THE

ROLAND

NEUTRAL
BARTHES

,

SESSION

OF

FEBRUARY

18,1978

Preliminaries
This year, no seminar." only a lecture course, conducted by myself, for two hours, over thirteen weeks. Between each hour, a pause of a dozen minutes. The sequence of the weeks will be interrupted Saturdays 8, IS, and
22

for

the Easter holiday, which is to say that there will be no class on the of April. This course: The Neutral or, better: "The Desire for Neutral."

Intertext What follows is not a bibliography a bibliography international this course." on the "Neutral," even if such

were conceivable, considering

the fact that the no-

tion crosses many disciplines (grammar, logic, philosophy, painting, law, etc.). It is nothing more than a list of the texts the preparation of whose reading, in various ways, has punctuated

ANGELUS SILESIUS

-L'Errant
BACHELARD

cherubinique, preface by Roger Laporte, Paris,

Planete, 1970.

-La
1950.

Dialectique de la duree, Presses Universitaires de France,

BACON (Francis)

-Novum Organon, Paris, Hachette, 1857. -De la dignite et de l'accroissement des sciences et Essais de morale et de politique, in Oeuvres completes, 2 vols., Paris,
Charpentier,
BAUDELAIRE

1843. 1966.

-Les

Paradis arti{iciels, Paris, Garnier-Flammarion,

BENJAMIN (Walter)

-My the et violence, Paris, Denoel, coll. "Lettres nouvelles," 1971.

Cahiers de la Petite Dame. La Philosophie grecque. 2 vols. 1960. Gallimard. . 1943. Monaco.BLANCHOT -L'Entretien in{ini. 1977. 1978 . Vrin. Paris. I. Paris. 2 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. du Rocher. 1862. M. Paris. Paris. Tbeologie negative et connaissance de dieu chez Maitre Eckhart. MARTIAL -Oeuvres MICHELET completes. FICHTE -Methode 1845. Epigrammes. "Folio. Vrin. vol.. -La PASCAL Sorciere. Garnier-Flammarion. doctrines et sentences des philosophes illustres. "Les Essais. -Un souvenir d'enfance de Leonard de Vinci. Paris. "Idees. Paris. 1971. 1976. Gallimard. Ed. 1975. BOEHME -Koyre (Alexandre). . trans. Paris. 1885. Maurice de Gandillac. -Pensees. DIOGENE LAERCE {DIOGENES LAERTIUS} . Paris. Aubier-Montaigne. Paris. Gallimard. 1957. Hetzel-Dentu. Gallimard." 1959. Didier. vol. 1969. coil. La Philosophie de Jacob Boehme. LESSING -Dramaturgie MAISTRE (Joseph de) de Hambourg. Belfond.. GIDE -(Maria Van Rysselberghe)." 1977. 1965. Paris. Paris.Vie. coll. vol.Textes choisis et presentee par E. Gallimard. Ladrange. 1869. Garnier. HEGEL =Lecons sur l'histoire de la philosophie. Paris. 4. Paris. FREUD pour arriver Ii la vie bienheureuse. 4. -Le Livre Ii venir. DENYS L'AREOPAGITE {DIONYSIUS THE AREOPAGITE} -Oeuvres completes. coll. Paris. -Lossky (Vladimir). ECKHART (Master) 2 vols. Cioran. CAGE (John) -Pour les oiseaux. Vrin. I945-I95I. Cahiers Andre Gide." 1927. Paris.

Paris. Paris. Vico. Sceptiques grecs.d. 1921. ed. 1966. Presses Universitaires -Zac (Sylvain). Jean-Paul Un ivers ita ires de France. Presses Universitaires 1.QUINCEY (Thomas de) -Confessions ROUSSEAU d'un mangeur d'opium. Jean-Paul 1969. Stock. -Monsieur VICO Teste. de France. "Bibliotheque de -La VALERY Guerre et la paix. -Maspero Paris. Du- mont. n. -Les SPINOZA Sophistes: Fragments et temoignages. Paris. la Pleiade. Rousseau: b. Gallimard. Garnier. (Henri). ses ecrits et sa doctrine. Paris." 1947. de C. Tolstoy: The Night of Austerlitz Tuesday 24 October d. losophie paienne. 3. Presses Universi- taires de France. Publica- 1950. Didier. B.. -Les SKEPTICS Reveries du promeneur solitaire. (r st ed. Emmanuel de Sweden borg: Sa vie. Paris. Paris. 1863. SAEP. -Michelet on. Oeuvres choisies de Vico. Essai d'une histoire raisonnee de la phi1973· Paris. Paris. coil. Paris. Flammari(Jules). tions du musee Guimet. n. Paris. -Chaix-Ruy (Jules). vol. La Morale de Spinoza. Gallimard. Melanges posthumes 2. 1972. TOLSTOY Le Taoisme. Presses Dumont. In Guise of Epigraphs For the whole course --7 reading of four texts: The Inquisition 1776 « I a. 1978 . Paris.). 1929. SWEDEN BORG -Matter TAO (M. Vrin. 1887). La Formation de la pensee philosophique de France. Gallimard. Tao: Portrait of Lao-tzu 3 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. ed. Joseph de Maistre: c. vol.d. Les Sceptiques (Alexandre). sur les religions et l'histoire de la Chine. grecs. 1959 -Brochard -Kojeve -Les SOPHISTS (Victor). Paris.

