some point in the future. is only possible on the ground of a fundamental disharmony.130 Kafka's Voices their comments in this version of the paper. Psychoanalysis had the merit of introducing into the discussion of love certain elements that should make an im­ mediate ideological appropriation of this notion much more difficult. or even pain). it is quite crucial that discussion of these notions (or some no­ tions related to them) be also maintained on another. as well as love. in the depths of our personality). also its concluding point). There is a certain affinity between love and comedy that has to do with the way they are organized around a central object which incarnates the very impossibility of any smooth complementarity of the elements involved. it is always outside (and not inside. The fact that things do not exactly add up is the starting point of virtually every comedy (and very often. which is presented as the fusion of two lovers in the flame of love. Investigations of the Lacanian Field: Some Remarks on Comedy and Love Alenka ZupanCic • In the times when "positive attitude" (humor and cheerful­ ness in life) and the importance of love are being often used in the construction of most lamentable ideological horizons. although not always. It also has interesting things to say about that mode of producing satisfaction which is called comedy.

The Ethics of Psychoanalysis. '-' ' .' contentedly smiling at his prospective happiness while driving his boat. In this respect. is necessary if one then wants to pursue this topic in other perspectives. Lemmon starts point­ ing out things that he supposes will disturb the millionaire (s/he admits to being a heavy smoker. Instead. of interpretation and of understanding. without even looking at Lemmon. -A. Lacan brings this discussion to its climax with a brief but poignant commentary of Aristophanes and Moliere. but simply because the topic of comedy (as well as that of jokes) is central to several fundamental issues of psychoanalysis. especially in political perspective. As to Lacan. which is the same thing. I believe that this kind of investigation and reflection. perhaps. Too many. ifhe were at least to look at Lemmon-instead of which he continues look­ ing straight forward. since they have already been put on the list by some). Not on ac­ count of any rule of symmetry. comical dimension. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • The theme "psychoanalysis and tragedy" is a largely discussed and exploited topic.132 Alenka ZupanCic Investigations of the Lacanian Field vative. and it is precisely this emergence that makes us laugh. Miller puts this in the following terms: In Lacan's seminar the obsoleteness of the Freudian tragic character is al­ ready there. It could be taken as a very felicitous illustration of the end of analysis. Lemmon's words are diverted from the side of the register of meaning. which this paper can only begin to develop. then leaving this sentence simply suspended in the air (as a kind of a bizarre ob­ ject). although entertainment is all around (one could even speak of the presence of a certain imperative of entertainment). If one puts aside the psychology and the motives of the millionaire (which constitute his movie character). Simply put: by making us laugh at certain problems (and thus by giving us a certain satisfaction in the very representation of these problems) it diverts us from doing (or even wanting to do) anything against them. he would accept and assimilate Lemmon's words or. which makes it ring in another. sits in a boat next to the millionaire who wants to marry "her:' In order to discourage him from this idea. position of the analyst that constitutes the proper (or most consequent) ending of analysis. yet very punctual and precise separation of meaning and signifier. Or even more precisely. . If the millionaire were to react in any way to Lemmon's words (for instance. the reply "nobody is perfect" is not at all a kind of emphatic acceptance of the other (such as s/he is). etc. There have been many candidates for this role. The link in question is much more fundamental and concerns the way Lacan even­ tually comes to perceive and to conceptualize the question of the analyst's desire and of the end of analysis. Perhaps they can be much more politically subversive when they are not immediately put into some service or another (even a most progressive one). The signifier of Lemmon's Being emerges as such (one could almost say that the signifier emerges as object). Sometimes it almost seems that we keep inventing new paradigms and possible break-outs so that we could go on living in the present one. In other words. is the famous passage from the position of the analysand to the . While speaking of comedy. there is very little comedy in the strict sense of the word. could be taken as a very good example of what happens at the end of analysis. he would-by recognizing them-bestow upon these words the meaning that Lemmon aims at. what do I mean to the Other? It seems. which could not exactly be said for the theme "psychoanalysis and comedy. it is worth pointing out that he introduces.' He returns to both these authors in sev­ eral other places. the meaning does not fulfill itself. I am in no way tempted to rush forward and add comedy and love to this list (or perhaps reassert them there. it would be a pity to deprive ourselves of the pleasure of exam­ ples. driving the boat and smiling). Lemmon's words do not provoke any surprise or indignation in their addressee. It is not the issue of this paper to investigate political and (anti)metaphysical implications (finitude/infinitude) of comedy (and love). develops and illustrates his famous graph of desire (which is frequently commented on in the context of his discussion of tragedy) through his commentary of Freud's book on jokes. s/he confesses that s/he is not a natural blond. however.' al­ though the latter would definitely deserve the same kind of attention. this echo being precisely what produces the comic effect. Lemmon desperately resorts to the last drastic way out: he pulls the wig off his head and emphatically cries out: "But I am a man!" Yet the millionaire just keeps on smiling contentedly. Some­ thing else gets produced in this ultimate. J. namely that of the relationship between de- .). If suffering and pain are conspicuously manifest in the treatment. of course. one can easily picture him as an analyst who does what he does in order to finally bring Lemmon to utter this emphatic sentence ("I am a man!"). still dressed as a woman. and replies: "Nobody is perfect:' This is the last sentence of the movie. One of the peaks of the Freudian opus is undoubtedly his Jokes and Their Rela­ tion to the Unconscious. However. More on the side of the moque-comique then the tragique. so that the ultimate outcry of Lemmon's identity (or being) is posited on the same level with the habit of smoking or the color of his hair. that the topic that Lacan takes up in one of his most famous seminars. the millionaire simply lets the sentence ring (without "absorbing" it by any kind of understanding or recognition). When none of this works and the millionaire is still eager to marry "her. In other words. The contemporary capitalist accent on (personal) satisfaction and happiness seems to be perfect for promoting comedy. la passe should transform tragedy into comedy. he would become Lemmon's interlocutor. The growing dissatisfaction with today's (economical and political) global order gives rise to a vast conceptual search for paradigms that could shift or subvert it. which could also help us distinguish comedy within the more general notion of fun­ niness and/or entertainment. And yet. with him comedy is truer than tragedy. Jack Lemmon. towards the side of the object where the eternal question "What am I?" gets separated from its usual complement-What am I for the Other. 2 133 La passe. but rather functions as a panel from which Lemmon's Word rebounds and is left hanging in the air. for instance. And this passage is supposed to have a certain effect of comedy. The deservedly famous ending of Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot. it is not an acceptance or an assimilation of Lemmon's word by the Other. it does not get to be ac­ complished (or completed) in the circuit between the subject and the Other. Its aim is mostly to articulate certain important things concerning comedy as comedy. the link between psychoanalysis and comedy is far from being ex­ hausted by pointing out that the theme of comedy is also present in Lacan's work.

He finishes that beer and a few minutes later says. and the real as impossible refers to this irreducible gap. "Quick. This is indeed a mechanism that we can observe in many jokes. as the above descrip­ tion might suggest. . or. this is usually a satisfaction of a demand that hasn't even been formulated (yet). and the related question of a possible (ethical) act. the accent is on desire. one could say that the joke of the situation is precisely in the fact that we unexpectedly come across a satisfaction. The real of the desire is "impossible" in the sense that it is inaccessible to "the speaking being:' The accent on the tragic dimension of human desire and the placement of the ethics in this dimension springs from this fundamental axiom: the gap between desire and its satisfaction (or realization) is irreducible. although in different ways. and the following example makes it most palpable: A man comes home from an exhausting day at work. as you know. Lacan suggests that the narrative of a joke does not simply prepare the setting for its final point·. at the end of The Ethics ofPsychoanalysis. In this sense.e. It is not that the satisfaction runs after demand like Achilles after the tortoise.3 Or: Actions are inscribed in the space of tragedy. tragedy (and particularly Antigone) is an hom­ age to the fundamental non-relation between desire and satisfaction. and it is with relation to this space. and this is what accounts for its nature of the supplement. for instance by saying "do you know this joke . (And one could say that com­ edy (as genre) is an attempt to inscribe this momentary and unexpected satisfaction into a framework of an extended temporality. if one might say so. that we are led to take our bearings in the sphere of values. Fifteen minutes later. drunken. where the central question of the relationship between action and the desire that inhabits us is indeed explored in its tragic dimension. plops down on the couch in front of the television. instead of in temporal. Even if we know that we are going to hear a joke (and we usually know it. of some duration. and when I started to talk to you about the formations of the unconscious.'5 which could be defined as a supplement of pleasure that allows the release of more pleasure. that the demand as articulated in the signifier and that what comes to answer this demand. it still always surprises us. but instead strongly emphasizes and makes the case for the "trag­ ic dimension of analytical experience" (as goes the title of one of the sections of this seminar). terms: the satisfaction is produced elsewhere than we expect it or await it. never able to actually catch up with it. More­ over. you have been able to see that there. and tells his wife. but also a surprise at pleasure. " .) In his discus­ sion ofjokes Freud puts forward the notion of an "incentive bonus. :'). is foreign to any notion of comedy. The "pure desire" is an absolute demand that can only be met by the other absolute. This alternative is a consequence of the fundamental pre­ supposition according to which the split between.4 What is it. Comedy. The alternative lurking behind Antigone's position is the following one: to die or else to give up on one's desire (and thus to satisfy oneself with something less than what desire ultimately aims at). to put it simply. . and furthermore . The fact that in comedy satisfaction precedes the demand. Lacan suggest that " Witz restores to the essentially unsatisfied demand its jouissance. fat slob. Some fundamental discrepancy. "It's started . i. the comic that I had in mind.134 Alenka ZupanCic Investigations of the Lacanian Field sire and action. but rather that the demand can never really meet (some unexpectedly produced) satisfaction. Of course. which becomes. tragedy and comedy are not simply symmetrical. However. and it does so in a double (although identical) aspect of surprise and pleasure-the plea­ sure in surprise and the surprise in pleasure:'6 In other words. In comedy. that both dimensions-tragic and comic-have in common? They both. by definition. lies in the fact that-much to everybody's surprise-the demand manages to find an unexpected satisfaction. "Get me another beer before it starts:' She looks cross. can never meet or overlap. satisfaction precedes the demand. Lacan reminds us again of its other. in fact. but fetches another beer and slams it down next to him. and its satisfaction (i. The elementary form of the emergence of a supplement satisfaction could be best discerned in the phenomenon of jokes. it is a question of the relationship between action and desire. affects the very nature of the satisfaction. this is also true of the space of comedy. She yells at him. the problem of the relationship between desire or demand. introduces us to a different logic of the real and of the non-relation (between demand and satisfaction). constitutes the motor of tragedy. Still. to put it slightly differently. What jokes trigger in us is. but also and above all directs and engages our attention elsewhere than where the point of the joke will pass. as far as the latter is articulated in the signifier. . get me another beer. as Lacan points out. and Lacan's choice of the figure of Antigone (who does not "give up on her desire") is by no means accidental. not only a pleasure in surprise. as well as of comedy. too.. the accent is not so much on desire (or demand). "Is that all you're going to do tonight? Drink beer and sit in front of that TV? You're nothing but a lazy. put forward and explore the problem of the relationship between action and desire. death. so that the latter now has to stumble after satisfaction.e. and in a first approach we could say that the discrepancy that constitutes the motor of comedy is the obverse -r 135 of the one that constitutes the motor of tragedy. and of the former's fundamental failure to catch up with the lat­ ter. since part of the telling of a joke is to announce it. which is coextensive with the signifying order as such and which could be formulated in terms of dichotomy between the signifier and the id (the Lacanian �a). he says. it is rather that the satisfaction immediately overtakes the demand. The discrepancy at stake could also be formulated in topological. It is not that the satisfaction can never really meet the demand. . it was.. the desire and its satisfaction is an absolute one. . "Get me a beer before it starts:' The wife sighs and gets him a beer. . it's going to start any minute:' The wife is furious. i.. too. that which is supposed to meet this demand). The whole joke of jokes.e. but rather on satisfaction. a supplementary satisfaction (and is no longer the impossible complement of the demand). Something (a satisfaction) gets produced where we least expected it. Within the tragic paradigm." The man sighs and says. comic dimension: However little time I have thus far devoted to the comic here. Comedy is inaugurated by this kind of supplementary satisfaction (that we do not exactly know what to do with). on the other hand.

the satisfaction of some other demand than the one that we had the opportunity to formulate. since it neces­ sarily takes place "elsewhere" than we expected it or intended for it to take place. then we lose the perspective oflove. A joke is always situated in the instantaneity of the moment in which its point passes. This understandable and seemingly innocent. in other terms. if this happens. that is to say. No joke succeeds without this element of surprise. and en­ joy the joke every time with a new partner. the impossibility for the satisfaction to ever meet our demand reaffirms itself in its full scale. and it closes it precisely by transforming this impossibility into a possibility. instead of allowing to release or produce more pleasure. If we lose sight of this. the love-encounter is reconfigured in terms of an emphatic moment of a perfect complementariness of demand and satisfaction. as an answer to our (previously existing) demand. Not only do we not get what we asked for. We can only find pleasure in the same joke if we change partners. The pleasure in jokes is instantaneous and very much confined as to its time. If a love encounter is like a good joke.' or even to fall in love. of desire and jouissance. This is the temptation to recognize the other (that we encountered through this surprising emergence of a bonus satisfaction) as the answer to all our prayers. and we will not be able to meet properly the demand of the other. We thus place the source of our satisfaction directly in the other. I have the report here about the new leader of China. Comic sequences are not constructed in this manner. in a genuine love encounter. which does not mean.e. So what happens in a love encounter is not simply that the sexual non -relation is momentarily suspended with an unexpected emergence of a (possible) relation. for we can get stuck here. along "other lines:' We look in one direction. The repeating or telling on of the jokes is part of the pleasure we take in them. every love encounter brings with itself the temptation to re-inscribe the surprising. and it comes from the other. it always comes at the end. At the end. that it can not be repeated. we are left with a certain amount of satisfaction. or perhaps more precisely. however. there are very long jokes and very short comic sequences. Of course. but something rather more complex: it is that the non-relation itself suddenly emerges 137 as a mode (as well as the condition) of a relation. or. In order to explain this. One should therefore stress that the funny. The supplement of pleasure. Two kinds of reactions can follow from this: we can take the ball from there. it could be defined as a non-relation that lasts. and what precedes it (the narrative of the joke) is a preparatory phase leading to and making the final "joke" possible (also by means of distracting our attention). -1 . accentuating the effect of surprise. And this is where the tricky part oflove begins. And we'll interpret this as lack of love. or else we can react by providing or for­ mulating the demand to which this surprising satisfaction already was a reply. However. Yet. even charming move can have. which can then use the thing that obstructs the relation as its very condition (and can function like the Freudian "incentive bonus"). in both meanings of the word. Satisfaction does not so much conclude the game (as it does in the case of jokes). That is to say. so to speak. and glorified as a case when the satisfaction did in fact meet our demand. The non-relation is supplemented by another non-relation. let me now briefly consider the difference and the rela­ tion between jokes and comedy. rather catastrophic consequenc­ es. That is to say: we can very well set off on a date with the explicit intention to find ourselves a "mate. which is thus also true for the plea­ sure produced by jokes. could be ret­ roactively transformed from supplement to complement. the opposition instantaneity/duration is not yet precise enough to pinpoint the difference between jokes and comedy: it is not simply a question of how long something lasts. there is something donjuanesque in them. The difference in temporality concerns the temporality of pleasure (or satisfaction): a joke is always final. on top of it (and not instead of it) we get something that we haven't even asked for. we get something that we haven't exactly asked for. as it opens or launches it. however. accidental and bonus-like dimension of the satisfaction into the linear or else circular coupling of demand and (its) satisfaction. Com­ edy is the genre that uses the supplementary non-relation as the condition of a rela­ tion. Our next demand will of course not be met properly. if something like a genuine love encounter takes place. and that as such. it will again produce satisfaction. At this point one could draw a parallel between jokes and love encounters: could one not say that a love encounter is structured like a good joke? It coincides with the emergence of an "incentive bonus.' of an unexpected and surprising satisfaction. it still always surprises us. If this occurs. there is also the possibility to turn this the other way around and to find or invent new jokes to enjoy them with the same partner. the narrative of the joke leads us away from the actual direction from which the blow comes.136 Alenka ZupanCic Investigations of the Lacanian Field While drawing our attention to the television set and making us expect the Thing to come from there (to "start" there). it is a non-relation as re­ doubled. if we lose sight of the fact that. it takes place. so to speak.. And it satisfies perfectly something in ourselves that we didn't even demand to be satisfied. Satisfaction usually arises already at the beginning and is then kept alive (with fluctuations which follow a certain rhythm) during the whole sequence. Let us simply take an example here. i. as well as the subversive side of love (and of a love encounter) lies precisely in the fact that the other (that we encounter) is an answer to none of our prayers.. and in this sense we could say that jokes are by definition a promiscuous way of finding pleasure. a piece of comic dialogue that was circulat­ ing on the internet last year: . The main difference between them concerns their temporality. If we tell the joke on. But this could be very exhausting and is not yet the shift from the temporality proper to jokes (their instantaneity) to another kind of temporality (du­ ration). as we say. then what is love in its duration and tem­ porality. This brings us to our next question. What's happening? CONDI: Sir. a love that lasts? One could reply that love is structured like comedy.' Hu's ON FIRST By James Sherman ( We take you now to the Oval Office) GEORGE: Condi! Nice to see you. To put it in a single formula: it immediately closes the accidentally produced way out of the impossibility involved in the relation between demand and its satisfac­ tion. In this move. A "happy" love encounter is the non-relation in its purest mode. and play on. what is.

"Hu is the new leader of China" is what starts off the comedy. G: All right! With cream and two sugars. Bush does not view this as an answer to his demand ("Lay it on me"). Lay it on me. as it is quite obvious in the quoted example.e. it is rather that the satisfaction immediately overtakes the demand. This sense is produced precisely on the ground of a fundamental misunderstanding (the two protagonists do not exactly "read" one another). There is an initial sparkle in which a certain nonsense makes sense. G: Then who is? C: Yes. 139 C: Kofi? G: Milk! Will you please make the call? C: And call who? G: Who is the guy at the UN? C: Hu is the guy in China. Now get on the phone. G: Yassir is in China? C: No. sir. I've suggested earlier that what is at stake in comedy is not that the satisfaction runs after demand like Achilles after the tortoise. G: Look. does not take Bush's "Who is the man in China?" as a question or demand. sir. But now that you mention it. C: That's what I'm telling you. in which a supplementary sense is produced. G: Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he was in the Middle East. C: You want Kofi? G: No. sir. (Condi picks up the phone. the following temporal and dynamic difference is most obvious. G: That's who's name? C: Yes. I'm asking you. C: You don't want Kofi. here. never able to actually catch up with it. G: I mean the fellow's name. And a couple of egg rolls. and the narrative leading to it is a construction that makes this final sparkle possible. thanks. And the Middle East. C: Hu is the new leader of China. Can you get Chinese food in the Middle East? • •• • If one compares this example of comic dialogue with an example of a joke (for in­ stance the one quoted earlier). C: Kofi? G: No. G: No. but as (a repetition of) the answer. I need to know the name of the new leader of China. sir. too. G: Rice? Good idea. And then get me the UN. and decides to read it as a question.) C: Rice. G: Will you or will you not tell me the name of the new leader of China? C: Yes. C: Hu. but functions as a motor of the subsequent comic sequence. G: The guy in China. on the other hand. sir. In jokes. there is first an unexpected sparkle (a kind of inaugural joke). and the unexpected surplus it produces is not conclusive. C: Yes. G: Yassir? C: No. i. G: The Chinaman! C: Hu is leading China. sir. G: That's what I want to know. and on top of it. C: Hu. G: The new leader of China. G: Will you stay out of China?! C: Yes. Now. the sparkle (of surprise and satisfaction) is produced at the end. we get a satisfaction that we haven't asked for. (In one of the Marx Brothers' movies we have a very similar construction of a delirious comic dialogue on the basis of the similarity between the word "viaduct" and the question "Why a duck?") The begin­ ning of the quoted dialogue is also a great example of the double or supplementary non-relation that I claimed is at the heart of comedy: we do not get the satisfaction we demanded. sir.Investigations of the Lacanian Field Alenka ZupanCic G: Great. Who is leading China? C: That's the man's name. C: Kofi. G: Well. In comedy. G: Then who is in China? C: Yes. G: Now whaddya asking me for? C: I'm telling you Hu is leading China. And this is not meant as a joke. Who is the new leader of China? C: Yes. so that the latter now has to stumble after satisfaction. on the phone. G: That's what I'm asking you. Get me the Secretary General of the UN. he is surprised at this sentence. And yet this non-relation becomes itself a mode of a long and happy rela- . Condi. C: Hu. one could say that the way Bush and Rice function in this dialogue is precisely the way an "ideal couple" would function. C: That's correct.. Comedy is inaugurated by this kind of supplementary satisfaction (that we do not exactly know what to do with). One could also say that the inaugural surplus (or incentive bonus) introduces a fundamental discrepancy that drives comedy further and further. Maybe we should send some to the guy in China. Condi. I could use a glass of milk. G: And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy at the UN. G: Not Yassir! The guy at the UN.