The crime then bears the character of sin. and mortifies his body. who was universally believed to be somewhat acquainted with liberty. fasts. to sue for pardon. If the crime be enormous. Athens herself. and punishment is commuted into penance. is at liberty to plead guilty. but their flimsy assertions are not proof against the powerful artillery of logic and facts. religion have been punished. they might be rebels. it is merciful and mild. and whether there were not as strong motives in those times for its employment as there are now for its suppression. It wears on to every tribunal upon a motto necessarily unknown ET JUSTITIA" earth. Mercy accordingly takes her seat with Justice. if the culprit obstinately refuse to retract. or sufficiently reflect upon. and because it was adopted by all the Spanish tribunals. it requests. All modern nations have employed this terrible means to obtain the truth. The culprit prays. Joseph de Maistre "Considerable noise has been made in Europe concerning the rack and the fiery ordeal with which crimes against of the Inquisition. The accused. and the circumstance of the priesthood with this tribunal of the true Church being in any renders it unique. and even in allowed precedence. confesses his sins. hears mass. he recites the penitential psalms.--"MISERICORDIA Justice alone characterizes considered (Mercy and Justice. if he will die sooner than to have it said that he 4 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. becomes contrite. However. who thus usurp the rights of sovereignty. Instead of going to the place of execution. But when the ecclesiastical power is called in. > Amidst the frightful display of the inquisitorial way concerned its standard apparatus. in compliance with the national laws. what they assert. as a sine qua non.) the others.a. "The civil inquisitors resorted to the rack. < .. The Grecian and Roman laws had sanctioned it. who is brought before this tribunal.. however. and submit to a religious expiation. The infidels of France wasted much of their crocodile sympathy and philosophic pathos on the occasion. subjected even freemen to it. and finally is restored to his family and to society. Were judges to lean towards mercy. since the rack is applicable to every other tribunal as well as to the Inquisition. I see no reason why the reproach of the entire should be visited upon the latter. on the present occasion inquire whether all those who prattle about the Inquisition exactly understand. and mercy belongs only to the sovereign. I shall not. 1978 . duly examines the state of his conscience. the free exercise of the sovereign prerogative.

not at all as the gunner and the Frenchman with frightened and angry faces struggled for the mop: how differently do those clouds glide across the lofty infinite sky! How was it I did not see that lofty sky before? And how happy I am to have found it at last! Yes! All is vanity. there is nothing but quiet and peace. But he saw nothing. quicker than a flash and which I had the time neither to think through nor carry out. shouting and fighting. with gray clouds gliding slowly across it.. Rousseau "After lunch on Thursday. nothing. not clear yet still immeasurably lofty. I crossed over the cheerful countryside which separates these two villages. then I made a detour in order to come back across the same meadows by taking a different route. so well-timed that the dog would pass under me while I was still in the air. > I was on the road down from Menilmontant almost opposite the Gallant Jardinier at about six o'clock when some people walking ahead of me suddenly swerved aside and I saw a huge Great Dane rushing down upon me. was my last before my accident." thought Prince Andrew-"not as we ran. all falsehood. except that infinite sky. whether the red-haired gunner had been killed or not and whether the cannon had been captured or saved."? b. hoping to see how the struggle of the Frenchmen with the gunners ended. and solemn. nor the fall.ath of October.. I did not feel the blow. "How quiet. Thank Godl ?" c. I776. 1978 . I followed the boulevards as far as the Rue du Chemin-Vert which I took up to the heights of Menilmontant and from there. Racing before a carriage. He opened his eyes. Tolstoy "What's this? Am I falling? My legs are giving way. the z. There is nothing. the dog had no time to check its pace or to turn aside when it noticed me. This idea." thought he.recanted his errors. it is for the special purpose of victim on his way to the scaffold. I judged that the only means I had to avoid being knocked to the ground was to make a great leap. not at all as I ran. and fell on his back. but that. < . nor anything of what followed until the moment I came to. consoling the unfortunate the priest then retires. peaceful. and when he reappears. Above him there was now nothing but the sky-the lofty sky. But even it does not exist. 5 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. taking paths across the vineyards and meadows as far as Charonne. or felt sorrow for his transgressions.

my mind is that of a fool. fear. and it seemed to me that I filled all the objects I perceived with my frail existence."? 2. from the outset. I perceived the sky."It was almost night when I regained consciousness. This first sensation was a delicious moment. and a little greenery. my wishes I am like the child who has not yet smiled. A. I still had no feeling of myself except as being 'over there. or rather I call Neutral everything that baffles the paradigm. I watched my blood flow as I would have watched a brook flow. what chaos! The others seem intelligent. as though I hadn't a place of rest.' I was born into life at the instant. which here is the Neutral. The Great Dane.. I am trying to name a thing: I gather under a name.:" calm in my whole being. >5 I found my- self in the arms of three or four young people who told me what to me. I alone seem to have lost everything. The others all have their labors. I alone seem a naive. and each time I remember it. a banquet or I alone am quiet. unable to check its "Night was coming on. The others seem totally discerning. I felt a rapturous known pleasures. I alone. I differ from the others in that I respect the Nourishing Mother. The others have all the superfluity.. I knew neither who I was nor where I was. Argument I am going to post the object of this course. I remembered nothing. I find nothing comparable d. Entirely absorbed in the present moment. I seem tossed by the currents. I felt neither injury. its argument. I define the Neutral as that which outplays {dejoue} the paradigm. I am sad and beaten as if I hadn't a secure place. I alone am stupid." For I am not trying to define a word. 1978 . without even suspecting that this blood belonged to me in to it in all the activity of any way. 6 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. I had no distinct notion of my person nor the least idea of what had just happened to me. some stars. are not apparent. had just happened bound < . Portrait of Lao-tzu by Himself "The others are as happy as if they were attending were climbing a tower in springtime. nor worry. I alone am limited like a savage.

Field Lexically. affects. thus no paradigm {I read} '" "je ris" {I laugh}: creation often given this examplej? slz. where there is (opposiand where there is paradigm there is paradigm. in speaking. 1978 regime. to which. unprecedented burning activity. but there are also semantic oppositions: white versus black. on this matter. or zero degree. ~ to exempt meaning conflict avoidance ~ this polymorphous field of paradigm. the Neutral of "neutrality. tention or even possibility of exhaustiveness) conflict or its release. etc. for it is not the same thing to eat pois- son {fish} or poison {poison}. remains doesn't refer to "impressions" The Neutral-my states. according to the perspective faithful. I remain is the wellspring of meaning. Hjelmslev. Put another way. of indifference. 3. to offer it to be consumed. neutralizationl. AlB ~ A + B (complex}" term (phonological to the "ethical" to produce (b) Transposed by the world to "choose. 2. tral-can of the Neutral mean that. its parrying. no opposition between I and r. to die (al- . to enter to suspend. = the Neutral. since "je lis" Similarly (I have of meaning. We are going to grant ourselves the as far as they deal with structural. tion). This is phonological." to walk. discourses (with no inits suspension. In Japanese: what is that? It's the opposition of two virtual terms from which. to produce meaning.l? neutral A nor B: amorphous. or contradict Brondal. the Neuter refers to the following nor feminine. the paradigm meaning. sion of pronunciation. Examples: r . ~ elliptically put: meaning rests on conflict and all conflict is generative (the choice of one term against another). to its arrogance of nul. binarism of the paradigm of a third term ~ the tertium: (a) In structural and phoneticians. Whence the idea of a structural the implacable creation that would defeat. or action without 7 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. there is meaning of Saussure. for me." conflicts. addressed thwart. My definition grayness. neither masculine and verbs (Latin).P level: injunctions meaning. anby means and neither linguistics. of meaning: to choose one and refuse the other is always a sacrifice made to meaning. strong. By which 1 of Neu"To out- right to treat all conditions. neither active nor passive. conducts. fields: (r) Grammar: gender. I actualize one to produce meaning. to "take responsibility." refer to intense. play the paradigm" is an ardent." to elude the paradigm. ~ temptation its menacing pressure.The paradigm. B. simply an indeciv in French llr.