Remove this obstacle. One could go even further and state that. Yet. we should perhaps shift our interrogation once more and ex­ amine the one form of sublimation that incontestably fits the first definition quoted above (as well as the condescending movement it implies). and their "relation­ ship" will fall apart. like in a game of ping-pong. . rather. it is not the laughter of Schadenfreude.e.. that there is something in the appearance that never deceives. . In other words. we could say that the only essential decep- . the two emerge as two and are maintained as (irreducibly) two. he looks like an idiot. as well as in M. Following the Marx Brothers. we lose the non -relation itself. states Deleuze. . . instead of playing on the difference or the discordance between the sublime appearance of the Thing and its real residue or its Void. that "love is a comic feeling:'l0 Indeed. In order to illustrate this. . it is an obstacle that gives us access to the other in her very materiality. This brings us further into the question of affinity between love and comedy. . or elevates. deceived. he is an idiot!" We could say that comic art creates and uses this minimal difference in order to make palpable. as concerns this particular sublima­ tion that is called love-which is thus opposed to courtly love as the worshiping of a sublime object-Lacan states that it makes it possible for jouissance to condescend to desire. as precisely the obstacle that enables them to relate to each other. is the link it establishes be­ tween love as sublimation and the movement of condescending or descending. Suffice it to recall Chaplin's The Great Dictator.1 40 Alenka ZupanCic Investigations of the Lacanian Field tion . Verdoux. we all know that this is not enough for a good comedy to work. the latter cannot be defined as "a non -relation that lasts". And it is not that via this supplement two become One. this is a Chaplinesque gesture par excellence: we find it already in City Lights (Charlot the tramp and Charlot supposed to be rich). Chaplin's genius. the difference between two appearances. . as Lacan puts it. since what is at stake is no longer a non-relation between two terms: we are left with only one term which appropriates or absorbs the other in the form of the loss. the Freudian das Ding). perhaps the essential thing in the "game of love" is not so much that the ball never hits the ground. or at least on the table. In Seminar XX. an object to the dignity of the Thing. but. As Hegel already knew very well. Is love not always the worshiping of a sub­ lime object. rather peculiar statement: "Only love-sublimation makes it possible for jouissance to condescend to desire:'7 What is peculiar about this statement. where the former refers to the little difference and the latter to the great distance. The obstacle of their relation (or of their "communication") becomes itself the very condition of it. And yet. As Gilles Deleuze pointed out. . rather. instead. consists in being able "to invent the minimal difference between two actions" and to create a "circuit laughter-emotion. that of ascension (that sublima­ tion raises. Yet. of course. . It is well known that Lacan's canonic definition of sublimation from The Ethics ofPsycho­ analysis implies precisely the opposite movement. Instead. This is not the (un)famous obstacle that enables us to desire the other in her very inaccessibility. 8 In this last definition. on the contrary: via it. The comic line from the Marx Brothers also enables us to feel the difference between the act of taking a (sublime) Thing and showing the public that this Thing is. . on the contrary. in Le transfert. as well as in its horrifying and/or inhu­ man aspect (for example. he behaves like an idiot-but do not let yourself be . so to speak. sublimation is identified with the act of producing the Thing in its very transcendence and inaccessibility. comedies usually do something else: they reduplicatelredouble the Thing and play on (or with) the difference between its two doubles. . as it is the fact that the ball remains there. a certain real that otherwise eludes our grasp. What drives this non-relation forward in the form of a quite exciting relation and makes it last is also the fact that none of the two protagonists appropriates the supplementary object-sense that is produced in their encounter. Concerning the art of comedy. even though it doesn't always take as radical a form as in the case of courtly love? Does love not always raise or elevate its object (which could be quite common "in itself") to the dignity of the Thing? How are we to understand the word 14 1 "love" in the quoted passage from Lacan's seminar on L 'angoisse? Lacan himself provides a way to answer these questions when he states. Although this kind of abasement can make us laugh. . We could say that it stands for a split at the very core of the same. we can actually say that it involves a certain con­ descension of the Thing to the level of the object. . the status of an "inhuman partner"). with it. where "the Thing called Hitler" takes the double form of the dictator Hynkel and a Jewish barber. let us take another comic example. namely. but also in relation to what we usually call love. the axiom of good comedies is not that "appearances are always deceiving:' but. not to the letter. the status of the Lady in courtly love. Lacan states that love "supplements the sexual relation as non­ existent:' and this statement should be understood in the perspective of the above discussion: love is the obstacle that enables the non-relation to last. without effacing or diminishing one another:'" This is a very important insight that will help us specify the mechanism of comedy as well as that of love. let us determine more precisely what this "minimal difference" is. the art of com­ edy. In other words. the configuration I am describing (the obstacle of a relationship becomes its very condition) has ab­ solutely nothing to do with the configuration expressed in terms: "I can't love you unless I give you up:' As opposed to the former. in fact. . But. This might then make it easier for us to see how love enters this definition. in the comic paradigm. i. first. but. and there is much more to comedy than just a variation on the state­ ment "the emperor is naked:' The trick is that. a punch line from one of the Marx Brothers' movies: "Look at this guy. or visible. "to the letter of its appearance:' Contrary to what is often believed. the difference that constitutes the motor of the comic movement is not the difference between the Thing in itself and its appearance. instead of trying to answer these questions immediately. and the act of tak­ ing the Thing. which is. somewhere between the two. what is at stake in good comedies is not simply an abasement of some sublime object that thus reveals its ridiculous aspect. . In Lacan's seminar L'angoisse one finds the following. the Real is nothing else but this "minimal difference" -that starts itself to function as an object. they keep it in the air. nothing more than a poor and altogether banal object. the very thing that maintains it and drives it further. the genuine comic laughter is not a scornful laughter. that it "humanizes the jouissance:'9 The quoted definition is surprising not only in relation to sublimation.

he notices a picture (a photograph) of Hitler on the wall. He is searching and searching. insisting that his make­ up is bad and that he doesn't look like Hitler at all. The point is not that. The true miracle of love-and this is what links love to comedy-consists in preserving the transcendence in the very tion of appearance is that it gives the impression that there is something else or more behind it. This difference that we "really" see is pure nonsense. becoming vis­ ible in the minimal difference between the two semblances.. rather. but yet it makes sense. showing only a "ridiculous object. to tolerate the other when one does not desire her. it also means to continue to see in this object the "something more" that the director in Lubitsch's movie sees in the picture of "Hitler:' Comic love (which is to say real love) is not the love that is called sublime. of an object­ supplement). In relation to comic art. we would be dealing with a didactic remark that transmits a certain truth. as pure nonsense. the picture of the same actor). One moves directly towards the Thing and one finds oneself with a "ridiculous" object. we can detect this curious affinity be­ tween love and comedy: To love. the director tries to name or show the Thing directly ("That's it! That's Hitler!"). in which we let ourselves be completely dazzled or "blinded" by the object so that we no longer see (or can't bear to see) its ridiculous. the fact that the nonsense itself can produce a real effect of sense) remains inexplicable. the Real is. The Real is identified here with the gap that divides the appearance itself. as appear. to forgive her weaknesses-in short. To Be or Not To Be.' one has to accept the other with all her baggage. to "stand" her banal aspect. However. In the comic paradigm. The act of saying "That's it. to be found in a dynamics that always makes us go too far. and. since it lacks that comic quality having quite a different way of transmitting truths. So. they make it possible for the real to condescend to the appearance (in the form of a split in the very core of the appearance). One could also say that nonsense is transcendental in the Kantian sense of the word: it is what makes it possible for us to actually see or per­ ceive a difference between a simple actor and the picture of Hitler (which is. always means to find oneself with a "ridiculous object. and thereby to "resublime" the object after each "use"). it means that it is real precisely as appearance. They make the truth (or the real) not so much reveal itself. farts. it remains on the horizon. In Lubitsch's movie. thanks to the sentiment of failing that accompanies this direct passage to the Thing. we get a glimpse of the mysterious Thing that lies somewhere beyond representation-it is.' a difference that is "a mere nothing. This means that unbelief does not so much expose the nonsense of the belief as it exposes the Real or the material force of nonsense itself.e. This inexplicability is the very motor of comedy. especially since we ourselves as spectators were taken in by the enthusiasm of the director. We can here grasp very well the meaning of the "minimal difference. He also says that what he sees in front of him is just an ordinary man. the love . Or.. and triumphantly cries out: "That's it! This is what Hitler looks like!" "But sir. This also implies that this ethics cannot rely upon the move­ ment of circulation around the Thing. This kind of "sublime love" necessitates and generates a radical inaccessibility of the other (which usu­ ally takes the form of eternal preliminaries. Let us be more precise: to "move directly to the Thing" does not mean to show or exhibit the Thing directly. one could speak of a certain ethics of unbelief Unbelief as an ethical attitude consists in confronting belief not simply in its illusory di­ mension. Reacting to this. thus becoming the space in which the real of the Thing unfurls between two "ridiculous objects" that are supposed to incarnate it. Now. the scene continues: the director is still not satisfied and is trying desperately to name the mysterious "something more" that distinguishes the appearance of Hitler from the appearance of the actor in front of him. the actor's picture. And :�. to love someone "for what he is" (i. At the beginning of the film. but of a simple walk-on). but that doesn't make us laugh. rather. this nonsense remains transcendent in the sense that the miracle of its real effects (i. and in comedies this gap itself takes the form of an object (i. which together constitute the space where our laughter can resonate.142 Alenka ZupanCic Investigations of the Lacanian Field 1 43 yet. what we see is nothing less that the Thing itself. which constitutes an important matter of every comedy.' replies the actor. Or. to move directly to the Thing). we only see two semblances (the actor and his picture). and yet. banal aspect. But. through the "minimal difference" (or through that gap that it opens up). the Thing as that which he missed re­ mains on the horizon and is situated somewhere between the actor who plays Hitler and the picture of that actor. he misses or "passes" it. But neither is real love the sum of desire and friendship. The Real is accessible. since it is merely a picture of the actor). that the Thing is conceived as nothing other than the very gap of/within the representation. on the contrary. In one of his best movies.. who saw in the picture something quite different from this poor actor (whose status in the company isn't even that of a true actor or a star. that's the Thing" has the effect of opening a certain entre-deux. of course. and has strange habits. for example. Ernst Lubitsch provides another excellent example of this. which gives its force to sublime art. the dimension of the Thing is not simply abolished... at one and the same time. to put it the other way around: what we are shown are just two semblances. in fact.' that is.e. on the most superficial level. "this picture was taken of me:' This. one of the actors replies that Hitler is just an ordinary man. where friendship is supposed to provide a "bridge" between two awakenings of desire and to embrace the ridiculous side of the object. . in order for love to "work. to put it in yet another way. or else the form of intermittence.' and yet a nothing that is very real and has considerable material effects. This is not to say that. transcendent and accessible.e. We thus see the difference between the object and the Thing without ever seeing the Thing. is quite funny. And yet. but in the very real of this illusion. The director is com­ plaining about the appearance of the actor who plays Hitler. The "trick" is that we never see the Thing (not even in the picture. This doesn't mean that the real turns out to be just another ap­ pearance.. One of the fundamental gestures of good comedies is to make an appear­ ance out of what is behind the appearance. and. there is a brilliant scene in which a group of actors is rehearsing a play featuring Hitler.. If this were all.. the relationship that enables us to reintroduce the distance that suits the inaccessible. Its motor is. that is to say (according to the good old traditional definition). finally.' an object that sweats. what has all this got to do with love? What links the phenomenon of love to the comic paradigm is the combination of accessibility with the transcendental as the configuration of "accessibility in the very transcendence"? Already. snores.

empirical obstacle. that "inhuman partner" (as Lacan calls it) that desire aims at beyond its object and that must remain inacces­ sible. I would say. This is what is so traumatic. first of all. so to speak). To return to the question of the difference between love and desire. . the miracle oflove consists in "falling" (and in continuing to stumble) because of the real which springs from the gap introduced by this "parallel montage" of two semblances or appearances. The other that we love is neither of the two semblances (the banal and the sublime object). This is what Lacan is aiming at with his statement that love "humanizes . what we are in love with is the Other as this minimal difference of the same that can itself take the form of an object. the box of memory. they decide to spend a week together and then say goodbye. shat­ tering-or funny-about the Real. this can only mean that love as sublimation has not taken place. However. or expect it. and not that it is impossible for it to happen. additionally. since she is nothing other than what results from a successful (or "lucky") montage of the two. on the other hand. it is always something that doesn't fit the (established or anticipated) picture. On the contrary. What is the problem or the lie of this fantasmatic mise-en-scene?-that the encounter is "de-realized" from the very moment it happens. for instance: "In another place. in this case. this means that neither one of them is occulted or substi­ tuted by the other. inaccessible in its being-this is the miracle of desire. They meet by chance and fall passionately in love-or so we are asked to believe. ("If we'd only met in another time and another place. destined to become the most precious object of their memories. It is not something that happens when we want it. we could now say that the entre-deux. Love. In other words. hasn't done its work and performed its "trick:' The miracle of love consists. The fantasy of "another place and another time" that sustains the illusion of a possibly fortunate encounter betrays the Real of an encounter by transforming the Alenka ZupanCic 145 "impossible that happened" into "impossible to happen" (here and now). Or. If we are dealing with an alternation of at­ traction and repulsion. as if they were living the love of their lives. Secondly. The Real happens precisely as the impossible. disturbing. bound to her family (immobile. :' This attitude is often read as misrecognition of an inherent and structural impossibility. that the Real as impossible is camouflaged by an empirical obstacle that prevents us from confronting some fundamental or structural impossibility. to use Deleuze's terms. sometime. From time -to time. the most important and precious thing that has ever happened in their love life. or try to make it happen. in another time. or are ready for it. The real of the encounter. the "impossible that happened. the two protagonists are not able to "make do" with the lack. We could say that even during the time their relationship "is happening. whereas the real (other) of desire remains unattainable. nevertheless happen in some other conditions of time and space-the distortion is that of making something that has happened here and now appear as if it could only happen in a distant future or in some altogether different time and space. each of them very settled in their lives: she as a housewife and mother. In other words. one opens the box and finds great pleasure in contemplating this jewel that glitters by virtue of the impossibility it incarnates. never to see each other again. that's what it is). The Real as impossible means that there is no right time or place for it.144 Investigations of the Lacanian Field accessibility of the other. the whole point of the Lacanian concept of the Real is that the impossible happens. is what somehow manages to make the real of desire accessible. one becomes aware of the fact that they are both semblances. This explains the basic fantasy of love stories and love songs that focus on the impossibility involved in desire. Rather. The distor­ tion at stake in this maneuver is not that of creating the belief that something im­ possible will. without effacing or diminishing one another:' The miracle oflove is not that of transforming some banal object into a sublime object. it disavows what has already happened by trying to submit it to the existing transcendental scheme of the subject's fantasy (instead of taking on the ball of sat­ isfaction from there where it surprisingly and unexpectedly emerged). the couple is living it as already lost (and the whole pathos of the movie springs from there). . he as a successful photographer who moves and travels around all the time. where the former refers to the little difference and the latter to the great distance. That is to say. :') One usually says. It is immediately in­ scribed and confined within a discrete. because of the real that springs from the non-coincidence of the same. Here we can clearly see the difference between the functioning of desire as such (which is not to be confounded with lust) and the functioning of desire when it enters the configuration of love. that neither one of them is more real than the other. somewhere. . it consists in creating a "circuit laughter-emotion. not now . or would. and are presented to us. Lacan's objet petit a. Described in this way. The leitmotiv of these stories is. narrowly defined time and space (one week. It always happens at the wrong time and in the wrong place. Desire necessitates an obstacle that maintains the other in her inaccessibility. they make of the lack itself their ultimate possession. But. the problem is that the couple perceive themselves. The real of desire is jouissance. A paradigmatic example of this disavowal of the Real (which aims at preserving the Real as inaccessible Beyond) is to be found in The Bridges ofMadi­ son County: What we have here is a fortunate love encounter between two people. in perceiving the two objects (the banal and the sublime object) on the same level. one house-this being their "another time. is the gap between the Real and the semblance: the other that is accessible to desire is always the imaginary other. what is their reaction to this encounter? They im­ mediately move the accent from "the impossible happened" to "this is impossible to happen. namely. but neither can she be sepa­ rated from them. and since he has to stay there anyway in order to complete his reportage. Contrary to what might seem to be the case. that is to say. not here.' it is already a memory. which it represents in terms of an external. it consists in becoming aware of the fact that the other qua "banal object" and the other qua "object of desire" are one and the same in the identical sense that the actor who plays Hitler and the picture of "Hitler" (which is actually the picture of the actor) are one and the same. this seems like a casual adventure (and. But. Finally. .' is immediately rejected and transformed into an object that paradoxically incarnates the very impossibility of what did hap­ pen. then all this would have been possible . the point of Lacan's identifica­ tion of the Real with the impossible is not simply that the Real is some Thing that is impossible to happen. the interval or gap introduced by desire. another place"). It is a precious object that one puts into a jewel-box.' "this is impossible:' Since she is alone at the time of their encounter (her husband and children gone for a week).

love rather produces a structure similar to that from the already quoted Marx Brothers joke: "Look at this guy. he looks like an idiot. since her stance towards tradition is dictated by it. 2 Jacques-Alain Miller. 3 Jacques Lacan. therefore. Le Seminaire. lecture from the May 13th. love is the very oppo­ site of fetishism. the attitude that separates on the one hand certain heralds of a "postmodern condition" such as Jean -Franc." r ' �- . this in no way implies an "abasement" of a sublime object.:ois • •• Polygraph 15/16 (2004) .3 This is. Thinking historically therefore also means. On the other hand. We should neither sustain nor forsake tradition. of rejecting certain aspects or releasing unblocked potentials stored within. L'image-mouvement (Paris: Les Editions de minuit. also "Three essays on sexuality. Cf. 121. 234.. To engage with the history of that which has gone before does not necessarily mean to accept it without reservation. 1963. to put it very simply.' Lacanian Ink 14 (Spring 1999) : 19. Our attitude to the tradition bequeathed to us is therefore a circumspect one. What is a fetish? An object that could be said to be "full of its own beyond:' Fetish is the material support of the belief in something that is not there. Livre V. Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious (Harmondsworth: Penguin. Disavowal is not the same thing as negation. 1998). I • i . L'angoisse. lecture from May 13. 4 Ibid. he is an idiot!" In this respect. for that which remains of use should be allowed admittance.-.. Tradition is worthy of preservation because it harbors possibilities that are in danger of being disregarded in our impetuous desire to transcend it. (Paris: Seuil. mais quand meme. 1963. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis (London: Routledge. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 1 Cf. 0 ' j to �f 1 1 1. an object that allows us to disavow the lack in the Other. cit. and one could perhaps formulate it as follows: "I know very well that my partner is just an­ other human being. one is not free of the past when one has rejected it out of hand for she who exorbitantly gainsays tradition remains its prisoner. . We neither inherit nor reject tra­ dition but engage with it. 11 Gilles Deleuze. the condition of this engagement is a fully conscious reception of all that has come down to us: "Nothing survives from the past except through a reinterpretation in the presenf'2 Each generation and each individual is faced with the choice of car­ rying tradition on or calling a halt. Le transfert (Paris: Seuil. On Sexuality (Har­ mondsworth: Penguin. "The Desire of Lacan. op. In Freudian theory. 1976). " I "' ! . to affirm its momentum or to endorse history's present course.' in Sigmund Freud. 46. 9 L'angoisse. they unblock latent possibilities that until then lay dormant. I think. 313. but still (I continue to believe that it has secret powers):' In the context of our dis­ cussion this could take the following form: I know very well that my partner is just a human being like any other. think­ ing "against the grain" of hitherto occurring history. op. This is why it can play an important role in the economy of desire. • . 6 Les formations de l'inconscient. The thinker who regards tra­ dition should rather take as his model the gatekeeper whose job it is to decide who can pass. but I still continue to believe that she is not. the structure introduced by love is rather different. he behaves like an idiot-but do not let yourself be deceived. but I still believe that she is just another human being:' In other words. unpublished seminar. Only when one takes up a balanced and critical attitude towards tradition can one hope to transcend it. 1983). '.146 Investigations of the Lacanian Field jouissance" and that "only love-sublimation makes it possible for jouissance to con­ descend to desire:' As should be clear from the previous discussion.�- . For instance: "I know very well (that this object is only a common object). Les formations de l'inconscient. • . fetish is. "do not just sally forth in advance of their time:" Rather. 131. 1991). Jacques Lacan. And this is precisely what it has in common with comedy Tradition and Transcendence: Postmodernity's Entanglement in Immanence . S Sigmund Freud. cit. 112. � • \ o • • Robert Spencer " Things that are modern:' claims Theodor Adorno. The constructive engagement with tradition might also lead one to continue or fulfill those aspects of it that remain esti­ mable or useful while rejecting others. 1977). 8 The Ethics ofPsychoanalysis. and as Paul Ricoeur has argued. as Walter Benjamin recognized. It was Joan Copjec who drew my attention to this no­ tion of incentive bonus in Freud. In short. 1992). 7 Jacques Lacan. Neither does it imply that it becomes something like a fetish. 118. although the reference to the latter can help us clarify what is at stake. and Octave Mannoni pointed out the rather more complex structure of the fetishist disavowal: je sais bien. 10 Jacques Lacan.

David Harvey. Habermas's account of modernity bears witness to "a selective pattern of rationalization. then. Critical Theory. rationalization. . It is this lag between the ideal and the actual that characterizes modernity and gives rise to the innumerable catastrophes of which it is guilty. These thinkers have highlighted the philosophical contradictions in postmod­ ern thought and combated the caricature it offers of the modern tradition. The process of transcending modernity. For them. For Adorno. truth against ideol­ ogy. is still the modern one of measuring the status quo against its ideals. then.9 the ideal of Habermas's thought nevertheless stands as a radical. The basic contention of Habermas's theory is that the depredations of the unfinished project of modernity are attributable not to those ideals but rather to their hitherto inadequate and partial realization. and democracy contrast with the incapacity of an inequitable economic set-up to put them into effect. Habermas is convinced that the project of mo­ dernity has failed because the ideals it avows-the replacement of myth and super­ stition with the sovereign powers of reason and the substitution of the democratic will for arbitrary despotism-have not yet been realized. therefore. which maintains a qualified commitment to modernity. The Enlighten­ ment project of disenchantment. " [I]deologies. Frankfurt School Critical Theorists have concluded that. boils down to a dispute about the course of action that will best enable us to transcend this state of affairs. Although. "to hate it properly. therefore. "are not only manifestations of the socially necessary consciousness in its essential falsity . assiduously reconstructs the narrative of modernity in order to unearth buried alternatives within it. Alex Callinicos. therefore. however. His ideal of a public sphere in which each and every participant would have the right to speak and partake on equal terms with his or her peers. . is by no means a pig-headed fidel­ ity to a discredited epoch. because of the existence of these unfulfilled elements. rejects the thesis that we now live in a transformed epoch in which the boundary between ideal and actual that characterized moder­ nity has been blurred by wholesale commodification. in which the ideals of freedom. despite certain novel obstacles that late capitalism places in our paths. . content to see reason retained unmodified. Identified with the qualified defense of the project of modernity-defined as the process of disenchantment. pressing its ideals against the inability of a capitalist system unable to make good on them. centered on the re­ production and transmission of values and norms. rationaliza­ tion and secularization-Habermas's theory differs most markedly from those of his self-proclaimed adversaries in its contention that the resources of modernity have not yet been exhausted. [T]here is an aspect to them that can lay a claim to truth inasmuch as it transcends the status quo in utopian fashion. the belief that no epoch can contain possibilities other than those which have been actually realized:'ll By modernity. reconstructs the narrative of mo­ dernity in order to salvage from its hitherto inadequate realization those aspects of it that might do service in the cause of political emancipation. esti­ mabIe ideals are evacuated from the empirical sphere. gives shape to an alternative notion of inter­ subjective reason that constitutes a normative critique of society based upon radical democratic principles. They refuse to forget tradition in case by so doing they overlook the means of moving beyond it. as Neil Lazarus has argued.Tradition and Transcendence Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard and on the other those defenders of an unfinished modern project such as Jiirgen Habermas. The difference between modernist and postmodernist thought. The first. which acts throughout modernity's infamous career as a counterfactual norm. renouncing laudable ideals on account of the blanket rejection of a society that had failed to adequately accomplish them. fact against fiction. To modify Adorno's maxim: one must have modernity in oneself to hate it properly. He is convinced that any precipitate attempt to ditch modernity in toto risks throwing out the baby with the bathwater.' he writes trenchantly. becoming ideological props of a system that allows suffering and injustice to run amuck. Habermas like his predecessors argues • Robert Spencer 149 that "enlightenment can only make good its deficits by radicalized enlightenmenf'6 He contends that modernity has misfired because the model of communicative ra­ tion ality has been obscured: "spheres of communicative action. . reason. Not reason. is meant that flawed epoch in which the dreams of social emancipation and the triumph of reason over myth struggle to be realized but which. one transcends tradition by bringing it down from within. as Peter Dews has remarked. in which the unforced force of the better argument would win out. which offers a qualified defense of the heritage of the Enlightenment trust in reason and knowledge. he attributes the current disillusionment with the modern era to which the various currents of postmodern thought attest not to modernity but to its incompleteness. "One must have tradi­ tion in oneself. even if only for purposes of justification:'l0 Yet if Habermas. Christopher Norris. Critics have taken up two broad positions in the ongoing "postmodernism" de­ bate. Instead of disavowing it. Modernity is the name given to that abortive process whereby the secular ide­ als of freedom and reason endeavor to succeed the arbitrary dictates of myth and irrationalism. he has increasingly suggested that a workable public sphere could be realized within the constraints of capitalist society. but its misuse and distortion is at fault for the crimes committed in modernity's name. For these modernist think­ ers-most prominent among whom are Habermas. a jagged profile of modernization:'8 He is not. and secularization has undeniably gone awry. Habermas's defense of modernity. norma­ tive challenge to the status quo."4 He who would release himself from the burden of tradition can do so successfully only by first adopting its maxims. Peter Dews and Terry Eagletonl2-our task. we are confronted with a situation in which modernity's promise has been broken. His last-ditch effort to engage critically with modernity rep­ resents an attempt to extract something of value from a tradition that postmodern thinkers comprehensively eschew. are penetrated by a form of mod­ ernization guided by standards of economic and administrative rationaliti'7 For Habermas a form of instrumental reason geared towards abstract imperatives has squeezed out the founding bourgeois ideal of unhindered democratic communica­ tion. points towards its own transcendence. Rather. since about 1980. just as we might manage to outstrip modernity only by holding it to its word. since the ideals of modernity have not yet been realized. the drastic disavowal of modernity in Lyotard and Baudrillard "appears to imply a denial of the meaningful­ ness of any counterfactual history.' he previously contended. demands that we "think with modernity against moderniti'5 By contrasting the ide­ al with the actual in modernity such constructive engagements with tradition turn anew to its discredited project.

Postmodernity. then. postmodernity therefore denotes for Jameson the final extinction of those areas that hitherto remained outside the scope of commodification. For him it is a full-sc�le dress re� earsa� for . an iron cage that allows no possibility of critique. it would be ideo­ logical for art to feign reconciliation. Modern art. The sting is taken out of the daring and iconoclastic modernists when they are hung in the lobbies of investment banks or co-opted by . Jameson a:­ gues. They see modernity as the scene of diverse possibilities. Nor. for example.20 Modernism for Adorno does not so much embody utopia as articulate its absence: "Modern art. Autonomous modermst art was once able to give voice to alternatives to capitalism b��ause it origi� ate� in those �limes where . Immanent criticism holds modernity to its promises. Modernism is charged not with anticipating utopia but with articulating its absence. which for Jameson tends to spawn depthless and self-referential cultural products. however. blemishes. however.8 Jameson discounts the possibility of autonomous modernist art because there is now no possibility of getting outside the reified system. As Max Horkheimer once claimed.150 Tradition and Transcendence Enlightenment reason is not a unitary tradition that bred and could not have avoid­ ed breeding the Holocaust and other crimes committed in the name of progress. and therefore the modernist w? rk gives itse�f over to dissonance and thus mimes in its broken form the antagomsms that spilt society apart. modernist art is therefore one of the m?st conspicuous symp­ toms of his theory's political fatalism. But he is too easily discour­ aged. of the possibility of the positioning of the cultural act outside the massive Being of capital. with its vulnerability. a signpost to the emancipated condition. What the burden of our preced­ ing demonstration suggests. It is represented most vocally by Lyotard and Baudrillard. but conditions that do not correspond to them. Jameson concludes that the fall of communism and the advance of capitalism into hitherto uncommodified areas-the definitive closing of the frontier of the world system-means there are no territories that have yet to be subjected to the rule of capitalism. Adorno. "drew its power and its possibilities from being a backwater and an archalC holdover within a modernizing economy:" ? The novels of Franz Kafka.'s Whereas modernity harbored a variety of time scales and modes of production­ what Raymond Williams has called residual and emergent tendencies'6-in our own unprecedented epoch the depthless commodities spawned by late capitalism have Robert Spencer 151 no rival. . requires special pleading. which in so many ways are stronger and more successful: It is the critique of success:'21 The modernist work amounts to an immanent critique of the traditional artwork. mitigating as he does his undaunted faith in political transformation with a melancholy insistence that reification is now more or less total. no longer provides any vantages from which such insight might be contrived. Postmodernism is the only game in town. which have shown their unten­ abilitY:" 3 The essential paradox of Jameson's recent work is that although he stays true to rational comprehension or what he calls "cognitive mapping"-the project of graduating to some total knowledge of late capitalism's gargantuan system'4-he nonetheless defines postmodernity as that age in which cognition as such has been written off in advance by the preponderance of reification. nonical high modernism mass culture can now bear the load of utopIan antlClpatlOn that modernism has put down. offers a subtly different account of modernist art. Now all vestiges and remnants of the past have been expunged. exemplified for Adorno by the harmonious structure of the sonata. His eschewal of the possibility of critical. Yet it remains true to modernity insofar as the ide­ als it proclaims originate in that epoch. Such criticism con­ trasts a deficient and inadequate empirical sphere with its own ideology. an all-inclusive regime in which we can no longer contrive enough discrepancy between the ideal and the ac­ tual and between the illusory and the real to allow us to hold the system to account. The second position in the postmodernism debate proclaims the obsolescence of the modern project resulting from the advent of a totalitarian system of commodities. not an amalgam of differing time scales but a single temporal continu­ um. m thIS respect. capitalism had not yet been entrenched. is that distance in general (including "critical distance" in particular) has very precisely been abolished in the new space of postmodernism. utopia. for he has misjudged modernism. For Jameson has a foot in both the residual modernist and the fatalistic postmodernist camps. It exists not to compensate or to console but to incite dissatisfaction. Jameson contends that since the ass imilati?� of ca­ . they view the onset of this epoch from the fast-eroding breakwater of a still largely feudal nation. and fallibility. however. is the critique of traditional works. Here the accent falls not upon utopia but upon its frustration.22 Since society itself is unreconciled. bureaucratic exis­ tence instilled by monopoly capitalism. The case of America's foremost Marxist critic Fredric Jameson. are privileged a last-ditch critical distance from the impersonal. Modern­ ism. Our age is not uneven but flat and featureless. Modernism is "a Utopian compensation for everythmg relficatlOn bnngs with iC'9 Though it serves an ideological function by providing images of reconcili­ ation in the midst of an alienated present. from which to assault this last. No theory of cultural politics on the Left today has been able to do with­ out one notion or another of a certain minimal aesthetic distance. Fredric Jameson and the End of Modernity The immanent criticism advocated by modernity's beleaguered partisans is intend­ ed not to uphold or endorse modernity but to indict its failure. "Everything has reached the same hour on the great clock of development or rationalization (at least from the perspective of the 'West'):'. with the ideals that it has not yet realized. "it is not the ideals of the bourgeoisie. is not utopian as such but an expression of the frustration of utopian im­ pulses under present conditions. is the formerly autonomous sphere of culture able any longer to give reification the slip. despite the empha­ sis in Jameson's earlier The Political Unconscious on the utopian nature of aesthetic experience. modernist art nonetheless constitutes for Jameson a portent of the utopian life of the collective. There is no high ground from which we might espy capitalism's advance. Modern works deliberately thwart the ideal of reconciliation and in so doing testify both to an alienated world in which reconciliation cannot be found and to the enduring urge to bring reconciliation about.

Adorno is also at one with Jameson in portraying modernism as an effect of commodification and not an escape from it. the transcendence of the nation -state and the rendering insignificant of territorial frontiers. Jameson himself occasionally concedes that autonomous. The ideology of globalization which Jameson's thesis resembles is therefore as false as any other ideal avowed by capitalism. giving shape to the gulf between art's promise of reconciliation and its inability on its own to make good on that promise in an unreconciled social order.e �s and under-d. therefore.dship and partitio� . He is therefore emphatically not to be likened to conservative opponents of mass culture or to uncritical adher­ ents of modernist art. modernist art might be achieving a second wind in peripheral societies where the systems ideologies clash openly with the brutal reality of har. as a product and a commodity. modernist art yet repudiate mass culture as sheer manipulation. In the end the dis­ tinction between the two lies in the greater obviousness with which this is achieved in modernist works. it is those products of the culture industry unjustly spurned by Horkheimer and Adorno that shoulder the burden of utopian presentiment. Jameson attributes both postmo­ dernity's absolute break with the incomplete epoch of modernity and the demise of modernist art to the sheer universality of capitalism. He actually concurs with Jameson in present­ ing modernism as a symptom of and not as a solution to the crises that modernity brings about. "Uneven geographical development and expansion. But modernism has its origin not in the prestige or otherwise of its outlaw practitioners but in social conditions of uneven development. Ostensibly. in Adorno's famous phrase. [TJhe diner must be satisfied with the menu:'28 Modernism. Moreover. Both assume the task of decrying the gap between the systems ideals and its current inability to fulfill them. Charged with articulating the gap between the system's ideals and its inability to make good on them. finance. it springs:'24 Jameson objects to the fact that Adorno and Horkheimer place a positive value on high. unevenness is the essential condItion of modermst artY More importantly. to which. however. according to Adorno. and trade. It is not modernism itself but individual modernists that become obsolete. Modernism. according to Jameson. they do not add Up:'2? Adorno is not out to defend some sacrosanct aesthetic realm but to show that modernist art is parasitic on modernity.152 Tradition and Transcendence the official approbation of university syllabuses. modernism lasts for as long as the fallible epoch of modernity endures. Adorno's defense of modernist art is therefore akin to Habermas's defense of modernity. The only evidence he adduces for its obsolescence is the appropriation of formerly iconoclastic modernists by an official canon. this is exactly how Adorno saw the relation of high and mass culture. putting global processes beyond local control in a fully planetary division of labor. and no matter how faintly. Yet the flip side of this interconnectedness is increased division. Globalization is shorthand for a process of homogenization. ernist art. Jameson points to "their Utopian or transcendent potential-that dimension of even the most degraded type of mass culture which remains implicitly. Mandel claims that "the ideology of 'technical rationality' mystifies the reality of late capitalism by claiming that the syste m is capable of overcoming all the fundamental socio-economic contradictions of the capitalist mode of production. The global system is unitary but unequal.e­ velopment. The peripheries of the system are integrated not by bringing them up to speed with the most advanced nations-by promoting development in hitherto under-developed climes or by ex­ tending the remit of nominally democratic Western institutions-but by forcing them to act as impoverished and biddable dependencies.26 They are. He proposes instead to redress the balance by seeing high and mass culture as "objectively related and dialectically interdependent phenomena:'25 Yet as Andreas Huyssen points out. The former obscures social injustice and alienation by feigning reconciliation. for it is precisely this clean break that Ernest Mandel's Late Capitalism repudiates. It reorders time and space. Jameson is prepared to concede that capitalism is not quite as ubiquitous as his rhetoric frequently implies.2) Thereafter. it fragments as it amalgamates. on the other hand. accomplish this:'30 Capitalism is incapable of becoming a universal system. given the continued existence of social divisions. unabashedly confesses this discrepancy. that is still disfigured by the disjunction between ideal and reality. In Robert Spencer 153 more guarded moments. negative and critical of the social order from which. issuing promises on which. . Yet his qualification-that this is true "at least from the perspective of the 'West"'-gives the lie to his own thesis. . "torn halves of an integral freedom. originated in those societies in which inequality was most flagrant. it is necessarily unable to fulfill. in which the high -flown avowals of a modernizing system contrasted most flagrantly with the reality of backwardn. it is perennially hobbled because its fundamental fea­ tures-the extraction of surplus labor (the transformation of living labor into com­ modities) and the class relationship that impels this-still obtain under late capital­ ism and generate divisions that give the lie to the systems apparent universality. in error when he reads the last rights over mod­ . Modernist art eschews premature affirmation in a world that is not yet reconciled. Indeed. Jameson is therefore.34 If Jameson is to maintain his faith in a possible transformation of postmodermty then he must countenance the endurance of what I have described as the paradigm of modernity. the economic authority that Jameson calls to bear witness to his contention that postmodernity and late capitalism constitute an "absolute break"29 with modernity and a still fallible monopoly capitalism also tells a quite different tale. an articulation of the dissonance to which modernity unavoidably gives rise.' as David Harvey has written. for Adorno mass culture and modernism are basically alike. . "The culture industry perpetually cheats its consumers of what it perpetually promises. The present work has sought to show that late capitalism has not. I think. "cannot possibly cure the internal contradictions to which capitalism is heir:')1 The expansion of the system into the third world is as likely to aggravate contradictions as it is to resolve them. profitable sources of raw materials and cheap labor. the existence of disjunctive spaces which allow us to mount a politi­ cal critique of the system by measuring its rarefied ideals against its less edifying achievements.32 For Eagleton too. and cannot. He must concede the persistence of disjunctions upon the periphery of the kind that give rise to modernist art's "critique of success:' Since capitalism . Superficially this term is used to de­ scribe the growing interconnectedness of the planet whereby the fates of disparate climes are linked by global systems of production.

Whereas art was once essentially a utopia-that is to say. Or rather. has been confused with its own image:'J9 Stripped of its autonomy. whose First World produces a Third World within itself by its own inner dynamic. for whom the disjunc­ tion between ideal and real on which modernism fed has collapsed. then Jameson has written offhis political project in advance. and therefore provides room for the system's hIgh-flown Ideals to be contrasted with its woeful accomplishments. There is no lon­ ger any need for a separate aesthetic realm quarantined from everyday life because image. Art is put out of commission because it can no longer transcend the airtight immanence of postmodernity. like modernity. but because reality itself.' claims Baudrillard. "The problem for Jameson under these cir­ cumstances is. Jameson's commitment to a root and branch transformation of the social order that is at issue here but his assessment of its feasibility. ultimately unrealizable-today this utopia has been realized:'40 Art's hideout has been detonated and the fallout bathes us all in pop culture's lurid glow. are postmodernity's precipitate celebrants. to contrast critically its aims with its accomplishments. his unfashionable awareness of the need for political critique and radical action. "I spit on it. "[O]ur society has given rise. depthless culture of postmodernism. Everything has become a bewitching daydream. their existence be­ ing already predicated by the necessarily uneven development of late capi­ talism. More­ over. and Art When the dust settles Jameson sides with the opponents of the idea that postmoder­ nity constitutes an "absolute break" with the preceding epoch."41 Modernity had • . therefore. To 155 t h uS take issue with Jameson's "postmodernism" thesis is in a sense to do no more than follow the momentum of his own thinking. "to a general aestheticization. then. for in a sense it has never been more in demand.' according to Steven Connor. in friction with capitalism. chooses the latter.' according to Baudrillard. according to Baudrillard art has been realized in all spheres of social existence. Baudrillard breaks into the palace of bourgeois culture and disburses the bounty. accommodates a host of divergent tl�e scales �nd oppositional cultures. It is not. entirely impregnated by an aesthetic which is inseparable from its own structure. ignited modernism. "I don't want culture. the existence of alternative tendencies germinating within the system and therefore the endurance of the modern project. The contention that reification is now total induces a political defeatism that threatens to forestall Jameson's project of "cognitive mapping" and is in any case belied by the current regime's inherent fallibility. a claim that does not stand up to empirical scrutiny. When there is no reality to be discerned beneath the ubiquitous commodities and simulacra because " [p ]ostmodernism is what you have when the modernization process is complete and nature is gone for good" then there is no longer any possibility of political critique. transformation. " [A]rt is dead. With a flamboyant fin-de-siecle nonchalance Baudrillard announces both the end of culture and the exhaustion of modernity's dreams of social transformation. in questioning whether postmodernity merits the novelty he claims for it. Indeed. less circumspect proponents of the "postmodern condition:' Baudrillard. therefore. we would be correct to conclude that this claim has obscured the essential continuity between our own epoch and the modern age to which many theorists have bade a premature farewell.154 Robert Spencer Tradition and Transcendence is unable to totalize itself. as David Har­ vey's more serviceable account of our era contends. It is to his immense credit that his theory avoids the reckless fatalism of other. So-called late capitalism constitutes. If the global network of production is now invis­ ible beneath the superficial. Ultimately he prefers to accentuate the continued imperfection of late capitalism. In an increasingly self-identical world.J5 Jameson is torn between his desire to present late capitalism as a novel regime of total reification and the political necessity of claiming that reification is not yet invulnerable and therefore susceptible to examination. Yet the totalizing account of the postmodern always included a space for various forms of oppositional culture: those of marginal groups. Jameson. not a qualitative. and on a scale it could scarcely have envisaged. and thus the elimi­ nation of the negativity that enables critique. On the other sides of the barri­ cades. art has not really been made redundant.38 Over the past thirty years we have witnessed a quantitative. We would be justified. its claims to universality with its acrually rather limited scope. an object of carefree aesthetic pleasure. the dreams of the avant-garde have at last been accomplished. The problem is that his desire to maintain an "absolute break" with modernity demands the assertion that capitalism has definitively put paid to its contradictions. . "how to remain true to the analysis of postmodernity which he has produced. not a break with modernity but an exacerbation of previously existing trends. when it comes down to a choice between postmodernity and critique. It seems churlish to point out that capitalism is sustained by immanent contradictions because we can be sure that Jameson knows this already. "not only because its critical transcendence is gone. . Ostensibly for Jameson late capitalism is the final termination of that non-capi­ talist space that. those of radically distinct residual or emergent cultural languages.37 I� now seems that postmodernity. there is no normative or critical aesthetic refuge that might give commodification the slip and vaunt its incompatibility with the status quo. . it is rather a realized utopia that attends our everyday existence. we are still able. He can be assigned to that group of radical thinkers for whom modernity is not yet complete and for whom modernist art can still play a critical role. while yet preventing the enormity of the analYSis from overwhelming the possibility of critique:'J6 In the end the only way for Jameson to maintain his radical credentials is by confessing the essentially uneven character of late capitalist social development and thereby conceding that the still fallible epoch of postmodernity is not suffiCiently discontinuous to merit its prefix. art has become defunct. however. Truth. like the classical exponents of Critical Theory. It is therefore by no means to im­ pugn the radicalism of his thought but merely to remark that his salutary attempt to stress the changes wrought in the world economy since the Second World War leads him to postulate an "absolute break" with the modern era that falls foul of his theory'S own better instincts. No more is it a distant ideal that furnishes a critical contrast with a debased and unaesthetic social sphere.' he has provocatively declared. and illusion now proliferate interminably in an exhilarating dissemi­ nation of all that was formerly ghettoized in the aesthetic. color.