it is grounded. ever insofar as its referent inside me is a stubborn Topic since Writing Degree Zero). of Exposition a. action." pair it with any other word and advertise: 8 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. (5) Physics: neutral bodies. which don't have any electrical charge." affect (in fact. The Library 1. accepted. to conflict. that is. to choice. conductors any current. flower in which the sexual organs constantly (not a pleasant image). law of the turnover in Freud. Topic. everywhere. the general field of our reflections will be: ethics. which can't mate." method is riot as archaic an approach current "committed" discourses uses it: just take one of today's mana words. the discourse of the "good choice" (no political pun intendedl). if the word frightens: praxis (rests on proairesisiP I add: a reflection on the Neutral. to the extent that our Neutral defines itself in relation to the paradigm. (4) Zoology: abort the drones: which have no that aren't the seat of sexual organs. However. or. We will return to these canonical (in the Littre." free man· be looking for my own style of being present to the strug- 3." Ethics or of the "lateral choice": discourse of the Ethics: word (to be on guard!). in language) images of the Neuter. rather. neither acidic nor basic. Processes of Preparation." Our project is obviously not disciplinary: what we are in search of is the category of the Neutral insofar as it crosses language. But in fact ethics is here. gesture. discourse. perhaps with them ethics as such is repressed. I took the word "Neutral." "power. always." or of the "nonchoice. the basis of which is clearly gender related. for me: a manner-a ner-to gles of my time. there is no ethical discourse: themselves (or didn't want to give themselves) the means to have one. 1978 .20 for a series of walks along a certain number of readings = the procedure of the topic: a grid over the Notice that the topical as it would seem: all the surface of which one moves a "subject. the body. the other of conflict. that might very well become fashionable because of the structural Marx. (3) Botany: neuter flower." (2) Politics: those who don't take sides between contenders" (Neutral states). if only of the repressed: in they did not give other of choice. (6) Chemistry: neutral salts.ways grammar's favorite example: good subject for a linguistic theLittre sis: the grammar of "to die"! or of blows}. of paradigm. simply. Besides. To prepare this course. or repressed under different guises: crosses all discourses. etc.

medicine chest). that falls outside my reading and thus outside my working sensibility: 1 don't "crystallize" (2) This library of dead authors ary. creative distance: to get myself vividly interested in what is contemporaneous to me. Karen Horney or Reich. penetrate me. Michelet's example: absolutely present to his century but working on the "life" of the Dead: 1make the dead think in myself: the living surround me. 1978 . to let the dead bury the dead. "Power and Sexuality. and 1 transform myself at the same time. of a library.). moreover. rod rises: there and. familial history: library of a subject = a strong." for example: in 1 continue to read some Freud or some Lacan. However." 1 would only say. the notion of the Neutral expands. inflects itself. complete identity. and form are "unaesthetic". 1 might need the detour through death (History). which is to say. 1 can read a new book in which certain passages will crystallize around the notion of Neutral as a whimsical sourcery: 1 read. retrograde ---." etc. 1 made some very arbitrary choices of reading. Then. etc. which is to rigor is com- say."Power and Unconscious" (Verdiglione). doxa: to interest oneself in the present. for example: (I leave this deficiency as is).v+' for a walk not "Power and Still Life. modifies itself: 1 persist. "typical" Husserlian neutralization (egotistic library: d. 1 decided not to go against what 1 will call an aesthetic of work (a value ruled out by science): books whose inspiration psychoanalysis. the intertext that is handed to yoU)23 nor exhaustive: infinite library: even now. for this very reason. neither analytical (I didn't follow a bibliographic program: d. a place-time where the loss in methodological Urt pensated for by the intensity and the pleasure of free reading. Two remarks: moder- nity that stops at WWII + an annex that comes from the touristic (I) The given of the references is arbitrary (familial): huge. 1 don't take it that way: (a) Critical. This library. the water-divining is Neutral underneath. for 1 took the Neutral along the grid of words but along a network of readings. 1 always want the material to be "racy. a "portrait" (d. in this library. To describe this library. lock me up precisely in an echo chamber-of which I am more or less conscious-but only the Dead are and they are creative objects = we all are caught up in "fashions. to explain its origin.> That could toll the funer- bell (". would mean to enter into biography. what library? That of my vacation home. but (lover's word). 2. 1 hope (I dare to believe) that my topic is not so manic." 9 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. glob+ a "humanistic" ally: classical (literary and philosophical) happenstances of my life. nothing on Egotistic Concertvi" library that comes to me from an elsewhere deficiencies.

1978 . the Neutral?) in a state of continuous music. Mastery Tao. (3) The Neutral as such requires that the sequence of figures be unstructured. more vaguely. identifiable since titleable) face that has an "air. "I only read the dead." an "expression": tral but in which. Lenin. fragment not on the Neua little like those rebus drawings in which one must look for the silhouette 01 Why? Why this discontinuous exposition? Perhaps inability on my part to "construct" a development. Inorganiexposition of the nondogmatic = inconclusion. where the "contents" flux (instead of artic- ulating it with a view to a final meaning): relation to contemporary of forms matter less than their circulaa bridgehead: after his own counto create a projection. just alibis? Continuous variation (r ) The sequence of fragments: it would put "something" (the subject. As I did last year: series (sequence) of fragments. etc. Accepted principle of nonexhaustivity: Projective space Nondogmatic tive space. to be alive. and also perhaps to the current research of Deleuze. 14 always my problem: to outsmart mastery (the "parry")." (b) To read the dead author is. Gide)_27~ To mourn is to be alive. Grenier.useful. Cf. Figure: rhetorical allusion (= a circled piece of discourse. course ~ they prepare a site of mastery. a course? Inability or dis- gust? (Who can distinguish between inability and the lack of taster] Perhaps my reasons. of the rabbit. the hunter. Figures ~ "The Neutral in Thirty Figures" 1. there is some Neutral. moved by the story of the deaths of authors (Tolstoy. A dictionary not of definitions but of twinklings {scintillations)." (2) Each figure: as if one were establishing that everybody is free to scatter in the countryside: tryside. zation inasmuch as it embodies the refusal to dogmatize: the cannot itself be dogmatic. For the Tao is "simultaneously the path to travel and the end 10 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. for me. tion of figures: experiments Tao. Juxtaposiby the with a "paradox" formulated (4) Institution. torn by the awareness of the contradiction between the intense life of his text and the sadness of knowing he is dead: I am always saddened by the death of an author." the Communist being asked how he was dealing with the reading of Sol zhenitsyn. but only death is creative. he answered: I read Marx. Now. each 01 t The Fragment which is given a title = the figures of the Neutral. ignoring the law of the syntagm. the wisdom of that capitalist (I forget his name) who is said to be sponsoring Party. for I am shattered. 2. b.

is an in- mistake: this is not about more intellectual I am looking for.":" Nuance To describe. to unweave it thread by thread to separate out the gold. book 5.of the travel. saying. sir?-Madame... my lips on his hand" )33-. There is no distinction between the means and the aim < . BaBacon. to look at the figure-words (beginning with the Neutral) with a skimming gaze that would make the nuances come out (increasingly rare commodity. if it were in my power. 'They acted like a professed shoe-maker. 3) of con: "Aristotle < . whence the frequent recourse to etymology. the equivalent of this word serve as metaphor: is not to be found in Cicero's discourses. a Nietzschean wordl. In what order to put the figures. there is a teacher of nuance. try to live according to the nuances that literature teaches me ("My tongue on his skin"... emerging on the occasion of each new work. 1978 . during the preparation troduction to living. Paradoxical and performance of the category of discourses with no outcome: or. the method and the achievement."'3o I don't construct the concept Describe defining but only of describing (in a nonexhaustive To describe = to "unthread" manner): a word (the title of each figure). each figure is at the same time search for the Neutral Neutral ('" demonstration). to unthread what? The nuances. Now. in Greek = diaphora. 4. that do not censure effects but do not care about results. I display Neutrals. Advancement Learning. in particular here last year. 3. than one has traversed it entirely=?? -. Within each figure. better.:" Make no sophistication.. all the more vivid this year (thematic bethe very as the Neutral is the shedding of meaning: all "planning" tween the Neutral and arrogance. to reconstituting paradigm 11 SESSION grouping) on the Neutral would fatally lead to an opposition that the Neutral wants to baffle: the Neutral would beOF FEBRUARY 18. In fact. as our ladies parjilent {unthread} a cloth of gold.. What of this course. I would want. Melanges): "Newton a parjil« [unthreaded} the sun's light. the matter is neither of explaining nor of but set out a large stock of shoes of different shapes and sizes. chair of literary semiology = (r ) Literature: codex of nuances + (2) Semiology: listening to or watching for nuances. true displaced luxury of language. > ingeniously but hurtfully derides the Sophists of his time. a guide to life (ethical project): I want to live according to nuance. > scarcely has one started on the path. It's to unthread a fabric. This discredited by the law of Western discourse. of Neutral. since the meaning must not gel? Ancient question. Ancient word that can Unthread par-filer {to unthread}: Voltaire. 148 (chap. that is. Chance. literature. who did not teach the art of shoe-making.-What is parfiler. "La Toilette de Mme de Pompadour" (r765.