44 In its attempt to buttress Marx's analy­ sis of reification in the sphere of production with his own account of reification in the sphere of consumption. . between truth and illusion. a wholly novel era in which all traces of some ultimately discernible reality have been expunged. realtty then we are summarily stripped of the ability to hold that discourse to account by critically contrasting it with the truth. The fascination of the desert: immobility without desire. truth is nothing but a con­ venient fiction established by convention and ratified by habit. however. there is nothing but reification. albeit tongue-in-cheek. . realm of images that could never be cogmzed or redeemed : vve are no depthless onger in the society of the spectacle w�ich th� Situ�ti?nists t�� ed about. comprehended. Of Los Angeles: insane circulation without de­ sire. When we are told that there is no chink in the armor of the present m which we might lever open some revealing distinction between what the p �wers that be would like us to believe and what actually is the case. Effecting a radical break with modernity. Just as Jameson bemoans the onset of a "whole global. we relinquish the possibility of appealing to truth and historical record. we lose the capaCIty for critically contrasting different viewpoints.4" We live in a Lyotardian archipelago of disconnected language games o� phrase­ regimens" in which the creative art of concocting fictions has been substituted for the onerous labor of uncloaking reality. Bau­ drillard has gone one step further than his predecessors. Baudrillard's project bore a family resemblance to the similar efforts of the Frankfurt School a generation earlier. Far more dubious is the extrapolation of this local insight into an overstated thesis about the liquidation of any reality outside of the particular discourse t� at happens to h�ld sway. for whom late capitalism can still be interpreted and t�ans­ formed. since henceforth they all ty. In Baudrillard's eyes whatever was once considered the opposite of illusion and false conscious­ ness-truth. Bau­ drillard's emphatic. . Baudrillard's insistence that the world is no longer within reach of ratIOnal subjectivity amounts to collusion with reification. On t� is dep ��ds . in the dispute about the contmued eXistence of realtty and stake Its cogmtlOn At is the very possibility of a critical consciousness of late capitalism. hermeneutic evaluatIOn. We forgo the chanc� of denouncing our opponents' discourse as self-serving propaganda or self-consolt� g ideology. as the United States' awesome su­ perficiality. types of alienation and represslO whICh t hls Implted. Exchange value has swamped use-value. For an unabashedly polemical Norris. nor in the . like the desert. .156 Tradition and Transcendence maintained its faith in the existence of some sacrosanct reality that remained outside the spreading ambit of commodification. . Lately. however. Probably Baudrillard's most co�­ bative foe in the ranks of modernity's embattled adherents is Christopher Norns. Modernity saw the commodity as a cryptic. Postmodernity. What aggravates Norris about Baudrillard's work is its flattenin� of t� e distinction . Reality is not so much obscured by a veneer of illusion as constituted entirely by discourse to the extent that. deprived of the pos­ sibility of making out the system through the impenetrable haze of simulacra. . Indeed no discour�e can b � more odio�s . discourse:'49 Instead of explaining phenomena with reference to some maglstenal grand recit we now recount modest fables. w relatIOn tive c fi equally an have ��h reah­ than any other. � s pecific . In the eyes of the matenallst cntlcs of postmodern theory. reality.46 When reality for many has become a matter of indifference and opinion has become the reflection not of genuine events but rather of whichever media-inspired discourse happens to possess the greatest rhetorical force then there is. From a strictly diagnostic account of the obscurity of truth in an age of consumer capitalism and mass media simulations.' an outlandish inference drawn from the otherwise uncontroversial observation that government propaganda and media disinformation contrived for most people in the West to obscure the indis­ tinct real event. In America. has vanished. For when we decree that the video-game imagery of the mghtly news IS. insistence on the illusory character of the conflict in the Gulf amounted to a risible failure of political nerveY It is surely the case that when reality is thought to be constituted e�tirely by � is­ course and there is no longer any operative distinction between what IS happenmg on the ground and what the authorities tell us is taking place there. the validity of which extends no further � "lAT � . meaning. it constitutes.'42 Baudrillard heralds the advent of a world modeled upon what he sees. of course. The end of aesthetics:'43 Baudrillard commenced his career as a Marxist supplementing the critique of political economy with a theory of the sign. Here one is bewitched by "the fascination of the very disappearance of all aesthetic and critical forms of life in the irradiation of an objectless neutrality. no denying the diagnostic value of Baudrillard's insights. and rationality. authentic needs. objectivity. for Lyotard " [w1 e no longer have recourse to the grand narratives-we can resort neither to the dialectic of Sp�rit nor even to the emancipation of humanity as a validation for postmodern sClentt�c . What America exemplifies for Baudrillard is the desertification of modernity's formerly verdant and uneven landscape. who still retained a mini­ mal hope that alienated subjectivity might call a halt to reification. as . The divid­ ing line between culture and economics has been effaced because we have entered upon a wholly novel economic regime in which society is suffused through and through by signs and images and in which political opposition. what we say bears no relation to what actually is. The commodity. This is a nihilistic world in which the downtrodden have no chance of arming themselves with the truth because such a thing no longer exists. . and symboliC exchange generally has obliterated production. apparently self-acting thing that nevertheless belied some hidden essence that could be decoded and reappro­ priated. Baudrillard leaps zealously to a grandiose skepticism about the validity of any truth-claim whatsoever. according to Baudrillard. is an impenetrable and mysterious thing that can never be deciphered. use-value-has now been utterly overwhelmed by reification. yet American. Whereas the Situ­ ationist Guy Debord still saw the commodification of everyday life in the "society Robert Spencer 157 of the spectacle" as an identifiable development �f moder� capitalis� and there�ore Baudnllard sees It as " potentially susceptible to critical. According to this idealist and relativist creed. the universe is but a figment of our imagination. by contrast. is that epoch in which reification is thought to have swallowed all alternatives. postmodern cul­ ture. or reappropriated. the chances of genuinely radical social change. with equal measures of condescension and homage. as in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Famously. Henceforth signs and codes constitute the real instead of merely designating it. He is incensed above all by Baudnllard s provocative contention that "the Gulf War did not take place.

and official de­ nial. � 1 59 in ditching the notion of truth altogether. that of feminism) had a better claim to truth or justice than any others currently on offer:'51 Norris ar­ gues that the rejection of any possible criterion by which to judge a discourse more true or false than another is politically disastrousY We risk inaugurating a situa­ tion in which. at whitewashing the true state of affairs in order to keep the downtrodden from an empowering intimacy with their fate and the forces that govern it. For both.' reasons Norris. subject-positions. Baudrillard. We abandon any standard of judging certain interests truer or more just than others and lose sight of the fact that some interests might benefit from and thus be interested in the prolongation of a particular historical reality. For the arrogation of truth is not the only weapon in the arsenal of the powers that be. on the other hand. has taken one geographically and socially specific tendency within our epoch and made it into the whole of reality. Theatrically overreacting to the arrogant positivist assumption that the truth is a stable entity vouchsafed to a learned elite. Where knowledge was.54 Chomsky argues that it is the responsibility of the intellectual. The Enlightenment ideal of scientific judgment is supplanted by a hotchpotch of little narratives. to ex­ hume the truth from beneath the covering of obfuscation.55 Too many postmodern intellectuals. and those who have developed the nervous tic of placing such vulgar terms as "truth" and "fact" in fastidiously distancing scare quotes should be careful to avoid a certain collusion be­ tween their own high-toned theoretical gestures and the most banal. "everything is ultimately constructed in discourse-truth. On the one hand the reign of the com­ modity has extended into the most intimate minutiae of everyday life and on the other it has overflowed the frontiers of the first world and saturated those enclaves it formerly disregarded or excluded. Baudrillard and Lyotard would have no reason to consider Holocaust-denial particularly despicable so long as he who held th�se views did not try to foist his opinions on others. as Steven Best and Douglas Kellner have argued. they have swung too far in the opposite direction. neglecting a wide range of economic. environmental. They stubbornly uphold the modern conviction that the laborious task of research and documentation can unearth explosive data-evidence of hushed-up massacres. for instance. From his experience of a consumer capitalism that obtains only in a tiny sliver of the world. • Conclusion: Modernity as Unfinished Business The two positions in the postmodernism debate-the case for the prosecution and that for the defense-have one crucial thing in common. suppressed. as political and moral agents. to realize with Eagleton that dissimulation is the status quo's stock in trade. totalizing history by discounting the possibility of alternatives taking shape within it. We are faced with both a deepening and a broadening of reification. They are equally adept at concealing the truth. distorted-can be in themselves politically explosive. They continue to contrast the norms nominally accepted by the powerful with the truth that these ideals are all too often jettisoned for reasons of realpolitik and political and economic gain. Baudrillard is. and political issues:'57 It is undeniable that he has successfully captured the fatalistic mood of a disen­ chanted intelligentsia in an age that has witnessed several concussive rebuffs to the labor movement and a wholesale consolidation in the west of consumer capitalism. ignorance. Public intellectuals such as Edward Said and Noam Chomsky wisely disregard the postmodern suspicion of truth. Yet if. have taken literally Nietzsche's injunctions to foreswear truth and embrace ignorance. assiduously digging for facts. In such conditions. then.' not to speak over one's fellow storytellers: "each genre is played as such. globe-encircling proclamations about a totalitarian system of signs and the liquidation of objective reality. class allegiances and so forth-then ex hypothese we could only be deluded in thinking that any particular discourse (for instance. Oth­ erwise Baudrillard risks committing the same blunder he accuses his opponents of making. The beginning of the good life is to try as far as possible to see the situation as it really is. Mass media simulation has veiled reality to the extent that we find it ever more difficult to tell fact from fiction whilst the near universality of capitalism leaves us at a loss to find any space from which to get its measure. the viewpoint that wins out is simply the one that leaps the highest. Lyotard claims that the one remaining criterion of justice is the compulsion not to encroach upon other narratives and "language games. of telling the most gripping yarns. to draw "attention to the ways in which specific ideas help to legitimate unjust and unnecessary forms �f politi�al omination:'53 The willingness to accuse some discourses of being more . Ac­ cording to the strict letter of their theories. reality. and blind to the continuing importance of the economy. Politics is now the art of persuasion. routine political strategies of the capitalist power-structure. that reification is now total. Yet this setback hardly warrants his hyperbolic assertion. which implies that it does not give itself as the game of all the other games or as the true one:'50 But when we lose faith in truth we lose the possibility of measuring interests against reality. Baudrillard would be better advised to acknowledge the limits of his undoubtedly productive insightsY For there are tendencies germinating within late capitalism that might help us peer beyond it and attain enough leverage between fact and fiction to denounce it. there point of view shall be. reductive. unaccompanied by either analytical or demonstrative rigor. however. "For if. By accentuating the sheltered well­ being of the West at the expense of the oppression on which it is built. The Nietzschean claim that truth is just a self-promoting fiction fails. A retention of the concept of Ideology.158 Robert Spencer Tradition and Transcendence than the lips from which they fall. we wish to avoid throwing in the towel . allows us. he extrapolates a series of exaggerated. because no particular viewpoint seems any more disreputable than any other. our epoch has been the scene of capitalism's wholesale consolidation. or of of­ ficial connivance in environmental destruction-that can be used to denounce the duplicitous actions of those in power and hold them to account. 56 The prevailing skepticism about objective truth deprives the downtrodden of the means by which they might contrast the claims of their rulers with the reality of their rulers' wrongdoings. IdeologIcal than others opens the way to an understanding of some viewpoints as truer than others due to their greater insight into the way the world happens to be. as Eagleton points out. state. race and gender domina­ tion. the true facts-concealed. "too one-sided.

. Benjamin's paradoxical claim. he espies not success but the ubiq­ uitous fallibility of a purportedly monolithic system. Thus spooked by this leviathan. is capitalism's mirror image. ought to be heeded.' as Hegel defined it in conversation with Goethe64-lies precisely in contradiction. unique conjuncture. Too much postmodern theory is guilty of a catastrophic failure of political imag­ ination in not acknowledging the regional limits of its insights and in overlooking the conflict and indigence that prevail in more remote locales. a sequence of calamities and abortive revolts. For every official account there is a minority report. takes root in the omnipresent fallibility of the status quo. t�o�e who ignore it tend to collude in its perpetuation. An increasingly globalized capitalism professes to be. It is pessimistic because it considers the brave new world champio� ed by postmodernism to be but a continuation of the deficient epoch of modermty. The possibility of redemption. and it is therefore the responslbli­ . as if it were not an objective fact but a pattern imputed to history by the malign schemas of Enlightenment theorists. practical effort of refusal to overhaul the system. bunk.62 But as Eagleton argues. universal. therefore they impute a grandiose homogeneity to history itself. We are to remind ourselves that because these antinomies endure we remain within the paradigm of modernity. . Our task as responsible critics is to ferret out the hidden conflicts lurking beneath the graveyard stillness of postmodernity. Gainsaying grand narratives brings us no closer to stopping them. We might say that Critical Theory. . therefore. gard disre Yet this be. Redemption looks to the small fissure in the ongoing catastrophe:'60 Benjamin argues that it is the task of the historical materialist to break apart the homogeneous appearance of history. Holding fast to these contradictions-not least of which is that between the ideals of mod­ ernism and their current lack of realization-it would like to kindle what Jiirgen . It does not so much develop alongside immanence as germinate furtively within it. This tradition. The immanent method seeks not to forecast impetu­ ously the political hereafter but instead to unblock the way to a future society by showing up the contradictions and fallibilities of the present one. therefore. Those who celebrate history as change. Benjamin argues that it is the task of all radical politics to reverse these setbacks. History for Marxism is indeed. "changes the transcendent objective into an immanent one:'61 We can call a halt to the ongoing catastrophe because the status quo is defective and flawed. Despite their wariness of totality. as Benjamin argued. the work of historical construction is fix­ ated with the past. then. stirs inconspicuously in the most unpropitious circumstances. For Benjamin. the incessant history of exploitation is the result of capitalism. In so doing he appears to imagine that grand narratives could be repudiated by theoretical fiat as if totality were imposed not by capitalism but by its critics. in short. is that those interested in transcending the ongoing catastrophe have as their immediate concern only the past. et disr postmodern thinkers like Lyotard and Baudnllard display an Irreveren um tinu co ive ruct dest the ys alwa is ry histo that nds grou the on ry histo for � pect s . imminently if not already. Capitalism can be wound up because it is already insolvent. to make victories of our forebears' gallant defeats. It is to be achieved not by promulgat- 161 ing the ront conf y dedl -hea hard by but r orde l socia ed sform tran a of rints p blue g in present's ragged and ruptured character. Unprecedented global unity goes hand in hand with increasing fragmentation. not of the totalizing zeal of its opponents. . . Because totality endures. methodically-cultivated spirit of contradiction. Instead of starting from scratch. and who hone their theoretical instruments accordingly to capture something of this precious specificity. But in a world as unequal as ours this claim obviously rings false. This is why the work of the Frankfurt School. . The method that I advocate is at once dolorously pessimistic and determinedly hopeful. Not optimism but pessimism is the correct disposition of the radical thinker. like Marxism in general in the words of the young Georg Lukacs. Our age remains modern by virtue of this enduring discrepancy. then we must concede that a gulf persists between the system's ideals and its achievements. Yet it is decidedly more optimistic because the hope nurtured by dialectics-nothing more than the "regulated. unafraid to stress the daunting totality in which we live. which has still to be put to bed. a suppressed and disregarded "tradition of the oppressed" that articulates the outlook of the underlings. for it would take a concerted. Transcendence. as for Herbert Marcuse. Transcendence. as Mr. ity of intellectuals to tailor our concepts and theoretical vocabulary accordmgly. Lyotard in particular sets about advocating his utopia of discon­ nected and monadic language games. Ford wisely commented. Indeed. What could be is therefore stealthily fomenting in what is.63 Those who celebrate the proliferation of language games and the inauguration of an achieved aesthetic existence are jumping the gun.59 The inveterate backward gaze of the attentive historian finds not a benign tale of progress but an unremitting Calvary of slaughter and exploitation. "is the catastrophe .160 Robert Spencer Tradition and Transcendence (and either heralding the brave new world of the consumer society or reluctantly bemoaning the exhaustion of the modern projects of emancipation and enlighten­ ment). Postmodernists write off the history of preceding epochs as an unmitigated catalogue of atrocities brought about by instru­ mental reason and thus go on to foreswear the grand narratives that drove human­ kind to such hubristic acts of social engineering. we should settle our scores with modernity before setting sail for its successor. or at least the same old tedious story. difference. by prioritizing production." writes Benjamin. from its early practitioners to its contemporary advocates. Baudrillard even ar­ gues that Marxism. has the great merit of also stressing the contradictions that inhere within the dispiritingly monolithic status quo. is not anterior to the debilitating continuum of immanence but takes shape within it. but even ifhe could it would then carry on spinning. Radical thought looks for transcendence where it might be least expected. He shows that history is not a monologue but a cacophony of different voices that can intercede and object. Instead of ecstatically heralding some imminent utopia it ransacks the status quo for the means of exceeding it. simply blind themselves politically and intellectually to this most scandalous of all transhistorical truths. that ers pow the d by cate advo t men hten enlig and ess r prog of is itself an inadvertent form of historicism. it is by paying heed to this narrative of recurrent and continuing failure that we are enabled to transcend the status quo. . "That things 'just go on. Lyotard wants to stop the world and get off. plurality.

. 248. Adorno. trans. Baudrillard would doubtless refuse to pick up the gauntlet and perhaps restate his conviction that it is not his task to purvey cogent theoretical models. labo tive nega a as lly ntia esse vre oeu vanize and not to elucidate and to instruct.' pref "I tics. David Pellauer. Yet it is difficult to make this charge stick in Baudrillard's case for he is determined not to play by the usual academic rules which require him to justify his hyperbolic theses with evidence and exegesis. 216. Adorno. Modernity should rather be rehabilitated only to nd -a nity der mo to rn retu st mu ker thin ical crit The lf. Rod­ ney Livingstone (London: Verso. offers the chance to resolve these antinomies and thereby fulfill modernity's promise.65 Modernist artworks articulate this state of permanent and irredeemable crisis. which anticipates the future t wha ut abo s ning war y earl ides prov thus and es enci tend ent pres ting gera exag by might happen if present trends continue:'66 The joke in the end might be on Bau­ h oug alth For d. . and it is this blase unconcern for the arduous labor of social transfor­ mation that so exasperates his critics on the left who see in his destructive vigor a noxious form of philosophical vandalism. The hasty disavowal of modernity therefore allows it to continue its injurious work in secret.. . 1974). on the other hand. . The relativist creed denies the existence of truth. in which we can redeem Baudrillard's fertile insights and diagnostic acumen for the modernist cause. but for its exponents relativism is itself true and can be said to obtain. "to read Baudrillard's work as a science fiction. however. of complicity by default in the injustices such a position chooses to ignore. trans.. only masks its endurance. "Theses on the Philosophy of History. however. 52. E. If this is the case then we can safely dis­ count his more excessive pronouncements. 3 Walter Benjamin. There is one way.. Harry Zohn (London: Fontana. as I have sought to show. then. 1 Theodor W. rub the of e sak the the adherents of a postmodern break with modernity only as far as their critique cal phi loso phi ir the of shy ht g fi n to lear and s ion itut inst and xies odo orth nt of exta prescriptions. Pay­ ing heed once more to the discredited paradigm of modernity. Yet this negative labor only becomes worthwhile ­ bet ng ethi som aise we upr in. more vexing gadfly than the herald of a totalitarian system of depthless signs. if knowledge is now all about the telling of tales and the invention of worlds then there is no reason why Baudrillard's own account of post­ modernity is not a partial account without wider validity outside the circumscribed milieu of Baudrillard and his TV screen. Adorno recognized time and again that to make precipitate acclamations of a reconciliation not yet apparent in the lives of the alienated and the downtrodden is to be guilty of culpable indifference. Baudrillard then becomes like Soc rates. Minima Moralia: Reflectionsfrom Damaged Life. not for ow st foll mu 7 We if'6 ugh thro ing lead way the of that for but ble. .' Quasi una Fantasia: Essays on Modern Music. therefore. By neglecting art as a means of critical self-reflection. The portrayal of it as a thing of the past presumptuously applies to the whole uneven and multi­ form planet the narrow life experiences of a well-heeled and contented minority. possible.. We should bear in mind the fact that by defending aesthetic autonomy Adorno wished only to point out the capacity of aesthetic experience to bring to mind the secret contradictions that we otherwise tend to overlook. They express in their form the social struggles that beset soci­ ety at large. The widespread conviction that reification has overwhelmed everything from nature to the unconscious and from pre-capitalist backlands in the third world to reality itself is both. an abdication of political and intel­ lectual responsibility and a piece of dubious rhetoric unsupported by the facts and susceptible to empirical refutation. "Vienna.. be more careful to recollect the plight of those for whom truth and critique are not the passe shibboleths of a discredited metaphysics but the essen­ tial means of resisting their pitiable fate. to have been an abiding commitment to settling our scores with mo­ dernity before we can win the right to post-modernity. N. for despite his disbelief in truth he still makes a definite claim about what is the case. F. Benjamin's injunction to reveal alternative subaltern tendencies ben eath the unvarying immanence of history has never been more germane. ed. We might think of Baudrillard's to and gal­ nt affro to be ld then wou job His r. a licensed fool calling into question our positivist faith in rational subj ectivity and k brea the tes gera exag lard dril Bau that s tend con ner Kell glas Dou ge. Indeed. as Adorno once put it. His or her task. The Frankfurt School's emphasiS on the hindward gaze of the immanent critic proves. Philosophy Today 17-2/4 (1973): 165. The notion that we have outstripped modernity. Jeph­ cott (London: Verso. trans. 1992). wled kno le stab with modernity in order to give us advance warning of a society as indifferent about es writ er. We should. Challenged to defend his theories.' trans. he is vul­ nerable to the standard philosophical criticism of relativism. to sustain the gulf between the system's laudable ideals and its deficient accomplishments. Baudrillard's skeptical denial of objective truth is at once politically inefficacious and philosophically contradictory. whe ter in place of that which we demolish: "What exists he reduces to rubble. is to "kindle the flame of utopia on the smoking ruins of the pasf'69 • . robbing us as they do of our arrogant epistemological certitude. icti trad con es pos sup pre ' lity tota and e enc erg tails div versality is belied by its systematic inability to remedy under-development and it re refo the uld sho We . jam Ben by ted oca adv ic crit tive truc des the like n. it might transpire that Baudrillard's fu­ rious negative labors are a perfectly justifiable endeavor.162 Robert Spencer Tradition and Transcendence Habermas has called "the good and true life" from the antinomies that still fissure the bad and false one. • . itse ng ndi sce tran of means be modernism-and take a single step backwards so that two strides forward might .. we hammer one more nail into the coffin of critical distance. 2002). however. . poli l iona osit of opp ine decl the ut abo d erne onc unc is as it h trut Kellner.. Immanence en­ ­ uni ed fess pro s em syst The on.' in Illuminations. bad the but gs thin old d goo the m "fro not t star uld sho we hat -t xim ma 's Brecht as a new ones"68-still holds true. For his undertaking is not one of positive construction but one of cathartic destruction. 2 Paul Ricoeur. Hannah Arendt.. "Ethics and Culture: Habermas and Gadamer in Dialogue. 4 Theodor W. wor his at him ng taki and y iron his sing mis for ics crit st lefti 's lard dril opposition is not the goal of radical politics. nge cha al itic pol for g nin ope an rds affo t tha ity ibil fall is this not return to modernity in order to rest easy with a flawed and deficient epoch. Indeed.