4 [1959]). exhaustive. 1978 . The course exists because there is a desire for Neutral: a pathos (a patho-logy?) 1. Order -7 This year. There is the real problem of the fragment: just think about the importance of this problem for Pascal's Pensees or for the dialectic of the plan and of the no-plan in Nietzsche's writing (notably The Will to Power). Thus I propose that the desire for Neutral is desire for: Suspensions -first: -then. For me. Pathos All that: dispassionate apparatus of intellectual nature: the argument of the course + principles of exposition. which is to say." the promise that each year the course. the cave where it opens and deepens. terrorisms. The topical. would overtly spring from a personal fantasy. He who desires. 9 7. what of me can only be seen by the others. It remains to bring out the truth of the course: the desire that is its origin and that it stages. in the undergrowth of myself. the will-to-possess. 4. final description of this desire for Desire Neutral doesn't belong to me: it is my enigma. The Desire for Neutral a." I would like to call attention to the fact that my repeated efforts to use and to justify an aleatory exposition (breaking from the "dis sertation" ment-I form) have never had any echo. the research. therefore I postulate the Neutral. refusal of pure discourse of op- es. it would consolidate the meaning it wanted to dissolve. Recall the inaugural lecture. 2. summons. suspension (epoche) of orders.come discursively the term of an antithesis: in displaying itself. it's fine to have a theory of the frag· a problem it is to decide in what order to put them. position. no. postulates (hallucinates). arrogancby way of deepening. I can only make out. laws. puttings on notice. Thus arbitrary Numbering process of sequencing. still in the stage of infancy: "electronic" chance according to the = solution. Last year: the alphabet. to am regularly interviewed about it-but no one realizes what discuss the concept of fragment. reinforcement of chance: Title ~ Alphabetical ~ Lottery draw: table of random numbers: table no. Suspension of narcissism: no longer to be afraid of images 12 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. Series of two-digit numbers in of the Statistics Institute of the University of Paris (Revue de statistique appliquee ten columns: I followed the numbers horizontally. It's fine to comment. direction of reading: pure and simple chance. In short: I desire the Neutral.

the Neutral means suspension of violence. it was a matter of speaking of the suspension of conflicts.. "37 _." discontinuous. and before letting the figures of the Neutral roam. or Zen or Tao). desire is always marketable: we don't do anyof the desire thing but sell. as a second Neutral that is glimpsed behind a first Neutral: 'II I 13 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. is the unmarketable. there entered my life. some of you know it. As a general rule. The paradox recognize this passion in myself through the calm with which I witof dogmatisms. it will fade. it seems to me that today I myself hear. in fleeting moments. I sometimes But this is Violence this violence is inexpressible. The desire for the Neutral means violence. buy. a rnourningr" the subject who will speak of the Neutral is no longer the same as the one who had decided to speak of it _. as a desire. We'll have to hold on to the unsus- tainable for thirteen weeks: after that. 1978 . Which one: I would locate it. b. as desire always is: this is not about a wis- Nonmarketable for the Neutral. Paradox 3. a serious event. another music.(imago):36 to dissolve one's own image (a wish that borders on the negative mystical discourse. its absolute singularity. it seems to me that I should say something about the situation of the Neutral. that there is a passion of the Neutral but that this passion is not that of a will-to-possess ness the display of "wills-to-possess. erratic. dom but about a desire. its elsewhereness. The Wirelike Sharpness of Mourning To conclude these preliminaries. underneath this discourse whose argument and whose approach I just presented... the Neutral problems of performance). I would say: "unsustainable" "Invisible"? _. it will be necthat there is a violence of the Neutral but that _. Initially. Throughout essary to understand continually stages a paradox: as an object. exchange desires. Between the moment I chose the subject of this course (last May) and the moment I had to prepare it. People tell me: "You'll make a book with this course on the Neutral?" All other problems put aside (particularly my answer: No. is that it is nonmarketable _. And I think of Bloy's words: "there is nothing perfectly beautiful except what is invisible and above all unbuyable... of the desire for Neutral in my current life-for there is no truth that is not tied to the moment. but. in the following way: as a second question that separates itself from a first one. and that's still what we are going to speak of since one doesn't alter a posting of the College. it the "length of the course.

then. says that the last vitality'r'? desperate vi- thing that remains to him is "a desperate tality is the hatred of death. announced the will-to-live subject 01 from the I leave the course.I. 2. the second it consists of have simultaIn the end. distance that I call the Neutral." only once a the zeal philosophical for something "aseptic" vocabulary had been created (Cicero). either toward the hardness untas). What is it then that sets retreat from arrogance apart from hated death? It's this difficult. benevolence "will. 1978 . will-to-live in a poem. the will-to-possess. since the concept is without familiar. or for someone. Stammi bene: porte-toi bien pour moi (take care of yourself for my sake)) Ti voglio bene can't be translated by je veux bien (I don't mind) (aller avec toi (going with you}). romantic. is the difference from vitality. that separates Pasolini.> (d. The first question. the attachment. This word: page. in front of the hardenings is this irreducible No: of both faith Benevolence 1. desire for things). an indifference from the other. Would be better translated language that makes the conditional the indicative: would love) (aller avec toi (to go with you}): note the cunning of a stronger mode of desire than je voudrais bien". and almost unthinkable Neutral. being then recognized as what tran- as the drifting far from arrogance: the second Neutral.> The second question.:" implicit subject of decanted this already -'. incredibly strong. is the difference that separates will-to-possess: the will-to-live scends the will-to-possess. of the concept (volsublimation nally: voluntas = studium: to have the taste. adolescent: desire. je ueux bien FEBRUARY = I am the one who 14 SESSION OF 18. origiTherefore: presence of desire. Trace of desire in Italian: Ti voglio bene: hesitant passage from tender affecstrong presence tion into love: desire for the other's -'. evolution. the first Neutral.> I move in the will-to-live. saying: it matters little to me to know if God exists or not. In short. but what I know and will know to the end is that He shouldn't neously created love and death. -'. Etymology an ideologically -'. its essential form is a protestation. or toward (taste.> interesting slip- Voluntas = goodwill. Benevolentia Start with voluntas. which implies a kind of passive acthat eventually Consents to a prior request by je voudrais bien (I ceptance. the course. The Neutral a No so to speak suspended and certitude and incorruptible by either one.

" This tenderness. "Dry.. your person: I don't refuse.demands - Benevolentia corresponds doesn't go as far as Ti voglio bene yet to its word-for-word translation: I ac- paradoxically cept not to be blocked by your request. 110 diffusion. while he doesn't like the • j second" . 2. wavering . everything is equal.finds himself confronted with an aporia: wishing for a Distance logical "monster. the first of which he doesn't trust. tends even to strangers. a kind of philanthropy. Refrains from exerting a function. of desire. (unsuppressed) anchor- mark of Agape. but possible wavering of desire outside of will-to-possess." the right mix of emotion and distance: emotion. the expectation of being received kindly by people. Grenier. because rooted in indifference. (I feel this "benevolence" total and peaceable incornmunication. and is made more of pity than of love < . without necessarily wanting to: exactly the position of the Neutral. If he is obliged to do it. Emotion and Distance Subject prey to benevolence: strongly aware of this double postulation. 1978 . 47-48. Perhaps two benevolences (depending on the readings): the damp and the dry. Dry and Damp 1. lazy. feature of H. a "transcendent" internal conflict with them goodness. > that goes even to the point of fear of hurting anyone at all"43 Image: the body's emotivity ("the nerves") transformed into feeling: visibly on the side of the affect of being in love: desire sublimated by Tao. treats the "good" were children and the "bad" evenly. which is not absence.Agape. Walter Benjamin: experience Benjamin. "41Typical "benevolence holds a benevolence that that ex72 Baudelaire. 138 of H in Marseilles: feeling of benevolence: "Only a certain benevolence. acknowledgment 15 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18." 2... diffuse aura of amiability. "Damp": on the side of demand: "kindness" (gentillesse) so as to be loved. For the sage.. inarticulate and elsewhere: "a most singular benevolence and goodwill. > a slow." benevolence according to the Tao.) for people who are such strangers to me that I have no occasion for = 3. A stiff benevolence. refusal of desire."? rather large place < . as if they both nothing of Agape and nothing of His "goodness": the tender benevolence (under H): a kind of condescending and soft benevolence. at least literarily: Baudelaire: derives from a tendering of the nerves.

linguistic science doesn't attend. Cf. in using the word Eros (desiring love). and distance. crossroads of two images: a. that one in no way blackmails him into tenderness strained. who falls forward ~ perhaps laedo. guarantee that one doesn't crush the other under the stickiness of a demand." "reserved" that withholding Agape Eros ~ in short. Weariness Let's look at the knot. strangely. lassus: the one who bends. walls whose tension slackens. divine love. to these decisive 16 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. active force. an idea of duration: what doesn't stop leaning. progressive deflation." by blow or pressure. Lassitudo. Placeless Social (linguistico-social) value of weariness (but. Weariness:47 three words in Latin: Labor.age in the body. any more than sociology. It's the paradoxical ness: the endless process of ending. Labor Etymology Fatigatio (or Defatigatio). burden body) ~ probably. And Gregory of Nyssa (another negative mystic): Eros is the ecstatic apex of Agape ~ In short. d. Lassitudo. (charitable while speaking of sublime. fullness that empties. Dionysius the Areopagite. alas." In the very image. We easily reconstruct Cf. Labor: animated genre. following which a slow. 1978 . Let's recall is an erotic principle of the Tao (more sensual here than in its conception initiators of dry benevolence). French: etre the image: "burst. mostly rural word. Put another way: persists. Fatigo: to wear out (faire crever)(horses). At the (painful work. creve (to be exhausted). because Denys. to wear out. of one's being squashed. lapsus). engages the whole labo: to slip so as to fall (d. one of the of negative theology. under which one totters. benevolence =' an Agape tightened by Eros and restrained by a Tao principle. a well-behaved Eros. b. 38. which he prefers to Agape love). to harm. the etymological spectrum. "re- (in the sense of coitus reservatus). to wound. 1. Benevolence = Agape imbued with Eros. ~ General image of sagging. the older Gide: I am a tire infinity of weari- that flattens. emptying itself. The topical imGide Tire age = that of the flat tire that deflates. Now. pushes God to produce the universe. 104 Eros implies ekstasis:46 carries lovers out of themselves.