our incapacity to produce it as a vision. 17 Jameson. ed. Late Capitalism. 160. Joris De Bres (London: Verso. After the Great Divide: Modernism. political about it.Tradition and Transcendence 5 Neil Lazarus. "The Archaic Avant-Garde. eds. David Harvey. Peter Dews. 444· 25 Ibid. Craig Calhoun (Cambridge: The MIT Press. trans. 1993). The Condition of Postmodernity. 23 Jameson. 4.2 (Winter 1986): 301-25. Adorno never lost sight of the fact that. 1997). Postmodernism. Postmodernism. Matthew S. Simulations. 20 Jameson elsewhere seems conscious of the inevitable frustration of utopian aspirations in an unequal SOCiety.' Nationalism. 6 Jiirgen Habermas. trans.. ed. "Of Islands and Trenches: Neutralization and the Production of Utopian Dis­ course. 48.' in Heathcliff and the Great Hunger: Studies in Irish Culture (London: Verso. Paul Foss. 31 David Harvey. and Fredric Jameson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. The Limits ofDisenchantment: Essays on Contemporary Eu­ ropean Phzlosophy (London: Verso.' in The Ideologies of Theory: Essays. 29 Jameson. 310. M. � 13 Max Horkheimer. Postmodernism. 11 Peter Dews. Kramer. Mass Culture. 1984). Aesthetic Theory. ed. 105 · • . Edward W Said. 16. Michael Hardt and Kathi Weeks (Oxford: Blackwell. 1996). 26 "Contrary to what Fred Jameson has recently argued. • 35 Jameson. 9 10 Jiirgen Habermas. J.' they write.' New Formations 38 (1999): 13. 39 Jean Baudrillard. 40 Jean Baudrillard. 15 Ibid. 18 Ibid. 16 Raymond Williams. Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann. trans. The Theory of Communicative Action. Logics ofDisintegration: Post-Structuralist Thought and the Claims of Critical Theory (London: Verso. 1989). Beethoven: The Philosophy of Music. Baudrillard Live: Selected Interviews. 1999). 1998). 1998). 7 Jiirgen Habermas. Postmodernism. trans. The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (London: Routledge. 32 Theodor W. trans. Edmund Jephcott (Cambridge: Polity. Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique (Cambridge: Polity. Signatures of the Visible (London: Routledge. 1992). James Benedict (London: Verso. Thomas Burger. 1987). Robert Hullot-Kentor (London: Athlone. Paul Patton. Thomas McCarthy (London: Heinemann. vol. Whats Wrong with Postmodernism: Critical Theory and the En s of Philosophy (London: Harvester. 48. or. 1989). Postmodernism. "Culture and Administration. trans. must once again leave us alone with this history:' Fredric Jameson. in Habermas and the Public Sphere. 431. 130. ed.. trans. "Further Reflections on the Public Sphere. Postmodernist Culture: An Introduction to Theories of the Contemporary (Oxford: Basil Blackwell. The Condition of Postmodermty: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (Oxford: Blackwell. 1990). John Cumming (London: Verso. 121-27. distorted version of it. Rolf Tiedemann. trans. 84· Similarly. Marxism and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 236. "We are. 51-54. "Third-world Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism. trans. Nicholas Walker (Cambridge: Polity.." trans. 1999). and the source of all that is most vibrantly 24 Fredric Jameson. 1983). ix. Bernstein (London: Routledge. ed. Thomas Docherty (Harlow: Harvester. Peter Dews (London: Verso. "Editor's Introduction. trans. eds. Mike Gane (London: Rout­ ledge. 1995). 307. The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (London: Ver­ so. 1995) and "Nationalism: Irony and Commitment. 1999). xx. modernism and mass culture have been engaged in a compulsive pas de deux:' Andreas Huyssen. our failure to project the Other of what is. 1995). 1971-1986. 12 See especially Alex Callinicos. 1992). 22 Theodor W Adorno. 2: The Syntax of History (Min­ neapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1993). 1999). G. ed. 105· 33 Terry Eagleton. 151. they hope. 1993). Postmodernism (London: Macmillan. 24. 1988). 88. The Complete Correspondence: 1928-1940.' Critical Inquiry 12. Colonialism and Literature. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Adorno and Walter Benjamin. 23-42. The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. 37 Jameson. The Enlightenment. Horkheimer and Adorno renounce not the En­ lightenment per se but a particular. "The goal is no longer to supersede an economic system having a capitalist life of its own and a system of domination having a bureaucratic life of its own but to erect a democratic dam against the colonizing encroachment of system imperatives on areas of the lifeworld:' Jiirgen Habermas. Wes Blomster. 159· 38 Harvey. xiii. Dialectic of Enlightenment. Limits to Capital (London: Verso. Thomas Burger and Frederick Lawrence (Cam­ bridge: Polity. 25. 21 Theodor W Adorno. 19 Fredric Jameson. ever since their simultaneous emergence in the mid-19th century. Frederick Hunter. The Illusions of Postmodernism (Oxford: Blackwell. 1990). ed. 1: Reason and the Rational­ ization of Society. Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge: Polity. and John Torpey (Cambridge: The MIT Press.' in The Jameson Reader. 99-100. 102. "Utopia's deepest subject. "wholly convinced-and therein lies our petitio principii-that social freedom is inseparable from enlightened thought:' Max Horkheimer and Theodor W Adorno. 2000) and "On Magic Realism in Film. 28 Horkheimer and Adorno. 34 Fredric Jameson. 1999). might become enlightened about itself. The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena. "Modernity-An Incomplete Project. 101. 30 Ernest Mandel. "Hating Tradition Properly. 41 Jean Baudrillard. and Philip Beitchman (New York: Semiotext(e). Terry Eagleton. Henri Lonitz. 1999). Christopher Norris. "Materialism and Morality.' Between Philosophy and Social Science: Selected Early Writings.' trans. 139.' in Postmodernism: A Reader. 8 Jiirgen Habermas. 3714 Fredric Jameson. as with fireworks dis­ solving back into the night sky. 2000). vol. 1993). 241. Terry Eagleton. 505-6. 1990). eds. 1989). in The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture. 36 Steven Connor. 29. Dialectic of Enlightenment. is precisely our inability to conceive it. 14. 1977). Adorno. 1990). Postmodernism. 27 Theodor W. trans.' Autonomy and Solidarity: Interviews with Jiirgen Habermas. a failure that.


Robert Spencer

Tradition and Transcendence

42 Jameson, Postmodernism, 5.


43 Jean Baudrillard, America, trans. Chris Turner (London: Verso, 1991), 124.
44 Jean Baudrillard, The System of Objects, trans. James Benedict (London: Verso, 199 6
[1968] ) .
45 Jean Baudrillard, Simulations, 56. For Debord, see Guy Debord, The Society of the Spec­
tacle, trans. Donald Nicholson Smith (New York: Zone Books, 1995 [1967]).
46 Jean Baudrillard, The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, trans. Paul Patton (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1995).
47 Christopher Norris, Uncritical Theory: Postmodernism, Intellectuals and the Gulf War
(London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1992).
48 Christopher Norris, Truth and the Ethics of Criticism (Manchester: Manchester Univer­
sity Press, 1994).
49 Jean-Fran<;ois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, trans. Geof­
frey Bennington and Brian Massumi (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992),
50 Jean-Fran<;ois Lyotard and Jean-Loup Thebaud, Just Gaming, trans. Wlad Godzich and
Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 60.
51 Christopher Norris, The Truth About Postmodernism (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), 25.
52 "Worst of all, these ideas deprive critical thought of the one resource most needful at
present, i.e., the competence to judge between good and bad arguments, reason and
rhetoric, truth-seeking discourse and the 'postmodern' discourse of mass-induced media
simulation:' Christopher Norris, Whats Wrong, 44.


Georg Lukacs, "Tactics and Ethics;' in Political Writings, 1919-1929: The Question of Par­
liamentarianism and Other Essays, ed. Rodney Livingstone, trans. Michael McColgan
(London: New Left Books, 1973), 5.
Jean Baudrillard, "The Mirror of Production;' in Selected Writings, ed. Mark Poster (Cam­
bridge: Polity, 1988), 98-116.

63 Terry Eagleton, "Base and Superstructure in Raymond Williams;' in Raymond Williams:
Critical Perspectives, ed. Terry Eagleton (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1989),
64 Conversations of Goethe with Eckermann (London: J. M. Dent, 1930), 244.
65 Jurgen Habermas, Knowledge and Huma n Interests, trans. Jeremy J. Shapiro (Cambridge:
Polity, 1987), 317.
66 Douglas Kellner, "Jean Baudrillard and the Fin-de-Millennium;' in Jean Baudrillard: A
Critical Reader, ed. Douglas Kellner (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), 13.
67 Walter Benjamin, " The Destructive Character;' in One- Way Street and Other Writings,
trans. Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter (London: Verso, 1992), 159.
68 Walter Benjamin, "Conversations with Brecht;' in Understanding Brecht, trans. Anna
Bostock (London: Verso, 1992), 121.

69 Theodor W. Adorno, "Alban Berg:' in Sound Figures, trans. Rodney Livingstone (Stan­
ford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 79.

53 Terry Eagleton, Ideology: An Introduction (London: Verso, 1996), 167.

54 Edward W. Said, Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures ( London: Vin­
tage, 1994), 63-75.

55 "For a privileged minority, Western democracy provides the leisure, the facilities, and the
training to seek the truth lying behind the veil of distortion and misrepresentation, ideol­
ogy, and class interest through which the events of current history are presented to us .
. . . It is the responsibility of the intellectual to speak the truth and to expose lies:' Noam
Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins (New York: The New Press, 2002
[1969]), 324-25.
56 Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997), 379.
57 Steven Best and Douglas Kellner, Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations (London:
Macmillan, 1991), 125.
58 Norris sees postmodernism's grandiose heralding of an "absolute break" with preced­
ing rationalist paradigms as "just another (all too typical) case of self-induced cultural
myopia, of short-term localized symptoms mistaken for a long-term epochal decline,
or of thinkers absurdly willing to extrapolate from their own limited perspective-their
experience of 'theory' as a god that failed-to world-historical pronouncements about the
'postmodern condition:" Christopher Norris, Reclaiming Truth: Contribution to a Cri­
tique of Cultural Relativism (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1996), 195.
59 Herbert Marcuse, "Philosophy and Critical Theory;' in Negations: Essays in Critical Theo­
ry, trans. Jeremy J. Shapiro (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972).
60 Walter Benjamin, "Central Park;' trans. Lloyd Spencer and Mark Harrington, New Ger­
man Critique 34 (1985): 50.

Immanence and (Its) Interruption:
Critical Reconstel lations
Juan Carlos Rodriguez

In memoriam Itzolin (Tito) Garcia (1976-2003)
No estoy. No estas.
No estamos. No estuvimos nunca
aqui donde pasar
del otro lado de la muerte
tan leve parecia:'
-Jose Angel Valente, Elfulgor
Immanence: A life





. . .

? An Exercise on Critical Ferocity

Two years ago I was invited by Marta Hernandez Salvan to
collaborate in editing this issue of Polygraph dedicated to the
notions of immanence, utopia, and totality. We began with
a simple question: is immanence the organizing principle of
society? It was around this question that, with the help of the
editorial collective of Polygraph, we elaborated a set ofvarious
interrogations concerning the implications of a possible struc­
turation of the global field (in its cultural-political-economic
dimensions) in terms of immanence. Instead of endorsing the
notion of immanence as a given structural fact in the consoli­
dation of a unified global field of power, our interrogations
departed from the suspicion that the antagonism between
planetary domination and global emancipation seemed to
collapse in a plane of thought where political transformation
and simulational reversibility were becoming indistinguish­
able.' Our main critical task was twofold, a dual performance:
to put immanence into question as a mere structuring fact
of globalization, and, at the same time, to evaluate the impli­
cations of recognizing or dismissing the constitutive role of
immanence in contemporary critical theory, arts and politics.
These are the questions we included in our call for papers:
If both global capital and the multitude stand for the
universal producing an autarchy of absolute imma-

Polygraph 15/16 (2004)


Immanence and (Its) Interruption

nence, a relation without a relation, or an absolute totality, how can one
account for the singularities subsumed under the logic of the universal?
How can we interrupt the absolute character of immanence without fall­
ing into transcendence? Do we need a transcendent move in order to reach
utopia? Is there a way out of transcendence without falling into immanence?
Is there a mode of alterity or difference that remains incommensurable to
both immanence and transcendence? We invite articles addressing the po­
litical implications of imagining a time to come beyond the duality imma­
As the questions suggest, it is evident that our strategy to interrogate the present
stage of globalization intends to create a dialogue with Hardt and Negri's Empire.
The idea behind this formulations is to displace the centrality of the Empire/Mul­
titude combination precisely by framing that very centrality in a different theoreti­
cal terrain that would allow for the otherwise than immanence to emerge with all
its questioning force. The questions included in our call for papers attempted to
push for a thinking both beyond immanence and in response-with/in responsibil­
ity-to immanence, while allowing the practice of critical theory to experience the
vertigo of not knowing whether it is still possible to think otherwise than with/in
immanence. Resituating the force of this suspense coming from the affective tuning
informing our theoretical spectrumS-integrated by Marxism, psychoanalysis, and
deconstruction-gave some of us the opportunity to relate ethically and politically
to that which we felt was missing in the critical mood celebrating the emergence of
some sort of "immanent enthusiasm" in post-Cold War globality. Can the otherwise
than immanence serve as a critical supplement to the narrations of the global in
Empire and Multitude?2 This question is an invitation to read.
For me, questioning immanence is an exercise of critical ferocity and, also, an
exercise on critical ferocity. After witnessing the consolidation of the imperial im­
pulse to command the planet-most visible in the so-called wars on terrorism ex­
ecuted by the United States against Afghanistan and Iraq under president Bush's
military rule-we should embark ourselves in a self-criticism in order to determine
to what degree the militarization of the globe has affected the relevance of our origi­
. nal task: editing an issue on immanence, utopia and totality. Let's keep in mind that
the war against Iraq has taken place while we were editing the texts that form part
of this issue. In an effort to maintain fidelity to our critical ferocity, I would like to
ask whether the questions raised in this issue as well as the responses collected in it
can still sustain their pertinence in the contemporary critical constellations that suf­
fer from Empire. Even if the questions and responses included here can eventually
come to be outdated-running the risk of failing to measure the current state of the
situation-it is the force to think immanence beyond itself what should remain as a
powerful gesture to intervene with critical ferocity in the actual global conjuncture.
Most of the arguments in this issue, while mapping the contemporary political lim­
bos that do not cease to inform our theoretical constellations, show the ferocity of
the Nietzschean hammer (sometimes even hammering in spite of itself) : a critical
effort in the abyss of immanence that, even when facing the void, attempts to inter­
rupt immanence in itself before interrupting itself in immanence. I would like to

Juan Carlos Rodriguez


thank all the contributors of this issue for their generosity when responding to our
questions. I would also like to recognize the fabulous work of all the members of
the Polygraph editorial collective: their patience and stimulating intellectual engage­
ment in the editing process of this issue is a great example of the critical insistence
made by theoretical reflection in times of war.
Art and Immanence: Life does not just go on"

Recent reflections on the notion of immanence involve the work of two French phi10sophers: Gilles Deleuze and Jean-Luc Nancy. For Deleuze, immanence is "not a
concept that is or can be thought but rather the image of thought, the image thought
gives itself of what it means to think, to make use of thought, to find one's bearings in
thought:'3 Deleuze also conceives of immanence as a life, but a life that does not be­
long to an individual, a life that cannot be claimed by a subject or attributed to a self.
According to Deleuze, immanence is both an image of thought and a life. As image,
immanence does not coincide with an object but rather it is pure movement at infi­
nite speed. As a life, immanence does not belong to a subject but rather it is "a pure
stream of a-subjective consciousness, a pre-reflexive impersonal consciousness, a
qualitative duration of consciousness:'4 If immanence is "image;' "pure movement;'
"qualitative duration;' it is very strange that, when having to exemplify his statement
"What is Immanence? A Life . . . ;' Deleuze-after having written two books on cin­
ema-preferred to use a novel rather than a film for this purpose: Charles Dickens's
Our Mutual Friend. Was Deleuze evading something?5 If cinema is a technology
that exceeds "life" while doubling it in a moving and (un)timely image, then why did
Deleuze decide to avoid the risk of having to explain, from the standpoint of cinema,
the proximity of the image and a life as it is proposed in his notion of immanence?
Couldn't Deleuze justify "Immanence: A Life" departing from the mechanism of
the film camera: a technological invention that produces the illusion of life from the
artifice of shadows? It seems that between life and its cinematic illusion there is a
slim barrier threatening to interrupt Deleuze's notion of immanence.
For Jean-Luc Nancy the question of interrupting immanence and transcendence
involves an encounter between art and death. 6 According to Nancy:
Death, mere death removes any speculation on "immanence" and "transcen­
dence:' In death, substance or act disappear. Simultaneously, however, death
forms the only passage of subsistence outside itself. Subsistence rids itself of
the envelope that maintains it subsisting (thus subsistence rids itself of that
under which it sub-sisted) and develops into ek-sistence, or into "sistence"
outside itself. Into insistence, so to speak. Either within or through death
(for death is but a slim barrier) the "sisting" insists far from any sub-sistence
or con -sistence:'7

Then, Nancy goes on to suggest that
I could say as much for what we call the "work of art:' How do we recognize
such a work? Only by the following: That faced with it, we do not stay faced,
but we meet, we strike, we are struck, we lose our envelope just as this thing,
the work, loses its own-its forms, its mannerisms [manieres J . We develop

. there is a moment that is only that of a life playing with death. Being gets out of there swollen. the formulation grants death-which is not a concept. but an erected bar­ rier: death. it becomes impossible for anyone to transform the statement into a declaration confirming the correspondence of the two notions as complementary articulations of the same affirmation. though he can be mistaken for no other.ll The film 21 Grams!2 could be seen as the re-enactment of the very suspense between Deleuze and Nancy where the thematization of death leads to its disappearance in . but what was described above as 'the light of death: or what might also now be termed 'the time of death: as opposed to that of the absolute:'l0 (Let's advance these questions: couldn't the "light of death" and the "time of death" belong to the cinematic apparatus as it happens in painting. in the "insistence of the sistence. spoken word [parole]. one notices that it cannot be transformed into the affirmative mode since it was not intended to affirm a correspondence be­ tween two notions but involved a decision to be made: either Nancy's "insistence of the sistence" coincides with Deleuze's pure immanence of a life or differs from it. a life . Neither fluid such as water immanent to water. ." The following passage comes from a personal communication I sent to him. but not even really a fact or an act-its constitutive role in the emergence and consumma­ tion of the work of art itself.9 What is the relation between that which Deleuze calls "a life playing with death . a passage marked by insistence? To re-articulate my question. quite the contrary. . A singular essence.' argues that the revelation of death in the work of art does not correspond to its thematization but.Iegel's amended formulation takes death to be a necessary condition of the very emergence of the singular "other" that. Affirming the statements coming from each side of the "either . rather. tumes­ cent. Can this trap be read as the symptom of the work of art that. Admittedly. unreal com­ ponent by exposing the work's intrinsic finitude more than any immanent process through which it might be supposed that death "must appear" -for if death must appear. There we strike. sculpture or architecture) better reveal a thing's own finitude? Only through an ability to reveal its 'nothingness' [su nada] : not 'emptiness. It could be argued that Nancy's endorsement to our questions. according to Arturo Leyte. and about that slim barrier between his notion of death and Gilles Deleuze's notion of immanence as "a life playing with death. Commenting on Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend. Just in between: we get a bump. . Rather quickly we understand there is about as much an "it" as there is an "us" (or "me"). do we have to see the cinematic appara­ tus through another "light" and at a different "time"?) Leyte. we are struck. from the subjectivity and objectiv­ ity of what happens . analyzing Van Gogh's famous painting "Starry Night. . retour nee comme Ie doigt d'un gant"? Does the insistence of the "sistence" coincide with the singular essence that De­ leuze refers us to as "a life . but the chock. love. or" structure. In other words. Nancy did respond though. . . or architecture? Or. might a given artwork (paint­ ing. . We are left with no other alternative but to decide for affirming the very suspense emerging from the confrontation between Nancy and Deleuze. a blood clot."? It took me a while to formulate these questions but Nancy never offered an answer to them. The life of the individual gives way to an impersonal and yet singular life that releases a pure event freed from the accidents of internal and external life. There isThere is only reality that neither immanates nor transcends: that's the obstacle-the good-obstacle or the bad-obstacle. . dingy and uncertain like a Medusa between two waters. it involves "the emergence of the singular 'other'" in the unfolding of death as disappearance: l. Rather dull. . . . nor leaping such as a dolphin transcending waves." or is that insistence of the "sistence" something else that cannot be reduced to "une vie . that is. and it seems that he approved these comments when he encouraged both Marta and me to publish our questions. when Nancy's interruption of immanence through death. We do not remain in ourselves."-in his essay "L'Immanence: Une Vie" and your sug­ gestion that death is the only passage of subsistence outside itself. . We enter and exit. the chock­ ing obstacle against what is neither within nor without. . . would imply the recognition that there exists some relation­ ship between his idea of death interrupting immanence and Deleuze's idea that im­ manence consist of "a life playing with death:' But if one looks at the last question I made to Nancy in reference to Deleuze." and what you refer to when you suggest that "dans la mort ou a travers la mort (car la mort est une mince paroi) Ie 'sis­ tant' insiste loin de toute sub-sistance ou con-sistance. but if chang- Juan Carlos Rodriguez 173 ing them from the interrogative to the affirmative mode. cannot but desist to represent death? It is precisely this very suspense between Nancy and Deleuze what Arturo Leyte problematizes when he comments: "But how. . . Do you see any relation between Gilles Deleuze's formula-"What is im­ manence? A Life . we do not leave ourselves. . sculpture. . Nancy's invitation to affirm the two alternatives presented in the last question is therefore a trap. We are always in this in-be­ tween [entre-deux] of it and us. a singular essence . then it is no longer death. This does not mean that death constitutes a theme within the artwork. let me refer to Deleuze's essay. the artwork might re­ veal.' encounters Deleuze's "pure immanence" as a "life play­ ing with death" in this "either . in turn. when read in the context of the comments referring to Deleuze. I asked him about death. Deleuze sug­ gests that Between his life and his death. We might understand this idea as the idea that death's revelation in a work of art demonstrates this negative. . La 'transcendance' y devient 'l'immanence' meme. beyond good and evil . a bruise.172 Immanence and (Its) Interruption within it as it does within us. exactly. that Medusa terrifies the phi­ losopher:'s After reading Nancy's piece. birth. or" is therefore a false choice. distended. . The life of such individuality fades away in favor of the singular life immanent to a man who no longer has a name. neutral. . . It is a haecceity no longer of individuation but of singularization: a life of pure immanence.

she transforms her frustration for a lost family into a call for justice. After Paul's suicide attempt. It is precisely the beeping sound of medical technology what has substituted the beating of Paul's broken heart. transcendental capacity to affect" precisely by detaching itself from the materiality of the body. and it is in the absence of the culprit that punishment takes place in the subject. they become romantically involved.' a quasi-cause "that fills in the gap of corporeal causality" with a "pure. . it is not an abuse of reading to point out that such a cut across life is reflected in the editing of the film: the mo­ ment when Paul confronts death is divided into two scenes in the film's fragmented narrative. . Taken as a work of art. it is here when the film presents Paul on the verge of death. killed in a car accident by Jack. Paul. . . If the broken heart liberates a cut across life. When Paul is about to kill Jack. Then. but her frustration also drives her to abuse drugs and alcohol. Paul cannot deal with the guilt of having frustrated Cristina's attempt to find justice for her family and shoots himself in the chest. is.' an elaboration on transcendence and love. In "Shattered Love. The culprit cannot be punished. and neither is it a faculty. performing a false enactment of Jack's crime that is made to coincide with the punishment Jack demanded. . But it is the break itself that makes the heart. Jack. The cinematic image allows us to see the suspense of Paul's passage from heart to heart: the visual crosscutting shows us the unheard beating of things coming from Paul's broken heart while the soundtrack projects the silence of "the immobile heart" of things that "does not even beat:' This occurs precisely when Paul gives voice to das Ding as it disappears: death121 Grams. It is: that I is broken and traversed by the other where its presence is most intimate and its life most open. Paul takes in his hands the bowl of glass containing his heart and asks the doctor: "Ohhh! Is that my heart? . It invades the space of the emergency room. Cristina takes refuge in Paul.' becomes what Zizek has called here and elsewhere. a life . who has revealed to Cristina that he holds Michael's heart. Cristina. The broken heart be­ comes the liberation of a cut: a cut across life. there is a close-up of Paul's face with a tube in his mouth. . Paul's desire is at the mercy of his own broken heart. The heart is not an organ. once detached from his body. . he is also shooting at Michael's heart. . In this scene. When Paul shoots himself in the chest. Paul's heart moves in a slim barrier. comes back to receive the punishment he considers deserving since he cannot deal with the feeling of guilt provoked by the traumatic memory of watching the victims of the accident about to die. After the culprit. . a slim barrier suggested by Nancy's various elaborations on the heart. . but that has taken its place: Michael's heart. In the first scene. in the sense that it does not exist before the break. an ex-con­ vict converted to Christianity. desire itself is broken [ . Punishment takes place precisely as the re-enactment of a crime that has not been committed by the subject but of which the subject pleads guilty. His voice is a virtual emission taking place outside the subject. . . J the heart does not belong to itself. Paul receives a heart transplant whose donor is Cristina's husband. but �aul's broken heart has lost its beating. The culprit provokes in Paul the need to put an end to "the tyranny of the gift" precisely by realizing a tyrannical act against that gift which is not the culprit. The autonomy of Paul's sound image from Paul's visual image allows us to confirm that enunciation is taking place beyond any corporeal emission. once broken. 21 Grams shows the point where the de­ cision between immanence (Deleuze . but the voice-over in the soundtrack corresponds to Paul's voice. J . the heart that has been removed from Paul's chest. leaving the empty space for the consummation of the "tyranny of the gift. ) and its interruption (Nancy . life. in the course of their friendship. moved by "the tyranny of the gift. . It is worth noticing that Paul's old heart. Cristina and Jack take him to the hospital. Paul. 21 Grams narrates the story of Paul. a slim barrier between a "broken heart" whose beats cut across life and "the heart of things . The .' the "guilt that some transplant re­ cipients feel after receiving this gift that is inherently one-sided. in the soundtrack we hear Paul's voice.174 o Juan Carlos Rodriguez Immanence and (Its) Interruption the work of art. When the culprit is substituted by Paul's new heart (Michael's heart. the heart is not broken. driven by the complete non-sense of the "tyranny of the gift:' Crime and punishment become 175 indis tinguishable in the space left by the culprit. is shown to him after the transplant surgery. and a voice-over corresponding to Paul's voice: "So this is death's waiting room:' It should be noticed that there is a lack of correspondence between Paul's visual image and Paul's voice: the film shows us that Paul's mouth is covered by a tube that impedes the emis­ sion of sound. an "organ without a body. She decides to kill Jack. Nancy suggests that In the broken heart. his heart does not belong to him. Cristina's dead husband) the "point of non-sense sustaining the flow of sense" remains as a spectral entity that marks the change of heart in Paul's desire.' decides to contact Cristina and. not even in the mode of a desire [ . consciousness:" 4 As opposed to death-death is not-the heart. agrees to assist her in punishing Jack. Actually. the driver who accidentally took the lives of her husband and daughters. syncope of the sharing of singularity-cuts across presence. Before analyzing the thematization of death as disappearance in the work of art. When Jack comes back to confront the couple and demand punishment. -death-) is suspended (Leyte's notion of the work of art as the emergence of the singular other): decision seems to remain suspended when immanence and its in­ terruption are transcoded into the power to affirm life or death in the work of art. Later. Michael. the first shot presents a lamp viewed from Paul's subjective point of view in an emergency room. he is not only punishing himself for not being able to take revenge in the name of Michael. . and Jack. The culprit:' The culprit. he finds himself unable to take Jack's life and decides to let him escape death. a unique way of not beating-which has nothing to do with a death:" 5 This slim barrier is suggested by the film in the fol­ lowing way: while it is evident that Paul's broken heart cuts across life in the visual crosscutting of the two sequences (showing life events juxtaposed with shots of Paul in the emergency room).'3 In despair after the loss of her husband and two daughters. alluding to this confrontation with death. The beating of the heart-rhythm of the par­ tition of being. The voice travels outside of Paul's body without ever emerging from it. while us­ ing cocaine. Paul suffers from the law of the culprit since he no longer has a heart. let's analyze the roles of Paul's hearts. Later.

in 21 Grams. . 21 Grams becomes a sound image. when different characters have to confront death. The virtuality of Paul's voice can be related to Mladen Dolar's arguments pre­ sented in his paper on "Kafka's Voices" included in this issue: "The voice is precisely what cannot be checked. needles. However. it is not only because it is impossible to decide between immanence ("a life playing with death" ) and its interruption ("death as the insistence of the sis­ tence")-as we saw before when analyzing Nancy's response to our questions-but because Paul's voice verbalizes the very suspense reflected by Leyte in reference to the work of art. Hardt and Negri suggest that In imperial postmodernity big government has become the merely despotic means of domination and the totalitarian production of subjectivity. a life playing with death. In the serial fragmentation of the narrative of 21 Grams. is always manifested by a voice:' Paul's voice marks the very suspense where both Nancy and Deleuze seem to confront each other in the slim barrier of the following question: Does Paul's voice correspond to a pure immanence. Death never appears in the film. up to this point. J We. This is why the superego. a chocolate bar. it is precisely the despotism of the continua- . etc. 21 Grams corre­ sponds to the non-sense of attempting to consolidate a thematized representation of death. but the serial representation of the course of life in the infinity of time cannot but desist to Juan Carlos Rodriguez 177 represent death. one should observe that a non-diegetic element. or does it echo the pas­ sage where death interrupts immanence as it throws subsistence out of itself in the "insistence of the sistence" affirmed by Nancy? There is no answer: the singularity of Paul's voice remains and it can only offer itself as a question exposing how the zero point of non-universality sabotages any claims attempting to produce a response to the question of immanence that would fill the void of the universal. when I argue that Paul's voice marks the very suspense between Deleuze and Nancy. he in the coma or me?" This feeling of not know­ ing when things have begun or are going to end. as in Deleuze's notion of immanence. only Paul's voice remains. The expression 21 Grams performs two tasks. it is ever-changing and fleeting. Then the voice asks: "what am I doing in this pre-corpse club? What do I have to do with them? I don't know when anything begins anymore or when it is going to end. or does it express "the insistence of the sistence" (Nancy's interruption of immanence by death) ? As it is clear from the analYSis of 21 Grams. has presented the thematization of death as a series of tragic situations interrupting the everyday lives of the characters. This ideological fantasy. As it thematizes death. accentuated by the film fragmented narrative. As we observed previously when following Leyte's argument.l? But. In this scene. contrary to Empire. Before I asked if Paul's voice (the locus of enunciation) corresponded to immanence or to its interruption. the reverse side of the law. what about death in itself. now I would like to ask: is "21 Grams" (Paul's big statement) "a life playing with death" (Deleuze's immanence). it is the non-universal par excellence. As Arturo Leyte has commented. This is why the last scene of the film re-stages Paul's voice through the film's fragmented narrative in an ironic self-critique that questions the mean­ ing of (the) 21 Grams. but the voice emerges as that sensible mark guarding the margin where death is allowed to disappear in the work of art in order to haunt its own finitude. From his bed in the emer­ gency room. Taken as a non-diegetic element. correspond to the representation of time as infinite and absolute in German Idealism. "life does not just go on:' . Paul goes on to ask: "How many lives do we live? How many times do we die? They say we all loose twenty-one grams at the exact moment of our death. the infinity of time is made to coincide with the infinity of life. Death-that which interrupts immanence-can only emerge in the work of art to disappear in it as "nothingness": 21 Grams. while no longer coinciding with Paul's corporeality. . How much the twenty-one grams weight?" Again. on the contrary. freely. the serial interruptions of the image in the works of art that began to emerge in the nineteenth century. that which cannot be universalized. As a cinematic work of art. Taken as a diegetic element. Paul's voice crosses through the film's fragmented narrative that. 21 Grams plays precisely with the recognition that human finitude is marked by death and death interrupts the course of life. cannot desist to occupy that slim barrier between life and death where Paul is. it serves as the title of the film. What the voice ends up questioning is the capacity of the film itself to represent death. immanence interrupted?). comes from the virtuality of a voice that. Who will be the first to lose his life. [ . And how much fits into twenty-one grams? How much is lost? When do we loose twenty-one grams? How much goes with them? How much is gained? How much is gained? Twenty-one grams. in the art of cinema. presented in the film's fragmented narrative coincides with the ideological fantasy of some of the characters in the story.16 In other words.Immanence and (Its) Interruption voice lists a set of ridiculous things while the camera films them: tubes. the title of the film ( 21 Grams) has invaded Paul's voice. those "twenty-one grams" "we all loose" "at the exact moment of our death"? Let me emphasize this point: death as such never appears in the film but rather death is thematized as it disappears in the screen. Everyone. we hear a common answer coming from differ­ ent· voices: "life goes on:' The continuation of life in the infinity of time-linking in a common ideological fantasy the discourse of different characters to the film's strategy of fragmented narration-recalls one of the passages in Empire when Hardt and Negri defend the infinity of desire and life against the restrictions of the big government. a serial narration of the story of a man that becomes "a life playing with death" (Deleuze's immanence?). . . the serial fragmen­ tation of life corresponding to the infinity of time governs the film and becomes its ideological fantasy. there is no answer. struggle because desire has no limit (since the desire to exist and the desire to produce are one and the same thing) and because life can be continuously. and equally enjoyed and reproduced. However. as if denouncing the incapacity of this measure-unit to represent death. the weight of a stack of five nickels . when the voice questions the meaning of the twenty-one grams and its incapacity to rep­ resent death. In various segments of the film. it re­ fers to a piece of information given in the film by a voice playing with its own death: "They say we all loose twenty-one grams at the exact moment of our death" (Nancy's insistence of the sistence. the infinity of life in serialized time. the measure corresponding to the amount of weight one looses when one dies. Paul's voice appears in the film as an internal diegetic sound that put into question the meaning of the twenty-one grams.

gg ide He tin ar M d an lt of Michel Foucau re mo d. !he tnck IS that we never see the Thing (not even in the picture. tion-a set of ndiCulous objects are elevated to the level of the Thing. Although thls film is far from the genre of comedy. since it IS merely a picture of the actor). . . t�enty-one grams. Nancy's. ue iss is th in ed lud inc :' on cti fle Re ial ter ma Im d an ics lit po fra In hi s essay "In ­ mo o tw to g din on sp rre co y tor his of es us o tw een tw be es berto Moreiras distinguish l ica ret eo th a In y. 21 Grams marks the mInimal difference between various ridiculous objects (including the fil n:) standing as appearances that cannot but desist to represent death and at the s �me tIme reveals the en!r:-deux that becomes the very gap of/within representa­ . It seems that the question of immanence and its interruption is captured: the sublimation of theoretical reflection to the horizon of life and death is the screen/ name of this capture. If we transfer the mInimal dIfference we encounter in the analysis of 21 Grams to the terrain of theory. lie a t's ha "T e. ica lit po bio e th on es rat bo ela as eir or M ' er. even before any notion of life or death (or their suspense) present itself as fictional representation for the sublimated reproduction of the theoretical. The act of saying "That's it. . The film itself is a ridiculous object that cannot but desist to represent death. 21 Grams becomes the ridiculization of such a passage in Paul's voice. we get a glimpse of the mysterious Thing that h�s somewhe:e beyond representation . and Leyte's reflections are captured. Let us be more precise: to "move dIre�. her proteste th of ts en gm fra ial ser e th es tur su t tha y tas fan al on ati rel e ment" that unbinds th y tor his of e us l ica lit po bio a of e vic ser e th in rs cte ara ch film and the discourse of the ­ un on" go t jus t no es do e Lif . from that slim barrier that crosses between life and death as it haunts our theoretical imagination? Break: Infrapolitical Use of History and Im m anent Beyond Post-Political Citizenship ­ Al . eir or M to ing rd co Ac :' elf its te Sta e th to r rio pe su te "a power within the Sta d an e ur pt ca of r we po e th as d oo rst de un r. at least in the final scene. he goes on to compare it to a series of ridiculous objects weighing when one dIes. When Cristina. lie a t's ha "T on").rial force of nonsense itself . this very fracture in theoretical production. among them a stack of five nickels and a chocolate bar. The Real IS Identified here with the gap that divides the appearance itself . goes on.. at th l. Cinema. but In the very real of this illusion. that the Thing is conceived. 21 Grams. the subje r rio pe su te sta e th in th wi r we po e th se ca ery ev in is ty gn rei ve so to subject life ere th ich wh ut tho wi te sta e th to t en lem pp su or ss ce ex an to the state itselfwould be no state. This fracture is the Real of theoretical production. In this way. there is a fracture in theo­ retical representation. at least from a reflection on art. es go ife ("l s ko ma ar ph al gic olo ide y's dd da nts ro nf co s. tio isi qu In ish an Sp e th to on ati rel in ty gn rei ve specificity of imperial so s wa n tio isi qu In e th at th nt me ica ed pr a's Le es arl Ch y precisely. thus becom­ ing the space in which the real of the Thing unfurls between two "ridiculous o�jects" that are supposed to incarnate it. ZupanCic suggests that : �n� elief as �n eth �cal attit�de consists in confronting belief not simply in ItS Illusory dImensIOn.I� t� t�e Thing" does not mean to show or exhibit the Thing directly. the father provides Cristina with a dose of the ideological pharmakos of the filill'. But what happens when it becomes impossible to disengage the Real. one should insist that the Real is the very fracture where both immanence and its interruption persist in suspense. lif does not just go on:' When 21 Grams is put into question by Paul's voice or when Cristina states that "lif� does not j ust g� �n:' their voices also open the space for the possibility of an . When Cristina's father is trying to comfort her during the funeral. its film e th in th wi m fro film e th of masks the ideology . in the context of Henr as. Or. rather. as � s �ack o � five nickels or a chocolate bar would do. to put it the other way around: what we are sh �wn are just two semblances. "I'e lle . This means that unbelief does not so much expose the nonsense of the belief as it exposes the Rea� or the �a�. We thus see t�e difference between the object and the Thing . . .gh that gap that it opens up). we only see two semblances (the actor and . we po l ica that power is biopolit a­ im an l ica lit po of r we po e th is. becoming visible in the minimal difference between the two semblances. Although this fracture in theoretical representation expresses itself in the slim barrier between life and death. ipl inc pr ty gn rei ve so e th to e lif of on cti tion of life. Then. Failing to mark the passage from life to death. a form of striving that easily transcodes the suspense between imma­ nence and its interruption as the Real of theoretical production. shows the common ma­ trix where Deleuze's.: .. Zupancic)-: we have to risk life and death as objects of thought.it is. tor his of e us al tic oli rap inf an d an l ica lit po bio a ments of nihilism: s rk wo e th n ee tw e be nc lue nf co in rta ce "a of g din fol un e th trajectory that involves l. tim of y nit infi the in that captures life s rm rfo pe e rag 's ina ist Cr elf. the ThIng Itself. An n. through the "minimal difference" (or throu. Dolar. it becomes clear what our analysis suggests: that. it is almost impossible to affirm or negate the consistency of immanence or its interruption as theoretical objects. a� not�Ing other than the very gap of/within the representation. Without ever seeIng the ThIng. screening the sublimation of immanence and its in­ terruption to the simulation of the living/mortal being. in 21 Gram t­ jus ad all sm "a s rm rfo pe on" go t jus t no es do e Lif . ro nt co l ica lit po to e lif subjection of to r we po e Th e." A funous daughter expresses that she could not reconcile the death of he mother with her father's attitude towards it and then she responds: "That's a lie. ))18 After Paul's voice mentions that 21 Grams corresponds to the weight one looses . as It IS expressed by Alenka ZupanCic in her essay on comedy and ethiCs of unbehef love. what we see is nothing less that . he recalls his sufferings after the death of Cristina's mother. hIS piCture). This is not to say that. Our future task consists in mobilizing the question of immanence and its interruption beyond the point of sublimation-at the expense of loosing the friendship of three adorable Slovenians (Zizek. shares . and yet. tion.Ith comedy a �acanian convention that cuts across various film genres: sublima­ .178 Immanence and (Its) Interruption tion of life in the infinity of time what provokes Cristina's rage in the funeral of her husband and two daughters. that s the ThIng has the effect of opening a certain entre-deux.