banal. caste condition: with the worker's. the way society codifies mournMourning ing in order to assimilate it: after a few weeks. Depression (perhaps through is increasingly recognized as a nosological reality the creation of a-supposedly-relevant phar(exemptions macopeia): one can have sick leaves for "depression" from military service. seminar at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales two years ago. -. therefore unclassifiable: without premises. This raises the problem of the place of weariness in society. Flu? Bad. b. Today.t'{' ~ 17 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. but watch out for the vengeance of fate! Cf. the right to mourning very reduced -. 1978 . the farmer's. seminar of Clavreul. will no longer accept mourning as a state of exception: requests will begin again as if it were incomprehensible could refuse them: too bad if mourning mourning: "Manners. But it seems that." but to my knowledge no lexicographically usable outcome). Conversation. beyond reply? Weariness? Surely not..). is not received = always functions in language as a mere metaphor. it is hard to connect "weariness" tion? In any case.> 'thus nothing more than a kind of intuitive. Chimera )50 that is part of the domain of the artist (of the intellectual as artist) without Blanchot. etc.> unclassified. which is exposed to deflation.> right to mourning: to be inscribed in the social claims (utopias?): sick leave for pregnancy. let us listen intuitively to language: a.. socially untenable whence Blanchot's (weary!) cry: "I don't ask that weariness be done away with. Society has always coded the duration of teenth century): father or mother: eighteen months. a sign without referent (d. What is the place of a lesion of the (total) body in the (socially) recognized table of illnesses? Is weariness an illness or not? Is it a nosological reality? Lacking a good study of medical language (an idea in the air. xx -.nuances Work -. A surgical operation? Better.> place. Thus weariness is not coded. an intellectual task: what excuses will be beyond suspicion. for mourning . in the current social field. exhaustion. society will reclaim its rights. But weariness? Try this experiment: draw up a table of received (credible) excuses: you want to cancel a lecture. mythically associated with the the employee's manual or assimilated type of work. I ask to be led back to a region where it might be possible to be weary." in the Memento that one disorganizes you longer Larousse (end of the nine- than stated by the code. empirical exploration}: Tied to work (labor). Class condiwork of the head. at least it was a generous large-scale framework.

However. for instance) less fatiguing (for me) than conversations with friends: I am able to take control of my exclusion by looking at the picture. What Wearies Everyone should try to make a chart of his weariness: at what moments. 2. with an artistic self-distancing. is the indefatigable. to retake a grip on myself: no longer to hear it but to listen to it: at another level. a linguistic spectacle. under what circumstances. to x. "52 between egotistic discourse and terroristic Indeed. when confronted with a conversation. it's the banality of the conversation (ab. in the room next door.Weariness = exhausting claim of the individual body that demands the right to social repose (that sociality in me rest a moment = topiIndividual cal theme of the Neutral). a means for me to regain control. it's like a mark of madness. The energy-and above all the linguistic energy-stuns me: for me. I am always surprised (stunned) by the tireless character of others." with (subjective) weariness: on top of it the feeling that. ~ Also. I will deflate indefimany-one Conversation. nitely? I will signal-among Conversation I. What is at stake in conversation is finding my place in relation with strangers). In fact. conversation Perpetuity Exclusion embodies what is perpetual strength of a form raised about language (perpetual adorationjr" to the scale of the species: monstrous strength from which I feel excluded as an individual (unless I make myself another chatterbox!). 1978 . Freudianism. I don't dare close the door. it seems to me. to receive it as a novelistic object. he speaks interminably to my mother. weariness = an intensity: society doesn't recognize intensities. if he could speak a language unknown to me and which would be musical!). am I "a tire that deflates. The other." of the "relation to": "How do you situate yourself with regard to Marxism. I will read a text written in the "I" mode. a discourse): little diary fragment (summer '77). to language when it is performed by others: it wearies me to have to Sitio look for (and not to find) my place (conversations but this weariness is converted (language of rugby) if I'm asked not to take up a place (in a game) but only to float in a space ~ place Space '" space. if this is the case. (My excuse: we have to choose "Visit from X. 2. What wearies me is not the noise. to y?" "What is your position in this 18 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. It's why conversations with strangers (in the train. another form of weariness: that of the "position.

debate?" Signing Weariness: the demand for a position. to live in a space without tying oneself to a place most relaxing position of the body: bath.e. petitions. and it's why it is so wearisome: hard to float. boat.) = the 19 SESSION OF FEBRUARY 18. The present-day world is full of it (statements.). i. 1978 . to float. (However.. manifestos. to shift places. etc.