the de-production of the use of history. The political system no longer orders forms oflife and juridical norms in a determinate space. ' Neither the immanence of pure life nor the tran­ scendence of the death drive can account for the possibility of real change in a given situation:'20 If we transfer Bosteels's insight to Moreiras's reflection. conceived of as "immanent break. It could have passed as an excessive and dramatic reference to the Nazi ho­ locaust made by a subject denouncing his place in history. in contrast to Tirado's ecological trope. As a Spanish colony. this disparity. made an unexpected connection that surprised many of us simply because it didn't sur­ prise any of us. I would like to read Moreiras's notion of the "infrapolitical use of history" in rela­ tion to Bosteels's insistence that Badiou's notion of truth-procedure. that confirms the anxiety of the subject when having to rec­ ognize that he or she is exposed to genocide: "We are a species in danger of extinc­ tion.' can only occur when an intervention by a situated subject takes place. are in danger of extinction. it is not enough to declare his or her fidelity to the immanence of life or the transcendence of death. Zenon touched on the very core of the rela­ tional fantasy that. democracy: the passage from biopolitics to thanatopolitics. Puerto Rico served as a strategic military I . This is still a messianic nihilism or a nihilistic messianism. the state of exception during which the law is suspended) correspond a location without order (that is.180 Immanence and (Its) Interruption protest as critical agency when it interrupts the illusion that the film commodity tries to sell: "life goes on:' (One could even suggest that here is "a power within commodity superior to the commodity form" that can be related to president Bush's campaign to continue doing "business as usual") . .23 In his essay "What is a camp?" Agamben suggests that The state of exception. and it is still therefore under the gaze of the political-but in a very especial form. from the administration of life to the administration of death. following Eric Santner. But Zenon's intervention also made a link with the present military conjuncture to which he was exposed: the subject recognizes that he can be one of the "random" victims of a planned genocide motivated by the Navy's will to occupy the island of Vieques entirely in order to facilitate the destructive operation of training with live explosives without any concern for environmental or health regulations. At a public hearing of the Department of Natural Resources (an agency of the commonwealth government of Puerto Rico) I was videotaping. We. becomes now a new and stable spatial arrangement inhabited by that naked life that increasingly cannot be described into the order. Back in 1998. one has to realize the camp was not just a trope. I was shooting a video documentary about the history of the anti­ Navy movement in Vieques. There is also another phrasing made by Radames Tirado. In order for the subject of immaterial labor to emerge in a truth procedure that would allow him or her to interrupt the simula­ crum of biopolitics as principle of sovereignty. military fa­ cilities that justified the expropriation of thousands of Viequenses was motivated by the Nazi's threat.21 When Zenon said. "no debemos olvidar que . To an order without location (that is.'9 Following Moreiras. Carlos Zenon. . an abyssal locus that allows for the recognition of the relational fantasy as it binds Juan Carlos Rodriguez 11$1 the history of modern politics from Nazism to US. is still a use. the camp as permanent space of exception). after the United States defeated Spain in the Span­ ish American War.000 residents that served as a weapons testing range. The camp is the fourth. state and territory. The camp in­ tended as a dislocating location is the hidden matrix of the politics in which we still live. vivimos en un campo de concentraci6n" ("we cannot forget . who was evicted from his "home/land" by the US. This "overturning" of the first use. he has also related to the praxis of exodus. the unworking of the biopolitical. according to Giorgio Agamben. The increasingly widening of the gap between birth (naked life) and nation state is the new fact of the politics of our time and what we are calling "camp" is. constitute the nomos of modern politics: the experience of the camp. nor by merely recognizing the structur�l fact of antagonism as the hard kernel of the real in the midst of everyday reality. . that we live in a concentration camp") the experience of the concentration camp was reclaimed by a subject who inscribed himself within the perimeters of the state of exception. Puerto Rico was taken along with the Philippines by the United States as spoils of war in 1898. when Zenon insisted on reclaiming the trope of the camp to describe his "living conditions" in Vieques. the people of Vieques. the "redemption" that Benjamin promises as precisely a redemption regarding the infinite biopoliticization of life. He suggested that the Navy's control of the 75% of the land of Vi­ eques made him feel-and lead him to think-that he was living in a concentration camp. This moment corresponding to the interruption of the film's ideological fantasy from within itself recalls Moreiras's infrapolitical use of history which. Rather. one of the leaders of the 1970'S fishermen movement against the presence of the Navy in Vieques. especially as it relates to the notions of the camp and citizenship. it is evident that the site of politics where the subject of immaterial labor dwells today corresponds to the field of forces where the infinite biopoliticization of life takes (its) place. Zenon. Zenon's comment should be read as the theater of the subject. Following Badiou. an inseparable element that has been added to and has broken up the old trinity of nation. which used to be essentially a temporary suspension of the order. Navy at the age of four. in an infrapolitical form. And no one heard US:'22 But. Moreiras suggests that the characteristic procedure of the second use is the interruption of the prin­ ciple of sovereignty. former mayor of Vieques (1976-1980). and this is precisely the way it should be read. even if a useless use. made a link with the past when referring to the concentration camp: the construction of the US. . rather it contains within itself a dislocating location that exceeds it and in which virtually every form of life and every norm can be captured. that is. a small island in the eastern part of Puerto Rico with a population of 9. it is possible to suggest that the subject of immaterial labor has to irrupt in the threshold where the void of the event that corresponds to politics refuses to be named life or death. and we must recognize it in all its metamorphoses. Bosteels suggests that "a political truth arises neither by purely intuiting the vital immanence of the multitude behind the oppressive machinery of power.24 Here it is important to point out the various consequences of the role of Puerto Rico in global military history.

When the group arrived at the hill in the center of the impact zone. The Zenon sons . the United States sup­ ported a strong plan for the modernization and industrialization of Puerto Rico that excluded Vieques and Culebra. When American citizenship was granted to all Puerto Ricans in 1917 by the Jones Law. when the events following the death of David Sanes (killed by a Navy missile that missed its target) made pos­ sible the establishment of what have been known as the civil disobedience camps? Are the civil disobedience camps established in the Navy's target range of Vieques from April 21. a territory whose political status has been pushed to the limbo of sovereignty for more than a century. The American colonial rule over Puerto Rico belongs to the genealogy of the camp. But then a member of the group. this political concession was motivated by the threat of the German submarine force in the Caribbean. according to plan. and territory as it breaks down in the margin of history. and members of the Sanes family to enter military lands and erect a twelve-foot high white cross in honor of David Sanes.26 During World War II. "The real risk of living on a military target range"27 was suffered by Viequenses-and Culebrenses until the navy closed its training fa­ cilities in Culebra in 1975-alone. However. and the citizenship was conceived by the U. government as a way to build a sense of loyalty in the residents of Puerto Rico. an outsider. they were suffered by those whose dislocated location made them live on the verge of permanent danger. were indignant that De Jesus. It is in its military role as dislocating location for citizenship that Puerto Rico. anti-Navy activists. Puerto Rico was again conceived as a strategic military zone for the expansion of the United States' rule over the Americas. McCaffrey's reading of the civil disobedience camps focuses on the impact of the fetish of the dead victimY This is how McCaffrey narrates the memorial of David Sanes and the establishment of the first civil disobedience camps: Several days later. the United States intensified its military presence in Puerto Rico. known throughout Puerto Rico for his high-profile acts of civil disobedience. . while anti -Navy activists struggled over how to proceed. to personally block the resumption of military maneuvers. the American citizens living in Puerto Rico didn't suffer from the effects of such a disparity. what happens when the state of exception is subverted by a subjective intervention that consists in putting in practice an infrapolitical use of history? Wouldn't the recognition of living in a concentration camp had prepared the way for what would happen in Vieques a year later.. The industrialization of Puerto Rico depended on transferring to Vieques and Culebra the impact of the military exercises that justi­ fied the strategic importance of the archipelago for the United States. was imposing his individual agenda on the group. the Committee to Rescue and Develop Vieques organized a group of fishermen. This genealogy suggests that the disparity of citizenship and intensified militarism that lead to the interruption of the principle of sovereignty (a perverse version of "a power within the state superior to the state itself. It was supposed to be a religious ceremony. The vision of this community leader is consistent with Agamben's analysis: "the camp is the new hidden regulator of the inscription of life in order-or rather it is the sign of the system's inability to func­ tion without transforming itself into a lethal machine:'30 If the state of exception has become today's principle of sovereignty allowing the infinite biopoliticization oflife to turn into thanatopolitics. and christened the spot Monte David. who for years had painstakingly organized the military presence.' colonialism's turning into camp in the service of the infinite biopoliticization of subjugated life) has a name: Puerto Rico. 2000 (camps that made possible the interruption of all military and bombing training on this island) just another version of Agamben's camp or an unexpected metamorphosis of it? Here it would be useful to comment on Katherine McCaffrey's reading of the experience of the civil disobedience camps in her book Military Power and Popular Protest: The us. a self-proclaimed en­ vironmental "warrior" from Vega Baja. the industri­ alized island. the ground for a post-political citizenship (i. hundreds attended Sanes's funeral mass in the Monte Santo Catholic Church in Vieques. where he remained alone over­ night. Puerto Rico. the showcase for democracy and modernization in the periphery sup­ ported by the United States. . Committee members. Puerto Ricans in the main island benefited from a fundamental geo­ political role whose damaging effects did not affect them. while the residents of the main island of Puerto Rico benefited economically from the supposed strategic and military importance of the region. provided the relational fantasy its illusion. and argued that de Jesus could not be left alone and that he deserved support. Vieques had no option but to materialize the relational fantasy as formulated by Agamben: "The camp is the paradigm itself of political space at the point in which politics becomes biopolitics and homo sacer becomes indistinguishable from the citizen:'29 The recognition of the relational fantasy made by Zenon in 1998 as it binds the inscription of Vieques in the history of American global militarism is just the first step towards an infrapolitical use of history. Eleida Encarnacion de Zenon. The contingent left de Jesus on the target range. .e. In an attempt to contain the ef­ forts of the nationalist movement to decolonize Puerto Rico. a member of the Committee. 1999 to May 4. and territory is simply impossible to formulate or to make intelligible in a project of liberation. the wife of fisherman Carlos Ze­ non. When the United States occupied the island in 1898. state. in memory ofSanes. As the title ("David Sanes Rodriguez: Vieques's Martyr") of one of the sections of her book suggests. Sanes's family wanted no part of politicizing his death . citizenship emptied out of political horizons) as Ken Surin has discussed it in his paper for this issue. Navy in Vieques. Members of the Sanes family who were ambivalent about confronting the Navy were upset about politicizing the memorial. events took an unexpected course. creating a complex training facility that covered the municipality of Ceiba and the islands of Vieques and Culebra.2 8 In contrast. a colony in the postcolonial world where the old trinity of nation. Alberto de Jesus (Tito Kayak).182 Immanence and (Its) interruption zone for the expansion of the Spanish Empire in the Americas. encoun­ ters the camp: it materializes the old trinity of nation. state. Following the ceremony.S. The next morning. De Jesus gave an impassioned speech against the navy and vowed to re­ main. The contingent staked its cross. called Julia Ramos. the last colonial enclave of the Americas.25 The American citizen­ ship given to Puerto Ricans depended precisely on the military role of Puerto Rico in global geopolitics. stole the spotlight.

such antagonism can no longer be read off directly from a sociological analysis of the structure.' decided to remain in the bombing field "to personally block the resumption of military maneuvers. following Badiou. For over a year activists positioned themselves as human shields on the bombing range. he was subverting the nomos of modern politics by forcing a new notion of it. and. in terms of subtraction and disqualification. it created the context for un­ derstanding the death of David Sanes. after the obscure sequence from the late sixties to the mid-seven­ ties. he adds: If we take this point of view a step further. The event is tied. During the six years that the Committee denounced the Navy as a persistent threat to safety and health. site: "There is an event only in a situation that presents at least one site. Again.' Ba­ diou wrote in Theory of the Subject: "All truth is new. Puerto Rico and the United States visited the campsites to express their solidarity. Bosteels invites us . only "stole the spotlight:'38 . and Badiou 185 .184 Immanence and (Its) Interruption Juan Carlos Rodriguez joined de Jesus on the target range. The Committee developed an organi­ zational structure and links to a broader network of supporters that would prove vital to sustaining more spontaneous and creative forms of protest. even to the point of experienc­ ing politics as a time and a space of mourning. is not an element of politics at all. whereby a force reapplies itself to that from which it emerges by way of conflict. 'Break' because what enables the truth-process-the event-meant nothing according to the prevailing language and established knowledge of the situation:' Badiou thus agrees with those contemporary Lacanians who affirm the structural necessity of an exclusion inherent in the formation of any subject-precisely the kind of "outside within" rejected in the Spinozism of Deleuze or Hardt-Negri. not just in terms of a pure self-belonging cut off from the situa­ tion. the political speculation that profits from the victimism of the dead. probably. In ontology. "a self-proclaimed environmental 'warrior' from Vega Baja. however. 'Immanent' because a truth proceeds in the situation. The political event always exceeds ethical calculation and irrupts in the void of the incalculable. The Committee to Rescue and Develop Vieques has laid a foundation for a movement to evict the Navy over the course of six years of organizing and coalition building. protes­ tors scaled fences or shuttled into the range by fishing boat.' he was not performing "an individual act of defiance. Except that today. The symbolic manipulation of the dead victim. Whether this process is described in terms of destruction and purification or. Therein lies the subjective essence of what is true: that it is distorted:'35 Later. . the suspension of the law is interrupted by the outlaw.34 If an event has taken place at all in Vieques. As Lacan had written in his Bcrits. it is rather the capture and pacification of the political by the regime of ethical calculation. water and supplies and eventually founding an encampment. even though its spiral also means repetition. . a "Civil Disobedience Camp:' The "Civil Disobedience Camps" in Vieques name a torsion of truth forced by a situated sub­ ject: the camp is forced to become the site where the interruption of the state of exception takes place without juridical remainder. its political edge cannot be constituted on the basis of producing an operation of identification with the victim. What puts the innovative break into the circular in­ flection? A certain coefficient of torsion.37 the one who. The death of the native animates the mobilization of the outsiders (the transcendence of death and the vital flow of immanence: complicity in action). it is only through the intervention of the subject that has been seized by a truth that an immanent break can occur in order to unleash the force of the event. Thousand of supporters from Vieques. bringing food. When Alberto de Jesus. here. David Sanes's death opened a new chapter in a decades-long story of conflict between the U. bringing military maneuvers to a halt. More followed. I As suggested by Bosteels when reading Badiou. even Badiou's later philosophy as systematized in Being and Event begins to revolve around two key con­ cepts-the symptomatic site of an event and the forcing or torsion of truth­ which his critics tend to ignore but which in fact sum up his contribution to a forgotten tradition of the materialist dialectic. and nowhere else-there is no heaven of truths. more recently.3 6 This is how anthropology reads the events of the civil disobedience camps: loosing the event of politics in favor of constructing the simulacrum of solidarity. in its very definition.S. but as an event for a given situation as determined by its symptomatic . It is true that the people that constructed the first camps of civil disobedience in the Vieques bombing field might have identified themselves with David Sanes. no truth actually comes out of this structural fact without also involving a symptomatic tor­ sion of the opening situation from the point of view of its unnamable excess. the point re­ mains that the logic of the constitutive outside in and of itself remains an empty and purely structural scheme without the supplementary effort of a forced return to the initial situation. The Committee's work made possible the much broader mobilization that grew from de Jesus's individual act of defiance:'32 quotes this line approvingly in his Theory of the Subject: "The subject stands in internal exclusion to the object:' For Badiou. Navy and the residents of Vieques Island. the event is defined. Rather. to think of the truth of an event as an immanent excess from the point of view of the initial situation: "It is thus an immanent break. Over a dozen encampments sprang up on the target zone. To get there. without knowing it: a new camp. "It is a process of torsion. .33 But one should keep in mind that the political event should not be confused with an act of identification or solidarity with a victim. according to the codes of anthropology.' as McCaffrey suggests. rather it is the result of a subject's intervention and fidelity to the events of politics themselves. it always exceeds the operation of identification and solidarity. Tito Kayak. to the place or point that concentrates the historicity of the situation:' The site of an event is symptomatic of the situa­ tion in its totality for the same reasons that in the earlier days explained the qualitative accumulation of contradictions into an antagonistic node.

and so more important. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell (New York: Columbia University Press. in a time when citizenship can increasingly be bought and sold. and the state itself is best conceptualized as an assemblage of projects. I was tempted to say no interesting philosophical problems. . For those interested in Nancy's notion of "transimmanence.. see also Hardt and Negri's Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (New York: Penguin. 2004). Running the risk of interrupting the vital flow of immanence before abandoning themselves to the transcendence of the death drive seems to be the challenge of the human shields. let politics name the void: perhaps . you were not a human shield. or does it reterritorialize the place of the victim in the context of poli�ical protest? Is the human shield a human or post-human figure? Is it a figure of thought at all? Isn't the human shield the counterpart of the refugee in the present stage of global militarization? It is clear that the civil disobedience camps in Vieques involved the intervention of a subject situated in an infrapolitical experience of history. 2004). See his "Logics of Antagonism: In the Margins of Alain Badiou's 'The Flux and the Party'" in this issue. "Imm/Trans. you were at the Vieques Beach experiencing a radical version of tourism:' One would have to ask: up to what point does an economic torsion of truth (if there is such thing as an economic torsion of truth) belong to the truth-procedure that opens the event of politics? If tourism is precisely the form of political solidarity today. . Bosteels's reading of Empire confirms and elaborates on this suspicion. it seems that the ethnic staging of the conflict plays a central role in obscuring the analysis of the political sequence that takes place in Vieques and the truth procedure that belongs to it. and when the forms of sovereignty are becoming variable. . However. • . I would prefer not to .. in the simulacrum of the market effects of Academia. 2001).. What is Philosophy?. are posed by these modulations of the post-political. up to what point does tourism belong to the torsion of truth that occurs in a subjective inter­ vention as it irrupts in the middle of a truth procedure. Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Talking about powerlessness. . . . -"'. . . 5 This question has been formulated by Zizek when discussing Deleuze's relation with Guattari as a form of resistance assumed by this thinker when having to face the impasse between his two logics of thought. (New York: Zone Books. However. See ZiZek's "The Becoming-Oedipal of Gilles Deleuze" in this issue. 1 . much more important. it is also here. that the question of immanence and its interruption runs the risk of getting stuck on the threshold where the striving between life and death takes politics as its name in order to fill the void of our current situation. although it could be great a contribution in future interventions to examine this turn. is a particularly Puerto Rican form of protesf'39 McCaffrey's insistence on both the fetish of the victim and the fetish of national culture when reading the civil disobedience camps in Vieques is misleading. Pushed to the extreme. . . 3 See Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari.' see his The Sense of the World.. 4 Gilles Deleuze. 6 According to Nancy. a kind of "who" that cannot but interrupt the infinite biopoliticization of life (and its turn into thanatopolitics) by incarnating the potentiality of immaterial labor as radical powerlessness. Doesn't the event of the civil disobedience camps in Vieques name an excess of the law. I am tempted to propose that the interruption of post-political citizenship tak­ ing place in the civil disobedience camps in Vieques is consistent with Surin's politi­ cal and theoretical orientation: Very briefly.186 Juan Carlos Rodriguez Immanence and (Its) Interruption Although I have to recognize that McCaffrey's rigorous work is probably one of the most lucid accounts of the anti-Navy struggle in Vieques. . . 25. McCaffrey's reading obscures the truth -procedure of the event by modeling the civil disobedience camps on a cultural fetish: the role of the "casita. See also Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. See also his Organs without Bodies: On Deleuze and Consequences (New York: Routledge. neither express the "vital immanence of the multitude" nor the death drive of the militant suicide: it :: '" ' '. 1994). . this experience of immaterial labor--this "Building. Dwelling. abroad? Tourism . . that served as a symbol of national identity to the Nuyorican diaspora during the 1970S urban struggle for recognition. I am strongly oriented to think that the fidelity to a political event is always exposed to the danger of trivializing itself in the simulacrum of the market effects. McCaffrey insists that the "casita" should be read as an affirmation of Puerto Rican culture: "the casita . 37. no interesting problems. . This is why the fidelity to a political event has to constitute itself as the persistent refusal to any form of capture. trans.' a wooden con­ struction very common in Puerto Rican rural imagination. 187 only points to the radical powerlessness of dwelling without a name in the site of the event. Thinking"41 on the verge of chemical disaster--as it unfolds in a bombing field that has been transformed into a new camp. 2 Apart from Empire... Instead.40 "Who" established the civil disobedience camps? What formes) of life or (non-) subject inhabits the site where the interruption of the state of exception takes place without juridical remainder? Is the figure of the human shield a political figure at all. . than the task of defining and describing post-political citizenship is the one which asks of the body politic how if at all it is going to take politics beyond the lineaments of this post-political. 2000).. "Immanence: A Life . especially when the political sequence emerges elsewhere. his contribution to this issue.' is a new elaboration on the notions of immanence and transcendence that differs from a previous elabora­ tion made by him under the label of "transimmanence:' I won't elaborate on this matter. . But the post-political is precisely the form of the political today. how far are the human shields from the tourists? How far are the tourists (on the side of political solidarity) from the fantasy of incarnating the place of the refugees? At least now. a void in a colonial situation that is both beyond the state of exception as it becomes the ground for a thanatopolitical enterprise and beyond national culture as it be­ comes a formula for liberation? It is precisely in Vieques's civil disobedience camps that the post-political experience of American citizenship in Puerto Rico is for the first time interrupted.. I used to be the target of a not-so-funny joke ev­ ery time I shared with friends some of my personal experiences in the Vieques's "Civil Disobedience Camps": "Hey dude.." in Pure Immanence: Essays on a Life.

just as he holds us. or rather with the concentration camps into which the Eng­ lish herded the Boers at the beginning of the twentieth century. or rather to supplant it. cannot be included.. "Guerra y reforma colonial: Puerto Rico en 191i' pages 165-215.' North Carolina Journal of Law & Technology.> I.' in The Inoperative Community.' in this issue. 10 See "Leaving Immanence: Art from Death" in this issue.' .. Daniel Heller­ Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press. . 20 Ibid. Empire. And this is why the voice constantly threatened to undermine the authority of the letter. cit. trans. cit.S. 9 Gilles Deleuze.-� . 12 Dir. . . 1997). without an open hospitality to the guest as ghost. 11 Ibid. Gregory Boyd. 22 Quoted in Katherine McCaffrey. Vincenzo Binetti and Cesare Casarino (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1993). a civil servant "in uniform and in military salute. 24 Ibid.' combines in a single image the two important features of the Puerto Rican political transaction taking place under U. "in an economic. 13 "Finally. not the zero point of universality.. The emergency is the emergence of the voice in the commanding position. especially chapter 6 of this book. 99. in which the therapy prescribed to patients receiving transplanted organs to overcome the "tyranny of the gift" gets a not so innocent name­ "market"-was found in S. "Shattered Love. to invalidate it:' Mladen Dolar.' in this issue. to push for a notion of an infrapolitics of mourning? In the case that an infrapolitics of mourning could be formulated. cit. . 23 See also Giorgio Agamben. This is where the economy of the letter totally differs from the economy of the voice. op." Agamben. is linked to the genealogy of the camp as it un­ folds in Hispanic/American history. Jeffrey Librett (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 29 Agamben. 17 Hardt and Negri.2 (Spring 2003). but as a voice which. 149.. Thomas Du­ toit (Stanford: Stanford University Press. 28. trans. 8 Ibid. . According to Agamben: "Historians debate whether the first appearance of camps ought to be identified with the campos de concentraciones that were created in 1896 by the Spaniards in Cuba in order to repress the insurrection of that colony's population. rule: civil citizenship in exchange for intense militarization. and trans. " . 167. In­ tereses estrategicos y dominaci6n colonial (San Juan: Ediciones Huracan. . 4l. It is pertinent to consider here that there might be a relationship between these series of reference to Hispanic history made by Agamben and Moreiras's genealogy of biopolitics as related to the Spanish Inquisition. The signifier in the form of the senseless letter which. :. "That some nevertheless remain human beings. see Bruno Bosteels. 58. 43-44. 18 Alenka ZupanCic. despite its meaningless nature. "Imm/Trans... "Logics of Antagonism:' 21 See Giorgio Agamben. a market could help overcome what has been referred to as the 'tyranny of the gift: This is guilt that some transplant recipients feel after receiving this gift that is in­ herently one-sided:' This passage. trans. 349. . . another island in the Hispanic Caribbean. 14 Jean-Luc Nancy.' in Puerto Rican Jam: Essays on Culture and Politics. Pure Immanence. 2000). "Post-Political Citizenship. " Kafka's Voices. La presencia militar de Estados Unidos en Puerto Rico 1898-1918 . 148. 15 Jean-Luc Nancy. see Maria Eu­ genia Estades Font. hence dogmatic way. ed. 2 7 McCaffrey. . The Birth to Presence.' in this issue. . cit. Brian Holmes et al." trans. a zero point of univer­ sality. without a topolitology of the sepulcher. " " . Alejandro Gonzalez Iflarritu. 30 Ibid. its concealed existence suddenly becomes overwhelming and devastating. is still a letter. Peter Connor (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. one realizes that the characterization of the victim. "What is a Camp?" in Means without Ends: Notes on Poli­ tics. 'C' 16 "So the voice is structurally in the same position as sovereignty. 32 McCaffrey. This could be an important link to take into consid­ eration in future elaborations on the genealogy of biopolitics. . 28 See Ken Surin. universally disponible and verifiable. "Investigations of the Lacanian Field: Some Remarks on Comedy and Love.. one would also have to ask about its relation to Badiou's fidelity to the event conceived as subjective intervention and symptomatic torsion of truth. Military Power and Popular Protest: The U. . 189 .. '. This is not the path that history has taken in the past century: it treated the excep­ tion not as a signifier to be included. 1991). in its senseless nature. Navy in Vieques.188 Juan Carlos Rodriguez Immanence and (Its) Interruption 25 This reading is consistent with Ramon Grosfoguel's position: "The United States has made political and economic concessions to working classes in Puerto Rico (which have rarely been made to any other colonial or postcolonial people) primarily because of the military and symbolic strategic importance of the island:' See Grosfoguel's "The Divorce of Nationalist Discourse from the Puerto Rican People: A Sociohistorical Perspective. 33 According to Derrida. elliptic. 4. it is the zero point of non-universality. the internal exception which threatens to become the rule. trans. But . hostage:' Aporias: Awaiting (One Another at) the "Limits of Truth..' in this issue. . op.k:. .�i '5. and testify to that effect. 1988).� . 61-62.) . 1998). (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. "Considering a Market in Human Organs. which means that it can put into question the validity of the law: the voice stands at the point of exception. Wouldn't it be relevant in this Der­ ridean context. I would say that there is no politics without an organization of the time and space of mourning. Frances Negron-Muntaner and Ramon Grosfoguel (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1993). 38. . ed. . Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. is a confirmed fact . 34 Badiou suggests that in some narrations made by subjects that have survived extermina­ tion in the camps there is a refusal to identify themselves with the victims. Agamben links the death of Spanish poet Antonio Machado to the history of the camp. without an anamnesic and thematic relation to the spirit as ghost. whom one holds. 2003. . 1997). following Moreiras's notion of the infrapolitical use of history. 19 Again. op.. (Stanford: Stanford Uni­ versity Press. 43. 2002) 98. where it suddenly displays its profound complicity with the bare life. 7 Jean-Luc Nancy. For a more detailed trajectory of the military conjuncture that motivated the United States to con­ cede American citizenship to Puerto Ricans during the First World War. 31 If one reads Beruff's analysis of David Sanes's photograph quoted by McCaffrey on page 151. 26 It would be important to add here that there is at least one historical instance where Cuba. All the passages quoted from Agamben in my essay come from this short text.. . that is.S. op. .

11. admitida como representaci6n:' See "Me­ ditaci6n Veinte" in Badiou's EI Ser y el acontecimiento (Buenos Aires: Manantial. esto es 10 que el estado dice. capable of reducing ethical issues to matters of human rights and humanitarian actions. Pero como la intervenci6n deduce el significante supernumerario en el vacio que bordea al sitio. puesto que ninguna ley de representaci6n autoriza a determinar un an6nimo en cad a parte. Peter Hallward (New York: Verso. and not politics. ya que ninguna regia existente puede especificar el termino impresentado que es asi elegido como nombre del puro 'hay' del acontecimiento:' In the paragraph I am quoting. cit. op. el terrorista. 35 Bosteels. Tanto mas que su nombre an6nimo es: 'pertenence al sitio: Sin embargo.190 Juan Carlos Rodriguez Immanence and (Its) Interruption 191 es necesario designar el par que componen el sitio (la fabrica. . el desorden). 37 The notion of the outlaw that I am proposing as the very naming of the excess of the un­ namable that occurs when the interruption oflaw is suspended by a situated subject leav­ ing no juridical remainder has been inspired by Badiou's discussion on the illegality of the name of the event from the perspective of the state of the situation. 230-31. 155· 40 Surin. para la situaci6n-una no-elecci6n. in them. It will be objected: 'No! You are forgetting the active subject. la metafora del vacio: 10 impresentado opera. en la situaci6n. en realidad. trans. According to Badiou: "Esta nominaci6n es esencialmente ilegal. op. esta represen­ taci6n no es jamas reconocible desde el punto de vista de la situaci6n-o de su estado-. el profesor perverso) Carece de importancia que los agentes del estado crean 0 no 10 que dicen.. the hand of the foreigner (outsider). el alzamiento. queda asegurada la representaci6n. La elecci6n del representante no puede ser. la ley estatal alii se inte­ rrumpe. what makes possible the recognition of man as victim. Thinking:' in Basic Writings (San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers. cit. tal que la singularidad absoluta del sitio seiiala su borde. si se quiere. la calle.. an effort acknowledged by witnesses (in whom it excites a radiant recognition) as an almost incomprehensible resistance on the part of that which. un puro termino cualquiera. un representante del sitio. wouldn't this site be necessarily linked to the passage from the Nazi camps (state of exception) to the Vieques camp (stateless inscrip­ tion of the outlaw)? 39 McCaffrey. para el estado-por 10 tanto. al vacio mismo. por el hecho de que no se puede ajustar a nin­ guna ley de la representaci6n. According to Badiou. Porque esta metafora es. is this metaphor a symptom of the way in which both the discourse of the state and that of media attempt to impose the protagonic role as repre­ sentational imperative to the fetish of the local victim struggling for a new site on earth? this is always achieved precisely through an enormous effort. la Universidad) y el singleton del acontecimiento (la huelga. el estado-en sentido politico. Ademas.. por ejemplo-ve claramente que . beyond representation. La elecci6n que realiza la intervenci6n es. an ironic twist of the discourse of the state after having been domesticated by the discourse of global communications? Or. op. does not coincide with the identity of the victim:' Ethics. Badiou's line of thought jumps from the illegality of the name to the term of the site: there is. 2002). the outlaw. por designaci6n de una causa externa a la situaci6n.1 See Martin Heidegger." Ibid. 36 Ibid. 41 • 38 Let us consider Badiou's comments on the figure of the agitator in the same meditation we discussed above from El Ser y el acontecimiento: "Cada vez que un sitio es el teatro de un acontecimiento real. the one that intervenes against barbarism!' So let us be precise: man is the being who is capable of recognizing himself as a victim. su nombre. "Building. Dado un multiple de multiples presentados. 1993). correlato de su uno. pero no puede llegar a fij ar la racionalidad del vinculo. The metaphor discussed by Badiou. is mobilized in McCaffrey's characterization of Tito Kayak along with another metaphor: "stole the spotlight:' Is this metaphor. "Diremos tambien que el termino del sitio que nombra el acontecimiento es. it is the ethics of human rights. He mostrado que el estado de una situaci6n-su metaes­ tructura-permite hacer-uno de todas las partes en el espacio de la presentaci6n. es asunto de estado. We have seen that ethics subordinates the identification of this subject to the universal recognition of the evil that is done to him. Ethics thus defines man as a victim. Dwelling. 1 0 . "The heart of the question concerns the presumption of a universal Subject. es una ley del estado ver en la anomia de ese Dos-que es el reconocimiento de un disfucionamiento de la cuenta-Ia mano del extranjero (el agitador externo. De este modo. 1999). Lo que cuenta es la necesidad del enunciado. cit. coming from the stage of media culture. Let us force a certain confluence between the notions of Agamben and Badiou as they converge in the question of the state: is not the permanent state of exception the state of the situation in which we live today? If the event taking place in Vieques-interrupting the suspension of law-belongs to a site. aun menos extender este procedimiento ilegal por el cual de cada multiple incluido saldria-lPor que milagro de una elecci6n sin regla?-un representate desprovisto de toda otra cualidad que no sea su pertenencia a ese multiple. El estado obtura la aparici6n de la inmanencia del vacio mediante la trascendencia del culpable" (233).

Escobar was arrested and accused of being a member of the Puerto Rican clandestine movement struggling for the inde­ pendence of his nation. he has published a number of major philosophical works. He is also the author of nu­ merous articles on Latin American literatures and cultures. He is currently preparing two book manuscripts. Alain Badiou is Assistant Professor of Spanish at Cornell. including Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil (Verso. is the chair of the Painting Department at the School of Plastic Arts in San Juan. He has also held positions as an assistant professor at Har­ vard University and at Columbia University. psychoanalysis.Contributors teaches philosophy at the Ecole Normale Sup€:'­ rieure and the College International de Philosophie in Paris.) Badiou's enormously original work has made major contributions not only to philosophy and political theory. 1980. and On Beckett (Clinamen Press. but also to mathematics. He received a sentence of 68 years in prison.He collaborated with Slavoj Zitek in Opera's Second Death (Routledge. His work could be characterized as an effort to think politics by com­ bining painting. 2001). Sev­ eral of his books have recently appeared in English. Politics and the State and What Is Bruno Bosteels Antiphilosophy? Essays on Nietzsche. 2003). and political essays. including Theory of the Subject (1982) and Being and Event (1988). and critical theory. On April 4. 2004. and aesthet­ ics. Wittgenstein. During 19 years and 5 months in prison. plays. Infinite Thought: Truth and the Return to Phi­ losophy (Continuum. His Master's Voice is due by Verso next year. poetry. Escobar Elizam Escobar Polygraph 15/16 (2004) il . and Lacan (both for Duke University Press). 2003). film theory. Mladen Dolar taught philosophy at the • University of Ljublja­ na until the year 2002. Puerto Rico. Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism (Stanford Univer­ sity Press. 2002). He is also translating and introduc­ ing two books: Badiou: Can Politics Be Thought? followed by An Obscure Disaster: Right. In addition to several novels. The next issue of Polygraph will be devoted to critical es­ says on his thought. After Borges: Literature and Antiphilosophy and Badiou and Politics (under contract with Duke University Press).

(The works reproduced in this issue were created by him while he was in prison). 2000). She has published. Tercer Espacio: Duelo y Literatura en America Latina (1991). For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor (Verso. having published over 50 books including translations into a dozen languages. and critical theory. Realno Iluzije. 2000). Edinburgh. is out now from Verso. Zizek is a prolific writer. Havana.194 Contributors continued painting and writing.'. Nietzsche: Filozojija dvojega. or. glo­ balization. 2001). Schelling. 2000). Carta sobre el humanismo (2000). Hitos (2000). • is Professor at the Institute for Sociology. and co-edited Pensar en la postdictadura (2001) with Nelly Richard. Spain. His book Liberation and the Next World Order is forthcoming with Duke University Press. 2003). He has recently published DobIes de Elizam Escobar. with colleagues Carlos Pessoa. Un modelo para lajilosofia desde la musica. Democracy and Theory: An Interview with Ernesto Laclau:' Umbr(a) 1 (200 1): 7-29. is a PhD candidate in the Romance Studies Department at Duke University. He is also one of the main translators of Heidegger into Spanish. Jesenski i Turk (Zagreb. (1987). San Juan. His work has been exhibited in New York. ethique de la jouissance (Thetete Editions.144. Seoungwon Lee. The Non-Subject of the Political" is his latest work in progress. Some of his latest books and translations include Escritos sobre ji­ Arturo Leyte losofia de la naturaleza (1996). The Fragile Absolute. Ljubljana. Organs Without Bodies: On Deleuze and Consequences ( Routledge. Her books include Ethics of the Real (Verso. Madrid. in the Literature Program at Duke University. Managua. 2003). He has also published The Turnings of Darkness and Light: Essays in Philosophical and Systematic Theology (Cambridge Kenneth Surin is based • . and The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche's Philosophy of the Two (Zone. He is currently working on a video project in Vieques and recently received the Olga Nolla Poetry Prize in Puerto Rico. and many other Latin American cities. The Puppet and the Dwarf The Perverse Core of Christianity (MIT. 2001). 2001). His latest publications include Enjoy Your Symptom: Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and Out (Routledge. He is the founder and president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis. He University Press. He works on the intersections between Latin American visual culture. Chicago. 1999. Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. and H6lderlin. He teaches Spanish Literature at the Universidad de Puerto Rico (Rio Piedras). Alberto Moreiras is Professor of Romance Studies (Spanish) and Literature. "Line of has published La escritura politica de Jose Hierro Shadow. 2002). Marta Hernandez Salvan is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Vigo. 2001). Switzerland. Mor­ fologia de la raz6n imperial" is forthcoming in Biblioteca Nueva (2005). eds. Slove­ nia. Juan Carlos Rodriguez reading for a PhD at the University of Warwick. 2003). He is a highly distinguished Spanish philosopher who has published several books on Hei­ degger. The Exhaustion of Difference: The Politics of Latin American Studies (Duke University 2001). Ljubljana. She is also editor in chief of the journal for psychoanalytical and cultural studies Problemi. He is the au­ thor of numerous articles in politics and theory. Why is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For? (Verso. She works on Cuban post-revolutionary cultural production and trauma in the wake of globalization. Anchorage. Interpretaci6n y diferencia (1991). The Ticklish Subject: An Essay in Political Ontology (Verso. Das Reale einer Illusion (Suhrkamp. is is a PhD candidate in the Literature Program at Duke University. which includes an essay by Joserram6n Melendes addressing one of the thematic aspects of his plastic work. the latest of his many books. Caminos de bosque (1998). Lasse Thomassen. and "A Dialogue with Michael Chanan: On New Latin American Cinema and the Intricacies of Film The­ ory:' Polygraph 1 3 (2001 ) : 1 29. 1989) and Theology and the Problem of Evil (Blackwell. Esthetique du desir. Social Justice. His publications include "This Zone of Occult SenSibility: The African Novel in the Era of Decoloni­ sation" in New Formations 47 (2002) and "Optimism of the Intellect and Optimism of the Will: The Unseasonable Art of Ngugi wa Thiong'o" in Law.. "The Left. 2002). Escobar re­ turned to Puerto Rico. Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle. La interpretaci6n adorniana de la musica de Schonberg (2003). and of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis. Slovenia as well as Professor of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis at the European Graduate School in Sass-Fee. and Robert Spencer is Global Development 6 (2003). That same year he published Los ensayos del artificiero: Mas alIa del postmodernismo y 10 politico-directo. . Analecta (Ljubljana. Ljubljana. Ljubljana. 1986). Slavoj Zi:tek Alenka Zupancic is a member of the faculty at the Institute of Philosophy. "Piel de lobo. Upon his release from prison on September 10.

. Postmodern Theory (2001) '-i' "0 ::1 . Slavoj Zizek.� � � � ... Kenneth Surin. Georg Ludks. Erica Sheen " . .com to order on-line.. Paula Rabinowitz Polygraph 5: Contesting the New World Order (1992) Antonio Negri.� � . . Eric Alliez. Jane Gaines. "0 c � � � Polygraph 14: Media and Spatiality in Two-year subscription (2 issues) 17 14 30 30 Felix Guattari. Janell Watson. or visit Frontlist Books at http://www... George Yudice. Deleuze and Guattari (2002) .S. '" . .. Mahasweta Devi All prices U. Shipping and handling included. Bruno Bosteels � � 0 � � ::1 Polygraph 15/16: Immanence. Antonio Veneziani Polygraph 6/7: Marxism Beyond Marxism? (1994) Fredric'Jameson. ..� Transcendence.. "0 � � � 0 Polygraph 11: Margins of Global Culture (1999) Lawrence Grossberg. Immanual Wallerstein Polygraph 4: Post-Colonial Cultures of Resistance (1990) Edward Said.� Jean-Luc Nancy. Steven Shaviro. Fredric Jameson " ::1 � � . Rey Chow.polygraph 17: The Philosophy of Alain Badiou (2005) Subscriptions and back issues Peter Hallward.� � en Polygraph 13: Film Studies and !'� � . . Eleanor Kaufman Individual issue 10 10 17 17 Back issues 7 7 12 12 Polygraph 12: World Religions and Media Culture (2000) Gauri Viswanathan.. Rey Chow. Alain Badiou i :>- . Arjun Appadurai. Deepa Reedy. frontlist..... Tom Conley. Please mail your order to the address shown inside the front cover.. dollars. Slavoj Zizek. Grant Farred.. Brian Massumi Polygraph 8/9: New Metropolitan Forms (1996) Peter Hitchcock. Coco Fusco Polygraph 10: Legislating Culture (1998) Antonio Negri. and Utopia (2004) ... James Holston. Pierre Bourdiou.. -.....

• 5 1 1 R4 Ii .